- Columbia University
- United States of America
About Rizwan Kazi
Hello! I'm Rizwan, a student at Columbia University born and raised in New York City double majoring in Mathematics and Economics. Right now, I'm researching housing policy at the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia and extensive-form rationalizability at Columbia's Department of Economics.
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Rooms participated in:Columbia University
I wanted to start off with a reflection of the few hours I've been here. I landed in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, 24 hours ago and already there's been so much to see. As soon as you leave the airport, you are blown away by the size of the massive planned extension to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. As you get on the highway out, you are struck by the fly-over and train line projects that dot the city. The sheer amount of infrastructure construction going on very clearly shows how Bangladesh is developing full steam ahead.
However, there are several notes to make. These construction projects, as beneficial as they are in accelerating Bangladesh's economy, are a facet of China's Belt and Road Initiative (the very one Hassan researched last summer), thought by many to be neocolonial. The portraits of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (the founding father of the country) and his daughter Sheikh Hasina (the incumbent prime minister) are ubiquitous, casting an eerie feel of a cult of personality. Corruption is rampant, so much so that the car that took me from the airport to where I'm staying has the names of the police sergeants in charge of major intersections memorized, as to say "this car is this sergeant's and is free to go." Every month, those sergeants receive a bribe so that the car does not get repossessed, a normal occurrence.
So far, even though it's only been a day, Bangladesh has been an incredible learning experience. I've been looking out the window in awe of what's to come and in disappointment of the status quo.
My research deals with institutional questions in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since it's been a universal experience, it feels moot to come all the way here to answer questions that people all around the world have been asking; this summer might just serve as a confirmation of the research going on elsewhere. However, the fact of the matter is this project, by merit of being in the field, takes into account everything going on here (like what I wrote above). I've already looked through so many of the papers we'll engage with, to use their lessons and to build on them.
This year's project is quite different, starting from the fact that rather than working from Broadway Hall at 114th and Broadway, I'll be working out of the Brac Institute of Governance and Development in Mohakhali, Dhaka. Nevertheless, there are many lessons from last summer that have come in handy this summer. Policy questions comes up with both projects, so I'll be able to use the same resources I relied upon last year this year as well. Additionally, I have an incredible amount of support this year in the field, from BIGD to American graduate students and my PI.