Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Yorker's Article about an Iranian Economist

New Yorker latest issue has a very interesting report on Dr. Tabibian, an Iranian professor and yours truly professor in economics, when I was a graduate student at IRPD. As a professor he was inspiring. He encouraged us, his students, to write about economics and market ideas. (This resulted in three of us: Pouyan Mashayekh, Ali Farahbakhsh and me, to start writing for Hamshahri, this was late 1990's) A new phase in dialogue over economic issues was opened in Iran, which had been dominated by the leftist ideologies until then. Today two daily papers are committed to market ideas in economy in Iran and almost all have accepted its principles, although not practicing it yet.

He was a faculty member of Institute for Research in Planning and Development (IRPD), a pilot institute for economic studies and research that launched a master program in economics to teach it according to syllabus at Duke, MIT and UCLA. It was a great program to be part of and it accepted applicants from graduates of all fields, many of engineering students from Sharif University of Technology, University of Tehran and from Polytechnic University came to this institute to study economics. This was a new change in Iranian academic environment, where social sciences was the fiefdom of leftists and their ideas. To talk of free market was considered heresy. IRPD left an impact on Iranian academia. However the bureaucracy took care of that.

IRPD became Institute for Management and Planning Studies (IMPS) under President Khatami. Ironically reformists, particularly old leftists, treated him and his colleagues no better than the current administration, although may be less harshly. They blamed him for liberalization of market during President Rafsanjani's administration, and when the time came they forced a new administrator upon IMPS whose ideas could not have been more different. Today IMPS does not accept students. Sharif University of Technology followed that example by establishing its Graduate School of Management and Economics (GSME).

Dr. Tabibain's story is the story of those who wanted to make a difference through professionalism. They have witnessed how their agenda has been compromised by all political groups and how their careers have suffered from ideological animosity of their rivals. His is a true story, a story worthy of telling and reading. That is why you should read this article.

1 comment:

Outsider said...

Interesting article. We have to remember that 30 years isn't enough to work out these issues. Look at the turmoil and stumblings of the US over a couple of centuries. As well, we cannot discount the influence of Tabibian's western education in his viewpoint. He did study in the US prior to 1979. Hopefully, he could help define how Islam could improve economics for us all, to wit the recent messes show the inability of the western mind to act reasonably to temper manias.