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

July 31, 2007

Today's Links

On Bangladesh:

* Dr. Humayun Azad & efficacy of the carnival.

* Bangladesh: From anarchy to authoritarianism - SAIR

* Institutionalizing military into politics.

* The alliance between army and academia in Bangladesh.

*In depth analysis on Bangladesh: Time for some soul searching.

* An army of housewives battles TB in Bangladesh.

* Bangladesh cricket board is taken over by the army.

* Tales from a globalizing world.

And the World:

* Sajani is a living Goddess again.

* We want your soul.

* 'Blue card' to attract top talent from outside EU.

* They won to cheer their wronged people.

July 29, 2007

Have your say

BBC News has a picture essay on

Bangladesh military (backed Caretaker Government) rule: what people think

What do you think? Note the deliberate terming of the government as military (parentheses added by me).

Bangladesh: The threat of floods and current politics

(Also posted in the Global Voices Online)

A flood on its way

Like many places in the world it has been raining incessantly in many parts of Bangladesh for a number of days. The rain water had waterlogged many places. Back to Bangladesh posts some pictures of some parts of the waterlogged Dhaka. He wonders whether there will be flood in Bangladesh this year.

Canadian Expat blogger Mikey Leung shares his experience of surviving a fall into a hole in the footpath and the generosity of the passersby who helped him get out instead of laughing at him. He says these holes may create a problem during flood:

Random gaping holes in roadways, back streets and footpaths, are a fact of life in Bangladesh. During the incredible downpours of Bangladesh’s monsoon season, they often become dangerously obscured to the inattentive visitor.

So watch out when you are walking in a waterlogged Dhaka street.

Expat Tom posts pictures of temporary water-logs near his house (Left: Photo of water-logged Dhaka by Tom). He also describes the ingenuity of a Taxi driver who drove in pouring rain with an out-of-order wiper:

He had attached a small wire to the right hand wiper which was hanging down against the side of the car. As we drove along he had his arm out of the window pulling the wire and thereby replicating a rudimentary windscreen wiper, allowing him a small patch to see out which enabled him to continue to drive like a lunatic, the common state in Dhaka come wind or shine.

E-Bangladesh is reporting that flooding in Bangladesh is turning towards a disaster as major rivers are flowing above danger levels.

Blogger Safayet of Nagarik [bn] blog urges bloggers to stand besides the flood affected people by creating a relief fund.

Bangladesh politics:

The Bangladesh Poet of Impropriety uses his verses to describe the current state of Bangladesh politics.

He signs off with a slogan:

there is no slogan worthy of our respect

Following a comment of Gen. Matin, the advisor and spokesman of National Coordination Committee on the current anti-corruption drive and the religious party Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, Shahzaman Mazumder comments on Gen Matin’s statement “It just may be that Jamaat leaders were not involved in corruption”:

Jamaat is not free from corruption. However, the definition of corruption needs to be widened and should include abuse of power and violation of established laws and regulations of the country.

Shahzaman Mazumder also analyzes Jamaat’s ideologies and agendas and interprets:

In a sense, the current caretaker government is now implementing part of Jamaat’s plans by “recast(ing) economy, education system and administration, i.e., the total political system of this country.” The caretaker government is a blatant failure of the mainstream political parties. It shows that the mainstream political parties are incapable of resolving their disputes through the constitutional institutions of the country. The only way to combat Jamaat is to replace these aging and corrupt political structures with more potent and honest ones.

In the Middle of Nowhere lists seven instances where civil bureaucrats were replaced by military bureaucrats and asks a pertinent question:

Are military bureaucrats better, more efficient, more honest than civil bureaucrats?

The price of the essensial commodities in Bangladesh are increasing and have already crossed tolerable level. An Ordinary Citizen says:

Politics is also playing a part in the instability of the prices of essential commodities in the market.

July 27, 2007

YouTube Video of the Day

Tale of two leaders

July 25, 2007

Picture of the day

Winningen, 20km from Koblenz. Behind me there was a small private airfield.

July 24, 2007

A podcast about Bangladesh

David Sasaki, the director of the Global Voices Outreach project has produced a podcast on Bangladesh and the Nari Jibon project, which received a micro-grant.

David worked a lot to learn about Bangladesh and incorporated many aspects in his podcast (the link is given below).

icon for podpress Intro to Nari Jibon Project

July 21, 2007

YouTube Videos of the Day

The father of the nation speaks

Tales of Birangonas who were raped by the Pakistani Army in 1971

These and more videos on Bangladesh Liberation war via IW71.

Picture of the day

Knut: the little polar bear in Berlin Zoo, which has captivated the world.

Today's Links

* Happy Blogiversary

* Globalization in Bangladesh and corruption effecting it.

* Lock up your leading ladies.

* Photography students in Bangladesh receive death threats.

* Google has my past - and my future.

July 18, 2007

Minus Two Formula in effect

I was in Luxembourg when Sheikh Hasina was arrested. I have compiled the reaction of the Bangladeshi blogosphere for Global Voices online. Here it is:

The Bangladeshi Blogosphere went into a tizzy after the recent arrest of the ex Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed. She has been arrested on the charges of extorting about $440,000 from a businessman during her term in office from 1996 to 2001. Earlier Sheikh Hasina survived a government bar to return to the country forcing her into exile due to much publicity against it.

Voice of Bangladeshi Bloggers & Dhaka have frequent updates on the situation. BBC has some backgrounds on the subject in their article “what the arrest of former PM means“.

Addafication reports that there are also rumors that ex Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia will be arrested soon. Shada Kalo thinks that minus two formula is nearing the end game.

The Bangladeshi politics are influenced by the main two rival major political parties Awami League and BNP led by ex Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed and ex Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia respectively (Picture courtesy the Daily Star). Earlier this year, when the country was at the brink of chaos and civil war as Awami League refused to participate in the election claimed to be engineered by BNP, a state of Emergency was imposed. An army backed interim (caretaker) government took control of the situation and started the cleansing process of the confrontational politics and the corrupt politicians. Although their methods are controversial, they have gained popular support as people see the chance of accountability being restored at last.

The recent controversy in the political reform process is the alleged minus two formula backed by the government. This formula talks of deducting these two political icons (ladies) from the party leaderships so that fresh and younger members can pump some new blood in the ailing politics. However to achieve this unusual methods have been taken like using the law against the top party leaders at will.

Addafication questions not her arrest itself, but rather the conditions surrounding it.
The first question that springs to my mind is why now when she has started speaking up again? This case has been filed for quite a while now, from before the whole farce over allowing her or not allowing her to board a British Airways flight from Heathrow back home took place in April. If it is really the law that is being done justice through her arrest, why wait until the woman reverted to her outspoken character once more after a period of relative calm?
Unheard Voices: Drishtipat Blog questions the flaws in the case against Hasina:
Was Hasina involved directly in it? The accusation seems to be purely circumstantial.
Xanthis:: intelligence reports says:
There are enough reasons to believe that the former PM & the president of Bangladesh Awami League has been arrested for some verifications. After the interrogation of several Awami League leaders & members of Sheikh Hasina’s inner circle, some intelligence agencies of Bangladesh government feel that few things need to be cleared.
Meanwhile Sheikh Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wajed Joy has this to say in his blog:
The grassroots of the Awami League are completely united behind Sheikh Hasina. Due to this the regime’s attempt at creating a division within the Awami League was failing. This is the real reason my mother has been arrested. This was the only way they could silence her.
He also accuses:
It is also no secret that this regime has been trying to form a handpicked political party. They are attempting to do this with some very familiar faces within the two major parties.
Bangladesh politics remarks:
To me, arresting the all prominent politicians in the name of corruption is just a tactic to remove any competition from the political arena for some other interest group to be in power.
Shahzaman Mazumder says:
On principle, I do not support the Minus Two Formula.

If the two leaders are truly guilty of corruption, they should face a fair trial and if found guilty, should be punished according to the laws of the land.
Dhaka Blog contemplates on what will happen now:
Apart from sporadic crashes between AL workers and police in Dhaka, Khulna and Mymensingh there really is nothing much to report. As a friend commented, six months ago, they shut down the entire country and now there is no sign of the concerted, organized movement that we know the AL is capable of. I think it is safe to say that the Awami League is split and the reformists have the upper hand for now.
Addafication has an update that the anti-corruption commission has asked for wealth statements from both Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, which can lead to more lawsuits against them.

Wikipedia: the power of collective wisdom

The success of Wikipedia in the past four years depended mainly on the dedication of its contributors and the advanced contributors' (moderators) wisdom to tackle disinformation.

The threshold for inclusion of facts in Wikipedia is whether material is attributable to a reliable published source. It does not record personal opinions, experiences, or arguments of the contributors. It also has a project called fact and reference check which verify facts in Wikipedia by multiple independent sources to make it the most authoritative source of information in the world.

I am just giving you an example of what actions are behind one Wikipedia article. Tarif Ezaz, an Wikipedia contributor has just completed his Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC). Tarif has tirelessly worked over a year to collect information on an article on the Bangla Language Movement to make it a featured article. In his own words:
(I) saw the news "(Bangladesh) Government stopped the program of sending information about Language Movement to all UN nations". I was frustrated to see that news...an idea struck my mind. Yes, we could make it into a Featured Article (of Wikipedia), so that every people who speaks in their own language can get inspired from this.

I made my first edit on August 2, 2006 and had the pleasure to see my own writing added in the article.

I included a lot of information on the article by December 2006, but our main concern was pictures and references. My English was not too good either...I again started writing and on February 2007 we covered most of the historical facts of the article. Ragib bhai asked Rama's Arrow (Nirav Maurya) to improve the article more. I again had the pleasure of sitting back and waiting for things to happen.

On June 16 Language Movement went for FA. I sent what I call SOS to every Wikipedian I know, hoping for help. One of them, of course, replied with enormous interest. Dwaipayan Chokroborti helped to overcome every obstacles over last month. Dwaipayan da stood against all those opposes, copy edited and involved me to gather details about references.
The article has recently been added to the featured articles section.

Featured Articles (FA) are a collection of the best articles of English Wikipedia. Right now, there are only 1491 feature darticles which is less than 0.08% of 1.6 million English articles. To become a featured article, a page has to go through very detailed scrutiny by many people, and has to be complete, well-referenced, and neutral.

The interesting thing is that Tarif does not own a computer. He did it all from cyber cafe and using internet via his brother's mobile phone. If one wills he/she can make almost anything possible.

(Via Ragib Hasan)

July 15, 2007

Picture of the day

Schloss Charlottenburg: the largest existing palace in Berlin named after the first queen of Prussia Sophie Charlotte


* A technical guide to anonymous blogging: security measures for hiding your identity online.

* Google vs everyone: 10 markets where Google wants to win.

* 5 new online advertising tactics we fear.

* Lite and free Shabdik add-on for Firefox: for easy Bangla writing anywhere.

July 14, 2007

Picture of the day

A colorful modern condominium in Dresden. The historical city of culture never ceases to amaze.

July 11, 2007

Bangladesh bangs the best

Well the above is a tagline of the music producer Bangladesh Production Company owned by Shondrae Mr. Bangladesh Crawford of Atlanta in USA.
(Photo courtesy Bangladesh Production Company)

According to Fader.com:

Born Shondrae Crawford, Bangladesh grew up in Des Moines, Iowa in one of the few black neighborhoods in an overwhelmingly white state.

I did not know that there are no copyright for a country.

Women power

Bangladeshi cricket fans are dismayed over their cricket teams performance in Sri Lanka. After a good show in World Cup they are failing badly in Sri Lanka. Actually they are in a transitional phase without a fixed coach. Dav Whatmore mattered a lot in their earlier performances. The critics were soon on the act of calling the number game.

However an interesting break was the performance of Bangladesh Women cricket team in the ACC women's tournament. Cricinfo reports:
Bangladesh vs UAE, one of two matches on day 1 of the ACC women's tournament, lasted all of one hour, with perhaps more time spent in change-overs than playing cricket. Bangladesh's opening bowlers Panna Ghosh and Shamina Akter knocked over the UAE batsmen in 9 overs, and then Tajkia Akhter, the captain, and Chamely Khatun reached the target in 1.2 overs.

Seven ducks were registered in the UAE innings, with three batsmen making 1 and the highest innings score being 3. UAE struggled against the bowling from both ends, Ghosh ending with figures of 5 for 6 from 5 overs while Akhter, her stockier but equally quick teammate, took 3 for 2 in her 4 overs.
Anyone calling for another number game?

Bangladesh clothes the world

The statement may be over hyped but Gagan buys his first shirt outside Bangladesh from H&M in Oulu, Finland and voila, he finds it's made in Bangladesh! You can find lot of them in H&M or C&A in Berlin.

July 10, 2007

Today's Links

* Dhaka world's fastest growing big city -World Bank

* Can We Put Poverty in a Museum?

* Pakistan: the army as the state

* Poor technology and designs kill Bangladesh's jute carpets.

* Bangladesh ‘cheapest place’ for investment in Asia.

July 09, 2007

The French Masters from New York visits berlin

The Neue Nationalgalarie (new national gallery) in Berlin (picture Wikipedia) houses the collection of 20th century European painting and sculpture including paintings by Munch, Kirchner, Picasso, Klee and many others. The have a current exhibition going on titled "Die schönsten Franzosen kommen aus New York". It is an exhibition of around 150 works of French Master painters of the 19th century coming from the Metropolitan Museum of Arts of New York. Amongst the exhibits are works from Eugène Delacroix, Théodore Géricault, Théodore Chassériau; impressionist painters such as Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley and Auguste Renoir; Modernists like Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh (he is dutch but worked in France), and 20th century painters like Henri Matisse & Pablo Picasso.

Well after reading the names of the masters you can understand how important this exhibition is and the Berliner's are simply flocking towards it. Each day the exhibition is drawing thousands of visitors. If you buy the standard ticket (which is Euro 12) entrance is not guaranteed instantaneously. Visitors tickets are scanned during entry and exit so that they can allow fixed number of visitors at a given time. Entry can delay up to four-five hours depending on the crowd and they also devised a nifty free sms service that notifies you before 30 minutes of allowance of your entry. Well for those who are willing to pay a premium of Euro 30 can get the VIP ticket and instant access. However I felt that the exhibition is too crowded and there is no tranquility. (advertisement of the exhibition in Berlin streets - photo Wikipedia)

Our guide, an art student was very witty and informative with her speech. For an example she compared the academic painter Cabanel's Birth of Venus with another painter who painted nude Venus with hairs in the armpit making her more humane. She said that While Cabanel's work got prizes, experiments with Goddesses were deemed as a taboo in that era and were much controversial. But the painters dared to carry on with their freedom of expression. Even now depicting Goddesses not traditionally can invoke controversies and even personal attacks towards the painter in some parts of the World.

In Dresden with the old masters' works

(Photo Dr. Torsten Hennig via Wikipedia)

I have been in Dresden for a number of times and all were day trips from Berlin as it is only about 200 km away from Berlin. It is a historical city and you will love the old part of the city, especially the banks of the river Elbe. It has been the capital and royal residence for the Kings of Saxony, who furnished the city with cultural and artistic splendor for centuries.

Last week when I took some relatives (visiting us) to Dresden, and this time I was adamant to visit the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery) located in the Semper wing of the Zwinger Palace. The earlier visits to Dresden was so short that I could not make it.

I was amazed with the collection. The audio tour device was feeding all the information about the works of Italian, Dutch, German, Flemish, Austrian, French, Spanish and Greek Masters. From Wikipedia:
The gallery holds over 700 old master paintings from Renaissance to Baroque that were collected by the Electors of Saxony August II and his son August III in the first half of the 18th century. In 1746 the latter one bought 100 paintings from the Duke of Modena Francesco III d'Este, gaining the gallery Europe-wide fame.
Most of the pictures luckily escaped the WWII bombings as they were in underground store. They were carried to Moscow after the Second World War, and was returned to Dresden in 1955.

Amongst the highlights of the Gallery is Raphael's Sistine Madonna . But I liked Bellotto & Canaletto's portraits of Dresden. These paintings depicts Dresden's former beauty, much of it destroyed in the World War II bombings. It was a feast for the eyes devouring old masters' paintings like Rembrandt, Dürer, Peter Paul Rubens, Botticeli, Titian, Ribera, Cranach. Some were the size of the whole wall of a side of a room. You can take a look yourself from here. This year the Gallery launched a virtual world including all images and the Zwinger building in the Second life.

I wish I had more than one and a half hours time to visit the Gallery. I have to be there again.

Reform talks

"To reform a world, to reform a nation, no wise man will undertake; and all but foolish men know, that the only solid, though a far slower reformation, is what each begins and perfects on himself."

- Thomas Carlyle 1795-1881, Scottish Philosopher, Author
Last Saturday I posted in Global Voices a summary of what Bangladeshi Blogosphere is thinking about reforms.

One blogger commented that the reform is apparently happening under the direction and patronage of the people enforcing the state of emergency.

Today Brig (retired) Hafiz, former DG of BIISS writes an editorial in the Daily Star, which seems to complement the thoughts of the Bangladeshi Blogosphere. He writes:
"...sensing the establishment's approval, if not the pressure for reforms, the reformists are vying with each other to steal the limelight. An invisible Pied Piper with his mesmerising tune is taking them to an indefinite destination, and the folks are in a mad rush to ride the band-wagon."
While his rhetorics are pro-this-style-reform and negating all doubts people are raising, one might wonder did he follow the blogosphere, and weighing in the propaganda?

Related reading: A recent report of South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG)

July 08, 2007

Friendship Express

Moitree (friendship) express, the first Indian passenger train from Kolkata is expected to reach Dhaka, Bangladesh today on a trial run(Times of India). This train will transport millions of people between the two countries. The fare starts from US$8 and the time required (including immigration & customs procedures) will be 11 hours to cross about 550 kms of track.

Masud Rana: the James Bond of Bangladesh

An untamed daredevil spy of Bangladesh Counter Intelligence. On secret missions he travels the globe. Varied is his life. Mysterious and strange are his movements. His heart, a beautiful mix of gentle and tough. Single. He attracts, but refuses to get snared. Wherever he encounters injustice, oppression, and wrong, he fights back. Every step he takes is shadowed by danger, fear, and the risk of death. Come, let us acquaint ourselves with this daring, always hip young man. In a flash, he will lift us out of the monotony of a mundane life to an awesome world of our dreams. You are invited. Thank you.
The are the opening lines of Masud Rana, the spy fiction from Bangladesh written by Qazi Anwar Husain and published by his Sheba Prokashoni. Since 1968 Masud Rana, or agent MR-9 is thrilling Bangladeshis in cheap newsprint paperbacks. In my teens I was mesmerized with Rana thrillers and used to devise ways to buy/collect and read them without being seen by elders. Rana has a womanizing character like Bond and thus the paperbacks were deemed unsuitable for teens.

It has been long since I last read a Masud Rana series (the latest was no. 371). Mahmud Rahman does this excellent review in the Daily Star. It was interesting to know that Masud Rana is still like the old days but has become a bit conservative with his erotic style. Probably the mindset of the writer has been changed due to changes in society.

You can get Masud Rana thrillers anywhere in the world from Boi Mela, one of the largest online Bangla Book Stores. Boi Mela website is the official web presence for Seba Prokashoni books. Most of the books that had been published by Seba Prokashoni in the past 4-5 years has Boi Mela's name printed in them as their web reseller.

New seven wonders of the nature - campaign for Bangladesh

The new Seven wonders of the world have been elected yesterday to represent global heritage throughout history. These were voted by millions of people through web, email, sms and other campaigns during past 8 years. They are as follows:

* Chichén Itzá, Mexico
* Christ Redeemer, Brazil
* The Great Wall, China
* Machu Picchu, Peru
* Petra, Jordan
* The Roman Colloseum, Italy
* The Taj Mahal, India

Here are the photos.

This will certainly boost the tourism industries of countries like Jordan and Mexico.

Now nominations are open for the new Seven wonders of nature. A nominee must be a natural site, a natural monument or a landscape.

I think its only befitting to nominate at least two natural wonders from Bangladesh. They are:

* Cox's Bazar, the longest natural sea beach of the world

* Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world

The nominations are open till 08.08.08, exactly one year and one month from today. So what are you waiting for? Nominate the best natural wonders from your country and the world from here.

July 07, 2007

A review of Banker to the Poor

Chandrahas did a great review in The Middle Stage and in The Mint on Dr. Muhammad Yunus's autobiography "Banker to the Poor". Don't forget to check it out.

Dateline 07/07/07

Picture collage from Williamcho in Flickr

On this day we have:

* The declaration of the new seven wonders of the world

* Live Earth, a 24-hour, 7-continent concert series that will bring together more than 100 music artists and 2 billion people to trigger a global movement to solve the climate crisis.

* The most popular wedding day ever (TIME).

* The luckiest date in 100 years.

Related links:

* Read blog posts with 07_07_07 tag.

* Browse photos in Flickr with 07/07/07 tag.

* Watch videos from YouTube with 070707 tag.

Is this your lucky day?

Tech Tags:

Burqa debates

Arafat slams the remarks of Michael Savage, host of The Savage Nation, the "the third most-listened-to talk radio show" in America. Savage said:
You know, when I see a woman walking around with a burqa, I see a Nazi. That's what I see -- how do you like that? -- a hateful Nazi who would like to cut your throat and kill your children. Don't give me this crap that they're doing it out of a sacred ritual or rite. It's not required by the Quran that a woman walk around in a seventh-century drape.
Arafat argues:
...is public tolerance reserved only for matters of religious or cultural 'obligation'? Whatever happened to choice? I mean, society allows tattoos and piercings not because people get them out of some kind of compulsion, but because it's a matter of choice.
Commenter Achelois argues
Hijab/niqaab is not a clothing item of choice. They may wear a blue ‘shuttlecock’ burqa out of choice and not the black – that is choice.

I don’t like the burqa and it makes me very uncomfortable to talk to a masked ‘human’; a human who has made herself believe that veil is her religious obligation and then claims that she should be given personal choice to wear what ‘she’ wants!
Update: Lets make this debate interesting. A Bahraini girl tells her story about her colleague wearing Hijab (via Global Voices Online):
Several days ago in one of the malls a girl stopped me, and her features seemed familiar…For a moment I thought it might be a colleague from work, but there was a big difference in the appearance of the two. My colleague, ever since I have known her, wears hijab (headscarf), and I have never seen her wearing short or tight clothes, just as she doesn’t wear any makeup on her face.

When she put out her hand to greet me I knew for certain my suspicion was correct, and she was the same colleague that I know. I asked her about the reason for the big transformation in her appearance which had surprised me. She said she didn’t always wear hijab, and only wore it during official work hours, and this was her normal way of dressing. Why this double life? Aren’t men the same wherever they are?

She answered, ‘Yes, with one small difference. I deal with those men for eight continuous hours during the working day, but outside, wherever I am, I am away from this closed circle of daily monitoring, from the annoying looks that follow me. I wear hijab during office hours because men usually talk more daringly to women without the hijab. This covering that I put on my head puts a clear boundary between me and those who do not respect women and do not behave well towards them unless they are wearing hijab.’
There we go we have Hijab as a makeshift tool to tackle men in a patriarch society.

Update II: The clerics in Kenya are outraged because prostitutes and criminals are using Buibuis or Burqas to hide their faces and avoid authority's crackdowns (BBC). The organising secretary of the Council of Imams of Kenya, Sheikh Muhammad Khalifa says:
"For God's sake, if one has decided to join this profession, the uniform of prostitutes is well known. "They should stick to their disgraceful attire."

July 06, 2007

Minimum wages- fair demand

Subhan wrote in 2006:
‘Ready-made garments’ is the No. 1 industry of Bangladesh with 75% of the total exports. More than 4,000 factories are activating in this sector which employ more than 1.2 million workers, 90% of which are women. Garment factory workers are the most productive and yet most exploited, the least rewarded but appreciated sections of the poor working class.
And what are the exploitations?
Hundreds of Bangladeshi textile factory owners failed to meet a government deadline to pay the workers even the minimum wage of 25 US dollars a month. Out of 2400 garment factories, 400 were still ignoring the rule as of June 30 - according to the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association. In some factories, workers earn as little as 13 dollars a month.
Dateline MSNBC went undercover to produce this investigative video report. This shows foreign factories in places like Bangladesh are not living up to their promises to treat workers fairly.

This is not the publicity Bangladesh can afford when they have more challanges from China in the coming years. Dateline MSNBC last year produced another investigative report which showed that the bargain shopping trend of Americans are behind this exploitation. Big shopping chains like Wal-Mart are keen to bargain at a lower cost rather being keen on workers issues. One Bangladeshi garments executive claims:
A few years back, I told Wal-Mart, "Give me one cents more a piece, one cent. I will use that money for these poor people.’ He says, ‘No, give us two cents less.'
If we continue to accuse Bangladeshi companies of exploitation and do not bind or give them space to ensure employee welfare then after some days they will lose the contract and a unethical Chinese company will supply cloth to USA. Because US consumers are least bothered about anything else than having a bargain.

For the Bangladeshi RMG entrepreneurs it is important to ensure the workers a fair minimum wage because they should not kill the layer of golden egg.

Wikipedia rules

I rely heavily on Wikipedia. During one internship in Berlin I could amaze my boss with up-to-date in-depth information on a current affairs topic thanks to Wikipedia. And its so huge and comprehensive. It even has a Bangla language version for my need.

Here is a New York Times magazine article describing how Wikipedia turned into a leading source for daily news. Some excerpts:
Increasingly, it has become a go-to source not just for reference material but for real-time breaking news — to the point where, following the mass murder at Virginia Tech, one newspaper in Virginia praised Wikipedia as a crucial source of detailed information....
(via Cyberjournalist.net)

Citizen Media and New Media projects in Bangladesh

I knew little about the citizen media and new media projects in Bangladesh when I amplified about the Rising Voices outreach project micro loan grants in the Bangladeshi Blogosphere.

A total of 142 project proposals from over 40 different countries were submitted with more than five from Bangladesh alone. I am pleased to inform you that out of the five successful projects with a grant upto $5000 two are Bangla speaking and one is from Bangladesh. From Global Voices:
Kazi Rafiq Islam and Kathryn Ward - Dhaka, Bangladesh:

Kazi Rafiq Islam and Kathy Ward are the Coordinator and Executive Director of the Nari Jibon Project in Dhaka, Bangladesh. As you can see from the website, the organization is already involved in outstanding work with young women in Dhaka. With the help of the Rising Voices microgrant, they will introduce Bangladeshi girls and women to blogging, photography and video-blogging by incorporating blogging assignments into existing English, computer, and Bangla classes. You can see some examples of what is to come at Bangladesh from our View.
The other Bangla speaking project is Kalam: Margins Write, a creative writing program for marginalized youth in India based in Kolkata.

You'll be amazed with these projects and the wonderful initiative 'Rising Voices' has taken for promoting the underprivileged people:
...to enable their communities to tell their own stories, to write their own first draft of history, to document their traditions and culture before they are washed away by the tides of globalization.
Great Job David and congratulations to all the grantees.

And we have more surprises. Narijibon is not the only NGO who ventured into the new media initiative in Bangladesh. Md. Arafatul Islam informs:
Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangshtha (SSS), an innovative organisation, is imparting education on information technology to the deprived and poor people in North Bengal over 12 boats equipped with computers with Internet service, mobile phones and libraries. The organisation has been carrying out such activities in North Bengal for the last two years.

SSS recently won the Access to Learning Award-2005 of Gates Foundation as recognition of their innovative work. They got prize money worth about US$ 1 million from the Gates Foundation.
Voice of South reports:
A school based internet enabled telecenter in a Bangladeshi village has recently turned to a digital photo studio. As per its sustainability plan, Relief International -School Online helped the school to plan for income generation through providing basic ICT services.
There are really lots of possibilities how the rural people of Bangladesh can benefit from blogging and other new media tools. Kowshik has some relevant suggestions(in Bengali) stating the benefits of using community internet. The community can get mileage on fields such as education, health, economics, disaster management, culture and politics.

Update: Mikey Leung did ICT development work with some Bangladesh NGOs and thinks that the blogging tool Wordpress can be used as a content-management system (CMS) for these organizations.

His latest work on Wordpress (the local staff can add the contents) are better navigable than some of the sites of the big organizations:

* Ashar Alo Society, Dhaka
* Gram Bikash Kendra, Dinajpur

July 04, 2007

This year America's Junior Miss is Nora Ali

Minnesota's Nora Ali (a high school senior at South St. Paul) won a $50,000 scholarship along with the America's Junior Miss medal this year. The seventeen years old's parents are Bangladeshi immigrants. She expressed that she wants to enlighten Bangladesh's image in America.

(Photo credit- the Daily Amader Shomoy)

This report shows that she's more than a beauty pageant:
Ali is a member of the National Honor Society, is ranked No. 1 in her graduating class, is captain of the Knowledge and Math Teams and still finds time to take Indian Dance classes. Nora has also performed as a solo violinist for the Minnesota Orchestra, and played the National Anthem for a Twins game with her sister.
Watch her talking in this video.

July 03, 2007

The greatest entrepreneurs of all time

Businessweek compiled the top 30 greatest entrepreneurs by a panel of professors, authors and journalists. No surprise, Bangladesh's Dr. Muhammad Yunus is on the list.

On a side note it was entertaining to read a comment by an Indian in the Businessweek post. He vented his frustration on the selection of Wipro's Azim Premji (his countryman) saying that "it is amazing that among 31 people there is not a single Hindu from India mentioned. The Ambanis, InfoSys.....". He went further to claim that The New York Times has a infestation of "syndicated writers" on the Wahabi payroll. Classic case of religious racism.

July 02, 2007

Picture of the day

Somewhere in the Landwehrkanal. A quiet summer evening in Berlin

July 01, 2007

A step closer

Bangladesh's digital vote experiment pilot project in Sreepur ended with success.

Now the Election commission will be able to complete the voter list by 18 months. A roadmap for the election will be declared by the 16th of July, 2007.

I have said earlier that a natinal id card can solve many problems in Bangladesh. Hope that the database will be used for multiple purposes.

Oil spill near Sundarbans!

Sada Kalo Blog reported quoting Bangla Newspaper Prothom Alo that water in the rivers in the Sundarbans (largest mangrove forest in the world) are turning black, oily, and sticky. The report informs that fishes are swimming upstream and sharks and crocodiles are floating on the water.

Today Sada kalo has spotted a Reuters report which informs that the Iranian registered vessel Mir Damad, en-route from Chittagong to Kolkata, has a crack in the bottom, and is on the verge of submersion approximately 22 miles south-west of Mongla.

Its strange that local media has not picked up the news (except Prothom Alo). Bangladesh has no experience in tackling oil spills.

A 2002 study warned about the possibility and the consequences of such spill. So it might turn out to be really devastating for the ecology of the Sundarbans coastal areas (especially the inter-tidal and sub-tidal near-shore habitats) if prompt measures are not taken.

Bangla blogging platform featured in a Norwegian newspaper

Olav Anders Øvrebø, a Norwegian journalist has published a story on the Bangla Blogging platform "baadh bhangar awaj" and its pioneer Arild Klokkerhaug. The article is in Norwegian.

However from Olav's personal blog you can get the gist of the report in English.