Monday, March 21, 2011

Dr Wazed Miah: An unforgettable scientist

Renowned nuclear scientist and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s husband Dr. M.A. Wazed Miah passed away after prolonged illness for more than a year. Though born in a middle class Bengali Muslim family, Dr. Wazed Miah by dint of his talent and perseverance became one of the leading scientists of the country and a national asset. In his death the country has not only lost a dedicated scientist but also a great patriot.
   M. A. Wazed Miah was a devoted scientist and played an important role in organising a newly emerged country’s nuclear programmes to accelerate scientific research. He was able to convince his father-in-law Sheikh Mujibar Rahman, the then President of Bangladesh to acquire 265 acres of land at Ganakbari at Savar, some 25 kilometres north-east of Dhaka city; which now houses major research facilities for the four main objectives of BAEC such as i) peaceful uses of atomic energy in medicine, food and agriculture and relating material science development, ii) generating electricity, iii) ancillary services viz. electronics, computer and engineering, iv) advise government on nuclear matters in compliance with NPT or the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons by IAEA, stationed in Vienna, Austria.
   The IAEA is the world’s centre of cooperation in the nuclear field. It was set up as the world’s “Atoms for Peace” organization in 1957 within the United Nations family. The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.
   The IAEA Secretariat is headquartered at the Vienna International Centre in Vienna, Austria. Operational liaison and regional offices are located in Geneva, Switzerland; New York, USA; Toronto, Canada; and Tokyo, Japan. The IAEA runs or supports research centres and scientific laboratories in Vienna and Seibersdorf, Austria; Monaco; and Trieste, Italy.
   The IAEA Secretariat is a team of 2200 multi-disciplinary professional and support staff from more than 90 countries.
   The IAEA´s mission is guided by the interests and needs of Member States, strategic plans and the vision embodied in the IAEA Statute. Three main pillars - or areas of work - underpin the IAEA´s mission: Safety and Security; Science and Technology; and Safeguards and Verification.
   As an independent international organization related to the United Nations system, the IAEA´s relationship with the UN is regulated by special agreement [pdf]. In terms of its Statute, the IAEA reports annually to the UN General Assembly and, when appropriate, to the Security Council regarding non-compliance by States with their safeguards obligations as well as on matters relating to international peace and security.
   Dr.M.A. Wazes Miah also wrote a book entitled “Fundamentals of Electromagnetism” towards meeting the demand of textbook in the 80s for the students of universities of the country. The work was initiated and completed during the period of his six and a half years post-doctoral work under the aegis of the Department of Atomic Energy, Bhaba, Trombey, India. The book containing 624 pages has been published by Tata McGraw Hill Publishing Co,Ltd, New Delhi.
   Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission(BAEC) is a multi-sectoral research and development agency of Bangladesh. The organisation functions as a semi-government and semi-autonomous organisation under the administrative control of Govt. BAEC gets technical assistance from the International Atomic Agency (IAEA), an organ of UNO, stationed in Vienna,Austria..
   Dr. Wazed Miah after returning home from India in 1982 whole heartedly engaged himself in accelerating the country’s nuclear programme. He attended many international meetings and negotiated with various countries for installation of a nuclear reactor for training, research, production of medical radioisotope and generation of electricity for the development of this country.
   In 1991 Dr.Wazed came forward for the rescue of this pioneer research establishment of Bangladesh. He argued that it would be hazardous to transfer the sophisticated nuclear research equipment specially the 3 MeV Van De Graaff Accelerator and a cobalt radiation source jar that became too old to handle, transfer and in case of accident on the way to transfer the whole city would be in such a disaster as that of Chernobyl of Russia. The government engaged two high-level committees to justify his claim. Ultimately he won in the battle.
   He was a scientist with a cultural bent of mind. He had the heart of a intellectual. This was revealed when I found him listening to the songs of the Pancho Kabi during his long drive from Dhaka Centre to AERE, Savar and when he discussed music and literature with his colleagues.
   I have many fond memories relating to scientist Dr. M A Wazed. He is an unforgettable person. He was a person of dignity and honour. I will miss him for ever.