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

September 27, 2005


* Jamati and Moududi thoughts: an illustration of bankruptcy.

* Why do people leave anonymous comments in blogs?

* According to the kids love is...

* All the politics with Ganguly.

* Slavery in Bahrain.

* Sonia Naz update.

* The ultimate investment reading list.

* Indian English collated by an expat.

September 25, 2005


* An autumn summer reading list for IT managers.

* How one new company brought hope to one of the world’s poorest countries.

* what would post-modern wahhabism look like?

* RSF Handbook for Bloggers & Cyberdissidents is now available.

* World's smallest microbot

* I hate you - what a girl means.

September 24, 2005


Hello everyone, its long since I last talked with you. Hope you all are doing great. I am ok but Ma & Baba were suffering from food poisoning (not again!). I am glad they could stand up on their feet for my birthday party. Yes, did you forget it was my 1st birthday party?

I have personally invited a lot of people with a nice invitation card. Ma took all the pain (with the help of Baba) in decorating the restaurant with balloons and colored cartoon sketches. Dada, Dadi, Nani, Phupi, Khala everybody were so excited about the event and took a lot of preparations like choosing special dresses. Ma also packed gifts for all the kids that were invited. They had a great fun.

Dada sponsored this skyscraper cake. At the final moment I was more interested in examining the knife rather than cutting the cake. After all what's great in spoiling the beauty? Everybody enjoyed the cake and the food. The restaurant had many Afghan, Indian and local dishes in their buffet range. Kebabs and Roti/Paratha were served direct from the grill/pans. The dessert items were great including fresh fried zillepies from pan.

Denying a lot of peoples' predictions I was in a merry mood during the event. I received many kisses, hugs and pats without much protest. Actually its nice to see everybody's happy face. And after all I have become a bit matured don't you think?

Now I can say many words. When I see a strange thing or a new person I immediately say 'Eidakiiiii…' or 'Oidakiiiiiiiii' (what is it?). I can say 'dao' (give) or (kole) 'nao' (take me) to assert my intentions. Ma sometime becomes puzzled with my constant "Edakii/Oidakii"s and worry about my inquisitiveness, but you know there are a whole lot of things in the world to explore. I have become more social now a days. Baba says that I have become a good an intelligent girl. Unlike others he never stops me in dropping things down. He understands that I do it to hear the sound of the dropping. My favorite hangouts are the windows. I yell a lot at the passers by but sadly they don't understand what I am saying. Everybody remains extra alert whether I drop any valuable things out of the window. They forget that the human nature of loving earthly objects are pointless and they should bother more about the growth and happiness of the heavenly creatures (babies like me).

See you later. Waving tata (goodbye) now.

Related reading: Previous Rianna updates

September 22, 2005


I think many Bangladeshis like me are pissed with the flurry of insignificant Hartals (general strikes) called by several political parties. These are total wastes of country's productivity and only cause common peoples' inconvenience.

I have come across this interesting news:

The Indian Supreme Court on Friday directed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena to deposit twenty lakh rupees each in compensation for the loss caused to the public by the Mumbai bandh (general strike) called by them in July 2003.

The court's directive came following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by NGO "Agni," theatre personality Alyque Padamsee and former Municipal Commissioner of Mumbai B G Deshmukh.

The petitioners had claimed that the city had suffered a loss of Rs 50 lakhs due to the bandh.

If this ruling can happen in India I don't understand why it can't be replicated in Bangladesh. Any suggestions?

September 19, 2005


There were many sedated reports in many newspapers. But none as striking as the daily Janakantha report:


Since the August 17 bombings we have been hearing many conspiracy theories. I wrote in a previous post:
The oppositions are blaming government, the government and the Islami parties are blaming Awami League and its allies and the general people are confused as it is pretty clear that the banned Islamic terrorist organization Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) is behind this.

If you look at the above cartoon, you will understand the height of the blame game. Some Jamaat leaders accused even MOSSAD & RAW for the involvement and consistently indicating that JMB is being wrongly accused.

Via Wamy I have encountered another mind-boggling conspiracy theory. He writes:

The intelligence services are reporting that the residences of central Jamaat leaders, my father being one of them, are now targets of the enemy. They are going to come here in an ordinary fashion and hide bomb making materials somewhere near the house or, if possible, inside the house and then they are going to inform the police about that and the next day The Daily Star, Prothom Alo, Jugantor, and all other Jamaat hating newspapers are going to lead the news with an 8 column heading.

No offence to Wamy's personal feelings of insecurity, but I can't understand how on earth this invisible enemy can deploy around 500 bombs all over the country and roam at large without being spotted (presuming the 250 JMB perpetrators as innocent) and now still are able to plant evidences of the crime in somebody's house so that they can be defamed. Are the intelligence people dumb enough failing to figure out which is planted or which is not. Or is Jamaat wary of the fact that a intelligence might be induced into framing Jamaat suggesting a rift in BNP-Jamaat alliance? Is the Jamaat scared of some hidden truth being exposed?

And why these newspapers are accused of Jamaat hating? Because they don't endorse Jamaat views and ask too many questions? As far I know the newspapers quoted do not belong to or patronize any political party. It may be noted that the right wing Islami Newspapers like the Daily Inqilab (which can be deemed as a Awami League and India hater) also brought out the news of the recent JMB raids and no strong claim of framing Jamaat were reported.

I think its time to call a spade a spade and refrain from any more conspiracy theories. If Jamaat is not guilty then they should not dilute the clear water. Let us quit pointing fingures at each other and deal with the enemy of the state together.

"The search for conspiracy only increases the elements of morbidity and paranoia and fantasy in this country. It romanticizes crimes that are terrible because of their lack of purpose. It obscures our necessary understanding, all of us, that in this life there is often tragedy without reason."

September 18, 2005


* A sarcastic look at a lawsuit against Wal Mart.

* Gender Stereotypes.

* Causes of fuel price increase.

* Why is a blog better than a woman?

* Pakistanis religion fanatics.

* Google Total is very useful.

September 16, 2005


"When I see a handcuffed youth putting his head down, I do not see him as a notorious extremist, I see in him a helpless youth victim of exploitation"

The above is an excerpt from an article (Bengali) written by Md. Zafar Iqbal. His touching writings shed light to the fact that Madrassa education which is often the last resort of getting an education of the parentless children is being neglected by the government. The quality of the curriculum and education are never controlled, poorly funded, and it is deemed by the job industry as substandard. So the youths who receive Madrassa education become frustrated with life easily and fall into the grip of the fundamentalists who wants to manipulate them in Jihadi doctrine.

Last year I wrote a post about Madrassa education where I quoted someone:

We are doing injustice to the Madrassa students by not condemning the atrocities against them and not bettering their conditions regarding education and establishment. The government has a great role to play for modernizing & updating Madrassa education.

Mr. Iqbal ends his article with this:

"I am curious to learn about those big religious leaders of our country who prefer and promote madrassa education over the general education. Where are their sons and daughters studying? In Madrassas or in schools or colleges? "

Yes we want to know that too!

I have recently worte about the Jamaate-Islami lawmaker's ridiculous claim that involvement of the Islami extremist organization Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) are baseless and propaganda of certain quarters when all the evidences are pointing out to them.

Now things are looking very complicated as two activists of Islami Chhatra Shibir, student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, were arrested on the national parliamen premises with CDs and books on jihad on Wednesday night at 12:30am by police.

The Daily Star reports:

Following the arrest, ruling Jamaat MPs started lobbying with the speaker for the release of the arrested Shibir activists. They also put pressure on the police not to disclose the incident.

Jamaat lawmaker Abdul Aziz asked the sergeant-at-arms to initiate steps for their release, which the latter refused, saying it is the jurisdiction of the speaker.

The lawmaker (then) tried to convince the speaker (over phone)saying they are Shibir activists from his Gaibandha-1 constituency and they were returning from a religious function, sources said.

Later, Aziz even physically went to the police station.

The speaker responded: "It is a sensitive matter and related to the security of the parliament complex. Law will take its own course."

The two were released next day on bail. The police is now keeping mum about the contents of the confiscated CDs and books.

I think the next Jamaati statement would be that the cops were harassing some innocent Muslims who were taking a walk in the parliament area late at night and their possessions were legal as Jihad is never a sedition, it is a democratic right.

This week's South Asian blog roundup is up in Asiapundit blog. Please check it out.

September 15, 2005


While the home minister Babar and his security forces have achieved some success in uncovering the 8/17 bombers' den, the right-wing Islami Party Jamaat-e-Islami lawmakers are still claiming that the intelligence reports of involvement of the Islami extremist organization Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) are baseless and propaganda. Well what more proof they really need?

Their ridiculous behaviors are triggering questions in peoples' minds.
"He is like the Hendrix of Bangladesh. Though he has never sung in Hindi I will still take a chance on this because of his unique style."
According to this news: Bangladeshi rockstar James will sing a song for Mahesh Bhatt’s upcoming movie "Gangster". He will be the first ever Bangladeshi rock singer to have sung in a Hindi film. Great!

One NY firefighter got frustrated with Al-Qaeda and attacked a Bangladeshi immigrant. Its time for an Al-Qaeda look alike contest.

When a problem remains unresolved too long it creates more problems.

Jairam Ramesh, member of Indian national advisory council and a congress MP stresses the importance of acknowledging Bangladesh's progress in social development amidst a deeply divided political system and the growth of religious fanaticism. He suggests "If Bangladesh can do all this, surely the more favourably endowed north Indian States can replicate its success".

A stable and developing Bangladesh and good bi-lateral relations should benefit India more as the opposite will only increase economic migrants and more rifts between the nations, whose national anthems are written and composed by the same poet.

Read the whole article published in the Hindu.

September 11, 2005


Deshi girl has details.

Excerpts from a letter to the editor of The Toronto Star (registration required):

I recently returned from Bombay, India where I survived the worst floods to hit that city in 100 years. While not on the catastrophic scale of Katrina, the floods that hit Bombay on July 26 sent the city reeling under five metres of water in some places. Thousands died.

Yet, in the midst of this chaos this fragile city hung together by a slender thread that is the city's indomitable spirit and heart. People dwelling in shanties and apartments came out in droves to feed the helpless stranded in their cars and buses for more than 16 hours. Passengers marooned in trains on the outskirts of the city were greeted by poor villagers bearing food and water — even though these villagers can barely scrape together one square meal a day!

Despite an utter breakdown of communication, law and order held. Not one women or child was attacked or harmed. Compare this with the mayhem, looting and rape in New Orleans. As a North American, I hang my head in shame.
- Meyer Moses, Thornhill

Via Faramin.

This guy is totally messed up.

September 08, 2005


The global call to action against poverty is a worldwide alliance committed to making world leaders live up to their promises, and to making a breakthrough on poverty in 2005. They are organizing the 2nd White Band Day campaign on Saturday, September 10, 2005 to send a message to the leaders of the UN world summit to be held on Septembr 14-16, 2005. On this day all you have to do is to wear a simple white band and show the world that you want action, not just words.

Numerous organizations all over the world are supporting this call. So find your country's involvement in this and act locally.

Click here to learn more about the campaign in Bangladesh.

May there always be work for your hands to do;
May your purse always hold a coin or two;
May the sun always shine on your windowpane;
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain;
May the hand of a friend always be near you;
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

September 07, 2005


David Montero of The Christian Science Monitor has written an interesting article titled as above. As I have written earlier he also thinks that foreign funding and bitter politics may have played a role in the recent bombings. The ruling party is only short to admit the foreign involvement and the rise of Islamic extremism in public as they fear to lose the backing of the rightwing Islami party vote bank. This apprehension is deterring the police to take hard line measures against the extremists. No wonder how the extremists have found room to flourish.

The accused JMB is active since 1998 with 10,000 trained full-time operatives, and 100,000 part-time activists, funded with a payroll of more than $10,000 a month (hefty amount in Bangladeshi standard) with the aim of funding an Islamic state. Now wherefrom are the money coming? The trail traces back to Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Pakistan.

Read the whole article.

Meanwhile there are fresh alerts of Bomb attacks raised. People are wondering what the extremists next mathemetical precision targets will be.

* Unicef praises Bangladesh's social sector successes.

* Bangladesh faces the challenge of globalization.

* Thoughts on terrorism in Bangladesh.

* Bangladeshi cop gets beaten by an actress!

* How Britain got good restaurant food.

* Bangladesh invents low-cost technology to treat industrial waste.
"Sooner or later comes a crisis in our affairs, and how we meet it determines our future happiness and success. Since the beginning of time, every form of life has been called upon to meet such crisis." - Robert Collier
There have been lots of discussions, finger pointing, politics and actions, which were triggered by the news and images of the waterlogged New Orleans and the victims of Katrina the world saw. The MSM & the blogosphere have been equally active to dissect every bit of the problem. Many plunged into thoughts of depression and societal self-loathing.

The New York Times Oped columnist Bob Herbert says "Its a failure of leadership". Maureen Dowd blames the government and asks "Who are we if we can't take care of our own?". Nicholas D. Christof thinks that the larger shame is the growing poverty in US. "The U.S. government - particularly under the Bush administration - has systematically cut people out of the social fabric by redistributing wealth from the most vulnerable Americans to the most affluent."

American Blogger Douglas Rushkoff adds:

"What those who are afraid of civil society breaking down don't realize is that civil society has already broken down! This is not a civil society we live in, but a profiteering, every-man-for-himself, oligarchy. The democratic process is broken if not rigged; the largest-ever redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich occurred over the last six years under the guise of economic stimulus; fear and disinformation were used to put the poorest of Americans onto a battlefield under false pretenses."

Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine rebuts Rushkoff's claims:

Yes, Katrina brought out and worsened injustices and inequities. It exposed government incompetence. But it also inspired courage, care, concern, generosity and humanity. And I would say that the outrage the country showed over those injustices and failures were the very proof of our civil order.

People like Jarvis are positive minded and are prompt to come up with ideas like Recovery 2.0 which aims to be ready for the next disaster so people can better use the internet via any device to better:
1. share information,
2. report and act on calls for help,
3. coordinate relief,
4. connect the missing,
5. provide connections for such necessities as housing and jobs,
6. match charitable assets to needs,
7. get people connected to this and the world sooner.

And there is nothing wrong in feeling ashamed of something not done right because that is a human virtue. Only animals do not feel ashamed. The important thing is what measure we take to prevent such shame in future. Many of the time we tend to ignore what we can do for our country and clutch to the anticipation what our country can do to us. So the onus is on each individual as a part of the civil society. It remains to be seen what the Americans do to reduce the growing injustice and inequities in their society.

"Shame and guilt are noble emotions essential in the maintenance of civilized society, and vital for the development of some of the most refined and elegant qualities of human potential."


September 06, 2005

"Culture is the name for what people are interested in, their thoughts, their models, the books they read and the speeches they hear, their table-talk, gossip, controversies, historical sense and scientific training, the values they appreciate, the quality of life they admire. All communities have a culture. It is the climate of their civilization."
Djuice is a marketing mobile subscription brand of Telenor Mobile targeting the young generation. It is so far marketed extensively in 5 countries - Norway, Sweden, Ukraine, Hungary & Bangladesh. Since its introduction in Bangladesh in last April by Grameenphone (Telenor is a shareholder), it has been a source of fun and entertainment and created a craze amongst the young Bangladeshis. With its initial low cost SIM at Tk. 300 ($5) they have gained quite a number of subscriber base within a short time. Showing the subscribers Xtra card they can get discount offers in many fast food joints, entertainment venues and concerts. There are also plenty of options for the young generation. Djuice also created much buzz with its innovative promotional activities like this & this.

The latest news is that the Bangladesh government has banned the telecast of advertisements of djuice, and Flexiload, a flexible service to recharge GrameenPhone pre-paid accounts. The question is why?

The initial TV ads were based on the youth slangs like "AJAIRA PACHAL", "KOTHIN BHAAB" etc. They are not indecent as such but not liked by the older generations. Djuice continued to use these kinds of words to build its brand into the minds of the youths. The flexiload ads are based on the characters of a popular Bengali movie "bachelor" which portrayed the true to life images of Bangladeshi youths. Now let us examine the reasons cited by the government:

"the words and gestures used in the ads will encourage the young generation to resort to immoral activities"

The question is are the authorities afraid of subcultures? Is uttering words like "KOTHIN BHAAB" make the youths go ashtray? What sort of culture they want our youths to embrace? They are not even promoting the classical arts like Rabindra Sangeet or classical dances to the youths. So what realy are they afraid of?

On the other hand this decision looks so hypocritical to me as Bangladesh continues to be an unrestricted airing zone for the Indian and other Asian satellite channels. Vulgarity rules in many Indian music & movie channels which is a concern within a more secular society of India today. Because of the popularity of Hindi channels many adolescences are picking up Hindi and the Dhaka fashion market is influenced by the Mumbai fashions as seen on TV. And talking about gestures, aren't these channels leading the youths towards immortality according to the criteria of the authorities? Perhaps to the government authority this is not a concern.
No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive. -Mahatma Gandhi

From Mac's blog (Bangladeshi rockstar cum blogger) I have found the link to Anik's blog. Anik Khan is a poet and the ex associate editor of the Bengali satirical cartoon magazine Unmad. He is a guy full of life and ecstasy and lives in Australia now. I am particularly impressed by his quotes from Bengali songs and poems in almost every post. In his words:
shala’r gaan r kobita e amake khailo!
We Bengalis have a rich culture of prose, poetry and music. I often don't quote them in original in my blog keeping in mind about the international readers. I have tried to translate a few a couple of times. But Anik has broken this barrier by writing his posts entirely in Bengali but in English scripts (he use MSN spaces). And he writes well.

Special mention is Anik's reaction to the 17/8 bombings and one of his poems. An excerpt (translated by me):

Bombs exploding everywhere
Killing Muslims in the name of God
They are claiming
That’s written in Allah’s words
The insignificant humans are shaking
Mighty Allah’s base
With bombs the Mujahideen are trying
That to save

What can I tell
I die from laughing
Even God is not well
In our great country.

Anik's is a good read for the Bengali speakers.

September 05, 2005


Bangladesh is donating US$ 1 million to the US Redcross as humanitarian aid for the victims of the hurricane Katrina.

Meanwhile the Bangladesh Ambassador to the United States announced at the FOBANA Conference (the largest Bangladeshi-American organization) held in Miami on Sept. 2 to come forward and extend help to the victims.

Bangladeshi blogger Imtiaz says that he would prefer to send out Bangladeshi experts on disaster management instead of monetary aid as no doubt what-so-ever that the Bangladeshi strategic knowledge on this is the best in the world. That still remains as an option if the US authorities are interested.

My South Asian Blog Roundup is up in 'Global Voices Online'. Please do check it out.

September 03, 2005

Rising water has killed hundreds, five million people are displaced, medical and food supplies are exhausted, gun battles are breaking out between vigilantes and criminal gangs on the water-logged streets, refugees are crammed into a stadium where conditions are horrendous...
No, its not a third world country disaster we are talking about. The above is the chaotic situation aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina which has caused extensive and severe damage in much of the southeastern United States. The total deaths as I write is 729+ and people missing are 20,000+. Bangladesh is known to many as a land cursed with natural calamities. That is why its not surprising when you see people comparing Bangladesh to the above situation.

But is it fair to compare Bangladesh to the chaos & destruction United States is facing? Natural calamities are always a tragedy and an act of God. The humans can only be well prepared and coordinated to minimize the destruction. Bangladesh faces this kinds of tragedy every year and still it is a developing not a stagnant country. The media do not propagate the courage and efforts many Bangladeshis show each year to start their life all over. If the calamities would not only be the central idiom of the media, the world could have learnt many tips for tackling these kind of calamities.

Daniel Brett writes a striking post "What America can learn from Bangladesh":

"Last year Bangladesh faced a natural disaster which was an altogether larger disaster than Hurricane Katrina and the casualty figures were probably lower than the casualties sustained in the New Orleans disaster. But the disaster was contained due to the survival instincts of the Bangladeshi people, their ingenuity in the face of adversity and their culture of hard work. Rather than shoot and loot, Bangladesh immediately used its modest resources to limit the impact of the floods before international aid arrived.

The fact that the economy was able to recover from the floods so soon is a testament to the ability of Bangladeshis to pick themselves up and go about rebuilding.

The Americans have never really faced such adversity...Bangladeshis place great importance to social and family ties and these have brought them through a multitude of natural and man-made disasters. Bangladesh's experiences show us that, in the face of disaster, money does not make society more cohesive or better organised."

Bangladeshi blogger Mezba has things to say to the Americans which may cause heartburns to many but can these be denied?:

"We, the rest of the world, still hold the Americans to a higher pedestal than the rest of us. Like it or not, Americans are still considered a standard of excellence.

* They put a man on the moon in 3 days, but the aid took 5 days to arrive.
* Congress stayed up all night to pass the 87 billion dollars needed for Iraq’s army, but did not pass an aid bill for New Orleans since the last 5 days.
* When National Guard officials were needed to stop looting and anarchy in their home state, they were off doing the same in a foreign country thousands of miles away.

And who is suffering? Society is judged by how they treat their poorest, their weakest, and their most vulnerable citizens. The people left behind in New Orleans are certainly those. I hope, for their sake, the American government gets its act together.

Americans deserve - and expect - no less from their leaders."

And speaking of the leaders, many are pissed with them and asked to "get off their asses".
"Calamity is the perfect glass wherein we truly see and know ourselves." - William Davenant