Echo

Blog Day  

Posted by Rezwan in

Blog Day 2008

I almost forgot that today is the 4th blog day. Celebrate!

Here is my recommendation of Five English blogs on Bangladesh:

Five Bangla Blogs:
I hope you like these recommendations.

On Sarah Palin  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

US Presidential candidate John McCain has chosen Sarah Palin, the current governor of the U.S. state of Alaska as his running mate. She is a model US citizen but many do not know about her. The Wikipedia entry on her is a starter but Joho the blog reveals there are even more interesting information in the Wikipedia discussion page on information filtered.

Dating tips  

Posted by Rezwan

How To Date A Japanese Girl
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: 31o5 barcamp)

How to date a Japanese girl - by a real Japanese girl

Via Preetam Rai

Image of the day  

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The Federal Chancellor office in Berlin

Makeover  

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This was long due. I was planning to change the template of my blog for better management of contents and I was already getting complaints from the users. I realized that the layout which looks alright in my laptop's wide screen may be shown broken in others pcs.

So I have chosen a new template. I am still fine tuning it. Please let me know your feedback.

Paintings by Rabindranath Tagore  

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The Art of Piece is an online tour hosted by The British Museum


Image credit: The British Museum
…our family has
been a confluence of
three cultures, Hindu, Mohammedan and British.'
(Rabindranath Tagore, Hibbert Lectures, Oxford, 1930)
"Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) is the most famous South Asian literary figure of the twentieth century. He was a poet, writer, statesman, educator and musician whose work and achievements earned him worldwide respect.

Born in Bengal, in eastern India, he was a strong supporter of Bengali unity and opposed the region's division at the end of the British Empire.

He was best known as a composer and poet and was the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize for literature. However, when already 60 years old, he began to paint and created a body of work that made him one of South Asia's great modern painters."

Click here for Rabindranath's paintings.

A historic speech  

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I know you are probably troubled by the media and public attention US presidential candidate Barack Obama is getting. But this is truly an outstanding speech:



Mash reacts:

America and the world took a historic step forward tonight.

A country that was founded on the noble but unfulfilled notion that all men are created equal, a country that until the Thirteenth Amendment legally allowed men to own Black men as slaves, a country that within our lifetime has witnessed the lynching of Black men, has now put a Black man in a position to vie to lead it. It is this legacy of injustice that makes this moment historic and seismic in its impact. America is at its best when it strives to fulfill its founding promise. Tonight it took a giant step in that direction.

What brought us to this moment was Barack Obama. He stood tonight in front of 85,000 citizens at Mile High Stadium in Denver not because he was a Black man, but because he was the Democratic candidate who had garnered the most votes. Barack Obama’s improbable run at the presidency tonight shouldered the added burden of the weight of history. The moment had the potential to overshadow the man. Instead Barack Obama transcended it.

Tonight, on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic speech, Barack Obama delivered an acceptance speech that seized the moment and transcended it.
Here is the text of the speech.

Violence for peace  

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Yesterday there was renewed violence in Dhaka. There was a rumor spread in Dhaka city that BNP leader and the son of ex-Prime Minister Tarique Rahman injured himself in custody of law enforcers slipping on a bathroom floor. After that pro-BNP students went on a rampage on and around campuses of Dhaka University, Dhaka College and BUET.

The Daily Star reports:

The mob also vandalised around 30 vehicles and set two ablaze during the rioting.

In a related late development in Bogra, BNP backed Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) activists set fire to the engine of a train in Gabtoli area, around 8:00pm. Earlier, they staged demonstrations and blocked roads and railways protesting government's 'disregard' towards Tarique.

Around 2:00pm in the capital, JCD activists torched a microbus on Mirpur Road near Dhaka College, leading to an explosion of the vehicle's CNG cylinder, a splinter from which hit Jahangir Alam, a cloth trader, in the chest.
This death poses us a question. What is one's life worth in Bangladesh? If you are a political leader (with mammoth corruption charges) even your slightest of falls are worthy for an uproar. And if you are an ordinary citizen like Jahangir Alam even your death is remembered as just another name in the daily news.

I am sure no proper investigations will follow to hunt Jahangir's killers. No intelligence authority will hunt them down like they did the photographer who shot the photo in this post.

And yet the politicians will preach that violence is required for peace.



At whose expense? People like Jahangir?

Update: Shafiur proposes some anti-slip bath mats to prevent such death.

Amendment of RPO act  

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The Bangladesh government has recently amended the Representation of the People Order Act, 1972 to regulate the activities of political parties. According to this act government officials who resigned or retired after November 2005 would not be able to contest the elections. There are allegations that some bureaucrats had exploited their positions to lay the groundwork for their political careers. So this act will deter them.

The other features of this law are mandatory registration for political parties, candidates should not be defaulters of utility bills, close down chapters abroad. It also bars those convicted of war crime by a national or international court or tribunal. A candidate shall allowed to contest in maximum three constituencies instead of five.

But it was not well received by the political parties. Moreover, The Police department has created a new intelligence wing to gather information in advance about activities of political parties which angered them. The Awami League and BNP said this has been done to harass leaders.

It also provides for an option to cast no-vote given that voters find no contestants to their liking.

Interestingly it also makes the current chief of Army General Moeen U. Ahmed ineligible for president. This may diffuse some rumors that he is planning to be the next president. According to the constitution, the persons ineligible to be a lawmaker shall not be qualified to vie for presidency as well.

I personally see most of the provisions in this RPO act as positive and beneficial to the country. There might be dispute on some of the provisions but I see the complete disregard of this act by the political parties illogical.

Photos of Mughal Edifices in ruins  

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This is a great collection. Shows the rich past of Dhaka city.

Also check this new photoblog from Bangladesh.

Technology empowers the poor  

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Citing Bangladesh's example Iqbal Quadir explains how technology is empowering the poor.

Culture vs. Rituals  

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Habib posts two scanned pages of a book by Major Gen. M. A. Matin titled "The continuation of our liberation struggle":

He actually made some disturbing and illogical accusations. Such as cultural activities like singing, recitation, theater as Bengali nationalistic motivations and which are derailing the youths. He even accused the celebrations of the international mother language day (Ekushey February) as Hindu cultural activities. He even has reservations about mixed religious marriages.

Its interesting many people overlook the fact that the culture contains elements of multiple religions; e.g. a typical marriage ceremony in Bangladesh consists of culture that exists in both religions - Hindu and Muslim. Culture is defined as "the system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviors and artifacts that the members of society use to cope with their world and with one another, and that are transmitted from generation to generation through learning". Religion is similar to culture but there needs to be a clear understanding between rituals and culture. A ritual is "a set of actions, often thought to have symbolic value, the performance of which is usually prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community by religious or political laws because of the perceived efficacy of those actions."

So it can be argued whether the rites Mr. Matin described are rituals or cultural elements and mixed marriage is a culture (not ritual) even shared by the great Muslim prophet Muhammad.

The Bengali culture is two and half thousand years old and it was blessed with many religions and it is culmination of all the best of every sub-culture. Islam grew in the Indian subcontinent during 1000-1500AD but the cultures of people here no way resembles the Arab Muslims etc.

One deserves his/her freedom of speech. But it is alarming when these views come from the person, who is in charge of the ministry of home of Bangladesh.

A Gem of Asia you have overlooked  

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Bangladesh

(Thanks AJ)

Dhaka's cab service collapse and the choice of the vehicle  

Posted by Rezwan in

Taxi cabs were introduced in Dhaka in 1998. We had seen a variety of cars at the beginning, from Indian Ambassador to Japanese Toyota cars. Later on many brands from India like Maruti, Tata were imported as taxi cabs. After the ban of baby-taxis or engine run-three wheelers in 2003 growing number of AC & Non-AC Taxis were imported and the the total number of taxis plying in Dhaka streets are about 11,000.

According to BDNews24.com Dhaka's cab firms are on the verge of collapse as 70 percent of licensed cabs have been written off the road. Authorities are blaming Carjacking and bad drivers for this collapse but the choice of car is one of the reasons behind it.

The most of the non-AC cabs were 800cc Suzuki models imported from India which produced many technical problems. Within 3-6 months of purchase, parts began to fail and a perennial problem of repair/replace came down on the shoulders of the owners and drivers. I asked a taxi driver why this happens as I have seen private owners of Maruti driving it for years without that many trouble. He explained, taxis are different from personal vehicles. How many time do you switch the ignition in a day? 4-5 times average? But in the case of a Taxi the number of ignitions will be more than 100 in a day. So the ignition unit of a Maruti needs replacement every 2-3 months. The bottom line: taxis are different and need to be tough.

When I saw Mercedes Benz plying in German streets as taxis I thought what a rich country this is! But now I know why taxi drivers choose Mercedes and especially E Class. It's body has a rust free guarantee of 15-18 years (a South Korean equivalent provides only 6 years) and it is one of the best engineered and constructed cars around, with mechanics that never seem to wear out and build quality that most other manufacturers have. Moreover Mercedes gives a 14% rebate as long as the car is used as a taxi for at least one year.

There is a saying that:

"In the old days, Mercedes-Benz cars only really needed to appeal to two sorts of people; German taxi drivers and businessmen."
I hope you understand that the vehicle need to be tailored for use as taxis to make them sustainable for a long period to make profits. The London black taxis are produced by one company LTI to maintain quality and homogeneity.


Dacia Logan taxis in Indian streets. (Image credit: wikipedia)

I think time has come for Bangladesh not to allow just any private vehicle as taxis. There are many alternatives to the usual brands Bangladesh import for taxis. Dacia Logan can be a good alternative if duties are minimized. Its one of the cheapest car in Europe with high performance. Its one of the ads placed an engine of BMW besides the car highlighting that with its price you will only be able to buy a BMW engine. It even has a plant in India and Indians are using it as taxis. Moreover good driving trainings should be introduced including loand for drivers to purchase their own vehicles. If the vehicles can be their property, they will take good care of it.

Decrease in national savings certificates & relation to corruption  

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Sales of national savings certificates (Sanchaypatras) are down by almost 50% in 2007-08 (Tk 2,228.29 crore). Analysts say this is because of the price hike and inflation.

But from the stats we can see that in the year 2006-2007 (during the end of BNP rule) there was an increase of almost 40% than previous year (4,174.92 crore in 2006-07 & Tk 2,996.58 crore in 2005-06). Many black money were cleaned white by buying Sanhcaypatra's in relatives and family members name. There is a bar of purchasing Sanchay Patras by an individual. This was not maintained but the authorities could not prevent it in absence of a central database. However the anti-corruption commission later unveiled these and brought charges against the persons who violated this.

So actually this is the effect of the anti-corruption drive. Whether the drive is successful and done without any motive can be debated as we see some of the charged are gradually being released. If they can get out without paying a price for their criminal acts, there will be no one to stop them.

Digital dossier  

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Just about all of us have a digital dossier. Your dossier is the accumulation of all the digital tracks you make. But how aware are you of the tracks you leave behind? Find out more here.

Marina Mahathir in Bangladesh  

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Marina binti Mahathir is a human rights activist and the daughter of the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohammad. She is well known as a leader in many non-governmental organizations such as the Malaysian AIDS Foundation and is currently an active socio-political blogger.

Marina Mahathir is in Bangladesh for a visit. She describes her visit in Bangladesh in her blog:

Bangladesh is an interesting place, far more than we give it credit for. Since January 2007, it has had an Interim Government which is provided for in its Constitution. Basically they got so fed-up of all the politicians they had that they threw them all out and installed a government of politically-neutral professionals who are called Advisers. The interim Prime Minister is called Chief Adviser. They are there only for a specific length of time only and in December this year, there will be elections to elect a new Government.

Meantime however the Interim Government has actually been doing a good job. In the time that they have been governing, they have probably done more good things than all past governments combined, passing no less than 80 reforms that people have long wanted. They have done things in that short space of time that politicians have been saying couldn't be done in 50 years!

Given our recent political turbulence, having an Interim Government made up of serious professionals uninterested in politics sounds very attractive indeed! Wish we had a Constitutional provision like that!
Read the rest here.

Propaganda  

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I was going through a remote town in Czech Republic and was curious to see presence of a series of poles with speakers everywhere. I was told by a German companion that these are reminiscent of the old communist era. With these speakers communist propaganda was preached to the population whole day. These were also used to inform about local events or a political gatherings. This kinds of propaganda speakers can also be seen in other parts of the world also used by communist regimes, e.g. in Vietnam.

A huge TV screen has been put in Dhaka's Shahbag area near Bangabandhu Medical Hospital, Birdem Hospital, National museum and National library. Masud writes in his Bangla Blog that it emanates noisy ads and it distracts traffic and people in this busy junction. Notably it was inaugurated by the election commissioner.

Mahbub Sumon writes that the whole day it propagates the works of election commission and the patriotic armed forces and some advertisements in between. Can you see some similarity in the above two instances?

India wasn't the architect of Bangladesh  

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Ahmad Ferdous Bin Alam vents his frustration reading certain Indian media's claim that India and the 13 day Indo-pak war in 1971 was solely the creator of Bangladesh ignoring the nine month long liberation war struggle of Bangladesh and bloods of millions of Bengalis who died:

Bloody birth of Bangladesh was a by-product of that so-called Indo-Pak war? With this statement, the sacrifice of our freedom fighters and martyrs has been brazenly belittled. It's downright despicable!

India's help in our war of liberation has always been aptly appreciated by us except some anti-India freaks. We're indebted to India for its help throughout our liberation war. But exaggeration of their contribution on the part of the Indian press is reprehensible. Describing the war waged by Bangladeshis and fought fiercely in which Indian Force helped us cannot be dubbed as Indo-Pak war in any way.

It's liberation war of Bangladesh, NOT 1971 Indo-Pak war.
B. Raman, former deputy chief of India’s external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)adds the right perspective in his book ‘The Kaoboys of RAW’:
‘India’s role was more of a facilitator than a creator. It was a war jointly won by India and the people of East Pakistan’.

‘Without the desire and the will of the people of Bangladesh, there would have been no Bangladesh. Their sacrifices for their cause were immense. How many were brutally killed by the Pakistan Army!

‘How many Bengali intellectuals were massacred by the Pakistan Army and by terrorist organisations such as Al Badr and Al Shams created by the ISI! It is their sacrifice which laid the foundation for an independent Bangladesh.

What India did under the leadership of Indira Gandhi was to make sure that their sacrifices were not in vain. (Source)

Finding Bangladesh  

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A new three part series documentary on “Historical Places of Bangladesh” has recently been released in DVDs and its now available in Bangladesh. (Via Angelmorn)

Here is a trailer of the first part:


The first part covers the following landmarks:

From Dhaka Division: Ahsan Manzil, Lalbagh Fort, Dhakeswari Temple, Star Mosque and Sonargaon (Panam City, Bara Sardar Bari and the Sonakanda Fort).

From Rajshahi Division: Ramshagor Dighi, Kantajee’s Temple, Ksumba Mosque, Paharpur, Behula’s Nuptial House, Mohasthangarh and Puthia
From its Facebook campaign:
Bangladesh is blessed and adorned with countless mesmerizing “sites and scenes” where nature has woven its beauty very intricately; not only in terms of natural beauty, but also in terms of historical land marks.

We decided to document the important sites all over Bangladesh and compile it on a series so that at least people know about them.
I can't wait to get hold of this DVD.

Cyber campaign  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

Its great to see a candidate for Dhaka Mayor election using internet as a campaign tool. This means Bangladesh is going forward.

However, Internet is also a good resource of information. It archives your internet presence and tells a lot about you including how popular you are. See here, here and here for details.

Locked up in Bangladesh  

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In early 1992, 18-year-old Lia McCord got an offer she couldn't refuse.: Go to Bangladesh, pick up some packages and return home to Texas with $20,000. Simple.

However, the packages were in fact heroin and her contact was violent and controlling. Following a botched escape from her hotel McCord was arrested at Zia International Airport in Dhaka with 7 lbs. of heroin strapped to her body. It was then that her descent into hell really began. She narrowly escaped the death penalty, but was sentenced to 30 years.

As a model prisoner, she came to the attention of Congressman Bill Richardson, who appealed to the President of Bangladesh. It was successful, and she was released in July 1996. She now lives and works near Washington DC.



The full report is in the National Geographic.

(Via Voice of Bangladeshi Bloggers)

Facebook users in Bangladesh  

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Justin Smith from Inside Facebook shared the latest data regarding the growth of Facebook worldwide (via Lova).

Most interesting is the statistics of Asia, especially India & Bangladesh:


While India has about 60 million internet users only 200,000 of them use Facebook. Whereas about 100,000 Bangladeshis use Facebook out of a total number of internet users of only 500,000 (some claim it is 1 million). (Stat source ITU)

Here is a graph showing the growth of Bangladesh internet users (source):


According to the above stats every one among five Bangladeshi internet users has a Facebook account.

I have got a new notebook!  

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After the initial frustrations thanks to a local dealer I finally bought a notebook which could be customized to English version. I have never heard of MSI brand before but this baby looks great with widescreen and is well balanced with configuration at a competitive price. Only I found no webcam attached as advertised. Normal posting will resume shortly.

Bangladesh Elections  

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The recent City Corporation and Pourashava election has ended in Bangladesh successfully (except some reports of mismanagement). One limitation was that BNP boycotted the elections although some of their candidates ran independently. The election commission's outlook was to make this election free from political party representations but the court has given a verdict against that only a few days ago.

The European and American diplomats said that "they were impressed by the high turnout and efficient running of local elections" calling the polls "a step in the right direction ahead of December's national polls".

Only recently I noticed a commendable effort from a Bangladesh based NGO (Shushashoner Jonnoy Nagorik -SHUJAN). They have a site in bangla called www.votebd.org which displays all the information of every Candidate who contested in the 4 City Corporaton and 9 Pourashava elections. This is a great resource for voters to decide who is the best candidate for them.

The information available (even in pdf) are:

  1. Candidate's Income Tax return information, Sources of Election expenses, Affidevit
  2. Candidate's Comparison status of every voting area;
  3. Corruption news archive with searching capability where from you can find if your candidate is implicated in any corruption;
  4. An interactive forum;
  5. Documents for study;
Here is a great video from SHUJAN about whom the voters will be casting their vote:



I think this is a great move and this website can be a great resource for voters in the coming elections in Bangladesh.

Update: I am not a spam  

Posted by Rezwan in

It seems like ages (actually about 10 days) when I last updated my blog. Well a series of unfortunate events unsettled my internet presence.

First it was the Google spam bot which identified my blog as a splog and locked it. It said if not proven otherwise they were going to delete this blog. It could be the bot or some people may have reported it as so.

I panicked first and tried to contact blogger.com. They only had an automated process of reporting that it is not a spam blog and said it will take them minimum 2 days to review it by a service personnel. After two days there was no update from them so even I created a mirror of this blog in case I lose this space.

In the midst of all these another shocking thing happened. The harddisk of my HP business notebook crashed. Luckily I had bought an external harddisk and have 80% of my data in backup. As far I reckon I have lost some important mail archives, updates of last month's work and some important bookmarks among other things. I don't have another PC here (mine is back in Dhaka) so I was disconnected. The notebook's warranty period is over so replacing it here will cost much time and money. An expert said it may be the harddisk or the controller, in case of later it would take much time to replace.

I am trying to get a new notebook. But now I face another challenge. All the notebooks sold here have German language version of OS pre-installed (most of the offers have Windows Vista) and comes with German keyboard. I need to buy the Full English version of the OS (Windows Vista) which will cost me extra 300 Euro. A mere upgrade (about 100 Euro) will not change the language.

Another options to get it from outside Germany, but that will take some time. So lets see if any breakthrough happens in the meantime. For now I am checking emails from cybercafes.

Today I am delighted to see that my blog has been unlocked. And it seems its not the only one affected. There are confusions all around and conspiracy theories are being circulated.

I only wish this bad patch is over soon.

Update: Blogger admits-

We want to offer our sincerest apologies to affected bloggers and their readers. We’ve tracked down the problem to a bug in our data processing code that locked blogs even when our algorithms concluded they were not spam.

We have now restored all accounts that were mistakenly marked as spam.