As the longest-serving Minister of Finance of Bangladesh, past Chairman of the International Monetary Fund, a leader in the Bangladeshi National Party, and the founder of several educational and economic institutions, Ruhel’s uncle Saifur Rahman was a lifelong servant to his people. He was an architect of the Bangladeshi economy, an economy that held stable even during the Great Recession and that still remains a strong place for doing business. In 2005, he was awarded the Ekushey Padak, one of the highest civilian honors in Bangladesh. Today, September fifth, marks the sixth anniversary of Rahman’s death, and Ruhel would like to dedicate this day in his honor.
Since childhood, Ruhel has striven to follow in the footsteps of his uncle. “I remember when I was young, he took me to Dhaka to see the big city. This was my first step from village boy to city life. He was my favorite uncle. For some reason, he took interest in me — saw something of curiosity and determination.” For Ruhel, a natural farmer, what struck a chord was Rahman’s emphasis on contributing to a thriving food system. “Stick with agriculture, and you will never fail,” he recalls his uncle telling him. “You may often feel like you are failing, but you are adding to the economy.”
With the energy of the State Fair abuzz, Ruhel recalls one of his earlier efforts to put his uncle’s teaching into practice. Ruhel hosted the first international trade fair in Sylhet, Bangladesh, an event similar to the county fairs of the United States. Why? “Not all of the kids and families had somewhere to go after school. I saw some businesses struggling and invited them to come set up stalls for a great big marketplace. All sorts of people were there, and from everywhere — Thais, Vietnamese, Chinese… We invited people from both political parties to give their support, to bring them together for something that everyone could enjoy.”
With his uncle’s memory at heart, it is Ruhel’s great honor to share his own skill with the Twin Cities community. He will be presenting a live cooking demonstration at the Minnesota State Fair today at 1pm in the Eco Experience building, and invites you to come learn and enjoy.