Image by Rezwan

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

The World Cup Goal-E Project

This street in Bangladesh has a colorful world cup celebration

New Chum Hill Ruins

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

December 31, 2005


Wishing all a prosperous and peaceful 2006.

I have been very busy lately in home and at work. Blogging had been a rare luxury I could afford lately. I have tons of ideas and events to share but just couldn't make it here (for lack of time).

Just arrived from a family new year's party. This year's celebrations were subdued to some extent. The usual crackers and fire works were absent, at least in the locality I live. Probably what kept people inside home is the extra police protection due to threats of the extremists and bans on firecrackers. The movements of vehicles in popular New Year celebration points like Gulshan, Banani and Dhaka University were restricted. Some people were wandering around in the streets defying all but loud musics and live concerts were played in fewer places than before.

Nothing special on TV either. In recent times one more Bangla satellite channel (RTV) has been launched and two more (Baishakhi & Bangla Vision) went into test transmission. But none looks very promising as they are just the same wine in a new bottle. Now there are 8 Bangladeshi Bangla sattelite channels (including BTV) on air. I wish there were separate channels for 24hr Bangla news, 24hr Bangla music, 24hr Bangla movie and 24hr deshi sport. There is a 24hr Bangla music channel launched by Indian Tara network but is rarely available in Dhaka.

More later. Good night.

December 29, 2005


December 27, 2005


Last sunday we went to BIWTA jetty in Pagla along the banks of the Buriganga river, some 20 kms away from Dhaka. My last visit to that place some 7-8 years ago was more memorable because the infrastructures and the surroundings have been degraded by now. There are no visible sign for easy direction in the road. The 'Mary Anderson' (Pic: on the left, click for a larger view) was initially a luxury cruise ship for the VIPs, which was converted to a floating restaurant. The Parjatan Corporation, the state tourism organization used to arrange some day long cruises in launch which included on board live music and quality foods. They have curtailed the service and only big groups can hire a whole motor boat.

However people can hire small private yachts and speed boats for a cruise. We have rented a boat (Pic: on the right) which could accomodate our 11 family members and we rode along the Buriganga river down to the South and came back. The rent is reasonable (Tk. 500 per hour, Tk. 1000 for the speedboat) if you avail it in a group. The boat ride was overall relaxing (more photos).

The only downside was that the boat engine was very noisy. And Buriganga waters have been contaminated like anything. The sources were evident, wastes from the industries along the river. The stenches were so prominent that many refused to have their lunch in 'Mary Anderson'.

So we drove on to Narayanganj to have our lunch. Then we went to the Sonargaon Folk Arts Museum, some 29 km from Dhaka before heading back home. The Christmas day holiday was well spent.

December 26, 2005


According to Katy, there are much debate going on in the USA on about the separation of Church and State and using the word "Christmas" in public settings. Her sons' teachers have wished her "Happy Holidays", as they were careful not to let the X-word slip.

She thinks Christmas is an important part of most Americans' traditions and it should not be censored. She also suggests that US can follow the Bangladesh model of observing the holidays of all the major religions.

Last Thursday evening I was attending one cultural show. A local band was performing rocks and modern Bangla songs. The crowds were seemingly not happy with the performance. The acoustics were good, but the vocals were not matching them. Then came a girl, who started to sing popular Hindi movie songs. The crowds were on their feet and cheering like anything. I quietly alienated myself from that place. This is not the Bangladesh I want, lost to the superiority of another culture.

The same night I caught a glimpse of the 'Close up 1 - Tomakey Kujche Bangladesh' (Bangladesh Looks for You) contest finals on TV. This is the first ever music talent show in Bangladesh(can be termed Bangladesh version of American Idol). In that show Nolok Babu, 19, with a passionate voice won the crown with 775,000 sms public votes against the 1st runner-up Razib (331,000 votes), who was the favorite of the judges.

Now for two reasons this competition is significant and successful. The first reason you will get to know from these headlines:

- A 'train singer' is Bangladesh idol

- Penniless street singer set to win first 'Bangladesh Idol' contest

Yes, this is not fiction. Nolok Babu started singing in public after his father, a taxi driver, left them several years back when his mother was down with Hepatitis. Funds were needed to treat her and Babu started singing at the local train station as well as on trains to ensure his mother fully recovered from the disease. On his first day he earned Taka 500, an unimaginable amount for novice street singer. Living in a slum did not stop him to pursue his dream as he continued to sing to earn and got recognition of his talent finally. The key to his popularity was his performance, not sympathy. Nolok Babu is the name he got from his friends and admirers. The prizes he got include a one million Taka singing contract, a car, home theatre system and Plasma TV.

The second reason is that this competition has been a booster for the Bangladesh Music Industry. On the following day, while walking past the music shops in Elephant road and New Market area, I heard the competition songs playing everywhere. The new voices are very good and refreshing from the ordinary contemporaries. People have really welcomed them. Especially the 2nd runner-up Beauty has got a very wonderful voice and she is deemed the next queen of folk music. You can download some of the songs sang by the top contestants (via Rajputro).

Yes, Bangladesh is looking for guys and girls like Nolok, to rock us.

Update: More songs from close up 1 to download.

December 24, 2005


"So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas War is over
For weak and for strong If you want it
For rich and the poor ones War is over
The world is so wrong Now
And so Happy Christmas War is over
For black and for white If you want it
For yellow and red ones War is over
Let's stop all the fight Now"

- John Lennon

According to Israeli Media following the warm-up in relations between Israel and Pakistan, two other Muslim countries which do not have diplomatic relations with Israel have made attempts to establish contacts with Israeli officials. And guess what one is Afghanistan and the other is Bangladesh. (Via Salam)

Ynet News reports:
"Bangladesh's ambassador in a Mediterranean basin country recently approached the Israeli ambassador with an offer to establish regular relations. The Israeli ambassador happily accepted the proposal and the two agreed to keep an open discussion channel."
This is yet to be confirmed from news or other resources in Bangladesh.

Israel is the sole country to which a Bangladeshi cannot travel with his/her passport. A couple of years ago Richard L. Benkin wrote an Article called 'Dear Bangladesh', where he lauded Bangladesh and commented that by establishing diplomatic relations with Israel Bangladesh can play a good role in the peace process between Israel and the Middle East. And I wrote that I would be the happiest person if Bangladesh could make that possible.

December 21, 2005


* Racism: Apartheid and South Asians.

* Racism: Views on recent case of racism in Australia.

* Violence: Protect women worldwide, stop violence against women by clicking a button!

* Technology: v-girl.com offers a mobile girlfriend to download and date. This artificial lady can be your constant companion who shares her secrets, provides conversation, and comes with realistic 3D animation.

* Economy: India is the next manufacturing giant.

* Languages: Quick Bengali lesson 01 by an expat.

* Ban: Pakistan Supreme Court has banned kite making, buying, selling and flying.

* Survival: A 40-year old Kashmiri woman, Naqsha Bibi, was pulled out alive from her living grave 63 days after the South Asian earthquake.

* Election: An Iraqi sees trouble ahead of Iraqi election.

December 20, 2005

"We can not agree on everything, that’s normal, but we should not dehumanize each other."
Dina Mehta recommends this post to anyone who lives in countries where there is ethnic strife and conflict. In her words:

"I'd say that pretty much covers the whole world. Two bloggers I only recently met at the Global Voices Summit, one an Israeli and the other a Palestinian, both influential bloggers in their worlds, who went on a walk together to sort out some of the more bitter issues that had turned their blogs into targets for vitriolic comments.
The post really touched me because we have similar issues in India between Hindus and Muslims -- I've seen many many posts that bring forth huge loads of hate comments. And really only serve to widen the chasm and not bridge it. I'd urge all those who feel they are affected in any way by such conflicts, to read Haitham's post. It is sheer grace in his bold and brave admission that he has made some mistakes and constructive in his vision that he can learn from them."

(Via Saurav) "Bangladeshi Taxi Drivers Shajedur Rahman & Humayun Kabir Laskar Are In a Coma After Being Victims On the Job. Daily, Over 100,000 NYC Taxi, Black Car and Livery Drivers Face Assaults, Harassment, Road Rage and Verbal Abuse While Working 12-Hour Shifts."

* One out of four taxi drivers is a victim of crime.
* 60% of Taxi Drivers Are From Bangladesh, India and Pakistan (Desis).
* 90% Are Immigrants (Desis, Haitians, Africans, Latinos, Arabs, Europeans, etc.)

Recently the Bangladeshi Community Organizations & New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) have organized a rally in Astoria to protest these. I will be looking forward to further developments on this.

December 18, 2005


(crossposted in the global voices online)

1) The liberation war of Bangladesh: The blogosphere went alive on the occasion of the Victory Day of Bangladesh (former East Pakistan).

On December 16, 1971, the Pakistani occupation forces surrendered to the joint command of Indian Army and Bangladeshi freedom fighters in Dhaka after a nine-month bloody war for independence of the country. Bangladesh boldly said no to Pakistan, which was formed on the basis of religion and still married to it. Bangladeshis gave their blood to the cause of democracy and secularism, to be free from oppression and to have a separate identity for the Bengali culture that is thousands of years old.

But the victory against the Pakistanis did come with a price. The Bangladeshis will not forget that between March 25 and December 16, 1971 estimated 3 million Bengalees were killed by Pakistani Army and their collaborators, 200000 women raped and 10 million were displaced. This was the worst genocide after the second world war.

Subhan is furious because thirty-four years later, the victims of the genocide are yet to see one single individual of the occupation forces or their associates brought to justice. Many new generation Pakistanis do not know about their forefathers crimes. Some of the collaborators in Bangladesh took advantage of a general amnesty and even become lawmakers of the present ruling qualition. The Golmal press thinks that Bangladesh is in the midst of a second war of Independence, trying to fight the Islamic extremists as they look nodifferent than the Razakars (collaborators) of the Pakistani Army.

Mezba however thinks that today there is no reason to go Pakistan bashing and ‘Forgive But Not Forget’ should be the motto of Bangladesh.

Razib discusses the misconceptions among some of the new generation Bangladeshis about India’s involvement in the 1971 liberation war and he thinks that the Bangladeshis have failed to pay the due respect to the Indians.

2) Bangladesh is the best: Adda posts an inspirational interactive sketch on why “Bangladesh is the Best” to him. It is sad that Bangladesh is portrayed in the international arena only by the headlines of flood, poverty and other such catchy stories. The bests of Bangladesh are hardly promulgated in the media.

3) Blogging in Bangla: ‘Somewhere in blog’, an affiliation of a software company ‘ Somewhere in’ launches the first ever Bangla blogging tool “Bandh Bhanger Awaj“. Probably this will help the advent of more Bangladeshi bloggers.

December 15, 2005


* Opinions: The best possible arguement for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

* Human rights: Bangladesh's feared elite police.

* Living: Hightech flush gazzette.

* Warning: Beware podcasters, podcast hijacking is here.

* Changes: From Bangalore to Bengaluru, from Delhi to Hastinapur; whats in a name?

* Stupidity: Iranian leader denies Holocaust.

* Examples: Understanding HTTP.

* Future: Hydrogen is the fuel of the future.

* Technology: Mobiles for the next billion.

For an exclusive live coverage of the Iraqi election please go to Pajamas Media. PJM & Iraq the model are hosting waves of election updates and photos from eight correspondents based in eight different Iraqi provinces. The superiority of the main stream media has ended.
VICTORY DAY: 16th of December
(from the archive)

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 in a general mercy petition, that is why today we see those anti-liberation forces reigning in glory. So it is mandatory that we should always look 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 history of Independence of Bangladesh
(from the archive)

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, separate religious states of 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 happened 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 historically a theological 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 unchanged and uphold as a second state language, and gave their lives in 1952 in the process (recognized as International Mother Language Day). East Pakistanis were deprived of many things as West Pakistan progressed leaving behind East Pakistan. In East Pakistan Bengalis hold on to their culture and values and Muslim and Hindu (30% of population) happily lived together (which was treated by Pakistanis as not Islamic). The East 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 the whole Pakistan because of the majority. 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 with force 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 India. And the fight back rattled Pakistanis. They could not stop the rebellion within 9 months. At last India engaged in the war in December 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.

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.

Read about the legendary concert for Bangladesh.

More Links:

* Bangladesh Liberation war
* Liberation war of Bangladesh, 1971
* The 1971 India-Pakistan war site
* Bangladesh Liberation War - Wikipedia
* Genocide watch: genocide in Bangladesh, 1971
* Bangladesh Liberation War: A Personal Diary
* The Indian Air force in the liberation war: 1971
* Bangladesh Ministry of liberation war affairs: official site
* Liberation war
* Bangladesh -71: a pc game on the libeartion war of Bangladesh
(From the archive)

December 14 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 Bengali 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.

I think we can do more than our usual mundane observance of the day. I demand the government to ensure that this will never happen in the future.

The strongly believe that the nation can produce such great intellects over again. Let us 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, 2005


Bangladesh's telecommunication act 2001, provides that phone tapping is an offence and punishable with either a six-month imprisonment or fine not exceeding Tk 50,000 or both.

However, the government has amended the law in an presidential order with immediate effect, allowing intelligence and law enforcement agencies to tap telephone conversations of any individual (The Daily Star). According to the ordinance, telephones can be tapped only with the permission of the chief executive of the home ministry. The government says that this was needed to track Islamic millitants, who had created an anarchy in the country in recent times. The experts say that eight million telephone users' rights cannot be violated for misuse of a few hundreds.

In all developed democracies phone tapping is officially strictly controlled to safeguard an individuals' privacy. In United States a federal court authorises requests for surveillance warrants by federal security agencies. The authority is not a politically biased person like the chief executive of the home ministry.

Analysts fear that there remain the possibilities that the conversations of political persons will be tapped to control their political activities and that the ordinance will be used as a tool for realising political interests. They also fear that this 'tool' can be used ahead of the general elections to harass civil society members, alongside the government's political opponents, who raise voice against its misdeeds.

Sadly the governments always think that whoever speaks against them are their enemy. They have not considered discussing the law in parliament before enacting as if people have no opinion in this. Implementations of these types of black laws will only lead the country to a monarchy, withering democracy.

Biman has messed up big time with the hajj flights. The trouble started when the minister for civil aviation Mir Nasiruddin fixed airfare of the national carrier Biman at a higher rate to carry the 50,000 hajjis for the pilgrimage to Mecca. The travel agents protested and threatened to boycott Biman and after the Prime minister's intervention, Nasir resigned. To mend the scar, this had became a political issue of the new minister, who vowed to carry 59,000 hajjis with Biman. Two aircrafts were chartered for hajj flights not to disrupt Biman's regular schedules.

The prime minister opened the first hajj flight and then the nightmare began. The five hajj flights of Biman were cancelled between Sunday night and Monday evening causing a chaos in the Zia International Airport, Dhaka as Biman employees were scrambling to reschedule the flights of several hundred stranded pilgrims. Much later the passengers were informed that the flights could not fly to Jeddah as they did not have the landing permission from the Saudi Authorities (Oops, probably somebody forgot). The stranded hajjis protested and ransacked Biman offices in ZIA airport. Amidst all Sujat Ali, age 55 died of a cardiac arrest at the airport at about 1:30am Monday while asleep in the airport floor. Finally after 30 hours hajj flights resumed leaving bitter experiences to the mostly elderly pilgrims.

I wonder whether the relatives of Sujat Ali or any passenger will ever sue Biman for its mishandling of flights. They can seek compensation under rule 240. Biman however claimed that it had arranged hotel accommodations for the pilgrims whose flights had been cancelled but many of the pilgrimage including Sujat Ali refused. This is not believable as the Biman officials had little idea about what was going on. Will there ever be an enquiry? It is ironic that the government of this so called Islamic country treats Muslim pilgrims like commodities.

Udpate: Biman's problem persisted in Tuesday also even though an additional 387-seater airbus 330-300, chartered from Air Luxor of Portugal arrived in Dhaka for carrying the pilgrims. Guess what! Somebody again forgot to get the landing permission in Jeddah from the Saudi government. Many pilgrims were seen left stranded in the airport Tuesday night, as the Biman officials were trying to accommodate them in regular scheduled flights. Meanwhile the aviation minister said that these kinds of delays can happen everywhere due to unavoidable circumstances. He also said that Biman is not liable to pay compensation as the deceased passenger was not issued a boarding pass. After all what's the life of a commoner is worth?

December 12, 2005


* JMB got Guevara wrong.

* The arrest of Burmese nationals increased recently in Bangladesh after a series of militants’ bomb attacks.

* Why the connectivity is expensive in India.

* Grameen Bank's help changes lives in Joymontop Village.

* Keeping up with the Gateses - Bill & Melinda Gates' South Asia visit.

* Bangladeshi ideas 'can help positively change Africa'.

"Against stupidity; God Himself is helpless. -A Jewish proverb"
The Times of London reports:

"Israel's armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed."

No wonder this stupidity was encouraged by that stupidity.

Tigerhawk analyses the news:

"Obviously, Israel is sending a signal to Iran, but not to President Ahmadinejad. In all likelihood, Israel hopes to split the Iranian elites and weaken support for Ahmadinejad within the regime."

If stupidity got Israelis into this mess, then why can't it get them out?

The truth is coming out thanks to the bloggers. Police fired on protesters in Dongzhou Village of Shanwei, China on December 6, 2005 killing an estimated 33 villagers. Nearly 20 are missing and relatives of the people who were killed are seen kneeling in front of the police asking them to return the bodies. China admits killing three people.

The assault against innocent civilians is the deadliest since the killings around Tiananmen Square in 1989. The thousands of people gathered to protest against the amount of money offered by the government as compensation for land to be used to construct a wind-power plant. The village has been completely sealed off by the authority.

More news and round-ups in:

* Pajamas Media
* Gateway Pundit
* Daai Tou Laam Diary

Update: Online news of protest deaths blocked by China authorities.

December 11, 2005


Global Voice is an international effort to diversify the conversation taking place online by involving speakers from around the world, and developing tools, institutions and relationships to help make these voices heard.
Within one year of its birth, Global Voices Online has become successful to be a platform of communicating previously unheard voices around the world. With its regional editors' & contributors' unbiased and enthusiastic contributions by digging from blogs and other news sources, co-founders Rebecca MacKinnon & Ethan Zuckerman have achieved a phenomenal goal, giving universal access to the tools of speech- blogs. Excerpts from Global voices new mission statement:
"Thanks to new tools, speech need no longer be controlled by those who own the means of publishing and distribution, or by governments that would restrict thought and communication. Now, anyone can wield the power of the press. Everyone can tell their stories to the world."
The Gloval Voices Online summit 2005 took place in London yesterday. You can take a look at what went on there:

* The live conference blog
* Pictures uploaded in Flickr
* Listen to the webcast
* Wiki of session notes
* Session by session updates from Dina Mehta & Neha Viswanathan.

Being a regional editor, Neha spoke for South Asian bloggers. She did a quick round-up on journalist-blogger issues in South Asia:
"It's contextual - where mainstream media doesn't do its job - bloggers do it. In the Bangladesh bomb blasts, bloggers took the lead. In Nepal, on the other hand, blogs were supporting mainstream media. In India there is now the emergence of blatant plaigarism by traditional media off blogs. Also, she raised the issue of - do bloggers want to be journalists?"
As for me I would rather like to be a blogger than a journalist, with no specific assignment desk and deadlines to rule over me.


* 'Japan: The key to east Asian unity' - a speech by Mahathir Bin Mohamad.

* Forget That iPod for Christmas: Buy an Ox Instead

* More about the GMAT exam.

* The Great War For Civilization: - Robert Fisk's latest book.

* Women in Islam - veils of the mind.

* Feminism under the hijab.

* A Muslim in a Jewish Land.

* A tale of an American girl who prays a little differently.

December 10, 2005


Bangladeshi rockstar cum blogger Mac Haque has an interesting analysis of the recent bomb atatcks in Bangladesh in "Global Politician Magazine". He says:
"The patterns of recent 'attacks' by JMB for instance are not only confusing but imminently laughable and does not in any way suggest involvement of a serious terrorist (if at all) group....

...If what is unfolding in Bangladesh today is as an outcome of a hidden class struggle over the years, then certainly the Islamists and not the secular Maoists have fired the first worthwhile salvo with attacks on the State. This is not terrorism that has a communal origin, they are apparently by Muslims against Muslims, and is essentially targeted to degrade and divide Bangladesh on sectarian lines, on theocratic philosophies of Sunni, Shiite and Wahabist Islam that are understood – but remains alien to in its very strong Sufi and Buddhism influenced culture."
And a bit of hope?
"Whilst indications are rife, that the JMB is only a trivial brigand’s brigade and more than State’s anti-terrorism apparatchiks like the State Minister for Home Affairs dealing with them, a blanket authority to villagers to use bamboo staves to beat-to-death-at-sight, as has been the Bangladesh tradition even in recent days to deal with violence when all else fails, is thought to be good enough deterrent to rescue Bangladesh. No high-tech weaponry as such is required to deal with such illiterate, low-tech buffoons."

December 09, 2005


The suicide bombings in Bangladesh have turned more evil in nature. They are now targeting innocent people. Yesterday's blast occurred as hundreds of curious people had gathered on a narrow street in Netrokona shortly after the police safely detonated another bomb found abandoned in a building. A suicide bomber on a bicycle rode into the crowd and detonated the explosives tied to his body by pulling a cord according to eye-witnesses.

Now the interesting twist is that of the two suspected suicide bombers, one, named Jadab was identified as a Hindu by religion. So it is highly mysterious that now Hindus are also blowing themselves up to establish Allah's rule in Bangladesh.

Some suspect that it is a ploy of the government framing Jadab to put the blame on the opposition. They are trying to say that not Islamic militancy, but political motivations are behind these attacks and the militants are paid goons. If that is a possibility then the government cannot be ruled out of the suspicion as some BNP & Jamaat lawmakers have connections with the militants. So I think we need to analyze all conspiracy theories and see the whole thing in a new perspective.

I think the latest events in Bangladesh have some hidden motives as these will shape up the 2006 general election. Already Jamaat has lost one constituency in the December 5 by-poll in Dinajpur. Locals say that they are frustrated with the skyrocketing prices of essentials and the alarming rise of militancy in the district so they have cast their votes against the alliance government.

Amidst all these politics, the bomb threats keep mounting on the common people. The whole nation is panicked. Mothers are keeping their children from crowded places or even schools. Police and the security forces are exasperated by their new role, protecting the nation and not finding time to catch the culprits. Full body checks, metal detectors, arch detectors are being carried out by police everywhere; in shopping malls, Mosques, public buses and even in protest gatherings. The bomb scares have started to hit the tourism industry. Soon there will be more effects troubling the economy.

Surely we do not want this Bangladesh. I hope our leaders, specially the government have little bit of shame in conceding most of the responsibility in putting the people in this misery.

December 08, 2005


At least four people have been killed and approx. 50 injured in another wave of suicide bombing in Netrokona (northern Bangladesh) (BBC, CNN). According to local TV channels, the bombs were targeted at Udichee (a cultural organization) district office and its head along with two suicide bombers are dead. The police had defused another bomb in the area an hour before the incident.

So it is evident that the JMB onslaughts are aimed to create panic among common people, not against specific targets like the courts. They are being successful because the government has failed to take any actions against the terrorist apologists in their party and the qualition. They are yet to deploy special forces to hunt these beasts down.

I wonder how many innocent people will have to give their lives before the government realizes their failure to tackle this. Drishtipat summarizes the current situation in Bangladesh and demands real actions to be taken. I ditto their request and urge every Bangladeshi to unite and resist the onslaught whatever way they can.

December 07, 2005


* Wow, what an offer! Switch to Firefox and earn US$ 1.

* Jeremy David Pope, founder of Tranparency International is a true anti-corruption crusader. Read more about him.

* Prof. Juan Cole writes: "How Bush created a theocracy in Iraq"

* Stephen Cohen's "The Idea of Pakistan" is a critical look at pakistan, the idea that shapped it,what has become to that country now and whether it can acheive that idea.

* "The parked domain monetization" business is surprisingly profitable but unethical.

* The maids of Singapore finally get world's attention.

December 06, 2005


I was surprised to see that Bill Gates got unprecedented welcome from Bangladesh just like a head of state. His and Melinda's portraits were hung in front of the VVIP lounge of ZI Airport. Prime Minister personally greeted him in front of her room. All the major ministers were present at different discussion sessions.

Bangladesh is a business potential for Microsoft as due to absence of strict intellectual property/piracy law a major portion of PCs in Bangladesh use pirated Microsoft software. Unlike other countries you can buy an assembled clone desktop PC without software very cheap ($400-$500) and you can buy the pirated software CDs @$1. But now the situation is changing. More local Business houses are keen to get licensed software to be compliant to certain standard. As soon as there are strict IP act in place, everybody will have no option other than to buy the licenses unless they choose open source applications (like Linux based). But Microsoft is widely popular here. And Bangladesh hardware market is growing in exponential rate.

So Gates had no hesitation to sign an agreement with Bangladesh ministry of education to train 10,000 teachers and 200,000 students over the next three years. Obviously the estimated $15 million dollars required for this training would be an investment for potential market for Microsoft software these users will create.

I see the benefit for Bangladesh in the Microsoft announced grant of $15 million for the Asian Women's University in Chittagong. Even from the richest person in the world that is very generous. And Gates also assured that Microsoft will include the Bangladeshi Bangla typing layout in its Windows OS. Currently the layout is based on the Indian INSCRIPT layout which is unfamiliar to most Bangla speaking community.

Bill Gates is also keen to expand investment in Bangladesh.

December 04, 2005


Monica Yunus is quickly establishing herself as one of America’s most promising young sopranos. A 2003 Sullivan Foundation Award winner, Ms. Yunus has already performed with numerous opera companies throughout North America. If the family name is familiar to you then you have guessed it right. She is the daughter of Prof. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank of Bangladesh and the pioneer of micro-credit. Monica was born to Yunus and his Russian wife in Chittagong, Bangladesh in 1977 and left for USA after only three months. She was bred up by her mother in New Jersey. Muhammad Yunus married a Bangladeshi in 1980 and has been living in Bangladesh. But he still maintains contact with Monica. Monica has been a prize winner in numerous competitions, among them The Florida Grand Opera Competition, Palm Beach Opera Competition, the Lee Schaenen Foundation Award, and most recently The Mirjam Helin International Competition in Helsinki, Finland. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School.

Monica is scheduled to come to Dhaka today for a couple of performances and visits to Grameen Bank. Welcome to Bangladesh, Monica.

Related: Dr Muhammad Yunus, a great man.

December 01, 2005


"They want to destroy hope, therefore I shall preserve it by any possible means.

They want to kill trust. Thus I will reach out to others, Africans, Asians, Arabs, Americans and Jews alike.

They want to imprison people in labels and stereotypes. I will strive to maintain a dialogue, always focusing on the individuals rather than the symbol.

They want to kill joy in me, thus I will laugh again.

They want to paralyze me, therefore I will take action. They want to silence me--therefore I will speak out."

- Mariane Pearl, wife of Danniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped and killed by extremists in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2002

This is freaking outrageous. Today at 11:45 AM another powerful bomb went off outside the main administrative office in Gazipur, where lawyers were marching as part of a daylong strike called by the lawyears in protest of the tuesday's bombings. About 25 people including police officers and journalists were injured. No reports of casualties yet but the condition of some of the wounded is serious and they have been moved to the capital Dhaka. (BBC, Reuters)

A young man selling tea had hid the bomb in a flask - while being frisked by security men he allegedly threw the bomb at the policemen, who were checking people in front of the gate of the district administrator's office. The suspected bomber was caught from the scene with injury.

Update I: One dead, Jamayetul Mujahideen is responsible.
Update II: Police recovered a live bomb today at an administrative building at Narayanganj town, 16 km (10 miles) east of the capital Dhaka.
Update III: Prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia postpones visit to UAE. Important ministries received fresh bomb threat.

Meanwhile the High Court yesterday issued a rule on the government why its continuous failure to discharge constitutional obligations to hold impartial, adequate and effective investigations into the bomb blasts on court premises since August 17 should not be declared a failure in protecting fundamental rights (The daily Star).

The government should act now before these menaces cripple the country. Otherwise, soon the people will give their ruling and there will be no return.

The rise of suicidal militancy and the current political situation have shaken the nation. People have started questioning. Ishtiaque writes a fascinating piece which reflects what many Bangladeshis are thinking. It's a must read. Some excerpts:
"It’s high time something gets done.

Is changing the government a solution? I don't think so. They are all the same. These politicians lack the creativity and dynamic nature that is required in order to solve critical problems. They can only solve some mundane problems, or allocate budget for solving it. They never do the follow up and check how the allocated resources and approved plans are being executed.

And we call them law makers, policy makers, and the Government. I wonder why these stupid, incompetent and half-educated people should make laws for us.

It is a warning to the politicians to stop the bickering and get their acts together. Because if the people rise, they will get no place to hide. It's a psychological war of the nation against some derailed people and their masters. Politicizing it will only lead the nation to hell.

November 30, 2005


* Bangladesh bombs - blog buzz

* Fear of Islamic state in Bangladesh grows after bombers target.

* TV becomes new weapon in fight on terror.

* Man gets 5000+ channels on 12 dishes.

* Iran's war on weblogs - the new voice of dissidents.

* Cattle can stop Bangladeshis!

* Can the EU be a model for Indian subcontinent?

November 29, 2005


Its Saudi blogger Alhamedi again having a critical look at the Saudi fundamentalist's view of music and their oppression towards Saudi musicians. Don't forget to read it.

Mike C. comments:
Most of my favorite music is by Islamic artists, from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's heavenly Qawwali to Youssou N'dour & Thione Seck blending Senegalese & Egyptian music.

I'm not a Muslim & I don't live in the Middle East, but with all of the current crap, we forget the beauty Islam has brought the world.

From the 'Bird Flu Alert in Bangladesh!!' blog:
Bird flu is now the greatest health crisis both for humans and birds. It’s also the gravest epidemic crisis faced by mankind ever. This not a secret and international media has been saying this for a long time. We can’t behind the argument that it will not affect us, that it will cause panic or adversely affect the poultry industries. It’s too late for such arguments.
Bangladesh is alarmingly unprepared to handle this crisis. Millions of people are at risk of dying. Dristhipat is working with relevant parties in BRAC and other organizations to help raise awareness and push authorities for actions.

So let us join hands and spread the word:

Bird flu: Are we sufficiently prepared? (Via Unheard Voices)

Related: Concerns in India too (via The Acorn)

Wake up! Suicide bombing has arrived in Bangladesh. The militants have done it recently killing two judges. Today three people, including two suicide bombers and a policeman died when a bomb exploded during a scuffle near a police checkpoint near the main court in the port city of Chittagong. Another three died when a bomb was thrown inside a court library in Gazipur, north of capital Dhaka. (Source BBC, AP)

Really we are living in a wonderful situation. After the so called Islamic militants jihad against the court in a bid to kill man-made law and establish their version of Allah's law (you get the flavor of it by now) they are now concentrating on schools. Students of Khilgaon High School busy with final examination were panicked when a bomb-like device was set in the school and a letter signed by the banned Islamic outfit Harkatul Jihad, Khilgaon unit threatened:
"If Islamic education as per the Quran and Hadith was not introduced in the school within two days, the bombs would be detonated with remote-control."
Even the foreign missions in Bangladesh were not spared from the threat. Similar threats were communicated to govt. offices, police forces etc.

Meanwhile the security forces have not been able to do any headway to stop these bombings and threats. The political parties have the wonderful opportunity to play the blame game against each other. We even hear some intelligent(?) remarks like "Excessive media coverage helps rise of militancy". Yes of course its the media who reveals that militants are being patronised to cling to power and ministers ordering release of suspected militants so they might have some hand in it. How gross.

This is really ridiculous. All these make one wonder that this is part of a carefully planned agenda to divert people's attention from the upcoming election and other issues. This is a clear case of spreading panic if we look deep into the lunacy. This has probably nothing to do with Islamic militant's jihad or similar as it is unlikely that many separate organizations are doing the same thing in unison. Brainwashed and trained militants are being used and security forces are not being able to get hold of the kingpins. There must be a powerful quarter having access to the intelligence and other inside information (and untouchable), who is pulling the strings to gain some advantage. And the question is who and why. Any guess or clue?

Update: Bloggers buzz on Bangladesh bombs:

* Rajputro - "What’s coming next? I don’t know .."
* Unheard Voices - "Is the Prime Minister listening?"
* Gina Cobb - "Bangladesh, Bangladesh: To Misery, Add Terrorism"
* Unholywars -"13 killed in terrorists strike in Bangladesh"
* Gateway Pundit - "Suicide Bombers in Bangladesh"

* BBC: In pictures - Bangladesh bombs

Indian border security force (BSF) had become famous for 'killing one Bangladeshi every five days' on the charges of alleged intrusion into Indian territory including no-mans land. Now human rights watch India reports that BSF personnel did not spare their own countrymen as they had injured and killed villagers of Muradpur, West Bengal, India.
According to the fact-finding team from MASUM, on 20 November 2005, like other days, the BSF personnel at the Muradpur border were allowing these villagers to smuggle food articles (namely, wheat, rice, pulses etc) across the border after taking money from them. However, it is alleged that they saw these villagers also trying to take a few cows across the border, for which they had not been bribed. This angered the BSF who then opened fire killing and injuring these villagers. The fact-finding team alleges that the BSF fired 13 rounds of ammunition.

The firing took place about seven to eight kilometers away from the border and if the BSF were concerned about security issues, they could have easily apprehended the villagers. Instead they chose to resort to firing.
According to another news:
The Bangladesh border guards never opened a single round of fire on any Indian civilian or killed anyone. The BSF troops have been killing the innocent Bangladeshis like birds and animals without any provocation violating human rights and all agreed international norms and rules. No BSF man has so far been punished by their authorities for such illegal killings.
I tried to search the reasons of these killings which often cause strives between Bangladesh and India. The root of the problem is the smuggling of cattle from India to Bangladesh, which is valued approximately at Indian Rupees 1000 crore per annum (approx 2% of Bangladesh budget). Another problem is the illegal trade of cough syrup (Phensidyl), which is banned in Bangladesh because of its misuse as a narcotic. More than 3,000 of illegal drug factories were set up at bordering Indian villages and semi-urban areas along the India Bangladesh border to supply the highly demanded syrup to Bangladesh.

So it is high time that India should legalize the cattle export and stop the illegal trade of cough syrups to stop these human rights abuses by BSF to Indians and Bangladeshis alike.

November 27, 2005


"The world we are fighting for — a world where an Imam teaches a Rabbi words from the Holy Koran to comfort a young Muslim boy, and that rabbi himself is comforted by a Christian, a Catholic priest."
Read this touching story of a Jewish community chaplain's experience in Mosul, Iraq.

* What the Muslim world needs is more chapatti.

* Martyr's sexual rewards.

* Fear, protections and loopholes in the US.

* Blogging a suicide attempt -new hype in Singapore.

* Don't Bomb Us - A blog by Al Jazeera Staffers.

Iraqi blogger Hassan collates a factual history of the Iraqi bloggers from 2002 till-to-date.
Iraqi Bloggers: from Pax to Sayonara

Iranian blogger Hoder was refused re-entry to US from Canada after the US customs and border security officials read his blog in front of him at the border to build a case of non-compliance of visa regulations.
"these things are not quite appropriate to be on your blog when you are at the border." - The official

November 26, 2005


The hottest topic of the town was the expulsion of ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) lawmaker (Rajshahi-3 constituency) Abu Hena from the party. His outspoken comments blaming a section of his party and the qualition Jamaat-e-Islami party for patronising the militants aroused many controversies.

Rajputro mocked that he received 'the truth award' from the prime minister for speaking against the party. Previously Awami League , current opposition party, awarded this prestigious award to Kamal Hossain, Kader Siddiqui and so on for letting out the truth.

'Unheard Voices' named it suppression of the voice of a dissident.

Adda said
"BNP has lost their golden opportunity to listen to their own parliament member Mr. Abu Hena and take drastic action against those ministers and advisers who are part of the intrigue and also tried to recommend government pardon for the Islamic militant leaders in the past."
Niraj comments that it is rather refreshing to see a politician going against the grain.

The other hot rumor of yesterday was that Mr. Hena was going to be imprisoned. I think the government was saved from further embarrasment by not doing so. Now according to Mr. Hena, 100 other BNP lawmakers would like to go public like him on this issue soon. Some had already started raising their voices.

This implies an internal divide between the BNP. Rejecting all these allegations, Mr. Motiur Rahman Nizami, the Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer and Minister for Industries told the BBC," I have no information that there is anyone in the BNP who has reservation about any link between terrorism and Jamaat." He also dismissed Abu Hena's allegation saying failing to get any big position he made such remarks. He made one valid point that if Mr. Hena is so concerned about this now why didn't he speak out earlier, when things were happening.

Amidst all blames, allegations and counter measures, the spotlight, tackling the militancy is losing focus. If Jamaat is against the militancy then why are their network of Imams across the country are not publicly denouncing militancy in the mosque sermons? What benefit will Mr. Abu Hena get from this drama as he is yet to provide any proof of his allegations? Is he going to join the opposition? Is there really a rift inside BNP? Or is this a ploy of BNP to create pressure on Jamaat so that they can bargain more in the coming election regarding distribution of constituencies?

Politics is a funny field. Common people hardly can understand what is going on in reality. We can only witness and support what is right or wrong. And one should keep in mind that "appearences can be deceptive".

Simon Denyer writes in Boston.com:
"Outside Iraq, Bangladesh is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist, especially outside the relative safety of the capital, Dhaka, according to global press watchdogs. At least nine reporters have been killed since 2000, hundreds more beaten or intimidated into silence.

The threats come from Maoist rebels, Islamic militants, organized crime and even the political establishment. What's worse, journalists say, they have almost no recourse to the law.

Bangladesh's government says the problem is grossly exaggerated and many of the journalists who are killed themselves have links with criminal groups, or are victims of local feuds."
RSF recently said that politicians from both sides accuse the media of trying to destabilize the country through their reporting. Over the past few years, the government has been particularly critical of both domestic and foreign reporting about signs of Islamic extremists operating in the country. In reality journalists like Tipu Sultan and Hasan Imam were threatend and attacked physically for writing against lawmakers of both the recent regimes, Awami League and now the ruling BNP-Jamaat qualition. So journalism in Bangladesh is not easy job except those are corrupt.

Now Drishtipat reports that the government is thinking of taking more strict measures against journalists:
"The president, the prime minister, and the information minister have expressed their willingness to amend the provision of the Press Council Act related to the power to warn, admonish and censure the press," - president of the council ustice Abu Sayeed Ahammed.
The New age comments:
"These amendments are expected to encourage all and sundry to take legal action against newsmen and newspapers on the spurious ground of yellow journalism because no one is sure who will determine what is yellow and what is not and how they will go about doing it."
Amidst all everybody is forgetting free and fair responsible journalism is required for a functional democracy. Stopping the voices of journalists can only benefit certain quarters but not the nation. Yellow journalism can be fought by responsible journalism if there is no restriction. The Observer wrote:
"The press has played a significant role in unearthing the activities of Islamic militants at a time when the government was saying that they do not exist. Now that the problem can no longer be ignored they are once again blaming the media this time on the plea that legislative privilege has been undermined. There is no greater interest than the national interest and the government should try to serve it rather than coterie interests."
But is anybody listening?

November 23, 2005


* Blog etiquette for newspapers.

* The Mongolian government wants to change the Mongolian language from the Cyrillic to the Roman alphabet.

* How Islam got political.

* The 15 enemies of the Internet and other countries to watch.

* Top ten things you can do to get blogged.

* Pakistan's top 10 test cricketers.

* A bit of backstory on Pajamas Media/OSM.

* A day in the life of blogging.

The South Asian International Film Festival (SAIFF) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting established and emerging artists from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. With a focus on dynamic, visionary independent cinema, SAIFF aims to bring communities together to support these artists and unite in celebration of a common spirit. (via Faruq Faisel)

This year, the 2005 festival titled 'colors in fusion' will run from December 7 through December 11, 2005 in New York City.

Faruq reveiws one of the Bangladesh entries in the festival - a documentary named Color of Faith (Bishwasher Rong) by Saiful Wadud Helal. Some excerpts about the film:

"The people of Bangladesh struggle every day with nature for survival. They acknowledge, appreciate, and revere all the forces of nature. Religious faith provides them with added strength and courage. The sapling of religious faith brought over by Sufis and saints from the dry, scorched earth of Middle East has blossomed in the moist, olden soil of Bangladesh. Nevertheless, the fruit it bore is considered forbidden by fundamentalists- as forbidden as Gandham (the forbidden fruit of paradise)."
Seems interesting.

AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano

In this photo released by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope benedict XVI exchanges gifts with Bangladesh Foreign Minister Morshed Khan during a private audience at the Vatican Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2005. (source)

Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina, inset, addresses the grand rally of the 14-party opposition alliance at Paltan Maidan in the city yesterday
(Picture courtesy: The daily Star)

Yesterday can be a turning point of Bangladesh politics, which is bound to shape up the 2006 election. As the Daily Star reports:

Despite the government's last-ditch attempts to prevent people from joining the 14-party opposition grand rally, the city's Paltan Maidan yesterday turned into a human sea, where top opposition leaders pledged to establish a secular democratic government after dislodging the BNP-Jamaat-led coalition through a mass upsurge.

Amidst thunderous claps and repeated slogans rising from the mammoth gathering, the opposition line-up spelled out a 23-point common minimum national programme, which is virtually its election manifesto.
Addabaj comments on these 23 points:
Their 23 points basically outline establishing secular democratic government, holding free and fair election, freeing communal forces and militants from government and society, ensuring speedy trial of war criminals, alleviating poverty, ending corruption and increasing accountability of the elected representatives, strengthening uniform educational system etc. All these demands don’t hold any surprise/secret as they reflect the popular view points and demands of the common people in Bangladesh.
This is certainly a headway for the confused people who are rattled by the way the Bangladesh politics is heading. Even as we speak, the JMB threats continue and the government is failing to protect the establishments let alone the common people.

Meanwhile the governments attempts to tackle this opposition rally proved to be a fiasco. Nearly 10,000 people were detained mostly for no reason. Salaam writes:
The whole transport strike on the day before the grand rally was a joke. First of all, everyone knows what happened and who did it and why. To arrest a transport worker and use that as an excuse and then let him free at 6pm after the rally was laughable, to put it mildly. To put it more seriously, it was a total abuse of system and power. Someone needs to teach strategy to Nazmul Huda. To stop 50,000 activists he pissed of millions of stranded people.
The law makers are constantly trying to stop the voices of the media as they are breaking the true news. They forget that there are other voices too who does not have any interest to defame the government. This is not unexpected from the people who fear the truth and another example is this news: "president Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar".

The BNP and Jamaat coalition's failure is apparent because they could not expell their bad apples, the accused lawmakers and punish the culprits who bear the party identity. And If you not take measures against one failure it starts to contaminate the successes and lead to more failures.

I expected Bodruddoza Chowdhury's Bikolpo Dhara and other small political parties to join opposition hands too. I am not fully confident about the 14 party opposition partnership. Because they also have some hypocrates and bad apples. I think we can break away from the polarizations of our politics if we have a coalition government of many parties. BNP & Awami League can be deemed as two sides of the same coin. A functional multi-opinionated parliament and accountability of the lawmakers are badly required in Bangladesh.

'Global voices online' has won the jury’s choice for the Best Journalistic Blog in English from Deutsche Welle, the German state broadcasting service. Many kudos to the co-founders Ethan Zuckerman and Rebecca MacKinnon and the GV editors and contributors for their outstanding efforts. I am proud to be one of the contributors.

Lisa Stone writes about GV:
"In my opinion, Global Voices is the most important blog in the English speaking world, bar none. This site is more than an up-to-the-minute guide and encyclopedia of the international blogosphere. Global Voices Online is a mega-blog the covers free speech by a global citizenry–and covers it well. It’s so important at a time when so many international voices are denied free speech by their governments and, in the United States, a very few, English-speaking, first-world media conglomerates dominate and determine the ownership, distribution and content of news."
So, if you haven't bookmarked 'Global Voices Online' yet, don't forget to do it now.

The latest film of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire casts two Bangladeshi actresses. According to this news:
"The girls - Shefali Chowdhury and Afshan Azad are second-generation Bangladeshis currently based in London. They play the characters of the 'Patil twins' in the film slated for a worldwide release this November.

Shefali and Afshan who play Harry and his best friend Ron's dates for the Yule Ball say they are "overwhelmed" to be a part of this huge film."
More in Razib Rashedin's blog & Sepia Mutiny.

November 22, 2005


Saudi blogger "The Religious Policemen" on racism:

....up until now, we've been one of the most rabidly racist countries in the world, and totally unconcerned about it. Walk down any Saudi street and ask anybody who looks as though they come from points East, how do the Saudis regard and treat you? Ask the Pakistani taxi driver. Ask the Bangladeshi street-cleaner, in his orange jump-suit, sweeping up the tissues and fast-food boxes that we thoughtfully throw out of our car window as we pass. Best of all, if you get the chance, ask our Indonesian housemaids.
Pakistani blogger Isaac Schroedinger adds:
The "All Muslims are Equal" rhetoric is completely hollow in Saudi Arabia. Non-Saudis in the country don't have a right to own property. The Saudis treated them (labors from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, or the Philippines) with contempt. The Saudis would rather bark at them than speak to them like civilized people. These squalid workers would never utter a word in protest because they knew that in Saudi Arabia it doesn't take much to deport a foreign worker. My dad worked in Saudi Arabia with many Arab colleagues. He often worked on the weekend to show his dedication (read: pick up the slack for incompetent Saudis). Yet, he got paid around half of what the company gave the Saudis. You see, at the very heart of Islam, some Muslims are more equal than others.
Its good to know that OIC is drafting an Islamic covenant on combating racial discrimination. But I wonder whether it will be able to draw much improvement from the present situation as it is tough to change human behaviors and eradicate hypocrisy.

I have discovered the blog of the exiled Bangladeshi journalist Saleem Samad, who was granted political asylum in Canada. Some excerpts:
"The government framed me under sedition laws and for conspiracy to slander the country’s image abroad. It was heartbreaking that the coalition government dubbed me for destabilization of the state. I would have been glad, if the authority accused me under punishable offence acts for critiquing the government. With the present circumstance, I will never be able to return to my country I had participated in creating the nation – Bangladesh in my youth.

This ordeal I experienced was because I cried wolf, when the Islamic militants were gaining grounds in Bangladesh since the nationalist Islamist chauvinist government swept into power in October 2001."
See no evil, hear no evil, say no evil.

* The partnership between Grameen & Nokia will expand the Village Phone network in Africa.

* Music: On a ship to Bangladesh, Artist: Three Mile Pilot

* HIV and Bangladesh.

* The deadly kiss.

* Images: Life in Bangladesh.

* Save Pranti, a Seven and a half year old girl.

* Losing my religion - Communalism in Mumbai.

November 21, 2005


Adda posts some thoughts on the nature of the Bangladeshis. He says:
As Bangladeshi, we faithfully practice, "Either it is my way or Highway". No one over here tolerates dissidence; no one wants reality check... So, if it’s not my way, you’re blamed.
I wonder why we always think ourselves as some lord who want to dictate others in our own will. Why we want to have privileges we have not earned with hard work? Why do we feel ourselves superior to others? Why even the poors want to be rich only to be an oppressor and to have privileges like a rich man? Why the political parties cannot adopt liberalism?

Lets try to analyze the problem with one example.

I was standing on a queue in Changi airport to get GST refund of the shopping I did. Suddenly a Bangladeshi man in his forties rushes in and requested the lady to process his one first citing many reasons. The lady in the counter requested him to stand in the queue. On his repeated request she told him that she will be able to attend him first if he could get permission from the other persons standing in the queue. I don't think he had got the message right as he got out from the place furiously giving all his paper to another officer standing nearby saying that he does not want the refund as no courtesy was extended to him. He said that he has an ailing mother with him in the wheelchairs so he cannot stand in the queue for long. The officer managed the situation by telling the person to stand in the queue and announcing that he will look after his mother in the wheelchair in the meantime.

You see even the person had a genuine cause of urgency he could have asked permissions of the persons standing in the queue or simply stand in the queue with his mother, who would be voluntarily helped by the persons standing in the queue. But instead why did he react in this way? Because probably he is a big shot in Bangladesh who is used to get privileges all the time. On my way back while standing in queue in Zia International Airport in Dhaka, I saw many persons avoiding the queue as some airport officials were letting preferred people getting the immigrations done prior to other men standing in the queue. Many people including foreigners in the queue were finding this very disturbing. But I wonder why these persons like to get this so called preferential treatment? What makes them so different from others?

I think we need to question this to ourselves why we cannot do the hardship of standing in the queue and let others get the fair advantage. Why do we need privileges and why can't we accept ourselves as equal to our fellow countrymen?

Our problems will remain if these questions are not answered.

My Singapore tour photos

My Singapore tour photos

Finally I have managed to upload some photos of Singapore in Flickr. Check them out.

* Village Phone replication manual.

* Bangladeshi people are happy people. (BBC Survey)

* Jamaat unmasked.

* Powered by Pajama-clad revolutionaries OSM the open source media blog has been launched.

* Reverse brain drain in India.

* The GreatBong remembers Desi Baba.

November 19, 2005


I am writing from an Internet cafe in Changi airport, Singapore. The internet is free but the food is not. Well, what more would you expect? You have to earn the amenities you enjoy. There is no free lunch and it is foolish to expect that everything will be awarded to you automatically. Like the average taxi drivers I met in Singapore, were senior citizens and very very nice people. They are well behaved and will give back every penny that belongs to you. You would be urged to leave the odd changes to him, but not always they will oblige. I asked one 60 years old why he is working when he would be retiring. He commented that if he stays in home doing nothing then he will go crazy. As he was not fortunate to be rich, he needs this income to live better. Yes, the urge to have a better living draws people to work and not just going through the motion, doing the task efficiently.

Singapore is very well equipped with infrastructures and amenities. A multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-ethnic community which boasts of living together without hatred against each other. Even 50 years ago there were these community clashes and gang-warfares. But the government have a tight control over the law and order. I have seen one public protest in the busy orchard street. The protesters were 7-8 in numbers with polices outnumbering them and in the busy crowd they were looking like an odd group with no one noticing.

My fellow colleagues from India were wondering how the train ticket purchasing is automated and how they refunded the unused credits. All lavatories have infrared censors for flashes and many standards like these are maintains everywhere. People are civilized not to cross roads in red lights. The shopping mall Mustafa Center is open 24 hours and there is no risk of traveling at night. This discipline and law-and-order shows how efficient the government is.

And ofcourse the credit goes to the hard working people of Singapore who earned their happy living.

Yesterday we went to the Sentosa Island and had some terrific time watching the dolphin show and the laser fountain show. We were so amazed with the boat ride, we went again after dinner. What can I tell, Singapore at nighttime is marvelous to watch. The riverside cafes were so vibrant with all colors and races of people.

The best part of today was me meeting the Indian blogger Nitin Pai, his lovely wife and ofcourse the little angel Perie. They took me to a Thai restaurant called Lemon Grass in the Orchard Street for lunch. We had a good time and Nitin happens to be only the 2nd blogger I met in person.

My flight leaves for Dhaka within a couple of hours, so I need to move on.