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

December 31, 2003


Little drops of water can make an ocean. So please donate something for the victims.

Here are the recommended links for donations:

Please Donate

Mailing address to send your checks is:

Mercy Corps
Iran Earthquake
Dept. W
PO Box 2669
Portland, OR 97208-266

Please mark your checks with �Iran Earthquake� so the funds are directed towards this effort.

For further updates on this please visit Iranian Truth.

December 30, 2003


# Worldchanging blog posts links and stories of some interesting sites as usual:

* CLIWOC - Database of the world's ocean climate

* Personal Pollution index

* Earthquakes, culture & design

# Tim Blair compiles the best of quotes of 2003

# Hoder talks about "When people have different needs than state" and comes up with this thought provoking point:

When a government can run the whole country only by the oil and gas income, it doesn't have to answer its people's needs; it only thinks about its own needs.

# Jivha hosts an interesting debate on "Ethics & Job offers".

# Rebecca Blood tells that you can Trace your DNA Family Tree.

December 29, 2003


The prime minister of Bangladesh Khaleda Zia has ordered to send medicines and supplies worth $1 million to Iran for the Bam Earth Quake victims. A medical team consisting of Doctors and nurses will also be sent. Reports the Daily Star.

December 28, 2003


When the Thursday's plane crash in the West African country of Benin came to Bangladesh nobody had the slightest idea that 15 Bangladeshi army officers on UN peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone and Liberia were among the 119 people killed. They were returning home on leave after six months of duty. They were aboard the Boeing 727 towards Beirut. From there, they were to fly to Dhaka via Dubai. Read The Daily Star for the names and pictures of the deceased.

They were supposed to take one UN chartered flight to Beirut. But because of lack of space they could not get aboard that and got themselves into this doomed flight instead. Their families were about to greet them in the Airport when they heard the news. There have been reports of safety concerns in the operation of these chartered flights. I think for betterment of everybody concerned people should avoid these unsafe flights.

December 27, 2003


Top-ten good things about being an average Bangladeshi according to me:

10. I can easily poke my nose in other's affairs.

9. My popular pastime in Dhaka is eating out with friends or family (as there are only a few other places to go for amusement or a stroll).

8. I can watch Hindi movie and listen to Indian music all the day and still call others India'r Dalal (India's agent)

7. I can be critic about Bengali TV Channels and their programs and watch HBO, ESPN and Hindi channels all the time.

6. I can pee wherever I like.

5. I can cheer for my national football or cricket team knowing that they are going to loose and still be happy.

4. I can call my Hindu friend 'malawon' and still remain in one piece and be friends forever.

3. I only go to Jumma Prayers (in Friday) and still deemed as a pious Muslim in an Islamic country.

2. I can give you any sort of advice (from medicine to your problems in love life)

1. I don't have to vote for Bush next year.

Iran's best known female dancer Farzaneh Kaboli and 24 of her students have been detained on charges of dancing in public - for an all-female audience. Although there are no written laws against dancing, Iran's hard-line clerics have banned the activity, which they consider a promotion of moral corruption. The program had been authorized by the cultural ministry. Read more here.

That shows why the clerics are treated as fundamentalists. Performing folk dance of Iran to an all-female audience is a moral corruption? I wonder what these clerics think of culture. Loosing one's identity and being confined to their way of thinking is culture according to them I guess. I am so shocked.


The title above is the motto of Bishwa Sahitya Kendro (world literature center), a pioneer institution of Bangladesh. It is a benevolent trust, which was set up by Abdullah Abu Sayeed, a professor and a TV anchor almost 25 years ago. The BSK since it's beginning has come up with programs to increase the habit of reading among the people, where only 10% read seriously. Newspaper readers are not considered serious readers as they only collect political and other insignificant news.

Among the programs there is the national edification program. Under this, an area of the country where there are two-three schools and two colleges, a branch of the Kendra is being opened. There are 500 branches so far. These institutions bring young men & women and inspire them to run a program of reading 175 Books (chosen fitting the psyche of each student) in a stipulated time. In the last 20 years about 200,000 students have been incorporated in this program. By June 2004, an additional 100,000 students will come under this project. The library at the main office has 400,000 books and every year it is used by 10,000 readers. The BSK has a publication program and so far 3000 books have been published.

However the program that caught the most attention is the mobile library. The idea is to cover all places in the city and give chance to the juveniles and the old to get the books without having to travel all the way to the library. Centered on the mobile libraries, small area wise reading groups have mushroomed and these will serve the mission of enlightenment in the grass-root level. Now the mobile library also has service that provides dispatch riders known as 'Tirandaj (archer)' who go to old people who are unable to come to the mobile vans.

Mobile library project in brief:

Consists of Eight vehicles: 5 in Dhaka, and 1 each in Rajshahi & Khulna.

Already around 18000 members & over 4000 volunteers.

Big vans usually contains 17,000 books, medium vans 11,000 & small vans 5000.

Plans to set up three vans for each of the 64 districts in the country.

It is remarkable that this whole initiative is supported by donation of individuals and institution. There is no significant government contribution. And the will of one man could create an institute of this magnitude which itself apart from being extra-ordinary, can be replicated in other countries where reading habit is diminishing.

Had there been enough enlightened people around the world, fundamentalism and anarchy would not have been spread. To bring enlightenment among many is an uphill task but BSK's programs are surely the proven ones, which can be implemented with small fund and among a large population. I am proud to be a member of the BSK Library for 10 years. I have to renew the membership and start reading seriously again.

Sunnetwork says Iranian officials have put the death toll at more than 20,000 in yesterday's 6.7 earth quake in the city of Bam.

For extensive news and links goto Iraniantruth and Iranmania.

If you are planning to donate to the victims , Pedram says you can do that through Mercy Corps. He also links to somephotos of the Bam city here.

May god give the strength to the families of the dead and wounded to overcome this loss.

December 25, 2003


BBC reports:

The Mars Odyssey spacecraft failed to pick up a signal from the Beagle probe when it flew over the landing site on Christmas morning.

Although some predicts that the beagle has crashed and burned, people are still hopeful:

"The show isn't over by any means," says head of space research George Fraser. "We just have to be patient and wait to see how things unfold."

And the good news is the European Space Agency's (Esa) Mars Express appears to have gone into orbit around Mars without a hitch. It will undertake another mission on the Mars surface in January.

We are also waiting because the missions in Mars could unfold the greatest discovery of this era.


Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.

Jim Morrison- Singer - 1943-1971


To start with, it is a holiday in Bangladesh. It has been in Bengal for 225 years ever since the British East India Company started to rule the region. Whereas X-Mas (December 25th) was declared a federal Holiday in America on June 26, 1870.

There is a small Christian population here. There is roughly one Christian in every 324 Bangladeshis. However the Christian community is well bonded and are widely known as an amiable community.

There is a comprehensive article by Jerome D'Costa about Christianity in Bangladesh

Some excerpts:

Arab traders and aulias (holy men) brought Islam to Bangladesh through Chittagong and Sylhet in the 9th century AD. The Portuguese traders also brought Christianity to this country through the port of Chittagong, called the Porto Grande or the great port, in the 16th century, but the first church in Bangladesh was built in 1599 at Chandecan (also called Iswaripur or old Jessore) near Kaliganj in the Sunderbans of present Satkhira district.

The usual programs of the X-Mas day, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, include special prayers at churches, decoration of Christmas tress, distribution of gifts by Santa Claus to the children, family reunion and feast.

One notable thing here; the Christmas carols and the church hymns are mostly Bengali songs written by the poet Rabindranath Tagore. I like Tagore songs and I was overwhelmed when I found out that they are sang in church in holy spirit. And the decoration of Christmas trees is not visible as there is a small Christian population. But in City's luxurious hotels, including the five-star ones, X-Mas trees are decorated and they have arranged special programs for all offering foods and gift packages for families and children. 'Santa Claus' is also there with gifts. The foods at houses include rice cakes and other delicious items including wine.

But mass scale consumption is not evident here. I have seen that many of the Christians are true believers. The reason for that I guess being a minority helps them to be unite and keep them closer to god as:

"His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, tortured, excommunicated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world." (via Laura)

Wishing everyone merry X-Mas and may God bless us all.

December 24, 2003

Bollywood movies online via kazaa!

Worldchanging blog reports:

35 different Bangalore-based movie producers have worked out an arrangement with IndiaFM.com and Sharman Networks to make Bollywood movies available via the Kazaa file-sharing network. Audiences can download the films for a small fee to watch on their computers; the movie files self-destruct after the viewing is completed. The goal is to make the movies more accessible for international audiences, while still generating income for the filmmakers.

An excellent idea it seems. Bollywood, the Indian film industry is producing thousands of movies each year and many of them are popular to the viewers of the subcontinent who are living in all parts of the world and an increasing number of people from other countries in Africa, Russia and Middle East. The invasion of Bollywood movies is just in the sense that they make quality entertaining movies and songs and can boast of Actor/Actresses and production teams of International standard. If Hollywood can rule the world than why can't Bollywood do the same as long as they are maintaining the quality?

December 21, 2003


People say respect must be earned. But many of us try to gain respect of others by imposing fear or threatening others. This all starts when we think that we are superior to others and fail to respect them. I believe that to earn respect you must respect others first. When interacting with persons of apparent inequality we should give them respect. Otherwise a relationship of domination and submission would occur based on fear and the world will remain divided in many worlds (1st world, 3rd world etc). For example, there is a lot to learn from tribal people when apparently they seem to be uneducated and savage. I have another experience with an old beggar. When I greeted him with respect and asked of his well being he responded, chatted and in the end refused to take alms from me when I offered.

Lets not fear others and not impose fear on to others. Peaceful coexistence is only possible when we eliminate fear among ourselves and respect each other.


Recently I watched the play "Raktakarabi" (The red oleander) written by Rabindranath Tagore & performed by the theater group "Nagarik". It is a symbolical play aimed at the vices of capitalism and totalitarianism and rekindling the personal spirit. However the poet terms the play realistic and says:

There was a time when, in the human world, most of our important dealings with our fellow-beings were personal dealings, and the professional element in society was never hugely disproportionate to the normal constitution of its life.

...Today another factor has made itself immensely evident in shaping and guiding human destiny. It is the spirit of organization, which is not social in character, but utilitarian...

... But the personal man is not dead, only dominated by the organized man. The world has become the world of Jack and Giant the Giant who is not a gigantic man, but a multitude of men turned into a gigantic system.

Yes, and the play show how the system suppresses the personal man. In an imagined land full of gold mines the King rules with his Army, the Sarders. The inhabitants are simply known to the ruler as numbers instead of names. Just like exploiting the workers of modern day Tea-garden workers, they are encouraged to forget their pain by taking alcohol and they are threatened not to say something against those Sarders or the King. Then came Nandini, a symbol of free and glorious human spirit wearing Raktakarabi (The red orleander flower). She affects Ranjan, Bishu and others with her elegance, beauty and naive thoughts. She has no fear. She can tackle the Sarders and most importantly goes to the den of the King (who hides himself to be deemed by others as a fearsome being) asking him lot of questions that the King himself cannot answer. He also becomes affected by Nandini's logics as she finds himself as a mere human. The Sarders try to suppress the revolution against the King by killing Ranjan and punishing others. But then the strangest thing happens; the King comes out with Nandini and others and destroys the system created by him.

Truly the play focuses the strength of the eternal human spirit against the backdrop of the dark cruelty of monstrous organizations and administrations that have lost their souls. How ironic compared to the modern day rift between the government decisions and general citizens in a democratic outset.

Here is the review of the play. Aupi Karim (her biography) portrayed Nandini elegantly and proved that she is a very spirited young actor. Among others Khaled Khan was outstanding in the role of Bishu.
The Many Ways of Being Modern

Michael Elliott, the columnist of time magazine criticizes the American way of thinking that "they have defined the modern world, for better and worse". He cites one example of Western Crete: "it has become modern, but it hasn't become American".

he argues:

Over the next few years, Iraq will similarly define modernity in its own terms and at its own pace. Its constitution would have a special place for Islam in national life quite contrary to US way of separation of church and state.

The claim for the global centrality of the American experience, good or bad, is arrogant and out of date. Nations are capable of finding their own paths to modernity. Americans need to get used to it.

Amen to that.

This year the award goes to the troops of the United States of America. I guess the leading contender was Mr. George W. Bush, but he was already named in 2000 for being elected in a most controversial fashion and his father was named in 1990.

But I have a question here. The troops usually carry out the orders. They have their own thoughts but they cannot assert their wills. So what is this award for? A condolence of the job well done from the boss to uphold their satisfaction? They really endured some heavy casualties and sufferings beyond our imagination. And they deserve only this award? Had there been a coalition force, US casualties would have been much less. Is this the award for being their in the middle like a pawn carrying out the orders of the war masters?

December 20, 2003


Take part in the MSNBC poll and find out the results. (via ATRIOS).

The Worldchanging blog (a group blog) is on a mission to propagate the worldchanging ideas, events etc. and I believe that many people would participate in their efforts. Be sure to check this site regularly.

Alan AtKisson's latest idea is a solution to your holiday giving problem. He writes:

Once a year, if you live in the Christmas-celebrating parts of the world, you may agonize over the problem of presents.

What do I give that's meaningful? Reasonable? Even sustainable? This recommendation is not about kids. Kids get presents, period. But adults understand abstract gifts. Particularly abstract gifts that actually do good in the world.

For the adults in your life, go to this website: www.globalgiving.com. Once there, use the very educational "Find Project Wizard" (this is the smartest little hermeneutic I ever saw on a commercial website) to figure out where to send your money.

And then send a lot of money. Directly to a project, somewhere in the poorer parts of the world. Not through some large-non-governmental-organization intermediary. But directly to, say, a school in Africa, or an organic farming program in India.

As I belong to the part of the world where many such projects are running (You would also find Bangladeshi projects here) and many are managed by the NGOs and UN organization. I know that some of these organizations employ highly paid employees who are more keen to their own development rather than development of the projects. One of the NGOs in Bangladesh now have a 20 storied commercial Complex, A Bank and other commercial ventures. Some of them use huge fund to find out feasibility of the project whereas if these amount were spent directly for the project, it would have achieved much fruitful result.

I am not canceling their successes in their fight against poverty etc., but I believe sometime giving to a project directly can be satisfying for the donors who can be sure of the maximum use of their money.

So why not give it a shot if you want to contribute in this Christmas.

The assassination attempt on Pakistan president Mr. Pervez Musharraf was foiled because of an electronic gadget (reports The Globe & Mail).

General Musharraf's motorcade was equipped with a bomb jammer, a device that is becoming increasingly common in the arsenal of gadgets used to protect VIPs around the world from a new generation of attacks.

The device blocked signals within a 200-meter radius around the President's limousine last Sunday as he traveled over a bridge rigged with five bombs meant to kill him. Only after the buffer passed the bridge was the bomber able to detonate the charges.

Most car bombs now are mostly remote-controlled bombs. What bomb jammers do is jam the particular frequency associated with that briefcase sized incendiary device.
Smart device I believe and every VIP would be able to get one. But what about the general people? I think killing the cause of suicide bombing is more beneficial for the mankind.

December 16, 2003

VICTORY DAY: 16th of December

On this day in 1971 out of the crucible of blood and sacrifice, Bangladesh was born. This day is celebrated with glory and joy supplementary to the Independence Day, which is the 26th March. Actually Independence Day marks the declaration of our Independence and start of a bloody and glorious War of Liberation against the occupied forces of Pakistan. The govt. of Independent Bangladesh was formed in April 1971. On Victory Day, nine month later the Pakistani forces surrendered to the allied forces of Bangladesh and India. The people of Bangladesh chose to be their own masters rather then the remaining slaves, and achieved liberty. Bangladesh emerged as a sovereign independent country, like it never was before in the more than 3000 years of recorded history of the Bengali speaking people truly, completely independent at last. They were inspired by nationalism and patriotic spirit, which can be represented by one question of a Bengali poet "Who wants to live without freedom?"

We must recall the heroic deeds of the founder, father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Bangabandhu), Ziaur Rahman, the freedom fighters, the freedom loving general people of the country (of all race and religion), Ms. Indira Gandhi, and the people of our neighbor India for their support. Our prayers are for those numerous lives lost in this war and their families who endured the pogrom like genocide (almost 3 million casualties including 3000 Indian Soldiers), devastation and rape by the Pakistani Army and their collaborators.

I would like to recall the contribution of people all over the world who lend a hand in help of the numerous refugees who were living in appalling conditions in the camps in India.

The values of the liberation war were secularism, democracy, liberal outlook and modernism and no religious bias. But after the independence government of every hues have been in power and failed to uphold the values of the liberation war. They also reinstated the anti-liberation parties like Jamaat-e-Islami and others who were indicted as collaborators of Pakistan forces. The biggest mistake of the peace-loving nation was to forgive those traitors, who now threaten to put a knife on our back. This is why we always go back to 1971 to remember our heroic deeds so that we can fight for keeping ourselves in the path laid by the values.


Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.

- Winston Churchill- 1874-1965, British Statesman, Prime Minister

The supreme excellence is not to win a hundred victories in a hundred battles. The supreme excellence is to subdue the armies of your enemies without even having to fight them.

- Lao-Tzu - BC 600-?, Chinese Philosopher, Founder of Taoism, Author of the ''Tao Te Ching''

Beware of rashness, but with energy, and sleepless vigilance, go forward and give us victories.

- Abraham Lincoln- 1809-1865, Sixteenth President of the USA

Great is the victory that is gained without bloodshed. - Proverb

The Concert for Bangladesh

The US government was against the Bangladesh's liberation war in 1971. They were allies of Pakistan and even sent the 7th fleet to intimidate India for not interfering with the events.

But it was the peace loving people of US who created the forum "Americans for Bangladesh" and arranged a poetry recital program on 20th November 1971 in Saint George Church, New York. Among the poets who performed were Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovski, Ed Sanders etc. Ginsberg wrote and recited the famous poem "September on Jessore Road".

But the greatest effort was the "Concert for Bangladesh". George Harrison of the beatles with the help of Ravi Shankar, Bob Dylan, Mr. Klein and Joan Baes arranged the phenomenal fund raising event in 1st of August 1971 in Madison Square Garden, New York. Some 40,000 peoples attended and $243,418.50 was collected from the event and was given to Unicef for the war affected children of Bangladesh. An album was produced (of 3 LPs) which is available here.

The artists of the concert and album were:

* Bob Dylan
* George Harrison
* Ravi Shankar
* Ustad allarakha
* Ringo Star
* Eric Clapton
* Billy & Don Preston
* Leon Russell

The lyrics can be found here. Some lines from George Harrisons's Bangla Desh:

My friend came to me, with sadness in his eyes
He told me that he wanted help
Before his country dies

Although I couldn't feel the pain, I knew I had to try
Now I'm asking all of you
To help us save some lives

Bangla Desh, Bangla Desh
Where so many people are dying fast
And it sure looks like a mess
I've never seen such distress
Now won't you lend your hand and understand
Relieve the people of Bangla Desh.

Bangla Desh, Bangla Desh
Now it may seem so far from where we all are
It's something we can't neglect
It's something I can't neglect
Now won't you give some bread to get the starving fed
We've got to relieve Bangla Desh
Relieve the people of Bangla Desh

Those who contributed will always be remembered.

The history of Independence of Bangladesh

I am not a historian. But I am trying to summarize here the history of Bangladesh's Independence for those who would like to have an idea about it.

In 1947 Indian subcontinent got its independence from British rule and were divided into Pakistan & India. The division was on the notion of two-nation theory, Hindu & Muslim. Some say that the British invoked the Hindu Muslim riots, some say the shrewd politicians, but these grim incidents led people nodding to this partitions and thought if the Hindu's and Muslims had a separate country, there would be no such violence. But wrong again. What would happen to most of the Hindus in Pakistan and Muslims in India, who were living in harmony since long? Pakistan was divided into two portions: West Pakistan (containing Pathans, Panjabis, Beluchis) & East Pakistan (containing the Bengalis). A large-scale migration took place after that. Hindus were almost completely wiped out of West Pakistan. But lots of Hindus remained in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and many Muslims in India.

Pakistan is basically a fundamentalist country, from its birth. They chose Arabic fonts for their national language Urdu and imposed it to Bengalis. But the East Pakistanis fought for keeping their language Bangla as a second state language, and gave their lives in 1952 in the process. East Pakistanis were deprived of many things as West Pakistan progressed and East Pakistan kept behind, because here Bengalis hold on to their culture and values (which was treated by Pakistanis as not Islamic) and we had to survive a lot of devastating natural calamities, which were neglected by the govt. sitting on West Pakistan.

In 1970, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his party Awami League won the majority (over 53 percent) in National Assembly election. But the lords at West Pakistan did not welcome it. The Assembly was suspended with the fear that Sheikh Mujib would be the head of Pakistan. He called for a nationwide strike and preparation of independence in East Pakistan in March 7, 1971. In 25th March 1971 West Pakistan Army started an operation killing many innocent civilians, University students, even police forces with a view to diffuse the uprising and tensions.

In 26th March 1971, on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Independence declaration was read by another patriot, Ziaur Rahman (an Army major that time). A bloody war of liberation began.

Pakistan Army's motto was to ethnic cleanse Hindus and dominate Bengalis so that they can rule them better. The general people of Pakistan were told in propaganda that the Army is controlling the civil war, which is being instigated by India. Approx. 3 million people died in the war, women were mass raped by Pakistanis, houses looted, devastated. Many took refuse in the neighboring India. But Bengalis started to resist. Freedom fighters were trained up with the help of neighboring India. And the fight back rattled Pakistanis. They could not stop the rebellion within 9 months. At last India engaged in the war and Bangladesh got liberated from the tyranny of Pakistan. The Pakistan Army and some collaborators killed some of the finest intellectuals of the country just two days before their surrender in 16th december 1971, which I have written in my last post.

The war itself is an epic. The history of it is being written in bits and pieces and there have been efforts also to summarize it. But we should never end the quest for the true spirit and values of the war.

Click here for the map of Bangladesh.

Click here and here for more pictures.

December 15, 2003

In remembrance: December 14, 1971

This is the day of martyred intellectuals, who were brutally killed by the Pakistani occupation army and their cohorts. Sensing their imminent defeat in the Bangladesh's liberation war, the Pakistani occupation forces and their local collaborators --Rajakar, Al-Badr and Al-Sham--kidnapped leading Bangalee intellectuals and professionals on December 14, 1971 and killed them only two days before victory at the end of a nine-month long War of Liberation. Renowned academics, doctors, engineers, journalists, teachers and other eminent personalities were dragged blind-folded out of their residences in the city and killed in cold blood to cripple the new-born nation intellectually. Their bodies were dumped at Rayerbazar, Mirpur and some other places on the city's outskirts.

How savage their thoughts were! The plan of the occupation army and its supporters was to orphan the nation which would certainly need the leadership and wisdom of its worthy sons to move ahead in the early days of its independence.

Some may argue that the killings have set us back a bit. Think about the current crisis of true patriotic leaders and intellectuals with good moral character. But actually its our failure to carry on their legacy as we are forgetting them and our glorious past. The nation can produce such great intellects over again. Lets remember those souls and try to do our work with a mission for which they died: "A peaceful, happy, prosperous and independent Bangladesh ".

Now it is confirmed that the man captured with $750,000 in cash, two AK 47 machine guns and pistol is really Saddam Hussain. He was found in Al-Dawr, a village 15 miles from his hometown of Tikrit. He was lurking in a bricked-in wall six-feet under the basement of a small house on the property.

Quite amazing!

There has been loads of reactions from all over the world and media has been flooded with them.

Nz. Bear compiles some of the weblog reactions here.

Some more anti-war blogger reactions here.

Buzzmachine compiles some Iraqi bloggers reactions here.

Saddam has been portrayed in many of the Muslim countries as a hero (which I always thought as a wrong choice). Numerous posters were sold and many kids were named after Saddam.

But he turned out to be an ordinary tyrant who built his personal fortune exploiting his countrymen and changing events. He should be tried for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

There is another thing to ponder as one time exclusive article discovers:

Saddam was also asked whether Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. "No, of course not," he replied, according to the official, "the U.S. dreamed them up itself to have a reason to go to war with us." The interrogator continued along this line, said the official, asking: "if you had no weapons of mass destruction then why not let the U.N. inspectors into your facilities?" Saddam's reply: "We didn't want them to go into the presidential areas and intrude on our privacy."

However Saddam has lost his credibility by now and only time will tell the truth about WMDs.

December 11, 2003


Laura is critic about excess consumtion in Christmas time in her recent post.

But I guess the notion of always wanting more is so innate in us that we don't require a convincing event or festivity to consume beyond our ability.

Richa has written an article in the Daily Star Magazine describing how getting ready for children school can create a competition of consumption among the mothers, who accompanies them. An interesting slice of life of the riches in Bangladesh.

Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwe's President has attacked global inequality at a United Nations conference on internet technology in the Swiss city of Geneva. Reports BBC.

However he said one good thing:

There is no point in providing poor people with computers unless they were also given electricity and a phone network to run them.

But then he said the bad thing:

Digital technology is being used by some to dominate the globe.

He could not give any convincing reason for his claim.


One who performs his duty without association, with the modes of material nature, without false ego, with great determination and enthusiasm, and without wavering in success or failure is said to be a worker in the mode of goodness.

Chapter 18: Text 26 - Bhagavad Gita


Alan Atkisson wrote a piece in the Worldchanging blog about a book "The memory Bank" by Keith Hart, which describes an interesting view of the future of money & virtual capitalism.

In Hart's view:

Humanity is caught between the institutions of agrarian civilization and a machine revolution whose implications we barely understand. In consequence, the world is becomingly rapidly more unequal as we grow closer together. Inequality of rich and poor results in the followings:

- Inequality undermines democracy.

- Inequality makes us feel bad. Human compassion struggles with indifference.

- Inequality is a threat to world peace. Resentment of historical wrongs fuels terrorism and ultimately war.

- Inequality reduces market demand. Economic growth in the modern world comes from increasing the purchasing power of the masses. Everyone benefits from redistribution of wealth.

He suggests:

The world today is as much the offspring of agrarian civilization as of modern machines, government and money. The obstacles to progressive change are thus twofold: the need to democratize the age of money, to bring capitalism under control; and the need to break down "natural" structures based on territorial monopoly, to foster mobility at the expense of being tied to the land.

The internet may confirm a trend which liberals have often asserted and socialists once denied, that economic power is being transferred from producers to consumers, from centralized bureaucracy to flexibly specialized markets in which individual consumers carry more weight than we ever did in earlier days.

The issue is whether borderless trade at the speed of light will permit governments still to extract revenue from markets and whether every internet user in the world will pay rent to Bill Gates or his equivalent, whenever they switch on their computers.

Read more here from the summary of his book.

December 09, 2003


Man is a tool-using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.

Thomas Carlyle - 1795-1881, Scottish Philosopher, Author


The Internet is a good source for useful tools. Apart from the multifaceted search engines and web portals, some individuals tools are available online and these can be really a great helper in times of need. I am listing some of the links I found to be very useful:

* Wordnet:

A lexical database for the English language whose design is inspired by current psycholinguistic theories of human lexical memory. English nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are organized into synonym sets, each representing one underlying lexical concept. Different relations link the synonym sets.

* IP address Locator:

Useful tool if you want to locate the geographical location of an IP Address.

* Color Picker - version II:

Excellent utility if you want to know the HTML equivalent of a color.

* Safety sign builder:

Make and print your own jazzy safety sign free!

* Bandwidth speed test:

Test the speed of your internet connection.

* Babel Fish Translation:

Quick translation service (upto 150 words)

I would also like to learn about more tools. Tips from anyone?


December is a special month for the Bangladeshis as in this month in 1971 they have fought the West Pakistanis and were freed and relieved from their atrocities and dominance. The liberation war of Bangladesh is a valiant scar in Bangladeshis as almost every family was affected. The official number of casualties in the genocide (I think the second largest after WWII) by the Pakistan Army in the name of controlling the rebels is 3 million (too hard to validate this though) and numerous rapes and destruction of assets (even burning entire villages).

Recently an article of Hamid Hussain was published in the Pakistan defense journal magazine, which gives an unusual view by a Pakistani (They usually try to avoid the topic as if these are exaggerated facts). This was later published in the Bangladesh Observer in four parts:

* Road to Bangladesh- An unusual Pakistani analysis (Part 1)
* Road to Bangladesh- An unusual Pakistani analysis (Part 2)
* Road to Bangladesh- An unusual Pakistani analysis (Part 3)
* Road to Bangladesh- An unusual Pakistani analysis -Reward for the demons(Part 4)

Some excerpts from the article are highlighted here:

* Historical Background- East Pakistanis were treated as second class citizens:

The prejudice against Bengali Muslims has a long history and was quite prevalent long before Pakistan emerged as an independent state. Muslim intellectuals, elites and politicians, which belonged to northern India, had the picture of a Muslim as tall, handsome and martial in character. As Bengali Muslims did not fit into this prejudiced and racist picture, therefore they were ignored at best and when even allowed to come closer, were considered inferior. Bengalis were shunned despite their political advancement and strong resentment against oppression and tyranny. A large portion of Bengali Muslims was converts from Hindu low castes. The "noble borns" of Bengal claimed foreign ancestry (Syed, Afghan, Mughal). The majority of Bengali Muslim population which had customs common with Hindu peasantry and had a proud sense of their language was not considered as "proper Muslims" by some Bengali "nobles" and almost all of West Pakistan.

This perception later influenced the official decision to "Islamize" and "purify" East Bengali culture in Pakistan after 1947. The British theory of "Martial Races" was generally well received by the natives in this background.

* Bangla language movement in 1952 paved the road:

Pakistan government was forced to acknowledge Bengali as one of the state language in 1954 due to overwhelming Bengali demands but in the process, the gulf between two wings further widened.

* Conspiracy theory propagated to the common people:

Every genuine demand by Bengalis was denounced as "a conspiracy to destroy Pakistan". The ruling elite dubbed the Bengali advocates of their rights as "anti-state" and "anti-Islam" and used epithets like "dogs let loose on the soil of Pakistan".

* Why the 1971 Liberation war:

1971 did not occur in a vacuum. It was the logical outcome of the trends, which were operational for at least few decades, and no attempt was made to address the fundamental issues. The initial Bengali attempts were to get their due share in the country's decision-making process. It later evolved into Bengali nationalism and moved from greater autonomy to finally into struggle for complete independence. Every ill-thought step taken by the central government from banning the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore on national media to administrative and economic measures radicalized the Bengali population one step further.

* Even three decades later, with all the hindsight, Pakistan is unable to comprehend the root causes of Bengali alienation:

In 1998, a retired Lt. General is of the view that, "Bengali nationalism was only incidental, fostered by India to serve her purpose and larger interests in the region".
Another commentator views the poor relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh due to the "stubbornness of Indian lobby in the bureaucracy of BD (Bangladesh)" and this according to him is due to the "self-assigned objectives of keeping both the brothers apart". Complete lack of understanding about the basic facts about their own society and paucity of information is quite evident from such assumptions.

* Some changing views but not convincing enough in admitting those crimes committed in 1971:

"The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regrettable." General Pervez Musharraf writing in the visitors' book at Savar Memorial for the Martyrs of 1971 in Dacca, July 2002 31. He also said "It was a tragic part of our history but the nation should move forward rather than living in the past. We should leave the matter to history. As a Pakistani, I would like to forget 1971".

* The proof of the crimes and the rationales:

In March 1971, when the military action started, most officers and rank and file justified their actions on the basis of whatever seems plausible to them. At 16th Division HQ, Anthony Mascarenhas(journalist) was told, "we are determined to cleanse East Pakistan once and for all of the threat of secession, even if it means killing off two million people and ruling the province as a colony for 30 years". At 9th Division HQ at Comilla, Major Bashir justified the military action by stating that Bengali Muslims were "Hindu at heart" and this was a war between pure and impure. His superior Colonel Naim justified the killing of Hindu civilian population to prevent a Hindu take over of Bengali commerce and culture.

A senior officer in Khulna told Maurice Quintance of Reuters, "It took me five days to get control of this area. We killed everyone who came in our way. We never bothered to count bodies". Captain Chaudhry commented after the March operation that, "Bengalis have been sorted out well and proper - at least for a generation"

* Reward for the Demons:

The tragic part is that no one was held accountable let alone punished for the tragedy. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became the powerful chief executive of the country in the aftermath, therefore who was going to question him about his role? Many civilian bureaucrats close to regime enjoyed the same immunity. None of them felt any remorse or acknowledged even a grain of responsibility for their actions.

* Conclusion - Admit mistake and tender apology:

The reason of opening of old wounds (over) thirty years later is the tragic fact that the nation and its leaders refuse to face the facts. As a nation, the first step for Pakistan is to admit its mistakes and tender apology to Bengalis for the conduct in 1971. For a fresh start, it is essential that all skeletons in the closets should be taken out. Unless, all old demons are taken out from darkness and exorcised, they will keep haunting the nation forever.

Quite remarkable. Isn't it?

Those of you want to know more about the history of Bangladesh's independence can click here: TheliberationwarmuseumofBangladesh.

December 08, 2003


Bangladesh is less prone to AIDS because of the conservative social system. Sex before marriage is considered a taboo, not only in Muslim communities, but also among Hindu, Christian and Buddhists. So far Bangladesh has only 363 registered AIDS patients and most of them carried the virus from abroad. However in a study released in January 2002 by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS found there were 13,000 people with HIV out of a population of 130 million.

So there is a growing concern among the government and the NGOs to propagate the precautions against this disease. A recent survey found that only 19 percent of married women and 33 percent of married men had heard of the disease. There are some controversial campaigns going on which are widely criticized. But how can you be modest when you have to be explicit about sexual behaviors. Read about the campaigns here.

In Bangladesh usually most of the marriages are arranged by families. And people who work in affluent countries are given preference. But it has been noticed that AIDS spreads from those persons working abroad. So Dr. Mustafa Abdur Rahim suggests in an article "should not we insist on blood test before marriage?". A must read.


Bolivia has released 16 Bangladeshis less than a day after they were arrested on suspicion of links to terrorism and Al-Qaeda following a tip of French police. Reports The Daily Star.

Nine of the Bangladeshis were in transit to Buenos Aires, and the other seven were seeking residency in the Andean nation. They were suspected for planning to hijack a plane to attack an American target in Argentina.

From the picture of the Bangladeshis I saw in the local newspapers, they did not look like religious fanatics and more like young people going abroad for a better living. They might have been trying to get into more affluent countries from there and thus their actions were a bit suspicious.

US State Department officials congratulated the Bolivian police for their prompt action. But in reality it turned out to be a hoax. I hope the intelligences would be more accurate in pinpointing the real criminals instead of harassing innocents.

December 06, 2003


Asia Weblog Awards

The hottest meme in blogsphere is the weblog awards. Now Asia has its first ever weblog awards hosted in the flyingchair blog. The categories will be added until Wednesday, 10 December and voting upto December 28th.

I am immensely surprised that no Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq or Pakistan categories or nominations are there. I have already written a mail seeking Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq & Pakistan Categories and a few nominations as well. Lets hope they add these categories. Those who feel that proper representation of Asian blogs are not happening then they can mail their complaints to Phil Ingram at thechair@flyingchair.net .


Phil has replied my mail. He has added Bangladesh and Pakistan categories. But the catch is the bloggers have to add their sites themselves- He (or even me) can't add the sites, because we have already done for one. He also explains:

As regards Iran and Iraq, that is technically the Asian continent but a little out of the scope for me - South Asia is fine but this originally started off as SE and East Asia. If I go any further I will end up including German and I have to stop at some point. Also remember, I did not want loads of empty categories with no sites nominated.

So what are you waiting for? Add your sites, vote for yourself and others and lets have some fun.

December 04, 2003


Carnival of the vanities #63 is up at "Begging To Differ" blog. This carnival is full of interesting posts.

In The Weblog Awards 2003 hosted by "Wizbang! blog", nominations have been staggering and in many categories nominations are closed. Polls are likely to begin on Friday. Don't miss to vote for you favorite blogs. I am glad that Jivha & Buzzmachine are nominated. Surely I would be happy to vote for my favorite blogs.

Blogshares is closed down for an indefinite period. Seyed Razavi's popular playsite was suffering technical difficulties due to absence of an active operator & developer. I hope that it would be up again soon. I have to think whether I would keep the link in my site.

December 03, 2003


I scored 122.
Might vs. Right

We often quote the phrase "Might is right". Towards understanding of the term "right" I came across an article of Max Stirner. He believes:

Right can be bestowed only by a spirit, be it the spirit of nature or that of the species, of mankind, the Spirit of God or that of His Holiness or His Highness, etc."
I do not demand any right, therefore I need not recognize any either. What I can get by force I get by force, and what I do not get by force I have no right to, nor do I give myself airs, or consolation, with my imprescriptible right. With absolute right, right itself passes away; the dominion of the "concept of right" is cancelled at the same time. For it is not to be forgotten that hitherto concepts, ideas, or principles ruled us, and that among these rulers the concept of right, or of justice, played one of the most important parts.

Entitled or unentitled -- that does not concern me, if I am only powerful, I am of myself empowered, and need no other empowering or entitling. Right -- is a wheel in the head, put there by a spook; power -- that am I myself, I am the powerful one and owner of power. Right is above me, is absolute, and exists in one higher, as whose grace it flows to me: right is a gift of grace from the judge; power and might exist only in me the powerful and mighty.

That gives one more reason to believe in the phrase "Might is right". And don't the world super powers think in this way?

MSN's HOTMAIL (originally SABBIR BHATIA's) has become a bit nicer and easier. That's what I have found out today as I have a hotmail account like many millions of people around the world.

ITNews Australia reports:

Microsoft has launched the newest version of its web-based Hotmail email service, the most-frequently used email service on the planet. A streamlined interface makes it easier to organize, read, and send email, with new precedence given to email received from people in contacts list.
And some amazing facts:

"Today 66 percent of the people say [Hotmail is] their primary consumer mail for people who have [both] work mail and consumer mail,"

"Some fun facts behind it: If you ranked [hotmail] in terms of total size it would be the ninth largest country in the world, behind Bangladesh and before Mexico in terms of population size... Hotmail [filters] over 2.4 billion spam messages [every day]."

The abbreviation of SAFE is South Asian Federation of Exchanges and it has initiated the move for a cross border listing of companies. (reports Pakistanlink)

The countries of South Asian region including Bangladesh has taken initiative to commence regional cross border trading facilities among the regional bourses. The above initiative will be successfully done when the regional watch dog bodies Securities and Exchange Commission will permit and give permission to do cross border trading.

As a first step the SAFE think tank would encourage one company each from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to get listed in each other's exchange. Colombo Stock Exchange has already agreed on this proposal. Similarly, they would desire one listed company in Pakistan and India to get listed in other's exchange to initiate the integration process. This would attract foreign investors and fund managers towards South Asian capital markets.

The SAFE Secretariat (currently located at Chittagong Stock Exchange) has already received joining consent from the invited seven securities market regulators of the region (i.e. Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Mauritius) and the representatives of regulators who will add their valuable inputs.

Currently SAFE has twelve members, that include Chittagong Stock Exchange, Colombo Stock Exchange, Dhaka Stock Exchange, Islamabad Stock Exchange, Karachi Stock Exchange, Lahore Stock Exchange, Mumbai Stock Exchange (BSE), National Stock Exchange India, Nepal Stock Exchange, OTC Exchange India, Royal Securities Exchange Bhutan and Stock Exchange of Mauritius.

The only hindrance with this initiative is the India-Pakistan relation. But as the relation is rapidly improving after the cease fire we can expect cross border trade among the SAFE members soon.

According to an article in Kuro5hin blog:

A fad, for purposes of this article, is an idea or technology which is briefly popular, but can't outlast its own novelty value. Once people get over the newness of it all, there isn't really anything special left.

It lists the top ten internet fads of recent time. They include:

9. Flash Mobs
8. VoIP
4. WAP
2. Anything sold online (eg. ebay)

Go read the dicussions for and against the list here.

December 01, 2003


Some say that Michael has become a rich white woman from a poor black boy. If he hadn't undergone any plastic surgery, today he would look like this.

Hat tip: Metafilter.

November 29, 2003


With the expiry of multi-fibre arrangement (MFA) by the end of 2004, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules will be applied in international trading. It means the quota system that ensures a certain level of export for Bangladesh will also go.

Bangladesh and other least developed countries (LDCs) have requested the EC to provide them with 30 per cent quota facility for readymade garments, rice, sugar and some other low technology based export items. Bangladesh feels that without the quota system, Bangladeshi exports will be severely hit by countries like China, India and Mexico. Currently Bangladesh heavily depends on import of raw materials. So this will put Bangladesh in a disadvantageous position.

The European Commission (EC) has assured Bangladesh of considering a proposal to provide the country with an alternative quota system in the quota-free regime beyond 2004.

(via The Daily Star)

The onion reports:

Bill Tepfer, an associate service-department manager at Shademaster Tent & Awning Supply, was ordered by his supervisor Monday to determine the party responsible for not flushing the second-floor toilet.

We had a similar crisis in our office recently when we were even thinking of puting up a notice containing demo "How to use toilet".

Seems like this is a global crisis and much efforts and policies are needed to tackle this sensistive issue.
Wringed and unable to breathe by Wal-Mart

There is an article in The Seattle Times, which describes how Wal-Mart is pressing its third world suppliers to supply the shirts and sorts it sells by millions at a lower price. Bangladeshi factory owners say Wal-Mart and other retailers have asked them to cut prices by as much as 50 percent in recent years.

One apparel manufacturer described a visit from a Wal-Mart buyer who showed him a European-made garment that retailed for $100 to $130. The buyer asked the Bangladeshi to produce a knockoff for $10 a dozen. He declined.

But the consequences are felt at the garments factories in Bangladesh who supply to Wal-Mart. The company bought 14 percent of the $1.9 billion in apparel that Bangladesh shipped to the United States last year. Keeping prices low like this means squeezing costs at every step. When the entrepreneurs think of cutting cost, inefficient workers get the axe first.

Khadija Akhter can attest to that. For about $21 a month, nearly three times what a maid or cook would make, the 22-year-old worked in a Dhaka factory, performing final checks on men's shirts and trousers.

Employees, she said, often worked from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. for 10 to 15 days at a stretch to fill big orders from Wal-Mart. Exhausted, she quit after a year and took a lower-paying but less grueling job.

But it was not long when Wal-Mart took the initiative to better the conditions in Bangladesh's garments factory by putting up clauses that they should abide by labor laws and be equipped with better safety precautions.

Sheikh Nazma, a former child laborer, has seen the way Wal-Mart can help clean things up.

She worked at a Dhaka garment factory that had no clean drinking water and only a few filthy toilets for hundreds of employees. After the owner refused to pay their wages for three months, the employees complained to Wal-Mart, the factory's main customer.

"Wal-Mart interfered, and ... the owner paid our salaries and overtime, and even paid bonuses to each worker," recalled Nazma.

But Nazma adds:

Wal-Mart undermines its good efforts with its incessant push for lower prices. Factories often force employees to work overtime or stay on the job for weeks without a day off.

Now Wal-Mart is opting more from Chinese suppliers.

In southern China, Wal-Mart has found all the ingredients it needs to keep its "every day low prices" among the lowest in the world. Although labor costs more here than it does in Bangladesh, China offers other advantages: low-cost raw materials; modern factories, highways and ports; and helpful government officials.

Bangladeshi garments factories are facing hard times and a bleak future. They will be facing more competition from China because the Chinese entrepreneurs are shifting their plants to remote regions of China where labor, electricity, housing and taxes are cheaper. Because of the lifestyle of Chinese rural people, they can work like a robot and lead a rigorous life without much of frills. So they can work at a competitive wage rate. The Bangladeshi infrastructures are being upgraded all the time but they cannot be done all at once by this poor country with its scanty budget. So Bangladesh is likely to loose the battle in cutting costs.

And the freedom loving happy consumers of the west will opt for a Chinese shirt, which costs $2 less from a shirt made in Bangladesh or Honduras. They would not know that they had just terminated a couple of women employers job in Bangladesh who had fought hard to establish their right in a society of gender inequity where many women are merely housewives with no income and are subjected to gender discriminations.

Read another article "The Wal-Mart You Don't Know" where it is discussed how Wal-Mart's relentless pressure can crush US companies it does business with and force them to send jobs overseas.

And why Wal-Mart matters:

Wal-Mart is not just the world's largest retailer. It's the world's largest company--bigger than ExxonMobil, General Motors, and General Electric. It sells in three months what number-two retailer Home Depot sells in a year.

Thats when capitalism turns bad. Can anyone do something about it?

November 25, 2003


Let us raise our hands and pray to the Almighty for peace, for a world free from hatred and terrorism:

O Lord! Keep us alive with the peace
And enter us into the Abode of peace
Blessed is Thee; O our Lord!
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where, there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sickness, joy.


I take this opportunity to wish every person I can reach with this weblog a happy Eid. Let the festivity touch everybody and let us hope for a peaceful coexistence of people of all color, religion and race in the world without hatred or friction.

Eid is a Muslim festival. After the month of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and abstinence, on the first day of the month Shawwal, Muslims celebrate Eid, which means 'festivity' in Arabic. This Eid is called Eid-ul-Fitr (first of the two in a year), which is the celebration of Allah's magnanimity in providing everything to man. On this day 1.2 billion Muslims around the world celebrate the joyous 'Festival of fast breaking'. It is very symbolic as it represents victory for Muslims who have successfully undergone a month long battle of self-restraint and abstinence by fasting.

The Eid prayer is obligatory on every male Muslim. The prayer is performed anytime between sunrise and afternoon. However it is customer to perform the prayer in the morning. In the morning everyone bathes, wears new or clean clothes, applies perfume and walks towards the Mosque or any other open place where they can offer the Eid prayer collectively. Part of the ritual is people embracing each other three times. And there should be no discrimination between rich and poor, old and the young, friend and enemy while embracing. For a Muslim Eid is a day of thanksgiving, sharing foods with the neighbors and the poor. On this day, according to holy Quran, Allah has ordained a dole for every Muslim who is free and is in possession of Alms worthy capital. It is to be given to a needy person as thanksgiving. It is mandatory on all the well-off Muslims. So that the poor, too, may enjoy the day along with others, and may not be worried for earning their livelihood at least on the day of happiness.

Apart from that Eid is celebrated all over the world according different cultures and customized celebrations.

In Bangladesh, Eid means sharing happiness with the family, giving new clothes of all colors to all dependent members of the family and wearing them on this day. On this day special foods are prepared, the preparation of which may start several days before. The items include Semai(vermicelli), Doi Bara, Chotpoti, Biriani, Firni, Sweets and many more. This day there is an open invitation to everybody. People visit family members', neighbors' or acquaintances' houses and everybody is welcomed with food and blessings. It is customary to take blessings from the elderly who in return give monetary tips (Eidi). Specially the children are more kin to collect all the tips they can accumulate and have some money to celebrate on their own, like going to theatre in bunch or having a party. The visits go on for a couple of more days till the Eid vacation is over. Some people go visit cemeteries to remember and pray for their loved ones.

November 24, 2003


To live is to war with trolls in heart and soul. To write is to sit in judgement on oneself.

- Henrik Ibsen

The interest of a writer and the interests of his readers are never the same and if, on occassion, they happen to coincide, this is a lucky accident.



This is the title of an article in JEWSWEEK written by Richard L. Benkin who portrays the real Bangladesh and its potentials when it is usually wrongly portrayed as a Muslim country where fundamentalists mullahs dominate and religious minorities are oppressed. A few such highlighted incidents are based to judge a country and its nation.

Richard starts with:

Bangladesh is a tiny country, and not one you hear about very often, but it could teach a host of lessons on pluralism, religious tolerance, and maybe even peacemaking in the Middle East.

Ask most Americans what they know about Bangladesh and, chances are, you will hear something about George Harrison, maybe about poverty and disasters, and a few might even say, "Oh, yeah, isn't that somewhere around India?" And that's after you eliminate those who just give you a blank stare. That's a shame, too. For I read your major English-language dailies, and I consider myself fortunate for having done so. For it is clear to me that you are a nation of thoughtful individuals with whom I can find agreement, and with whom I can disagree; individuals I can respect in either case. I have seen debate and dialogue even the beginnings of one surrounding the Middle East. Do you know what a rarity that is in the Moslem press?

He asserts this wonderful idea:

Bangladesh is also.... a democracy. I also believe that Bangladesh is uniquely positioned to help bring peace to a region that has resisted peace for so long: the Middle East. The first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country was signed not by doves from each side, but by two men who fought vehemently against each other's peoples: Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin. So, what country is better qualified to broker a truce than a non-Arab Moslem nation and a democracy at that: Bangladesh.

and more:

Bangladesh is really a more logical vehicle to bring together Israelis and Arabs. On the one hand, you share a Muslim heritage with Arabs. On the other, you share Israel's religious diversity. (Do you know, Israel has approximately the same percentage of Jews as Bangladesh has Muslims?) You share the Arab world's past subservience to western powers; but your democratic government is much closer to Israeli democracy than Arab autocracy. There is only one thing missing to complete the equation.

He describes how this can be achieved:

Imagine for a moment what would happen if Bangladesh established diplomatic relations with Israel, then announced its intentions to hold a peace conference for the parties in the Middle East? Although it would not be the first Muslim nation to recognize Israel, your action still would no doubt shock many around the world. For you would be denying the pernicious belief, which holds that a sovereign Jewish state can exist in the Middle East only at the expense of Muslims. Consign that lie to the ashbin of history where it belongs. Declare to the world that Jews and Muslims can live side by side as equals, and the world can know peace. Your bold action would demonstrate to the world a level of courage and maturity that too few nations possess. And it would place Bangladesh on the center stage of world events.

His views of Bangladesh as a country:

Of all the nations that were carved out of the former British colony in South Asia, Bangladesh has become the most successful in accommodating a diverse population. Its different groups have been able to live side by side without inter-ethnic violence. Can either India or Pakistan make the same claim? You provide the world with a unique example of a nation that allows its people freedom of religion, even while having its own state religion. Yes, Bangladeshis do have a great deal to teach the peoples in the Middle East.

He ends with:

Peace is possible in the Middle East, but it will take a special kind of wisdom and courage. Most nations are too mired in self-interest, stilted thinking, and ideologies to take that leap of faith. Let the nation and people of Bangladesh be the one to lead us out of those traps and into a new era of peace.

Well I, as a Bangladeshi, am much honored Richard and I would be the happiest person if Bangladesh can ever make that possible. Thank you very much for your optimistic thoughts.


Wake up boys, there's a light at the window,
I can hear someone knocking on the door,
There are voices in the street,
And the sound of running feet,
And they whisper the word --

There are men coming down from the valleys,
There are tall ships lying off the coast,
And they carry the light,
In the dark of the night,
Like a whisper in the wind --

- Chris De Burgh

Another revolution occurred in the world without bloodshed. Nicknamed "the velvet revolution", it forced resignation of Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze in Tbilisi. This shows that "Nobody can go against their own people" and "people is the source of all power". And if all people are willing and guided to right path by true leaders they can achieve anything. Read more here.

"By his resignation, he avoided spilling blood in the country. ..... History will judge him kindly." said Mr. Saakashvili, the 35-year-old leader of the opposition National Movement who is seen as a radical pro-Western reformer. We must all remember many revolutions even ones in our country were not achieved without bloodshed.

Lets hope for a better Georgia and wish that we can contribute in revolutions which becomes inevitable in our lives whenever we are in similar situations.

Eid holidays are starting from Tuesday to Thursday followed by weekly holiday Friday in Bangladesh. Offices, Banks etc. will all be closed except some emergency services. The shops would be open till the Eid day which is Wednesday (most likely but subject to moon sightings). But the good things about living in Dhaka, the capital during the holidays is that the streets are deserted no jams. It is a megacity and almost 8 million people live here. During the Eid holidays almost 5 million people go back to their native villages or towns where some of their families live. It is a trend, which causes many problems like transportation crisis and highway accidents during the holidays.
People are on the move as they cram onto buses, trains and ferries to be with their families and friends for Eid al-Fitr Festival. The festivities have more to do with culture and sense of togetherness than to religious activities. Being able to enjoy the holidays with all the family members is a unique pleasure the Bangladeshis share.

I will probably use my holiday in some housekeeping to start with. That day I was surprised with the pile of shopping bags that are to be discarded. I abhor such consumptions and yet my family is guilty of it. There is also some mails(credit card statements etc.) to be sorted and discarded/recorded. I wish I could be out of the town enjoying holidays somewhere. But this time (like many more) I can't for some personal reasons. Hope to read some books and engage in family affairs mostly. Blogging would be intermittent.

November 21, 2003


I was watching the news coverage of the Istanbul blasts yesterday and was horrified with the scenes. These are the most dreadful images of the recent times that I have scenes. Such destruction, such infliction of wounds, bloody faces, disfigured bodies... really was unbearable to watch. These images kept me haunted for the day. I still can't think of those. The 9/11 images were much of shock and disbelieve. But the scenes of Istanbul blasts and plights of innocent people were simply hurting me.

There was also images from the big rally in London where more than 150,000 people took part. Many of the people have never protested before. They felt that they had to do something in this critical situation. Some of these peoples' reactions on these blasts "These are the consequence of the War in Afghanistan & in Iraq. Had US & UK not attacked those countries, there would not have been these many attacks on British and US targets and innocent people would not lose their lives."

Bush & Blair was giving their usual condemnation speech and same sentences of fighting terrorism as before. But what did they do to capture Laden and uproot Al-Qaida? They were created by US. So why they can't be found & destroyed. How many lives would it take to stop the terrorism and hatred?

The recent figures tell that the US forces killed in the first three months of occupation of Iraq has outnumbered the loss of US soldiers in Vietnam in three years.

Who is to take the blame? Where is justice? What can people of the world do? And if you are still sitting in front of the screen not moved by these images in Istanbul, in Jerusalem, in Baghdad, in Bali, in NY, and you do not feel an urge to ask many questions then you are a living dead.

November 20, 2003

The third force in Bangladesh Politics

A third platform of Bangladesh Politics is emerging from January -reports The Daily Janakantha.

Eminent politians like Dr. Kamal Hosain, Dr. AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury (ex president), Sheikh Razzaq Ali (Former Speaker) and some intellectuals of the civic society are said to be organising the platform. This platform is deemed to create some mobilization into the Bangladesh politics which is stagnant due to political acrimonies between the ruling party alliance and the opposition party.

This is a good sign and another hint of hope among the Bangladeshi people who want to see some educated, honest and respectable personalities coming into politics and take the country on the path of progress.

But this news has not been taken by the existing political parties lightly. There have been reports of govt. intelligence people covering the people behind the new proposed platform. But why should they fear or resist the emergence of a new political party? Do they have anything to hide? Are they afraid that their misdeeds would be exposed? Are they concerned that the easy and legal source of earning millions would stop? If the existing political parties believe in democracy, and if they practice democracy as they claim to do, then they should rather welcome such moves by senior and competent citizens.

Another political party would strengthen the process of making democracy the ideal method of governance in this country. The general people will certainly welcome the new political party where educated people with good social background are likely to lead the country in right path.

Fame often makes a writer vain, but seldom makes him proud.

W. H. Auden 1907-1973, Anglo-American Poet

November 19, 2003

Taslima Nasrin's book now banned in India

PTI reports:

The Calcutta High on Tuesday passed an interim injunction restraining publication, sale, marketing and circulation of Bangladeshi writer, Taslima Nasreen's latest book 'Dwikhondito -- Aamar Meyebela Tritiya Khando'.

The order by Justice Jayanta Kumar Biswas was passed against Nasreen, Shibani Mukherjee and Peoples' Book Society, the publishers, on a defamation suit by Sayed Hasmat Jalal, a poet and brother of litterateur Syed Mustafa Siraj.

The petitioner, who has claimed Rs 11 crore as compensation, complained of several defamatory words and references against him in the book, 'Split into two, my girlhood, third volume', which he said were entirely false, frivolous and imaginary.

The court, which heard the matter ex parte, restrained the defendants from publishing, marketing, selling or circulation of the book in any manner without first removing the words complained of in the application.

I have learnt that this book contains most of the prose in her book "Ka" which is banned in Bangladesh earlier. She added some of her intimate episodes with the Kolkata writers.

Update: Reactions from writers of West Bengal, India

She has written fictitious fantasies about sexual involvement. I was shocked. I was surprised how anyone could write like this. I feel this is invasion of someone's privacy, This is unethical, illegal, immoral. - S Hasmat Jalal, poet.

This is not literature. It may be good reading, if you want to know about some scandals about some writers. But it is not literature. - Sunil Gangopadhyay, writer.

You know why this book will sell? Primarily because it is pornographic - Dibyendu Palit, writer.

Kolkata's literary circles are worried about what might be in the second half of this book, to be out soon. Speculation is, it's a kiss and tell on Kolkata's literary giants, the very people who had stood by Taslima in her times of trouble.

* Official Homepage of Taslima Nasrin
* Another Page of Taslima Nasrin

The writer has a grudge against society, which he documents with accounts of unsatisfying sex, unrealized ambition, unmitigated loneliness, and a sense of local and global distress. The square, overpopulation, the bourgeois, the bomb and the cocktail party are variously identified as sources of the grudge. There follows a little obscenity here, a dash of philosophy there, considerable whining overall, and a modern satirical novel is born.

- Renata Adler (American writer)

I know not, Madam, that you have a right, upon moral principles, to make your readers suffer so much.

Samuel Johnson 1709-1784 (British author)

The need to express oneself in writing springs from a mal-adjustment to life, or from an inner conflict which the adolescent (or the grown man) cannot resolve in action. Those to whom action comes as easily as breathing rarely feel the need to break loose from the real, to rise above, and describe it... I do not mean that it is enough to be maladjusted to become a great writer, but writing is, for some, a method of resolving a conflict, provided they have the necessary talent.

Andre Maurois 1885-1967 (French Writer )

One reason writers write is out of revenge. Life hurts; certain ideas and experiences hurt; one wants to clarify, to set out illuminations, to replay the old bad scenes and get the Treppenworte said -- the words one didn't have the strength or ripeness to say when those words were necessary for one's dignity or survival.

Cynthia Ozick 1928-, American Novelist, short-story Writer

November 16, 2003

Taslima Nasrin Banned again

Taslima Nasrin just cannot be ignored by the media. Her recently published book "Ka" (the first consonant of the Bengali alphabet) has created a huge degree of controversy. The exiled Bangladeshi writer has, to use the clich�d phrase poked the hornet�s nest, and the reactions have been extreme. The general readers have also taken to the book in great numbers. Ever since Taslima Nasrin secretly escaped from Bangladesh to seek refuge in Sweden she has been in the news at regular intervals. No writer in contemporary Bengali literature has provoked such extreme reactions. Already three of her books �Lajja�, �Amar Meyebela� & �Utal Hawa� have been banned by the authorities. The first one banned before she was forced to leave Europe and the other two were banned in 2000. Now �Ka� has been banned by the court after an eminent writer, Syed Shamsul Haque sued her BD Taka 100 Million (Appx 1.7 million USD) for libel and tarnishing his reputation.

What has earned the rage of the most in the current book is Taslima�s frank discussion of her sex life. This is something very unusual among Bangladeshi writers. In most autobiographies, and even biographies, there is little mention about sex. In the west most writers do not hesitate to discuss their sex lives but here in Bangladesh it is still considered as taboo. But there is a catch here. In their novels and other literary works they do not hesitate to describe sexual act in good details. However about their personal lives some writers appear almost asexual beings. So Taslima being a woman and talking openly about her, significant number of, asexual is something very difficult to swallow for most people. In a hypocritical society like Bangladesh women are expected to never give a vent to sexual passions.

Taslima clearly considers sex as an ennobling and pleasurable act and this is something the intellects of the country are not ready to accept. She always picks such controversial topics as oppression against minority by the Islamic fundamentalists and sometimes exaggerates. This has infuriated some of the fundamentalists and they have threatened her by putting a price on her head before her exile. The govt. has eased the tension by banning the books. But she had to leave the country in fear.

Taslima in the book �Ka� is not content with talking about her sexuality, she goes on to divulge the name of some quite eminent personalities of Bangladesh she has slept with. Apparently a large number of writers in Bangladesh wanted to have physical relations with her because she had an uncontrolled life in the past. Some of them succeeded with Taslima�s consent, some of them failed. Taslima exposes all. She even rationalizes their behavior. She says that as she is a single woman and writes freely about sex, many of these men felt she would be easy to seduce. In fact more often than not Taslima tries to portray herself a victim of sort.

However she was hardly a naive character falling for the guile of worldly men.

The writers who have been portrayed in the book have denied the allegations. That�s also hypocritical, because they want to be a person without controversies in this conservative society. However I feel that they should have confessed boldly that they have slept with her. If that is wrong they should not have done it in the first place. Like the Monica-Bill Clinton controversy, people have understood when Clinton confessed.

But there is another thing, the breach of trust. Taslima had sex with the writers in her consent and there might be honest relationships. She should have not broken the trust by divulging them. That strips her of any dignity and honor. She is acting very cheap. Just like those in the West who wants to expose dignitaries whose life can be unsettled with the claim and thus she can earn some money from the media.

She is always picking up controversial subjects to be in the limelight. Instead of being a feminist, her view is extreme sadist who wants men to be under control of women. These will never be welcomed by the society. She has talent and even though some says that she does not write well, I think she is a free flowing writer and can write something remarkable like one of her earlier books �Nirbachito Kolam�. But if her target is the press and strengthening the cause of the refuge then she will always remain controversial and avoided by the common reader.

Her next project is to expose the writers of West Bengal, India with whom she slept with. Watch out for more controversies and banning.

(Based on an article in the Daily Independent by Syed Mehdi Momin)

Update: Here are a few excerpts from Taslima Nasrin's book "Ka" hosted on e-mela.com:

Page 65| pg66-67 | pg68-69 | pg70-71 | pg72-73 | pg74-75 |

November 15, 2003

Mohammed or Jesus?

A persian girl in California, a born muslim, has been in churches with her friends. She loves Mohammad and she loves Jesus. Now she poses the interesting question. Does she have to choose between them? Go read the post and some answers in the comments section.
Lies & trivia

Gina has a great post about Donald Rumsfeld's lies. Go check it out here.

She also discoveres that US Presidents entourage for his trip to London will include:

� Up to 250 Secret Service agents.
� Up to 150 advisers from the National Security department and about 200 representatives of other US departments.
� About 50 White House political aides.
� A team of 15 sniffer dogs and their handlers.
� A personal chef and his team of four cooks.

Among the equipment they will bring will be:

� Two identical personal Boeing 747-200s and a third chartered jumbo.
� One personal US Marine Corps Sikorsky Sea King helicopter and a second A VH-60N, a VIP version of the Black Hawk helicopter.
� Two identical motorcades each made up of 20 mostly armoured vehicles, including the President's converted Cadillac Deville.
� The "football", a briefcase carried by a military aide which contains the launch codes for America's nuclear arsenal.

Surely American tax payers got their moneys worth with this impressive entourage.

November 14, 2003


Korean industries have been a congenial workplace for the low wages employees from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other foreign countries. I know that many people from Bangladesh have spent more than BD Taka 600,000 (5000 USDs) to get into South Korea, to get a decent job and to accumulate some savings after paying back the loans and come back to country to start a business or something.

Recently Korean govt has declared its new labor policy which entails that no foreigners would be allowed to work for more than 4 years. The foreign workers who are staying there for more than 4 years and other illegal aliens were given a deadline to leave the country within November 15. After that a crack down on illegal aliens will begin.

Facing forced deportation for being an illegal worker, a Sri Lankan laborer killed himself this week by jumping in front of a subway train. Another Bangladeshi named Liton Barua (30) hanged himself because of despair, thinking of how to repay the loans he has taken to come to Korea.

In an editorial the Chosun Ilbo notes that a lot of companies where these individuals have worked are withholding pay because they're about to get deported, on average of W2.15 million per worker. Or, enough to go start your own company in Bangladesh.

Says the editorial:

These are people who have worked in our companies and learned Korean, starting with phrases such as millin don juseyo ["Please give me the money I'm owed."] and Ttaeriji maseyo ["Please don't hit me"]. It doesn't take much to imagine what they'll tell people in their home countries if they get caught in the government's dragnet and forced to get on planes home without their wages. What would it feel like if it was your family or your acquaintances treated this unfairly overseas before being forcibly returned?

This is so shocking. The death of Liton Barua was also the headline in the Newspaper yesterday. I wonder what Bangladesh government is going to do about it.

Links via Oranckay.

Wouldn�t life be so wonderful without any obstacles? How nice it would be if each day were smooth and carefree without a trouble or problem to pool us down.

And when we are down with loads of obstacles, fearing to go forward, we look for God. Only in time of our needs and despair we want God to help us out. But why not think in the other way?

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. Life without obstacles is very boring. We wouldn�t be strong & solid if we were not put to test. So do not fret and fume. Do not have a nervous breakdown. Do not ask God for deliverance from the problem. Thank God instead for giving us the strength to tackle the problems. By learning to take things in our stride, by persevering, we are growing strong and resolute, tough & hardy, solid & sturdy. And backed by this powerful strength we can accomplish achievements beyond our expectations.

Start welcoming obstacles from today.

November 13, 2003


Hooman brought up an interesting discussion regarding Islam, democracy & compatibility here and there are a lot of discussions going on. Go check it out.

Hooman starts another thread here.