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

June 30, 2005


"The American Dream has run out of gas. The car has stopped. It no longer supplies the world with its images, its dreams, its fantasies. No more. It's over. It supplies the world with its nightmares now: the Kennedy assassination, Watergate, Vietnam...."

- J. G. Ballard 1930-, British Author

"America makes prodigious mistakes, America has colossal faults, but one thing cannot be denied: America is always on the move. She may be going to Hell, of course, but at least she isn't standing still."

- E.E. (Edward. E.) Cummings 1894-1962, American Poet


Some 40,000 Americans attended in "The concert for Bangladesh" (The first kind of Liveaid effort) and Allen Ginsberg wrote and recited the poem "September on Jessore Road" in a poetry recital program arranged by the forum "Americans for Bangladesh" to raise funds for the refugees of the Bangladesh's war of Independence against Pakistan and protest the genocide of the Pakistani Army.

On the other hand Richard Nixon, the then American president continued supporting the Pakistani military throughout the genocide in Bangladesh, by sending its 7th Fleet (including nuclear submarines and fighter jets to intimidate India who engaged into the battle against Pakistani Army in the fag end of the war.

Manish of Sepia Mutiny posts a pictorial saga of how Nixon ignored the reports of American consulates in Dhaka and Delhi from the recently declassified US government records.

The most notable is the one in which the Dhaka consul communicated his disgust in the infamous Blood telegram:

Nixon retaliated by transferring him out of Bangladesh. In a recent interview in the Indian Express the then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said:

"at the end of the day, I have to think of America."

Certainly, the Nixon and the other US policymakers had thought only of American policies and let the genocide of 3 million people happen. It is surprising that no one is even talking of trying the responsible policymakers for war crimes. And the US government brags about upholding human rights more than any other nations.

June 29, 2005


* A letter to the Indian people by a Pakistani blogger.

* Chana'd discusses the alleged threat of immigrant cultures to the Bahraini culture.

* A recently unveiled US state department report focuses on the views of US during the 1971 India-Pakistan war.

* Why the West must engage Islamists.

* Minority report - a bold article depicting the Bangladesh government's failure in protecting the human rights of the minorities.

* The internet has crashed.

Out of an assorted image gallery of 30 odd pictures of Rickshaw art, Israel pundit finds one, which has a picture of bin Laden and depicts it as an image of "Islamism in Bangladesh".

I am wondering how many more ignorant remarks are out there. How many fools does it take to make up a public?

"The reason there's so much ignorance is that those who have it are so eager to share it"

Sadiq M. Alam is a Bangladeshi studying in Singapore. He declares himself as simple, easy going and humble. His blog "Inspirations & creative thoughts" has become a regular read of mine where he searches the truth and reality concentrating on Sufism and Mysticism. He writes "I'm a Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Taoist ..." and he explains why. It is a must read for everyone. Some excerpts:

"We are all seeking the same goal only at different path. We are all on a journey, knowingly or unknowingly we are trying to reach to the ultimate goal. Some will struggle more, some will less. Some are on straight path, some are not.

But can we deny our aspirations to Love our Beloved God? Can we condemn other just because they speak different language and have different culture? Can we deny their faith just because they call the same God in different name, the same God who is beyond name and form?"

Although he is a true believer of God, he thinks "there is a lot of things one can learn from Atheist philosophy". Surprised? But he does not create catchy statements; he talks of logic and reasoning:

"An atheist deny to believe blindly, and that is a good starting lesson. You don't and shouldn't believe blindly. In Islam, the term Iman is not blind faith as one might think, it is "reasoned faith" or "conviction". In Islam, the last religion doesn't want people to believe blindly, rather want human being to question and seek the truth. In Quran one can find a lot of verses concerning the creation and asking man to ponder and meditate."

One great mind said "the knowledge of truth, combined with the proper regard for it and it's faithful observance, constitutes true education". I couldn't agree more.

June 28, 2005


Take the MIT Weblog Survey

"There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up, and the kind you make up."

June 27, 2005


Imtiaz Muqbil writes an article in the Bangkok post analyzing the obstacles in attracting tourists in Bangladesh discussed at a seminar in Thailand arranged by UN & World Tourism Organization.

"Boasting major attractions like the world's longest beach at Cox's Bazaar and the ecological magnificence of the Sunderbans, the world's largest littoral mangrove belt, and one of the world's biggest Buddhist monasteries at Paharpur, Bangladesh feels it deserves more visitors."
But there are some appalling facts:

* Only 39,840 actual tourists in 2004.

* The tourism council formed in 1992 and chaired by the Prime Minister seems to be in hibernation.

* In 2003-04, the Tourism Corporation, which is responsible for marketing, was given only 10 million taka (about US$158,000). But for the fiscal years 2004-05 and 2005-06, "no funds have been allocated" making it impossible to conduct marketing campaigns in a highly competitive market. No wonder why people question about the quality of promotional materials and their distribution.

* Complicated visa formalities and irritating attitudes of the employees in most of the Bangladesh missions abroad discourage many tourists. Visa procedures should be simplified. Facilities for visa on arrival should be reintroduced for as many countries as possible.

* Bangladesh has taken little measures to counter its "negative image abroad" as a country that faces "abject poverty, floods and cyclones".

I only hope that the government takes up these issues seriously and see some efforts in bringing more tourists to Bangladesh. I am particularly surprised why there is no significant budget for the Parjatan Corporation. If you do not spend money in infrastructural developments and promotions, how can you wish having more tourists?

June 26, 2005


* Quiz: Programming Language Inventor or Serial Killer? (I got 7/10)

* Dress code in a Dhaka fast food joint.

* 50 Coolest Websites 2005: Blogs according to TIME

* Are you a Bangalee? Take this Quiz and find out.

June 25, 2005


The two day long foreign secretary level meeting between Bangladesh and India could not resolve the following:

* The Indian side did not consider Bangladesh’s argument to prohibit construction of any installation within 150 yards of the border, and emphasised the unilateral need for border fencing within and up to 150 yards of the international border.

* The way to reduce the wide trade gap because of differences in removal of para-tariff and non-tariff barriers to Bangladesh’s exports to India.

* In water sharing the threatening Indian river-linking project is not endorsed by Indian think-tanks and the Bangladesh FS said "Bangladesh's protest should not be seen as anti-India but only as an expression of our view on the question of our survival".

* The Indian media criticized Bangladesh of its denial mode that there are no known Indian insurgent's hideouts in the country. The Border Security Force had provided a list of hotels that allegedly shelters ULFA guerillas and a list of their bank accounts in Bangladeshi banks. However Bangladesh media could not find any such name of hotel in the country and the banks did not have branches in the areas which had been listed. So this article in the Statesmen suggests the need for good homework as well as for diplomacy and rectitude in such matters.

However there was no agreement taking steps regarding Bangladeshi miscreants being provided consular access in India.

Still the press says the talks were positive.

Futurebangla Network lists seven clues, which will be catalysts for the future events in Bangladesh politics. They are worth checking. This article published in the economist tells the sorry tale of the state of affairs in Bangladesh politics. Analysts fear that Awami League, the main opposition, will boycott the election alleging government attempts to rig the poll - merely in fear of defeat.

I am wondering about the prospect of a effective coalition of the major opposition parties and perhaps a "national government" comprising representation of all major political parties. The past events of dichotomy of the two major parties cancels out the chance of putting themselves under one roof (Parliament) in future regardless of which party comes to power. As a tax payer I will not prefer paying for maintaining the members of parliament who boycott parliament (for a long time) ridiculing democracy.

June 23, 2005


* Cookies or no cookies (in your hard disk) that is the question.

* The controversial Saira Bronson interviewed on Bangla TV in UK.

* "Kill 3 million of them (Bangladeshi's) and the rest will eat out of our hands. -- Pakitani General Yahya Khan"

This and other interesting quotes compiled by Kamesh

* Exploitation in Northeastern India

* Love the women in you - a tribute to womanhood by Lavannya.

* You can download and watch the highlights of the -Australia match of the NatWest tournament in which Bangladesh beat Australia by 5 wickets. Click this link (255MB wmv file).

Via: Bangladeshi students association at the University of Alberta.

Sameen has a brilliant post blasting all deshis who show disgust and disregard towards life in Bangladesh. She advises the teens of Bangladesh:

Its really easy to be frustrated...but isnt life all about making the best of what you have? ...yes, the country doesnt generate enough power to last 48 continuous hours without a loadshedding, yes the govt is messed up and yes the weather is really bad. But why does that make people assume life in 'America' is so much better?

Actually come to think of it...why are we even comparing bdlife to western life??? If America was 30 something yr old, we would probably have grounds to compare..

People get it wrong always:

DONT JUDGE BANGLADESH BY DHAKA AND DHAKA ONLY! Theres soooooo much more to the country!

And I like this most:

If you make a global show of disrespect for your country, the global community in return will grow disrespect for you. YOU ARE YOUR CULTURE. YOU ARE YOUR RELIGION. YOU ARE YOUR NATION. No matter how corrupt the country is, no matter how messed up the government or the society is...no matter where I go, I represent Bangladesh. I represent Islam. I represent my family.

Damn right you are. And I would also urge every one to be positive and portray a positive image of yourself and the country. Everybody tries to look decent among others no matter how poor and shattered one is inside. Don't get it wrong, its not about deceiving others. Its a mission statement, a positive image of what we want to be. Be positive, life is what you make it.

June 22, 2005


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According to the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey:

"59% of Americans oppose the war with Iraq, while just 39% favor it -- a substantial change from a March poll, when the public was evenly divided, 47% in favor and 47% opposed."

Via Raed Jarrar.

June 20, 2005


Integrity International, an organization based in UK reveals corruption in mammoth proportion in the deal of linking Bangladesh to a submarine cable consortium. It says:

"The corrupt Telecom Minister, Mr. Muhammad Aminul Hoque, allowed Singapore Telecom to pull off possibly the largest and most ruinous public procurement scam in the history of Bangladesh, violating the Constitution of Bangladesh on a grand scale, masterminding a blueprint, as evident from the trail of evidence of massive tampering of information and violation of procurement rules, for plundering BTTB's (Bangladesh Telegraph & Telephone Board) revenue from international traffic estimated to be hundreds of millions of Taka and projected to grow exponentially after the commissioning of the submarine cable network called SEA-ME-WE-4 (South East Asia Middle East Western Europe-4)."

The site has details of how a legitimate international tender was thrown out for no other reason than the prospect of inconceivable enrichment through accepting another backdoor unsolicited proposal from Singtel (a Singapore based Telecommunication company), which has already set foot in Bangladesh acquaring large share of a local cellular company citycell. The catch is that the original tender had an upgradable capacity of 960gbps whereas now BTTB will be having only 10gbps connectivity, which will be exhausted in a couple of years. Now, as Bangladesh is linked with the consortium, the other members of the consortium would also be able to sell their bandwidth in Bangladesh in more competitive rate than BTTB. Singtel has already obtained license for providing Internet through VSAT from Bangladesh and they will only have to invest $15 million to add a backbone in Bangladesh to provide their service. If BTTB wants more bandwith to meet the growing demand, it will have to invest in another connection.

Integrity International reveals that Bangladesh has already lost $250 million in revenue in the two years delay of the project due to retendering. And Bangladesh will loose exponential revenue growth to other companies like Singtel & Bharti Telecom because BTTB was not allowed to safeguard its legitimate interests in the original SEAMEWE-4 negotiations.

This submarine cable has become a curse on Bangladesh after the in mid eighties Ershad military government turned down an offer by another consortium to add Bangladesh with no cost (only they wanted the cable placed through Bangladesh Sea waters). It is said that Ershad was convinced by a report wrote by an arts graduate army major (in charge of communication ministry), which cited that it is a ploy to smuggle all Bangladeshi information through this cable. Some blame the digital divide; I say it is sheer bad luck for Bangladesh that this potential sector forever allured the Bangladeshis.

June 19, 2005


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The Daily Star reports:

State Minister for Energy AKM Mosharraf Hossain yesterday resigned over the Tk 1 crore Lexus scam after the prime minister asked him to stand down.

He claimed that he did not commit any crime in using the car which is a property of Bangladesh Petrolium Corporation (By default the assets of all the foreign company exploring oil/gas in Bangladesh under production sharing agreement are owned by the govt) belonging to his ministry. But the media continued to raise their voices against the benefits Niko has been receiving from his ministry.

The charges against him include:

* He steered the handing over of two gas fields with gases worth $6.3 billion to Niko by the government declaring them abandoned.

* An accident happened in one gasfield (Tengra Tila) in which there was much environmental damge. Niko's faulty drilling was alleged as the cause but the government failed to take any legal action against the company asking for compensation.

* Niko started supplying gas to Petrobangla from its Feni field for 8 months without fixing a price, thanks to Mosharraf's relentless pressure on Petrobangla. Niko is asking $25 per thousand cft whereas Petrobangla is offering the standard $2.10.

Read the article for details.

Its good that the government has salvaged some of its image by taking him out of the scene promptly. Will their be any graft case against him? What will happen to the other big fishes like him? Will they continue to plunder the country and get away easily?

Mukhtaran Mai is a woman who was sentenced by a tribal council in Pakistan to be gang-raped because of an infraction supposedly committed by her brother. The human rights activists tried to send her abroad to escape the humiliation. But she was arrested later on order of the Pakistani president Parvez Musharraf and he defended the action as:

Mai, whose rape was ordered to punish her family for her brother’s alleged affair with a woman from another family, was being taken to the United States by foreign nongovernment organizations "to bad-mouth Pakistan" over the "terrible state" of the nation’s women. "She was told not to go" to the United States to appear on media there to tell her story. He said NGOs are "Westernized fringe elements" which "are as bad as the Islamic extremists."

Nitin has more updates.

In Bangladesh another such human rights abuse is being done by the government against Bidisha Ershad, the former wife of the ex-President and leader of Jatiyo Party H.M. Ershad. The arrest of ailing Bidisha was a drama itself as Ershad sued his wife Bidisha on charges of stealing money (In muslim law husband's money is also wife's money so why stealing?) and death-threatening Ershad. The media suspected political intrigue as Bidisha, being a influential leader of Jatiyo Party is said to be inclined to the opposition Awami League. Her two year old son was stolen by Ershad with the help of police from her (in Police station) with the help of the police. The law says unless settled by the court otherwise, a child should stay with the mother till it is 7 years old. Ershad divorces Bidisha.

Bidisha's lawyers worked hard and the court granted Bails against three cases against her. But she was not released as she was shown arrested in an additional suit. The local law says women and minors in ailing condition would be granted bail immediately irrespective of their charges. Moreover it is a clear case of violating the court order when the Jail authorities could not produced the arrest order of the subsequent suit and they did not honor the courts release order. Meanwhile Ershad confirms that he did not file more than 2 law suits. So it is assumed that there is a hand of the government behind it.

The latest is that court has again rejected her latest bail petition. I wonder how long this mockery would continue against an ailing women. Nobody is guilty until proven. And even a murderer has the right of good treatment and a fair trial. No doubt this is a ploy of the government to intimidate small political parties which are likely to form qualition with the opposition to pose a threat to the ruling qualition. If they succeed that means this tactics can be used to put other political rivals behind the bars.

I think Bangladeshis should raise their voices against these misuse of administrative powers. Otherwise the democracy will soon turn into a autocracy.

I am collating here some of the interesting media coverages on the victory of Bangladesh over Australia.

* The Scotsman - UK:

"It is by far the best win in Bangladesh history, eclipsing the one-day defeats of India and Pakistan, the latter back in the 1999 World Cup."

* The Independent -UK:

"If anything stood out about Bangladesh's exhibition, it was the way they held their nerve, as though they sensed destiny was at hand. In the streets of Chittagong they were doubtless delirious last night; in Sydney they were wondering if Australia could bat, bowl or field."

* The Observer UK:

"The surprise in the success of the chase should lie not in Australia's failure to defend a total twice in four days but in the mature and disciplined fashion in which Bangladesh pursued."

* Rick Eyre collates some in his blog.

* Rabeed Imam of the Daily Star writes an wonderful Article "Earning the world's respect". He writes:

"Too many people judge Bangladesh on pre-conceived, often misinformed, ideas without digging a little deeper. Perhaps that also works in Bangladesh's favour as opposing teams are not remotely aware of the sting they possess. With the conquest of Australia, Bangladesh have won five out of their last nine one-day internationals and the prey list include both finalists of the 2003 World Cup.

Each of those five victories have been achieved through clinical execution of the term professionalism, and look no further than the Cardiff epic for confirmation of that."

Update: Australian PM congratulates Bangladesh

June 18, 2005


I am writing this shortly after Bangladesh’s historic win against Australia in a Natwest trophy one-dayer. According to BBC this is probably the biggest upset in the history of cricket where the top of the league got outplayed by the rock bottom. Read all about it here. We are of course elated by this win. It is the middle of the night and there are drumbeats and dances among the small procession of juveniles in the lane besides my house.

This must be a shock to many but this victory of Bangladesh is a reply to all those who think Bangladesh do not deserve the Test status and do not belong to the elite class of cricket. Ashraful got a wonderful 100 and showed his class. The problem with him is consistency and I hope he does not make a duck in the next match. I could not watch the game all through but was lucky to be in front of TV in the fag end of the match. To me the greatest moment of the match was the 50th over's first ball, when Bangladesh still needed 7 runs of 6 balls. Aftab smashed a brilliant six of Gillespie and Bangladesh actually won that very moment. This sting Bangladesh was lacking until recently. He is surely a talented player to follow in the near future.

You may be wondering by now why I have chosen this title of the post. Actually many are not aware that Bangladesh’s cricket structure is being developed according to a plan. This plan was envisaged by Eddie Barlow, the South African cricketing Guru, who was the coach and the development manager of Bangladesh Cricket team. Sadly, Eddie had to go out of the scene because of health conditions.

No other nation than Australia came forward to lend a hand for Bangladesh. Australian Cricket Board signed a MOU with the Bangladesh Cricket Board under which lots of things are happening in Bangladesh. There are under 13, under 15, under 17 & under 19 development squads. The grounds are being developed with Australians help and guidance. Bangladesh had the privilege of having some good Australian coaches at these levels and now the Bangladesh senior team is guided by the charismatic Dav Whatmore, who is also an Australian.

Well here is my message to Australia. Bangladesh played well today and Australia seemed a bit out of touch. But we Bangladeshis acknowledge what a fine team Australia is. Bangladesh has still a long way to develop its standard. This one win does not take away anything from Australia’s cricketing supremacy and pride. Australia has won in a broader sense, because it has helped Bangladesh develop to this stage. Bangladesh is grateful to Australia for guiding it so far and Bangladesh will be looking forward to raise its standards in the shortest possible time, Australia being its role model. So thank you Australia.

And to the cricket fans of the world. You have seen Bangladesh's potential. It is a young team and I would request all to stand by their ups and downs for a reasonable time so that they gain enough experience. Bravo Bangladesh team. Its celebration time.

Tag: ,

June 16, 2005


* Who can stop the rise of China?

* Showcased sweetmeats are not what they seem - bad news for Bangladeshis

* A letter to the Pakistani people from an Indian blogger

* BSF beats up Bangladeshi to death - humane treatment for alleged trespasser?

* Screenshots by Jeff Ooi of Malaysia wins the freedom bog awards in Asia category for defending freedom of expression in own way.

* Cricket umpire Daryl Harper blogs on the England-Bangladesh 2nd test, which he umpired. He is the first umpire blogger.

June 15, 2005


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বাদল দিনের প্রথম কদম ফুল

"Kodom flower" - only blooms in the rainy season

After almost a month of sultry weather most places of were showered with moderate rainfalls in the last couple of days. It was a great relief from the heat wave that had put many peoples' lives in miseries. At least 35 people were killed and I was pretty much shocked about the news of death of one brilliant young boy just collapsing in the road coming home from school suffering from heat stroke. People were longing for this rain.

There could be no better way for the advent of the rainy season. Today is the first day of Ashar (Asadh), the 3rd month of the Bangla calendar. Ashar and the subsequent month Shrabon form the rainy season, the time of the Monsoons (Borsha). At this time, parched lands are inundated with almost incessant rain and crops are harvested. Borsha is the most dominating season in Bangla literature, particularly in poetry as poets feel numb (with emotions) to write verses. They consider the monsoon a season of separation from the loved one, of nostalgia and nameless longing. They often use to personify Borsha as a young woman pining for her beloved. Probably this has come from an age old tradition. In rural Bengal, the rivers and waterways got inundated in the rainy season, and fishermen and traders used to travel distant places with their boats for a long time. That might have caused the separation and longing.

But Borsha also has a ugly face, specially during its end. Heavy rainfall causes inundation and many people gets dislocated due to flooding of the plains. Severe infrastructural damage is the curse of these floods. Many people have to start all over again.

I hope Borsha (monsoon) shows only its beautiful face this year.

Related reading: Frolicking in monsoon days - a nice article

June 13, 2005


It is really hard for the average Bangladeshis to afford higher education abroad. In homeland they get subsidized education from public universities. The numerous private universities are sprouting up all over the country to accommodate the growing number of students. Although they are a bit steep priced but in quality they are not far behind from world standard and the investment required is much less than foreign education.

In my view, there are two types of Bangladeshi students going for higher education in mostly western countries like the US, UK, Cyprus & Australia. The brilliant students, who easily can get a scholarship from a university, can afford subsidized study abroad with the help of some part time job to meet the living expenses. Many of them achieve academic feats and migrate to a prosperous country with a good job. You can call it brain-drain, but some say it is brain-saving because they might have ended up in a Bangladeshi organization laden with bureaucracy and corruption. They can carry on elsewhere using their brain to its full potential and still contribute to their motherland. This is a harsh view but I am saving the debate for another time.

The second types are the people whom we need to analyze most. Some Bangladeshis go to study abroad as a last resort. They are thrown out of competition for the good institutes because they have a weaker educational background and are not able to work hard. So they have no choice other than to try something different if they want to have a good life like their peers who will have a good government job or a lucrative job in a multinational. Some use education as a mean of human trafficking to a foreign land. Some sell their family belongings just to enter in a prosperous country. But their life abroad becomes as hard as they could ever imagine once they get there. For the students from not so affluent families more than one part time job is required to meet the living expenses. In Bangladesh they usually live in a joint family where the household works are shared by family members and less-expensive maids. But in abroad you have to do everything alone-from earning to cooking, washing and studying if you want to complete the costly education. Most of these types give up by never completing the education and try to assimilate to that country embracing the hard life or go back.

For the students from affluent families, who do not have to take the pressure of part time jobs, the real life begins after their graduation. One of my relatives got an engineering higher degree from UK as his family could afford his education for eight long years. Soon he become frustrated from the discriminations he faced in the job market there because he is an Asian. He came back and got a job in the lucrative Bangladesh Telecom sector and is progressing well. Many of his colleagues completed their education in Bangladesh. So I wonder, for a not so affluent family would this investment be worthwhile?

In a letter published in the daily New Age, a Bangladeshi expatriate in Australia writes about the plights of the Bangladeshi students there who could create a host of opportunities at their own country. Some excerpts:

"There is no doubt the opportunities in the West are considerable. But the world's centre of gravity is fast moving. Pundits are already predicting this will be an "Asian century" on the backs of China and India.

I am struck by the number of people who return to Bangladesh from lives in the West, or elsewhere, and then eke out creative, fruitful existences living in Bangladesh. There are still aspects of the West they will still miss, but the prospect of making significant contributions to their homeland wins out.

The knowledge gained from spending even a short time in the West, especially through employment, can be the inspiration for hundreds of ideas when returning to Bangladesh.

This came true for India as many Indian expatriates are coming back to be a part of the country's economic boom. In Bangladesh progress is happening but not at that pace. Right now apart from the leading sectors like Telecom, IT and the textile industry, the good paymasters are the NGOs, which might not be able to lure the expatriates with limited openings. To start some kind of economic revolution, Bangladesh needs the help of the expatriates abroad who can invest their ideas, capital and expertise in more and more sectors and entrepreneurships. Good or bad at least they will feel at home and be close to their kiths and kin.

June 11, 2005


* The breast-bottle - a new sensation for the infants

* Chinese blogs face restrictions.

* See what happens when cats use fax as toilet.

* Anti-rape device, a new invention, is deemed as a further violence stemmed from male-hating and not a solution to the problem.

* The Root Cause of the Palestinian conflict with Israel is anti-semitism -an Israeli point of view

* Fatwa at Sunniforum: Blogs - not permissible in Islam

June 09, 2005


"Government lasts as long as the under-taxed can defend themselves against the over-taxed."

- Bernard Berenson 1865-1959, Lithuanian-born American Artist

"Nothing is so well calculated to produce a death-like torpor in the country as an extended system of taxation and a great national debt."

- William Cobbett 1762-1835, British Journalist, Reformer


This site promises live webcasting of the national budget. But I am only getting a running text commentary of short notes. No pictures are coming. In the first hour I discovered:

The good:

* For encouraging higher education tax rebate on Books and Journals.

The bad:

* Fixed tax for a mobile phone SIM Card will be Taka 1200.

And the ugly:

* The period for whitening black money is extended up to June 2006.

Scary. Saifur Rahman did not keep the promise and favored the persons who piled wealth through corruption, political favoritism and extorting money from the poor and by giving chance to legalize their loot.

It was pretty disturbing to hear the news that due to an entanglement between the Power authorities and the ministry in charge of the refugees, power has been cut in Geneva camp in Dhaka, one of the sixty six camps all over Bangladesh which refuges some 250,000 Urdu-speaking Pakistani Muslims. According to this report:

"Four camp inmates have died over past three days due to the suffocating heat that has made dozens of men, women and children sick."

I cannot imagine how can people live in this heat wave in the box-like shanties without electricity? You wouldn't treat your enemy like that.

Some introduction is required for these stateless people, known as Biharis apart from what is claimed in this website. During the liberation war in 1971 they were notoriously famous for their support to Pakistani Army and were involved in many atrocities against the Bengalis. Some of them were opportunist and grabbed properties of Bengalis who have fled from towns to villages as the war progressed. Even people say that they played a role in the murder of the intellectuals in December 1971.

After the war the Bengalis took their revenge. I presume (I have no data off hand) they took possession of their lost property driving them out. I don't think the revenge was much lawful. After 1971 many biharis opted for Bangladesh and are now living peacefully. Now why are these camps still remaining? These are the people who boldly opted to go back to Pakistan because how could they live in a place where the people they hated live? They kept hopes for Pakistan alive. But Pakistan did not take them. Because many Pakistanis treat people of East Pakistan as of a no class of their own (even now). Pakistan probably will never recognise them as they are not pure Pakistan blood.

I think it is to the credit of then Bangladeshi government, they were provided camps and protection so that they can be secured from public hatred after the war. And Bengalis are not a violent nation. Now-a-days there remains almost no public grudge against these Biharis. As far I know there are many NGOs working here in Bangladesh to help those people regarding health and education.

I wonder why these people are choosing this plight. As far I know, they had the chance to opt for Bangladesh as it is easy to start their lives as Bangladeshis. You know Bangladesh do not have a national ID system as of now. So it is easy to get a ration card or voter ID posing as Bangladeshi (Just the trouble India is facing about some economic migrants from Bangladesh). And I know that in Dhaka almost 40% of the barbers are from Bihari camps. That means they do not have any restrictions for private jobs. Only for government jobs nationality is an issue. So I am not sure why are they choosing the hard path of keeping their hopes of Pakistan alive.

The lack of sufficient resources and bureaucracy have augmented the plights of these people. I hope that the government takes necessary steps to immediately resolve the power crisis and keep the camps in more humane condition. But my question is how long Bangladesh government can maintain these people, whose heart lies somewhere, with proper facilities from limited resources. And why the international communities are not doing anything to pressurize Pakistan to take care of these people?

Last year I wrote about the decline of tea exports in Bangladesh. This has happened due to the fact that the internal consumption is going up 3.5 percent every year against 1 percent production growth. The country now produces nearly 60 million kilograms a year, but after domestic demand has been satisfied just 12 million is left over for export. There is a great demand for Bangladesh Tea in foreign countries. So the imperative was to increase the productivity.

According to this report, Botanists at the Bangladesh Tea Research Institute have developed a new variety of tea, called BT16. The new variety has a better taste, as well as almost double production yield.

However it will take some years to get the commercial benefits of plantation of this new clone. I hope it will bring good luck for .

June 08, 2005


Jute, nicknamed "Golden Fiber" is a 100% bio-degradable, recyclable, long, soft, shiny plant fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. These threads are woven into textile yarns to produce sacks, carpet base, mats, rope and twine and many other materials.

Jute is a rainy season crop, growing best in warm, humid climates. India, Bangladesh, and China are the main producers of jute. Jute is being used for centuries but industrialised Jute textiles and yarns production started during mid nineteenth century in Dundee, Scotland from the raw Jutes imported mainly from Bengal. By the 1920s Indian Jute Industries mainly the Calcutta mills started competition with Dundee.

The partition of British India in 1947 put an international boundary between the source of the basic commodity in Bangladesh (former East Pakistan) and the manufacturing center in Calcutta (India) and imposed a great burden on Pakistan to compensate for the disruption of the industry that was its greatest source of foreign earnings. But between 1947 and 1971 not enough jute mills were constructed in East Pakistan to lift the industry. East Pakistan could resort to exporting mainly raw Jute at the height of this industry.

In the 1960s, petroleum-based synthetics entered the market, competing with jute for practically all of its uses. The liberation war of 1971 culminating in the emergence of independent Bangladesh and subsequent rebuilding process drove many traditional buyers of jute to shift to synthetics. Jute trade reduced sharply in the next decade and during the mid eighties prices became too low to cover the costs of production. The government started to subsidize this sector which was the largest export earners of the country before losing its supremacy to the garments industry in the early nineties.

The enemy of jute is the competitiveness of polypropylene & polyethylene (known as plastic) materials in the packaging industry because of their flexibility, water resistant quality and light weight. But the nature conscious people will certainly weigh jute over synthetics & plastics because of its bio degradability and low price. Its true that because of advance in technology, traditional Jute products cannot be used in machineries. That is why diversification of Jute products is required. The Jute researchers have developed a large number of innovative new products with high value-addition such as home textiles, jute composites, jute geo-textiles, paper pulp, technical textiles, chemical products, handicrafts and fashion accessories etc.

Bangladesh's competitive advantage in the Jute sector is the fact that jute production is very much labor intensive. The agriculture based country's large rural underemployment can be made use with lower wage rate than other Jute producing countries. In 1985 Bangladesh's share of world trade amounted to 77 percent of all raw jute trade and 45 percent of jute goods. There are realistic possibilities for expanding the share still further if the Jute mills start diversification of Jute products and take an aggressive marketing policy.


Asif Anwar of the Golden Fibre Trade Centre Limited (GFTCL), the leading Bangladeshi Jute exporter writes:

The fascinating fact about Jute is that, it is the widely cultivated vegetable fiber after cotton. I am talking about world production, not the production of Bangladesh. So, think how much fiber this little fertile country produces. However, due to advancement in agriculture, the Indian production of Jute now exceeds the quantity of Bangladesh. Our farmers use high cost good Jute seeds smuggled from India. That's a very bad news for us and for our tradition, as jute is our tradition for centuries. Jute has now entered several diversified sectors. The casing of the very monitor where you are reading this mail can be made from jute, not to mention telephone sets, mouse, interior particle boards, and all other non-woven and composite materials you can think of. Nope, not from the hurd (Pat Kathi) from the Raw Fiber. As Jute has very high tensile strength, even the low quality fiber can give much utility. Henry Ford (CEO of the FORD car co,) has experimented in something that made our Jute farmers happy. He invented a mix of natural and synthetic fibers that was able to produce harder but flexible particle board, that now is being utilized as the inner filling of the door pannel. Previously, glass fiber was used in that place, which used to emit poisonous gas when the car faced any accident. Therefore, people would die of poisonous gas inhalition, not by wounds. Another fact that increased the demand for Jute is the European Union Convention to go for "Green Production". They have banned the use of synthetic materials in Automotive Interiors and encouraged the manufacturers to go for Natural Fibers. Therefore, Jute can again become our beloved "Golden Fiber".

He also informs that no one in the USA nor in other countries knows about Jute. The keyword "What is Jute" is more searched than "Jute Fiber" or "Raw Jute" in the search engines. The Internet Research & Promotion Division of GFTCL is spending 9-12 hours a day for the promotion of Jute, not only for the company. That is really splendid.

Jute in Banglapedia
Jute, kenaf and allied fibres (FAO)
Diversified Jute products - International Jute Study group
Jute Industry in Bangladesh

* Persecution of Bangladesh is just not cricket.

* London shamed by Bangladesh.

* Tanya's top ten things she won't miss about Bangladesh.

* Fake Stories of Bangladeshis Intruding Into India.

* Trash is cash in Bangladesh.

* Lifecycle of a Blogger.

June 06, 2005


* Return Darjeeling to Bangladesh, if no to Gorkhaland: Subash Ghising, GNLF leader

* High Drama staged in Bangladesh’s political arena as ex-dictator H. M. Ershad's second wife was arrested. The events have become hot tabloid items. But she might be a victim of a political intrigue.

* Salahuddin Shoaib Chowdhury hopes for an open and unbiased flow of news about Israel to Bangladesh, increased relations between Israel and Muslim nations, and the elimination of hate toward the Jewish people in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the non-Arab Muslim world.

* In politics everything is possible. The right wing BJP leader L.K. Advani calls Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the force behind the two-nation (Hindu-Muslim) theory, as a "secularist". Express India says "Far from his Hindutva origins, BJP President L.K. Advani has mutated into a travel-to-Pakistan, Babri demolition-bashing, RSS ignoring kind of politician".

* At last haute couture for your Chicks.

* After a heat wave had disrupted lives in Bangladesh for over a week and killing over 20 people, rain finally did sooth the capital and elsewhere. Did this prompt the rain to fall?

Oh no! The book tag meme has hit me too! I am a victim of Owukori, who was victim of another Blogger.

Anyway after few hesitated moments I decided to carry on with this.

My reading habit: I have started reading in the early days of my life. When I was in seventh or eighth grade, besides reading juvenile books and magazines, I became addicted to reading "Masud Rana" series espionage thrillers (with plots like James Bond etc. written in Bangla by Anwar Hossain) which were popular but considered not suitable for juveniles. I was a captivated reader of almost all of the volumes published in that series. I was also enthralled by translated science fictions and fictions life "UFO", "King Solomon’s mines", "She", "Return of She", "Man on Fire". Sheba Publications used to publish such interesting translated books (they are still doing it). Progoti Publications used to publish many wonderful translations from Russian. I have read many wonderful translations of Russian classics published by them. Although I occasionally read Archie's, Tintin and other comics, I started reading English books in the latter part of my teens. Apart from the English novels in the test books, my foray in English literature included thrillers like Tom Clancy’s "The Jackal" and "The Negotiator" and satires like Art Buchwalds "Down the Seine & Up the Potomac" & Stephen Fry’s "Moab is my Wash pot". Besides those easy readings I also ventured into poetry of contemporary poet Allen Ginsberg and other classical poets and dramas of Henrik Ibsen & others when I was a member of “Bishwa Sahitya Kendra Library” (gee I have to find out what happened to my membership). Courtesy of that library I have read many classic literatures either in Bengali or in English. In recent time I regret not finding enough time to read.

Total Number of Books I Own: Never counted but mine & my wife’s collections are more than a thousand. Add to that the inheritance from my dad. I could manage time to read almost 75% of them. I wish to finish all someday. However the most books I have read were borrowed from a library or from an acquaintance.

Last Book I Bought: Living Silence (Burma under military rule) by Christina Fink

Last Book I Read: "Preeti Nin Shokole" (Greetings everyone) – A memoir from Sirajur Rahman, a renowned editor of BBC Bengali Service for 25 years witnessing many histories. BBCs neutral broadcast during the Bangladesh liberation war and the turbulent political times in the 80s & 90s has made it very popular among the people of Bangladesh. In rural areas people use to gather in a place to hear BBCs Bengali Service broadcast and the main attractions are news and analysis. Private media and their news are only a recent phenomenon. Earlier people would confirm a news broadcasted in the government owned media through BBC news. They have even named a place "BBC Bazaar".

Five Books That Mean a Lot to Me: It has to be a flexible and a tentative list:

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* "Ekatturer Dinguli" (Of Blood & Fire) – by Jahanara Imam is the most popular book on the Bangladesh’s liberation war. It is a diary of a mother who let her son choose to go to war abdicating a scholarship in the USA. Her son never returned from the battlefield. Wonderful writings and it is a must read for people who want to know what the Bangladesh Liberation War was all about. (A review)

* Jyotsna o Jononir Golpo – a novel by Humayun Ahmed, a writer, whose fluent writings inspired many of the younger generations of Bangladesh since the eighties. He is a master of short novels depicting problems of typical middle-class Bangladeshis but in this big volume novel he writes about the Liberation War of 1971 in which he has lost his father. The book can be called partly fiction, partly history, partly memoir, and partly diary. The writer has blended history and his imagination in such a way that the readers will be moved by the storyline as if every character and every event were real. He had also recognized the contributions of all the political leaders and managed to stay out of controversy.

* Chobir Deshe Kobitar Deshe - By Sunil Ganguly I like many of the Sunil Ganguly books but this one in particular because it gives us a glimpse of the rich French poetry and the rich history of European Paintings. The book is basically a travelogue of his tour in France. He is a fascinating writer and is able to portray the history with his powerful characters which seems so true to life.

* All round View – By Imran Khan The autobiography of the famous all rounder cricketer of the sub-continent and a previous captain of the Pakistani cricket team. Did you know that he was the most eligible bachelor for sometimes in UK?

* The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran A masterpiece of 26 poetic essays from the poet, philosopher and artist born in Lebanon.

The books I am reading since long but could not finish:

"Oh Jerusalem" – By Dominique La –Pierre & "Brick Lane" by Monica Ali

Tag five people and have them do this on their blogs: I would like to concentrate on the Bangladeshi blogosphere and here are my victims:

Sadiq M. Alam
Ishtiaque Ayub
Hasan Iqbal Wamy
Asif Imtiaz

June 04, 2005


"To read the papers and to listen to the news... one would think the country is in terrible trouble. You do not get that impression when you travel the back roads and the small towns do care about their country and wish it well."

- Charles Kuralt, American TV Commentator

"It may be true that you can't fool all the people all the time, but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country."

- William J. Durant 1885-1981, American Historian, Essayist

June 02, 2005


The Bengalis know how important Hilsha (Ilish in Bengali) fish is to them. Its unique taste and nutritional value have made it a popular fish not only in Bangladesh but in many parts of the world too. It is the national fish of Bangladesh. The Indian Bengalis and the Bengali expatriates all over the world would pay almost anything to have Hilsha in their plate. Hilsha is a deep sea fish and usually caught in the estuaries (where river meets ocean) of the Bay of Bengal, where they come to lay eggs. The big rivers Padma, Meghna and Jamuna are the providers of the most Hilshas and Padma Hilsha is the most famous for its taste.

However, in the recent decade Hilsha production has fallen drastically (almost half) due to overfishing of the small fishes. With the introduction of small hole nylon nets (known as 'current net') fishermen achieved high yields of all sizes of Hilsha. But this has disrupted their reproduction cycle and hence the production has fallen. A study shows that Hilsha is the most nutritious fish in Bangladesh containing the highest range of 200-400 kilo calorie per 100 g of fish along with high rate of energy (1,100-1,700/g), calcium (180-310), protein (21-38/g), and fat (19-35/g). So it can help poor children suffering from malnutrition if consumed regularly.

But the price of Hilsa has become out of reach of the low income groups of Bangladesh because of high demand and low supply. A significant portion of the Hilsha is exported to India and other countries of the world. Officially Bangladesh exports about 5000 tons of Hilsha each year to India, but through smuggling racket additional 8000 tons reach Indians' plates. From a meager annual production of 40000 tons a year that is a hefty portion. So there is a shortage of Hilsha in Bangladesh. The government is keen to increase the Hilsha production. It has introduced ban on fishing in some areas in their reproduction time and imposed punishment if the 'current net' is used to catch small size Hilshas.

Recently India has banned import of Hilsha fish from Bangladesh. That has sparked anger on the other side of the border. Meanwhile in Bangladesh prices have fallen by more than 25% due to increase in supply. The general people are happy that Hilsha fish is within their purchasing power now. But it remains to be seen as to what impact the Indian ban will make on the Hilsha exporters and the fishermen. Bangladesh will loose millions of dollars of foreign currency to start with.

Related: Recipes of some Hilsha delicacies.

June 01, 2005


"Eloquence, at its highest pitch, leaves little room for reason or reflection, but addresses itself entirely to the desires and affections, captivating the willing hearers, and subduing their understanding."

- David Hume 1711-1776, Scottish Philosopher, Historian

"To acquire immunity to eloquence is of the utmost importance to the citizens of a democracy."

- Bertrand Russell 1872-1970, British Philosopher, Mathematician, Essayist


I have come across an exclusive interview of the British MP George Galloway. It was taken on 9 March this year in the Dhaka University campus in Bangladesh.

The Iraq News Network, which published this interview reveals that he came to Bangladesh in last March to draw more support from the Bangladeshi origin voters in his constituency (almost 40%), the London Borough of Tower Hamlet seat. Galloway had been in Bangladesh before and had worked for sometimes in the early eighties.

In this interview he has made these controversial remarks:

"The left is weaker and the Muslims are weaker because they are not together."

"The progressive movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies. Their enemies are the Zionist occupation, American occupation, British occupation of poor countries mainly Muslim countries. On the very grave big issues of the day-issues of war, occupation, justice, opposition to globalization - the Muslims and the progressives are on the same side. So it's necessary to unite these two great forces."

Don't forget to read the whole interview.

As for his thoughts on Bangladesh, I liked this one:

"I don't like to get involved in internal politics in Bangladesh as I think the empire was here for long enough."

He surely is a character. But my instincts tell me to stay away from the eloquent personalities who have the charisma to mesmerize others. Because you may get fooled easily.

The world is full of diverse societies and cultures. With the free flow of information in the internet learning about other cultures has become very easy if one wills. And I think the learning is required for every inquisitive mind at their own pace so that one is never dumbfounded by a silly question and others' witty remarks.

If you read some questions about Sri Lanka from potential visitors posted on a Sri Lankan Tourism Website and the actual responses by the witty website officials, you will understand what I am taking about. (Via CSF)

My picks:

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Sri Lanka? (UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Sri Lanka who can dispense Rattle snake serum.( USA)
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from. All Sri Lankan snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.

Q: Do you have perfume in Sri Lanka? (France)
A: No, WE don't stink.

Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Sri Lanka? (Italy)
A: Only at Christmas.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (Germany)
A: Yes, but you'll have to learn it first.

Don't blame it all on the West. The other regions have weird ideas about the West too.