Echo

 

Posted by Rezwan

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will --whatever we may think."

- Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990), British Author

 

Posted by Rezwan

WHATS HAPPENING IN BANGLADESH?

If you live in Dhaka then you know how living conditions have deteriorated now a days.

You wake up sweating because the electricity has gone off again. You go to freshen up and find there is no water in the tap. Your family members are quite clever to reserve some water so you are lucky this time. You go out for work and find some rickshawala cursing at you because your car has blocked him in a lane narrowed by digging for some pipeline deploying. You keep your head cool ignoring that and scratch to the main road. You are surprised by a stagnant stream of vehicles in both sides of the road. After many moments you slowly progress to your destination only to find that a road is blocked and the vehicles are diverted to another by-pass. You know now what the problem is but you can't escape from the jam. Then after more than a hour than your usual time you reach your office. You send your messenger to deposit certain document to the bank. Then you go out for a meeting 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time and arrive there sweating 30 minutes late. Luckily other participants are not as lucky as you are. So the meeting starts 1:15 hours late. You have a delayed lunch and that induces your acidity pains. You come back to office and find that your messenger has just returned without the work done after negotiating another traffic jam due to a rally of a political party. The bank has asked for more documents, which the customer service employee forgot to mention during the briefing the morning. You reach home in the evening after burning much fuel in the traffic jam only to find that the electricity has gone out. You are not fortunate to have generator at your home. You decide to go out to a shopping mall but negotiate another traffic jam. You reach there at 9:30 and find that the shop you wanted to go is closed. You come back home and find that that the electricity has gone out again.

It seems many crisis and disasters have hit Bangladesh. The recent factory collapse in Dhaka has blocked an important inter-section in Dhaka causing the traffic system to go haywire. And the traffic lights in many parts are not working because of electricity load shedding making the situation worse. The exasperating police are trying to keep the traffic under control.

The ongoing power shortage is persisting without any improvement which are also leading to water problems as pumps are being shut most of the times.

I am surprised that people are coping up with all these as if these are normal circumstances. All our political parties takes the streets for unimportant things, but they are not doing anything to make a change by reducing the problems. The government says they have fund shortage to overcome the power crisis, however they have enough budget to purchase fighter planes. But who is to question that? Who will protest and demand the basic rights? Who will try to make a change?

 

Posted by Rezwan

POWER CRISIS

A severe power crisis has hit the Dhaka town. Each day, especially at night electric supply goes off for many hours. The power goes off not at a stretch, but in approximately one hour intervals and rotating in areas. The Electric supply authority calls it load shedding as they have to manage insufficient supplies of Electric and a bigger demand. According to this news this crisis was expected and lack of funds, lengthy procedures and bureaucratic tangle are the usual causes cited. I will not go into details about what problems it is creating for the Dhakaites but they surely are not happy about it.

Elsewhere in the country power crisis has deepened and the farmers are also furious about it.

But absence of electricity did not stop students of Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology (RUET) watching the Bangladesh-Sri Lanka cricket match as they had used uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) as a power source, about 30 of them for the whole match. It may be noted here that the UPS is commonly used in Bangladesh for PCs to backup files and shutting down the PC on the event of a power failure.

 

Posted by Rezwan

SWEET VICTORY

I was following the Bangladesh-Sri Lanka one-dayer via internet and as soon as soon as Sri Lanka was restricted to 212 in 49 overs, I knew we had a chance. The batsmen played sensibly and the blitzkrieg innings by Aftab Ahmed (32 in 22 balls) in the end made the target look very easy. So another win for Bangladesh cricket team by 4 wickets, first against Sri Lanka. Bangladesh needed it because there is no survival without victory.

I hope this answers Ponting's recent query.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* Ekushe February- International Mother Language Day.

* The great chinese blogger story.

* The South Asia Diary.

* Incredible things happen in America.

* The South Asia Free Trade Agreement – SAFTA: Is key regional trade initiative an empty shell?

* Why I published those cartoons?

* You’re Muslim, you must be a terrorist then!

* There are more luxury cars in the Pakistan Army than tanks.

* The blogging business.

 

Posted by Rezwan

RELOCATION PART I: THE NEWS

I guess those who follow my blog regularly have noticed that I am not updating regularly. I have been under a lot of stress in the past couple of months. All efforts are culminating to one point. Yes, I am relocating shortly to a European country for approx three years.

Many things happened in between. After disclosing that I am departing in short notice my employer panicked and hastily arranged a replacement. I had a dreadful time training my replacement and transferring my responsibilities.

There are many checklists before you relocate to another place for a longer time. Besides arranging flights (and then reschedule it), there are local bank accounts and credit cards to be closed; certificates to be collected and kept ready and the toughest part of it is to attend invitations by the nearest and dearest. All of a sudden you have another schedule book to manage invitations and you have someday when you have three invitations from breakfast to dinner in three different places. Like it or not this is part of the hospitable culture you possess and the custom is not to decline it claiming that your stomach is upset because the host will miss treating you for a long time. I did not know that we were that popular!

We will be living on our own for the first time as we have stayed with my parents after our marriage for five long years. There are some typical frustrations for a wife in joint family (although she was happy living with my parents) and the yearning to live separately. So she especially is looking forward to it. I and my wife had to purchase and ship loads of household goods and clothes at least a month early. I am amazed by her thoughts of the little details like how our dining table will be decorated.

These past months were so eventful and we are experiencing one important transitional phase in our lives.

Related:
RELOCATION PART II: THE BACKGROUND
RELOCATION PART III: WHY GERMANY
RELOCATION PART IV: THE SACRIFICE
RELOCATION PART V: THE CHALLENGE

 

Posted by Rezwan

RELOCATION PART II: THE BACKGROUND

I myself have never tried to have an education in a foreign country or applied for a foreign job or immigration. I have never even applied for DV lottery as many of my friends did. I don’t have the fascination to live in a foreign place for a longer period. May be, because, I had the opportunity to travel to a number of countries. To me, living in my home country and living among the keens are among the top priorities.

But this time my wife got into the act of putting me off the country for a longer period. She is a career diplomat and is going to her first posting in a mission in a foreign land. In her tenure of several years in the Bangladesh foreign office she got a couple of chances to avail job related scholarships in countries like UK and USA. But she had declined on the ground that she would have to live a long year separated from me and her mother. Soon after Rianna was born, she even declined to attend a UN seminar in USA for a period of seven days because she thought she will have opportunities later but her daughter needed her most at that time. Yes this is my wife, a typical Bangladeshi woman, to whom the family is the top priority than her lucrative career. I am terming the job ‘lucrative’ not because of the honor, foreign tours and the diplomatic privileges it entails. But because if you know about Bangladesh civil service then you know how much competition one has to face, how much talented one has to be to score enough to be at the top. And only the top seeds can avail the much coveted ‘foreign service’. This is one service in Bangladesh where without being corrupt one can live a higher standard of life with status. And considering all of these small family problems become immaterial.

She joined the service after our marriage and before that we made a promise that whatever happens, we will not live separated. And now we need to be together more because of our 17 month old girl. So this is the big moment and we have decided to move.

And one thing pleases me most is that the diplomatic missions in a foreign land are considered extension of the soil of the land. If our kid was born in Germany, it would be considered as Bangladeshi. And we are destined to come back to the homeland one day.

Related:
RELOCATION PART I: THE NEWS
<<<<<<<<<< >>>>>>>>>>
RELOCATION PART III: WHY GERMANY
RELOCATION PART IV: THE SACRIFICE
RELOCATION PART V: THE CHALLENGE

 

Posted by Rezwan

RELOCATION PART III: WHY GERMANY?

Those who know me better know about my living in Germany (then West) in my teens. My father was a journalist of the state radio and worked in Deutsche Welle Bengali service for a couple of years during the mid eighties. I went to a German school for about a year and was exposed to the Western values and lifestyles and continued to keep in touch with Germany via the Goethe Institut, Dhaka after coming back to Bangladesh. My friends often mocked about my learning German year after year but never trying to go back to Germany for higher education. At a point of time my quest ended and I had no connection with Germany.

After all those years when S came with two options of her posting and said that the most important thing to her is that she doesn’t want my career to end. Because I know German language I should be able to get a decent job or continue higher study. So the mutual choice was Germany.

Related:
RELOCATION PART I: THE NEWS
RELOCATION PART II: THE BACKGROUND
<<<<<<<<<< >>>>>>>>>>
RELOCATION PART IV: THE SACRIFICE
RELOCATION PART V: THE CHALLENGE

 

Posted by Rezwan

RELOCATION PART IV: THE SACRIFICE

Staying together is not easy for the careerist husband and wife. My wife had never stayed anyplace alone in her life (neither did I). So the thoughts of living in separate countries because of the job never came.

But it was tough for me to resign from this settled job in a multinational in Bangladesh, with a compensation package of over $10k pa, which is considered more than enough to lead a decent life in Bangladeshi standard.

Moreover you have certain responsibilities to you ageing parents, to look them after, to be with them when they need you. As we have lived with the parents as per the local tradition, my 17 month old daughter had the best care from them and returned them many little happy moments with laughter and noises. Rianna will miss them and especially my sister, which gives her so much care and comfort. We will miss them too. I just can’t imagine how hard it would be for us to live away from them. Although it’s relieving that they have properties here and are not dependent on me. And I have responsibilities to my toddler too as she needs her parents most.

So what’s the dilemma here? The only thing that bugs me is to answer the question “What are you going to do there? Your career is ending here. Your parents need you.” So one can utter the word sacrifice for me here but I think the right word would be support. We see many successful women like our Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia and ex-Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina but never ponder about the people behind them. They are someone else’s wife and mother and they have faced much more difficulties in life because of their public engagements. They have probably given them more support than in my case.

The only consolation is that S is taking her mother, who lives alone in Dhaka. It’s mutually beneficial as she needs our company more than we need her (to take care of our little daughter and ourselves!). There were complications in getting her visa and S had to literally convince the visa authorities that it is an Asian custom that a widow becomes dependent of her son or daughter. We don’t have social security or old homes here!

Related:
RELOCATION PART I: THE NEWS
RELOCATION PART II: THE BACKGROUND
RELOCATION PART III: WHY GERMANY
<<<<<<<<<< >>>>>>>>>>
RELOCATION PART V: THE CHALLENGE

 

Posted by Rezwan

RELOCATION PART V: THE CHALLENGE

In my 11 years of working experience I have secured a good position with an upward curve in career graph. But somewhere I always felt that this career line does not suit me. I have all kinds of creative hobbies but at work I could not find much creativity in all these business plans, budget graphs, presentations, compliance, deadlines etc. Suddenly you find yourself molded in a corporate structure with little explanations of why you are doing certain exercises.

So on the basis of this apprehension I have taken the challenge to become jobless after 11 years. The government is paying for my ticket to Germany but won’t pay my own expenses there. As a spouse of a diplomat I will also be getting all the diplomatic privileges like immunities, health care etc. But it comes bundled with very limited options of working. Like I won’t be able to do any odd job or anything, which clashes with the interest of my wife’s job there. I am learning about all of these bit by bit and hoping that I will be able to find something but I can’t seem to put the cloud of frustration out of my sight. Money and fame were never my top priorities. But I have never dreamt of doing nothing day after day!

Lots of things are on the cards, like working from home, looking for a stint in the Deutsche Welle, trying for a job in an UN organization and if nothing works, go for a higher education. Does anybody want to hire a blogger in Berlin?? I guess not.

Looks like I will have to keep my fingers crossed.

Related:
RELOCATION PART I: THE NEWS
RELOCATION PART II: THE BACKGROUND
RELOCATION PART III: WHY GERMANY
RELOCATION PART IV: THE SACRIFICE

 

Posted by Rezwan

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"To classify Bangladeshis, for example, only as Muslims and overlook their Bangladeshi identity is seriously misleading. To drown all that into a vision of 'you are just a Muslim - please be moderate and likeable and replace all those extremist imams with moderate and likeable ones', that is simply wrong-headed."

- Amartya Sen, Nobel laureate in an interview published in the Guardian

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* Cry for me, Bangladesh.

* Maa is a novel by Anisul Haq available online. Here is a review.

* The kiss is an Indian invention.

* The decline and fall of Europe.

* Baby trade booms at hospitals in Bangladesh.

* Blog a holiday.

* PCs for the poor.

 

Posted by Rezwan

THE CARTOON ROW

Thank you Mr. Roberto Calderoli, the Italian reform minister, for your expression of free speech which has lead to at least 10 deaths in Libya. I hope your arrogance is a bit dented by this loss or heightened with the notion that "Yeah.. we have nailed another 10".

Martin Jacques wrote in the Guardian:

Europe has never had to worry too much about context or effect because for around 200 years it dominated and colonised most of the world. Such was Europe's omnipotence that it never needed to take into account the sensibilities, beliefs and attitudes of those that it colonised, however sacred and sensitive they might have been.

Racial bigotry is on the rise, even in countries that have previously been regarded as tolerant. The Danish government depends for its rule on a racist, far-right party that gained 13% of the seats in the last election. The decision of Jyllands-Posten to publish the cartoons - and papers in France, Germany, Italy and elsewhere to reprint them - lay not so much in the tradition of free speech but in European contempt for other cultures and religions: it was a deliberate, calculated insult to the beliefs of others, in this case Muslims.
Martin warns:
This attitude of disdain, of assumed superiority, will be increasingly difficult to sustain. We are moving into a world in which the west will no longer be able to call the tune as it once did. China and India will become major global players alongside the US, the EU and Japan. For the first time in modern history the west will no longer be overwhelmingly dominant. By the end of this century Europe is likely to pale into insignificance alongside China and India. In such a world, Europe will be forced to observe and respect the sensibilities of others.
There is no respect for others without humility in one's self.

Meanwhile more lunacy drama continues as a Pakistani cleric announced a $1 million bounty for killing the cartoonist who drew Prophet Muhammad. To put things in perspective, blogger Karim Elsahy urges Muslims of the world to ask their Imams to condemn this in the next sermon.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TOXIC LINER BAN

Its commendable that Bangladesh Government has banned the SS Norway, an asbestos-lined French ocean-liner, from being broken up in its ship-breaking yards. (BBC News) The Indian government banned the ocean-liner earlier.

However the Bangladesh ship-breaking industry still risks lives of 45000 workers from frequent accidents in terrible work environment.

Read this interesting Greenpeace article "Clemenceau… The ship that died but didn’t stop killing" to get an insight into the fate of end-of-life ships from the First World and why they end up in the third world.

"End of the line" is a spectacular photo essay by Brendan Corr on shipbreaking in Bangladesh.

Sepia Mutiny has more on this.

 

Posted by Rezwan

PONTING'S QUERY

Just prior to the Australia cricket team's Bangladesh tour, Aussy captain Ricky Ponting questions the test status of Bangladesh. This was a bit of surprise as Cricket Australia had always backed Bangladesh.

Perhaps he is not aware of the recent developments in Bangladesh Cricket. Bangladesh has been impressive in age-level tournaments. I am looking forward to see how soon Bangladesh cricket team changes the above image. Will the seniors be able to replicate the juniors' success in the current home series against Sri Lanka?

 

Posted by Rezwan

DIFFERENCE OF CULTURES

A quote from Mezba's blog:

"Back in my place, we never have two kids with the same woman."

Read the whole story.

 

Posted by Rezwan

THE FOOD MEME

Sukanya has tagged me for a food meme.

Here are a list of my favorite foods (in no particular preferential order):

1. Daal-Bhat: The staple food of the Bengalis are plain rice and a curry of pulse called daal. These two inexpensive dishes are very common in the daily cuisine of rich poor alike. There are many ways to cook daal and there are many varieties of daal. But I particularly like Moshur daal that is cooked in my home with small potion of turmeric (some like it more) and in many instances, especially when I am hungry I find that there is no alternative to fill your stomach if you take it hot.

2. Bhaja Ilish: Hilsha or Ilish is the national fish of Bangladesh. It tastes like salmon. I like to eat Hilsha fry (a little hard fried) with rice and green chili.

3. Kachchi Biriyani: This is one variant of Biriyani, which is very popular in the Indian sub-continent. Biriyani carries the legacy of the Mughal cuisine. I simply adore it when cooked with Basmati (a type of rice) and accompanied by Borhani (another drink delicacy made with sour yoghurt & black pepper).

4. Mutton Paya soup: Great for breakfast with bread when my mother-in-law cooks it.

5. Bhapa Pitha : Rural Bangladesh is famous for many kinds of pithas (cakes) made with rice and molasses. But the best is Bhapa Pitha, a
steam-baked winter cake. Crashed rice dust is filled with coconut flakes and pieces of molasses and shaped in a small cup and placed on a steamer pot (usualy cloth over a water-filled cooking pot) and the lid is put on for some minutes. Voila, you have Bhapa Pitha; enjoyed best fresh from the pot in a chilly temperature. The street side Bhapa Pitha stalls are ubiquitous in winter nights in Bangladeshi towns.

6. Singara: A kind of appetizer taken with tea in leisure times or with the main course.

7. Murighanta: A mixed thick gravy of fish-head or boned pieces of fish and mung daal boiled together taken with rice.

8. Tom Yam Soup (spicy Thai soup): My favorite to order in a restaurant. Comes with lots of choices, like sea food or chicken.

9. Kofta : A delicacy of the Indian sub-continent But also popular in Egypt.

10. Lassi : As a drink I like lassi a bit sour not the usual sweet kind widely available in Bangladesh.

Last of all I think the common foods can be made exceptionally delicious with expert cooking. And there is of course the issue of choosing the right food for the right occasion.

For some more insight into Bangladeshi cooking please read this.

I now tag Nitin as the next victim of the food meme. He once told me that he started his blog as a food blog.

 

Posted by Rezwan

WHERE DID MY SPRING GO?

This year spring came unnoticed in my life. Probably because of the freaking weather as winter has vanished a couple of weeks ago. I could only realize that yesterday was the 1st of Falgun (beginning of the spring) after seeing women clad in yellow in the streets. There is a tradition in Bangladesh that womens wear yellow on that day. Not everybody follows it but you can easily notice the dominant presence of yellow amongst the usual color composition of dresses in the streets.

Julie of Human Flower Project has posted a nice article about Bangladesh's spring festivities (Basanta Utsabs). The main attraction was a whole day cultural event celebrating 1st day of spring in the Graphics Arts (Charukala) Institute of Dhaka University which was telecast live for the first time by a new private satellite channel, Baishakhi TV. And the crowd presence was phenomenal there and also in the Bangla Academy Ekushey Book Fair nearby.

Julie writes:

"Basanta Utsab, as well as seasonal, is a cultural pushback, an affirmation of Bangla history and customs as not only spring but Western styles and habits advance."

...is not merely a cultural programme, involving music, dance or performing arts; it is rather an effort to introduce the Bangali culture to the new generation."
Please read the whole article.

Amongst these festivities we can find our springs.

 

Posted by Rezwan

FROM DEMOCRACY TOWARDS DESPOTISM

Tasneem Khalil, journalist-cum-blogger writes a wonderful article called "From Kansat to Paltan". The article deals with brutal suppression of public protests and intolerant handling of opposition agitation by the ruling government. He also criticized the opposition for ignoring the grass-root level problems like Kansat tragedy and indulging into soap opera of political showdowns.

 

Posted by Rezwan

PROTEST ON FRIDAYS

Have you ever wondered why the Islamic parties in Bangladesh arrange their protests usually after Jum'a prayers in Friday? Well, you will be able to guess after I tell you about my recent experience.

Last Friday I went to Kataban 'Masjid Mission' mosque to pray. In the khutba (sermon) the Imam tried to give all kinds of logics to establish that the Shia practices of mourning for Hossain & Hassan is not Islamic. No doubt we can understand the reason behind some recent Muslim sectarian feuds & violences in Pakistan.

Then came the announcement that Jamaat Member of Parliament and the 'Masjid Mission' chairman Delwar Hossain Saidee will lead a procession towards Danish Embassy to protest the cartoons published in a Danish newspaper. The Imam announced that after ending the 2 Rakaat wazib Jum'a prayer, the worshippers in the mosque should join the procession immediately. He suggested that the remaining Sunnat prayers can be performed later at home or in mosque as the protests are Fard (compulsory). One by-stander grudged why should such a protest be recommended as obligatory as this is a personal matter.

As soon as the Salat ended I came down to the street and found that Mr. Saidee already was in the street adressing to the worshipers coming out of the Mosque with loudspeakers. The place quickly turned into a political gathering with TV cameras and police protection. Among many outrageous comments by Saidee in a short time I have heard some slanting remarks against the opposition leader Sheikh Hasina. He said as the opposition leader has not yet protested the Danish cartoon it can be disputed whether she is Muslim or not. Like many I was really happy to get out of that place quickly.

One thing I noticed that Saidee instructed people not to use violence in the procession. As far I know there was no violence in Bangladesh during the protests.

See the power of political Islam! It all depends how the politicians want it.

Hizbut-Tahrir will stage another protest recently. Guess the day!

 

Posted by Rezwan

CORRUPTION OF THE MIND

In this sinful world we have to bear the news of a lot of vicious crimes. Those unbelievable headlines, those cinematic descriptions of crimes, unbearable pictures of the dead; how do they affect us? People often relish grazing the juicy details of a murder giving in to conspiracy theories floating around them. Some become outraged, some shrugs them off.

But do we ever try to understand that these crimes are the anomalies in the society resulting from some other problems. Do we want to understand the background of these crimes? How these crimes actually affect the surroundings, the relatives and the associates of the victims? If we bothered we could bring about a change.

For instance, the murder of the Rajshahi University professor, Dr S Taher Ahmed is the talk of the country now. His colleague is indicted for the crime and it is more shocking to learn that the motive was probably 'mere seniority' and a 'little financial gain'. This is the second murder of a professor in Rajshahi University during the last 13 months. Rajshahi University has been undersiege of corrupt politics since long. No doubt the politicizing of the recruitment process and installing politically motivated teachers have resulted in these heinous incidents.

Quddusi, one of Dr. Taher's colleagues writes:

"It calls for across-the-board overhauling of the total recruitment and promotion system in the universities, because if a few more of the nature of the accused teacher have already got in or are on the way to getting in, our fate is sealed."
Scribbles, A 14 year old blogger, a neighbor of the murdered professor writes:
"Outsiders – people outside of the campus – can’t even begin to feel anything that’s felt here. They can’t imagine what people here are going through.

I lived in the campus all my life. And it was the safest place in the world to me... now there’s a certain tension in the air that no one can ignore. At nights, I’m scared to look into the darkness around our house, afraid of what I might see there. My imagination goes wild, dreaming up dark figures crouching in the bushes, and masked men hunched behind the trees. There was a murder not three houses away. There’s no guarantee that it will stop there."
Should we continue to overlook the main problems and relish the news of the murders? How can we save ourselves from the anxieties and sense of fear?

 

Posted by Rezwan

THE BRITISH CONNECTION

Last September David Montero of The Christian Science Monitor had written an interesting article titled "How extremism came to Bangladesh". He opined:

"The accused Jaamyat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) is active since 1998 and have grown to 10,000 trained full-time operatives, and 100,000 part-time activists, funded with a payroll of more than $10,000 a month (hefty amount in Bangladeshi standard) with the aim of funding an Islamic state. Now wherefrom are the money coming? The trail traces back to Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Pakistan."
According to the latest confessions of arrested terrorist leaders of JMB:

Two British citizens in June last gave £10,000 to Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) chief Abdur Rahman to carry out the August 17 bomb attacks in Bangladesh. They are leaders of a London-based Islamic militant organisation. The money was spent for buying explosive materials, making bombs and exploding them across the country. (The Daily Star)

The explosives were probably purchased from India and smuggled through the border. (The Daily Independent)

Tag: , ,

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* Suffering Bangladeshi workers feel unwelcome in Kuwait.

* Bangladesh is still waiting for Mujib.

* Vaginas of the world unite.

* Nuvvo - a great free tool to set up an online space to support your course.

* 'Five Days in Bangladesh' a documentary - by New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless.

 

Posted by Rezwan

BLOGOSPHERE GROWTH

David Sifry has updated the latest state of the Blogosphere as measured by Technorati. His numbers on Blogosphere growth in summary:

* Technorati now tracks over 27.2 Million blogs
* The blogosphere is doubling in size every 5 and a half months
* It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago
* On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day
* 13.7 million bloggers are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created
* Spings (Spam Pings) can sometimes account for as much as 60% of the total daily pings Technorati receives
* Sophisticated spam management tools eliminate the spings and find that about 9% of new blogs are spam or machine generated
* Technorati tracks about 1.2 Million new blog posts each day, about 50,000 per hour
* Over 81 Million posts with tags since January 2005, increasing by 400,000 per day
* Blog Finder has over 850,000 blogs, and over 2,500 popular categories have attracted a critical mass of topical bloggers.

Sifry's post has nice charts and other details. (Via Joi Ito)

RESPECT AND TOLERANCE  

Posted by Rezwan

Everybody is doing the Cartoon post now a days so I decided to chip in with my 2 cents. For a sensible analysis of the Danish Cartoon controversy please read this post in 'Pickled Politics' and the South Asian bloggers reactions in the Global Voices Online.


The main debate has now turned to the issue of defining "freedom of expression". Wikipedia defines: Free speech is not a simple and absolute concept but a liberty that is justified by even deeper values. And wherefrom these values originate? From respecting other human beings and their cultures, other religions. Yes R.E.S.P.E.C.T is an attitude of acknowledging the feelings and interests of another party in a relationship, and of treating as consequential for the self the helping or harming of the other. When the freedom of expression means stereotyping others and ignores others feelings then it hurts others.

We need to know the boundaries and the context of expressing our thoughts. Like I can caricature the numerous Hindu Gods to my Hindu friend and he can bully my Muslim practices because we have a good understanding and I know that it is within us and we are taking it sportingly. But I really should not caricature any emblem or anything personal of other religion if it is in a wider propaganda like a newspaper or in a blog. That would be total disrespect of others personal feelings.

We need to think why the disrespect to Muslims and the disrespect towards the West by some Middle Eastern countries are spreading. Bill Clinton, in a speech recently stated that Muslims are now the new Jews, and deplored the replacing of anti-Semitic prejudice with anti-Islamic prejudice. Fueled by irrational reactions by the Muslims the world is just going insane. We don't require clash of civilizations rather the understanding of other cultures, religion by establishing friendship and dialogue is the way forward. What is the pre-requisite? RESPECT.

The Danish Government says that the Muslims must understand that the government does not publish newspapers. Some of the European Governments are willing to uphold 'freedom of expression' at the cost of injuring Muslim feelings. That is disrespect. While some of the more civilized & democratic governments like India have laws in place to prevent any such defamation.

And where the law does not provide justice, people have the rights to boycott the products of certain countries. And you know what! It worked. The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten has apologized for causing offence to Muslims. They had to respect the feelings of the Muslims because economically they were losing. But like many other incidents Muslims are responsible for the desecration of Islam's tolerant image. Not the Cartoons here. So why use violence when you have other effective means of showing your feelings?

I don't think that this issue should go further as almost 70% of the Muslims do not know about the cartoons and only a small portion have seen it. But I fear that certain quarters may want to politicize this issue to invoke Muslim sentiments around the world which may trigger more resentment against the Muslims. Is this part of a plot? I don't know but reading what other Muslims around the world are thinking I wonder whether some of the islamophobes do not see the fine prints:

Iraq, UK, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Canada, Pakistan, India, Denmark and many other Muslim blogs.

While some think that the Muslims should not dictate others in abstaining to taboos in Islam as it hampers one's freedom of expression, the lack of respect for other religions and completely ignoring them is not civilized either.

I had a great learning when my wife reminded me that I should not order beef while dining with my Hindu colleague even if he says its OK. She told me that there are other choices available so I should respect his culture.

That is what civilization teaches us, to respect others, not to be engrossed in ourselves only.

For the "Freedom of Speech" supporters:

"It was hard for many in the West to understand why Muslims should be so sensitive to the Holy Prophet being caricatured but he said, it was even harder for Muslims to understand how Westerners can be so insensitive. - Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo"
And for the Muslims who are burning flags and embassies:
"What brings more prejudice against Islam? These caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras or a suicide bomber who blows himself up during a wedding ceremony in Amman?" - Jihad Momani, editor of a Jordanian newspaper

 

Posted by Rezwan

BANGLADESH BLOG BUZZ
(Cross-posted in the Global Voices Online)

The latest happenings in Bangladeshi blogs around the world:

1) Celebration: Sanjoy posts some beautiful photos of Swarashwathi (The Goddess of knowledge) Puja 2006 and wonders which one comes first : money or knowledge ?

2) Meet: The first ever Bangladeshi Bloggers Meet took place in Dhaka last Saturday, 4th of February 2006. Around twenty bloggers gathered share their thoughts and know each other in the Rock star cum blogger Maqsood’s house. "The third world view" and "Rajputro" have details.

3) Inequality: Shafiur gives an interesting comparison: Wal-Mart CEO and an worker of its contractor (Garments factory) in Bangladesh.

4) Investigation: ‘Unheard Voices’ posts a link to an investigative report on why the license of the popular satellite channel Ekushey TV was annulled and is not being allowed to start operations again.

5) Dreamland: Sadiq searches for heaven.

6) Tolerance: Shappir is outraged by the sheer idiocy of some Muslims in overreacting on the Danish Newspaper Muhammad Cartoon issue.

7) Community: Deshiblog claims to be the first blog site on Bangladesh and Bangladeshi around the world. Check it out.

8) Review: Naser posts a hilarious review: Pro’s and Con’s of Bangla Daily Soaps in TV channels.

9) Bangla blogging: The sensational tool ‘Bandh Bhanger Awaz’ and its aggregator are causing a commotion in Bangladesh. Already it had attracted around 450 registered bloggers and page view reached 27000 a day. There are about 60 daily posts and numerous comments keeping the site buzzing aloud.

The developers have already addressed to issues of comment spam and how to restrict unwanted posts. However they wish to keep the site free from moderation as much as possible to see how freedom of speech and own discretions shape up a community of bloggers.

Adda posts a review on ‘Bandh Bhanger Awaz’.

 

Posted by Rezwan

CELEBRATING BANGLADESH

The Daily Star has published on its 15th anniversary a special supplement called "celebrating Bangladesh". Don't miss the chance to learn about the bests of Bangladesh. (Via Unheard Voices)

 

Posted by Rezwan

THE FIRST DHAKA BLOGGERS MEET

The first Dhaka bloggers meet kicked of in style as about 20 bloggers gathered in Maqsood Bhai’s house in Niketon in the afternoon on the 4th of February, 2006. The atmosphere were great, the participants were well knowledgeable and free and frank and Maqsood Bhai’s hospitability was superb. We even had talented bloggers like Misho, who is joining Microsoft, USA shortly. The bloggers who attended were:

Shafi, Khaled, Zico, Hasan, Naser, Zabir, Nazzina, Wamy, Hasin, Yawar, Rifat, Misho, Arild, Munshi, Maqsood, Mahfuz – a journalist from the New Age news paper and a few more.

Right to left Khaled, Shafi & Zico listening to Nazzina( mirror reflection)Me and Rifat arrived within 4 PM. But the guests had started arriving after 4:30 PM. After some sporadic talks, everybody went deep into blogs as Mahfuz, the New Age feature writer wanted to know about blogs. It is not surprising that in Bangladesh blogging is still an unknown phenomenon to many. He was slowly told about blogs, issues of citizen media vs. mainstream media and more. Bangladesh is still lagging far behind in the internet usage comparing to the developing countries. In reply to his question that why people blog, he was told that blogging is a part of the digital life. We have embraced the technologies as a part of our lives and now we can easily express and share our thoughts using this technology. It is really a form of expressing oneself and sharing among the community. He was also notified about the various forms of blogs.

Rifat, Zico, Slate photographer, Wamy & the host, Maqsud BhaiWhen he asked what is the credibility of the bloggers, we asked him back what is the credibility of mainstream media who thinks of commercial interest first. Maqsood Bhai told a story that GrameenPhone sold thousands of faulty mobile SIMs and one day there was a riot like situation when people queued up in GrameenPhone’s office. Apparently no press covered this in fear of loosing advertisement revenue as they were dictated by GrameenPhone. Maqsood Bhai vowed that the Bangladeshi mainstream media do not so far read blogs but they rather should be. Because the online newspapers update after a day, while the blogger can share news to the international community instantaneously. He told how one of his posts was picked up by Reuters within 15 minutes of publishing in his blog.

Mahfuz was delighted with all these information and promised to read more blogs and contact every blogger who attended the meet for further information.

The Somewhere.net team Hasan, Arild & Misho (Hasin & ?? not in picture)Then Arild, the MD of Somewherein.net took the lead. He explained how the Bangla Blogging platform of his company “Bandh Bhanger Awaz” revolutionized Bangla blogging. As of today they have 437 registered users and 27000 page views in its aggregator in a day. That means there are a growing number of blog readers also. Rifat and some others raised some issues like the viewing problems and absence of linking and option of writing in English side by side. The main developer Hasin explained that this limitation is due to not implementing Unicode. They thought that many users are not aware of the configuration required in the browsers to view Bangla. Somewhereinblog’s easy typing interface can be used by any novice but it is very time consuming. Some raised the issue that its feed cannot be viewed in RSS readers like bloglines.com and the contents cannot be picked up by search engines. The somewherein team said that they will think about implementing Unicode. Some raised the issues of filtering the obscene contents in the aggregator which picks posts automatically. Arild said that there might be some garbage alongwith some good blogs. But in the end only quality blogs will prevail.

Arild also suggested launching a group blog of some selected bloggers which will provide quality content and other interactions.

Hasan, Naser & JabeerThen there was an elaborate introduction part where everybody had to say a few things about themselves and how did they started blogging, what are the future plans etc. Rifat was the lone blogger outside Dhaka, who raised the issue of slow internet in many parts of the country. However everybody agreed that in Bangladesh blogging is in initial stage and it is going to explode as soon as the optic fiber submarine cable line starts working. Please read this to know more about the limitations of Bangla blogosphere. Maqsood Bhai thought that there are many opportunities for the bloggers to get international acknowledgement. And as he work from home in data mining field, the next era will be dominated by persons working through one’s own PC, not in someone else’s office. Everybody interacted with each other freely and it was really a great discussion with many things to learn.

The one resolution we took is to explore possibility of arranging a seminar on blogs, with multimedia presentations and live demo. Nazzina said she will try to get sponsorship so that it is well publicized and people can take it seriously.

Maqsood Bhai had arranged Singaras, Pithas, cold drinks, tea etc. I brought some pastries and cold drinks. So there was no shortage of food. The grand finale was Maqsood Bhai’s delicious Pulao with Beef and mutton, salad and drinks. The discussion could go on the whole night even the consequent day. Everybody had so much to share. But we had to leave that place as most people had to leave for other appointments. Thanking Maqsood Bhai the meet broke by 8:00 PM with more enthusiasm than what we had before the meet.

Update: More pictures in Shafi's blog. Hasin also has some wonderful photos in Flickr.

Wamy has posted about the meet with his perceptions about some of the bloggers. Check it out. (Oh and it was not my birthday but anyway if everybody needed an excuse to eat those pastries I would rather born again on the 4th of February ;).

Some bloggers could not come but had sent their best wishes. Sadat wrote a poem on blog for this meet and sent from Rajshahi. We missed you people.

"We see, we write
We think, we fight,
For the truth
The life, the light.
We write, we show
We love Bangladesh."
- Sadat Shahriar

 

Posted by Rezwan

ROCKING JIHAD

This is really disturbing. Probe News Magazine writes an investigative report on the multi million Taka Bangladeshi Industry of "Islamist music". (via Tasneem Khalil & Salam)

It is surprising that jihadi music are being sold in the market unnoticedly along with the Bangla traditional songs, modern westernised band and concert music in the market. According to this report these Islamic-based songs definitely have found a niche in the music mart. So what do these songs instigate or inspire?

Probe magazine dissected 300 songs and found:

"Most of the songs evolve around five main topics – 1. Jihad for freedom from social inequality. 2. Criticism against the leadership of Awami League, BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami. While the opposition against Jamaat is very mild the resentment against AL is very pronounced. 3. Deep respect for and profound confidence in Osama Bin Laden and Mollah Omar. 4. Deep hatred and resentment against the US, UK. There has been no mincing of words here. 5. Criticism of the bombing in the name of Islam. However, this criticism has been rather weak and not very precise."
Please read the whole report for details. Quotes from some lyrics:
"Bangladesh’s parliament is today filled with atheists/They are Muslims only in name, not in action,"

"What is the use of being born a man if the power goes to women again and again?"

"If the Quran and Hadith are forbidden in the court, shouldn’t one sacrifice his life?"
Some people argue that you cannot motivate a suicide bomber, they are just protesting the anomalies in the society. I hope they won't try to find a logic that these music are recreational and not motivating the extremists.

Probe also reports that:
"Towards the mid-eighties Islami Chhatra Shibir’s cultural wing Spandan Shilpi Goshthi first initiated jihadi music. There are other producers like Islami Chhatra Majlish (ICM) in this industry.

Then following the suicide bomb attacks in different parts of the country on August 17, 2005, these cassettes of jihadi music suddenly seemed to have vanished into thin air."
Shouldn't the government take action against these?

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* Do you want to be a prostitute?

* The thumb thing: Must have for the book lovers.

* Google map hacks.

* An observation on current state of 'India Internet'.

* US plans to 'fight the net' revealed.

* Pork soup becomes political in France.

* On being authentically South Asian.

* That other holocaust.

* Bangladeshi journalists injured in "attack" on London offices.

 

Posted by Rezwan

UPDATE ON DHAKA BLOGGERS MEET

I am delighted to let you know that Maqsood Bhai has generously offered his residence in Niketon, Gulshan to host the first ever Dhaka bloggers meet on the 4th of February, Saturday. What could be a better place? Most of you know Maqsood Bhai as the rock legend of Bangladesh (Feedback,Dhaka bands). As a person he is a wonderful companion and a great motivator. Don't miss the chance to meet the legend (also a blogger) in person. He also suggested arranging some music (if time permits).

I think we can the start the Adda a little early. We hope to start the event
by 4:30 PM. Please mail me at i_rezwan(at)hotmail.com to get the address and location of Maqsood Bhai's house. We are exploring the possibility of inviting the expat Bangladeshi bloggers to a MSN chat during the meet. Will keep you posted on this.

So far these bloggers have confirmed:

* Naser - Observing ambience
* Wamy - Moodlogic
* Nazzina - Framedland.com Photoblog
* Arild & Hasin - Somewhereinblog.net
* Shafi - Rajputro
* Ishtiaque - Notes From Dystopia
* Asif - Imtiaz's WeBlog

And the hosts me, Maqsood Bhai, Rifat and Subhan.

Kindly inform other bloggers you know and lets try to get a bigger crowd.

Another update:

I have created a group mailing list of the Bangladeshi Bloggers in Google
groups.

Here are the essentials:

* Group name: Bangladeshi Bloggers
* Group home page: http://groups.google.com/group/Bangladeshi-Bloggers
* Group email address: Bangladeshi-Bloggers@googlegroups.com

I have added the current mailing list to this group, which will be updated within 24-48 hours. Those who are left out please send me your emails.