Echo

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* Israeli-Iranian summit underway.

* Iran blocks BBC's Persian website.

* Politics of Terrorism.

* Terror Network Visualization: an interactive flash visualiztion of known terrorist links.

* Online Ovidhan: Free English 2 Bangla and English 2 English dictionary.

* One extra email address per yahoo account for free!

* 'Mail Big File' is a free tool for transferring large files up to 1GB, without clogging up your email.

 

Posted by Rezwan

HOOKAH BAR

Bangladeshi brothers make Shisha popular among the youths in Northern Virginia, USA. (Via Unheard Voices)

The Shisha'ites also have a group blog in MySpace.com where 135 members log on regularly to post pictures and experiences from the nightlife at the lounge. This is just short of making a cult.

A point to be noted (for future entrepreneurship) by Shappir.

 

Posted by Rezwan

BANGLADESHI BLOG SHOWCASE

Today's featured blog is Saifur's 'imperfect | world | 2006'. He lives in Cambridge, UK. Here is the link to learn more about him.

Check his posts on 'Dhallywood' 'Troika' and 'RAB'. His blog surely is an interesting read.

 

Posted by Rezwan

DESICRITICS.ORG

Finally Desicritics.org is scheduled to be launched on the 26th of January, 2006.

It will be an online magazine, an interactive community in which writers and readers from around the globe will talk about stories, issues, and products with a South Asia Focus. It is being set up by the people behind Blogcritics.org, especially Aaman Lamba.

The authors (so far 80 including me) will form a powerful online platform for South Asia creating news, opinions, and reviews with a global South Asian flavor.

Don't forget to bookmark it.

 

Posted by Rezwan

DHAKA BLOGGERS MEET

We are trying to arrange the first ever Bangladeshi blogger meet in Dhaka. Me and Rifat have been discussing this since last November. The date is now finalized, i.e. 4th of February, 2006 Saturday. The main idea is to get to know each other well and discuss about blogs and blogging.

Any active Bangladeshi blogger can participate. We would like to keep this meet in a close informal circle so we will not encourage non-bloggers in the meet. The venue will be a restaurant in Banani, which will be informed via mail before the meet. The tentative timing will be 5PM-7PM evening. Don't worry we will not keep you from your 'Biyer Dawat' at night.

There is no fixed agenda, but strictly no political rhetoric will be allowed. Techie bloggers can enlighten us with the new developments in internet and blogging. Others can share their personal experiences in blogging etc.

Please contact me for additional infos. Is there any wifi-internet service available in Banani? It would be great to live blog the event. Your ideas and advices are welcome.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* Map of the world charted by stereotypes.

* Top ten blogger lies.

* The United States of Islam.

* A subjective comparison of Germany and the United States.

* Is Internet access a freedom or a privilege?

* Bangladesh to launch world's biggest measles vaccination drive.

 

Posted by Rezwan

INDO-BANGLADESH DIALOGUE OF YOUNG LEADERS

In a three day long event in Dhaka organized by the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute the young leaders of India & Bangladesh called for strong political will to resolve the outstanding issues.

Farooq Sobhan, president of the enterprise institute and the former foreign secretary of Bangladesh, emphasized on fresh ideas instead of being obsessed with old debates and proposed more interactions between the people of seven sisters and Bangladesh, including Dhaka's direct flight with Guwahati, Assam, and bus services with Shillong, Meghalaya. He expressed his conviction that Indian authorities invested more "time and energy" in her relations with Pakistan and under-invested in making policies towards Bangladesh.

All major issues were discussed but I think its time for more action by both of the countries rather than rhetorics.

As the saying goes:

What you have to do and the way you have to do it is incredibly simple. Whether you are willing to do it, that's another matter.

 

Posted by Rezwan

BANGLADESH -WHY SHOULD INVESTORS CARE?

Bangladesh has been a land of confusion to many. Just as there are much potential to make this democratic country overcome many challenges like the overpopulation, poverty and extremism and go forward, there are many setbacks like political instability and corruption.

In October, Berlin-based research organization Transparency International declared Bangladesh to be the most corrupt nation on Earth, for the fifth time. Then last month Goldman Sachs Group Inc. included it in a list of 11 developing countries that, according to its analysts, have the greatest potential to emulate the long-term economic success expected from China, India, Brazil and Russia. The pendulum is swinging like yo yo and nobody knows when it will strike a balance somewhere.

Andy Mukherjee of Bloomberg writes that there are three good reasons why investors should care about Bangladesh:

* First, no matter how bad things get, Bangladesh almost always manages to produce a decent economic growth rate of about 5 percent.

* Second, almost 35 percent of Bangladeshis are now aged 15 years or younger. They will soon enter the workforce. Compared with three decades ago, when women, on average, produced six children, fertility rates have dropped below three children.

* Third, with some cleaning up, the Bangladeshi judiciary can be made to support a modern economy if only politicians would agree to create one.

And there are even more solid reasons:

* Enforcing a contract is 4 percentage points cheaper in Bangladesh than in China.
* Not only are Bangladesh's investor protection standards far superior to China's, they're also better than what's available, on average, in rich countries.
* Bangladesh is also competitive on labor costs. Garment workers in Dhaka earn 39 U.S. cents an hour, while the hourly wage for sewing and stitching in coastal China is 88 cents.

Andy's prescription for Bangladesh:

"Bangladesh needs to cut red tape and open up to foreign trade and investment so that more and better-paying jobs lead to a bigger middle class and stronger public institutions. Only then will the nexus between corruption, poverty, terrorism and general lawlessness be broken."
We strongly believe that Goldman Sachs will be true.

 

Posted by Rezwan

MADRASSA REFORMS

Last year I wrote in detail about how Madrassa students in Bangladesh are being exploited. At least four million poor children (many of them are orphans) are studying in more than 50,000 of these religious schools across Bangladesh. Lack of standard curriculum and infrastructure and political motivations are making the madrassa students incapable of taking the challenges of the real world. If they are not provided with hope of getting the equal opportunity like the students of other standards of educations, they can easily be turned to be an army of clerics by vested quarters. That is why Madrassa reform should be the top most priority of the government.

This news can be a good example of Madrassa reform. In West Bengal, India, Madrassa education is being revolutionized (via Diganta). They have achieved the following:

1) Incorporating non-Muslims - 12% of total 329,000 Madrassa students are Hindus; expanding religious tolerance and relation between the different religious communities.
2) The syllabus is same as regular schools and the certificates are recognized by everyone. The cost of study is nominal. There are no discrimination between Muslims and non-Muslims on fees.
3) They are co-educational, in fact there are more girls than boys. Both girls and boys sit and study in the same classroom, without any veils.
4) The schools/Madrassas are equally equipped with science labs and computers.
5) Islamic studies are taught not by 'mullah's, but by teachers appointed through West Bengal School Service Commission.
6) Madrassas cater to extremely poor and mostly first-generation learners.
7) Madrassas in Bengal took part in Polio eradication program, in collaboration with UNICEF.
8) Madrassa teachers enjoy same pay-scale of regular teachers.
9) 85% of those who take secondary exams through Madrassas, go onto study in regular courses afterwards

This is really wonderful. I think Bangladesh government can study these and modernize Madrassa education system in Bangladesh.

Diganta comments:

"The best way to eradicate extremists from religion is to modernize religious education."

 

Posted by Rezwan

ABDUR RAHMAN HELD IN INDIA?

The New Age and Amar Desh newspapers reported today, citing intelligence sources (hat tip Diganta):

"The fugitive chief of the terrorist organization Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Shaikh Abdur Rahman, was reportedly arrested by the Indian police from a hideout at Barasat, 24 Parganas of West Bengal on Sunday."
But the home ministry said that they are yet to be informed officially by India.

The same news have been picked up by the international media. But so far no further updates are available. This will be a huge leap in stopping the JMB terrorist activities in Bangladesh.

If the news is authentic then who will get the 5 million dollar (US$ 77,000) bounty on the head of Rahman declared by Bangladesh Government?

Update: Mac has more news.

Update 2: India confirms arrest of Rahman.

Update 3: More confusions. Now Indians are saying that the arrested man is not Abdur Rahman, but another JMB suspect named Sheikh Obeidur Rahman.

 

Posted by Rezwan

HOW COLD WAS IT?

I am sure many international readers have picked the news that hundreds were killed in the recent cold wave in Bangladesh. Have they wondered actually how cold was it and why so many people died?

Dutch expat Herma clears some of the misconceptions:

A cold wave has hit Bangladesh. I can see how you raise your eyebrows. "Cold, what do you mean? Ten degrees? That is a normal summer night in our country!"

In Bangladesh however, this is a little different. As none of the houses have a heating, when it is ten degrees, it is ten degrees everywhere. In the street, but also in your living room. Imagine putting your thermostat at ten, which would be no luxury at all. Most of the people have no winter clothes or blankets, and a lot of people died, especially new born babies.
It must be noted that no rich people died. Actually cold waves did not kill but poverty did.

 

Posted by Rezwan

INDIAN BENGALI LANGUAGE TV EYING BANGLADESHI MEDIA MARKET

According to this news Indian TV channels are eyeing the Rs 2.5 billion Bangladesh television market. Broadcast Worldwide, owner of the Bengali channels 'Tara News' and 'Tara Muzik' is planning to set up an ad sales office in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka. Their spokesman said:

"We have already registered ourselves in Dhaka. The permission to open a bank account in the country has also been obtained. Presently, we are awaiting the government's permission to remit revenue back to India."
Because of no restriction these channels are gaining enough viewer ship in Bangladesh to attract local advertisers to place their ads. Whereas, Bangladeshi satellite channels are not being allowed to being aired in neighboring India. Apparently the Indian cable TV cartels, backed by the Indian advertisers are not allowing the feeds to the Indian subscribers. In 2002 Bangladesh's move to ban certain Indian channels were widely criticized by the media and Bangladesh lifted the ban immediately. However the mainstream media never talk about the unofficial ban of Bangladeshi channels in India. Even the recent Pak ban on Indian channels caused an uproar.

Some say that it is a ploy to restrict entrance of Bangladeshi manufactured goods in India as TV advertisements are an effective marketing tool. The Indian manufactures are leveraging Bangladeshi viewer ship of the Indian channels as they do not have to spend additional money to capture Bangladeshi consumers attentions. As far I know in West Bengal, Bengali viewers are keen to watch Bangladeshi TV programs just as Bangladeshis are interested in the programs of Indian Bengali TVs. So why they are not demanding to lift the ban and why Bangladeshi government is not doing anything about it?

Now there are many Bangladeshi satellite TV channels on air. The established ones are ATN Bangla, Channel I, BTV, NTV and the newer ones like STV (US), RTV, and on test transmission Channel 1, Bangla Vision & Baishakhi TV.

These channels are trying to improve the standards of the program and are offering variety and choices to the Bengali viewers. It is strange that we are yet to see any response of the Indian viewers whereas some of these channels are doing great in overseas markets like USA and Europe.

I am waiting to see how Bangladesh government deals with this inequality.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS


* The feed factory from BBC.

* Researchers recommend Wikis for government information.

* Bangladesh in the eyes of the world.

* Sunil Gavaskar's cricket podcast.

* Devadasi - are they illegal?

* Global fusion: Creating delicious food one meal at the time!

* Where do ships go to die?

* How to read blogs more efficiently.

* The Saudi sense of humor.

 

Posted by Rezwan

MORAL POLICING IN BANGLADESH?

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) was set up with a mission to facilitate affordable telecommunication services in Bangladesh. In recent times intense competition among the cellular phone providers has catalyzed the increase in teledensity of Bangladesh. The tariffs are also coming down and in a bid to manage unutilized network in off-peak hours, many providers have been offering bonus like free call within own network the whole night. This has certainly created a craze among the youths with low purchasing power as they are happy to avail the opportunity.

But the recent role of BTRC in banning the free night calls on the charge of 'vulgarity' has dented a blow to the policy of 'protection of the users interests' as boasted by the government Telecom act 2001. More surprising is that apparently the move was instigated by complaints of some parents who claimed that:

the free late-night calls made children indulge in long chats with friends or romantic partners, which was hampering their studies and changing their lifestyle.
I thought the responsibility of policing the kids is mainly of the parents. They could have just put an embargo on using cellphones. How would they like to restrict 'romancing' on the other periods of the day?

Razib is outraged by the authorities actions. He says:
It seems once again the authorities in Bangladesh got worried over the 'morals of the young'! Few days ago it was djuice, an offshoot from Grameen phone, was held under fire for demoralising the young by advertising their mobile deals in a rather casual language - their offence seems to be that they used the popular words or phrases young guys and girls use in Dhaka and in the rest of Bangladesh. Their advertisements were banned for the sake of saving the young of the country. When the young generation (even the small kids) are all dipped in vulgar Indian culture all day and night , it hardly makes sense how few innocent funny ads can destroy the morals of young.

If moral policing seeks a morally strong society, then I ask the government to close all the disgustingly vulgar Indian channels first then close fast food restaurants and other public places, check on Internet chatting and web surfing.

Do we need a police society like Saudi Arabia and the West? I hope the government can feel the pulse of the Bangladeshi young society; if not then the law makers must be too old for the young generation. I hope we all grow young and not old. Bless the morals of the young!
I couldn't have said it better.

In fact the authorities move will only benefit the mobile phone providers, and less likely to save youths' morals.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* The West should change its focus regarding Iran.

* Pakistan now self-reliant in honey!

* I BLOG, so I am!

* Makkah disaster - culprit named!

* Some observations on Sri Lankan Girls.

* The moveable feast: Eat the world in ten blogs.

 

Posted by Rezwan

HAJJ STAMPEDE 2006

When you shift the responsibility to others everytime, these things are going to repeat again and again. A couple of years ago it was Gods will, this year the blame is on the unruly pilgrims.

* In 2004 251 people died.

* In 2006 at least 345 people died.

* 2007 -??

(In graphics: Hajj stampede - BBC)

Sohel is outraged:

"Cast the dead, stone the poor and the 'devil, they won't be talking back to you. How convenient!

And let's not forget that interesting 'fatwa' given by strict Saudi Wahabist, stone the 'devil' in mid-day, rush to Al-Jamarat in dying frenzy. Who would stone that 'fatwa'? Who would stone that 'devil'?"
I raised some questions after the 2004 stampede incident. How many lives will it take to make the Saudi authorities do something about it? How will they be able to manage the growing number of pilgrims in the coming years? They cannot just shift the responsibility saying that every mismanagement or disaster is Gods will, or pilgrims own fault. Its time the Muslim socities demand accountability from the Saudi authorities.

Related:
* Debates on going to Hajj multiple times.
* Saudi blogger Alhamedi proposes some solutions to the problem.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAYS LINKS

* An essay on sacrificing Hum-bahs.

* Please, Allah, make all those people vegetarians!

* The Ricksha art of Bangladesh.

* Hindu thoughts around the blogs.

* U.S. immigration policy: biased against whites?

 

Posted by Rezwan

GHAT - NEW TELECENTER MODEL FROM BANGLADESH

Some donor agencies in Bangladesh have come up with an innovative project called GHAT (Global House for Advance Technology) to promote ICT in rural Bangladesh. From Telecenter.org (Via Jean-Luc Raymond):

"This centers named GHAT (where people gather for transportation, mainly boat), and offering bundle of services. As the focus on business, we tried to concentrate to develop location & sector (business) specific contents in local language. At the same time some common services required by businesses. Also citizen services are being offered through the centers. The services are available both off-line and on-line. To ensure the commercial viability of the centers, training, desktop publications, internet and digital photo services. Rural people can ask for any new employment opportunity at local as well as national level or anyone can get the admission information for colleges & universities."
Seems an interesting idea to narrow the wide digital divide in the country, which lacks basic infrastructure in rural areas let alone IT. Hope this will not end like other hundreds of initiatives of aid organizations, which turns out to be non-realistic, rather academic exercises.

 

Posted by Rezwan

EID-UL-AZHA GREETINGS

I wish all the readers a happy Eid-ul Azha. For Muslims all over the world, the celebration is mainly slaughtering sacrificial animals on this day after the Eid prayer.

The sacrifice of animals is symbolic. Every able Muslim should sacrifice atleast a small portion of their wealth keeping in view the symbolism in order to bridge the wide gap between the haves and havenots. As it is stated in Quran:

"It is not your meat nor their blood that reaches Allah: it is piety that reaches Him"

In Bangladesh and in some other countries these slaughtering are usually done in open spaces. For lack of sufficient slaughter houses in the cities and ample space inside own house compounds most people have no option than to choose the streets. I wish I could spend these holidays in some other place. I hate to see blood. This is nicely stated by this guy:

"There was a cow on the corner of our street.
Nice cow; white, splashes of black, cute feet.
Sunning itself in the heat.
Little did it know it would soon be meat.

Puddle on the floor.
Cow dead. It bled.
Naveed saw its head.
Street red. People fed."
In reality the sacrifice is becoming a waste and a farce of religion as some Muslims are eager for competition of indiscriminate sacrificing large animals. In Daulatpur a cow is being sold for BDT 1.5 million (US$ 22,000), which is the monthly living cost of 500 families in rural Bangladesh.

Please do read "sacrifice or waste", which I wrote a couple of years earlier.

I am ending this post with a joke about cows. Eid Mubarak.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* Blog Safer: The Anoniblogging Wiki.

* Anonymous surfing.

* Superglu can put all your dynamic web content in one page.

* Dr. Muhammad Yunus's interview in ZDF Heute.de magazine

* How to be a programmer.

* Chip on a Bindi.

* The Opposite of Good is Apathy

 

Posted by Rezwan

BAD WEATHER OR SECURITY THREAT?

Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's scheduled visit to Satkhira was cancelled as the government said the chopper carrying her could not land because of fog. However rumours of a planned bomb attack on her meeting venue were widely circulated in Satkhira (The Daily Star). Two hours before the scheduled meeting of the PM, police radided the house of Jamaat-e-Islami Rokan Moulana Yunus Ali and found two grenades. They also arrested Yunus' son Abdullah Al Mamun, 21, who is an activist of Islami Chhatra Shibir, student wing of JIB.

Meanwhile fresh threats were made that about 3,000 members of suicide squad of Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) are ready to carry out attacks on upcoming Eid congregations, police stations, Deputy Commissioners’ (DC) offices.

It is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.

 

Posted by Rezwan

FROM THE BANGLADESH BLOGOSPHERE
(Cross-posted in the 'Global Voices Online')

Shuvo Nobobarsho (Happy New Year) everyone. Let us take a look into what the Bangladeshi blogs are saying lately.

1) Tourism: Rahman tells us what Sundarban, the largest mangrove forest of the World has to offer to the tourists.

Herma talks about the beauty of the Bandarbans and how her family enjoys it. Here are some Photos of Bandarbans and her impressions about Bangladesh.

2) Awards: ‘Unheard Voices’ reports that Dr Nazia Khanum, an expatriate Bangladeshi, has been appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth recently for her services to community relations and to equal opportunities.

3) TV Shows: ‘Close up 1 - Tomakey Kujche Bangladesh (Bangladesh Looks for You)’ is the first ever music talent show in Bangladesh(Bangladesh version of the American Idol). The winner ‘Nolok Babu’ is a 19 year old penniless street singer. ‘The 3rd world view’ has more and Rajputro posts links to some of the songs of the contest to download.

4) Review: Mezba does a review of the Spielberg film ‘Munich’.

5) Hajj: Sadiq tells about the history of Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage. However there have been a lot of discussions going on in other Bangladeshi blogs on the issue of performing Hajj multiple times. The lack of infrastructures to accomodate the growing number of pilgrims in Saudi Arabia is a burning issue in the wake of recent collapse of hotel in Mecca which have killed 78 including 8 Bangladeshi pilgrims.

6) Coffee colored people: Arafat, who is studying in Yale, goes home in Dhaka after a year and surprised by the shock, the realization of difference in the colors of people of the both the countries en-masse.

7) Bangla blogging: Bangla bloggers are growing rapidly in numbers using the the tool ‘Bandh Bhanger Awaj’ and its aggregator. This aggregator is alive and full of interesting Bangla contents .

 

Posted by Rezwan

PILGRIMAGE, MISSING THE WHOLE POINT

Mezba started this argument and I am taking it further. The issue is "Hajj (the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca) is a responsibility to be performed ONCE in a lifetime. So why are many going to Mecca multiple times?" Saudi Arabia is facing the hard task of managing the growing number of Muslim pilgrimage each year (more than one million this year out of which more than 50,000 are Bangladeshis) and you can already see the limitations and danger ahead. The Saudi government has recently imposed a restriction on the locals not permitting Hajj more than once in 5 years. In Islam there are specific instructions that before performing Hajj, one has to clear all debts and responsibilities (like arranging for childrens' marriages), ensure that close relatives and neighbors are out of poverty etc.

The points against availing multiple pilgrimage only because one can afford are:

* There is a quota on pilgrims from each country and a deserving candidate might be left out.
* They add to the logistical problems at Mecca. They take up hotel space there that could go to someone else, and so on.
* There are a lot of charitable work you can do with the money which can help many others and can bring you closer to God according to true spirit of Islam.

But some people seem to be happy in doing the pilgrimage multiple times because:
* They have a lot of money
* They have a wish they want to make to God, like winning an election.
* They need to be purified after regular intervals, like one tax consultant I know.
* I don't think they care about their poor distant relatives or neighbors against the concept of Islam.

So let us hear your comments on this. I would like to end with one fable:

A village shoemaker saved enough money for his pilgrimage in his whole working life and finally started his journey towards Mecca. On the way he found a woman in a shabby house crying. The man asks why she was crying. She said "I have no food to feed my children. I have put them asleep telling that I am cooking rice. But actually in the pot there is only water. I don't know what I will tell when they will wake up." The shoemaker gave to her all the money he had telling her that she should ensure proper upbringing of those children. And then he went back to home.

A couple of years later he was in his death bed and was telling to God "I have performed great sin, I have not gone to Mecca". An Angel told him, don't worry your Hajj was granted by God the moment you have helped the poor woman. You are destined for heaven.

 

Posted by Rezwan

2006 BLOGGIES AWARDS

The 2006 Bloggies have started and nominations will be received until Jan 10th. Don't forget to go there and nominate your favorite blogs. At least three different weblogs in total must be nominated and you don't have to nominate in categories you don't want to. Have fun!

 

Posted by Rezwan

THE WORLD GONE INSANE

Yesterday was another sad day. I was watching the TV footage of the carnage the suicide bombers have left in Iraq. Blasts killed at least 120 people in two central Iraqi cities (BBC). I don't know about others, but these news make me vomit and keep me in a painful state. Muslims killing Muslims, little dead child in the lap of wailing mother, little children with bloody faces, body bags piling up. Oh God, how can you be cruel?

These Lunatics are everywhere, killing innocent people, in Bangalore, Jordan, or Indonesia.

The world may be cruel or have done injustice to many. But these are not the way to change the situation. And those who try to be apologists of these lunatics, beware; you may be their next victim.

 

Posted by Rezwan

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Liberation Martyrs (who gave away their life for the birth of Bangladesh) are lying under the ground. Dig heavily with your shoes, so that, Martyrs feel that they have not left the country with week and coward people."


- Quoted from an Army Major (via Supratip)

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* Some useful Firefox extensions

* Don't pretend, believe....

* In Germany, immigrants face a tough road

* Rice production in Bangladesh doubled in three decades

* Bangladesh to be middle income nation by 20 yrs

* Baby boy helps usher in New Year

* Where's the best place to live?

 

Posted by Rezwan

MICROSOFT'S UGLY FACE



Join the Blue Ribbon Online Free Speech Campaign

Rebecca MacKinnon reports:
"On New Years Eve, MSN Spaces took down a Chinese popular blog written by Zhao Jing, aka Michael Anti, journalistic bloggers. His blog was taken down by MSN people. Not blocked by the Chinese government. His old blog at the U.S.-hosted Blog-city is believed to have caused the Chinese authorities to block all Blog-city blogs. In the final days of December, Anti became a vocal supporter of journalists at the Beijing Daily News who walked off the job after the top editors were fired for their increasingly daring investigative coverage."
Asiapundit has more.

Update: Microsoft's response. Might is right?

 

Posted by Rezwan

IS THERE A COMPULSION IN RELIGION?

Bahraini blogger Mahmood is angry over the parliament's impending ruling that Shops, restaurants, coffee houses, garages and other workshops could be forced by law to close for two hours for Friday prayers. He asks:

"Can anyone suggest a country I might consider emigrating to that will allow me just to live my life without anyone imposing their interpretation of whatever religion on me and my family? A country that is tolerant that might appreciate its citizens and protect their freedoms, rather than one whose parliament has made it its mandate to rule by and from pulpits?"
Bangladesh, a democratic country with Muslim majority do not have these compulsions as of now. But the way things are heading, if the Islamic parties like Jamaate Islami comes into power someday probably we will also be facing these.

An interesting discussion followed in the comments section of Mahmood's post. Some tried to justify the decision, while Mahmood defended that "there is no compulsion in religion".

One commenter opined that separation of religion and state is a must for a democracy to work. There is no other way. In his view:
"There can be no such thing as an 'Islamic democracy'. This term is an oxymoron because it immediately implies that a person of a certain faith or background will be treated better than others. This is why Israel, as so-called 'Jewish democracy' doesn't make sense either. The term 'democracy', as it has come to be defined, is not merely an electoral system; it's about protecting freedoms, including those of the smallest minorities. That means, you cannot have laws based on one religion because it will violate the rights of people who don't believe in it, whether they belong to a different faith or no faith at all."
Another Bahraini Muslim thinks:
I am SICK and TIRED of this "religion is perfect...especially my religion" attitude. THIS is what is wrong with our countries, PRECISELY this attitude.
And he appeals:
"Let us please all agree, than nothing is above critical thought, and that we are to use our brains and reason to analyse any philosophy, edict, book, religion, faith, law, and belief, with unforgiving scrutiny, with the intention of improving life on Earth."
Yes these are the very Muslims who will conquer and heal the current virus, fundamentalism and extremism, which have infested all Muslim societies. And those who generalize all Muslim as a threat to non-Muslims to fan the religious racism should clear their misconceptions.

Related:
* A recent poll on general Arab attitudes.
* The Saudi government is also addressing the dangers that can come from the intolerance that many Wahhabi preachers peddle.

 

Posted by Rezwan

BANGLADESH CELLPHONE GROWTH

Although Bangladesh economy was slowed by the increase of terrorist attacks, Telecom sector is the one field Bangladesh could achieve high growth in 2005. The number of mobile phone users in Bangladesh grew by 144 per cent in 2005, to 9.4 million in December from 3.85 million in 2004 (source). Five operators (GrameenPhone, AKTEL, Banglalink, Citycell and the government owned Teletalk) are competing neck-a-neck with increasing coverage and down-to-earth prices (USD$4 a SIM card). The die-hard competition started when Egyptian telecom firm Orascom(Banglalink) started operation just a year ago. It has already become the third company to cross the million subscriber mark and extended network coverage upto 88% of the country. UAE's Warid telecom is soon entering Bangladesh market as the sixth operator depositing license fee of US$ 50 million and $3 million as bank guarantee fees. Naturally they will face tough competition from the word go. However all these competition are likely to lower down the still high call rates, which will benefit the consumers.

Meanwhile India's Home Minister Shivraj Patil was shocked when he found mobile phones in the country's eastern frontiers functioning, courtesy of the sophisticated rural telephone network of Bangladesh instead of the Indian communications network coverage. In a bizzare incident the Indian Border Security Force Director-General Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary took out his mobile phone and showed the home minister the frequency and network code on his handset, courtesy of Bangladesh's GrameenPhone's roaming facility (source). "We were witness to the incident and it was a shame being in India and having to use a Bangladesh network for calling someone within our country," Sammujjal Bhattacharyya, leader of the All Assam Students' Union (AASU), said.

Bangladesh should not bother as long as revenues are flowing inside the country.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* Top 20 News Items from Bangladesh for 2005

* Indian Blogosphere 2005: The Year That Was

* 2005 Year In Review

* Virtual Tour of Dhaka Zoo

* District/Upazilla/Thana Maps of Bangladesh

* Pakistan bans Indian sattelite channels

* Balochistan, a Bangladesh in the making