Archive for January, 2015

Governance and Innovation Conference, BARD Comilla

In December 2014, I participated in the International Conference on Governance and Innovation at the Bangladesh Academy of Rural Development (BARD), Comilla. BARD was established in 1959 under the initiative of the Pakistani economist Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan. It eventually became famous for its participatory approach and innovations in micro-credit and rural development in Bangladesh since the 1960s, which later came to be known as the Comilla Model of Development.


The conference was organized by the University of Dhaka in collaboration with the GAIN network. Participants from various parts of the world presented insights on governance and innovation in their countries. The chief speaker at the conference was Professor Subrata K. Mitra from the Heidelberg University.

Professor Mitra spoke about some “essentially contested concepts”. According to him an essentially contested concept is that “which cannot be directly measured and on which there is no consensus”.

Sahoo and Subrata Mitra BARD

According to Professor Mitra, governance means “rules, rule-abiding actions, and rules which are made jointly by the powerful and the powerless”. He criticized the concept of “good” governance and advocated for “multilevel” governance. For him, “multilevel governance is not just the Hobbesian state looking from the Westphalian heights with monopoly of legitimate violence but also looking down at all political arena, and wanting to combine the sovereign function of the state with the collaborative function of the state”.