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

February 27, 2007

YouTube video of the day

Ekushey Book Fair 2007

February 21, 2007

Rome, here I come!

This blog is on vacation.

Ekushey February: The International Mother Language Day

21st of February is the International Mother Language Day, an annual event in UNESCO member states to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. This is mostly the international recognition of Language Movement Day called 'Ekushey February', which is commemorated in Bangladesh since 1952, when a number of Bangla-speaking people were massacred by the Pakistani police and Army in Dhaka.

Shawon68 proudly says:
Ekush is Bangla for 21, and Ekushey means 21st. In Bangladesh, 'Ekushey' is synonymous with 'Ekushey February', the day when Bangladesh celebrates its Bangla Language Movement and honors those who sacrificed their lives in its name on 21st February, 1952.
Pinaki lists the fallen heroes and the contributors of the language movement.

A bit of history: In August 1947, dividing India, a new state called Pakistan, comprising two far-flung wings (1600 kms distance) in the west and east separated by India, emerged on the world map. The ideological basis of that strange phenomenon was the absurd and pernicious two nation theory of Mohammad Ali Jinnah that ignored such basic elements as language and culture and considered religion as a bond strong and sufficient enough to transform a people into a nation. The language of the people of eastern wing of Pakistan, and they were the majority, was Bangla. It had a rich tradition of literature of over a thousand years. The Bengalis also had a highly developed culture that had little in common with the culture of the people of western wing of Pakistan. When in 1952 the neo-colonial, power-hungry, arrogant rulers of Pakistan declared that 'Urdu and Urdu alone would be the state language of Pakistan, the people of East Pakistan underwent an uprising known later as the Language Movement. (Source 1, 2 )

To commemorate this movement and the fallen ones, Shaheed Minar, a solemn and symbolic sculpture, was erected in the place of the massacre. The monument is the symbol of Bangladesh Nationalism. Each year on 21st February, starting from early morning, hundreds and thousands of people walks in bare feet to pay their respect to the martyrs singing remembrance songs with garlands in hand at the Shaheed Minar. The men and women wear only black and white cloths.

Jahangir Alam posts some pictures of how Ekushey February is celebrated in Bangladesh.

The Ekushey Book Fair which has become a part of Bengali culture and tradition is arranged in the Bangla Academy premises in Dhaka city every February since 1972 in observance of the 'Ekushey February'. Ershad posts some photos of this year's Book fair.

About 27 percent of the world's languages are threatened to be extinct. The Foundation for Endangered Languages says 83 percent of the world's languages are restricted to single countries, making them more vulnerable to the policies of a single government.

The theme of International Mother Language Day in 2007 is the linkages between mother tongue and multilingualism.

February 20, 2007

Finding the root of corruption

The Rsfblog (blog of reporters without border) is running a blogweek on corruption titled "What bloggers say about corruption". Its an interesting read. A couple of years ago I have wrote about the corruption in Bangladesh titled "Corruption out of necessity" which might give you an idea of why corruption is rampant in the public sector of Bangladesh.

February 18, 2007

National id card possible?

I have wrote last August that national id card for Bangladeshi citizens will solve many problems. While the voter id card is the prime requirement now, many think that there is no option other than the national id. there is no point building scores of different databases for different requirements (such as machine readable passport, tax data, driving license etc) instead of building and sharing a common one.

The army chief said in a recent speech:

Some intellectuals said that it will require Tk 1000 crore and five years time. But, the army have made a calculation that suggests that ID card for the voters is possible within 10-12 months at an estimated cost of Tk 300 crore.

Today BDNews reports that the army has formally proposed to the government to produce national id card within 12 months at a cost of Tk. 300 crore. The "immediate objective" will be to produce a database of roughly 100 million voting eligible citizens for national elections, but the plan, if implemented, will eventually create a national human resource database of all citizens. Main features include:

...name, father's name, sex, permanent address, personal identification number (PIN), date of birth, photograph, barcode of thumb impression, thumb impression/signature of individual, profession, signature of election officer and signature of local elected representative. The proposed national citizen identification database will contain PIN, bio-metric data for multi-purpose national use like national ID, voters' list, tax payment, different licensing, land registration, crime investigation, police verification etc.

Well what more do you need? Moreover you don't have to spend the money outside the country. And with Army involved there are little options of calling it biased or corrupted. I think this is the best offer Bangladesh has at this moment. Hope the caretaker (interim) government will take action accordingly.

February 16, 2007

Wall of images

Bored? Then stare at the Bloglines Wall of images. You'll never see the Wall the same way twice.

February 13, 2007

Tactical ploy

In another latest development Awami League, the proclaimed secular political party canceled their MOU with the radical Islamic political party Khelafot Majlish, which AL earlier termed as a tactical ploy to counter its political opponents BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami in the recently postponed election.

People at Drishtipat group blog suspect that strong protests against the MOU in Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina's son Sajeeb Wajed Joy's blog may have been heard at last. In a dramatic twist Sajeeb also claims the feat in a following post:

"Finally, I hope the cancellation of our much maligned MOU demonstrates that the AL is willing to listen and respond to criticism and suggestions. As I said, welcome to the 21st century Awami League!"

Now, while Sajeeb's blog is becoming an interesting read, there might be some illusions too. Shamsir at Adda-fication dissects Sajeeb's claim:

The actual scrapping has exactly NOTHING to do with listening to and responding to criticism.

The deal was canceled because the election was canceled and AL has not made it clear whether they will again engage in this sort of MOUs with the radical religious parties to gain political advantage. Recently Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish leader and former lawmaker Mufti Shahidul Islam was arrested by security forces during their anti-corruption drive. And moreover Sajeeb is not yet an active member of Awami League. Does he have an influence in AL as he claims?

Shamsir asks Sajeeb:

Say it isn't so, Sajeeb bhai! I really want this new transparency thing to work for you, and for all of us.

I hope we will get the answer from Sajeeb soon.

Update: Columnist Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury analyzes the dreadful declaration and discrete cancellation of the MOU. And he leaves no stones unturned.

Bangladesh announces world cup squad

After winning the 3-1 one day series over Zimbabwe the moral of Bangladesh Cricket team should be high. And there are no surprises in the announced 15 memeber Bangladesh squad for the world cup except the exclusion of long serving wicket keeper and ex captain Khaled Mashud. He has been a fighter who could so far earn his place despite batting limitations. No doubt he is the finest of the wicket keeper Bangladesh had ever produced. He was dropped in the recent Zimbabwe tour after he told the press that he is the automatic choice for the selectors in any Bangladesh team. Mushfiqur Rahim is a young keeper with batting depth and some international exposure, ideally what Bangladesh was looking for. Moreover he did well in Zimbabwe.

The only rookie is Tamim Iqbal, who has done very well in the last domestic season but yet to get sufficient international exposure. Recently Bangla Cricket has done a evaluation on Bangladeshi players. Go check it.

This time Bangladesh is going to the world cup with a target, captain Habibul Bashar says:

"We know it will not be an easy task to beat at least one team like India and Sri Lanka to make our dream come true. But I think there is hardly any meaning to our trip if we have no target. I will not be surprised if my team beat any big fish in the competition."

Yes, gone are the days when Bangladesh was only playing to get experience.

YouTube video of the day

Web 2.0 in five minutes

(Via Betterdays)

February 12, 2007

Can the power of one save the nation?

The hottest topic in Bangladesh now is that the Nobel Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus has expressed his intention to start a political party. In an open letter he has asked the people to provide their feedback to him and suggest how he can organize a political party from the grass root.

Salam Dhaka says this move of Dr. Yunus will draw a new equation in Bangladesh politics, which is battered by bitter political acrimony between the major parties and their devastating political moves. Some people welcomed his entry and wished he can be successful like Dr. Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia. Trivuz comments that he has the ability to break the tradition of having corrupted muscle men running for election and winning by spending millions of black money. So people will have an option to support credible and competent politicians. However there are also apprehensions whether he can do well in Politics. Journalist Shiblee Noman, while answering Yunus's letter, questions his experience in politics and warns that if he thinks he is the savior of Bangladesh then it is wrong. In democracy the power comes from the grass root, what people wants. So the question is whether Yunus is wanted by the public or the notion is imposed.

Addafication thinks that not a good man but a good system can save the country:
Dr.Yunus has an important role to play in Bangladesh society. But it is not in politics. His role is best fulfilled as part of the civil society, to strengthen it in lieu with politics which has to be strengthened by politicians, not civilians merely because they might be bigger achievers. No country is led simply by its most prolific achiever. We dont have to be too. And no country's problems can be solved by one man's initiative, or even two or three. It is the institutions that have to be cleansed.
Bangladesh is back to normalcy after the declaration of the state of emergency on the 11th of January. There is an operation of the security forces going on against corruption and many powerful ex-members of parliaments, ex-ministers and business tycoons are behind the bars under the state of emergency act. The general people are delighted by the prospect of cleansing the corrupted politicians. Drishtipat blog confirms The Economists latest assertion on Bangladesh 'Everybody but the politicians are happy'. Many people are happy with the performance of the new caretaker government and are even calling it a 'A silent revolution by the people of Bangladesh'.There is a mass mail going round in the mail boxes of Bangladeshis urging for a referendum to make the interim government stay for four years to help them clean the house.

However, if your only tool is hammer, all your problem can look like nails. People are questioning the caretaker government’s drive for cleaning up slums and evicting these people, breaking illegal roadside structures which were used by poor businessmen as small shops. The problem is that they are not providing any alternative place for the slum dwellers or compensate the small businesses atleast for now.

Addabaz blog is supporting the clean up drive whereas Drishtipat group blog is vocal about the evicted people's rights.

(Cross-posted in the Global Voices Online)

Update: According to TV news around 550,000 letters/emails/sms/faxes have been received by two information centers set up by Dr. Muhammad Yunus. He has declared that he will take the decision of entering into politics if majority of people want him.

February 08, 2007

Picks from the blogosphere

* Uzbekistan defines Blogs as mass media

* Popular Bangla rhymes: how appropriate they are?

* The Hindu view of Islam - A critical review.

* Stereotype that!

* America is closed.

February 07, 2007

Picture of the day

Graffiti on a remaining portion of the Berlin wall in Muhlenstrasse.

Cultural apartheid

Bangla is a language of 230 million people. Of which about 140 million people reside in Bangladesh and almost all the rest resides in the state of West Bengal of India. Being a neighboring country the language and the culture are similar between West Bengal and Bangladesh. But sadly the cultural exchanges are diminishing to an alarming extent. This has created some mistrust among the both nations.

Media can play a great role here. Through media nations can assimilate beyond borders. However, in this era of Globalization it is sad to see one nation blocking another nation's media. I have written a couple of years ago that the Bangladeshi TV channels are not getting access in West Bengal where these are very popular. In contrast the Indian TV channels are earning a huge amount from the Bangladeshi cable TV operators selling their content.

Bangladesh has now more than 10 private TV channels and one state channel. The competition has increased the quality of productions. Now worrying news comes from India that the Indian Telecom regulatory authority has made a list of TV channels to be broadcast in India through cable networks barring Bangladeshi TV channels. If any cable operator try to distribute Bangladeshi channels, the Indian authority will take punitive measures.

It is really sad to impose this kind of cultural apartheid by a democratic government. Bangladesh government may in turn block Indian channels. This will only create distance between the two nations.

February 06, 2007

A silent revolution by the people of Bangladesh!

The above phrase is the highlight of a mass mail going round in the mail boxes of Bangladeshis (via Drishtipat). Although some people are questioning the legitimacy of the mass arrests and the arrest of big fishes without charge sheet people in general are happy with the Caretaker Government's performance. This lists the visible achievements of the CTG so far. The mail even says "this team of people is by far the most dedicated team who is really making a difference in Bangladesh" and even goes beyond asking for consent to have a referendum to make the CTG stay for four years to help them clean the house.

The email asks for support and invites all to be a part of this silent revolution by the people. Even the press is also cheering up the cleansing process.

This clearly shows that the people are fade up with the corruption in Bangladesh politics and desperately wants a change.

But let us not be overwhelmed by the gimmicks. Will the security forces be able to really punish the big fishes with concrete evidence. Will they be able to refrain them from coming out clean and indulge in creating more nuisances? Or are they really punishing some innocents?

Shamshir writes in Adda-fication that a short term fix may not be effective as it might actually allow the underlying causes to fester and increase in severity, and may be lead to really bad problems in the long-run that could have been avoided if short-term fixes were declined.

He skillfully concludes:

If the State of Emergency government is serious about rooting out corruption, then changing the rules of the game might be in order: Resort to due process. Resort to transparency. Realign the frame of reference to the rule of law instead of the arbitrary unchecked power of a few good (or is it appear to be good?) men.

I think besides being euphoric we need to move from a point of view to a viewing point -- a higher, more expansive place, from which we can see both sides.

YouTube video of the day

The best chair ever! You don't need another furniture.

(via India Uncut)

South Asia Blog Buzz

South Asia is one of the poorest regions in the world. Unemployment is one of the major problems for all the countries in this region. South Asia Biz writes a series on the employment situation in South Asia. The biz blog reviews online job portals from Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Now we have more South Asian blogs in review:


Blogger News Network writes an article on the Biswa Ijtema, an annual global Islamic meet, on the banks of river Turag on the outskirts of the Bangladesh capital Dhaka. Around three million devotees attended the closing prayers this Sunday, many walking miles as traffic was suspended to give way. This is the second biggest Muslim congregation after hajj.

People returning from Ijtema
In less then a month of the state of emergency the traffic jams and chaos in Bangladesh had diminished. There are no demonstrations in the streets, traffic jams are more regulated, people have space to walk on the curbs as illegal encroachments were demolished. The government is cracking on corrupted ‘big fish’ political leaders and feudal political activities are suspended. Chhayalin comments that people thought these changes would be impossible some days ago. The caretaker government with the support of army could achieve it in days what an elected democratic government could not do in five years. Meanwhile Drishtipat Group Blog is vocal for rights of the thousands of detainees arrested without charge sheet. Bangladesh Watchdog posts a roadmap to achieve good governance in Bangladesh.


Cricket is very popular in South Asia. Although its tough to play cricket in a high altitude, the mountainous Bhutan has no short of enthusiasm for this game. Ugyen Dorji of Bhutan cricket weblog compiles a two part history of Bhutan cricket (1,2).

The phallus is the integral part of Bhutanese paintings. For those who did not know this Ugeent of Kuzu Bhutan Weblog provides a Bhutanese perspective of Phallus.


Imagine a world full of bloggers and you offer your extra bed to a fellow blogger who visits your city. And in return, when you travel to his/her city, you have a place to stay.

Sounds like fiction? No, its happening in India. Kiruba Shankar features Extra Bed, a unique expansion of social networking service which should be a milestone for the world to follow.

Desh of Drishtikone features the richest beggar in Mumbai, India.


Fact or Fiction? Rakta Kunda, a new book on the 2001 Nepal Royal Palace Massacre has surfaced after the expulsion of King Gyanendra. The book describes the events through the eyes of one of the surviving witnesses, Queen Mother Ratna’s personal maid, identified in the book as Shanta. She says 2 man masked as Crown Prince Dipendra had fired the shots that led to the massacre. The Acorn suspects the new dispensation may not necessarily want the truth to be revealed.

On the wake of the Madhesi nationalism Counterpoint Blog contemplates what will happen if Nepal is divided.


Aawab Alvi of All Things Pakistan cites an example how blogs (or citizen journalists) are becoming source for mainstream media in Pakistan.

Light Within feats 10th of Moharram or Ashura, a Muslim festival.

(cross-posted in the Global Voices Online)

Heights of MSM journalism: one track mind

"CNN gave a written apology to Bangladesh Government for mistakes in their reportage by their correspondent Seth Doane. The coverage showed video of Afghanistan camps and called it camps of terrorism in Bangladesh. Bureau chief Phil Turner is the one who apologized in writing."

- from whats happening at CNN

Any reason why the world should not turn to citizen journalists instead?

February 05, 2007

On a nosedive

Bangladesh Cricket team came to Zimbabwe three days ago for a warm up tour before the World Cup scheduled next month. Although they were upset with the long journey and the loss of luggage, they put themselves together quickly to win the first one-day match yesterday. The problem was elsewhere.

There was no TV coverage of the match. Millions of fans from Bangladesh were agitated with no TV coverage from Bangladesh TV and even the absence of live webcast from Cricinfo. Martin Williams, the managing editor of Cricinfo explains why Cricinfo was unable to put the live ball-to-ball update:
"We had tried to send journalists to Zimbabwe to cover the matches but had come up against the brick wall of Zimbabwe's notorious Information Ministry. Not only do they insist on vetting anyone who wants to report from the country, but they demand a US$600 fee for issuing accreditation. This is extortion which is almost unknown anywhere else, and the primary aim is to deter anyone from wanting to travel.

Without any explanation, Zimbabwean TV turned to religious programmes and a quiz show where the quizmaster got more questions wrong than the contestants."
Even the Zimbabweans are not happy. Blogger the bearded man said:
"So what else is new in Zimbabwe - Mugabe continues to bully the population, the government continues to chase white commercial farmers off their land, while the Zimbabwean economy is in a permanent nosedive with the local currency not faring very well against all other currencies..."
Martin blames the ICC for taking these lapses for granted and concludes:
"While what happened today was not in any way the ICC's fault, it was, nevertheless, a disgrace and the ICC owes it to fans around the world - especially the millions of Bangladesh fans - to take action to ensure it does not happen again, and to find out how such a mess occurred."
Whatever steps the ICC will take, Zimbabwe, a promising nation in Cricket is not likely to pull out from the nosedive for obvious reasons. Sad indeed.

February 04, 2007

The table has turned

A weak democracy, administration influenced judiciary, ineffective Anti-corruption commission, security forces works interrupted by influential political leaders and widespread corruption in government service sectors gave the rise of many corrupted business tycoons in Bangladesh. These people are mainly political leaders who frequently changed allegiance to the parties holding power and used their power and influence to accumulate a vast amount of wealth.

It is said that the ill-equipped and staffed judiciary always favor the wealthy and the influentials. So arresting big names like ex ministers, political leaders and VIPs are quite rare in the country. The daily Star even accused that the 41000 detainees in the past 20 days do not include big fishes. But now as the table has turned we are hearing news which seemed never possible a couple of months ago.

In a latest raid Bangladesh security forces detained many top political leaders under the state of emergency laws:

The leaders include former communications minister Nazmul Huda, former prime minister Khaleda Zia's parliamentary affairs adviser Salahuddin Quader Choudhury, former home minister Mohammad Nasim, former state minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, Awami League president Sheikh Hasina's foreign investment adviser Salman F Rahman, former state minister for power Iqbal Hasan Mahmud, former state minister Mir Nasir Uddin, former state minister Amanullah Aman, former deputy minister Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu, Awami Shechhashevak league general secretary Pankaj Devnath and former lawmaker ANH Mostafa Kamal popularly known as Lotus Kamal. Former finance minister Saifur Rahman's son Naser Rahman was also arrested.

No reason have been officially shown for the arrests and the family members of the arrestee have no news about their family members. Some of their names are on the corrupted millionaire ministers of Bangladesh list and there are newspaper reports about their corruption. A couple of them were accused of supporting militant organizations. A few are big loan defaulters and accused of manipulating the share market.

I am sure many in Bangladesh are quite happy about it as the conventional rule of law could have never taken such quick action against them. However points are also being raised :

"Transparency and accountability are basic principles of good governance. When an administration lacks these two attributes, the society turns into a closed society and tyranny knocks at the door.

For every arrest the government should make a case, the chargesheet and all the supporting documents should be made public.

The arrestees should have access to lawyers, and families should be notified the whereabouts of the detainees.

I hope the government will consider these points making them more successful in cleansing the political system.

Reactions: Blogger Tanvir shares his thoughts congratulating the chief of CTG:

"Bangladeshi people are absolutely ecstatic at the news of the mass arrest of the well known corrupted big shots of the country."

February 03, 2007

Giasuddin Al-Mamun nabbed

The abovementioned business tycoon of Bangladesh has a tendency of catching a lot of media attention. Last June Asia Tribune published an article on him saying:

"Gias Uddin Al-Mamun, is one of the hated names in Bangladesh, who, just because of being Tareq Rahman’s friend, became one of the richest men in the country from extreme poverty status."
(read the rest)

He dismissed the allegation as an international conspiracy against him:

After the recent state of emergency he was arrested and then later released. He then managed to get a court ruling from a controversial judge that the government should not arrest him or harass him and allegedly went into hiding in India immediately.

However he came back to Dhaka and in a dramatic raid the security forces nabbed him on Wednesday. Bangladesh News has details on this and the rise of Mamun:

"Mamun came to limelight for his involvement in all election related activities–controlled from Hawa Bhaban–prior to and during the 2001 general elections.

Mamun’s quick rise as a business tycoon through establishing businesses one after another during the five years of the immediate past BNP-led government’s rule surprised many businessmen and politicians.

In that short span of time he set up businesses of textiles, launches, electric pole manufacturing, and a private satellite television channel. Besides owning One Textile, Khamba Ltd, One Composite, Precrust Concrete Industries Ltd, One Spinning, One Denim, One Consumer Product Ltd, and Channel One, Mamun is also the director of Silver Line Composite Mill and Rahman Navigation.

Of his businesses, electric pole manufacturing Khamba Ltd became the most talked about one in recent times. Mamun’s syndicate reportedly earned thousands of crores of taka by selling concrete electric poles to the Rural Electrification Board"
(read the rest)

It remains to be seen as what charges are brought against him. Some leaders inside BNP are reportedly happy about this. He surely must have pissed a lot of people.

The first Bangladeshi politician to blog

Welcome Sajeeb Wazed Joy, a young global leader named by the World Economic Forum to the Bangladeshi Blogosphere. He is the son of the former Prime Minister of Bangladesh and Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina.

The Awami League Website (like any other political website of Bangladesh) is lot less interactive. But Joy's step is no doubt a great leap being a future political leader of Bangladesh. He is probably the first Bangladeshi politician to start blogging. I hope the people of Bangladesh will be trying to find many answers in his blog.

Once again here is the link:

Via Salam Dhaka

February 02, 2007

Will Bangladesh really sink?

In a recent climate conference in Paris UNEP released a much-awaited international report which said that global warming was 'man-made' and 'would continue for centuries'.

The report predicted temperature rises of 1.1 to 6.4 Celsius Degrees by the year 2100. On sea levels, the report projects rises of 7-23 inches (18 – 58 centimeters) by the end of the century.

The report may explain why the temperature in Berlin yesterday was 10 degree celsius when the average temperature of February last year was 2 degrees with a maximum of 8 degrees.

But it is interesting to see that Bangladesh has become a stereotyped case of global warming for many. Every now and then one or two articles pop up which tend to sink Bangladesh as a direct effect of global warming. Latest on this is a Times Online article which quoting a Bangladeshi Shrimp Farmer says:

Over three decades Mr Gain has seen the waters around his mud house in the coastal region of Munshiganj, where silt-laden rivers meet the sea, rise 3m (10ft). He has been battered by increasingly violent floods, tornadoes and cyclones, and tasted the salt seeping relentlessly into his drinking water.

If the sea rises by a metre — as some scientists say it will by 2100 — a quarter of Bangladesh will be submerged, forcing 30 to 40 million people from their homes.

Blogger Tim Worstall comments:

"The best estimate so far is that sea levels have been rising by 2mm to 3 mm a year in recent decades. So, at maximum, with a little rounding, Mr. Gain can blame 10 cm of the rise on us energy guzzling westerners. The other 2 metres and 90 centimetres must be to do with something else: like the shifting of sandbanks perhaps in an area where 'silt-laden rivers meet the sea'.

Sloppy reporting? Or deliberate misrepresentation? You decide.

Well I am not sure whether the rise of river level is similar to the rise of sea level. More scientific data should be considered before reaching to any conclusion. But really there is no need to create panic with these kinds of gross statements that Bangladesh will be sinking. Bangladesh has come a long way in tackling the devastations of the floods and cyclones it is prone to.

What Bangladesh needs now is to be aware of the problem and take a long term planning to protect the effects of Global warming. If the Netherlands can reclaim massive land from below sea level why can't Bangladesh do the same?

So please consider these things before being convinced by another article which sinks Bangladesh.