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

January 30, 2008

Rotten sympathies vs the power of one

After the devastating blow of cyclone Sidr, which has claimed about 5000 lives (unofficial figures) and damages were in billions of dollars, Bangladesh received good responses from world communities. Many nations pledged millions of dollars of donations to overcome this loss. But after two months only a portion of the donations reached Bangladesh.

Pakistan and India had sent rice as aid among other things. This could be an welcome gift to the hundreds of thousands of Sidr victims as the price of rice soared in the country due to inflation. However according to this report 22 containers full of rice sent from Pakistan were found damaged and rotten. Ten tonnes of the rice received from India were also found to be rotten.
Ayub Meah, secretary of the Ministry of Food and Disaster Management, said: “We will urge Pakistan to substitute the same with unblemished rice. But we will not force them to replace the rotten rice since it is not a commercial cargo. It is a normal practice to destroy damaged food items at the port.”
I hope this was due to mismanagement in transport and not for other reasons.

In another news we get to know that an anonymous philanthropist had donated $130 million alone to rebuild the battered life of Sidr victims in the coastal areas of Bangladesh. His/her donation is a far bigger amount than the wealthiest nations in this world. So hats off to this person and he/she is included in my prayers.

I will share with you another story of about a decade ago. When I was working with a renowned trading house of world renowned Electronics brands in Bangladesh, they announced a gift of one TV for each of the members of Bangladesh cricket team to celebrate one of their surprised big wins. This was widely advertised in newspapers. But as per my knowledge these TVs were never delivered to the Cricket team members. I guess everybody forgot.

I sincerely hope that the donors of Sidr victim will not forget and fulfill their pledge.

Arifur Rahman is yet to be freed

I reported earlier via Shadakalo blog that Arif was quietly released 2 months ago, and newspapers were asked not to report on it.

But seems it was not true. Today a confirmation came from a group mail that he is still in a cell with one another person but seems in good spirits. Lawyers are moving the case and a decision is expected next month.

Let's hope that he is freed soon.


* Bangladesh: yet another Muhammad cartoon controversy
* Attack against freedom of speech: Bangladesh cartoon controversy update
* Cartoonist arrested over harmless play on name Mohammed.
* One Arifur Rahman and his fight against corruption
* Muhammad cat: Clerical Hypocrisy

January 28, 2008

Bangladesh: Bloggers discussing cinema, politics, health, photography and history

(First published in Global Voices Online)

The Bangladeshi film industry nicknamed Dhallywood used to produce decent films for the Bangladeshi society. But with the competition of superior quality pictures from Hollywood and Bollywood, which conquered Bangladesh market and the people with the help of cheap bootleg VCD/DVDs, Dhallywood was in trouble in the last decade. Keeping the strict censorship rule in a predominantly Muslim society in mind, the Dhallywood producers invented new ways to attract viewers with saucier and violent scenes as well as stories and using colorful explicit posters.


Shafiur of imperfect world 2008 shares 8 posters from his collection of almost 500 posters to let us have an idea of what Dhallywood offers now- a- days. Click on the image to view those.

“The rule of law is essential for society to live without fear. For it to apply, it must start at the top.”
World renowned photojournalist Shahidul Alam comments the above in a photo essay on the existing rule of law (or the absence of it) in Bangladesh. Click here for the photo essay.


Recently an email about maltreatment and death of a patient in a Dhaka clinic was widely circulated among the Bangladeshis. Life in Eskaton posts it to portray the sorry state of the private clinics who are just cash mongers and negligent in service.

The blogger shares another story about his father’s MRI investigation in a diagnostic center in Dhaka. Being a heart patient he had to take some cautions. His mother detected that from a display in a board and rushed to alert doctors before they proceeded with the investigation.

He asks:
"Lucky for us, my mother is a sensible woman. And a person who could read English instructions being used as decorative items inside the hospital. What if it was some innocent man from a rural area who can’t read? How can one accept negligence of this magnitude from doctors who appear so smart and intelligent?"


Russell John posts in BP Blog (Official Blog of Bangladeshi Photographers) a collage of 110 photos which are on display in the Sidr Aid Photography Exhibition 2008 being held in Dhaka.


There is a controversy in Bangladesh brewed by the dynastic political descendants of two architects of Bangladesh’s liberation - the father of the nation and ex-prime minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and ex-president General Ziaur Rahman, on the issue of who declared the independence of Bangladesh. We have seen text books have been rewritten during the tenure of BNP (headed by Zia’s wife Khaleda Zia) and Awamy League (headed by Shiekh Mujib’s daughter Sheikh Hasina) claiming their versions of the history.

Blogger Mashuqur Rahman and freedom fighter and liberation war historian M. M. Rahman Jalal did an extensive research on this and published the revealing facts. Please read the post to find out the truth.

January 27, 2008

YouTube video of the day

'Michael Palin in Bangladesh' - Part one

Via Bangladesh Blogger

January 26, 2008

Picture of the day

Bolivian Voices featured by BBC

Voces Bolivianas, one of the first five recipients of a Rising Voices citizen media outreach award, was featured yesterday on the BBC program, The World. In the four minute feature Ruxandra Guidi interviews project facilitator Mario Duran and Voces Bolivianas participant and Aymara translator, Dora Romero.

Listen to the program:

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA

Via Rising Voices.

January 25, 2008

Xenophobia or not that is the question

I wrote earlier about how Roland Koch, the governor of the western state of Hesse in Germany stirred an uproar with his anti-immigrant rhetorics possibly as an election strategy.

The Spiegel Online International recently did a soul searching on "Germany's homegrown intolerance". Spiegel Online editor David Crossland, who was born in Bonn to English parents argued, "rather than rail against 'criminal young foreigners,' the country ought to be doing more to welcome its minorities".

He cited the racial discriminations he faced for speaking in English in U-Bahn (underground) although being a white person and opines:
Maybe it's the Germans' romantic yearning for purity and cleanliness, for a "Heile Welt," a "Perfect World," that renders them prone to a collective xenophobia. This nation of dog lovers goes for pure breeds.
So instead of telling its immigrants not to slaughter sheep in their kitchens, Germany would be well advised to be nicer to its immigrants. Like it or not, they're here to stay.
It sparked a lot of reactions. In the same article the Spiegel Online International announced that they are collecting the experiences of foreigners living in Germany -- both good and bad. And here a pandora's box was opened. More and more readers talk of Germany's invisible Xenophobia and it ain't pretty.

Spiegel's first batch of readers opinions revealed horrid portrayals of silent xenophobia and some questions which the Germans probably have never thought of this way. We also look at some examples of foreigners living without such discriminations and how Germans view it.

"I was exposed to a subtle yet stubborn kind of racism on a daily basis. This mostly takes the form of social exclusion -- I always felt that I am not and will never be allowed to become a normal member of society, despite holding a promising academic record and decent linguistic skills." - A Chinese scholar from Munich.

"I have a German name, I have a German passport, but I look Asian, and therefore am a foreigner." - Veronica

"One more issue that I feel is a barrier to any kind of integration is the fact that almost no Germans that I knew had friends of a different culture or skin color -- the exception being North Americans, North Europeans and Australians, etc. Even so-called liberal, 'tolerant' people simply did not have foreigners in their circles of acquaintance. Friendships and relationships are essential to any type of integration, and as long as the Germans keep immigrants at arm's length, the immigrants will never feel like they belong." Yvonne Jacoby from Ireland

"I have come across some of the finest individuals in Germany, and the opposite too. It's extremely hard for a foreigner to find out whether a German likes him/her or not. I hope most of the foreigners would agree if I say life for a foreigner is like that of Satan in heaven -- you have been admitted into the country but not actually into the society." - Madhu Balan from India

"I do have German friends and a German wife and a lot of Germans are kind and nice people. But I never feel like I belong to this place because of my skin color. And even the nicest Germans will often ask, when I say I am American: "But what are you really?" - Mike Silva from USA

"In some parts of Germany I would not like to have dark skin -- sad, don't you think?" - An ex-British soldier.

"If my friend, who is white, crosses a street when the light is red, she is in a hurry. And if I do the same, someone is waiting to say "schwarze Schlampe" ("black slut") or something similar." - An Indian Student in Berlin

On the other hand some foreigners said that Germans were helpful to them and the extent of racism and xenophobia in Germany is often exaggerated. Some opined that Germany is not perfect and there are more hate crimes reported in many countries whereas only few Germany.

A German man with a Polish wife shared the treatment his wife and a South African friend faced and opined:

"The only chance I see for success is the integration of our society into a European society as a whole where immigration, cross-border movements and 'foreignness' are considered to be assets for a functioning society."

An Indian scholar defends Germans and suggests:

"They just expect that people should at least speak and understand their language and culture. Germany needs to do more to have the best brains from around the world. This is where the future lies."

Read the Spiegel Online article for details.

In the second batch of reader opinions in Spiegel a discovery comes from a German who is living outside of Germany for five years:

"The kind of discrimination that immigrants in Germany face is already deeply rooted in the system and accepted as the norm to such an extent that most people will not notice it. This discrimination may not be apparent to someone who is living in Germany and surrounded by it every day, yet not affected by it.

In my town there are a lot of immigrant children of my age, from Turkey, Russia, Italy and many other countries. Yet how many of them went to a "Gymnasium" (university-track high school -- Ed.) like I did? The sad answer is not a single one. My entire high school class consisted of German, white, middle-class kids who were, like me, oblivious to the diversity of people living around them.

It happens all around us -- it is just a matter of opening your eyes to it.

Here are some examples confirming it:

"I discovered, while procuring my residency papers, a higher benchmark was set for my documents than those of my white American friends who were kind enough to compare their experience with mine." - A Haitian American

"My wife, in spite of being a European citizen, was given a permit as if she was an Indian wife and she was not allowed to work any more. When we inquired to the Ausländerbehörde (foreigners' office) about her getting a Freizügigkeitsbescheinigung ('freedom of movement' permit, issued to EU citizens living in Germany) we were told that she had lost all rights as an EU citizen by marrying a third-country national and she would now be considered as an alien's wife, not as an EU citizen." - An Indian scholar married to a Lithuanian girl (working in Germany).

"When I first got pregnant, I couldn't believe the look on one of the nurses' face when she looked at my insurance card and saw that we were not Germans. She immediately started hinting to my face that we were here making a great living and stealing their jobs away, while they were struggling with recession." -Andreaa Sepi from Romania

And some reality the Germans perhaps do not consider:

"Even the most cosmopolitan of my German friends could not conceive that I might plan to stay in the country after graduation. For them, it was unthinkable that a foreigner would come to study in Germany and legally stay on to work. (After graduation I moved to the United States and use my German education to make money from an American company. Too bad for the German tax-payer.)" - A Brazilian

"Germans probably travel more than any other nationalities, and yet in their own country they act as if they've never seen people of color.

My suggestion to Germans who really want to see integration work, is simple: Talk to a foreigner! Wherever you are, on the bus, walking down the street, don't hesitate to talk to a foreigner. Make us feel welcome, just a little nod and a short hello would suffice.
" - name withheld

"Immigration has always been part of Germany's history, in one way or another -- be it the Huguenots in the 17th century or Russian Jews after the pogroms in Russia in the 19th century -- only that a lot of Germans aren't aware of it. I blame the politicians and the media in Germany for doing so little to promote immigration and integration, to show how society can benefit from immigration -- where are, for instance, the Turkish TV presenters?" - Martin Sauter, a German

While we also see some counterpoints:

"Germans have the right to model their own country and culture. The same is true for Saudi Arabia with its non-tolerance of Christians, and India with its discriminatory caste system or Japan with its homogeneous ethnicity." - An American

"There is always one option for those who do not like it: Go home. No one is keeping them here or in any country where they do not feel wanted." - Paul Sanders

"Maybe Germany, including the SPIEGEL, should realize that Germany is not a special country but average, and that the phenomena you discuss here are not specifically German but human. It's called in-group-preference and out-group-avoidance. I'm afraid we're not going to get totally rid of that anywhere in the world." - A German living in Canada.

"The emphasis (in the debate on "foreign" criminals (more...)) should not be on the word "foreign"; rather, it should be on the word "criminal." If the criminal element -- regardless of age -- chooses not to respect the laws of their country of adoption, then they should be deported, pure and simple. The tax payer should not support this ilk." - Vera Gottlieb.

My view to this debate is that any criminal foreign or local should be tried under law. So why the fuss about deporting foreigners? What do you do with the local criminals? I think Ms. Vera do not know the asylum laws in Germany which grants political asylums to people from other countries. Some of those granted are fugitives from the rule of law of their own countries. Perhaps the issue of human rights come into question then. What an oxymoron!

I like to end this roundup with an American's words:

"Here in the States, the history of prejudice is different, the effects just as constant, but the origin similar: fear of that which is different. This fear breeds hatred and violence, sometimes planned and carried out over time, at other times opportunistic and random. Passively and actively, it is then passed to the next generation.

Xenophobia, racism, and extreme nationalism or regionalism, are all so ugly because the potential for these exists in all our hearts.

Picture of the day

Architecture in the neighborhood

January 22, 2008

Social Media Outreach: Non-Profits are the Key

(First Published in Rising Voices)

We often talk about extending the global conversation to every corner of the world with the use of social media tools. The means to do this are manifold and depend upon the support and implementation of local institutions. The main impediment to this cause is the lack of awareness of the freely available tools available to enter the global conversation and the absence of basic communication infrastructure in the developing world. Essentially, the digital divide is much larger in these countries than the developed countries.

However, with the proliferation of mobile communication in regions such as the Indian Sub-Continent and Sub-Saharan Africa, internet access has reached remote rural areas without the need of additional infrastructure like cables and land lines. But the potential of this phenomenon is largely yet to be harnessed.

Non-Profits are the Key

The not for profit organizations or NGOs as they are known in some parts of the world have a wider influence on the population of the developing countries. In some countries they contribute by sustaining a large workforce and their development budgets frequently make up a major part of the economy. These non-profit organizations have the capacity to use this technology on a wider scale and, thereby, to inspire a communication revolution among the people they serve. So when we talk about bringing the fruit of social media to each and every person in the world, we cannot progress much without enlisting the help of non-profits.

The digital divide

Which side of the digital divide are the non profits and NGOs? First let us look at the developed countries. In the USA, the Overbrook Foundation had released a report assessing some of the foundation’s human rights grantees use of Web 2.0 tools. Some findings are:

  • Most of the organizations use the web more as a source of information than as a tool for connecting with others.
  • Roughly half of the organizations — in most cases, the larger ones — maintain blogs.
  • Respondents experienced a great deal of frustration in determining which tools to use and where to turn for help.
  • Participants felt a generation gap with the new technology. “I’m always trying to catch up to my younger staff members.”

If the exposure of non-profits from developed countries to social media look like this then imagine the state of non-profits in developing countries. They are still in the process of incorporating to the digital age. Slowly, more and more non-profit institutions are making their web presence felt. But their web presence is mostly characterized by static web 1.0 websites which don’t allow for participation or interaction. They remain typical brochure sites with nothing more than a mission statement, some advertisements, rarely updated newsletters, a few photos, contact information, and zero interaction.

Nepal’s ASMITA is a powerful advocacy organization where a small group of female media activists are playing a pivotal role in the country’s history. ASMITA uses many forms of media. “It acts as a print magazine, a media campaign for women’s rights, a research group, a media watchdog, a TV and radio producer and a publisher of educational literature.” But what it does not have are participatory web media tools like blogs, videos, podcasts.

More than 20,000 NGOs work in Bangladesh. The official websites of Bangladesh’s two big NGOs BRAC and Grameen have still yet to incorporate web 2.0 applications on a visible scale.

In the era of Web 2.0, non-profits must take their online messages to a new level. Using social media tools like blogs, podcasts, videos and collaborative wikis they can initiate more interaction, make their work more interactive, and can positively distribute their message. We have seen that there is occasionally mistrusts among people regarding certain non-profits, which are not always transparent about their activities. When communicating with interactive social media, stakeholders and supporters can have each have better understandings of each other and ascertain whether everything is working properly.

What is social media or web 2.0?

Techsoup explains web 2.0 in the context of the non-profits:

“Web 2.0″ to me is the building of community and collaboration on a website — wikis, social-networking, user-created content, repurposed content, people interacting publicly through a website, users interacting with staff and with each other.”

The advantages of web 2.0:

  • You do not need special programming skills to use these tools.
  • Most of them are free or extremely low cost.
  • Beth Kanter is a trainer, blogger, and consultant to non-profits and individuals who want to effectively use social media. She writes in the Read Write Web:

    Non-profits that integrate Web 2.0 tools and techniques effectively into their communications and programming strategies are reaping many benefits….

    …In a recent blog discussion on the Netsquared community blog, some nonprofit techies believed that the answer is actually a change of mindset. Their point was that non-profits need to adopt a new philosophy of making their constituents the distributors of their message, and their work. To facilitate this shift, there is a need to educate more non-profits about what possibilities Web 2.0 tools offer and the practical ways to get started. It took years and small steps for many in the nonprofit sector to make the leap from fax machines to email - and it’ll be the same when taking the leap from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0.

    Seth Godin’s free one-pager for non-profits courtesy of Npower New York and Squidoo.

    Examples of the use of social media tools

    • Flickr as Nonprofit Documentation Tool: What happens when you give a grantmaker a camera and flickr account? An interesting use of Flickr as a documentation tool! Also look at the International NGOs flickr group.
    • Wiki Adoption in Organizations: Wikis are good for creating a collaborative and flexible knowledge base.
    • Best practices for non-profits using web 2.0

      “How are smart non profits using the power of the web to spread information and have virtual conversations with their supporters? Who are using the web to deliver their message, but more crucially, to engage audiences in a conversation?”

      Alexandra Samuel answers those questions in Social Signal quoting some of the best practices:

    • The UN Foundation has had a dazzling success with its Nothing But Nets site, which focuses specifically on providing malaria nets to kids in the developing world.
    • Invite your community to make contributions other than money. The web is a great place to ask for other kinds of contributions — whether that means connecting people directly with people who need their expertise or services (as in Nabuur) or asking them to share their personal experiences (as with the March of Dimes’ Share your Story project).

    Check the rest here.

    Why the Web 2.0 is important for small local non-profits?

    Ken Goldstein writes that using interactive applications, two-way online communications and user-generated content the established core constituency of a non-profit can be expanded wider, possibly transforming it to a global powerhouse. Some advantages:

    • Blogging communicates with the target audience more frequently and more cost-effectively than newsletters and appeal letters.
    • RSS feeds of blogs, videos, etc., allow supporters to receive, read, and act upon the communications at their own pace.

    How non-profits can start leveraging Social Media

    Masternewmedia prescribes ten ways to do it.

    If, as a decision-maker of a non-profit, you still are not convinced of the power of new media, then read Beth Kanter’s entire Blog dedicated to the theme: “How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media.”

    Today's Links

    * Good intentions create child prostitution.

    * Monsoon Letters: Bangladeshi writers writing, translating, transcreating in English. Biographies, bibliographies, critical reviews.

    * How social is the world according to Facebook?

    * Israeli atrocity on Gaza civilians.

    * ACTION ALERT: Holocaust in Gaza!

    January 21, 2008

    How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

    YouTube video of the day

    An American introduction to cricket via The Googly

    January 18, 2008

    The Green Children

    The Green Children is a young band of musicians inspired by Professor Muhammad Yunus. After visiting Bangladesh and India to learn more about microcredit, The Green Children were incredibly inspired by the borrowers they met with. From its website:
    Milla Sunde and Tom Bevan established The Green Children Foundation to support microcredit, education and healthcare. Last year, The Green Children shot a music video in Bangladesh to celebrate the work of Professor Muhammad Yunus, the father of microcredit and founder of The Grameen Bank.

    The Green Children have reached the target of $500,000 which will go towards the first dedicated eye hospital in rural Bangladesh.

    They told Professor Yunus the good news during his recent visit to California. The hospital is due to be completed in March next year and will serve 50,000 people a year, 10,000 of which will receive the vital cataracts operation and escape from a life of blindness!
    Please support them.

    Via The Scientific Indian

    January 17, 2008

    World's best selling consumer product

    It is none other than Nokia 1100, which was ubiquitous in Bangladesh until recently as the later models appeared.

    Via Gagan

    The State of private Health Service in Bangladesh

    Russoe shares an email showing the shocking service people get from a private clinic in Dhaka Bangladesh. Earlier this month its negligence caused death of a child.

    Brahmaputra by Shahidul Alam

    "We take you on this journey, across the millenium, across three nations, through Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. From the icy trickle in the glaciers. Along Pei in China, where the river narrows into a rapid-filled gorge reaching phenomenal depths and amazing cascades. Through the crystal clear waters in Arunachal Pradesh. Across the lush deltaic plains of verdant Bangladesh. We take you sailing along the Brahmaputra."

    Via the travel Photographer

    Should blogs be regulated?

    Watch a lively debate about the blogging community and its influence on the people of India. Barkha Dutt, one of India's most prominent journalists hosted the talk show called "We The People". In India there are about 400,000 blogs and 40,000 active bloggers.

    January 10, 2008

    Today's Links

    * Bangladesh: robbers tunnel to bank locker

    * Bangladesh to build 2,000 new cyclone centers this year.

    * 'Wombs for rent' grows in India

    * Top ten Pakistan Blogs

    * Evolution of an artist

    * Vote free or die

    * 2008 US Presidential election: complete Coverage

    * Late Victorian holocausts : The Indian famines

    Tata Nano: The world's cheapest car

    Image Courtesy: Paul Tan. For more artist impressions click here.

    Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata today unveiled the world's cheapest car in New Delhi which can sit up to four people. The price is 100,000.00 INR i.e. 2,554.28 USD at today's currency rate.

    Rediff News:
    The car will have a 624-cc petrol engine generating 33 bhp of power. It will sport a 30-litre fuel tank and 4-speed manual gearshift. The car will come with air conditioning, but will have no power steering. It will have front disk and rear drum brakes. The company claims mileage of 23 km per litre.

    The car's dashboard features just a speedometer, fuel gauge, and oil light. The car does not have reclining seats or radio. The shock absorbers are basic.
    Tata Nano uses 5 liters of fuel per 100km and meets all Indian local crash test and emissions guidelines. It was also designed to pass international side offset and side crash tests as well as Euro 4 emissions tests.

    The two-cylinder engine, which uses Bosch’s Value Motronic fuel injection and engine management is mounted at the rear of the car together with the battery. There is a small boot at the front where a person would normally expect the engine bay to be.

    The car will go on sale in the second half of 2008.
    Via The Scientific Indian

    January 08, 2008

    Internet in danger in Bangladesh

    The Daily Star reports:
    Internet service providers, IT experts and businessmen say the government is responsible for frequent cuts in the country's optical fiber submarine cable and for the consequent constraints in moving business forward.

    Sources said a number of BTTB officials pocketed large amount of money in the name of fibre-optic cable maintenance. They said the officials withdraw allocated budget before doing any maintenance work.

    BTTB loses revenue of $70,000 per hour with every disruption. The BTTB invested $35.1 million for the submarine cable.
    A round table of Internet service providers arranged by BDNews24, IT experts and businessmen finds that the government is responsible for frequent cuts in the country's optical fibre submarine cable and for the consequent constraints in moving business forward.
    Rafiqul Islam Rowly, president of BASIS, asked why the optical fibre cable has not yet been declared a "key point installation".

    "We're really living on a single oxygen line," Rowly said.

    Bangladesh introduced the fibre optic service on May 21 2006. The service has been disrupted a total of 23 times because of cuts in the cable between Chittagong and Dhaka. State-run BTTB have said "sabotage" was the cause of cable cuts on at least eight occasions.

    The speakers slammed the government for not yet bringing the culprits responsible for cutting the cable to book.
    It seems all problem lies inside BTTB.

    Breaking News: Advisors resign in Bangladesh

    Prothom Alo and BDNews24 reports that four advisors of the Bangladesh Caretaker Government have resigned. Among them are Law adviser Mainul Hosein, health adviser ASM Matiur Rahman, power and food adviser Tapan Chowdhury and industry adviser Geeteara Safiya Choudhury. (Retuers confirms)

    Mainul and Tapan told newsmen that they tendered their resignation from the Council of Advisors, as the government desired.

    The new advisors will be sworn in in Bangabhaban today.

    There is a rumor that this is the first step for the national qualition government. Also significant is the news that Sheikh Hasina had told her party members to prepare for an election without her.

    Update I: E-Bangladesh has posted a probable list of new advisors to be sworn in:

    Professor M Shamsher Ali, ex-vice chancellor of Bangladesh Open University.
    Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury, vice chancellor of BRAC University.
    Major General (Retired) Golam Quader, ex-chief of DGFI.
    Nurul Huda, ex-IGP (Inspector General of Police).
    Rasheda K Choudhury, Director of CAMPE.
    Fazle Hasan Abed, chairman of BRAC.
    M Showkat Ali, ex-secretary.

    Update II: Five new advisers were sworn in today. They are:

    - Hossain Zillur Rahman - former BIDS senior research fellow
    - Golam Quader - Retired major general, ex DGFI chief
    - AMM Shawkat Ali -former secretary,
    - AF Hassan Ariff - former attorney general
    - Rasheda K Chowdhury -former ADAB president

    Please stay tuned for more updates.

    January 07, 2008

    Today's Links

    * Bangladesh 'facing rice crisis'

    * Dhaka Nawab Family (Official Web Site)

    * The Indian government is using its decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) from Bangladesh to push Tatas’ case for $3b investment plan in Bangladesh.

    * Bloggers weigh the Iowa caucus results.

    * Undiscovered destinations: Bangladesh

    * A purple future

    * Bangladesh not recovered from Cyclone Sidr

    January 06, 2008

    Free Fouad

    January 05, 2008

    Picture of the day

    A white new year.

    Weltanschauung (worldview)

    An incident at a Munich train station sparked much uproar in Germany recently. Roland Koch, the governor of the western state of Hesse told that Germany has too many "criminal young foreigners" and that immigrants must accept the country's Christian culture. According to Spiegel Online:
    "Koch was responding to the brutal assault on a 76-year-old German man by two young men, one Greek and one Turkish, in Munich on December 20. The pensioner had asked them to stop smoking on a subway train, where smoking is prohibited.

    The incident was filmed on security cameras and led to a nationwide outcry during Christmas, with calls for tougher sentencing for young offenders and the expulsion of foreign criminals.

    The case has re-opened a decades-old debate about immigration in Germany, which has some 15 million people with an immigrant background, around 18 percent of the population."
    However Koch did not mention anything about the attack on Eight Indian men in the eastern German town of Mügeln last August by a 50 person strong mob. These were ordinary citizens,not some organized, right-wing neo-Nazis who stirred up the pogrom-like mood. While many point out that the immigrant criminals should be expelled they seem to ignore the fact that no punishment was given to these group of people. All the 50 men were arrested but released within one hour except the leader. He was later indicted and a 600 Euro fine was imposed on him. Since he is in social security he has declared that he is unable to pay the money so the state will repay the fine within one year.

    Moreover Spiegel Online reports:
    The right-wing website "Störtebeker-Netz" has even praised the chasing of the eight Indians as "a small popular uprising." Small towns, the website continues, are the ones "that have largely been spared multicultural progress so far," which is why the people in these places still exhibit "a healthy popular sensibility." In other words, the neo-Nazis are encouraged by what happened in Mügeln.
    In the city Pretzien, a town 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of the eastern city of Magdeburg at a village festival and bonfire a member of a right wing organization suddenly demanded that revelers "throw everything foreign into the fire.":
    A US flag was tossed into the flames, followed by a paperback edition of the "Diary of Anne Frank." "It's all lies and deception," the man throwing the items into the fire apparently said. The mayor and about 80 people attending the event looked on but said nothing.
    The far right NPD which states that "African, Asian or Oriental" can never become German, chimes in with Koch:
    "Germany must remain the land of the Germans, so that our children don't suffer the same fate as the (American) Indians who were unable to stop the immigrants and now live on reservations."
    Koch goes even further this time:
    "In residential estates with a high proportion of immigrants there must be clear rules and of course consequences if they are not respected," wrote Koch. "German must be the language in everyday life and it must be clear that the slaughtering (of animals) in the kitchen or unusual ideas about waste disposal run counter to our principles."
    The anti-immigrant NPD is a legitimate political party and receives public funding even though many of its views are derived from Nazi ideology.

    It seems we are witnessing a new version of the Weltanshauung (world view) ideology which was used in propaganda by the Nazis.

    January 04, 2008

    The feast of cricket continues: Bangladesh vs. New Zealand, India vs. Australia, West Indies vs. South Africa

    While I was busy last month I missed most of the games of the interesting three series being held in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

    Now I am back in action in following the series between Bangladesh vs. New Zealand, India vs. Australia, West Indies vs. South Africa

    In Dunedin, Bangladesh is displaying a poor show in the first test against New Zealand. They did not do the homework as they seem to have no idea how to play the short balls except ducking down. The new coach Jamie Siddons said he will work on this after the tour and before the next tour in South Africa. Till then its just a mundane affair. Hope some of the boys can show a bit of heroism.

    In Sidney Australia and India are playing neck-a-neck in the second test. Remember this is a revived Indian side with the old guns Sachin and Sourav are back at their best. Their perfect replacements are no where in sight. Hope India can get back in the series after the first test loss.

    In their second test against South Africa in Cape town West Indies could not continue their revival performance in the first test. South Africa is leading but there are three days remaining to shift the luck to WI side. And interesting contest beckoning.

    As usual here are my quest for available online resources to watch the match:

    # Free video streaming links:

    * Sopcast: Please download sopcast from here. Then find live video cricket broadcasts from the channels list and click on any one of them. Wait a few moments and you can watch clear free live video of the match in full screen mode.

    * Bangladesh vs New Zealand Live Cricket streaming Links (Sopcast) via Tarik's World

    * Australia vs India 2007/2008 watching online test, oneday series - live streaming sites - via Kalyan Suman

    * South Africa vs West Indies 2008 via Kalyan Suman

    * South Africa vs West Indies 2008 via Tarik's World

    * India vs Australia Live Cricket streaming Links(Sopcast,WMP) via Tarik's World

    Some more sopcast compatible blog streaming links:

    - Bheja Fry links

    - P2P globe

    - Livecricket.bollym4u

    * India Vs. Australia live Webcast from Tamil audio-video.

    * India vs. Australia free video links from Nihar's world.

    TVU Player

    Click here for TVU player download

    After downloading and installing TVU player browse through the channels and you will sure find one channel that has cricket.

    Other TVU Player sites:

    *livetvfree cricket-live-tv-tvu-player

    # Updates via sms:

    Receive wicket, score and milestone updates via sms during the test match from Cricket-Online.com

    # Exclusives and ball-by-ball commentary in Internet portals:

    - Cricinfo.com
    - StickyWicket.com
    - Cricket365.com
    - 123 India.com
    - CricketWorld.com
    - CricketZone.com
    - Crick8.com
    - Cricketnext.com
    - MSN Cricket

    # Highlights:

    * Ausrtalia vs. India highlights at Kalyan Suman

    January 03, 2008

    YouTube video of the day

    The most terrifying video you'll ever see.

    The Musée Guimet affair -part deux

    Last week I reported about the bloggers reactions on the controversies surrounding the exhibition of the masterpieces of Ganges in Musée Guimet of France from the collections of the Bangladesh museums.

    The apprehensions of the art lovers who were protesting the unclear processes of sending the artifacts including their fear of loss, theft, replication, even accident (on the way) came true as on Dec 22, one of the 13 crates in the 2nd shipment of artifacts to Musée Guimet in Paris vanished from the tarmac of ZIA International Airport, Dhaka.

    Shafiur of Imperfect | world | 2008 reports:
    Ah yes the bumbling and incompetent Inspector Clouseau must have been in charge of the precious bits and pieces at Zia Airport the other day when the nation’s heritage was under the care of Air France. Two priceless pieces have gone walkies. And the rest have been returned to the national museum as the powers that be finally resolved to not send the stuff to the Guimet in Paris. As I said in an earlier post, this whole thing at the Guimet lacked process even apparently the final decision to send them according to the New Nation.

    And amazingly, Ayub Quadri, the education and cultural adviser to the inappropriately named “caretaker” government, is mulling resignation. I guess he is hoping Monsieur Clouseau will find the priceless Vishnu artefacts and save his skin.

    Meanwhile I reckon Inspector Clouseau’s spokesman has started the damage limitation exercise at the French embassy in Dhaka. They reckon the whole thing was “highly suspicious.” Mon dieu! Yes it gets better. And they are effectively blaming those people who objected to the exhibition for the theft! This is a quote from their press release:

    ‘’… could also be the result of a conspiracy by a very small nexus of people to embarass France and Bangladesh.'’
    Although according to the agreement the transport of the artifacts were responsibility of borrower (i.e. the French authorities), there were lapses in securities as the masterpieces were left in tarmac for three hours unattended. A local news source reports:
    Homebound, the shipping agent hired by France, had declared the 145 artefacts awaiting shipment to Paris as ‘general cargo’, leading to the crates being left unattended for three hours on the tarmac and the theft of two Vishnu statues.
    Meanwhile grapevines (as not supported by a second source) kept appearing in the media:
    A confirmed source told Weekly Blitz that the authorities of Guimet Museum is now looking into legal aspects of holding the whole batch of first consignment of artifacts sent from Bangladesh for, what Guimet says, non performance of the contractual obligation of the authorities in Dhaka in sending the second consignment of artifacts.
    Further report in a Bangla blog (chemical Ali) quoting a museum official suggests [bn]:
    "the French officials requested Bangladesh national museum officials to quote the value of the artifacts so that insurance value becomes lower and promised that they will carefully handle them. The Bangladeshi museum officials were also lured with the chance to visit France alon gwith the artifacts which made them co-operate."
    Arup at Sachalayatan posts an interview which tells that the French authorities have opened the first lot of the artifacts without the presence of the accompanying Bangladeshi officials, which is the due process.

    And finally everybody loses as broken pieces of the two 1500 year old relics were found in a dump yard in the outskirts of Dhaka city. Apparently the petty thieves were trying to cover up their crime and could not handle the hunt on them.

    Arup writes an emotional piece addressing the French ambassador in Bangladesh in Sachalayatan titled "Désolé Monsieur Romnicianu" [bn]:
    সেদিন মিডিয়া আর বাংলাদেশের প্রতিবাদী কিছু মানুষের উপরে আপনি ক্ষেপে উঠেছিলেন। কূটনৈতিক শিষ্টাচার (যা আমাকে নিকটজনেরা শত চেষ্টায় শেখাতে পারেনি) ভুলে আপনি কতোকটা ফুঁসেই উঠেছিলেন। কেন? গরীব দেশ দেখে যাচ্ছেতাই করবেন আর বলবেন, আর আমরা হজম করবো?
    কিন্তু আজকে আমি সেই বোঝাপড়ায় আসিনি। বড় লজ্জা নিয়ে আপনার মতো ঘৃনার্হ একটা মানুষের কাছে হাটু গেড়ে বসে কিছু কথা বলতে চাই। ...বাংলাদেশের সমস্ত পুরাকীর্তি আপনারা নিয়ে যান, যতো তাড়াতাড়ি পারুন, নিয়ে যান সব। আর যেগুলো প্রথম চালানেই চলে গিয়েছিল, প্লীজ ফেরত দেবেন না আর। চুরির শংকায় আমরা আপনাদের বিরুদ্ধে কতোই না আন্দোলন করেছিলাম। কি লাভ হল তাতে। মোবাইল ফোনের চালান ভেবে যেদেশের মানুষ ৩য় খ্রীস্টপূর্বাব্দের অমূল্য বজ্রসত্ত্ব মূর্তি চুরি করে আর পরক্ষনেই ভেঙ্গে টুকরো টুকরো করে বর্জ্যক্ষেত্রে ছিটিয়ে দেয়, তাদের কি অধিকার আছে নিজের অমূল্য সব সম্পদ নিজের বুকে আগলে রাখার? আমরা মায়ের কুলাঙ্গার সন্তান। দেশের সম্পদ তাই বরং চলে যাক আপনাদের মতো বেনিয়াদের হাতে। আপনারা বেনিয়া হতে পারেন, কিন্তু ইতিহাস আর ঐতিহ্যের মূল্য দিতে জানেন। নিয়ে যান, তবু শান্তি, জানি আগলে রাখবেন পরম মমতায়।

    "That day you showed your outburst of anger to the media and some protesters ignoring diplomatic etiquettes. Because we are a poor country, does that give you the right to say anything at your will and we should digest that?

    No I have not come to talk about that. Keeling down before a hated man like you, I want to say something... Please take away all the archaeological artifacts from Bangladesh as soon as possible. Please keep those which were already sent to you. We have protested a lot on the apprehension of theft. But what good it did to us? Some people of this country had stolen a 300 Year BC artifact on the notion that its a consignment of mobile phones and later broke them into pieces and dumped them. The people of this country do not deserve to protect their priceless assets. We are condemned sons and daughters of this country. So let these objects go to you, the colonialists. You can be colonialist, but can value and respect the history and tradition. Please take them away, still we will be happy to know that they are safe."
    A French Blog Rue89 reports the incident in their post titled "Vishnu disparu au Bangladesh, le musée Guimet ébranlé" (Vishnu disappeared in Bangladesh, the Musée Guimet shaken ). A commenter -"Illusion (archaeologist)" aptly points out [fr]:

    Si la situation a escaladé ces derniers mois, c’est aussi parce que les organisateurs n’ont pas réagi avec doigté aux remarques qui leur étaient faites, forts qu’ils étaient d’avoir le support du gouvernement bangladais (et probablement surpris qu’on puisse contester l’organisation d’une telle exposition), mais il serait faux, comme on a tenté de le faire croire, que ce mouvement est uniquement une critique exercée par des opposants au gouvernement en place à Dhaka. Parmi les opposants, il y a des archéologues, des historiens de l’art, des professeurs d’Université et c’est leur faire insulte que d’éliminer d’un revers de main les critiques qu’ils ont émises. C’est vrai que le gouvernement bangladais a fait des fautes, mais la France en a profité. L’opposition n’est pas une opposition au principe de l’organisation de l’exposition mais se base fondamentalement sur le choix des objets.
    Le Bangladesh est un pays à majorité musulmane, il est vrai, mais néanmoins, c’est avant tout le « pays des Bengalis » (Bangla-desh), et ceux-ci sont extrêmement conscients de leur passé et de leur culture. Ils sont respectueux de leurs ancêtres et de leurs réalisations et n’attendent pas les Occidentaux pour les éclairer à ce sujet, mais on pourrait de fait les aider en finançant des projets éducatifs, ou de formation (ce que Guimet a tenté de faire en offrant des formations de muséologie), ou en partageant notre savoir sur la restauration, la conservation, etc. – mais encore seulement s’ils en font la demande : rien n’est pire que de se croire autorisé à « aider » quand en fait, on ne fait qu’imposer sa propre vision du monde. Et enfin, en sachant aussi se retirer au moment opportun : nous ne sommes plus au « temps béni des colonies », mais les mauvaises habitudes ont malheureusement la vie dure. De telles expositions nous font plaisir, mais n’oublions pas que nous consommons à ce moment de la culture qui n’est pas la nôtre et pour laquelle nous n’éprouvons souvent que de la condescendance. Allons voir l’autre sur place et acceptons que sa vision du monde peut être radicalement différente de la nôtre.

    Machine Translation:

    If the situation has escalated in recent months, it is also because the organizers did not react sensitively to the comments that were made, they were strong to have the support of the government of Bangladesh (and probably surprised that we can challenge the organization of such an exhibition), but it would be wrong, as it tried to have us believe that this movement is only a review carried out by government opponents in place in Dhaka. Among the opponents, there are archaeologists, art historians, university professors and it is insulting them than to eliminate out of hand the criticism they have made. It's true that the government of Bangladesh has made mistakes, but France took advantage. The opposition is not an opposition to the principle of the exhibition but is based fundamentally on the choice of objects.
    Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority country, it is true, but nevertheless, it is the Bengalis' countries (Bangladesh), and they are extremely aware of their past and their culture. They are respectful of their ancestors and their achievements and do not expect the West to shed light on this matter, but it might actually help by supporting educational projects, or training (what Guimet tried to offering training museology), or by sharing our knowledge on the restoration, conservation, and so on. -- But only if they apply: nothing is worse than being allowed to believe "help" when in fact, it does impose its own vision of the world.

    And finally, knowing also retire at the right time: we are no longer the "blessed time of the settlements", but unfortunately have bad habits die hard. Exhibitions of this kind we are happy, but we must not forget that we eat at this time of the culture that is not ours, and for which we do often than condescension. Let's hear another on the spot and accept that his vision of the world can be radically different from ours.
    Since the beginning of the process French diplomatic pressure was acute on Bangladesh. The adviser (minister equivalent) of the cultural ministry had taken responsibility and resigned. Times Online reports that it had created a diplomatic rift between Bangladesh and France. The president of the Musée Guimet had expressed his opinion in "Le Monde" as "écœuré" (nauseating) and of course blamed the Bangladeshi authorities keeping mum about their lack of processes.

    Today's latest news is that the Bangladesh ambassador to France has died of Brain hemorrhage. Close acquaintances say he was under a tremendous pressure for this affair. France may have had lost some amount of money in this debacle but Bangladesh had to pay dearly, all in priceless objects.

    Today's Links

    * Lost in Living: Rising price of essentials is robbing people of Bangladesh of their real income.

    * The dark side of micro-credit.

    * The failure of India’s Bangladesh policy.

    * Is Bangladesh's Emergency different?

    * Melanocytes are why Africa is poor.

    * A Plan to Kill Everyone.

    * The outsourcing of newspapers has begun.

    January 02, 2008

    Who is watching you?

    Click on the image for enlarged view.

    Source: Privacy International

    Blog on stage

    We have seen instances of writings from blogs have become best selling books. But I think this is the first time I read about dramatization of a blog and that is in India.

    Known Turf reports:
    I have been to see Baghdad Burning (in Hindi) at the National School of Drama last weekend and it was (to my knowledge) the first time in this country that someone put together a dramatic production on stage, based on the text of a blog.

    Baghdad Burning is a fine blog that treads a wonderful line between experiential journalism, write-it-as-I-see-it posts and storytelling. There is inherent drama in an unfolding war and the inevitable tragedy for the citizens who neither propagated it nor supported it and had nowhere to run when it came to their homes. That it calls for a wider audience goes without saying and taking it to the stage, where non-bloggers also have a chance to experience the narrative is a great initiative.
    Amazing! Isn't it?

    Via Global Voices Online

    January 01, 2008

    Pictures of the day

    Today was the last day of the remaining Christmas markets in Berlin.

    And it snowed heavily today.

    Education with zero creativity

    'Life in Eskaton' describes the experience as a substitute teacher of seventh grade in an international school in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
    "To enhance quality, the administration has aped the syllabus followed at more successful schools, where standards are higher. The children here lack the grammar and reading skills to respond and are bamboozled into memorizing answers.

    The only way to make it easier for them is to set factual questions, which seems more like a weak history lesson to me. My students are privileged to receive an English education but they’re being thrown into the sea without knowing how to swim. Still, they’re under a constant pressure to perform. One can’t blame them for looking for an easy way out.

    I saw it during my A levels and here I was seeing it again - a corporate approach to education. After school ends, the children attend private tutors to help with ‘getting ahead’. Weekends are time for extracurricular activities which is a fancy name for more lessons.

    The product of this system is an immensely skilled individual who does everything necessary to succeed, but without passion for any of it. From an economic point of view, we’re churning out people who may one day end up with zero job satisfaction and it amazes me that few seem concerned about the effect this will have on overall productivity in our society."
    Too bad most parents nor the educationists appreciate the extracurricular education needs of the adolescents.

    Law without common sense

    Eamon points to a weird customs law in Bangladesh. If anyone sends a gift to a receiver in Bangladesh then the customs will charge 100% upon the value of the package.

    In comparison:
    "most of the countries gift packages are free from government tax within $100 i.e. if the value of the gift exceeds $100 only then you have to pay some tax to the government and the tax is around 5-10% upon the value."
    No wonder why people resort to corruption and bribery. These weird laws are impediments to abolish corruption in the country. Why a person has to pay 100% tax for a gift item? Is the govt trying to tell the people of the world to not to send gifts to Bangladeshis?

    Tips for the gift senders: please declare it "of no commercial value" or a nominal value like "1$" - thats still about Taka 70 for a person in Bangladesh.

    Welcome 2008

    I wish everybody a happy and prosperous New Year (2008). Let the celebrations begin.

    The year 2007 was full of happenings. Here is a highlight of events:

    * Key events of 2007.

    * 2007: A Global Assessment of the Confrontation.

    * Top Ten US news stories of 2007.

    * Top Ten crime stories

    * Looking Back: A Very Google 2007

    * Looking Back: The Year in Web 2.0

    Best of 2007:

    * Top Web Apps & Sites of 2007.

    * Best of 2007 from Tree Huggers

    * The Most Memorable Web Videos of 2007.