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

January 31, 2005


Bangladesh secures an emphatic eight-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the fifth one-day match played in Dhaka to clinch the series 3-2. It became only the second team to win a five-match one-day series having been 2-0 down.

Set 199 to win, the match was turned around in Bangladesh's favor between the fourth and eighth overs of the home team's reply as the score leapt from 1-18 to 71 without further loss. The chief destroyers were Aftab Ahmed, who made a spectacular 81(not out) off 87 balls and Mohammad Rafique, who made a dazzling 72 off 66 balls. Bangladesh took only 33 overs to reach the target. Earlier Zimbabwe collapsed from 3/161 to 198 all-out because of miser bowling of the three Bangladesh Spinners (Rafique, Rana & Enamul). Mohammed Rafique became the man of the match and Barney Rogers of Zimbabwe became man of the series.

It was a full house at Banglabandhu Stadium which has probably hosted its last international match today. I am hering sounds of victory processions in the street and sweets are flowing around everywhere. Everybody is excited eventhough the outbursts are limited because of the opposition strike and police actions against processions. This is certainly a new era for Bangladesh cricket.

More excitements at Bangla Cricket.

January 30, 2005


Elisa Griswold's article in the New York Times about the possiblity of Bangladesh giving birth to "The Next Islamic Revolution?" has sparked many controversies in Bangladesh. The government predictably refuted the claims and named it "one sided, baseless and politically motivated". The report tells about the notorious Bangla Bhai, a Taliban trained extremist who fought the Afghanistan wars. He has about 10,000 (and increasing) followers and is said to be protected by two of the ruling BNP lawmakers. The police could not arrest him in a couple of years even after the direct orders of the prime minister to bring him to justice. This is widely chewed in local media before being picked up by the New York Times. Imtiaz has more information on Bangla Bhai and his goons. So it is silly that the government would try to bury the problem and try to deny everything.

The report has been widely promulgated in the blogosphere over at Niraj, Little Green Footballs and Winds of Change.

These does not do Bangldesh's images any better. Whereas there could be more intellectual response to this like Rajib did:

There are some prosaic reasons for Bangladesh not becoming an Islamic maelstrom in the coming years:

1. It is too poor.
2. It is too inward looking geopolitically.
3. It is too outward looking economically.
4. It has large religious minorities.
5. There is a tension, a dichotomy, between Bengaliness and Muslimness, so that the neither can totally come out victorious. A fundamentalist Bangladesh would have to repudiate Tagore...

Sabbir A. Bashar writes in the Daily Star:

It is a wake up call. It is time to change our national attitude and first accept that we have problems and then to face them head on. It is time to come clean and present our side of the story in all its troubling reality to the world instead of getting consumed by past glories and being touchy about every criticism.

I also do believe that Islamic extremism could not be a threat in Bangladesh if the government did not protect the extremists. Presumably they are trying to use them to tackle the left leaned opposition and they may well grow stronger and hit them back like a snake.

I see three reasons why Bangladesh is being dragged to this position:

1)The major political parties are trying to clinch to power for eternity and destroying the rivals systematically
2)They are using Islamic extremists for the above goals who have an agenda of their own
3)Involvement of foreign quarters (e.g. arms smuggling and intelligence activities)who are using Bangladesh as a pawn in the conflicts in the neighborhood.

And all parties should try to sit in a table to tackle this situation. And government can turn around the clock by arresting Bangla Bhai. This is not a time to waste people's tax money in criticizing and back biting political rivals.

Update: Another report has been published in the Frontpagemagagine.com called "Is Bangladesh the next Afghanistan?". Excerpt from that article:

The country sits precariously poised between a future without hope and anarchy, while politicians of all parties regularly call for general strikes to force their demands knowing fully well how destructive such irresponsible politics is for an impoverished economy.

Bangladeshis were astounded and sparked with anger with the news of another grenade explosion at an opposition rally in Hobiganj (northeastern Bangladesh) last Thursday, which had killed at least five people including the country's former finance minister, and wounding dozens of others. The bomb was aimed at Mr. Shah AMS Kibria, a Member of Parliament, former finance minister, career diplomat (his tenure includes representative of Bangladesh at UN) and a Awami League think tank and he was killed while he was being taken by a car after being referred to a better hospital in Dhaka (about 100 km away). He was so bright as a person that I cannot summarize his achievements in a few words (try this instead).

Since last year, 3 Awami league top leaders were killed in Bomb and gun attacks. No one has been found guilty for grenade attacks on Sheikh Hasina, the opposition leader, British Ambassador to Bangladesh and Awami League leader Suronjit Sen Gupta. The government has taken the help of Interpol and other agencies but the investigations remain buried for some reason. I have wrote about the Arges model grenades used in the attack against Sheikh Hasina. The same model was used in the attack on Mr. Kibria as per security experts.

Now why would he have to die in a country for which he fought to liberate? He was a freedom fighter and language movement (1952) activist. Inam Ahmed & Zayadul Hasan writes:

No-one can say exactly what has been happening, but everyone fears about where Bangladesh is heading for. The death of SAMS Kibria has once again made it clear what can happen to a country when the government is in a self-denial mode, when lies are concocted to bury the truth, when propaganda is woven to protect the perpetrators and when truths are told halfway to lend meaning to meaning.

The spate of killings of AL leaders has definitely greatly reduced the party's capacity to undertake organisational preparations for the next election. Political observers are speculating on the impact of these killings on the opposition's capacity to mount a serious challenge to the ruling coalition.

Even senior government ministers think that Kibria's death will tarnish the image of Bangladesh abroad. But what the government is doing? The local investigations are not being held properly and even many of the injured who were close to Mr. Kibria during blast were not questioned. Yet the government has asked for the help of FBI, Interpol & Scotland Yard. What a farce!

The public reactions were staggeringly strong and the opposition cashed on in declaring a three day long strike which has paralyzed the country. The government reacted in battering many opposition activists. My cousins wedding reception got postponed and my daughter missed her vaccination date. All in all a pretty disgusting situation.

Enayetullah Khan writes:

The 60-hour unremitting hartal called by the AL and its allies is a corollary to the drastic events overtaking the government. It will have to be endured by the public and business at a cost but not at that of the political class on either side of the political divide. Nor does it bring Ivy Rahman and SAMS Kibria back to life. But that's how it is and how it will be.

Meanwhile, Bangla Bhai will continue to haunt the north-western district, blackening the country's face all the more. The Aminis will shout blue murder to Ahmadiyas. The succession drama in the BNP will have its twists and turns, including some comic relief of Hasina's son joining the race come elections in favour of his mother.

Till then, we may keep our fingers crossed, be on guard for staying alive, and condemn the killings, including those of Ivy Rahman and SAMS Kibria, with our anger burning within.

How more helpless can you feel?

Update: Kibria's Protest website (www.sams-kibria.org) has been launched. Go and have a look.

January 24, 2005


Small children from Mahakalapada block of Orissa’s Kendrapara district protest:

"The government says we are Bangladeshis. It wants to send us to Bangladesh. We are Indians. We know that you love children. Please have mercy. Save us from dying in Bangladesh,"

But nobody could save the two-month-old baby, who died due to night chill while being detained as an illegal Bangladeshi in New Delhi. His father was deported to Bangladesh sometimes back. Many will wonder what these poor people have done to deserve this?

A savage politics is being played in India particularly in Orissa where the government has issued "Quit India" notices to alleged illegal Bangladeshi immigrants where some of them had taken shelter way back in 1949.

The illegal migration issue is being tackled by both Bangladesh and India government as reactive but not proactive. No government is contemplating on the whole issue and strike at the root cause of migration, rather than throwing the poor migrants (many wrongly listed) into each-other's territory. There were much push-in & push-back incidents without a real solution to the problem.

As the people of border areas of Bangladesh and India has more similarities than discord, illegal trade and immigration very much exist there. And not all the time the migration is one-way; sometimes the tide comes towards Bangladesh too. The main cause of Bangladeshis to migrate towards India is environmental. During the floods in 2004, more than 60% of the country were submerged in flood water. People fled to drier parts of the country and some has crossed the border. India's water diversions are blamed for environmental damage that induces rural-urban migration within Bangladesh and the migration of Bangladeshis to India. There are also factors like women trafficking, unemployment and poor economy which facilitates migration.

So what could be the ways to solve the problem?

* The water sharing between Bangladesh and India is proper and joint steps must be taken to stop the devastation of floods caused by those water resources.

* National ID card scheme for both Bangladesh & India

* Fencing might be a preventive but it must meet all international standards like keeping proper no-mans land etc.

* Stop illegal trade from India to Bangladesh, so that Bangladeshi industries can flourish creating much jobs

* Stop detaining and deporting alleged immigrants and stop the politics with this people (like using as vote banks). This is inhumane and will create more tensions between the two countries. When the national ID card would be introduced, it would be easier to trace and protect illegal migration.

* The both government should act through diplomatic channel and avoid push-ins and push-backs. Any decision of taking back identified illegal migrants should be endorsed by both central governments rather than local authorities.

Have you ever wondered what is the role of an NGO (Non governmental organization alias aid groups or charities) and what are their mission or vision? Michael Hill writes in the Baltimore Sun about how the NGOs are shaping up in the developing world:

"The reality is that disaster relief is only the tip of the NGO iceberg. In fact, the organizations are as richly diverse in their goals and methods as private corporations. Many have specialties, ranging from trade policy to environmental concerns, democracy building to disaster relief."

Hill writes that "Bangladesh is considered a case of how to do it right".

After the liberation war, the country was left with destroyed infrastructure and a lot of poor mouths to feed. The NGOs like BRAC, Grameen Bank, ASA, Proshika, GSS etc. went into empty spaces that the government could not cover; like providing school infrastructures in remote villages, rehabilitating disaster stricken people and offering them collateral free loan to start a new business (micro credit).

Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, BRAC is regarded as the largest NGO in Bangladesh as well as in the world considering the workforce and the area it covers. It's vision statement is:

"A just, enlightened, healthy and Democratic Bangladesh free from hunger, poverty, environmental degradation and all forms of exploitation based on age, sex, religion and ethnicity"

BRAC has unbelievable figures of achievement:
* Populations covered: 78 million
* BRAC employed: 204,346 persons
* Job created: 5,999,802 nos.
* Schools - Non formal primary - 34,753 nos. & Pre-primary 7,500 nos. all across Bangladesh
* Annual expenditure: US$196 million (with 20% donor contribution and rest from own resources)
* Commercial ventures under BRAC umbrella: Handicraft Outlets (Aarong shops), Cold storage, ISP, Land & Housing, Housing Finance, University, Small and medium enterprise Finance & Banking, Tea Plantation & Software development

BRAC's recent achievement is BRAC Afghanistan:

* It has 21 district offices in Afghanistan & 770 staffs (728 Afghans)
* 83 Community Schools
* Fixed Health clinics
* Offering micro credit to more than 10,000 people and helping revive Afghanistan economy

(Source: BRAC Annual report)

So you see what is the power of NGOs in the developing nations. These are a powerful tool to change the lives of the people of a country and steer it towards progress. No wonder NGOs are also seen as a rival by the government as they tend to undermine some of the government efforts (mostly distracted by corruptions). For an example Proshika , one leading NGO was much harassed by the current government, alleging its unethical involvement with the opposition party and conspiring against the ruling government. The government is enforcing rigid laws to control NGO activities in Bangladesh.

It remains to be seen that whether the achievements of the NGOs are carried forward to a larger scale or they become suppressed or limit their activities towards a cause away from their vision.

The Eid holidays were great. This time I mostly stayed at home out of the reach of PC and keeping my cell phone off. I am finding it hard to have some solitude of my own. Dhaka looked gorgeous with its extremely light traffic (nearly four million went out during these holidays) and pre "SAARC Summit" touch ups. Although I do not like to see blood on the street (read "sacrifice or waste"), I really did not pay much attention to that. Nothing extra-ordinary happened except for usual family visits and filling the tummy with many delicacies. The holidays were refreshing for me. Now back to the same old gear.

January 19, 2005


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January 15, 2005


Paan is a widely used chewable made by taking a betel creeper leaf and wrapping up ingredients like betel nut, lime paste, almond powder, grated coconut, tobacco etc. with it. The delicacy of paan is enjoyed all over the Indian subcontinent including Bangladesh. Paan eating, rather chewing is deeply rooted in our culture and specially the older people love it. Generally Paan has two categories, one is with tobacco and another is without tobacco (Sweet).

Some Paan links:

* David Michel Davis's account of discovery of Paan.

* Know more about Paan and order Paan online.

* Step by Step creation of Sweet Paan.

* The downsides of Paan chewing.

(Links via Charukesi)

I am rarely getting free time at home because of my busy schedules during weekdays. The time I spend at home Saturdays -Thursdays is like:

7:30 - Waking up and all morning rituals including bath
8:00 - Breakfast with eyes on the newspaper.
8:20 - Leaving for office
9:30 - 10 PM arriving home with a tired body and mind.
10:15 - Flirting with my daughter and watching TV till 11:30 before sleeping.

So you see its a pretty boring life except for the time with my daughter and most of the time she falls asleep within 10:30. One day I noticed that there is a faint mew mew sound from the kitchen. S told that one stray cat had sneaked into the house and was messing up with kitchen wares. The cat was not welcome in the house then. Some day later S told me that she has found that cat with a new born kitten lurking in the carpet beneath the living room sofa. It was cold outside so the mother was trying to keep the kitten warm. S put some news paper there so that they can be warm lying on it. However presumably with the fear that its hideout had been discovered, the mother fled with the kitten. I missed the whole show. The next day I could hear a vehement mew mew sound. There was something sad about that sound. S told me excitedly that the whole day the cat was wondering around the house and making that sound and the kitten was not seen with it. Probably she hid the kitten somewhere and she can't find her baby anymore. She was coming back to the old hiding place with the hope that she could find it. Stupid cat! I took my daughter in my arms and tried to find the kitten. I could feel the cat's pain and realized that kids should not be separated from their parents. But I could hardly do anything. Sadly I did not see the cat from the next day and do not know the fate of the kitten. Is this a lesson of life?

January 11, 2005


* A conversation with Microsoft.

* Secret asian man weighs in on media coverage of the tsunami

* Global justice in a shared hemisphere.

* World Cricket Tsunami Appeal Shirt (used) Auction.

* Blogging disaster relief in Phuket.

* Korea rules in new consumer electronics.

January 10, 2005


Men talk as if victory were something fortunate. Work is victory.

It was a team effort. No centuries scored were scored in the match. But there were some fine bowling performances by Md. Rafique, Enamul Haque Jr. & Tapas Baishya. The final score is:

Bangladesh 488 & 204/9 d. and Zimbabwe 312 & 154
Result: Bangladesh won by 226 runs
Series: Bangladesh leads the 2-Test series 1-0

Will blog later. Its party time.

January 09, 2005


People light up candles to commemorate victims of the tsunami disaster at Central Shahid Minar in Dhaka on January 7, 2005. People from all over the country took part in the candlelight vigil organized by civil organizations Angikar Bangladesh, Prakritajan and Barcik.

It was a question asked by a fellow Bangladeshi blogger Ishtiaque when he was surprised to find that his blog was nominated in the Best Bangladeshi/Sri Lankan Blog category of the Asia Weblog Awards 2004. Probably he missed out the fact that it was I who nominated ten of Bangladeshi blogs of my choice. My intention was to highlight as many Bangladeshi bloggers to the international readers which might encourage them to carry on with more interest. Blogs are also a showcase of one persons culture, thoughts and interests as it is public. Bangladesh's national identity portrayed in the world is not always something we can be proud of. I believe that we can show to the world via our blog or any other public media that we Bangladeshis are not at all behind than the other nations.

I am not a fan of the Awards. But a little bit of fame and more acquaintance can widen one' responsibilities and it can really give one the urge to develop the level of understandings and standard. And this award had its glitches. First of all we did not like the idea of merging the single Sri-Lankan nomination Extra-Extra by Fred, a foreigner blogging from Jaffna with six other Bangladeshi Blogs. I chose not to bother about it as I thought it would not matter much. Now the result convinced me more that I should have protested. Extra-Extra won the best blog in the category primarily because it was highlighted as one of the on-the-site blog during the Asian tsunami disaster on December. The blog had way much traffic than its average during last couple of week and it could collect the votes required to beat a Bangladeshi blog. I am not taking away any credit of that blog, but think that Sri-Lanka should have had another category. There were concerns about the weakness of the voting tool to prevent against multiple voting by the same persons. Wamy noticed that in a few hours his vote increased from 26 to 40. which was unusual at the initial stage. From the result before and after the closing of vote it seems that the multiple votes were not filtered by Simon as promised. But again I thank Simon for taking the pain to host this awards. In this process some Bangladeshi blogs got promoted.

For your refernce here is a list for more Bangladeshi bloggers who are doing a fine job. I will make some recommendation here according to the latest posts:

* Tanya in Bangladesh
* Imtiaz's Weblog

Specially I would like to mention this blog "A Whisper from the heart" wonderfully written by a Singaporean girl Gwen about her experience of living in Dhaka. If you read her blog regularly you can learn some Bangla also.

Some disturbing news regarding misuse and exploitation of the tsunami donations are cropping up which disheartens me a lot.

Fake collection efforts by email and by fake collection jars by crooks were seen all over Europe and elsewhere. A woman who registered the domain name tsunamirelief.com says she was conned to donate it by someone who then tried to sell the site name for $50,000 on eBay. Daniel Brett slates Oxfam for their pointless effort in sending the victims thousands of "£60- family aid packages" consisting of plastic buckets, soap, toothpaste, detergent, toilet paper and 55 tonnes of bottled water, which are available at one tenth of the cost in the countries affected by the disaster. He points out that millions of pounds are being spent on airfreighting out resources that could be sourced from Singapore, China, India, Thailand and Malaysia. Buying more from the tsunami affected countries would be a booster for these countries economies and help them in recovering from the mammoth loss.

The saying goes: "there will always be people who will try to profit from catastrophes for their own personal enrichment". But I think the aid agencies and the police need to be more careful so that the donated money can be properly utilized for the caused. And above all let everybody raise questions like this so that the donated money cannot be exploited more.

Update: Parth argues that in countries like India only about 15% reaches the beneficiary in government schemes. So effective aid efforts should be People to People, not Government to Government.

January 05, 2005


"Obviously when you have other sub-standard teams across the world, then surely Australia will end up being the no. 1 Cricket team"

- Javed Miandad, Former Pakistani player/national coach putting things into perspective


The Bangladesh IT sector is not moving forward upto its potential. No major software company emerged, except for a few medical transcription or call center ventures. However the hardware sector and the cybercafes have seen exponential growth this year. Recently a web portal OutsourceBangladesh.com has been launched with a view to promote and increase outsourcing from Bangladesh. This portal will aid specially the small ventures which does not have the ability to spend much in advertising to acquire international contacts. The websites has lots of information about the IT sector of Bangladesh. This type of portal was much needed for the development of the country's IT sector.

1) Most everyone who simply "ducks and covers" WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE are crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different "moment of frequency" (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads - horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible - It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

When buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them. This space is what I call the "triangle of life". The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. In a collapsed building these triangles are everywhere. So just look for them and duck in fetal position. Your chance of survivality will be greater.

- Doug Copp, Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI)

January 03, 2005


The Washington Times reports:

"A United Nations official yesterday backpedaled from his claim that the United States is being 'stingy' in its response to the Asian earthquake disaster after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell disputed the remark. "

Yeah what could he say when the stingy US pledged $350 million (ten folds from initial pledge). The British citizens have personally contributed in excess of $100 million (three times more than what there government pledged). Japan pledged $500 million. The global response in aid of the victims has been overwhelming and the overall generosity has never been seen before.

Some have criticized heavily about the Arab world's response in aid of the tsunami victims:

--Qatar, $25 million
--Saudi Arabia, $10 million
--Kuwait, $2.1 million
--Algeria, $2 million
--Libya, $2 million
--UAE, $2 million
--Turkey, $1.25 million
(figures as of 1/1/2005)

Mahmood of Bahrain criticizes his own government:

In a country where parliament has squandered $31,830,238 in salaries and other benefits over two years without showing anything for it; in a country where the daily income from oil revenue exceeds $6,000,000; in a country where the majority of the workforce are South Asians we give a paltry $2,000,000 to the victims of the Asian tsunami. Shame on you Bahrain.

Meanwhile Professor Juan Cole argues:

If we take their populations and actual per capita income into account, the offers made by these governments are generally more generous than that of the United States. A lot of Middle Eastern countries have small populations, so even if they gave a lot per capita, it would look small in absolute numbers. The Saudi per capita income of about $8,500 per person per year (Atlas method) compares poorly to the US average of $38,000 per year per person.

Just in the context Bangladesh's per capita income hovers around $300 per person per year. Bangladesh has already sent two medical & rescue teams and helicopters manned by more than 100 army personals to Sri Lanka & Maldives (consider the cost of operation).

But I feel that generosity should not be counted only in figures or in context of what others are doing. People should ask themselves what they can do. I hope the people of Arab world & smaller nations would come up with their helping hand as there is still time to help those affected in rehabilitation and set-up of precautions (shelters, warning systems). For a personal view, I would like to quote this fellow:

Why keep score? I'm doing my own giving via private charities, not via the UN nor anything associated with it. For obvious reasons.

This probably echoes the millions of individual voices who have made a difference by extending their helping hand. Charity begins at home.

January 02, 2005


"Our generation wants to be remembered for something more than the war against terror or even the internet. Just as they pulled down the Berlin Wall and drew back the Iron Curtain and ended apartheid, these seemingly impossible hills can be climbed. It might take 20 years or 40 years but I really believe we can be the generation that turns this shift of indifference around."

- Bono, Rock star (U2) & global peace activist

January 01, 2005


Many do not know about the two major disasters Bangladesh faced:

Bangladesh Cyclone, November 1970:

The greatest tropical system disaster this century occurred in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) in November 1970. Winds coupled with a storm surge killed between 300,000- 500,000 people. Actually there was no proper census or death count at that time. These cyclones usually cause the most misery, loss of life, and suffering in low lying areas in Bangladesh (East Pakistan) and coastal India. The West Pakistan, the central government did not do much in aid and rescue operations so the death toll was high.

Bangladesh Cyclone 02B, April 1991:

Another cyclone struck the Chittagong region in Bangladesh in 1991 killing over 138,000 people and causing damage in excess of 1.5 billion dollars. The tropical cyclone devastated the coastal area southeast of Dacca with winds in excess of 130kts and a 20 foot storm surge.

In TIME Magazine coverage of that tragedy "Cyclone of Death" - James Walsh wrote:

In the twinkling of an eye it ended! None could see

When life was, and when life finished!

Twenty- foot walls of water. Demonic winds of crushing force. The horror left behind: 125,000 lives lost, and still counting. A world used to human-scale catastrophes -- plane crashes, say, that kill a few hundred at most -- cannot absorb the biblical dooms that visit Bangladesh. Straddling the conjoined mouths of the Ganges and Brahmaputra, two of the Indian subcontinent's mightiest rivers, the country is regularly drowned by flood crests surging downstream or scourged by whirlwinds from the sea. Of the 20th century's 10 deadliest storms, seven have devoured their victims at the head of the Bay of Bengal.

There were not much media attention, the people of the world just couldn't respond to the appeals of donations like they are doing now for the tsunami victims aided by technology (online banking, paypal etc.). James & Anita wrote that there must be a better way for the relief efforts. The world is now becoming closer because of technology; just look at the tsunami donation response.

Bangladesh despite of all these blows carried on with little help from others. Its economy is developing. Bangladesh was miraculously saved from the sunday's tsunami waves. Experts said that "the shallow water on the continental shelf of Bangladesh slowed down the onrushing sea surges before they could ravage the country's coastline."

From the updated figures in wikipedia, it is becoming evident the Asian Tsunami disaster will surpass Bangladesh's disasters in becoming the biggest disaster in recent times. And the effected nations can learn from the Bangladeshi people about the tremendous courage they showed to stand up from devastation and start all over again. The world is with them this time and life must go on.

* Death by bureaucracy: Daniel Brett slates Indian red tapism, which delayed a rescue and aid effort by Medecins Sans Frontieres in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, which have strict regulation on travel of foreigners.

* Myanmar shrouds its tsunami deaths in secrecy: Nitin predicts that the military junta is not taking any chances to expose its human rights abuses to the foreign aid workers, which might intervene is the true scale of tragedy would come out.

* Bangladesh postpones regional SAARC summit: because of massive destruction in three member countries (India, Sri Lanka & Maldives) caused by sunday's tsunami.

* Astounding satellite views (before & after the tragedy): The scale of devastation is lot more worse than you imagined.

* What the world pledges as on December 31, 2004 and where the money is needed: via Jeff Ooi. Bangladesh has sent two medical and rescue teams and helicopters to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The Bangladesh Cricket Board has donated $10,000 for the Sri Lanka victims in response to the Sri Lankan boards effort to collect donations.

* Tsunami survivors turn to internet to find for lost loved ones: via Rajan.

* The death toll is becoming staggering as the time progresses: Deaths - Confirmed 153,669, Estimated 4,70,000 + out of which 4,00,000 + in Indonesia alone (via Wikipedia). In Bangladesh, about 40 fishing boats are still missing. Hope that there won't be more deaths.
Happy New Year 2005