Image by Rezwan

Overcrowded passenger ferry capsized in the Padma River in Munshiganj, Bangladesh

The World Cup Goal-E Project

This street in Bangladesh has a colorful world cup celebration

New Chum Hill Ruins

Remnants of Kiandra gold mine at New Chum Hill, #nsw #australia

May 27, 2014

Creating Biogas from Water Hyacinth

Water hyacinth (water weed) is a menace in Bangladesh which restricts water flow and blocks sunlight in rivers and ponds contributing to contamination and killing of fish. Instead of spending much in removing or eradicating them they can be used for a good cause. Kristin Boekhoff at Panigram blog informs about an innovation in Jessore, Bangladesh which will be the first commercially operating biogas reactor running off of water hyacinth in the world.

The post was first posted in Global Voices.

May 20, 2014

Bangladesh's Economy Remains Stable, Analysis Finds

Equity analyst and blogger Asif Khan posts a brief economic update of Bangladesh in his blog. According to the analysis, despite political uncertainties the economy looks stable and inflation remains under control:
The chances of an interim election in the next 12 months look slim. Current account surpluses continue, currency looks stable and inflation remains under control, largely due to weak demand. On the negatives, tax revenue fell short of the target as per expectation. In our opinion, the major negative was the slower pace of recovery of business activity post election.

May 17, 2014

Meet Khadija, a Motorcycle Repairwoman Breaking Boundaries in Bangladesh

BRAC blog profiles how girls in Bangladesh are learning lucrative yet unconventional trades for women. Khadija, for example, was forced to drop out of school before finishing fifth grade to help support her family. Not so strange, given that only 55 percent of children in Bangladesh complete their primary education. 

But now, Khadija, who has never driven a motorcycle, can fix one as well as any man.

May 05, 2014

Alternative Voices Speaking For A Secular Bangladesh

Bangladeshi liberal humanist, free-thinker and award winning blogger Asif Mohiuddin has been invited to speak at the World Humanist Congress 2014 in Oxford, UK. He was arrested multiple times for his alleged ‘anti-state’ and ‘anti-religious’ writings, attacked by fundamentalists, and is living with death threats. Here is an excerpt from the translation of his Facebook status in Bengali on 3 March 2014 about being invited to speak at the Congress and how Bangladesh should be perceived on the global stage:

Bangladeshi doesn’t mean South Asia’s Islamic fundamentalist – Pakistan’s little brother. There is religious fundamentalism in Bangladesh, but there are also voices raised in protest against it, much like in the United States and Europe.

We just need to get our voice to the international stage. We need to make our position clear. If we don’t, the outside world will always see us as illiterate, religious fundamentalist, far right nationalist, misogynist, anti-gay, backwards-thinking and we will keep being seen as a mini-Pakistan, mini-Afghanistan, mini-Saudi Arabia. It’s time to change these perceptions.

We want to change from a moderate Muslim country to be secular Bangladesh, where there is free speech and equal rights for all. We are marching towards that future and hopefully the outside world will see us.

The Rise and Fall of Bengal’s Textile Empire

Bengal was once known as the richest province of the Indian subcontinent mainly due to its famous and varied agricultural and textiles products including the Muslin, world renowned finely-woven breathable fabric. M Ahmedullah posts in Alochonaa.com a two part series (Part 1, Part 2) discussing the history of the Bengal's textile empire.

May 01, 2014

Online Tools And Resources For Learning Bangla Language

Kolkata based British expat blog My Bangla Diary posts an interview with Steve Capell, the creator of Bangla Tangla. This resourceful website by Capell contains useful tools and contents for learning Bangla (Bengali) language online.

The Bengali Tradition of Halkhata, New Accounts Ledger

The centuries old Bengali new years celebrations include an important tradition, opening the Halkhata, a new ledger book for the year for the businesses. Blog Amader Kotha explains what Halkhata is. The traditional red color ledger book signifies the marking of a new beginning and the festivities, rituals, hopes and uncertainties that come along with it.

Bangladesh's LGBT Community Steps Out in Rainbow Colors for New Year's Celebrations

Members of Bangladesh's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community marched alongside the country's recent New Year's festivities, a bold step for the oft-vilified minority.

Roopbaan, a magazine aimed at gay Bangladeshis, arranged the colorful march, which they maintained wasn't a gay pride parade but a celebration of diversity and friendship. In Muslim-majority Bangladesh, homosexuality is considered to be unacceptable socially and religiously. Gay sex is illegal, according to the country's penal code.

On April 14, the Bengali New Year, the traditional colorful procession "Mongol Shobhajatra" set off from Dhaka University's Faculty of Fine Art building. Immediately following them were a group of people dress in rainbow colors representing the underground gay community. The people around them did not understand what was going on, but later realized from the media reports that the rally was for the same-sex community. Online portal Priyo.com reported (the translation of the article is here):
The rally contained seven parallel rows of activists clad in Punjabi [a type of shirt] in each of the rainbow colors. They had balloons, flowers and birds made of paper. They released the helium balloons to the sky after completing the rally. This diversity rally created interest among the crowd.

Spread Love, Not Hatred. Image Courtesy Roopbaan Facebook group
Spread love, not hatred. Image courtesy Roopbaan Facebook group
LGBT rights blog The Muslim Outcast noted:
Whether you are pro or anti LGBT, you cannot help but be in awe. For a group of demonised individuals to remain firm and march out onto the streets of Dhaka, knowing that it is not without risk, I believe, is an act of commendable bravery. They have begun the long road to acceptance and these incredible individuals will be remembered by the following generations of LGBT individuals as those that laid the foundations for acceptance within the nation's society.
The parade drew much reaction on social media, mainly on Facebook. The majority of commentary was negative, though some did laud the effort. Facebook group Gay For Girls listed some of them and observed:
The only reason I wasted my time taking screenshots of the comments and putting them up here is to prove a point. People will say shit just to hurt others. They will say terrible things to people they don't even know. They will hate us without even knowing our stories.
Rainer Ebert, a US activist based in Dhaka, wrote on Twitter of the threats that followed the march:
Bangladeshi diaspora LGBT blog "Coming out" as a bisexual Bangladeshi compiled some of the reactions. One user wrote, "they were lucky a handful knew.. neyxt [sic] one should surely be announced sooner and get bombed."

Other comments included threats of violence, comparisons with animals, addiction, peadophilia and incest, mentions of religious taboos and blame towards the government.

However, there were rays of hopes in some comments:
Who are we to judge whether this is good or bad, and why does it concern everyone so much.
Why are you personally so hostile towards them?
The blogger concluded:
Most of the comments are negative. Let's face it, we knew this was going to be the case. Besides the banging collection above, there are a lot of negative comments with no likes that I haven't posted here. But interspersed within those are a few good comments, and then there are the few good comments with lots of likes. And this is what gives me hope.

The post was first published in Global Voices.