The papers included in this volume were written by Rehman Sobhan between 1990 and 2004. While a few of the papers were intended for an academic audience, most of the writings appeared in various daily newspapers or weekly journals. The two sections of the volume covering economic and political issues are unified by the theme of malgovernance, and argue that the crisis of governance in Bangladesh and across the region originates in the malfunctioning of the democratic process.
The first section in the volume discusses the crisis of democracy and the ways in which it has served to perpetuate malgovernance. The writings on democracy and governance begin with conceptual papers on democracy and development, and on the issue of the crisis of the state and its gradual delegitimisation. The papers on the democratic process at work, written largely for the print media, track the functioning and malfunctioning of the democratic process, mostly in Bangladesh. The final sub-section seeks to develop the link between democratic malfunction and governance failure across the South Asian region.
The second section looks at the exclusionary nature of the market-driven reform process and its origins in the misgovernance of the state. The section, titled Lost on the Way to the Market, opens up the debate on the limitations of the structural adjustment reforms imposed on Bangladesh during the 1980s, and 1990s and highlights the hegemonic influence of aid donors over the policy direction of dependent countries such as Bangladesh. The papers explore the nature of this external dependence and demonstrate the conceptual weaknesses of the externally driven reform policy as well as its failure to produce results, not just in Bangladesh but around the world.