Echo

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* Bangladesh bombs - blog buzz

* Fear of Islamic state in Bangladesh grows after bombers target.

* TV becomes new weapon in fight on terror.

* Man gets 5000+ channels on 12 dishes.

* Iran's war on weblogs - the new voice of dissidents.

* Cattle can stop Bangladeshis!

* Can the EU be a model for Indian subcontinent?

 

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LIFE WITHOUT MUSIC

Its Saudi blogger Alhamedi again having a critical look at the Saudi fundamentalist's view of music and their oppression towards Saudi musicians. Don't forget to read it.

Mike C. comments:

Most of my favorite music is by Islamic artists, from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's heavenly Qawwali to Youssou N'dour & Thione Seck blending Senegalese & Egyptian music.

I'm not a Muslim & I don't live in the Middle East, but with all of the current crap, we forget the beauty Islam has brought the world.

 

Posted by Rezwan

BIRD FLU ALERT!

From the 'Bird Flu Alert in Bangladesh!!' blog:

Bird flu is now the greatest health crisis both for humans and birds. It’s also the gravest epidemic crisis faced by mankind ever. This not a secret and international media has been saying this for a long time. We can’t behind the argument that it will not affect us, that it will cause panic or adversely affect the poultry industries. It’s too late for such arguments.
Bangladesh is alarmingly unprepared to handle this crisis. Millions of people are at risk of dying. Dristhipat is working with relevant parties in BRAC and other organizations to help raise awareness and push authorities for actions.

So let us join hands and spread the word:

Bird flu: Are we sufficiently prepared? (Via Unheard Voices)

Related: Concerns in India too (via The Acorn)

 

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THE MILITANT MAYHEM CONTINUES IN BANGLADESH

Wake up! Suicide bombing has arrived in Bangladesh. The militants have done it recently killing two judges. Today three people, including two suicide bombers and a policeman died when a bomb exploded during a scuffle near a police checkpoint near the main court in the port city of Chittagong. Another three died when a bomb was thrown inside a court library in Gazipur, north of capital Dhaka. (Source BBC, AP)

Really we are living in a wonderful situation. After the so called Islamic militants jihad against the court in a bid to kill man-made law and establish their version of Allah's law (you get the flavor of it by now) they are now concentrating on schools. Students of Khilgaon High School busy with final examination were panicked when a bomb-like device was set in the school and a letter signed by the banned Islamic outfit Harkatul Jihad, Khilgaon unit threatened:

"If Islamic education as per the Quran and Hadith was not introduced in the school within two days, the bombs would be detonated with remote-control."
Even the foreign missions in Bangladesh were not spared from the threat. Similar threats were communicated to govt. offices, police forces etc.

Meanwhile the security forces have not been able to do any headway to stop these bombings and threats. The political parties have the wonderful opportunity to play the blame game against each other. We even hear some intelligent(?) remarks like "Excessive media coverage helps rise of militancy". Yes of course its the media who reveals that militants are being patronised to cling to power and ministers ordering release of suspected militants so they might have some hand in it. How gross.

This is really ridiculous. All these make one wonder that this is part of a carefully planned agenda to divert people's attention from the upcoming election and other issues. This is a clear case of spreading panic if we look deep into the lunacy. This has probably nothing to do with Islamic militant's jihad or similar as it is unlikely that many separate organizations are doing the same thing in unison. Brainwashed and trained militants are being used and security forces are not being able to get hold of the kingpins. There must be a powerful quarter having access to the intelligence and other inside information (and untouchable), who is pulling the strings to gain some advantage. And the question is who and why. Any guess or clue?

Update: Bloggers buzz on Bangladesh bombs:

* Rajputro - "What’s coming next? I don’t know .."
* Unheard Voices - "Is the Prime Minister listening?"
* Gina Cobb - "Bangladesh, Bangladesh: To Misery, Add Terrorism"
* Unholywars -"13 killed in terrorists strike in Bangladesh"
* Gateway Pundit - "Suicide Bombers in Bangladesh"

Links:
* BBC: In pictures - Bangladesh bombs

 

Posted by Rezwan

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH INDIA ON TRIGGER HAPPY BSF

Indian border security force (BSF) had become famous for 'killing one Bangladeshi every five days' on the charges of alleged intrusion into Indian territory including no-mans land. Now human rights watch India reports that BSF personnel did not spare their own countrymen as they had injured and killed villagers of Muradpur, West Bengal, India.

According to the fact-finding team from MASUM, on 20 November 2005, like other days, the BSF personnel at the Muradpur border were allowing these villagers to smuggle food articles (namely, wheat, rice, pulses etc) across the border after taking money from them. However, it is alleged that they saw these villagers also trying to take a few cows across the border, for which they had not been bribed. This angered the BSF who then opened fire killing and injuring these villagers. The fact-finding team alleges that the BSF fired 13 rounds of ammunition.

The firing took place about seven to eight kilometers away from the border and if the BSF were concerned about security issues, they could have easily apprehended the villagers. Instead they chose to resort to firing.
According to another news:
The Bangladesh border guards never opened a single round of fire on any Indian civilian or killed anyone. The BSF troops have been killing the innocent Bangladeshis like birds and animals without any provocation violating human rights and all agreed international norms and rules. No BSF man has so far been punished by their authorities for such illegal killings.
I tried to search the reasons of these killings which often cause strives between Bangladesh and India. The root of the problem is the smuggling of cattle from India to Bangladesh, which is valued approximately at Indian Rupees 1000 crore per annum (approx 2% of Bangladesh budget). Another problem is the illegal trade of cough syrup (Phensidyl), which is banned in Bangladesh because of its misuse as a narcotic. More than 3,000 of illegal drug factories were set up at bordering Indian villages and semi-urban areas along the India Bangladesh border to supply the highly demanded syrup to Bangladesh.

So it is high time that India should legalize the cattle export and stop the illegal trade of cough syrups to stop these human rights abuses by BSF to Indians and Bangladeshis alike.

 

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UTOPIA OR REALITY?

"The world we are fighting for — a world where an Imam teaches a Rabbi words from the Holy Koran to comfort a young Muslim boy, and that rabbi himself is comforted by a Christian, a Catholic priest."
Read this touching story of a Jewish community chaplain's experience in Mosul, Iraq.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* What the Muslim world needs is more chapatti.

* Martyr's sexual rewards.

* Fear, protections and loopholes in the US.

* Blogging a suicide attempt -new hype in Singapore.

* Don't Bomb Us - A blog by Al Jazeera Staffers.

 

Posted by Rezwan

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE IRAQI BLOGGERS

Iraqi blogger Hassan collates a factual history of the Iraqi bloggers from 2002 till-to-date.

Iraqi Bloggers: from Pax to Sayonara

 

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PERILS OF TECHNOLOGY

Iranian blogger Hoder was refused re-entry to US from Canada after the US customs and border security officials read his blog in front of him at the border to build a case of non-compliance of visa regulations.

"these things are not quite appropriate to be on your blog when you are at the border." - The official

 

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BANGLADESH BLOGOSPHERE ON ABU HENA'S EXPULSION FROM BNP

The hottest topic of the town was the expulsion of ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) lawmaker (Rajshahi-3 constituency) Abu Hena from the party. His outspoken comments blaming a section of his party and the qualition Jamaat-e-Islami party for patronising the militants aroused many controversies.

Rajputro mocked that he received 'the truth award' from the prime minister for speaking against the party. Previously Awami League , current opposition party, awarded this prestigious award to Kamal Hossain, Kader Siddiqui and so on for letting out the truth.

'Unheard Voices' named it suppression of the voice of a dissident.

Adda said

"BNP has lost their golden opportunity to listen to their own parliament member Mr. Abu Hena and take drastic action against those ministers and advisers who are part of the intrigue and also tried to recommend government pardon for the Islamic militant leaders in the past."
Niraj comments that it is rather refreshing to see a politician going against the grain.

The other hot rumor of yesterday was that Mr. Hena was going to be imprisoned. I think the government was saved from further embarrasment by not doing so. Now according to Mr. Hena, 100 other BNP lawmakers would like to go public like him on this issue soon. Some had already started raising their voices.

This implies an internal divide between the BNP. Rejecting all these allegations, Mr. Motiur Rahman Nizami, the Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer and Minister for Industries told the BBC," I have no information that there is anyone in the BNP who has reservation about any link between terrorism and Jamaat." He also dismissed Abu Hena's allegation saying failing to get any big position he made such remarks. He made one valid point that if Mr. Hena is so concerned about this now why didn't he speak out earlier, when things were happening.

Amidst all blames, allegations and counter measures, the spotlight, tackling the militancy is losing focus. If Jamaat is against the militancy then why are their network of Imams across the country are not publicly denouncing militancy in the mosque sermons? What benefit will Mr. Abu Hena get from this drama as he is yet to provide any proof of his allegations? Is he going to join the opposition? Is there really a rift inside BNP? Or is this a ploy of BNP to create pressure on Jamaat so that they can bargain more in the coming election regarding distribution of constituencies?

Politics is a funny field. Common people hardly can understand what is going on in reality. We can only witness and support what is right or wrong. And one should keep in mind that "appearences can be deceptive".

 

Posted by Rezwan

THE SWORD IS MIGHTIER

Simon Denyer writes in Boston.com:

"Outside Iraq, Bangladesh is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist, especially outside the relative safety of the capital, Dhaka, according to global press watchdogs. At least nine reporters have been killed since 2000, hundreds more beaten or intimidated into silence.

The threats come from Maoist rebels, Islamic militants, organized crime and even the political establishment. What's worse, journalists say, they have almost no recourse to the law.

Bangladesh's government says the problem is grossly exaggerated and many of the journalists who are killed themselves have links with criminal groups, or are victims of local feuds."
RSF recently said that politicians from both sides accuse the media of trying to destabilize the country through their reporting. Over the past few years, the government has been particularly critical of both domestic and foreign reporting about signs of Islamic extremists operating in the country. In reality journalists like Tipu Sultan and Hasan Imam were threatend and attacked physically for writing against lawmakers of both the recent regimes, Awami League and now the ruling BNP-Jamaat qualition. So journalism in Bangladesh is not easy job except those are corrupt.

Now Drishtipat reports that the government is thinking of taking more strict measures against journalists:
"The president, the prime minister, and the information minister have expressed their willingness to amend the provision of the Press Council Act related to the power to warn, admonish and censure the press," - president of the council ustice Abu Sayeed Ahammed.
The New age comments:
"These amendments are expected to encourage all and sundry to take legal action against newsmen and newspapers on the spurious ground of yellow journalism because no one is sure who will determine what is yellow and what is not and how they will go about doing it."
Amidst all everybody is forgetting free and fair responsible journalism is required for a functional democracy. Stopping the voices of journalists can only benefit certain quarters but not the nation. Yellow journalism can be fought by responsible journalism if there is no restriction. The Observer wrote:
"The press has played a significant role in unearthing the activities of Islamic militants at a time when the government was saying that they do not exist. Now that the problem can no longer be ignored they are once again blaming the media this time on the plea that legislative privilege has been undermined. There is no greater interest than the national interest and the government should try to serve it rather than coterie interests."
But is anybody listening?

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* Blog etiquette for newspapers.

* The Mongolian government wants to change the Mongolian language from the Cyrillic to the Roman alphabet.

* How Islam got political.

* The 15 enemies of the Internet and other countries to watch.

* Top ten things you can do to get blogged.

* Pakistan's top 10 test cricketers.

* A bit of backstory on Pajamas Media/OSM.

* A day in the life of blogging.

 

Posted by Rezwan

SOUTH ASIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL IN NEW YORK

The South Asian International Film Festival (SAIFF) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting established and emerging artists from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. With a focus on dynamic, visionary independent cinema, SAIFF aims to bring communities together to support these artists and unite in celebration of a common spirit. (via Faruq Faisel)

This year, the 2005 festival titled 'colors in fusion' will run from December 7 through December 11, 2005 in New York City.

Faruq reveiws one of the Bangladesh entries in the festival - a documentary named Color of Faith (Bishwasher Rong) by Saiful Wadud Helal. Some excerpts about the film:

"The people of Bangladesh struggle every day with nature for survival. They acknowledge, appreciate, and revere all the forces of nature. Religious faith provides them with added strength and courage. The sapling of religious faith brought over by Sufis and saints from the dry, scorched earth of Middle East has blossomed in the moist, olden soil of Bangladesh. Nevertheless, the fruit it bore is considered forbidden by fundamentalists- as forbidden as Gandham (the forbidden fruit of paradise)."
Seems interesting.

 

Posted by Rezwan

VATICAN MEET


AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano

In this photo released by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope benedict XVI exchanges gifts with Bangladesh Foreign Minister Morshed Khan during a private audience at the Vatican Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2005. (source)

 

Posted by Rezwan

TOWARDS UNITY OR CHAOS?

Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina, inset, addresses the grand rally of the 14-party opposition alliance at Paltan Maidan in the city yesterday
(Picture courtesy: The daily Star)

Yesterday can be a turning point of Bangladesh politics, which is bound to shape up the 2006 election. As the Daily Star reports:

Despite the government's last-ditch attempts to prevent people from joining the 14-party opposition grand rally, the city's Paltan Maidan yesterday turned into a human sea, where top opposition leaders pledged to establish a secular democratic government after dislodging the BNP-Jamaat-led coalition through a mass upsurge.

Amidst thunderous claps and repeated slogans rising from the mammoth gathering, the opposition line-up spelled out a 23-point common minimum national programme, which is virtually its election manifesto.
Addabaj comments on these 23 points:
Their 23 points basically outline establishing secular democratic government, holding free and fair election, freeing communal forces and militants from government and society, ensuring speedy trial of war criminals, alleviating poverty, ending corruption and increasing accountability of the elected representatives, strengthening uniform educational system etc. All these demands don’t hold any surprise/secret as they reflect the popular view points and demands of the common people in Bangladesh.
This is certainly a headway for the confused people who are rattled by the way the Bangladesh politics is heading. Even as we speak, the JMB threats continue and the government is failing to protect the establishments let alone the common people.

Meanwhile the governments attempts to tackle this opposition rally proved to be a fiasco. Nearly 10,000 people were detained mostly for no reason. Salaam writes:
The whole transport strike on the day before the grand rally was a joke. First of all, everyone knows what happened and who did it and why. To arrest a transport worker and use that as an excuse and then let him free at 6pm after the rally was laughable, to put it mildly. To put it more seriously, it was a total abuse of system and power. Someone needs to teach strategy to Nazmul Huda. To stop 50,000 activists he pissed of millions of stranded people.
The law makers are constantly trying to stop the voices of the media as they are breaking the true news. They forget that there are other voices too who does not have any interest to defame the government. This is not unexpected from the people who fear the truth and another example is this news: "president Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar".

The BNP and Jamaat coalition's failure is apparent because they could not expell their bad apples, the accused lawmakers and punish the culprits who bear the party identity. And If you not take measures against one failure it starts to contaminate the successes and lead to more failures.

I expected Bodruddoza Chowdhury's Bikolpo Dhara and other small political parties to join opposition hands too. I am not fully confident about the 14 party opposition partnership. Because they also have some hypocrates and bad apples. I think we can break away from the polarizations of our politics if we have a coalition government of many parties. BNP & Awami League can be deemed as two sides of the same coin. A functional multi-opinionated parliament and accountability of the lawmakers are badly required in Bangladesh.

 

Posted by Rezwan

GLOBAL VOICES WIN

'Global voices online' has won the jury’s choice for the Best Journalistic Blog in English from Deutsche Welle, the German state broadcasting service. Many kudos to the co-founders Ethan Zuckerman and Rebecca MacKinnon and the GV editors and contributors for their outstanding efforts. I am proud to be one of the contributors.

Lisa Stone writes about GV:

"In my opinion, Global Voices is the most important blog in the English speaking world, bar none. This site is more than an up-to-the-minute guide and encyclopedia of the international blogosphere. Global Voices Online is a mega-blog the covers free speech by a global citizenry–and covers it well. It’s so important at a time when so many international voices are denied free speech by their governments and, in the United States, a very few, English-speaking, first-world media conglomerates dominate and determine the ownership, distribution and content of news."
So, if you haven't bookmarked 'Global Voices Online' yet, don't forget to do it now.

 

Posted by Rezwan

HARRY POTTER'S BANGLADESH CONNECTION




The latest film of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire casts two Bangladeshi actresses. According to this news:

"The girls - Shefali Chowdhury and Afshan Azad are second-generation Bangladeshis currently based in London. They play the characters of the 'Patil twins' in the film slated for a worldwide release this November.

Shefali and Afshan who play Harry and his best friend Ron's dates for the Yule Ball say they are "overwhelmed" to be a part of this huge film."
More in Razib Rashedin's blog & Sepia Mutiny.

 

Posted by Rezwan

RACISM IN SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi blogger "The Religious Policemen" on racism:

....up until now, we've been one of the most rabidly racist countries in the world, and totally unconcerned about it. Walk down any Saudi street and ask anybody who looks as though they come from points East, how do the Saudis regard and treat you? Ask the Pakistani taxi driver. Ask the Bangladeshi street-cleaner, in his orange jump-suit, sweeping up the tissues and fast-food boxes that we thoughtfully throw out of our car window as we pass. Best of all, if you get the chance, ask our Indonesian housemaids.
Pakistani blogger Isaac Schroedinger adds:
The "All Muslims are Equal" rhetoric is completely hollow in Saudi Arabia. Non-Saudis in the country don't have a right to own property. The Saudis treated them (labors from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, or the Philippines) with contempt. The Saudis would rather bark at them than speak to them like civilized people. These squalid workers would never utter a word in protest because they knew that in Saudi Arabia it doesn't take much to deport a foreign worker. My dad worked in Saudi Arabia with many Arab colleagues. He often worked on the weekend to show his dedication (read: pick up the slack for incompetent Saudis). Yet, he got paid around half of what the company gave the Saudis. You see, at the very heart of Islam, some Muslims are more equal than others.
Its good to know that OIC is drafting an Islamic covenant on combating racial discrimination. But I wonder whether it will be able to draw much improvement from the present situation as it is tough to change human behaviors and eradicate hypocrisy.

 

Posted by Rezwan

BLOG OF AN EXILED JOURNALIST

I have discovered the blog of the exiled Bangladeshi journalist Saleem Samad, who was granted political asylum in Canada. Some excerpts:

"The government framed me under sedition laws and for conspiracy to slander the country’s image abroad. It was heartbreaking that the coalition government dubbed me for destabilization of the state. I would have been glad, if the authority accused me under punishable offence acts for critiquing the government. With the present circumstance, I will never be able to return to my country I had participated in creating the nation – Bangladesh in my youth.

This ordeal I experienced was because I cried wolf, when the Islamic militants were gaining grounds in Bangladesh since the nationalist Islamist chauvinist government swept into power in October 2001."
See no evil, hear no evil, say no evil.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* The partnership between Grameen & Nokia will expand the Village Phone network in Africa.

* Music: On a ship to Bangladesh, Artist: Three Mile Pilot

* HIV and Bangladesh.

* The deadly kiss.

* Images: Life in Bangladesh.

* Save Pranti, a Seven and a half year old girl.

* Losing my religion - Communalism in Mumbai.

 

Posted by Rezwan

MY WAY OR HIGHWAY

Adda posts some thoughts on the nature of the Bangladeshis. He says:

As Bangladeshi, we faithfully practice, "Either it is my way or Highway". No one over here tolerates dissidence; no one wants reality check... So, if it’s not my way, you’re blamed.
I wonder why we always think ourselves as some lord who want to dictate others in our own will. Why we want to have privileges we have not earned with hard work? Why do we feel ourselves superior to others? Why even the poors want to be rich only to be an oppressor and to have privileges like a rich man? Why the political parties cannot adopt liberalism?

Lets try to analyze the problem with one example.

I was standing on a queue in Changi airport to get GST refund of the shopping I did. Suddenly a Bangladeshi man in his forties rushes in and requested the lady to process his one first citing many reasons. The lady in the counter requested him to stand in the queue. On his repeated request she told him that she will be able to attend him first if he could get permission from the other persons standing in the queue. I don't think he had got the message right as he got out from the place furiously giving all his paper to another officer standing nearby saying that he does not want the refund as no courtesy was extended to him. He said that he has an ailing mother with him in the wheelchairs so he cannot stand in the queue for long. The officer managed the situation by telling the person to stand in the queue and announcing that he will look after his mother in the wheelchair in the meantime.

You see even the person had a genuine cause of urgency he could have asked permissions of the persons standing in the queue or simply stand in the queue with his mother, who would be voluntarily helped by the persons standing in the queue. But instead why did he react in this way? Because probably he is a big shot in Bangladesh who is used to get privileges all the time. On my way back while standing in queue in Zia International Airport in Dhaka, I saw many persons avoiding the queue as some airport officials were letting preferred people getting the immigrations done prior to other men standing in the queue. Many people including foreigners in the queue were finding this very disturbing. But I wonder why these persons like to get this so called preferential treatment? What makes them so different from others?

I think we need to question this to ourselves why we cannot do the hardship of standing in the queue and let others get the fair advantage. Why do we need privileges and why can't we accept ourselves as equal to our fellow countrymen?

Our problems will remain if these questions are not answered.

 

Posted by Rezwan

SINGAPORE PHOTOS

My Singapore tour photos

My Singapore tour photos

Finally I have managed to upload some photos of Singapore in Flickr. Check them out.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* Village Phone replication manual.

* Bangladeshi people are happy people. (BBC Survey)

* Jamaat unmasked.

* Powered by Pajama-clad revolutionaries OSM the open source media blog has been launched.

* Reverse brain drain in India.

* The GreatBong remembers Desi Baba.

 

Posted by Rezwan

WORK HARD, LIVE HAPPY

I am writing from an Internet cafe in Changi airport, Singapore. The internet is free but the food is not. Well, what more would you expect? You have to earn the amenities you enjoy. There is no free lunch and it is foolish to expect that everything will be awarded to you automatically. Like the average taxi drivers I met in Singapore, were senior citizens and very very nice people. They are well behaved and will give back every penny that belongs to you. You would be urged to leave the odd changes to him, but not always they will oblige. I asked one 60 years old why he is working when he would be retiring. He commented that if he stays in home doing nothing then he will go crazy. As he was not fortunate to be rich, he needs this income to live better. Yes, the urge to have a better living draws people to work and not just going through the motion, doing the task efficiently.

Singapore is very well equipped with infrastructures and amenities. A multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-ethnic community which boasts of living together without hatred against each other. Even 50 years ago there were these community clashes and gang-warfares. But the government have a tight control over the law and order. I have seen one public protest in the busy orchard street. The protesters were 7-8 in numbers with polices outnumbering them and in the busy crowd they were looking like an odd group with no one noticing.

My fellow colleagues from India were wondering how the train ticket purchasing is automated and how they refunded the unused credits. All lavatories have infrared censors for flashes and many standards like these are maintains everywhere. People are civilized not to cross roads in red lights. The shopping mall Mustafa Center is open 24 hours and there is no risk of traveling at night. This discipline and law-and-order shows how efficient the government is.

And ofcourse the credit goes to the hard working people of Singapore who earned their happy living.

Yesterday we went to the Sentosa Island and had some terrific time watching the dolphin show and the laser fountain show. We were so amazed with the boat ride, we went again after dinner. What can I tell, Singapore at nighttime is marvelous to watch. The riverside cafes were so vibrant with all colors and races of people.

The best part of today was me meeting the Indian blogger Nitin Pai, his lovely wife and ofcourse the little angel Perie. They took me to a Thai restaurant called Lemon Grass in the Orchard Street for lunch. We had a good time and Nitin happens to be only the 2nd blogger I met in person.

My flight leaves for Dhaka within a couple of hours, so I need to move on.

 

Posted by Rezwan

BUSY IN SINGAPORE

At last got some time to be in an internet kiosk. The first 2 days were hectic. But we did the business with pleasure. That means after a nightlong journey we had the energy to find time for having a walk around the corner (window shopping), sight seeing or some shopping spree in-between the conference. Like many in Singapore, our hotel is really big and houses a lot of people. But the amenities like well equipped room, conference center, sufficient lifts etc is well worth the price (Us$65 PD). The hotel is located in Victoria street near all big shopping joints. One such huge joint is the Mustafa Center, which has almost anything you can buy and is open 24 hours. So it was not surprising when some of us went there after 11 PM at night and came back at 1 AM. We took our food mostly in the restaurant of the hotel. As many of our team are vegetarians, I am practically living on veg food, which I find a really good variation on diet.

Yesterday night we took the night safari which was excellent. The place is well maintained and gives you a feeling of the real jungle. As I was explaining to my roommate, a Safari is a place where animals roam around and people are caged - opposite of a zoo. We were not caged actually, we were in a tram which went through the roads circling around the complex where many animals including tigers and lions were roaming or resting. We took the interesting trekking through the jungle and watched an exciting live animal show. The show was really good because it was moderated well (by an American).

Today we started the day with a tour around the city which included a boat ride. This was really excellent and we enjoyed the picturesque side of Singapore. It would be undermining Singapore if I would say that the streets and surroundings in Singapore are also not worthy to mention. One of my colleagues from India was really trying to locate a slum or some shabby building which he still haven't found. The buildings are really modern and colorful. The sky has no limit in Singapore. The boat ride was really worth because we could take beautiful pictures.

We just had our lunchr in an Indian restaurant name Tandoori near Mustafa Center and will be leaving for the Sentosa Island shortly. I have taken many pictures which I will upload to Flicker later and post the link.

Catch up with you later.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TRAVEL UPDATE

I am flying to Singapore tonight to attend one conference. I will try to post travelogue from there. Please bear with me if I am not able to post for about a week.

 

Posted by Rezwan

BANGLADESH IS BEING HELD TO RANSOM


(Picture courtesy of the Daily Star)

If you are wondering about the image you are seeing, its Bangladesh, not Iraq. Yes that is a wreckage of a car torn to pieces by a bomb blast. And ofcourse there is a suicide bomber who was apprehended one person with an unexploded bomb strapped to one of his thighs along and confessed. He was identified as JMB cadre Iftekhar Hasan Al Mamun, 28, a member of the JMB suicide squad. The reason for this killing was cited in a leaflet:

"We don't want Taguti [non-Islamic] law, let Qur'anic law be introduced. Law framed by humans cannot continue and only the laws of Allah will prevail."

I am just shocked at the sheer height of stupidity here. No thank you dear militant. You need to discover yourself whether you are a human or something else. I would not say animal, because they are civilized enough not to prey other animals for unnecessary reasons. But things are not what they seem.

There is a deeper conspiracy in this. the Islamic millitants see the court as their biggest hurdle as after the Aug 17 bombings the police apprehended more than 500 extremists and banned two Islamic groups (JMB being one of them). The police is on the verge of exposing the kingpins and go for speedy trials of these elements. So crippling the legal system might be the agenda of those who wants to establish Islamic law in Bangladesh.

This is really a very grave incident for the ruling BNP+Jamaat qualition and the country. What does the Jamaat MP has to say about this as he earlier said the JMB is the creation of the media. Salam links to a news that the bomber and his family had links to Jamaat-e-Islami. Does he have any answer? Who are the next one to be bombed, you or I?

Sadly our political parties are not matured enough to tackle this together. The main opposition claimed the Government had a hand in the bombings, whereas in reality this incident only makes the image of the government week. Instead of these wastage of speeches, it would have been good for the country if they provided their support in tackling terrorists.

And how are the police trying to cope with this? The government turns to holy verses to tackle extremism. That's motivation part, but what about hard measures? They will now provide the 740 judges in the country with gunmen. Surely they cannot afford providing gunmen to each and everyone of this country. The elite force RAB was accused of many extra-judicial killikngs. Surprisingly no one extremist was killed this way. This leaves many wondering how these forces have gained strength.

There is no alternative in uprooting these bigots with the help of all quarters. Bangladeshi blogger Addabaj urges everyone:

"I passionately appeal to my fellow Bloggers/friends to join me to condemn terrorism and abandon all political forces that sponsor, join and tolerate religious fundamentalism and militancy in Bangladesh. Bangladesh became independent twice before, first time from the Pakistani force in 1971, second time from HM Ershad’s military junta in 1990. Now, it’s another call for all of us to free our beloved land- Bangladesh from the evil shadow of religious extremism for today and forever. Stand up and raise your hands once again with the same spirit of independence."

Won't you join him?

 

Posted by Rezwan

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims. We cannot clear our names unless we own up to the shameful fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly, implemented by Muslim men and women."


- Abdel Rahman al-Rashed - a Saudi journalist in London

 

Posted by Rezwan

WORDS OF ADVICE

Words of advice for not to be mistaken as a gay:

1) Never wear a non-white towel at the gym.
2) Don't wear your wrist watch on the right hand.
3) Don't wear colorful shirts.
4) Don't carry your cell phone in your right chest pocket.
5) Talking in a high pitched voice.
6) If you carry a bag with a sash wear it on your left, not on the right.
7) Don't tie your cardigan at the waist. Wrap it around your neck.

These might sound weird, but that's how gays spot each other.

(Via Mezba's blog)

 

Posted by Rezwan

THE 13TH SAARC SUMMIT TAKES OFF IN DHAKA

The 13th summit of the seven-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has begun in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh today. Being active since 1985 the forum steps into the third decade amidst great expectations. Representing a combined population of over 1.4 billion, these seven nations (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and SriLanka) are yet to sort out poverty reduction issues, trade barriers and travel restrictions, and other cooperation between them, which could be a mutually beneficial platform and a strong union like EU.

Here are some of the bloggers and news sources takes on this summit:

Bangladesh has spent a lot in decorating the capital, on and around the summit venues in beautiful coloring lights, flowers and other roadside designs. The streets were cleaned and beautified. Blogger Rajputro took some pictures which gives you a glimpse of Dhaka in nighttime during the SAARC. Strong security measures have been taken up deploying 40,000 security forces and virtually keeping many important roads of Dhaka city off-limit for general citizens. Many businesses are closed and the government has declared a holiday on the 13th of November making it a long weekend of 3 days so that the movement of the dignitaries can be secured.

Although the city is in holiday mood, the traffic is less not only because of the holidays. The streets are completely deserted because people do not want to be harassed by security forces, which have put check posts in many places and obstructing traffics. Dhaka city has become off limit to beggars as they may cause embarrassment and security concern in front of the foreign dignitaries. Their presence in the capital city will definitely undermine the SAARC agenda for poverty alleviation in South Asian countries! Expat Ileyana is simply bored with the shutting down. Salam wonders how much money did the economy lose for shutting down portions of Dhaka city. In Dhaka's bazaars, SAARC brings mixed feelings.

Sanjoy tells about the most coveted job in preparation of the summit. Adda has some questions for the SAARC leaders to answer as no agreement is likely to be made on three controversial trade cooperation SAFTA points.

The Daily Pakistan welcomes Afghanistan & China's inclusion in SAARC terming them 'new blood to anemic SAARC'. However the entry of both the states are yet to be decided by the nations.

People are expecting South Asia to rise above regional divide and make SAARC important and fruitful. It should come of age and bring some concrete gains to citizens of South Asia, fifty per cent of whom live below the poverty line earning barely one dollars a day per person.

Other links :

* The daily Star special SAARC supplement.

* SAARC official website.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* A short history of blogging.

* The king of pings.

* Ten misconceptions about Islam.

* Begum Khaleda’s compulsions.

* Ning - Free social apps.

* Greatest Internet moments.

 

Posted by Rezwan

Why the animosity?

 

Posted by Rezwan

IS SAARC BECOMING LESS IMPORTANT?

Amidst high security, Dhaka is preparing for the 2nd time in this year to host the postponed 13th SAARC Summit. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established in 1985 with great visions. The founding leaders had visualized economic self-reliance for the Seven member countries where poverty is a persistent problem. With a combined population of over 1.4 billion, the economically developing region faces multifarious problems. Removing trade barriers, visa free travel and other cooperation are on the cards but these have not been possible to implement because of many reasons and reluctance of some members. This could have been a strong union like EU as every fifth man or woman on earth is a South Asian if the subsequent leaders adhered to those visions.

Instead it has become a obligatory affair where many countries are sending second fiddles as head of the delegates. Pakistan, India and Bhutan will not be sending their head of states. Some Nepali politicians are arguing that the Nepali King his Majesty King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev should not attend the summit as the chief of the mission.

Some are being optimistic:

"SAARC has not been a success, but holding the Summit itself would be a positive move for the region."

Undoubtedly bigger nations like India and Pakistan hold the key to make SAARC successfull or inactive. Let us keep our fingers crossed.

 

Posted by Rezwan

KILLERS' RELIGION

Dilip attracts all the heat after he wrote of news items about Muslims condemning the Delhi blasts, and asked: why should Muslims have to prove this every damned time? This follows an interesting discussion.

One commentator Anand says:

Frequently demanding the minority communities to prove their allegiance is a successful fascist ploy. That even secular minded people sometimes fall into these traps is indeed unfortunate. Let's not have first class citizens whose patriotism is never questioned and groups of second class citizens who need to prove it every now and then.
This is applicable for many countries in the world.

Update: Saudi blogger Alhamedi discusses the french riots in the light of the same topic with a different perspective. An interesting read.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* 'The 2nd Carnival of the feminists' is up (via philobibilon).

* 'Black Looks' posts an excellent round-up of the French riots titled "Mort pour rien - Dead for nothing".

* Anonymous blogging guide.

* Most blogs are terrible.

 

Posted by Rezwan

EID AROUND THE WORLD

Haitham Sabbah of 'Global Voices Online' brings to you Eid around the world.

 

Posted by Rezwan

POST EID BLUES

I miss my single life. We used to have so much fun with friends and family on the Eid day: going for a long drive, adda (hanging around with freinds, gossiping), fast foods and ice-cream.

Now apart from the Eid prayers, on Eid holidays the world is confined to visiting relatives, watching special TV programs alongwith commercials of same duration and seeing the common Shemai & biriyani as menu. Pretty boring. I rebelled on the 2nd day, grabbed some kids (including my 1 year old) and drove to Nandan Park, a theme park 50 km away from Dhaka. The mothers were generous enough to come with us lending a hand to guide the kids while some of their husbands preferred to stay at home to take a nap. They did a great job in standing on the mile long queues for us while we ventured here and there. The crowd looked suffocating, but we had to continue with our quest of having some fun. We had the courtesy tickets (promotional gift from Nandan mall) which offered free rides for the whole park but we could finish only 2-3 rides due to lack of time. It went dark so early! The kids had to come home with heavy heart. Me too, not just because my cell phone got stolen in the crowd; because they did not allow my little one to be in the rides with me. The world is so cruel.

Update: I feel myself lucky. Because overcrowded funfairs can also be dangerous!

 

Posted by Rezwan

QUOTE OF THE DAY

May whatever moon you follow, be bright.
Eid Mubarak!


- Pakistani Blogger Haroon Moghul

 

Posted by Rezwan

CELEBRATING EID IN BANGLADESH

I take this opportunity to wish every person I can reach with this weblog a happy Eid. Let the festivity touch everybody and let us hope for a peacefull coexistence of people of all color, religion and race in the world without hatred or friction. I also wish everybody a happy Diwali which took place a couple of days ago. Probably tomorrow (4th of November) will be the Eid day in Bangladesh depending on the sighting of the moon.

Eid (means festivity in Arabic) is a Muslim festival. After the month of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and abstinence, on the first day of the month Shawwal. This Eid, the Eid-ul-Fitr (first of the two in a year) is to celebrate the joyous 'Festival of fast breaking'. It is celebrated all over the world according to different cultures and customized celebrations.

In Bangladesh, Eid means sharing happiness with the family, giving new clothes of all colors to all dependent members of the family and wearing them on this day. Eid shopping for self and others is a great festivity itself, which will go on till the Eid day. On this day special foods are prepared, the preparation of which may start several days before. The items include Semai(vermicelli), Doi Bara, Chotpoti, Biriani, Firni, Sweets and many more. This day there is an open invitation to everybody. In the morning people perform the obligatory Eid prayer mostly in mosques. There are special grounds prepared for praying en-masse and there may be a crowd of well over 100,000 in one congregation in some places.

People visit family members, neighbors and acquaintances’ houses and everybody is welcomed with food and blessings. Even the non-Muslims are welcome and included in the celebration. People embrace one another (for the male) irrespective of status or age. They also visit the graves of the relatives and pious Muslims. It is a religious obligation on the day to pay fitra ( a dole) to the needy at a fixed rate as a thanks giving. People also pay clothes and money as zakaat to poor so that the poor, too, may enjoy the day along with others, and may not be worried for earning their livelihood at least on the day of happiness.

It is customary to take blessings from the elderly who in return give monetary tips (Eidi). Specially the children are more kin to collect all the tips they can accumulate and have some money to celebrate on their own, like going to theatre in bunch or having a party. The visits go on for a couple of more days till the Eid vacation is over. Some people go visit cemeteries to remember and pray for their loved ones.

Eid fairs and sports competitions are organized at many rural places. These fairs have merry-go-rounds, puppet shows, spiritual concerts and bioscopes and many handicrafts are sold. Boat race, kabadi, football and even cricket matches are organized which draw a lot of crowd. The Eid holidays last from minimum three days upto an week making all these possible.

travelling dangerously
(Picture courtesy the Daily Independent)

The remarkable thing in celebrating Eid in Bangladesh is the family bonds. No matter how far one is from the family for the whole year, he/she will go back to the ancestral home and celebrate Eid with kith and kins. E.g. Dhaka, being a mega city has a population well over 11 million. Almost 40%-50% of the population travel to their village/small town home causing a great rush in traffic (and some accidents) just before and after the Eid holidays. But this pain is part of the happiness of celebrating together.

I will be staying in Dhaka as my family, friends and relatives are mostly based here. However, these people will be in my thoughts and prayers.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* Yahoo Messenger password scam warning.

* Business school flap a 'breakout moment' for Indian blogosphere.

* Saudi Dollars and Jihad.

* What is cricket doing for the earthquake victims?

* Ten very surprising things about Iran.

* List of top 100 intellectuals of the world.

* The 'Third Way' Leads to the 'Third World': Choosing the Path to Economic Prosperity.

* TIME magazine's 100 best Novels - 1923 to present.

* Alcohol - Not Prohibited in the Koran ?

* What ails the IT sector in Bangladesh?

 

Posted by Rezwan

ITS ALL ABOUT PRODUCTIVITY NOT THE FIGURE

The world bank and other donors are pressurizing Bangladesh to curtail government jobs saying its too big for a poor country. Probably that is the cause behind the government decision to stop recruitments, which has aroused much resentment. According to an information, 60,000 posts of officers and employees are still vacant in different government offices.

But the point is are these jobs required? The civil administration sadly follows the work culture of yester years. The government offices have many unnecessary posts such as peons, stenographers, personal assistants, whereas technology can replace them. In private sector jobs are slowly being molded to produce better productivity. You will hardly find any unnecessary posts. Techonology has replaced them. But there is still a great digital divide in the civil administration. Many bureaucrats are not PC and internet savvy. In government sector the productivity is not increasing probably because of the traditional appraisal system which deals much with seniority rather than actual productivity. Performance based appraisal system is the call of the hour to ensure better productivity.

Above all I think Bangladesh should invest more in e-governance. India has been able to bring down corruption and increase productivity with the help of e-governance. And the initiatives of the government should not be to lay off en-masse, but to increase quality of service with existing workforce ensuring productivity and aided by technology.