Echo

Quote Of The Day  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

"Everyone seems to ignore the fact that they have played good cricket. They aren't as weak as some people seem to think they are."

- John Dyson, the West Indies Coach, on Bangladesh cricket team

Tipaimukh Dam And Transparency  

Posted by Rezwan in , ,

(Also Published in Global Voices Online)

My previous report on the damaging aspects of the Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Project and protests against it generated much reader response. This post has updates on the situation.

Asadul Haque at Haque's Talking describes how this has been a hot debate in Bangladesh recently:

The Tipaimukh dam issue currently continues to dominate the domain of political, media, intellectual and civil society’s discourse in Bangladesh with a unilateral demand for revocation of India’s decision for the project. Massive public protest in different forms i.e. rallies, protest meetings, strikes and so on against the dam continue to gain momentum in Bangladesh.

Zahid at Sachalayatan writes:

বাংলাদেশ আজ একটি ভয়ঙ্কর সমস্যার মুখে পতিত, আমরা এখনো বিষয়টি পরিষ্কার বুঝতে পারছিনা তাই আসল চিন্তা না করে রাজনীতির কাঁদা ছোড়াছুড়ি করে যাচ্ছি। বিষয়টি নিয়ে ব্লগে, সংবাদপত্রে, টিভিতে, জনসভায় আলোচনা হচ্ছে, কুটনৈতিক পর্যায়ে মতানৈক্য চলছে, বিভিন্ন দলের বিশেষজ্ঞদের নাম জানা যাচ্ছে কিন্তু তার পরেও আমরা পনের কোটি মানুষ শান্তিতে ঘুমোচ্ছি। সুনামগঞ্জের হাওড় এলাকার দরিদ্র কৃষকটি, যার সারা বছরের খাবার আর জীবন যাপনের একমাত্র অবলম্বন বোরো ধান, কিংবা দরিদ্র জেলেটি যার খেয়ে পড়ে বেঁচে থাকা নির্ভর করছে বর্ষাকালের হাওড়ের মাছের উপর সেও শান্তিতে ঘুমুচ্ছে কারন সে জানেনা কি ভয়াবহ ভবিষ্যৎ অপেক্ষা করছে তার জন্য। ফাঁরাক্কা ব্যারেজের কারনে আমাদের উত্তাল প্রমত্তা পদ্মা আজ যৌবন হারিয়েছে সেই সাথে ধুকে ধুকে মরছে এর শাখানদীগুলো। ১৯৭৪-৭৫ সালে নির্মিত ফাঁরাক্কা ব্যারেজের ফলে ভারতের একচেটিয়া পানি উত্তোলনকে কেন্দ্র করে একটি চুক্তি করতে কুটনৈতিক আলোচনা গড়িয়েছে ২০ বছর, আর এই সুদীর্ঘ সময়ে আমরা হারিয়েছি আমাদের নদীর নাব্যতা, আমাদের ফসলের জমি হারিয়েছে তার উর্বরতা, লবনাক্ততা এসে গ্রাস করেছে আমাদের অহংকার সুন্দরবনকে, ইবনে বতুতার সবুজ বাংলাদেশের উত্তরাঞ্চল পরিনত হয়েছে শুষ্ক মরুভূমিতে।

Bangladesh is in a big problem. We are still not getting the real picture so are bickering with political motives where we should be thinking about the solution. The issue is being talked about in blogs, newspapers, rallies. Diplomatic efforts are being carried out, we are hearing about many new experts, but most of our 150 million people are still sleeping on it without any worry. The poor farmer near Sunamganj, whose livelihood and nutrition for the whole year is the boro crops, is also sleeping without knowing what future awaits for him. Our mighty Padma river has shrinked because of Farakka Barrage. The barrage was made in 1974-75 and and agreement to protect the the unilateral withdrawal of water by India took 20 years of diplomatic efforts. In the mean time our rivers have lost their depth, our lands have lost fertility, our Sunderbans forest has been engulfed with salinity. The green Bangladesh as named by Ibn Battuta has become almost like a desert.

The protests have already spread in Internet. More than 80 Facebook groups have been opened, which includes: :: Stop Tipaimukh Dam ::, Protest Against ‘Tipaimukh Dam', Tipaimukh Dam & Fulertal Barrage - Lets Stop India, Stop Tipaimukh Dam, Save Our Bangladesh Tipaimukh Dissemination. Dedicated blog sites have been launched to compile and disseminate Tipaimukh dam related news.

Anondomoye discovers [bn] from the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) report:

সবচেয়ে উলেখযোগ্য যে তথ্যটা পেলাম সেটা হলো টিপাইমুখ ড্যাম সাইট থেকে ৯৫কিঃমিঃ ভাটিতে ফুলেরতালে একটা ব্যারেজ নির্মানের প্রস্তাবনা আছে (যা ভারত সবসময় অস্বীকার করে আসছে)।

The most important information I gathered from the report is that there is also a plan of building a barrage in Fulertal, 95km upstream of the Tipaimukh dam (India has always denied this fact).


Image courtesy Subir Bhowmik

Image courtesy Subir Bhowmik

Navid says:

The Tipaimukh Dam project may not be harmful to us rather useful if it only consists of a Dam. The problem will arise if India makes Fulertol Barrage along with the Dam. The Barrage can really render this great country into a desert.

The recent comments of the Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh has caused much uproar in Bangladesh politics, reports An Ordinary Citizen. Indian journalist Subir Bhowmik writes in his blog that hiding of facts are fuelling more controversies. He opines:

If we leave this aside as normal compulsions of domestic politics in Bangladesh, it still falls on India to take a lower-riparian neighbour like Bangladesh into confidence when we plan such huge projects like Tipaimukh.

However, Diganta Sarkar at The New Horizons comments on the EIA and EMP documents that he “hardly finds a ground to accuse (the Indian) Government of hiding anything” as these are available online. He is also satisfied with the mitigation effort and planning to tackle the environmental damages and earthquake threats published in those documents but questions whether all of them will be implemented.

Zahid has already published five posts of his investigative six part series [bn] describing the impact of the dam and barrage refuting the Indian claims that there will be no environmental damage in Bangladesh. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5). He says:

একজন সাধারণ মানুষও যেখানে জানে যে বাঁধের কিছু না কিছু প্রভাব উজান ভাটিতে থাকে সেখানে একটি বিলিয়ন ডলারের প্রকল্পের Environmental Impact assessment (EIA) এ এর ভাটি অঞ্চলকে প্রায় সম্পূর্ণ ভাবে উপেক্ষা করা কতটা যুক্তিযুক্ত ?

A layman also knows that there are some effects of a dam in the downstream region. But the Environmental Impact assessment (EIA) in this billion dollar project has almost neglected the downstream region.

Indian blogger Biplob Pal says [bn]:

বিদ্যুত অবশ্যই চাই। ভারত এখন শিল্পোন্নত দেশ-সেখানে ঘন্টায় ৪-১০ ঘন্টা গড়ে লোডশেডিং নিশ্চয় কাম্য না। কিন্ত সেটা হিমালয়ের জল সম্পদকে লুন্ঠন করে কোটি কোটি মানুষের জীবিকাকে ধ্বংশ করে কেও নিশ্চয় চাইবে না ।

টিপাইমুখ কোন বিচ্ছিন্ন ঘটনা নয়। হিমালয়ের বুকে এই রকম আরো ১০০ টী জলবিদ্যুত কেন্দ্র তৈরী করার পরিকল্পনা চলছে। আফটার অল, যত বেশী বাঁধ তত বেশী ঠিকাদারি। পকেট ভরবে রাজনীতিবিদদের। দুদিকে লাভ। অর্থাগম ভোটাগম। মাশুল গুনবে ভারত -বাংলাদেশের সাধারন মানুষ।যাদের অধিকাংশই আদিবাসি। নদীই একমাত্র জীবিকা কেন্দ্র।

We want electricity. India is an industrialized country and nobody wants daily power outages of 4-10 hours. But to generate that there is no need to squander the water wealth of The Himalayas and destroy livelihood of millions of people.

Tipaimukh is not an isolated incident. There are plans to build about hundred more such hydro-electric plants. After all, the more dams the more contracts. The politicians will also cash in. The profit is multidimensional: more money, more votes. The price will be paid by the common people of India and Bangladesh. And most of them are indigenous, rivers are their only livelihood.

Jiten Yumnam at Intercultural Resources reminds that this project can spark movements in its Manipur state:

India should refrain from constructing Tipaimukh dam to avoid multidimensional conflicts and complications as the project is potentially rife for causing conflicts between states, between state and indigenous peoples and between indigenous peoples all over control and management of resources and definition of developmental priorities. As Manipur is already rife with movements for right to self determination, any forced construction of Tipaimukh dam with its multifaceted impacts will only legitimize their movement to defend their land and resources.

A 10-member all-party delegation of parliamentarians of Bangladesh is visiting India currently to assess the situation. The Bangladesh government has requested India not to start building the dam without Bangladesh's consent. Muhammad Zamir opines in an Oped at The Daily Star:

What is required today is transparency and political will. One hopes that the visit of our Parliamentary delegation will be followed not only by intensive discussion on the basis of shared data between relevant experts from both countries but also meetings between the two political leaderships. An acceptable equation has to be reached between sovereign rights and national interests.

The feat of the "Lowly"  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

Congratulations to the Bangladesh cricket team for recording their first one-day series win over a test-playing nation by winning 2-0 against West Indies (WI) with one match to go and previously clinching the Test series (2-0). The boys really played well to prove that they are becoming a force to consider.

Surely Shakib's captaincy and performance are proving beneficial for Bangladesh. Bangladesh can now turn back and win. According to the current ICC rank Shakib is the no. 1 allrounder in ODI and the no. 4 allrounder in Test Championship.

But this tour was controversial before any ball was bowled. The West Indies Players Association withdrew their players from the series to pressurize the West Indies Cricket Board to settle their outstanding contract issues. The board took on these players by naming another squad with less experienced players including players from the A team.

I have seen that many are seeing this in the angle that Bangladesh is winning because WI has fielded their B team. I should remind them that Bangladesh also was in this position last year when 13 players signed for Indian Premier League and was handed a 10 year ban by the board. Included in the lists are veterans Mohammad Rafique and Habibul Bashar and indispensable players like Aftab Ahmed, Alok Kapali, Shahriar Nafees, Farhad Reza and Dhiman Ghosh. Considering the recent Bangladesh team at least 4-5 from them can be easily be included to form the best Bangladesh team. So Bangladesh is also playing in this series with reduced strength and with some less experienced players.

The West Indies media is trying to downplay the recent feats of Bangladesh. The headline of The Jamaican Observer reads "The RECORD low! Windies cede ODI series to lowly Bangladesh".

So to them Bangladesh is still the "lowly". And they undermine the feats of Bangladesh of chasing 274 runs in a fast pitch with fearsome WI bowlers. If Bangladesh could produce a convincing performance with some less experienced players why the WI could not do it?

If they try to say that these WI players are not quality players then we can argue that a legendary team like West Indies should have enough quality players waiting to be included in the national side. If they can't field enough performing players like Bangladesh did when they lost their star players to IPL, who should be termed "lowly"?

(Image courtesy BDNews24.com)

Update  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

I have not updated my blog for a while. The main reason is the lack of internet connectivity. I mean I have now a monthly mobile internet connection package which performs a lot under its declared speed and it has a monthly cap which prompts me to stick to work rather than play.

We have started the house hunt about ten days ago. We have so far seen more than 15 houses and closing in on one. Meanwhile we have traveled around Jakarta a bit. Went to the Ancol Theme park and the beach and rode on the cable car. (Pics coming up)

Meanwhile our main source of entertainment is the Indonesian language TVs, and we don't understand them. Its good that a couple of channels show English movies (with subtitles) during night. And the Indonesian soaps are also interesting - more complicated than Hindi serials The women are the villains and the men are a naive lot. I was informed by Aparna that some of these soaps are written by Indians - so you get the drift.

Jakarta can be expensive and inexpensive at the same time, depending on your lifestyle. Here riches (and expats) have a completely different lifestyle, close to the Europeans- fully air-conditioned houses and cars, living in good neighborhood, groceries from Carrefour, snacks from Mcdonalds etc and its really expensive in local standard. In Carrefour we did some grocery shopping for the home including fruits and it was almost 50 dollars (500000 Rp)! But again the local wages here is so cheap (a maid at around 100 dollars per month, which is the minimum wages). I wonder how local people survive with this in this expensive city!

E.g. I bought pomfrets from the clean Carrefour at 100000 Rp (10 dollars) and from a filthy local market 25,000 rp per kilo. But I went to the later with one local person who did the talking and bargaining for me and I reckon no western expat goes there. So you see why the knowledge of the market and learning of the local language is crucial.

It rained heavily in Jakarta and some streets were inundated with 1 feet of water. Drains clogged with rubbish-familier scenes I was told. We are of course looking for our houses in flood free areas.

Will keep you posted.

We Are Safe  

Posted by Rezwan in

Today at around 8:00AM two bombs went off in Kuningan area of South Jakarta. The homemade bombs were on the basement car park of the Marriot and a restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton. At least nine people are dead so far including a suicide bomber. No one claimed the responsibility but BBC is suspecting its the work of extremist organization Jemaah Islamia. An unexploded bomb and other explosives material were found in room 1808. Another bomb went off at a toll road in north Jakarta.

We are also residing in Southern Jakarta but about 20 minutes away from the Marriot. I heard about it in the morning when somebody called us to inform. I switched on the TV but could not make out anything as all the channels are only broadcasting in the local languages. There were some footages which showed the grim situation.

We went out later to a shopping mall near Kuningan and saw the road leading to the Marriot well cordoned off. However the situation seems to be normal in town now.

Budy is a nice young man from Jakarta, who has been our guide. I rode his bike numerous times to go to nearby shopping malls and grocery stores. When I asked him about the blast he shrugged and said this is typical Jakarta; every year there are one or two sporadic incidents. I asked - Al Qaeda? He said - Don't know, may be Nurudin, from Malaysia. Well I don't know who that is.

I bought a pre-paid mobile SIM (which is very cheap and available everywhere) but it is costing much to log on to internet. I mean checking emails via mobile is affordable. But the moment I use it as a modem to log on to internet from my laptop, it eats up the credit a lot, about a dollar every 10 minutes (without downloading any video). In internet Cafe you can browse for three hours with one dollar. I tried to get an unlimited package (30 dollars a month) but was told that I have to buy a post-paid SIM for that. And they handed me a list of requirements (guarantees, stay permits/ID etc) which will take at least one month of bureaucracy. I will try to convince someone local to help me out on this. Even in Bangladesh I could get the unlimited internet package with pre-paid connection -no document was required. And the price was something like 12-15 dollars a month.

Thanks to those who inquired about my safety via email and Facebook.

In Jakarta  

Posted by Rezwan in

Signing in from a cyber cafe in Jakarta. We have arrived safely yesterday. It was a tiring journey of about 18 hours of flight time and two stops (At Doha & Singapore).

What can I say about Jakarta at first sight! Feels so like Dhaka. Smog, corruption, long queues, traffic jam, broken streets, Kacha Bazaar, high end convenient stores, shopping malls, high rises.

Trying to sort out logistics here. There are a lot of things to do.. like hunting a house, getting a cost effective internet connection. The temporary accommodation had some lacking reminding us that we are not in a well developed country. But I like this place.

More later.

Good Bye Germany  

Posted by Rezwan in , ,

It has been an interesting experience living in Europe for the last three years. In less than 12 hours we will be moving on. Next stop Jakarta, Indonesia; where my new home will be for the next couple of years. New country, new challenges. I can't wait to share my experiences.

The summary of the last three years is that I enjoyed this study break, spent more time with my daughter (which was not possible during my last full time job), blogged more and ventured into the world of working online and I used the time to travel a lot. Europe gives you the opportunity of visa less borders (saving you time and hassle), quick and inexpensive travel through highways or train and of course budget airlines. In last three years I went to London six times for my study. I visited many countries in Europe except the Scandinavian ones.

I actually remained as a perpetual visitor in Berlin. Being based in Berlin (because of my family) I studied in UK and worked online, so my contact with the Germans were minimal. My internship in German Bundestag for two months and my attempt to get enrolled in the Humboldt University were the other highlights of my stay in Berlin.

I drove about 50000km in last three years and my longest was Berlin to Paris (1100km) in 14 hours. Another record was crossing four countries in a day - Koblenz -Luxembourg -through Belgium- Maastricht-Berlin. Europe's great highways made that possible.

Berlin, is one of the most livable cities in Europe. Its green, its inexpensive comparing to other capitals in Europe and its really a great city to explore and taste its different flavors; from historical buildings to modern architecture, from ghettos in Kreuzberg to mansions in Schwanenwerder, I can go on and on. Perhaps I will write a book someday.

Bangladesh: Through The Eyes Of Expatriates  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

There is a vibrant expatriate community in Bangladesh and many of them work as volunteers or are employed in numerous non-government organizations. Some of them are also blogging and are sharing their experiences and these are generally true and more authentic than what is reported by the international media about Bangladesh. These views are extremely useful for those who are coming to visit Bangladesh and for Bangladeshis too. In the first post of this series I will highlight some of these expat bloggers and what they are talking about.

Nikkibomb at Amar Bangla Na travels to the Chittagong Hill Tracts and writes:

The Chittagong Hill Tracts are unrelentingly green. Everywhere you look, it's that lush color that Bangladeshis love to wear.

Estelle Visagie was also in the Hill tracts in Rangamati where she found three lady Buddhist monks and was given a Chakma name.

Sara, who is studying and researching under a Fulbright scholarship posts plenty of pictures and her experiences of mingling with the Bangladeshis.

Nature in Bangladesh; Durgapur, Netrokona, By Ariful Haque Bhuiyan (http://www.flickr.com/photos/arifbd111/3401682813/), used under a Creative Commons license

Nature in Bangladesh; Durgapur, Netrokona, By Ariful Haque Bhuiyan (http://www.flickr.com/photos/arifbd111/3401682813/), used under a Creative Commons license

Amy Moyer escaped from the frantic life of the capital and writes:

We ended the trip with a visit to the village where Jamdani cloth is hand woven. Jamdani is incredibly fine, light weight muslin that is a specialty of Bangladesh. Legend has it that a Jamdani sari, comprising approximately 13 yards of fabric, can be folded into the size of a matchbox. The people were so friendly and eager to let us try our hand at the weaving process. It was priceless and ironically they didn't take Visa.

Meandering Memos visits a handicrafts project in Narayanganj, near Dhaka where 26000 women are employed and writes:

Sari printing – I had no idea all the designs were all hand-stamped! What time-intensive work. The dyes they use are all from natural products.

Jacob and Sanna's blog praises the contemporary Bengali band ‘Bangla':

This band is different — they tastefully blend quality Western guitar & bass rhythms with a drum and folk tunes modified by their lead singer Anusheh's amazing voice.

Valerie at from Spa-Ha to Bangla is in the country for two months to visit her husband. She spends a day as a real house wife in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka and notices:

This was one of my cheapest days I’ve spent anywhere, ever. The total cost of spa treatments was 600 taka, less than $10. We generously overpay both driver and housekeeper to the point of being told we’re fools, and they earn $4.30 and $7 a day respectively. Tennis court time is $1/hour. Food costs are so minimal that it’s silly to even add up the cents.

Sonargaon, old capital of Bengal. Image by Flickr user Shubho Salateen (http://www.flickr.com/photos/shubho/242268273/) used under a Creative Commons license

Sonargaon, old capital of Bengal. Image by Flickr user Shubho Salateen (http://www.flickr.com/photos/shubho/242268273/) used under a creative commons license

Bernie Allen at Life and Work in Dhaka city visited Sonargaon, one of the oldest one time capitals of Bengal. She writes:

The Folklore Museum, that I was here to visit, houses artifacts from every cultural trait of the country, and its grounds are truly beautiful.

She was also out on the Buriganga River, which runs beside Dhaka. She finds that the river is threatened by pollution and “is only marginally less crowded and hectic than the busy city streets themselves!”

Heather at A Bangladesh Adventure posts some pictures of different vehicles in Dhaka city.

And last but not the least Caroline at Burkhas, Bibles and Bangladesh lists 20 things you may or may not have known about Bangladesh.

(Also published in Global Voices Online)

Followed By The Dead  

Posted by Rezwan in

The last email from Twitter irked me a bit:

Hi, Rezwan.
Dead Grandmother (YourDeadGranny) is now following your updates on Twitter.

A little information about Dead Grandmother:

146 followers
9 updates
following 1041 people

I know I should not freak out. A Bangla blogger at Sachalayatan was also annoyed by an invitation in Facebook from the ex dictator (president) H. M. Ershad who is known for his attraction to women. Social Networking platforms are really becoming very interesting.

Ein Sommernachtstraum  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

Today I watched one adaptation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in the 'Schaubuehne Am Lehniner Platz' Theatre in Berlin. The name of the German version is Ein Sommernachtstraum.

Its a collaboration between Director Thomas Ostermeier and Choreographer Constanza Macras and the brochure boasted "its an evening about loss of identity and sex."



I must say I am amazed by the choreography and musical skills of the drama group. However in reality it was a mixture of Hard rock, opera, classical, improvised music, dance, acrobatics, choreography, strip tease, nudity, slangs, dialogues in multiple languages including Chinese, Italian, German, English and all in all it was hard to digest. Shakespeare was little present in the whole act, may be I got lost in translation.

Inequality  

Posted by Rezwan in


Image credit Used And Amused via Ultra Violet.

Google Chrome OS and the economics of Free  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

Everybody is now talking about the announcement of Google that the Google Chrome Operating System will be available for users for free. From the Official Google Blog:

Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010.

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We're designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web.

Analysts are calculating Google's strength and asking questions like "will Google OS kill MS Windows?"

We need to understand how Google places itself on the forefronts of change and offers services for free which others can only offer commercially. Jeff Jarvis explains:
How does Google win? Its products are generally but not always better and cheaper (read: free) because Google’s real secret is that it understands the economics of the internet and competed aggressively not against technology and internet companies but instead it competed for advertisers, selling performance over scarcity. The more Google serves end users – and the more it learns about them – the more opportunities it has.

These are the economics of free as Chris Anderson writes in his book Free For Free:
Free is both a familiar concept and a deeply mysterious one. It is as powerful as it is misunderstood. The free that emerged over the past decade is different from the free that came before, but how and why are rarely explored. What more, today's Free is full of apparent contradiction: you can make money giving things away. There really is a free lunch. Sometimes you get more than you pay for.

There were broadly two camps of skeptics: those over thirty and those below. The older critics, who had grown up with twentieth-century Free, were rightly suspicious: Surely “free” is nothing of the sort-we all pay sooner or later. Not only is it not new, but it's the oldest marketing gimmick in the book. When you hear “free”, reach for your wallet.

The younger critics had a different response: “Duh!” this is the Google Generation, and they've grown up online simply assuming that everything digital is free. The fact that we are now creating a global economy around the price of zero seemed too self-evident to even note.

Read the book to understand how the Free dynamics work.

Gigaom says:
Today Google went wild and announced its plans to create the Chrome operating system, which it says will be designed to run on netbooks. But it’s really an attempt to keep Google relevant as an advertising powerhouse as consumers begin spending more time playing with web-connected apps than the web itself. It’s the search giant’s reaction to a wholesale change in computing driven by ubiquitous wireless access and mobility. The Chrome OS is another step in allowing Google to create what we’ve called the OS for advertising — an ad platform that extends across all devices and all screens.

Glimpses of 1996: Investors Beware  

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Today I saw a report of share market manipulation in Bangladesh. BD Thai, a local company producing aluminum panels incurred losses for four consecutive years till 2007. Its share price dropped as low as Tk 43 while the face value of the share is Tk 100.

Now, how to turn the price of Tk. 43 into Tk. 1200 (current market value)? Enter a foreign investment fund called GEM Global Yield Fund from USA, offering to pump in a huge amount into the company with a hopeless record and some market propaganda.

The Daily Star reports:

A deal was cut between the aluminium panel producer and the foreign investment fund under which the foreign firm snapped up a huge chunk of shares at a huge premium.

The market went crazy with the news. The company's shares worth Tk 43 soon started trading at a breakneck speed at astronomical prices, reaching as high as Tk 1,199 a share.

Within a month and a half, the foreign firm dumped all its shares on the bourses, and made even more astronomical profits. It repatriated $2 million from Bangladesh against its investment of $500,000. A super deal by any standard, for a month and a half.

GEM Global sold 272000 BD Thai Aluminium shares at Tk 909.51 each, totaling in more than Tk 247.3 million.
GEM Global is an investment firm of GEM Global Emerging Markets, having offices in New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Beijing.

GEM Global is incorporated in the Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory in the Caribbean. It is billed as a centre for tax evasion. It has a tax rate of zero for corporation tax, income tax, and capital gains, drawing some of the world's biggest banks and hedge funds to its shores.

GEM Global have purchased shares of more companies of Bangladesh, namely Beximco Pharmaceuticals, and Aftab Automobiles. GEM Global seeks to acquire 16% stake of Beximco pharmaceuticals.

The Security Exchange Commission presently does not have any lock-in system for the foreign fund. "In the past, the lock-in system had been in place for all companies -- both foreign and local -- to avert short-term speculative trading, and flight of capital from the market."

The problem also lies with the investors in Bangladesh whom can be easily manipulated. A tip for them:

How to Recognize Stock Market Manipulation vs Normal Stock Market Movement?

Bangladeshi Peacekeeper Wins The Heart Of The Liberians  

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Liberian blog 2tango informs that Lt.-Col. Ershad Hossain from Bangladesh voluntarily donated his blood to save Menemon Jarbo, a pregnant Liberian woman who later gave birth to a set of triplets. He is the team leader of MILOB (UNMIL Military Observer from Bangladesh) Team Eleven in southeastern Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County in Liberia.

The blogger writes:

This medical emergency was a case referred from River Gee County to the Martha Tubman Memorial Hospital in Zwedru. Relatives of Menemon Jarbo had tried to get a donor with the right blood type, to no avail. Then came this good “Samaritan”: Lt.-Col. Ershad, to their aid. The proud mother and her three babies are presently doing great.

The donor insisted on remaining anonymous, but his noble contribution to save four lives could not remain unheralded. Lt.-Col. Ershad has indeed made himself, the United Nations and his country, Bangladesh, very proud through this singular, voluntary gesture. It is indeed hoped that others would emulate his shining example.

Showering Lt.-Col. Ershad with deserving words of commendation, UNMIL Deputy Force Commander, Maj.-Gen. Carl Modey, who is the Chief Military Observer, said: “I hereby salute you on behalf of the entire UNMIL Force and indeed the whole Mission. You really made us all proud and you deserve our special commendation”.

The Mighty IE8 Without A Spell Checker  

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I basically use Firefox and sporadically use Internet Explorar when I am multitasking and checking my windows live mail. What I miss in IE is an inbuilt spell checker. I even downloaded a spellchecker plug in called iSpell which works manually and a bit cumbersome. Recently I have upgraded to IE8, and thought that it would have this feature. But sadly IE has still a long way to go comparing to Firefox and Safari in this regards.

All For Nothing  

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Mohammad Iqbal, an Indonesian blogger living in Bahrain analyzes the plights of a Bangladeshi worker in Bahrain:

I recently met a Bangali who works for a hotel as a casual housekeeping attendant. He is actually Public Area attendant, one who takes care all public areas in a hotel, cleaning glass windows, or mopping floors of the lobby. He is not in charge for guest rooms. He does not make up rooms.

What’s not fair?

He spent BD1,500 to get working visa in Bahrain. He’s entitled 2 year permit. He’s paid BD10 a day, it means he earns BD240 a month. It’s pretty good pay? Wait..! He has to pay his flat, water, electricity, meal and of course sending money home.

Let’s calculate. For housing, he spends a sharing flat for let say BD50 a month. Then water and electricity will be additional BD10, and then meal for BD40 a month. Don’t forget, since he has a landlord or agent who arranged his employment, including job placement in different places, he has to pay for the agent fee at least BD25. So, total take home pay will be only BD115 a month.

In a year (12 month), he can safe BD1,380. This amount is still not enough to pay back the “visa” or “entrance fee” which is BD1,500. I have no idea whether this amount is legal or not, but one thing I really don't get is that within 2 years he can only safe BD1,260 net. As a conclusion, he spends 1,500 and sacrifices his two years working very hard for only BD1,260.

To extend another 2 years “working visa” he has to invest again BD1,000. This means, within 2 years, he gets only BD260 net to safe and I still have no clue how he pays for his flight ticket. I really don’t understand since it’s just not fair!
Its really hard to understand how the manpower agents lure these poor people into this nightmare and the governments ignore the truth.

Via Ayesha Saldanha, Global Voices.

Purdah by Sylvia Plath  

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Text here.

Interesting Links  

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Problem in Sending Money From Saudi Arabia  

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Many Bangladeshi workers struggle in Saudi Arabia to earn some foreign currency and send some savings to home. According to a latest report there are also some 50,000 Bangladeshi businessmen in Saudi Arabia and they prefer Hundi to Bank remittances.

"These illiterate people put millions of dollars in the banks. (But) when they attempt to send money through the banks, the Saudi secret police whisk them away and charge them with money laundering. So, some of them think of sending money through hundi." - Dr. Arifur Rahman, living in the Kingdom for 27 years. (BDNews24.com)

What's inside a coffee?  

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Picture credit: lokeshdhakar via Gagan.

Customer Service Simplified  

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By Dante Shepherd of Surviving The World

OTTO  

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OTTO is an electronic musical instrument for realtime manual beat slicing of audio samples.

OTTO ~ Getting Started from Luca De Rosso on Vimeo.



OTTO has been developed by Luca De Rosso as a thesis project for his master degree in Visual and Multimedia Communications at IUAV University of Venice – April 2009.