Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Social Evolution in Iran: Fate of an Economist

Had you been an economist in Iran 40 years ago and been fired by government, you would have been considered a leftist. Nobody would have noticed your departure. Had you been fired 30 years ago you would have been a graduate of an American university and would have been considered a capitalist agent. Still you would not have been missed. 20 years ago, people would have been surprised to see an economist still employed at a government position. But anyhow it would have gone unnoticed, had you been dismissed. 10 years ago… well 10 years ago nobody would have fired you, had you been an economist in first place.

Things have changed since then. When recently Dr. Mohammad Tabibian, a graduate of Duke University and a former deputy of Iran’s Management and Planning Organization[1] (MPO) and former head of its Macroeconomic Planning Office was retired, Shargh newspaper allocated two full pages in two issues to letters and articles by his colleagues and students, written to remember his services and to criticize administration decision to let him go. Society did take notice of the fact that an economist who had dedicated 30 years of his life to serve Iran was dismissed.

This is a remarkable evolution in a society where being dismissed used to mean the end of one’s social life and career. Many who observe and follow Iran’s domestic affairs are surprised to see how many things have changed during last three decades. The changes are not limited to covering news about individuals such as Dr. Tabibian. The changes are everywhere, in education, female participation, fertility rate, social sciences development, private sector and etc. And unlike Pahlavi era these are not some cosmetic changes in the appearance of the society. The very fabric of Iran’s society has changed and it still is evolving. It is sad to see that many politicians and state men on both sides of Atlantic do not appreciate this fact and still treat Iran the way colonists of 19th century did.

[1] Formerly known as Budget and Planning Organization or BPO.

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