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 30, 2004


Suman Kumar reports that the Indian Met Office sounded off a fresh warning for a possible tsunami on the coastal Tamil Nadu & Kerala in Southern India. He has learnt from a friend that helicopters are announcing the warning on PA system to evaquate people from Kovalam. But the sea appears to be calm.

Was there a new earthquake or an aftershock, which possibly could be triggering more tsunami waves? Waiting for more news on this.

Update from Suman: Relief operations hampered due to fresh tsunami warnings. Relief camps across the Eastern coast have been evacuated and people are now moving inland. The water levels has risen in some places.

More Udpate: Yes it was a false alarm. There were more aftershocks around 5 scale near Andaman & Nicober on thursday and people were warned. I hope the geographical plates settle down soon so that no further tragedy can happen.

December 29, 2004


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How many people die in a plane crash? 200 -300. How many die in an earthquake or a tornado+tidal waves? Maybe 10,000. According to the Wikipedia update, the Tsunami wave death toll rises to 68,631 and there are still 85000 people missing. This is all becoming too much to bear for a sane person.

Here are the before and after satellite images, which give some idea about the strength of the tsunami waves. The energy released by the 9.0-magnitude quake as the two sides of the undersea fault slipped against each other made the earth wobble on its axis and may have moved small islands as much as 20m, according to this report.

I hope that the nightmare would be over soon. The biggest ever relief program is underway. People are donating money to funds like never before. As Alan of Worldchanging says:

There is nothing like a common disaster, and continuing common threat, to bring people together, so recovery efforts are also likely to pull India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand into tighter circles of regional economic cooperation.

Lets hope that mankind recuperates from this loss hand-in-hand.

December 28, 2004


Visual representation of the Indonesia quake and the Tsunami waves

Many are wondering why the coasts of Bangladesh weren't hit by the Tsunami waves as bad as those of eastern India. I am not an expert, But looking at the graphics, the Tsunami waves triggered by the quake first hit the Andaman & Nicober islands belt and weakened on the way to south of Bangladesh through the Bay of Bengal. That is what might have saved Bangladesh. But again I hope geologists can give a realistic view of this idea. However, Bangladesh experienced earth and water quakes as reported earlier.

Experts said that "the shallow water on the continental shelf of Bangladesh slowed down the onrushing sea surges before they could ravage the country's coastline."

Here is a link to the SEA-EAT blog set up by the South East Asian bloggers, which updates news and information about resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts round the clock.

The above image is via Wikipedia. According to them the latest casualty figures are 23,700 and 80,000 people are still missing. That will just give you an idea how much the death toll may rise. Horrible.

December 27, 2004


Bangladeshis had 100 reasons to cheer after their only 6th win in 100 ODI cricket matches they played till yesterday. They beat India by 15 runs in a packed stadium of 40,000 people. Although it has been a long time coming as Michael said, victory eluded cricketbabe Bangladesh as the players just could not play to their potential and work out a victory against a major cricket palying nation since long. Here are some pictures of the celebrations. I guess India will take revenge today at their 3rd meet of this tour.

This would be a moral booster for them for the upcoming Zimababwe's tour to Bangladesh. And I hope victory will be a regular event for the team as the level of standard of cricket rises in Bangladesh.

Before the news came in we had no idea about the 8.9 quake that originated near Indonesia which shook the whole South & Southeast Asia bay regions and triggered giant tsunami waves to wash out millions leaving thousands of dead. We in Dhaka did not notice the tremble as it was not intense. The aftershocks of that quake jolted mainly the coastal areas and weakened deep into Bangladesh. Chittagong recorded 7.36 scale tremble for 42 seconds eventhough it was 1019 kilometres away from the seismic centre. The second tremor was measured almost two hours later at 4.35 on the scale. In the southeastern island of Sandwip,10 to 15 foot tidal surges dumped fish ashore. But miraculously the destruction was limited to cracks in some farmland and some buildings and low tidal surges along coastline. There were only reports of death of two children drowned as a boat with about 15 tourists capsized in high waves off Kuakata, a sea resort in Patuakhali district, 150km south of Dhaka.

Notably one mysterious thing happened across the country. There were waterquakes as the trembles swelled only water by 4 to 5 feet in the ponds and other water bodies as up North to Sylhet & Naogaon and caused the fishes to jump to adjacent plane. The earth jolts were minor in those area and as minimum as six seconds.

Aftab Alam, a geologist and quake-specialist explained:

"This quake mainly shook the ocean waters which is interconnected with the sub-soil water tables. The hydrostatic pressure increased and that resulted in water surges in different water bodies across the country."

Was Bangladesh lucky because it was long away from the epicenter? I guess not because Tsunami waves hit as far as Somalia. Probably this was a miracle but Bangladesh had a close call of disaster.

Meanwhile the death toll rose to about 15,000 and I think it would be much more as there are islands with poor communication close to the epicenter which should be badly hit by the waves.

The updates of the tragedy are being tracked by Tim Blair, The Independent, Rajan, Nitin, Jeff et al. Jeff also has donation and aids information updates.

If you haven't seen the images or read the news you would not be able to grasp the horror and element of surprise associated with the massive tragedy. In Thailand, in a hill along the coast people were casualy dining in a restaurant while tourists in the beach were washed away beneath them. No Tsunami warning system is in function in the places hit. No one was aware of what was happening and how to handle it. It shows that people are at the dominance of mother nature's will.

December 26, 2004


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Hello Hello. Merry Christmas everyone. You people are the lucky ones who could get out of home and enjoy the Christmas holidays. But for me being 3 month-old, life is really hard. I can throw my arms and legs around but I cannot move on my own. Ma & Baba had plans to take me out for a drive around the city but that was postponed because of chilly weather. The weather is changing here in Dhaka and I am in protective cloths (mode) right from the start. They opted to stay at home and play with me instead. That was so disheartening for me, because it is really boring lying in bed and staring at the same ceiling everyday. I protested but nobody could read my lips from the gagas and owa-owas. But I must admit Baba played with me a lot. Ma claims that now a day I get very angry in trifle matters and resent crying my heart out. The adults often forget that babies have emotions and preferences too. She should understand that I do not like left alone and I do want to assert my preferences. But I must say Ma loves me very much. She got very worried about my intense crying during nights and shitting at 4-5 days interval and took me to a doctor. He was a fine chap who said that I am a citizen of an independent country and I am free to drink whenever I want and shit whenever I want as long as I am not taking anything other than Ma’s milk. He said that I was OK and the intense crying might be due to “3 months colic”, a state, which worlds 10% infants suffer from. This is due to forming of gas during the day and not burping up properly. He also said that after 12 weeks this symptom would stop automatically and it did.

I have not said any word yet but I communicate a lot with Ooos & Eees. I appreciate with smiles if you are talking to me nicely. I don’t go to stranger’s lap. I am fond of watching TV and specially cartoons. If you look at my blink less face when I watch TV, you will make out that I do understand a lot. The thing I like most is Ma’s lullaby, which I need to hear before my sleep at night. I feel secure when Ma is around.

Wishing everybody a happy new year. Happy holidays.

Rianna's audiolog (in wav format)

Related readings:

* Rianna Update II
* Rianna Update I
* Welcome Rianna

December 23, 2004


Yesterday Dhaka saw the rise of another son in the South Asian politics, which is very much dominated by leaders bread in dynasties. Sajib Wazed Joy, the only son of the Leader of the Opposition and Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina and the grandson of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman arrived Dhaka along with his American-born wife Christina and they were given a rousing reception. It was for the first time that Joy came to Bangladesh after his marriage in the US. The processions of thousands of peoples created chaotic traffic situations in the city.

It was an astounding experience for Christina and she reacted :

"I guess I married the whole country."

Although Joy did not clearly say about his political debut but his mother Hasina said:

"As a mother, I am certainly happy to see that my son joins the politics. I came to politics as the daughter of my father. We were also born in a political family."

And thats what does not make sense to me. Is that the pre-requisite of a good leader not to mention the risks they inherit from their forefathers' bad deeds? Why the people of the sub-continent so much relies on the leaders of the dynasties. Joy has been abroad for so long and has no previous experience in politics. People barely know him. Adding more drama to that event, Joy (apparently prompted by Awami League) refused one letter of greetings from Tareq Zia, the son of the prime minister Khaleda Zia, congratulating him on his decision to enter into Bangladesh politics. Right from the start the political rivalry is being passed on to the next generation. That does not promise anything sparkling in the politics arena. My take is that people should move their focus away from these figures and look for young, competent and committed leaders beyond dynasties. As a saying goes: "the nation is cursed, which cannot produce good leaders". Let us break the curse.

December 21, 2004


* Oppression in a new form - A baby producing factory in Nigeria.

* The debate on the topic "God and the Evolutionalists" continues. I agree to what Razib says:

"Religion" is a very broad definition, and so a one-size-fits-all explanation is probably untenable

* The Bazee.com scandal and the arrest of the CEO of the webportal has created much controversy in India. The point is: "Can e-commerce service providers possibly police all client transactions on its website and be liable for abuse?".

* Living in Hong Kong according to Simon:

Hong Kong is larger than you think, more cosmopolitan than you imagine and an ecletic mix of culture and people. It's a great place.

December 19, 2004


After 9/11 Islam faced lots of controversy because some extremist quarters were making interpretation of Islam which posed a threat to general civilians (muslim-non-muslim alike). Some think that Islam and secularism do not go along side-by-side. I am not an expert in religions. But I think logically Secularism doesn't hinder people from bearing the religious cultures and sentiments. It will never eradicate religion from societies as they claim.

Islam is not being seen as a religion of peace because of these illogical interpretations. Mahmood of Bahrain has written a thought provoking post regarding this where he says,

How can something that applied 14 centuries ago apply now? Isn't the world completely different? Would you apply the same medicines available then to ailments afflicted on human beings now? Can a cure for common cold be applied with the same alacrity to cancer? I think not.

There are far too many questions, and unless we face them logically without the interference of emotion, we can never find answers, and really, never save as well as propagate the greatest religion the world has known.

Let us try to find the answers logically.

Is Bangladesh divided in opinion? Arnab has written an eye-opening article about the current situation of Bangladesh. Just as one person can be a terrorist to some and at the same time a revolutionary fighter against enemies to some others, the interpretation of good and evil varies from people to people. He points to the facts:

We are today going away from the essence of independence. We ask the question about the creation of our country! We question the reasons of independence! Do we really have freedom?

He says:

Being a Bangladeshi used to be meant anti-Pakistani! The increase of hatred was not the reason of our independence. We didn't separate from Pakistan so that we can hate them. However, now-a-days, the wave is changing, now to show that you love Bangladesh, you have to hate India. The more you hate India and love Pakistan and Islam, the more you love Bangladesh. Bangladeshi Hindus are always mainly pro-Indians but to show that they also love Bangladesh, they try to take an anti-Indian position. Is that why we separated? To hate India? To increase hatred?

Arnab has rightly said now-a-days nobody is pro-Bangladeshi. Sadly we try to be either pro-Indian or pro-Pakistani. And we are pointing fingers at each other:

The majority community is pointing fingers at the minority community for being pro-Indian and the minority community is pointing fingers at the majority community for being pro-Pakistani. The fundamentalists are pointing fingers at secularists for going away from Islam and secularists pointing fingers at fundamentalists for being fundamentalists. Left is pointing fingers at right! Right is pointing fingers at the left! Atheists pointing fingers at the theists! Theists pointing fingers at atheists! And just like everyone else I am also pointing fingers at everyone!!!

In my opinion Today our countrymen have different opinions, because the words fundamentalist, anti-liberation force, razakar (traitor) have so much been overused by crooked politicians against their opponents that the real weight of these words have been lost to many who take these lightly. And the real traitors have become freedom fighters in disguise who are better off than the freedom fighters. Histories are being rewritten. I blame both the Awami League and BNP for these because they both have been guilty of letting those traitors coming into limelight for the interest of their leaders. Many of the leaders blame them publicly but do business with them internally. The Jamaat-e-Islami has done nothing to disown or protest or clarify the deeds of some of their senior leaders who are publicly known as collaborator of Pakistani forces who were involved in mass killings. Instead they are led by those figures whom the people will never believe nor accept. I think we need to stop generalizing people, a mistake even I make.

Arnab has rightly said that we need to stop pointing fingers at each other and need to point fingers at ourselves. We must remember that even though the political parties of Bangladesh try to politicize the success of the war of independence to their favor, it was a people's war irrespective of religion, political leaning and class of people (rich or poor). Time has come again to assemble ourselves towards one vision, security, peace and prosperity of Bangladesh irrespective of all the divisions and pro or Anti feelings we bear. Because together we will rise and divided we will fall.

December 15, 2004


If you have not yet checked the contenders for the best blogs in Asia, please go to Simon's site. And please cast your vote for the best. I am sure you will find some new and interesting weblogs to bookmark.

The four articles posted below were first posted last year. These are posted again because I thought some of the international readers might want to get the whole picture about the struggles of the people of Bangladesh and how the nation was created. I think these are not enough and I will continue to provide links and try to answer queries if possible. For an unknown reason the liberation museum online site (www.liberationmuseum.org) is offline which contained much information.
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.

Liberation War Museum is a great initiative to archive the war of independence.
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.

Bangladesh Liberation War 1971 Photo gallery

Click here and here for more pictures.

December 14, 2004


Today is the day of martyred intellectuals, who were brutally killed by the Pakistani occupation army and their cohorts in 1971. 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 ".

December 13, 2004


Iraqi Blogger brothers Omar and Mohammed are touring USA sponsored by Spirit of America, an initiative to raise funds for helping the people of Afganistan & Iraq. The tour is part of the Spirit of America program "Friends of Iraqi blogger challenge" which has already raised $62,865 to fund the needs and projects selected by these bloggers. Their tour program include meeting president J.W. Bush at the Oval office and attending a blogger conference at Harvard. They have also appeared on radio (Brian Lehrer's WYNC show). Details of their tour can be found here. A quote from Mohammed at the conference:

Media try to show only the differences between groups and countries but really human beings have many, many things to share.... Here in blogging, I learn from my readers.... I think through blogging we can spread love more than we can spread hate.

However, Professor Juan Cole of "Informed Comments" reports that some are pointing out to the fact that the views of the Iraqi blogger brothers are celebrated in the right-leaning weblogging world of the US whereas opinion polling shows that these views are far out of the mainstream of Iraqi opinion. Juan Cole says:

Contrast all this to the young woman computer systems analyst in Baghdad, Riverbend, who is in her views closer to the Iraqi opinion polls, especially with regard to Sunni Arabs, but who is not being feted in Washington, DC.

And he poses the ultimate question:

Is the blogging world actually less open to manipulation than corporate media?

We are staying tuned.

Update: Ali takes the professor up on the Riverbend issue. Wow the debate its getting hotter.

December 12, 2004


India's batting god Sachin Tendulkar equals another world record the highest Centuries (34 centuries) in Test Cricket with his countrymen, Sunil Gavaskar, another genius during the 1st test between India & Bangladesh. The match is not at all balanced if you look at the scores. Bangladesh is destined for another innings defeat by tomorrow morning. This is not to undermine the batting genius Tendulkar's play, but he got many lives (one at 0) as easy catches were dropped by Bangladeshi fielders. Tendulkar went on to score an unbeaten 248. I guess the goddess of luck was on his side and you need her to succeed. As predicted Anil Kumble went past his countryman Kapil Dev to be the highest test wicket taker for India.

Congratulations to both of them and I reckon they will extend their records to an extent, which will be tough to beat in 50 years.

Hundreds of thousands of people formed a 900 km-human chain across Bangladesh to show "no confidence" in the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led coalition government. There was no estimate available from any source of the number of demonstrators. The protest was not violent in nature, but some ruling party goons instigated a few clashes in few places as indicated in the above picture. The chain stretched from Teknaf to Tetulia, the south and North corners of Bangladesh.

I am always in favor of peaceful protests. Jane terms it Ukrainian style demonstration.

Drik, a photography related organization arranges CHOBIMELA III the third biannual international festival of photography. Their last two initiatives were also successful.

Sahidul Alam, a pioneer of photography in Bangladesh (Chief of Drik) has this to say on this year's theme "Resistance":

"Each pen that fails to write, each shutter that fails to open, each voice that refuses to shout in protest when governmental and corporate power flex its muscle, bears the guilt of compliance. This festival in giving space to the excluded, pays homage to the few who continued to say no."

Here is a good review of the festival. Ishtiaque has posted links to the schedule. Finally I am managing some time to visit the festival today. So all picture lovers in Dhaka, what are you waiting for?

December 09, 2004


The Indian cricket team has finally landed in Dhaka yesterday for their 2nd tour in Bangladesh after the Indian security team gave a green light. The tour was put on hold after Indian High Commission in Bangladesh received a fax threat from a outfit called "Harkat-ul-Jihad" which according to me is purely a hoax. The 1st test is scheduled to start tomorrow after a one-day delay. Threats to cricketers are not new but this is the first time it has happened in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has tightened the security and assured safety to the Indian cricketers in all places.

Lets hope for some great match where as per Bangladesh's current dilapidated form India would be thriving for some records.

While passing our remark about other country or people of other societies, we often forget that we do it without having enough information about the wider world. We do the stereotyping carelessly without keeping in mind how others will feel about it. I came across this post titled "Think how lucky you are you don't live in Bangladesh" where Jack, a 42 year old American recollects the experience of his brief stay in Dhaka 18 years ago. If you are from a developed part of the world that you will agree with him reading that article that the modern infrastructures of developed countries is almost non-existent in Bangladesh where people flock to the new overpass as they have never seen one road top of another. And Jack had to undertake this painful experience because he got into the Bangladesh Biman flight which was $50 cheaper than the competition.

Dear Mr. Jack, you do not know much about our history. Bangladesh, a relatively new country was liberated in 1971 from Pakistan through a bitter war which left 70 million free people in a fertile delta of only 56000 sq. mile. Most of the infrastructure (bridges, airports, roads) were destroyed by the Pakistan Army and Bangladesh has come this far without much help from others (of course there were some grants and loans from developed countries but not without conditions and interests) . We had to face natural disasters (like flood, cyclone) almost every year. You will be surprised to know about the courage and determination of the people of Bangladesh to start everything all over again and carry on with their dreams. You were liberated a couple of centuries ago and you have gone close to a welfare state only in this century. Give us atleast a century to develop. I think you have heard of Rostow's (he's an american) model of economic development where he uggested that countries pass through five stages of economic development. To many in the world Bangladesh may seem poor among similar countries according to the economic indicators, but I am sure if those countries would face such natural disasters, they could not be better off than us. And how can you measure standards of living where in a rural Bangladesh village, a familly can survive well with $50 income which maybe your one night dine-out cost.

Some years ago a study was carried out by the London School of Economics where Bangladeshis was declared the happiest nation on earth. US was ranked 46th. See what I mean. You don't have to have US standard of living all throughout the world to be happy. If you read the article "Don't worry be happy" you will understand what I am saying. A quote from Iqbal's Diary:

"If a person has no family to go back to, no real friends to talk to, no community which will treat him as one of their own what use is all the money, the nice roads, the nice schools and hospitals? "

As for me I am lucky to be living in Bangladesh because I am happy with my living standard and proud of our culture and fighting spirit. You need to know more about Bangladesh & Bangladeshis to understand this.

December 05, 2004


Looks like the blog fever has caught many of the bloggers. This years "Asia Weblog Awards" is being hosted by Simon. Last year Phil ran a successful awards where I convinced him to open a Bangladesh category. There were only three Bangladeshi Blogs nominated in 2003 and mine was awarded the best Bangladesh blog. But this year I know that there are many Bangladeshi blogs on the net. Only 10 blogs will be nominated. So please nominate your blog and others in the respective categories. Since there are many good writers than me, they should run in the contest and the readers will chose the best from the lot. If you need some exposure to the world this is your chance. Click here for the best Bangladesh blog nomination. Best of luck.

I am not talking about the game incorporated in the Microsoft Windows OS. Its the real thing. Minewolf Systems, a German company has developed a mechanical minesweeper which will provide a cheap, quick, and less risk solution to clearing landmines which are a big threat to humans in the troubled regions of the world. If you buy one Mine Wolf, it can be modified to a normal tractor for farming when you are over with the mine clearing.

Here are some facts to show how lifesaving this invention is:

* There are up to 110 million landmines in the ground.
* There are about 215 million landmines stockpiled throughout the world.
* More than 80 countries are affected by landmines.
* It is estimated that more than 20,000 civilians are killed or injured each year.
* It costs $3 - $30 to purchase an antipersonnel mine, but it costs up to $1000 to remove one.
* Mines can remain active for 50 years.
    More facts on humanitarian demining. The world needs more of these inventions and their wise implementations.

    Via Worldchanging:

    December 04, 2004


    In general, there are two categories of students in Bangladesh who go for higher study in abroad. In one category are the brilliant students, who have quest for higher study in many fields, which are not available in the country. They get good scholarships because of their merit and they usually end up living abroad (call it brain drain) as there is little scope for job for those degree holders in the still developing industries of Bangladesh. And those scientists who want to devote themselves for research, Bangladesh would not be the best place for them. The other category of students have rich parents but not enough brilliance to get admitted in best local universities through competition. So they look for some small US or Australian colleges to be admitted and land on those countries and in most of the cases they do not finish their study. For them the achievement in life would be migration to a developed country as usually their relatives rarely ask about what are they doing abroad. In reality they might be earning their living by waiting or doing some other petty jobs but they will boast of being something else to their keens back in the country.

    A recently concluded education fare in Dhaka shows how many are keen to study abroad. My point is who is determining the quality of the educational institutes who are trying to get students from Bangladesh. I wouldn't mind if those Bangladeshis were going to Oxford, Yale etc. places. As per my knowledge the low category international educational institutes try to obtain students on the basis of money, but not merit. Is education a commodity? Isn't there enough private education institutions cropping up in Bangladesh to cope the increasing demand. Many of these institutions, I believe give good education and are feasible for parents. So why is that rush to go abroad? Is this another way to exploit poor people's money by those institute or a ploy of the local agents to export manpower in disguise?

    Voting for the 2004 Weblog awards has began. My blog is nominated in the categories "Best Asian Weblog" & "Best of the Top 3500 - 5000 Blogs". I was surprised to see that none of the Indian bloggers and many other Asian blogs were nominated. I was pretty busy for almost 15 days and it was a shock for me to find now that many of them were not even pitched for nomination. Anyway as I am nominated, I would be representing those fellows of mine. So vote for me if you want to vote for a South Asian representation in the "Best Asian Weblog" category. Just click on the categories mentioned above and you will go directly to the voting page.

    I would like to thank the friends who have helped me get nominated. Your support is the best award for me from this event.

    November 29, 2004


    The caretaker system of governments has been effective to hold a free and fair election in the rigging prone Bangladesh elections since 1990. The main opposition has asked for a reform in the system and the ruling party is cautiously planning to keep the chief justice of their choice, who will take the helm the caretaker government raising the retirement age bar. Then there is the tradition of outburst of our defeated political parties of not accepting the results of any election citing irregularities and rigging. So it is unlikely that whether you will ever hear of any free & fair election in Bangladesh under any neutral body.

    However, One thing I must say about the previous caretaker governments, that it has proved to be functional in Bangladesh because a single political party could not win all the successive elections in Bangladesh since 1990. An editorial in the Financial Times comments:

    The caretaker issue has the potential to become explosive for anti-government campaign. The government has to face the opposition with logical arguments and not on the basis of two-thirds majority.

    For the benefit of all, the caretaker form of government should be intact in the upcoming 2007 election. If any reform is really needed that must be with the consensus of all the parties. Let not this be a lame opposition issue to desparately win election.

    It's too late for you to arrive now, love
    It's too late for you to come now, life
    It's too late, it's all too late…

    I met him in person long ago. He was public relation officer of an insurance company and I went to him for an advertisement for one cultural organization. I knew that he was a famous poet but his behaviour did not reflect any showiness. He was just a calm and quiet human being and was very helpful to me. Now I read about him that he lived a very careless life. Its usual that to be creative, poets/painters and the likes have to search for new meanings of life. They try to experience life more intensively than others and usually are very sensitive and emotional human beings. I pray that he lives in Bangladesh through his poem eternally. Rest in peace, Tridib.

    November 28, 2004


    The central Bank says in an annual report that the GDP growth is likely to be 5.75% in 2004-2005, only a bit less than the projected 6%. It is remarkable that despite the country suffered from a devastating flood this year the country has managed to keep itself in the track of growth. There were other impacts like the oil price increase and political unrest but exports and remittances in FY05 has bettered the situation.

    But millions in the garments industry sector, which earns more than 70% of the country's export revenue are anxiously waiting for the post-2004 quota-free global trade regime starting from 01 January, 2005. The Bangladesh garments export sector is likely to face severe competition in the international market. This might have a negative impact on balance of payment, productivity and employment and all the equations of Bangladesh economy may be in disarray.

    November 21, 2004


    I am shocked and outraged too like Natasha hearing the news of the execution of Margaret Hassan. Attacks on aid workers have increased rapidly in recent times. The persons who sacrifice their secured lives to save others in distress end up as a target of hate by the persons who are supposed to fight for the distressed. This is a real heart breaking irony and these acts should be condemned by every sane human being.

    But we see a glaring double standard by some people of the world, which does not follow any logic. As Jane Novak writes in a column in Arab News:

    "The Arab world is enraged over the shooting of a wounded, unarmed Iraqi insurgent by a uniformed US soldier. There is no similar outrage for Margaret Hassan. Is it because she was an Anglo, a woman, or because a Muslim killed her?"

    There is still no news of the abducted Bangladeshi truck driver Abul Kashem. The killing of Margaret Hassan will diminish hopes for his release. Because those insurgents are monsters and not freedom fighters as they claim. And shame on the people who endorses these killings for the sake of anti-Americanism. And in the end I would also request the Americans to ponder, why they let the anti-Americanism still growing. Why can't there be any reconciliation? Would that hurt their ego?

    November 20, 2004


    Hello there. I am almost 2 months old now. I can recognize the difference in people's faces. Ma is not sure whether I can remember faces but I can surely distinguish Ma & Baba from others. Life seems great when they are around. Now, my daily schedule includes exercizing by throwing my arms and legs around. Baba thinks I will be a good dancer. I do sometimes watch TV in Baba's lap. I can't tell you much about the programs, but certainly the most colorful ones are my favorite. I can see that it is a colorful world out there. I do not like mistuned music.

    The most awful thing in my life happened when I was shaved bald recently (The picture above was taken earlier). Baba was against it right from the start. But in absence of him Ma, in conspiracy with granny did it despite my protest. They said that it has cleared the germs from Ma's womb I was carrying in my scalp. I felt very bad. But Baba discovered a new kind of beauty in me in the prominent eyebrows. It was a solace for me when everybody agreed that I do not look so bad after all.

    I got my first shot of vaccine. Well I must tell you one thing, here in Bangladesh many babies like me get immunized from 6 deadly diseases (BCG, Polio, DPT, Measles etc.) virtually free of cost. Thanks to the effort of Expanded immunization Program (EPI) taken by the government with the assistance from international organizations like WHO and World Bank the infant mortality has been drastically reduced in Bangladesh in recent times. Do you know that it costs less than $15 to provide these immunizations which makes the difference? I was taken to one of the 278 full time community clinics fully sponsored by USAID and was amazed by their quality of service which is free. Here, with a nominal fee they provide all kinds of immunizations like Hepatitis A, typhoid etc. in hygienic conditions

    I celebrated my first Eid with the family. I had many dresses to wear and got many visits. It was really wonderful seeing a lot of people. But I didn't like others squeezing my arms or cheek.

    I like going outside and watching people. But when I am hungry, I get very annoyed when Ma is not around. Everybody comes rushing in hearing my intense cry. Baba tries to feed me Baba's milk (infant formula) which I take occasionaly and only from Baba. But the taste is really awful. There is no match for Ma's milk.

    I gotta take a nap. See you around.

    Related readings:

    * Rianna Update I
    * Welcome Rianna

    At last Wizbang brings this year's Weblog Awards. Should be fun to follow! Don't forget to nominate your best choices among the various categories and please do vote (which begins around December 1, 2004).

    November 18, 2004


    The word "Toilet" may be a taboo in discussion etiquette but they matter in a big way. The 4th World Toilet Summit 2004 was hosted in Beijing recently and Jack Sim, the founder of World Toilet Organization said:

    "The construction and management of the toilets in a city reflects the civilization of a country and also reflect the comprehensive strength of a country and living standard of the society."

    Delegates from 15 members, including China, US, Russia and Japan, attended the summit discuss how quality of life, tourism, management and economy relate to toilets.

    Let us try to make the toilets of our houses hygienic, prudent in water consumption and artistic.

    * Jeanne of "Body and Soul" is outraged over the desecration of mosque in Falluja by the American soldiers. She says: "I am not a Muslim, but the violence done to any holy place hurts."

    * Dan is estimating civilian deaths in Falluja and comments: "Civilian casualties outnumbered insurgent casualties by three to one. Applying this ratio to the supposed 600 insurgents the Americans claim to have killed and you have a civilian casualty rate of 1,800 - in just five days. That's one innocent civilian killed every four minutes! It is a massacre."

    * Winds of Change posts a comprehensive briefing on "The battle of Falluja".

    * Owukori reports a review of American forign policy which says: Following the 9/11 attacks Bush's foreign policy became even more unilateral and international law was spurned. "There is no dialogue, merely a presentation of a 'take it or else' proposition to friend and foe alike."

    * The left right debate is trying to make a balance.

    * The Diwali edition of "Bharatiya Blog Mela" hosted by Opti Mystic links to some interesting posts like: "Indian farmers are using carbonated drinks as pesticides."

    November 17, 2004


    Ugur of the Turkish Torque brings up this interesting question:

    If the Muslim countries cannot agree on something as simple and elementary as the beginning date of a very important annual celebration, how can anyone expect them to agree on more serious matters like the future of Iraq, Cyprus or Kashmir?

    I have lost the interest to track the news of the warfare in Falluja. It is the repeat of same old guerilla fighting, tragedy, sufferings of innocent people and accusation of human rights violations by the coalition forces. The bottom line is more people are dying and cities demolished. Daniel Brett looks at the US tactics of warfare in Falluja and concludes that "failure to engage in urban warfare tactics will have serious political repercussions for the Americans, if not at home then certainly in Iraq and across the world".

    There had been many discussions going on whether the US marine shot the wounded Iraqi out of self defense or not. I feel sorry for the US soldiers who are exposed to these moral questions and I remember this story:

    One valiant soldier comes back from the war and finds his country in economic crisis. His son is starving for food and food is scarce in the market. He went out to buy a bread and finds that another person has purchased the only bread available. He requested that person to hand over that bread. The person refused and he shot him. Later he was apprehended and the judge asked " Do you know that it is an offence to kill a human being?" The soldier asked "Why?"

    War always brings humanitarian crisis and it is wrong to try to defend the legitimacy of the atrocities of the war (by any of the party). The eyewash of the trial of the accused US marine is really a farce. He is guilty of following the order.

    It seems the haters like Mr. Kamath are growing in number in the neighborhood. See the venoms in the same re-rolling tape, to make false accusations like "Bangladeshis occupy Indian land; Bangladeshis pour into India in millions and Delhi looks the other way" on the basis of some unrelated events. Well Mr. Kamath shouldn't undermine India's homeland security by his statement. It has defended well the threats of religious extremists. Even a child would know that the statement is vague. I am wondering whether these types of articles of hatred are part of a big plan. Who would benefit from the frail Indo-Bangla relationship? The truth is out there and it will come out.

    I had a great vacation. I have not been fortunate like many of my colleagues to go to a holiday spot during the 6-days-long holidays. This year I mostly stayed at home and close to my daughter. This is her first Eid and we have began to take her out with us to shopping malls, groceries, to relatives houses etc. I should have used this vacation more wisely, reading from the thick Eid & Puja magazine volumes, preparing for the upcoming Java exam, do a bit of blogging or watch some Eid special programs in the TV. But I have spent rather a good time doing nothing of these things.

    According to Qeta "Eid only signifies an occasion to have a bunch of people over (the more to make boring small talk with!) and to consume a prodigious amount of food". My Eid would have been close to that if I hadn't had my daughter to play with. Her latest habit: watching Television quietly lying in my lap.

    On the other hand the traditions of numerous Eid visits in the family and friends circles can also be beneficial for us. Because in our busy lives we can have some get-together and see faces of kin which are hard to find in the whole year. And you know for some celebrating Eid away from them is more painful.

    So hope you had a wonderful Eid too!

    November 14, 2004


    The burial of Arafat was a widely televised event. Many people of Bangladesh were glued to Television to watch his last rites and special prayers were offered in religious institutions. He was very popular in Bangladesh because of his love for Bangladesh. Whenever he would visit some country near Bangladesh, he would make a stop in Dhaka and he was proud to feel at home in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi people could understand his struggle for a free Palestine state, because they had to undergo also a long and bitter war of independence. Bangladesh was one of the first countries to recognize Palestine.

    My take from the print & electronic media here is that, irrespective of religion and age people of Bangladesh unitedly paid there respect for Arafat refuting the claims of Israel & some of the Western countries that he was a terrorist, a monster. Some would say that he promoted Islamic Jihad and Intifada. But its baseless as he was more a christian than a Muslim. He married a Christian, and he wanted to be the leader of Palestinians irrespective of religion and race. Yes he had some draw backs, he had no control on the extremists terrorist factions, who exercised offensives against the innocent Israelis and sometimes he deferred peace agreements with a view to striking a better bargain. But he had only one goal, to establish a state for the palestinies who were driven out of their land. Those who name him terrorist ignore the fact that the Al-Qaeda recruits are brain washed with the very videos of atrocities of Israelis on innocent Palestininian civilians. Violence begets violence. Don't judge some wrong acts of terrorists as a deed of the whole nation or blame it on the leader. Don't they see where the hatred comes from? As the Jews were once brutally ethnic cleansed, oppressed in Europian countries, I fail to understand how could they turn their eyes off the plight of the Palestinians and reach some sort of a peace deal. Don't they feel the pain of being the minority?

    The mutual co-existence and one-nation theory is not viable for many reasons in the current circumstances eventhough it must be hard for the Palestinians. So the two nation theory and right share of the Palestinians land has to be ensured after the era of Arafat to establish peace in that region. Bush & Blair has said with a smile that they would want a Palestine state within 4 years. It remains to be seen what is behind that smile and how the Palestini leaders lead the world events.

    We are in the middle of six days long Eid holidays. The moon was not cited in Bangladesh yesterday and that means we are having another day of Ramadan here. Eid will be celebrated tomorrow. It is rather strange where most of the Middle Eastern countries had Eid yesterday and Pakistan today. Usually Eid in Bangladesh follows the day after the Middle East celebrates Eid. If you are wondering how Eid is celebrated in Bangladesh, read my last year's post.

    I wish every person in the world irrespective of race, color & religion that everybody touches the festivity of the Eid. Let everybody find peace, happiness and prosperity, even for a day and stop the daemons of hatred, atrocity across the world. Let us bring our attention to the genocidal ethnic killings in Darfur, help and pray for the people distressed in hunger and famine. Let us pray for the hundreds of people taken hostages in different places of the world by terrorists for their early and safe release. Let the war stop even for a day in Iraq (specially in Falluja).

    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.

    November 11, 2004


    I wrote about it last year. Cheap Chinese products have flooded the Bangladeshi market resulting in a rise in Chinese imports by about 42 percent last year. Instead of giving protection of the local manufacturing industry, the government has nodded to let Chinese set up a large wholesale market of Chinese goods in Bangladesh. The government would describe it as a part of its go east policy at the expense of local manufacturing industry and millions of jobs.

    I received an appeal from Dr. Richard L. Benkin (Who wrote Dear Bangladesh ) to demand release of a Bangladeshi journalist Salahuddin Shoaib Choudhury, who is apprehended by Bangladeshi police on false charges, while he was going to Israel to attend a seminar. The details are in this website http://freechoudhury.com.

    The appeal goes as follows:

    Last November, I wrote "Dear Bangladesh" lauding Bangladeshi tolerance and potential for bringing Mideast. Soon after, my Bangladeshi colleague and friend, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, was taken by security police and has been in custody ever since, for his journalism and his advocating dialogue between Bangladesh and Isreal, Muslims and Jews. I am determined to help him, but my feelings about Bangladesh and its potential remain unchanged.

    For the sake of its good name and its future, injustices such as the false imprisonment of Shoaib and other journalists must stop. Shoaib must be freed. The Prime Minister has twice ordered it, only to be ignored by the Home Ministry. Bangladesh can attain a prominent place in the world and become prosperous, but must rectify injustices such as these and live up to those traits that define Bangladeshis as the open and wonderful people that they are.

    Please contact the Bangladesh government and demand Choudhury's release.

    Dr. Richard L. Benkin (drrbenkin@comcast.net)

    November 09, 2004


    I am confused by a couple of news. One says its "famine" another says its "totally baseless and a figment of imagination". I am wondering is free press helping propaganda & yellow journalism? Well don't worry the government is saying that nobody is dying and the riches in the capital are cherishing the millions of Taka road beautification program. The world is so cruel.

    November 08, 2004


    We earnestly appeal to all Iraqi groups for the release of our compatriot, Mr. Abul Kashem Faruk. On behalf of the Bangladeshi people and ourselves, we urge and plead for the release of Mr. Faruk in the name of our common humanity and brotherly compassion.

    We call upon various Iraqi groups to have mercy on Mr. Faruk and release him because he is a civilian who had neither any intention of nor had any part in harming the Iraqi people in any manner.

    We believe that the kidnapping of an innocent Bangladeshi civilian does not serve the cause of Iraqi resistance or the country's freedom from foreign occupation. Mr. Faruk is a truck driver from Bangladesh. He went to Iraq in search of a livelihood so that he could support his family in Bangladesh with his meager remittances. Unfortunately, he is reported to have been recently kidnapped by some Iraqi group.

    We urge the Iraqi people and Iraqi civilian groups to exert themselves for the release of Mr. Faruk. We request all those involved in this matter to do their utmost to have Mr. Faruk released as soon as possible and end the anxiety of his family and friends.

    We also urge all Iraqi groups to end the kidnappings of civilians. These bring bad and hurtful publicity for Iraq's rightful bid for freedom from foreign occupation.

    We like to point out that the people of Bangladesh, in solidarity with the people of Iraq, have consistently and vigorously opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the cultural and historical pride of us all.

    Our country, Bangladesh, is a member of the Non-aligned Movement and the Organization of Islamic Conference. Bangladesh is one of the world's most important Muslim-majority countries.

    Bangladeshis of all religion and faith have served in the past as professionals, military advisors, doctors, engineers, and workers in Iraq and have made their modest contributions in the service of and to the development of Iraq.

    The people of Bangladesh have always favored peace and understanding among the nations of the Middle East and have resolutely opposed unjust wars and illegal foreign occupations. The government of Bangladesh, for its part, had also worked for resolving the Iran-Iraq conflict years ago. It has vehemently opposed foreign aggression during both Gulf Wars and the genocidal UN sanctions against Iraq.

    The people of Bangladesh wholeheartedly support Iraqi people's struggle for freedom from tyranny of occupation and their claim for adequate reparations and full reconstruction of Iraq.

    Bangladeshis believe that it is the Iraq people who rightfully ought to exercise sovereignty over their country and have full control of their rich resources.

    We hope and pray that the concerned Iraqi groups will release Mr. Abul Kashem Faruk and all other civilians kidnapped in accordance with the pledged values of Arabs and Muslims that civilians should never be harmed.

    The release of Mr. Faruk would be considered a magnanimous humanitarian gesture by the Bangladeshi people.

    Therefore, we urge the concerned Iraqi groups to release him and earn the gratitude of us all who stand with Iraq shoulder to shoulder in its hour of crisis.

    We pray for the safe return of our compatriot.


    (This appeal is posted on request of Mr.Tanweer Akram of Drishtipat, a Bangladeshi human rights organization. I have forwarded the petition to the Iraqi bloggers)

    November 06, 2004


    The next election of Bangladesh is still two years ahead. But amidst strong opposition movement the ruling BNP has already started preparations for the battle. Expensive Iftaar parties are being hosted by the party for the leaders and activists of grassroots level, whereas there is an influx of destitute people in the capital from the famine infested Northern region probably in search of some Jakaat from the rich. The opposition are also preparing battle grounds for the oust government movement. They are as usual also ignoring the destitute people's plights sleeping in kerbs. If they succeed to force early resignation of the government, there will be fresh election sooner than 2007.

    Now I have something to say about the election candidates seeing the role of money and media in the recent US election. If we do not mend the fundamental flaw in nominating the wrong candidates, there is a strong chance of BNP winning again with majority and the current situation will prevail. Who are the usual candidates chosen by parties? They are businessmen or corrupt professionals nominated by the party leaders for their money and influence, but not for their merit and political ideology. These peoples irrespective of parties are the root of all problems Bangladesh is facing. These peoples' ideology is to accumulate own wealth screwing the people and the country. The poorest MP in the current parliament was Awami League's Ahsanullah Master, who was killed by vested quarters for his strong political ideals and popularity. Otherwise most of the MPs have accumulated wealth beyond imagination in a short time.

    Usually the grass root workers and honest, meritorious leaders are victims of exploitation. They will do the ground works and the party will nominate some business magnet with little political knowledge who will spend millions of Takas for the election. These candidates do not have any feeling for the common people and or the grassroot workers. They will see all the events in their business interest.

    Now here is an appeal to the common people of Bangladesh. Please be vocal against all the politicians deeds irrespective of parties and personal likings. Reveal the secrets about them. Ask questions what is the source of income of the prime ministers son's investment in Malysia? Ask how Awami league's Mayor Hanif has made a fortune out of nowhere? Ask how Jatiyo Party's Ershad has so much assets.

    And next time please do not vote any business magnet like Salman Rahman again even he wears some party cap. Choose leaders from grassroot level and those who have integrity. And don't let the parties nominate the incompetent candidates. Above all please vote the right people irrespective of the party they are representing.

    Remember, we don't need a monarchy of only one political party. We have different ideals and let there be an exercise of true multiparty democracy where the problems of the country would be seen apart from nepotism and acrimony. Have you ever calculated the time cost of a lawmaker? If they are occupied in backbiting amongst different parties, its our great loss. I believe all that can be possible if we choose the right candidate. We need to keep in mind the idioms like "Money is the root of all corruption" and "Who goes to Lanka, becomes Raban" . Poet Rabindranath Tagore said "Believe in people". I still believe in our would be leaders. I know there are true politicians who think about the country more than themselves. I know there is a change lurking somewhere. We need to act logically to find it.

    Its a bit of surprise by Jammat after keeping mum for long years regarding the issue of oppression against Ahmadiyas. The party chief Motiur Rahman Nizami tells press that his party does not support the application of force on any religious community. He also said that Islam does not prescribe force to repose faith on Allah, there is no scope for militancy and imposition of force in Islam. Islam also does not support taking up arms or the law into one's own hands.

    I hope Jamaat means that and they keep the extremist radical parties like Islami Oikya Jote from making more offending remarks and oppressions against Ahmadya and other minorities. This can bring back some of the people's trust for them. We have heard many long talks and promises from the country's politicians but they have a tradition of doing the opposite in reality.

    November 04, 2004


    * It is precisely the purpose of the public opinion generated by the press to make the public incapable of judging, to insinuate into it the attitude of someone irresponsible, uninformed.

    - Walter Benjamin 1982-1940, German Critic, Philosopher

    * The press and politicians. A delicate relationship. Too close, and danger ensues. Too far apart and democracy itself cannot function without the essential exchange of information. Creative leaks, a discreet lunch, interchange in the Lobby, the art of the unattributable telephone call, late at night.

    - Howard Brenton, British Playwright

    * The United States is unusual among the industrial democracies in the rigidity of the system of ideological control -- ''indoctrination,'' we might say -- exercised through the mass media.

    Noam Chomsky 1928-, American Linguist, Political Activist


    Many Bangladeshis (and many in other Muslim countries) would be disheartened to see Bush winning the second term. But it doesn't matter to me as I had no personal grudge against Bush. Because I believe the countries decisions are not taken by the president himself, rather it depends upon the policies of his party, the advisers and the country. He can just influence some decisions. I thought Kerry was a good candidate and supported him because I wanted to see a change in US foreign policy and hoped that the sense of insecurity among the general US citizens because of increasing enemies created by the policy would disappear. But history has its own scriptwriter who does not listen to others.

    This election proves that media plays a greater role in US society. The multimillion dollar Bush campaign brought the results. Some points finger to the Laden video just before the elections. Some debates that Iraq or terrorism was not the top issue but moral value. But its true that the war on terror and homeland security played a bigger role in peoples minds. There is a debate going on whether the nation is divided by this close election. My friend Dave writes this emotional note after Kerry defeat. He summarizes "See you in hell, I'm already there".

    Now Bush has a huge task in his hands. To change the US policies in the Middle East and to unite the country. The carrot of "large threat to US by Al-Qaeda" will not last longer. Their previous threat the communist regimes fell in the nineties. Now the so called "axis of evil" is there to ride on. These are stimulants to utilize and replenish the huge ammunitions and firepower US possesses which do have a shelf life. If we like it or not oil and globalization will shape up events in future.

    We are just some tiny individuals with hearts and minds. I am having the pain to write this post because I feel for my friend Dave and many other Americans. I do not want US to increase more enemies in the world. I want peace in this world. Some would say that Bush can prove everybody wrong by doing everything right in the next four years. Well he can start it with annihilating the Al-Qaeda et al. which brought misery to many people in the world and maligned Islam considerably. But I doubt he would ever do it. Because 9/11 shaped the world differently and they are one of the reasons for Bush to succeed.

    October 31, 2004


    The prime minister of Bangladesh, Begum Khaleda Zia recently told his party leaders that "all development activities would be stopped if the BNP could not return to power in the next election."

    I wonder whether it is a statement or a threat. Below is a list of the recent developments of the government:

    * Poor utilization of external assistance.

    * Poor start of the ambitious Annual development program ('05)

    * Failure to nab the criminals behind the August 21 grenade attacks against Sheikh Hasina. The Daily Star receives another Hasina death threat.

    * The government is taking
    an unprecedented move to provide immunity to the World Bank for its activities in Bangladesh.

    * The judges role have been so much biased in politically motivated cases that people are losing confidence in Judiciary System.

    * While a famine (Monga) is taking a serious turn in the Northern region, the government is hosting expensive Iftar parties in the capital.

    * The government failed to protect the minority Ahmedia Muslim Sect in the country.

    So it is up to the people of Bangladesh to whether they want continuation of the above-mentioned development activities after the next election.

    Abul Kashem Faruk, 43, a Bangladeshi lorry driver was abducted in Iraq along with his Sri Lankan colleague. He has been living in Iraq for the last seven years and worked for a Kuwaiti firm, Joshim Transport Company. The news has been broken by the Arabic channel Al-Jazeera. The abductors are yet to communicate any demand to Bangladesh.

    It is hard to bear for the family members including his wife and daughter that how could those terrorists (calls themselves Muslims) play with Faruk's life, where he is the prime earning member of the poor family living in a village. They went just speechless.

    The foreign minister M Morshed Khan said
    , "Considering that Bangladesh is in no way involved in the Iraq conflict and on behalf of his (Faruk's) family and the 140 million Bangladeshi Muslims, I appeal to those who have abducted the poor truck driver in the holy month of Ramadan to release him soon."

    Bangladesh is working with the Kuwaiti government, US command in Kuwait, Joshim Transport Company and various international agencies including Red Crescent and Amnesty International for Faruk's release.

    But I have doubts that those heartless terrorists would show any mercy to Faruk as they have no ideals. Their goal is just to create anarchy in Iraq. The US military operations in Iraq could not stem the increasing cases of abductions of hostages of different nationals and I believe there are more tragic incidents to come.

    Dear readers, if you are wondering about the lack of posts in this blog recently I would like you to know that I am pretty much occupied with some family matters. Hopefully I will be back in normal blogging mode within a couple of days. So please bear with me in the meantime.

    October 26, 2004


    In Bangladesh the death under police custody has been risen tremendously, which is dubbed by police as killed in "cross fire". This has been occurring ever since the government has established the RAB (RAT), the 'Cobra' and the 'Cheetah' etc. Earlier when the Army carried out the "operation clean heart" in 2002, there were more than 50 custodial deaths (heart attacks as they dubbed) of so called criminals (pending trial). One journalist writes that after one such custodial death, he went to the police station to learn what has happened. The police gave him photograph of an bandaged policeman saying that associates of the criminal shot him and he was killed in crossfire. Later on that night he was surprised to see the policeman working in that same police station without any wound. We will do injustice just to blame these forces only, because they cannot act freely; as it is said that there are always instructions for them from the higher level of the government about whom to arrest and whom to leave alone and whom to kill in "crossfire" so that they do not expose the godfathers behind them. The forces were undoubtedly created by the politicians to serve their narrow selfish interests, forgetting totally the overall interest of the country as a whole and there is even talk of giving them immunity from their actions.

    Now the point is why these forces are required and for whom? It all started when Awami League some quarters of Awami League convinced Sheikh Mujib of the need for an auxiliary armed force "Rakkhibahini" to curb criminal activities, which brought the widespread dissent against his government and eventually his assassination. Because these forces are used for all sorts of personal abuses by some Awami league leaders. President Ziaur Rahman also continued the legacy to some extent.
    It is widely believed that due to sheer dissent only and after the abortive coup in which Lt.Col (retd) Taher and Haider were killed, the late President permanently removed more than 3000 soldiers and other ranks from this world who were identified merely as Taher’s followers. Then came Ershad, the autocrat, whose police force baton charged the opposition activists. Then came the two tenures of BNP and Awami League in the nineties, where oppressions were at personal level by the ruling party mastans aided by silence of police. But during BNP's current tenure law and order situation have touched a all-time low level. The deeds of these elite police forces are really aggravating the situation.

    The home minister told that these killings are ok and wondered, when the people are happy seeing the criminals dead, why some people are raising fingers? Really what a great remark from a lawmaker. Who needs written law, when we can produce people eyewash of giving them security by killing the criminals?

    The finance minister is outraged at the press freedom, which everyday is showing a rather gloomy picture to the people. Really the people do not have the right to know other than what the ruling government wants us to know.

    But one thing these politicians forget is that history repeats itself. And the oppressed will raise someday to retaliate. Peace and stability is really a far cry.