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

April 30, 2005


* The Da Vinci Code won the British Book Awards but not many are impressed about the quality of the literature. The Catholics are trying to establish that its a fiction, not fact as claimed by Dan Brown, the author. If you have read the book and then go through the history of the characters and plots in the wikipedia, you will find that it is based on a hoax which fits so perfectly in the conspiracy theory. I have given my 2-cents on the book here.

* Is G-mail evil?

* The Telegraph Kolkata publishes an article of Ashok Mitra on Bangladeshi illegal immigrants in India. Few excerpts:

Secularism is as secularism does. The policy indiscriminately followed by the police, specially in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi, to pick up Bengali-speaking Muslims on the ground that they must be Bangladeshis, cuts across this nation’s commitment to secularism.

* The controls of power behind the Anti-Japanese protests in China.

* Bahraini government plans to make registration of all webmasters mandatory in a bid to implement censor. Reporters without Border says:

"This does not happen in any democratic country and is a threat to press freedom."

* There is a new press law in Yemen, which covers weblogs too.

* An open letter to all bloggers.

Philip Browning has written an excellent article in the International Herald Tribune about . Few excerpts:

Is Bangladesh a successful low-income democracy or a failing state? A secular Muslim exemplar or a fundamentalist seedbed? A liberal society, or one beset by corruption and political violence? A crucial component of South Asian geopolitics, or a weak and irrelevant adjunct to India?

All these descriptions contain elements of truth - except irrelevance. Bangladesh matters not just because it has 130 million people, mostly Muslim, or because it is the most densely populated country on earth, but because its Bengali identity makes it the most homogenous nation on the subcontinent.

It is all too easy, however, to overemphasize the dangers of radical Islam here. As in India, there is little history of Islamic violence - more of leftist violence and general political thuggery. The bedrock identity of Bangladesh is being Bengali first, Muslim second.

The bottom line is that Bangladesh remains, with some blemishes, a plural, secular, open and democratic nation whose virtues are seldom credited and whose problems stem in part from the electoral arithmetic and financing needs of party politics.

I wouldn't agree more. But read the whole article. Its rocking.

April 27, 2005


* "Bangladesh: Beyond The Headlines" is a 15 minute long documentary made by a group of Penn State students, with the Schreyer Honors College, who traveled to Bangladesh recently. I couldn't download the 77MB quicktime (.mov) file with my dialup internet connection so am unable to watch it. If anybody can download and watch it I would request to send me a review (or a link).

* The Friday Time's US correspondent Khalid suggests to the fellow Pakistanis: "instead of lecturing the world on human rights because of Abu Gharib, we should first apologize to the people of Bangladesh (for atrocities in 1971)".

* Ornate Pakistani Trucks.

* An urgent appeal to Asian Human Rights Commission.

* Thoughts on Bangla fusion music and a link to the only Bangla music portal.

April 26, 2005


Bangladesh cricket team's England Tour May -June 2005 is overshadowed by the coming Ashes Tour of Australia this summer. They are still the minnows and looked down upon despite their recent performance against Zimbabwe. Many are amused by the thoughts of its unequal rivalry against teams like Australia & England who have a cricket legacy of more than a century. Surely many world records are bound top be broken playing against Bangladesh, they think. And that is why there is no fuss in the international media about this tour.

Tanya Aldred writes in the Gurdian:

Poor Bangladesh, once the flourishing artistic arm of the subcontinent, is now seen as the poor stepbrother of superpower India. The home of the Bengal tiger, the longest beach and the largest littoral mangrove forest in the world does not get a good press. Bangladesh's problems are overlooked. Natural disasters, yet another flood, or yet another monsoon; a literacy rate of 43%; a criticised human rights record.

The chances of Bangladesh making an impact are minimal. But it is we who need to show the most patience and understanding: to put on hold the Ashes obsession and enjoy what is here. According to Habibul Bashar, the captain of Bangladesh Team, Less than six years ago we were the worst Test nation in the world - but we still wanted, and expected, our voice to be heard.

No matter how the performances would be, the Bangladeshi expats in England are ready to rock in the stadiums according to the Bangladeshi cricket websites (the home of some of the most relentlessly optimistic fans any team can wish to have).

The future of Bangladesh cricket, the under 19 squad had a recent tour in Australia and their winning record is 100%. This blog finds that there is no news of this tour anywhere including crickinfo. Theo Pickles, an Australian is the 'high performance, strength, and conditioning coach' of Bangladesh under-19 team and he thinks that "In terms of development it is a crucial stage for the under 19’s as some players prepare to play test cricket for Bangladesh, in some cases potentially within the next few years."

Coincidentally almost all the cricket coaches (of different levels) are Australians. The Australian influence in Bangladesh cricket is notable and I believe it has bestowed professionalism and encouragement for the fight forward on Bangladesh. The Australian cricket board has memorandum of understandings with Bangladesh cricket board to develop its cricket structure and thanks to that the result of improvement can be seen with the bare eyes.

Bangladesh under 19 squad captain Mushfique, who own a test cap on the England tour has this to say:

"Bangladesh haven’t been the best team in the world, but now we are a fighting outfit that have won some big games, and cricket is really improving in our country."

We are relying on young cricketers like Mushfique to take cricket to the next phase.

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Aishwarya Rai, usually dubbed as "The most beautiful woman in the world" appeared on a recent Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah, known to many as "the most powerful women in the world" was well handled by Aish.

When asked why people do not see sex in her movies; not even a kiss, Aishwarya replied:

"I come from the land of the Kama Sutra. So we obviously do have a normal, healthy sex life. [Kissing] is a more private expression of emotions. So I guess art imitates life and that kind of comes across in our cinema as well."

On another answer she said:

"Back home, you're a loser if you say, 'Mom, I'm out of here'. In India it's more about the family, about living together, about remaining connected, and that's probably the most beautiful special thing about it."

That makes Aishwarya even more beautiful. In her words:

"To me, beautiful is as beautiful does. I think that's what speaks volumes. It isn't about the apparent gig. It's about what you do."

Link via Sepia Mutiny (video feed is also available there).

April 24, 2005


In my last post about the border incident I questioned Indian media's jaundiced-eyed views about the incident. Here is a first- hand account of how Indian media portrays :

On a recent debate on NDTV looking at India's relations with Bangladesh there was predictably no talk of any of the larger questions concerning our relations with this neighbour, already so ignored by virtue of our obsession with the Western counterpart. TV shows invariably feature diplomats and ministers, and treat Bangladesh like an evil neighbour. Don't expect to find any of the larger issues raised, such as Bangladesh's apparent internal struggle with hardline elements...but on TV there's never enough time to get beyond pointing fingers. (Always at 'evil' Islamabad and Dhaka).

More and more graphical fabrications were drawn to depict how the BSF jawan was dragged and brutally killed. This has outraged many Indians.

Today I woke up reading the news that Indian copters have violated Bangladesh Airspace and two more civilians died in BSF fire along the zero line. And there are reports of more BSF intrusion. The Indian sources say that Bangladeshi copters violated Indian Airspace. I am not sure whom to trust anymore.

It seems media is playing a role here in escalating the tensions. If people try to reach a verdict on the situations based on any of the media (India or Bangladesh) they will end up with an outraged outburst provoking deterioration of the Indo-Bangla relations.

I have read many Indians' reactions and Dilip has wrote a truely mature piece. He says:

How do you react to this news? Well, for one thing, where's the news coming from? And then, are you Indian or Bangladeshi? How you react, it seems, must depend on your answers to those two questions.

How do you make sense of the utterly different accounts of the same incident?
So I know Indians, outraged by this incident, who are calling for a strong military response against Bangladesh. They rail against the pusillanimity of a country that would be pushed around by a minnow like Bangladesh. Even if there was provocation, they say, Bangladesh cannot do this to an Indian soldier. That country seems to think it is India's equal, and our response should be so overwhelming as to rid them of such grandiose pretensions.

I know Bangladeshis, every bit as outraged, who point to this incident as more evidence of Indian bullying. Over the last five years, they say, the BSF has killed almost 400 innocent Bangladeshis for no reason: one every five days. To go with that toll, there are reports of rapes and assorted other harrassment by the BSF. Indians pay no attention to all this, which annoys Bangladeshis even more.

And I'm left to wonder, why is it that the way we consider incidents like this must be coloured by our national loyalties? Why must we believe our own country's version of events, even if it has holes, over the other's? (Then again, the other country's version also has holes).

Whatever our patriotic impulses, the reality is that two families were shattered that day.

Uncontrollable Indian outburst against Bangladeshis and vice versa will only benefit those people who are playing this audacious game. And amidst all these this mayhem still is alive posing more threat to the Indo-Bangla relations.

Update: Dilip D'Souza's article "Patritic tragedy" in the Mid Day (Mumbai on the web).

Meanwhile BDR says that it has no helicopter in response to Indian media's claim that BDR copters intruded Indian airspace.

April 23, 2005


Hello everyone. I am going to be 7 months old tomorrow. I have learnt a lot of things by now. I can sit, I can flip and grab things on my own. I am amazed by all the new things I am touching and tasting everyday. Anything which has some lace is of my particular interest. And of course tasting and biting things are part of my examination methods. What particularly amazes me is to see other family members eating. They eat a lot of colorful foods and sometimes I want to be on table and share foods with them! I can now eat a lot of things besides milk. My regular diet includes water poached egg, liquid kichuri (rice, pulse and fish/chicken extracts cooked with water), juice of fresh seasonal fruits, and scrapes of banana, water melon etc. Ma can understand which things I like and which I don't from my face expressions. Ma says I fret a lot when I am hungry, but how else can I make others remember that it is my feeding time?

I love to take a bath usually once in a couple of days. I throw my arms and legs in the water in the bathtub and play with the floating Hippo. You can imagine how soothing the bath is for me in this hot and humid weather.

I make a lot of activity throughout the day. The saddest moment for is to bid Baba & Ma goodbye as almost each morning they dress up differently and go to some place (read work). I see them leave with a grim face. Although Dada (grandpa), Dadi (grandma) & Phupi (aunt) takes good care of me and I enjoy staying with them, nobody understands that I feel insecure without my parents around. I look around for them sometimes. Ma comes late in the afternoon and whenever she enters the house, I greet her with intense giggles. When my Baba comes home (why can't he come earlier?)I go wild with happiness and start playing with him (Tip: click the links to here my sound). Baba & Ma loves playing with me. Ma sometimes scolds me when I do not listen to her but Baba is nice enough to tolerate all of my mischief with "meyeta ja dustu hoeche na". I love both of them.

They love me too and I can feel it. Everytime they go out shopping for themselves they end up bringing something for me. I love to go out with them. The neon lights of Dhaka city amazes me. I like to be left alone when I am in a crowd. But don't think I won't reach to you. Watch out for my hand when you are around as I might surprise you by grabbing your tie or hair-clip.

I become very angry when they leave me in the evening and go out. I miss them the whole day because of their work and I have a right to be with them afterwards. There is a lot to see and hear in this world and sitting within four corners is really depressing.

Related readings:

* Rianna's days
* Rianna Update II
* Rianna Update I
* Welcome Rianna

Sharif left a comment in my blog asking for my thoughts on Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury who is detained by Bangladesh government without proper evidence on espionage charges. Some excerpts of his comment:

This is a very sensitive topic amongst us, even educated so called liberal Bangladeshis living abroad act in a very reactionary way. I feel that the idea Free speech was threatened by this arrest in Bangladesh. And also I am concerned about apparent anti-semitic attitude in Bengali culture.

The Israeli-Palestine conflict has reached a level that one cannot blame just a particular side. The history and most importantly the politics of that region is getting more and more complicated that it is not a black and white situation anymore. The peace plans on the table are working towards recognizing both nations a sovereign state. Now, saying that, I am not ignoring the atrocity of the Israeli government and trying not to overlook the suffering of Palestine. Nor I am supporting U.S foreign policy and other discriminations. However, if you recognize Palestine as a state you need to also do the same for Israel. Bangladesh is more concerned on how other Arab nation and fundamentalist in the country will react than establishing a good diplomatic relation. I don't have the source with me, but if I remember Israel was one of first country to recognize Bangladesh even before USA. Recognizing Israel doesn't mean one is supporting the occupation. At present, having a two state solution is viable approach.

I agree with Sharif more or less and think that the idea of free speech is threatened by Shoaib's imprisonment without proper evidence that he is guilty of the accusations. Furthermore, the justice is being delayed for unknown reasons. It is strange that we are not seeing anything in Bangladesh media or other human rights organiztion taking his case. Justice delayed is justice denied. So I think that his trial should be expedited and the truth should come out. But can we rely on a justice system not separated from administration who were farcical enough to charge an infant with raping?

I personally do not know about him or his affiliations. Vincent's Blue informed he was also affiliated with Inquilab, the Islamist newspaper; that is another surprise.But from reading his few articles, I think he is a rational man.

In a recent meeting with Dr. Richard L. Benkin the Bangladeshi ambassador to US claimed Choudhury's incarceration was related to a "purely internal financial dispute" that had "nothing to do with his attempted travel to Israel" or his journalistic activities, which Dr. Benkin thinks is not the truth.

If you think he should be freed please sign the petition. Anybody has more info on this guy and anything on the trial?

April 21, 2005


* The war against terror meme spreads in the games world also. SOCOM 3, an action-based video game designed for Sony PlayStation II, includes a mission in Bangladesh naming it as a militant country. This version is not yet released and expected to be on the selves in August 2005. Bangladesh has lodged an official complaint to Sony to remove its name. Ishtiaque has details. It seems it is not only a game after all.

* After all the fuss that Dave Whatmore is going to be the next Indian coach, he extends his contract with Bangladesh for another two years. It is a great victory for Bangladesh Cricket Board and I think his continuity will be an asset in development of Bangladesh cricket.

* Only in Bangladesh you can find an infant charged with rape and the mockery continued in the court.

* The Full Text of EU resolutions on Bangladesh taken on 14th of this month. The opposition Awami League has made issues out of it to pressurize the government. This sums up Bangladesh government's response.

* Bangladesh's music fraternity is mourning the death of the free lance sound engineer Mobin who died in a car crash. He was accompanying the local pop band BLACK on the way to Dhaka from Chittagong, where they performed a GIG, organised by GrameenPhone on their launch of djuice package. Indian idol starts Amit Sana & Rahul Saxena also performed in the same concert. Some of the BLACK members are still in the hospital with grave injuries. A note from Amit Sana about Bangladesh "I have heard that it is a muslim conservative country. But I see the crowds as free and lively as any Indian crowd".

* Panic(?) is spreading around the Globe because news claimed that Pope had links with the Nazi. World reactions on the election of new Pope Bendict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger).

* Yahoo mail in Bangla! Spooky! Good news is that localized Yahoo will be launched soon.

April 17, 2005


Almost three corners of is surrounded by India. There have been many border clashes between Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) & Indian Border Security Force (BSF) in the recent years. A human rights report says one Bangladeshi was killed in every five days on an average. BSF members often killed and kidnapped Bangladeshi farmers without any reason. A total of 466 people were injured, 467 arrested, 491 kidnapped, 39, including eight children, missing and five women raped by BSF, the report also claims.

Now what is the reason behind those killings? In many of the border areas adjacent villages share common compounds or agricultural fields divided by the invisible border. That doesn't stop the people from crossing over to smuggle goods or earn their livelihood and come back home. The troublemakers are the border patrols. They demand extortions and interfere with their free movement. And of course they have the license to kill at will citing a border tresspassing. India has been pushing since long to complete border fencing to deter economic migrants from Bangladesh to India. In my opinion this move will also be beneficial for Bangladesh because it will decrease the illegal border trade which is twice of the documented ones and this will eventually protect Bangladesh's manufacturing industries. But what India is doing is that they are building the fences within 150 yards of the no-mans zone, which is a violation of international rules. And in many cases they are aggressive in their intensions. Bangladesh has made it clear that if the fencing is done outside the no-mans zone it has no problem with it.

In addition, there are also some disputed territories which are still unreconciled. The perils of keeping disputes alive culminated to more bloody battles which only hampered the two countries relations and did not establish anything.

Yesterday there was another shootout between BDR & BSF in Akhaura district bordering the Indian state Tripura. There are reports that three Bangladeshis killed including a girl in the shootout. However the Hindustan times gave a completely different view of the incident. If you read the Indian media, you will know that BDR open fired, BSF jawans was injured etc. They just simply ignored the Bangladeshi casualties.

It is ironic that the percentage of Indian civilians death is very negligible. That means most of the time the Bagladeshi civilians are targeted in the shootouts and by whose gun they are killed is self explanatory. And I think the BSF Jawans were shot at by BDR to defend the civilians and themselves.

I am still in search of the truth behind the border shootouts and why many Bangladeshi civilians are killed. I hope that the border fencing is completed in quick time so that no more Bangladeshi civilians (and Indians in the process) are killed. Meanwhile Bangladesh government should raise this issue in international quarters and demand proper investigation. Whichever side is found guilty, should compensate the affected families.

I wonder how long the Indian media would continue to have a jaundiced eye-view on these incidents.

Related: Nitin posts his views on this.

Update: This is turning out to be a lengthy brawl. India & Bangladesh both have claimed willful, unprovoked attack by the opposite side. Meanwhile the Indian media is still ignoring the Bangladesh civilian casualties and fabricating how the BSF personnel was dragged by force (?) 250 yards inside Bangladesh Territory. The India-Bangladesh border trade on the other side of the country was put on a halt because of these incidents. Indian BSF is now empowered with shoot at sight orders and lets see how more civilians have to die to establish their superiority.

Further Update: I seem to have been vague in the number of Bangladeshis killed by BSF. The number is stunning - 377 killed in last five years. And yet Bangladesh government has not asked for probes and asked for compensation from Indian government.

The tension seems to have diffused and Bangladesh ordered probe for the BSF jawan killed. For the 377 Bangladeshis killed above was there any probe or concern?

* "A living contradiction" in his own words, Salahuddin Shoaib Chowdhury's new column in the Jerusalem Post.

* 22 persons gets death sentence and 6 persons life imprisonment as the court gives the verdict of Awami League MP Ahsanullah Master's assasination case. Asif thinks it is an eyewash as the main accused ruling BNP activists will eventually be freed.

* Bridge Blog is a great list of worldwide blogs.

* The statesmen and the cricketers on a peace mission. It seems Pakistan is winning the one-day series. And India is winning because it could break the ice of cold relation despite many protests.

* What does Pahela Baishakh mean to the Bangladeshi Bangalis in the 21st century?

April 16, 2005


The Bangla new year celebrations in Dhaka went extremely well this time. The news papers report of a record turnout. I could feel this as I had to wade through the crowd in Shahbag. I really missed not being in the Ramna Batmul concert in the early hours. After the 2001 bombing incident, my wife is a bit apprehensive about going in person, when there is live feed available in TV. So I stayed at home mainly except attending two get-togethers with lavish deshi delicacies (lunch & dinner) arranged by two of my fraternities. Sorry Mac, couldn't manage time to attend your GIG. Once you were in the streets, you could see the festive mood everywhere. Most women were in Saris based in white with multicolor motives and men were in traditional Panjabis/Fatuas. There were many programs going on across the Dhaka city and in other parts of Bangladesh. You can read about them here, here and here. More than 7,000 members of armed police, elite force RAB and other agencies with dog squads were deployed to maintain law and order at different festival venues in the city.

It proves one thing is that if the government is keen to protect the law-and-order situation, it can. After the banning of two Islami militant organizations, there were no bombing incidents. So people have really turned out in large numbers.

I have heard that in a Juma' sermon yesterday, one cleric was complaining that Bengali Muslims turn out in numbers for the Pahela Baishakh celebrations but not for Islamic day events. He claimed that they should do vice-versa. And to some clerics Pahela Baishakh celebrations are not Islamic as in some of the rallies people carry masks of different creatures. Did this occur in their minds that people merely make the processions colorfull with these masks as they are symbols of nature; people do not worship them. These celebrations, Baishakhi fairs are a part of the age old traditions which are followed by Bengalis of all religion. So it would be wrong to try to interpret these mass turnouts in narrow religious views. Why should people restrict culture into religios activities only?

Karl Kraus said:

When a culture feels that its end has come, it sends for a priest.

According to Albert Camus:

Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle.

The sea of people, who turned out for the New Year celebrations carries on the legacy of Bangladesh and its culture fearing no intimidation.

Our good friend Daniel Brett was banned from commenting in the blog Harry's Place while defending the British Bangladeshi community from the relentless attacks by the pro-war & pro-blair individuals. According to Daniel, these people see the country's problems as a problem with Islam, conveniantly unrelated to issues relating to extreme poverty, ecological problems and lack of good governance. And they have only started paying attention to Bangladesh when British Bangladeshis turned their backs on Blair.

Daniel concludes in his eye opening post:

Bangladesh is not an Islamist culture or society and is not in danger of being "Talibanised", as alleged by Rupert Murdoch's "Far Eastern Economic Review". Bangladeshis died in their millions fighting the Islamist state of Pakistan to create a secular, sovereign and democratic state. Despite military coups, Bangladeshis are still wedded to the values on which their country was founded. Meanwhile, support for Islamist parties in the last elections was around 5% of the total vote.

Perhaps those at Harry's Place should visit Bangladesh and talk with ordinary Bangladeshis, instead of being led by their anti-Muslim prejudices.

Thank you Daniel for taking all the pain to defend .

April 13, 2005


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Shuvo Nobobarsha!

Nobo Barsha, Bangla for New Year, also known as "Pahela Baishakh", marks the beginning of Baisakh, the first month of Bengali calendar. It is usually marked by the tradition of "Halkhata", opening of books of accounts for the new year by the village traders. The celebration of Pahela Baishakh by broad masses in the Bangladesh context may be dated from the observance of the day by "Chhayanat", a cultural organization in 1965. In an attempt to suppress Bengali culture, the Pakistan Government had banned tagore songs. Protesting this move, Chhayanat opened their Pahela Baishakh celebrations at Ramna Park with Tagore's song welcoming the month. The day continued to be celebrated in East Pakistan as a symbol of Bengali culture. After 1972 it became a national festival, a symbol of the Bangladesh nationalist movement and an integral part of the people's cultural heritage. Read more about Pahela Baishakh.

Wishing everyone a happy Bengali New Year (1412), a happy Thai New Year (Songkran) and a happy Combodian New Year (Maha Songkran).

April 12, 2005


* Greg Chappell or Dav Whatmore: who should be the next coach of Indian Cricket team?
Chappell want's the job, Dav refuted media speculations that he has already talked with Indian board regarding this. Experts say Dav would be the right choice for India. Bangladesh cricket board is optimistic about extending Dav's contract which ends this month.

* If they answer not to thy call walk alone: "Ekla Cholo re" is one of my favorite bengali song written by poet Rabindranath Tagore which is included in the soundtrack of the movie "Bose-the forgotten hero". I am looking forward to watching this one. (via Sen's spot)

* Does Muslims respect Jewish 10 commandments? Sadiq quotes quranic verses to show that they does as opposed to the gross misconception about Islam lying in the West.

* The garments building collapse in Bangladesh: Apparently faulty building materials not a boiler explosion caused the 9 storey building to collapse leaving 23 killed and 350 trapped. I pray for their early rescue.

What is remarkable is that I have found this article which citing the accident denounced the deplorable conditions of the Bangladesh Garments industries. The article is full of baseless facts with no specified source. Surely the intention of this writer is questionable.

The use of faulty building materials and un-authorized designs is a sad phenomenon of Bangladesh's house-building sector and the peril is there for everyone not only the garment factories housed in rented apartment spaces. The government is trying to control the grafts but should try harder after this incident.

As ready-made garments is the thrust export sector of Bangladesh, these negative propaganda should be dealt with by the authorities carefully. Losing a garments contract will not make the situation better; infact those poor people will loose their jobs puting them into further misery.

April 11, 2005


Jane Novak of Armies of Liberation, an American political analyst and columnist has published many columns in international print media. In the past year she had been covering Bangladesh and she did one thing what the traditional media people do not bother to do. She had tracked Bangladeshi blogs and communicated with some of them in person to clear many thaughts and facts to better her understandings about Bangladesh. The end result can be seen in one of her latest columns in the Arab News. She does not label Bangladesh grossly as a rogue fundamentalist country and try to trash Bangladeshis as minnows like a typical Bangladesh bashing article. She starts with:

Bangladeshis have much to be proud of. They achieved independence and a pluralistic state after a hard-fought war. Nearly twenty years later they took to the streets dissatisfied with military rule and stood united for democracy. Devastating annual floods covering a third of the country does not deter their commitment to democracy and modernity. Lately Bangladesh has gained notoriety for the spread of extremism, but jihadis don’t spring from the ground like mushrooms.

She has covered every aspect, questioned the government's sincerity in the action against Bangla Bhai and other extremists, criticised Awami league's boycotting parliament and the fact that Hartal is damaging the economy and exhausting the population. She describes:

A government-controlled media, everywhere it exists, is an anti-democratic institution. Similarly an executive branch that wields influence in the judiciary or bureaucracy poisons democracy. An educational system that does not teach economically viable skills is a disservice to the nation. Corruption denies citizens their equality, and it prevents achievement-based social mobility.

And now the best part of the article; she advocates Western support in lieu of admonition:

For their democracy to flourish and thrive, the Bangladeshi people need Western assistance in cutting off the external sources of terrorist funding, developing their export markets, protecting themselves from natural disasters, and growing their economy. Given this support, 140 million Bangladeshis can achieve their goal of a modern, pluralistic, self-sufficient state. Without it, militant groups will continue to find fertile ground in this Muslim nation to the irritation of the West and the despair of the Bangladeshis themselves.

Thank you Jane for a better understanding of Bangladesh.

The article is cross-posted in Blogger News Network and Middle East Transparent.

April 10, 2005


I have been reading bits and pieces about the story for a couple of days. "One 16 year old Bangladeshi girl detained in NY on suspicion of planning suicide bombing, who was drawn to Islam" - pretty eye-catching phrases. Surely sites like LGF were quick to flash this news everywhere. They said the girl was so brainwashed in bigoted Islam that she quit the school over a veil issue and she was reported by her own father. I couldn't read the original New York Times article, which requires registration. But thanks to the good folks Avi and Saurav at Sepia Mutiny I got the whole picture. The full article can be found here.

Apparently the immigration authorities and the FBI screwed up and locked up two innocent teens based on suspicions stemmed from misunderstanding over a school essay. The indictment on the Guinean girl is even more filled with fantasy.

The mother of the Bangladeshi girl, conveying her daughter's account, said the two girls met for the first time at 26 Federal Plaza after her daughter's arrest. But when the other girl, a Guinean who was facing deportation with her family, noticed her daughter's veil, she gave her a traditional Muslim greeting, and federal agents seemed to think they were friends. The second girl ended up in the Pennsylvania detention center, too.

The chance of the girls getting the justice is slim and the families fear deportation. Because:

The Bangladeshi girl’s father earns less than $16,000 a year, hired a New York immigration lawyer for $2,500. But the lawyer declined to attend her first hearing, according to a motion he filed seeking to handle the matter "telephonically", because of "time constraints".

Abhi has contacted the ACLU and they have said that they will help her. Those who want to get involved can contact with Saurav.

Many were shocked by this act of the US government. Suarav calls this a travesty and blames US anti-immigrant legislations over the past ten years (eliminating the marginal labor pool when it's not needed and/or desired?, scapegoating disempowered groups, taking advantage of groups that have limited rights under the legal structure, etc.). He thinks:

"the government may have finally crossed the public relations line with this one (they crossed the human decency line a long time ago.)"

April 09, 2005


* Kolkata 4 Dhaka 2 - A comparison of Dhaka & Kolkata.

* Is the marriage of convenience heading for a divorce?

* More about trafficking men.

* Have you heard of anyone blogging behind bars? (via Buzzmachine)

* Mozilla Firefox in Bangla.

In a recent post I have argued how Bangladeshi government employees were dragged to corruption out of necessity. Many can brag about the prevailing corruption in Bangladesh, but nobody is eager to go at the root of the problem. The last government pay-increase was eight years ago. How can government employees match their living standard induced with inflation? A typical first class officer in Bangladesh get almost one-forth of an employee in India or Sri-Lanka of a similar position. We are telling them not to get corrupted. Are we providing them with any alternatives than corruption?

According to this report, IMF is trying to defer the new pay commission initiatives taken by the government arguing that it would create an additional burden on the government exchequer. I think these guys study only the balance of payments rather than the other things in perspective. I should give credit to the Bangladeshi finance minister Mr. Saifur Rahman who defended the government move saying if the revenue earnings were raised by half per cent only, the new pay scale could be implemented at ease.

Its true that there will be inflation if the new pay scale is implemented, but it is furthermore important to match the government salaries with current market rate. Please note the private sector pays lot more than the public sector inducing many brilliant students ignoring government jobs. I hope that this would decrease the level of corruption in the country.

After introducing the revamped electronic signals the streets of Dhaka city it was expected that the notorious Dhaka traffic would get a bit disciplined. But after half an year things are slowly going back to the same unruly state as before. The traffic police were keen to fine for signal breach initially. I remember paying fine of Tk. 500 for a marginal one. Now-a-days almost everybody is skipping traffic lights in many places and traffic police are just ignoring things. After 10PM at night or in empty roads, the drivers (mostly chauffeurs) are not at all abiding by the lights. Even I get mocked by the drivers behind me for waiting 2 minutes on an empty road at a red light. People just don't have any respect for rules. And where there are rickshaws plying, the situation is even worse. Because they do not follow any rule and move in any direction unnoticed.

I feel pity for the policemen. Because a couple of days ago a constable was beaten up by a person, who is the son of one of the ruling BNP's MP. His guilt was the MP's son was stopped for violating red light. In a country where politicians disrupt normal police proceedings, outlook of the politicians and the consciousness of the general people should be changed before we can expect any change in the current situation. I think the police should get tough on fines again and impose small fines on rickshaws also for a starter.

April 05, 2005


Dr. Fazlur Rahman Khan (1929-1982)

He is famous for his efficient designs for Chicago’s 100-story John Hancock Center and 110-story Sears Tower (the tallest building in the United States since its completion in 1974).

Related readings:

* F.R. Khan - an architect with a difference

* F. R. Khan entry in Bangladpedia

Nazli Kibria, who is an associate professor of sociology at Boston University and the daughter of the assassinated political leader SAMS Kibria writes an article in the LA Times.

She asks the world:

"Is it prudent to ignore a political crisis in a country of 141 million people, home to the fourth-largest concentration of Muslims in the world? Are we better off dealing immediately with a problem that can most likely be solved through firm international diplomacy or waiting for a later time when we may be contending with a rogue state that lends aid and comfort to Islamist extremists?"

I don't know whether the above statement would be welcomed by the present government but I resonate with her:

"I hope his assassination will mark a new beginning for Bangladesh, one in which the country moves away from terror and toward the vision of democracy, justice and tolerance that my father held so dear."

April 04, 2005


Have you wondered what the advantage of a rock star cum blogger is? He can act as his own publicity manager. And its just great because he may be able to spread the news to the whole Bangladeshi community across the world via internet.

Maqsood aka Mac is performing live in Dhaka in two events on the 14th of April on the day of Pahela Baishakh (Bengali new near). Check his blog for the details.

You can also listen to him performing live on April 16th at Onirbaan via internet. This is an interactive Voice only show, and you have to register & log-in and then get here for access to Paltalk instructions. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. Bangladesh time.

Rock on!

April 01, 2005


* The 100 Greatest April Fool hoaxes of all time (via Tigerhawk).

* Dictionary of SHIT

* The new tool to cheat in the exam

* The American zombie cult

* Are you a black man? Don't go to Russia.

* Moon Fountains

* BoringBoring - A directory of dull things.