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

July 31, 2004


Here is another updated list of Bangladeshi Blogs:

* The 3rd world view-Bangladesh
* Mac's Blog -Bangladesh
* The color of rain -UK
* Close your eyes & try to see- Bangladesh
* Bongo Vongo -UK
* MoodLogic -Bangladesh
* Inspirations and creative thoughts - Singapore
* Dak Bangla Intelligence Scan - Bangladesh
* Bring your own Shisha - UK
* A sneak peek into Yawar's mind - Malaysia
* Imtiaz's WeBlog - Bangladesh
* Lungis.com - Modern Lungis for modern deshi man -USA
* LiveJournal Bangladesh Community Blogs -Mostly USA
* Anthology -USA
* Notes From Dystopia -Bangladesh
* My World -USA
* BD Gamer- Bangladesh
* Just a blog -Canada
* Black Rose...fighting everyday... -Bangladesh
* The Drug Polar -USA
* Love U All -Bangladesh
* Live and let live -Australia
* Will you walk with me? -Bangladesh
* Sajjad's weekly blogs -USA
* Shehab's Thoughts 2 -USA
* Always Think Positive -UK
* Tushar Chowdhury's Blog! -UK -with links of many other categorical blogs
* Bangladesh Politics -Bangladesh
* Ex Nihilo -Bangladesh
* >Insert Clever Title Here< -Canada
* Crazy Islam -Netherlands
* Banglapundit(In Bangla) -Bangladesh
* Ashik -USA
* Bid Cronicles -Canada
* Ipshita’s Blog -Canada
* A sunshine too brief -Canada
* Scarlet Thisbe - USA
* Shakeer & Company (Group Blog) -USA
* Note to self - USA
* I look I see -Bangladesh
* Busy Minds in a lazy shell - Bangladesh
* Simplicity Refused - USA
* Tanya in Cyberspace - USA
* Hmmm - USA
* My thoughts - USA
* A Life to be lived - Bangladesh
* The Song of my life - Bangladesh
* Mudphud Chickness - USA
* Feerozac -My Blog -UK
* Gene Expression (Group Blog including Razib) -USA
* Electric Blues -USA
* The Desh in Me -USA
* Glittergirl -Singapore
* Blu3crash v 8.0 -USA
* Ullah.net -Canada
* Future Bangla Network - Bangladesh
* Black & Grey - Bangladesh
* Adda - Bangladesh
* Tanim's Net Zone - Bangladesh
* Of the world and boiled eggs - Bangladesh
* Tasneem Khalil - Bangladesh
* Me, myself and Bangladesh - UK
* Tickling Beauty
* Nayma's Blog - USA
* Vacuum out, the vacuum within - Bangladesh
* Slightly Absurd, Clearly Ambiguous - Canada
* Dotcom Underground Blog - Bangladesh
* Me & Myself - Bangladesh
* My Golden Bengal - Bangladesh
* Non-existent, imaginative and irrelevant journal
* Perpetual ramblings of a lifelong nomad - USA
* Nana Chinta Nana Bhabna - Bangladesh
* Meherunnissa’s Xanga Site
* Life or something like that - Bangladesh

Blogs by persons of Non Bangladesh Origin on their experiences in Bangladesh:

* A Whisper from the heart
* Root: Adventure in Bangladesh
* Ronny reist rum -Auf Deutsch
* Bangers & Mash
* Bangladesh Backchat
* Dhaka Diary
* Bideshi Blonde
* Bangladesh Rocks

Blogs by other Bengalis of Indian Origin:

* Niraj Agarwalla-USA
* The Kolkata Libertarian-USA
* Notes from France is now from India -By Sukanya
* Null Pointer -India

Some notable Bangladeshi girl photoblogs:

* Nazzina
* Rings

List of Blogs in Bangla script maintained by Debashish
* বাংলা ব্লগস্

Kindly note that this list is not complete and I would appreciate if you could inform me about more Bangladeshi Blogs.

Last updated on: June 7, 2005 (arranged in no particular order)

Technocrati tags: ,

July 28, 2004


I have this guilty feeling being lucky among the people who are not affected in the recent flood. I am able to do nothing except donating money to the flood relief initiatives taken by the youths in all parts of the Dhaka city. They are singing in the streets and collecting donations. Many college and University students have established small camps where breads and oral saline are being prepared for the flood affected people. But the real challenge is to go to the flooded region and distribute the same. I am aware of the government's vast relief expenditures. But people doubt that whether these would reach, where they are needed most.

In 1988 Bangladesh suffered the worse flood of the decade and I was a college student then. What I did was that accumulate some fund in collaboration with the local youths (first from our sources then from other donation) and arranged some relief goods (mainly fresh bread, water, oral saline, matches and old cloths). Then we went to the remote flooded areas with boat in and around Dhaka ourselves to distribute them. Our target was to go to such places where normally govt. reliefs do not reach. I still remember one of our missions, in which we discovered that in the middle of no where some people were lurking in a rooftop, the whole house being submerged. They had not eaten for days. I cannot reproduce the feeling of joy when we could rescue them. We had to abandon such missions as they were getting dangerous and some of us (including me) coudn't swim and could easily get drowned.

I believe that now there are many distressed people to reach out. But now I am unable to engage in such ventures. I can cite many excuses like responsibility at work, responsibility for the family and above all there is a danger because I cannot swim. But I have ventured to those flood affected areas 16 years ago without thinking these.

Now I plea to the youths of Bangladesh and the NGOs to make sure that relief reaches the remotest of places. Otherwise there will be more sufferings and death. And as for the post flood-rehabilitation, the task is for the government. Those who are willing to help can donate in rehabilitation programs. But now physical presence is required more than donation.

The most happening thing in Bangladesh at the moment is of course flood. I believe the world media has covered that well. But what does it mean for the people of a large portion of the country affected by the flood waters? Many of the effected people have migrated to other places. The slum dwellers are the worse hit. Those who could not find a recluse are praying for the water to recede and waiting for their misery to end. The flooding in urban areas has completely destroyed the sewerage system making the environment stench with contaminated water. If the situation prevails then there is a high chance of spreading diseases like diarrhea. The death toll does not tell the devastation the flood has caused. There are relief efforts to save the effected people but actually it is hard to tell whether these could reach all the distressed people.

Bangladesh is criss-crossed by a network of 230 rivers including major arteries which carry melting ice from the Himalaya before emptying into the Bay of Bengal. High tide in the Bay of Bengal is preventing water dispersing because the sea level is expected to remain slightly higher until the full moon on August 2. In the meantime, water dispersing from northern areas are continue to gush downstream resulting in worsening flooding in central Bangladesh. The situation would be worsened by further monsoon rains expected from first week of August.

The WFP has warned that Bangladesh could face a major humanitarian crisis in the coming days and many countries have already pledged their assistance. But Bangladesh Government is refusing to call for international help, saying its own relief efforts are enough, while several large non-governmental organizations have said it should reconsider.

(More News)

July 25, 2004


* When a tree falls in the forest, does it call for help? NO.
When a friend falls into an addiction, will they ask for help? NO.

Help thy ones you hold close to your heart."

- Dr. Anita Hoe

* The truest help we can render an afflicted man is not to take his burden from him, but to call out his best energy, that he may be able to bear the burden.

- Phillips Brooks 1835-1893, American Minister, Poet

* When a person is down in the world, an ounce of help is better than a pound of preaching.

- Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton 1803-1873, British Novelist, Poet

* Anywhere I see suffering, that is where I want to be, doing what I can.

- Princess of Wales Diana 1961-1997, Wife of Charles, Prince of Wales


This year the flood is turning to be fatal like 1998. The lower parts of Dhaka City is submerged in floodwater. The streets of the commercial area Motijheel is covered with 6" - 1 feet of water. Although I am blessed not being effected with Flood water, not in home as well as in workplace, I am really numb with the plight of those effected. I did not expect that the flood will be this much devastating. The main problems of this type of flood is that it destroys the water and sewerage system. The water supplies gets contaminated with swears making it impossible for the effected people to get fresh water, for drinking or cleaning. Diseases soon follow making things worse. If the kitchens get inundated, there goes your lunches and dinners. You can hardly find any restaurant open in the effected locality. Its really a messy situation. When the water rises to 3 or 4 feets high, there is a greater risk of electrocution and there goes the electricity of the whole community.

Rich and poor alike are effected and they need food and water purifiers and some shelters. The day-laborers are the worst victims who seldom has proper housing facilities. Most of the flood shelters are running without any help or monitoring from the government. So far people the situation has not gone out of hand of the local people. But I wonder for how long they can sustain without proper and planned action from the government. There is an influx of flood effected destitutes across all dry parts of the city. I have personally helped a couple of them, but really that will not save them from misery. In fact collective efforts of government and NGOs as well as help from the non-effected are needed to establish more shelters equipped with food, medicine, cloth and other survival gears. Rehabilitation and repairing of the infrastructure damages would be another huge task when the water subsides.

The eastern part of the capital is the worst effected as it does not have any flood protection embankment. Will the government answer why there are housing projects going on in these lower parts since decades, without first having the embankments?

(More news)

According to the Reporters sans Frontiers more journalists were physically attacked or threatened with death in Bangladesh than in any other country in 2003. Their report "internet under surveillance 2004", it claims that the internet in Bangladesh suffered the same fate as other medias. The intelligence services intercept e-mail as routinely as they tap phones.

The report also tells of a disturbing amendment proposed by the government to:

...give the authorities access to personal customer data held by ISPs and allow data currently obtained illegally through e-mail interception to be used as court evidence...

The experts fear that this amendment, if enacted could:

* be used as a weapon to blackmail people.

* help the intelligence agencies will turn the country into a police state.

A home affairs ministry spokesman said: "people's right to live free of fear, crime and terrorism is more important than minor infractions of civil liberties."

When less than 1% of the nation is using emails and other e-communication tools, they will remain as a minority group and their voices won't be heard strong enough to stop the government from interfering with their privacy and policing the net through filtering.

To be really concerned, general internet users of Bangladesh should understand: "On a fileterd internet, things are not what they seem."

The Bangladesh Hajj online information website has proved to be a successful initiative taken by the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA) of Bangladesh. During this years hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, it has tracked more than 40,000 hajis using technologies as OMR & Barcode providing loads of informations online. The website's implementation cost of about Tk 20 million was borne by MORA from its own resources. But the operational expenses of maintaining the website are now covered through a small "computer fee" collected from individual pilgrims. So operation cost of this successful initiative is now also sustainable. (Reports the Financial Express).

I wish initiatives for more ICT projects like this are taken in Bangladesh which will turn out to be extremely helpful as well as financially sustainable creating more IT jobs.

July 22, 2004


* Jeff Jarvis provides a starter list of Blogs to the US media guys.

* This is for those who love spicy food.

* Lance's famous two-wheeler offers a bike's-eye view from the Tour de France.

* NEWSFEED is for bloggers, news junkies...

* Blogging as self-education...

* It's "weblog" not "web log" says Kottke.

Another Brazil - Argentina Final is scheduled in Lima on 25th of July, 2004. Argentina reached the final after 11 years with style thrashing Colombia 3-0. Brazil edged past Uruguay in a Penalty shootout.

This is like a India-Pakistan cricket final or a Germany-Netherlands Football meet. The tension of the fans are mounting sky-high. This time I think Argentina has a better Chance to win the cup.

July 21, 2004



The latest internet craze in Dhaka is an online competition for the hottest male and female in Dhaka. Go get a look in the site www.dhakahotties.com for the details. They also have a cool offer: "Any girl living in Bangladesh who signs up with a picture will receive a Dhaka Hotties T-Shirt". Here is a review of the initiative where Omar, a co-founder says "Dhaka Hotties serves as a platform for the voice of the young people". Let youth rock.

Hat Tip: Michael

July 20, 2004


Bangladesh is doing better than most less developed countries. But the image of Bangladesh as seen by outsiders is really not good because of the confrontal nature of Bangladesh politics. The backbiting and negative propaganda between the political parties are actually undermining the achievements. The ruling parties think that the opposition, who were in the previous tenure had ruined the country with wrong decisions and corruption. They think that they have lifted the image of the country immensely with their good deeds since they are in power and really can do without the oppositions contributions. However the oppositions think just the vice-versa. This backbiting nature is carried forward across the electoral cycles and consumes most of the parliament sessions, as if nobody has anything better to do. The political leaders almost always fail to reach a consensus on major national issues and never try to sort them out. Instead they fight with each other at the cost of the nation's prosperity and people's wellbeing.

Political intolerance, violence and deterioration of law and order situation, together with a nexus between the police and the criminals, are scaring foreign direct investors away from this country. Like many Bangladeshis, foreign specialists who are working in this country are deeply frustrated because despite a broad consensus amongst the people, politicians, and the foreign advisors on what are needed to be done in Bangladesh to get results, the same are not happening because of lack of political will and commitment of the successive governments to implement them. The country's politicians mostly are emotion-driven and not the thinking-type and are also incapable of seizing the opportunity when it shows up. While one political party tries relentlessly to remove the other from power, the problems keep mounting; opportunities are missed, and rest of the world surges forward, leaving Bangladesh far, far behind.

July 19, 2004

Watched the movie yesterday. It was an unconventional drama with a touch of comedy. The writer/director Sofia Coppola won an Oscar for the category "Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen".  It is a story of a friendship between two dislocated married persons -A mid-aged American movie star and an young lady both staying at the same hotel in Tokyo. The both were suffering from loneliness and burdens of married life, where responsibilities overshadow personal feelings. The friendship does not involve sex, greed or other allures. Rather it was filled with companionship and joy like they both share a bed the whole night just talking to each other and trying to find themselves. The movie ends with no cinematic twist, like both deciding to stay together or having sex. Instead they part with a sweet memory of friendship, which has given them solace from loneliness and discover their true selves. Browse this message board for viewers comments.
I always wondered whether it is really possible for a man and a women to be just friends without involvement of sex, greed or other reasons. This friendship will not hamper each other�s personal lives and the friendship would last long in companionship without any definitive goal. I know from experience that this is not possible because all the time other social factors come in between and the friendship does not remain without any definitive goal. And when the friendship turns to something else, often it has dismal ending. Do you have any such experience?

July 18, 2004

It seems imposing government ideology in textbooks of schoolchildren is not only Bangladesh's problem. According to this report:
In the past five years, Indian schoolchildren of all faiths have learned quite a bit about the culture of the Hindu majority. The Communist Party of India, coalition partner of the ruling Congress Party called for yet another rewrite of Indian history, so that the schoolchildren can learn India's many cultures instead of focusing on the religion of the majority.

Can't the governments just leave the kids alone?

July 17, 2004

NASA images show the cause of recent flood in India, Bangladesh & Nepal is due to excessive rainfall.
Syed Kamran Mirza writes this controversial article "Killing by beheading is Islamic!" and tries read out the mindset of the Islamic terrorists, al-Qaeda jihadists, Osama-bin-laden, and so called Wahabi followers. He concludes:

"Time has arrived now to identify and intervening the real cause of this ancient medieval stupidity. Real problem is with the ancient teachings of Islam (read Qur�an) which are outdated and no longer fitting the today�s civilized world. Nothing can change this precarious situation of Muslims unless we realize the real problem and take care of it.

I quoted in a recent post:
Many Islamic scholars believe that the principle of Ijtihad, the use of reason to apply Qu'ranic injunctions to contemporary values is almost absent in most Islamic countries. Muslim people live within a given social, economic and administrative structure of a particular time and place. Accordingly, many Islamic scholars hold the view that Islamic precepts and practices are to be adapted to meet the needs of the day. 

So, the use of reasons and rational and modern interpretation of Quran's words should be applied by a true Muslim, so that Islam's real image can be held high in the world. But if fundamentalist thoughts are encouraged then more of these ancient medieval stupidities would be induced. 

July 15, 2004


I am sure everyone is aware of the flash flood in Bangladesh's north-eastern region because of the media publicity. Our achievements are seldom propagated this fast by the western media.

Now I would like to state here what floods mean for Bangladesh. Floods are a recurring phenomenon in the country. Each year in Bangladesh about 26,000 sq km, 18% of the country is flooded. During severe floods, the affected area may exceed 55% of the total area of the country. Millions of people take refuge in the drier parts of the country during flood. Bangladesh experiences three types of floods:

(a) monsoon flood - seasonal, increases slowly and decreases slowly, inundates vast areas and causes huge losses to life and property;
(b) flash flood - water increases and decreases suddenly, generally happens in the valleys of the hilly areas; and
(c) tidal flood - short duration, height is generally 3m to 6m, blocks inland flood drainage.

Over thousands of years, people living in Bengal Delta learned how to live with rivers and adjusted their lives to the deltaic conditions of the land.

1) Settlement Pattern: In settling on flood plains, they always seek out high patches of land to construct dwellings and used the rest for farming.
2)Cropping Pattern: Through a process of natural selection, the people of Bangladesh has developed the amazing varieties of bona aman, which can rapidly grow twenty feet tall or even higher to withstand deep flooding.
3) Transportation: In the dry season, people walk right on the floodplains along ails or elevated borders. During the rainy season, when floodplains is inundated, they use boats.

The people of Bangladesh, therefore, found ways to live with rivers. They respect rivers. They know that rivers gave birth to this land, and rivers would come periodically to nurture it with silts. Therefore, they struck a bargain with the rivers: instead of trying to prevent river inundation, they try to make best use of it. Some positive aspects of river inundations:

1) Silt deposit leads to elevation of plain as much as 1 inch a year.
2) Silts are rich in nutrients and triggers other biological activities in the floodplains. That's why Bangladeshi soil is very much fertile.
3) River inundation makes monsoon agriculture possible.
4) By recharging the water bodies, river inundation helps to maintain the fish habitats.
5) It recharges underground water aquifers.
6) It has a great cleansing effect on the overall physical environment and it helps preserve the flora and fauna of the land.

So what Bangladesh need is an effective flood control plan and use the benefits of the flooding wisely. According to this essay the embankment control approach (which is the most used control method) is discouraged. Because this costly method does not solve flood problems rather creates new ones. There are lobbies of certain quarters including the donors to carry on with the embankment project mainly for the interest of the persons and the associations and the flood problems are remaining the same.

According to the report the appropriate flood control approach for Bangladesh is to open up as much space as possible to accommodate river overflow. This follows from simple arithmetic: given the volume of water and gradient, the height of flooding decreases proportionately with the increase of area over which water can spread. This is a strategy not of flood prevention but of flood mitigation and control. The approach is based on the time-honored principle by which our ancestors lived in this area, namely: "live with the rivers and benefit from them". The measures required to implement this method:

1) Re-excavation and dredging.
2) Ensure Free Passage of Water Across Floodplains.
3) Restoration of Water Ways.
4) Revival of Fisheries.
5) Adjustment of Rural Settlement Pattern.
6) Low Embankment with Floodgates.

I hope that this new approach is widely reviewed and implemented by the authorities so that a proper flood control measure in Bangladesh remains in affect.

Lastly I would say, that considering the amount of natural calamities and destruction of infrastructure, Bangladesh is achieving an almost 6% economic growth. There is no shortage of food. So when you read another news of devastating flood in Bangladesh please recognize the tremendous courage of the people of the land, who seldom lose heart to start everything all over again to take their country forward.

This should have brought into light much earlier. At last Human Rights Watch publishes a 135 page report "Bad Dreams: Exploitation and Abuse of Migrant Workers in Saudi Arabia", which depicts how many of the immigrant workers are abused and treated as slaves.

Non-Saudis make up 35 percent of Saudi Arabia's labor force. An estimated 1.5 million workers are from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and almost 900,000 each from Egypt, the Philippines and Sudan. There are an estimated 500,000 Indonesians and 350,000 from Sri Lanka, most of them women. The report was complied from interviews mostly conducted in India, Pakistan and the Philippines, with workers who returned from Saudi Arabia.

Some of the frightening and troubling findings of the reports are:

* Sexual abuse and rape of women migrant workers, both in the workplace and in Saudi prisons by Saudi male employers.
* Migrant workers from Bangladesh, India and Phillipines were forced to work ten to eighteen hours a day, and sometimes throughout the night without overtime pay.
* The pay is very meager (e.g. $133 for a month and 16 hours of work daily)
* Hundreds of low-paid Asian women who cleaned hospitals in Jeddah worked twelve-hour days, without food or a break, and were confined to locked dormitories during their time off.
* Migrant workers experienced shocking treatment in Saudi Arabia?s criminal justice system.

The Saudi Prince Bander said that the report is grossly exaggerated. However, the kingdom's highest Muslim religious authority, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh, acknowledged that migrants suffer "exploitation and oppression."

The migrants silently accept the exploitation and deprivation of their rights because they arrive in Saudi Arabia ignorant or only vaguely informed and view themselves as powerless.

Now will the world community do something about it as I doubt the Saudi government is anyway bothered about it? The governments of the migrant workers have a role to play in this.

July 13, 2004


Once again another wife-beating incident took place in Dhaka, where an Imam let his muezzin beat his wife because she refused to give him permission to marry again. The drama continued when she was admitted to hospital and the Imam & Muezzin were sued by her father. The Imam, an activist of ruling coalition member Jamaat-e-Islami then sent some persons to threaten her. When a local TV channel went there for covering the story, they were driven away.

Wife beating is not endorsed in Islam although some opportunist clerics interpret that it is permissible. Habibee, a Muslim girl points out:

Once, the Prophet (saw) was asked about beating your wife. He said that if you choose to beat your wife, beat her with a swak. For those of you who don't know what a swak is, it's a sort of toothbrush. It is made from a very thin piece of, I think, bark?? It looks sort of like those really thin incense sticks. What he was trying to say here is...DON'T BEAT YOUR WIFE!!! It's a little bit of sarcasm!! Like, if you're going to beat someone, beat them with a tissue. See? You can't really BEAT someone with a swak!! But a lot of people are really splitting hairs here by saying that means you can beat your wife.

It doesn't get clearer than this. Is it? Logical interpretation is the weakest skill of today's clerics.

July 12, 2004


-by Rabindranath Tagore

I like to be dependent, and so for ever
with warmth and care of my mother
my father, to love, kiss and embrace
wear life happily in all their grace.

I like to be dependent, and so for ever
on my kith and kin, for they all shower
harsh and warm advices, complaints
full wondering, true and info giants.

I like to be dependent, and so for ever
for my friends, chat and want me near
with domestic, family and romantic tips
colleagues as well, guide me work at risks.

I like to be dependent, and so for ever
for my neighbours too, envy at times
when at my rise of fortune like to hear
my daily steps, easy and odd things too.


Money, get away.
Get a good job with good pay and you're okay.
Money, it's a gas.
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.
New car, caviar, four star daydream,
Think I'll buy me a football team.
Money, it's a hit.
Don't give me that do goody good bullshit.
Money, it's a crime.
Share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie.
Money, so they say
Is the root of all evil today.


What shall we use
To fill the empty spaces
Where we used to talk?
How shall I fill
The final places?
How should I complete the wall?


Pluralism in Islam

I have been battered with one thought for the last couple of days. It all started since the Friday sermon I attended in a Mosque. The Imam's topic for this week was "Non-Muslims cannot be a friend of Muslim, so refrain from them". He was building his logics regarding this citing numerous examples from Quran and elsewhere, which did not contain those specific words. He tried to make everybody believe that every non-Muslim is Kafir and were born to hurt and undermine the Muslims, so Muslims should develop anger and hatred for them. Avoid them and only are allowed to make business transactions with them. This is another vague logic, because if you do not respect/trust your partner then why should you build a business relationship with him/her? He strongly urged that there should be a monolithic society of Muslim where there will be no place for the non-Muslims. I have never in my life heard such a venomous sermon and I was quite astonished that nobody protested. This was contrary to my knowledge and understanding of Islam.

Then I tried to gather information on this topic. Ask Imam provided no clear concept except more venoms.

Then I found this article by Asghar Ali Engineer which sheds a light on the issue:

According to Quran, Islam not only accepts the legitimacy of religious pluralism but considers it quite central to its system of beliefs. The verse 5:48 says:

"Unto every one of you We have appointed a (different) law and way of life. And if Allah had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but (He willed it otherwise) in order to test you by means of what He has given you. Vie, then, with one another in doing good works! Unto Allah you all must return; and then He will make you truly understand all that on which you were wont to differ."

The shari'ah, the law and the way of life may differ and yet din, the divine essence, the divine truth, is the same and reflected in all religions, in all spiritual traditions. We humans have no right to reject the 'other' as illegitimate, much less, false. Thus it is our human ego which rejects the religious other and not the falsity of other faith traditions.

According to verse 2:213 : "Mankind is a single nation." But then people start differing from each other and envying one another instead of respecting each others specificity and thus people get divided. That is not the purpose of divine guidance. Allah guides those who believe the truth about which they differed.

The words 'kafir' and 'mushrik' should be used with great caution and restraint and every religious other should not be named Kafir. Only those who refuse to accept truth in any form and negate good (ma'ruf) completely and advocate munkar (evil) would qualify as kafirs and those who refuse oneness of God and associate partners with Him will qualify as mushrik. Even kafirs and mushriks would have civil rights as long as they do not cause any disturbances in society and maintain peace. The Qur'an has given the kuffar also the right to worship in their own way and have heir own beliefs. The freedom of conscience cannot be taken away form any human person, whatever his or her beliefs. Thus it will be seen that Islam does not come in the way of promoting a pluralist civil society ensuring dignity and freedom of conscience to all.

The problem is that the general people would not understand the false notion of the Imam who gave the sermon, which is a clear violation of the Qu'ranic injunctions. An Islamic civil society should treat all with equal degree of dignity. Sad but true we are being fed with these venoms and nobody is protesting.

"A Bangladeshi takes no offence at having what he has served at dinner verbally torn to shreds. In his mind he has shown hospitality and his guest is simply being honest." - according to Helen Rowe.

I would like to add here that there are some people who have a tendency to complain at everything, so its their nature to speak out their opinion and they seldom do it to undermine the host. Thats why the host is least bothered. And those who knows etiquette, try not to comment on the food, even knowing that the host would not have mind if he/she criticized.

July 10, 2004

Perils of a cough syrup aggrevated by smuggling

Phensidyl is a codeine based popular cough syrup, which the kids like me were used to be prescribed in late 70s. Some discovered that if the whole bottle is consumed then it acts like a narcotic. In the early 80s, it was banned in Bangladesh under the new drug policy. But consumption of Phensidyl increased day-by-day since it became a contraband item. When Bangladeshi companies stopped producing it, Indian companies picked up the production adding sedative drugs to meet the demand through smuggling. Till today more than 3,000 of illegal drug factories were set up at bordering Indian villages and semi-urban areas along the India Bangladesh border. According to an Indian source, phensidyl is also being produced in Gujarat, Maharastra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Tripura, Orissa, Rajasthan and other states of India maintaining a relatively higher quality but little of the "quality drugs" reach to Bangladesh. These drugs are rarely consumed in India and almost wholly smuggled to Bangladesh. Because of the availability of liquor in India this has not made any impact among the Indian youths. But as liquor is banned in Bangladesh, Phensidyl has become popular among the youth as a drug. Moreover it generates no bad odor from the person who consumes it and usually arouse no extreme behaviors in them. The consumer becomes numb and feels drowsy. So the consumption is usually undetectable by the parents and surroundings. The authorities in Bangladesh are trying in vain to control the peddling of Phensidyl within Bangladesh.

This report claims that:

The frontier villagers believe that a section of Indian village level leadership or Panchayet, Border security Force (BSF) officials, some political leaders were actively supporting the drug production but do not allow their marketing in India.

The Border Security Force in India, Bangladesh Rifles, coastguard, customs and police all are beneficiaries of this trade in Bangladesh. The fact that should rise concern of many that there are some 20 lakh drug addicts in Bangladesh and they spend Tk 134 crore a month on drugs. A large portion of them are Phensidyl addicts.

Now both India and Bangladesh should look into the issue seriously and stop the smuggling. If this can be prevented then the illegal productions along the border regions will shut down and millions can be saved from this cough syrup turned drug.

On other hand this reveals why there is a rise in motorcycle theft in greater Kolkata (India) in this monsoon season.

The vehicles are smuggled into Bangladesh. The four-stroke engines of motorcycles are fitted in country boats in Bangladesh. The demand rises during the monsoon, when more boats are in operation.

Another reason to curb illegal border trade both by Bangladesh & India for the benefit of both the countries.

Which came first? The fallacious arguments:

The controversy regarding the first proclaimer of independence of Bangladesh lingers on as the BNP government (led by Khaleda Zia, the wife of late president Ziaur Rahman) reprinted the history of the Liberation war with an amendment. The new one states that he is the first proclaimer of independence which was not clearly stated in the earlier version. The proclamation issue is rather controversial as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in his famous speech on March 7, 1971 declared sovereignty from Pakistan and declared that if he could not give any formal order in time, let the people defend their country themselves at their discretion. On March 26, 1971 following the crackdown of Pakistani Army, Zia, then a Major of Eighth East Bengal Regiment mutinied with his fellow officers and soldiers in Chittagong. He found his way to the rebel radio broadcasting center Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra. He proclaimed Bangladesh as an independent country on March 26, 1971 and it is said that he did it first without mentioning Sheikh Mujib's name. It was the local Awami league leaders who persuaded Zia to give the proclamation on behalf of Sheikh Mujib and thus his famous March 27, 1971 speech was aired numerous times. There are other such claims to add further controversy about which one is the first proclamation. In 1977, Zia (then President) undertook the project to collect Liberation War documents and compile them into a comprehensive historical documentation. Renowned journalist and poet Hasan Hafizur Rahman edited the book titled 'Bangladesher Swadhinota Juddho: Dalilpatra' (The Liberation War of Bangladesh: Documents). Publication of its 15 volumes completed in 1986. Zia never had any urge to portray himself as the first proclaimer or make any fuss about it.

Now the point is, our political acrimony between the Sheikh Mujib's Awami League & Zia's BNP is so unhealthy, that the both parties failed to give respect to the both undisputed leaders. You cannot undermine the efforts of one of them. Zia's first proclamation did not include Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's name but it did not mean that he had any apprehension about Mujib's leadership. And it is really unfair of the Awami League supporters to ignore Zia's initiatives to proclaim formally when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was already in army custody on March 26, 1971.

I really see no merit in establishing one leader above another leader. They all played their part just like every countrymen and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the undisputed father of nation.

I hope that the Awami league supporters cease to undermine Zia's contribution and wish that the BNP supporters try not to erase Sheikh Mujib and the past putting Zia on the top. And no matter who proclaimed first, the both leaders are in our hearts; Bangladesh is independent now and we have to look forward for progress.

July 08, 2004


* Life is really simple, but men insist on making it complicated."

- Confucius BC 551-479, Chinese Ethical Teacher, Philosopher

* "Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882, American Poet, Essayist

* "I have always observed that to succeed in the world a person must seem simple, yet wise."

- Charles De Montesquieu 1689-1755, French Jurist, Political Philosopher

July 07, 2004


..And if you thought that class division is primarily a feature of the South Asian countries, read this.

The five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred.

2. Free your mind from worries.

3. Live simply.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less

Source: The Eyeranian

July 06, 2004

The SMS revolution and Bangladesh

Bangladesh has probably the lowest teledensity in the world as there are only about 2.3 telephones per 100 people. Almost 60% of the total telephone lines are provided by 4 Private cellphone operators (3 GSM & 1 CDMA).

After the proliferation of cellphones, the world has seen a revolution in personal communication - The SMS (Short Message Service). Because of its low cost thanks to the wide network of the cellphone (across the borders) providers, it has become a popular way to communicate. Even in neighboring country like India, SMS use is tremendously high among the cellphone users.

But in Bangladesh, the situation is still primitive. There is no craze for SMS because of a fault with the providers. All the cellphone providers give SMS privilege, but the problem is that their is no interconnectivity with the users. For example subscriber of A provider can send SMS to any subscriber of Provider A, but not to any subscriber of Provider B & C. This is because of a dispute between the providers on the issue of revenue sharing. The technology is there but the intention is not. Only yesterday two providers have agreed to share SMS between their subscribers. It personally don't encourage me because I use a cellphone of another provider.

Now is it a disadvantage or a blessing for the Bangladesh cellphone users? Daniel Brett has written this interesting article about how the SMS fever is changing the English language.

There is a new form of English known as txt is evolving. Dan tells:

In the language of txt, the writer eliminates all vowels, replaces certain syllables with numbers, abbreviates all words over two syllables and in some cases words are completely eliminated and replaced by "emoticons" - hieroglyphics that suggest emotions. With just a limited number of characters allowed in text messages, this new abbreviated form of English allows mobile phone users to pack in as many words as possible in the fastest possible time.


"Bt my Ps wr so {:-/ BC o 9/11 tht they dcdd 2 stay in SCO & spnd 2wks up N."


"But my parents were so worried because of the terrorism attack on September 11 that they decided we would stay in Scotland and spend two weeks up north."

Outraged by the transformation of English language to "gibberish", he states the ultimate scare:

Texting is not a passing phase in the technological age; it is here to stay.

And Bangladesh is still lagging for better or for worst.
Apostasy in Islam

Arafat (without Yasser!) writes an interesting piece on this issue.

He analyzed Rushdie and found:

'Where there is no belief, there is no blasphemy.' -from The Satanic Verses.

Rushdie says:

I am not a Muslim. I do not accept the charge of apostasy, because I have never in my adult life affirmed any belief, and what one has not affirmed one cannot be said to have apostasized from. The Islam I know states clearly that 'there can be no coercion in matters of religion.'

Arafat concludes:

Isn't that exactly what so many of us always try to point out - that we can't be Muslims just by birth? So if people grow up and freely decide on their own not to believe in the Islamic faith of their parents/family, should they be considered apostates? What's the point of being a Muslim (or anything else, for that matter) if it's not one's own personal choice?

Truly so.
The relevance of understanding Islam

Here is an interesting article which portrays the difference of understanding of Islam among Arab & non-Arab Muslims.

* Islamic culture and customs of the people are different among both.

* Many Arab Muslims consider Arab culture as Islamic culture. Many of the non-Arab Muslims argue that Arab culture is rooted in the land of Arabia and does not reflect Islamic culture.

* Arab nationalism is based on Arab race and non-Arabs are not included.

* People of non-Arab Muslim countries are willing to elect women as their heads of state/government, but the idea of women running a country is an unacceptable idea in Arab Muslim countries.

* The interaction of non-Arab Muslims with people of other faiths has given an opportunity to respect other religious faiths. The result is that non-Arab Muslims tend to be less dogmatic or rigid in their views of non-Islamic faith.

* All Arab Muslim states (22 in number) are being ruled by political institutions, such as monarchs, Emirates, Sultans, and Presidents. While in most non-Arab Muslim states, people elect their governments through fair and free elections.

The reason behind the difference is:

Many Islamic scholars believe that the principle of Ijtihad, the use of reason to apply Qu'ranic injunctions to contemporary values is almost absent in most Islamic countries. Muslim people live within a given social, economic and administrative structure of a particular time and place. Accordingly, many Islamic scholars hold the view that Islamic precepts and practices are to be adapted to meet the needs of the day.
Earthquake prone Dhaka

Dhaka is fast becoming a megacity of humans and bricks. Unofficial sources say almost 13 million people now live in Dhaka city (which has by now encroached more barren land from surroundings and expanded). Housing industry is a big industry here and every day numerous houses are being built.

According to this article, Dhaka region is prone to earthquake as it is on a seismic fault. It would only need a big earthquake (above 8.0) to destroy millions life as Dhaka city will in be rubles of concrete, metal and dust.

So a earthquake monitoring network in Bangladesh should be developed and the authorities should take proper measures to find out those old structures which have not earthquake protection and do something to ensure that there is minimum loss in case of an earthquake.

Otherwise death will hang around the Dhakaites.

July 05, 2004

Quote of the day

* "It is easier to rob by setting up a bank than by holding up a bank clerk."

- Bertolt Brecht 1898-1956, German Dramatist, Poet

* "I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale."

- Thomas Jefferson 1743-1826, Third President of the USA

* "Quality is everyone's responsibility."

- W. Edwards Deming 1900-1993, American Management Consultant Who Helped Turn Japan's Economy Around

Much ado about bread

Although a traditional breakfast of the Bangladeshis contain Roti/Chapati or Parata, urban people are habituated with breads (Pauruti) from bakeries. There are many alarming news like this about the quality of the bakeries products and the authorities inactivity to do something about it. Everybody is aware of it. That's why many try to find the best quality of breads in the market. In recent times I have purchased breads from different sources and brands to find out what quality is best and affordable. I was surprised with the fact that a 500g bread costs from Taka 12 to Taka 55. No doubt that the costlier ones come from a reputed bakery and should be of good quality. But in absence of proper regulatory system should the people trust the big names too? Another factor is that considering the average salary of a government employee, one would have to spend almost one fourth of his salary in buying packaged bread for his/her family for the whole months breakfast. Is that affordable by mass? Should'nt there be a regulation for prices also? For many, there is no alternative to the traditional Roti/Chapati, which is home made and safe.

Islami Banking in Bangladesh

There are almost 50 banks operating in Bangladesh (about 20 are government owned), out of which 6 or 7 (all private) are running on Islami Banking principles. There is a rising trend of low profile private banks to cash on the public sentiments of the Muslim majority country by opening a few additional branches which is said to be run on Islamic principles. But it has been reported that these banks do not adhere to the proper Islami banking model and is really a mask of traditional banking system. Some of them aim to attract certain investment from Saudi Arabia based IDB (Islami development Bank)who has recently declared a policy to lend money (through Islamic model banks) to the small businesses of the OIC countries.

Now the debate is not on the Islamic banking principles but the way some of the banks are manipulating the Islamic model and act like the traditional model to increase their client base and thus making own profit. Islami Banking is an alternative model of banking and people should know whether the model is exercised by the shrewd bankers according to Islamic law, for which people prefer the model in the first place.

The difference between traditional banking and Islami banking is that it is interest free. Islam prohibits Muslims from taking or giving interest (riba). It has also been argued that riba refers to usury practiced by petty moneylenders and not to interest charged by modern banks and that no riba is involved when interest is imposed on productive loans, however religious people place comfort on an non-interest banking model and that's why Islami banking was evolved in 1971 in Egypt.

The Islamic ban on interest does not mean that capital is costless in an Islamic system. Islam recognizes capital as a factor of production. In Islam, the owner of capital can legitimately share the profits made by the entrepreneur. What makes profit sharing permissible in Islam, while interest is not, is that in the case of the former it is only the profit-sharing ratio, not the rate of return itself that is predetermined.

Investors in the Islamic order have no right to demand a fixed rate of return. No one is entitled to any addition to the principal sum if he does not share in the risks involved. The owner of capital (rabbul-mal) may 'invest' by allowing an entrepreneur with ideas and expertise to use the capital for productive purposes and he may share the profits, if any, with the entrepreneur borrower (mudarib); losses, if any, however, will be borne wholly by the owner of capital. Another legitimate mode of financing recognized in Islam is one based on equity participation (musharaka); in which the partners use their capital jointly to generate a surplus.

Islamic banks normally operate three broad categories of account, mainly current, savings, and investment accounts. The current account gives no return like traditional banking. The savings account is also operated on an al-wadiah (safe-keeping) basis, but the bank may at its absolute discretion pay the depositors a positive return periodically, depending on its own profitability. The investment account is based on the mudaraba principle as discussed earlier.
- Source.

One dissenting view is that the substitution of profit-sharing for interest as a resource allocating mechanism is crude and imperfect and that the institution of interest should therefore be retained as a necessary evil.

That is where my concern is. As far as I know that the newly emerged Islami banks or banks with branches running on Islamic models do not adhere to all of the features stated above. They give loan to people stating a fixed amount of profit and In reality nobody can be sure of the profit before running the project. If the borrower suffers loss, then the bank claims back their share of profit along with the capital just like traditional banking. In fact they are just masking the traditional interest based model in the name of Islam. In savings account they are also promising a high rate of return and in some cases they are being pre-fixed. It has also been reported that some banks suppress their actual profit so that the savings account holders will not get a larger share of the profit. These Islami banks sometimes borrow capital from Bangladesh Bank on traditional interest.

So more awareness is required from the common people who will put their trust in a bank. There is nothing wrong with the Islami Banking model atleast in theory. However malpractice can deceive people's beliefs. And in a country with low literacy rate that is more likely to happen.

July 01, 2004

EURO 2004 update

This years Euro champions league has produced some flare and surprises. As you can see from my voting template in the side bar, which I put before the games started, all of the predicted teams are out from the championship race. This is amazing as well as very welcoming. It proves that the difference between top teams and the rest of the teams are decreasing. Even team like Greece with no prior achievement are in the semi-finals.

Last night I have watched the Portugal-Netherlands first semi-final and was disheartened by the Netherlands performance. Portugal on the other hand played brilliantly and with flare. The 2:1 goal result will not tell the real story, but Portugal dominated the whole game and in fact all the goals were scored by Portuguese players (one own goal).

Presuming that the Czechs win over Greece in the 2nd semi-final, it would be an enthralling final between Portugal & Czechoslovakia.

But now I am feeling tired because watching a match upto 3.00 AM in the middle of a week really takes its toll on your body.

Update: Greece did reach the final and eventually beat Portugal by a 1:0 margin. This time I did not do the mistake of predicting the outcome of the Greece-Portugal Final. Greece again shocked Portugal and their fans by resisting their indomitable frontline and managing a fine header by Charisteas. Greek players played with focus, strength, disabled their marks well and effectively disabled Portugal frontline & midfield. Figo & Ronaldo were not allowed scope to make some good attempts at the Greek goal post. Their football was so German (because of the coach Otto), not attractive to watch, but effective.

I, however cherish more flamboyant football. Portugal made a good show in the semi-finals. That's how football should be.