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

December 31, 2009

Happy new year

Wishing everybody a happy 2010.
I can't believe the year is over. Let the new year's resolution be - finish the goals I could not achieve in 2009. And then set new goals.

December 30, 2009

Quote Of The Day

"In early December of 2008, Mark Dummett of the BBC reported a wonderful “news of the weird” story from Dhaka, Bangladesh – a life-scale replica of the Taj Mahal, built at enormous expense. Global journalists sprang into action, documenting a diplomatic spat between Bangladesh and India over ownership of this cultural treasure, talking about the shocking idea of “pirating” another nation’s national symbols.

None of these intrepid reporters actually visited the Bengali Taj, though. Bloggers did, and they weren’t impressed. Aparna Ray translated their posts for Global Voices and explained that it was a poorly-made tourist trap clad in bathroom tiles, not the diamond-studded wonder those hardbitten AFP journalists credulously reported on.

A critical underreported story? An important victory for intercultural understanding? Nope. But as someone who spent far too much time the past five years answering journalistic questions about the credibility of bloggers, I can’t but help celebrating this inversion."
      - Ethan Zuckerman.
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December 28, 2009

Back To Square One

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the landmark election that brought Bangladesh back to the path of Democracy.

So what change has this one year brought to Bangladesh? We have got many young and energetic ministers who have promised a lot but yet failed to deliver up to the people's expectations. The good thing is that they are not corrupt (not yet) like their predecessors and perhaps we need to give them more time. Furthermore the government is yet to show any success in the energy sector, securing Bangladeshi labors' rights and many other things.

The government has created a lot of controversy in the meantime, the implementation of daylight savings time and its illogical rolling back (did they thought of the technological challenges like changing time of mission critical computer systems synchronizing with the world?), indiscriminately renaming mazor installations of the country in political motive (do these guys really care how tough and costly is it to change the name of the major international airport in all the records of the world?), the home minister sounding like the notorious BNP one.

The BNP has not learned from their past mistakes and are taking the same path of making the democratic process dysfunctional. They are not going to the parliament and taking the path to destabilize the country. The are reinstating their corrupt leaders. Their corrupt leaders like Nazmul Huda now vows to take revenge against those people who detained and questioned him. They think that Bangladesh is like their kingdom because they are powerful, who are you to ask for their accountability.

Meanwhile the religious parties like Jamaate Islami is shrewdly trying to cash on anti-Indian politics. Their recent politics includes honoring liberation war heroes whereas they were against the liberation of Bangladesh. They are trying their best to stop the trial of war criminals. Meanwhile the other religious parties are harping on the Tipaimukh issue to publicize their agenda. The strategy is simple, play with people's emotions and establish political Islam.

So the Bangladesh political scene is returning to its old shape. So much time was wasted to talk about reforms inside political parties and Bangladesh politics in general. All in all we are coming back to square one.

December 26, 2009

Global Voices Turns Five

One of my favorite places in the Internet Global Voices has turned five years this month. It was incubated and launched five years ago at the Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Read Rebecca MacKinnon and David Sasaki's posts to learn how all this happened.

I am writing for Global Voices for about four and a half years. In my early blogging years I was interested about other blogs in Bangladesh and some from the neighboring countries and would write about them. My blog was being linked by Global Voices and I was approached to write for Global Voices. My first post in Global Voices  was published on July 23, 2005 which was about a Bangladeshi-Canadian girl talking about arranged marriage. Soon I started writing regional roundups and last year I took over as the Regional Editor for South Asia. These years have been a revolution for me which changed the course of my life.

Now lets discuss why writing for Global Voices is important and why I find it as an activism rather than some mundane routine. Global Voices co-founder Ethan Zuckerman wrote:

People pay attention to subjects they care about. They tend to ignore subjects they know little about. Media, trying to serve its customers in a free market, responds by giving them more information on subjects they’ve demonstrated an interest in and ignoring other subjects.

So he emphasizes that the bloggers fill the voids of the uncovered parts and the bridge bloggers (who contextualize conversations, issues, and debates from one community and share them with another) have the responsibility to bring them forward. Global Voices has been the platform for the bridge bloggers across the world talking about blogs from every corners in the world, translating from and in multiple languages. It would be an interesting research to learn how the communities have used this platform.

What impact GV has made on Bangladeshi blogosphere? Remember the days when blogger-journalist Tasneem Khalil was arrested we were able to share the news to the world within a couple of hours? We informed about the news like YouTube ban, Ban on Tibet exhibition in Dhaka to the world, some instantaneously, some after verification of facts. We have reported how Bloggers exposed the fake Tajmahal scam. We shared what expatriates are talking about Bangladesh or Bangladeshis. Almost each day we link to interesting blogposts of bloggers (thus introducing more and more new bloggers). Check the Bangladesh feeds for our coverage.

Jillian C. York writes about the role of Global Voices:

In my own, the Moroccan blogosphere, there are times when GV breaks a story–however “small” the story might seem–which leads to Moroccan activists and bloggers getting interviewed by U.S. and international media.  We spread stories.  We spread words.

Global Voices has also helped the diaspora to connect back to their own country. Milton Ramirez writes:

As a result of living in the U.S. I could not let out our ancestral roots. Global Voices has served not only to make us better and more informed about Ecuador, but has allowed us to establish fraternal ties with Ecuadorians over there in the half the world.

Now I would like to emphasize on the contributions of the authors of Global Voices. Global Voices is now what it is because of its wonderful authors across the world. I know that writing for GV is for most them a labor of love and they look for finer things. Most of the authors are the very best among their own blogosphere and some of them are almost celebrities. I am proud to say the Iraqi blogger Salam Pax, whom I saw as an idol in my early blogging days is part of this very big family. The Global Voices summit resembles that of a mini UN summit and it is really wonderful to meet all these wonderful individuals.

But I feel that we have not been able to achieve our mission as we need to do more. David says that we are only 10% there and still there are miles to go. We need to engage more authors to cover more areas of blogospheres.We need to highlight more about different cultures, different literature, different religions, different communities.

More than often bloggers want popularity and they want a scratch in the back for whatever they do. They forget that a part of their social responsibility is the activism, to do something with their blogging space. They need to understand the difference between wasting time on social networking and creating their own activism with the power of social networking. They can play a role as an author for GV by transcending from the confined community and crossing borders. The important thing is to engage in global conversations, connect the local blogosphere with the world.

The achievement of Global Voices has been multiple. Apart from agggregating and curating global voices, it has broken down the language barriers with GV Lingua, extended support for newer voices in the underrepresented communities with its outreach arm Rising Voices, defended freedom of speech and helped the bloggers in danger with GV Advocacy and Threatened Voices.

For more reflections on Global Voices please check this special coverage page. Fellow GVer Vadim Isakov sums the achievement of Global Voices in these few sentences:

The world is talking and it has a lot of very important things to say. It's comforting to know that we have a global space where people who do not even speak the same language can become closer through their narratives. It is refreshing to see that geographical, social and economic borders shatter when people are willing to come together to make the world a better place.

December 25, 2009

Quote Of The Day

Bloggers are commonly read mostly by other bloggers and by a select audience; we must accept that even today, most people are unfamiliar with blogs at all (not to mention twitter), and unless/until blogs demonstrate a social value great enough to attract the attention and respect of the public, they will remain of marginal interest only. That, by the way, is just one reason there are no "blogger millionaires". - DJ Drummond at Wizbang
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December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone

In Indonesia the custom is not to wish someone before the exact date - be it Christmas or Birthday. So I waited till midnight (don't be confused with the blog posting time -I need to fix it) and now wishing everyone a merry Christmas and happy holidays.

Actually Christmas celebrations are pretty visible in Jakarta. Jakarta has about 9% Christians and almost all the shopping malls are decorated with colorful Christmas trees (pics will follow). You will hear the Christmas carols playing and in the Shenayan Plaza we saw live Christmas carol concert by some kids. This mall had a 75,000 IDR (8 Dollars) photo with live Santa facility. Seems most of it are marketing gimmick but I love the tolerance. It is being celebrated by people across religions. I never had the idea that Christmas is so lively celebrated in the largest Muslim majority democracy. Well I think its possible because its a democracy, not Theocracy.

Now lets party with this Bhangra remix of "Jingle Bell":

December 19, 2009

Google's Christmas Gift For Global Voices

Google announced a Christmas charity gift for 25 organization totaling $20 million. Global Voices is also on the list. The amounts have been not disclosed yet and we have learned that the amount distributed will be on the need basis and may vary from organizations to organizations. But nevertheless its a great news for Global Voices which had to rely on donations from readers to survive the Global financial crisis. Congratulations GV.

December 18, 2009

After bathing in beach and hanging out for sometime we finally head for a sea food restaurant. We ordered lobster, chicken bar-b-Q and ofcourse the Nasi putih (plain rice). The waiter took the order and called the chef. He came by a motorbike and started to cook.

Beach at last

After a long stretch of mountain road we arrive at the beach. Lets get wet.

Mountain beckoning

End of highway in Bogor.

On the way to Pela Buhanratu

This is early morning in Jakarta. Today is holiday, the first day of Muharram, Muslim new year. So we took this opportunity to go to Pela Buhanratu, a horse shaped bay on the other side of Java island. It should not be more that 200-220 kilometers. But it takes more than 4 hours we were told. We are starting early to avoid traffic (and more delays) as we plan to come back today.

We will be going past Bogor on highway and the road after that will be hilly and interesting. I will try to post some pictures on the way. Pl. Stay tuned.

December 17, 2009

Train Journey

In Jakarta. Image courtesy Brommel

In Dhaka. Image courtesy Sabloemarts

December 16, 2009

Happy Victory Day Bangladesh

December 08, 2009

Nominate Your Favorite Bangla Blogs

Deutsche Welle recently announced its sixth annual international Best of the Blogs awards: the BOBs. The nominated blogs will be sorted in eleven different language categories including Bangla (Yayeee!).

Global Voices informs:

Any person interested in nominating a blog, must first search for it in the BOBs blogopedia and submit the blog of their choice in the competition database if it is not already listed. The jury will select the finalists. Winners will be selected from this group of finalists between March 15 and April 14 through a combination of online voting and a jury selection.
On April 15, the winning blogs and podcasts will be announced at the Re:Publica Internet conference in Berlin [de]. The awards ceremony will take place at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in June 2010 in Bonn.

Its Blogopedia database has now 15,558 registered blogs from across the world and an easy search function with keyword, tagcloud and location based applications.

So what are you waiting for? Go nominate you favorite blogs!

December 04, 2009

Cricketer Blogger

Today New Zealand cricket team was skittled out by Pakistan for 99. Had it been Bangladesh, we could have seen another relegation debate.

Jrod at Cricket with balls puts this nicely:
Their opening batsmen don’t seem to be able to survive an over.
The rest of their batsmen seem to hope Ross Taylor will do the job.
Then Prince Brendon and Dictator Dan have to make as many runs as they can with tired bowlers. Not fair. [..]

I suggest that all the Kiwi bowlers decide to not bat from here on in until their top order starts making runs. A simple, “fuck you guys, we’re tired”, will suffice. They’ll get the message after a while.

Ian O'Brian (test cricket’s greatest blogger but shit batsman according to Jrod)of New Zealand cricket team confesses in his blog:

Not good enough, simple as that.

The Pakistan bowlers bowled really well, and we nicked and missed the balls we should have missed and nicked.

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November 30, 2009

Quote Of The Day

Switzerland, after centuries of striving for civilization and enlightenment, has just about reached the same level of tolerance as that exhibited by a small Gulf Wahhabi country (Qatar), the people of which were mostly Bedouins only a hundred years ago. - Juan Cole

Now Listening: Fair and Kind

Fair and Kind — the duo of Arthi Meera and her brother, Anand Subramanian

November 28, 2009

Washing Label Humor

Women’s disproportionate responsibility for housework and childcare.(Via Sociological images)

Tea gardens at Ciatar

Hot water spring

Tangkuban Parahu crater

The road uphill

The road uphill to Bandung was interesting and it took long because of traffic. We went right through Bandung and now heading towards the mountain tangkuban Paradu.

Sadly its raining heavily. Hope rain does not spoil the day.....

At Bandung

The traffic at the Toll road was lean. So it took about one hour and 45 minutes to reach Bandung. In the picture above is the toll booth. We had to pay about 4.5 dollars for using the toll road.

But inside the city we immediately face a long traffic jam.

The road was well paved and some interesting scenaries of mountains and villages. Sadly we did not stop anywhere to take pictures.

The weather is great and sun is smiling. Looking forward to seeing a volcano crater.

On the way to Bandung

We are on the way to Bandung, the fourth largest city of Indonesia and the capital of West Java island. The city lies on a river basin at a height of 768 m and is surrounded by volcanoes. It takes almost 3 hours from Jakarta by car.

Its the day after EID HOLIDAY and there is no jam.

I will try to update you on our trip.

November 27, 2009

Eid Mubarak

Probably this is the dullest Eid day in my life so far. Hope you are enjoying the holiday, spending time with friends & families.

**Sent from a mobile device...

November 24, 2009

Mobile Facts

Here is a list of top ten Asian countries according to the number of mobile phone users:

1. China - 644.8 million
2. India - 391.6 million

These two countries share 25 percent of total mobile phone users in the world, that is 1.04 billion subscribers of the world’s total number of 4.15 billion.

3. Indonesia - 144.6 million, followed by Japan.
5. Pakistan - 93 million
6. Vietnam - 73.2 million
7. Philippines - 71.7 million
8. Thailand - 62.7 million
9. Bangladesh 46.3 million
10. South Korea 46.2 million

The list seem to be symmetrical with the list of most populous countries and Bangladesh falling behind 3 places.

The top ten countries for mobile users in Asia have 3.48 billion people and 1.68 billion mobile users.


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November 23, 2009

The proposed education policy in Bangladesh

There is a saying that "when your only tool is a hammer all your problems look like nails." It seems the only tool of some of the Islamists is bringing death to somebody.

The latest act of some religious nutcase is to send a death threat to the Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid. His fault? Leading the formulation of a proposed "national education policy for Bangladesh" and posting the draft on the ministry website [bn].

The salient features of this new education policy which is set to be enacted this December:
  • Increase primary education from 5th to 8th class.
  • It will integrate Madras education and vocational education into the general education
  • It will establish mandatory core subjects for primary-level education: Bangla, English, mathematics, Bangladesh Studies, social environment and climate change, and information technology and science.
  • Every School will have a mandatory library equipped with necessary books
  • More scholarships for the poor
  • No physical punishments
  • Arrangement of lunch for the students
  • Education for indigenous students in their mothet tongues
  • Facilities for the disabled
  • Standardization of teachers qualifications
  • More training for the teachers and promotion will be connected with experience and training and many more

In a nutshell the national education policy will make changes at the grassroots levels of the education system.

Nirmal Gomes, a specialist in Educational Administration & Policy Studies, wrote in E-Bangladesh about this new education policy. He discussed the importance of a complete education system and this policy is close to that:

A holistic education policy implementation is most essential in the reality of Bangladesh. Every students need to be developed their emotional, physical, social, and intellectual growth. The education policy must acknowledge and emphasize the spiritual, intellectual, social, physical, and psychological needs of young children from the beginning of its establishment and this will continue to foster growth in each child. Besides promoting skill-based education, the policy must encourage children to learn and nurture the social and cultural values, integrity, tolerate, respect and love others, service to others, and to be a responsible person. The students can learn all these good values from schools.

Now it seems a quarter is not liking the idea of a unified education system. The idea of introducing Science and mathematics to Madrassa students seem to be detrimental for some people's agenda. They think this policy is not emphasizing on religious education. It seems this idea is fed by the Islamist political parties as if they lose control on Madrassas then their politics will be difficult.

I think this education policy is not the ultimate solution for Bangladesh, but its a start. Lets not derail this road of change paying heed to threats of some religious fanatics. The policy needs your support.

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Blogspot banned in Indonesia?

Well that question did not come into my mind albeit I had troubles accessing my blog (which is on blogspot domain) yesterday.

Today when I could not access multiple sites on blogspost, I tried them via proxy and could access them successfully. Then I realized that something is wrong and started Googling for news. It seems only the Jakartass blog has the information. It reveals:
A few Indonesian ISPs - namely Fastnet, CBN and Smart - blocked Blogger yesterday, albeit temporarily. Why these three, and not the major ISPs such as Telkom and Indosat, interpreted a letter issued by the Ministry of Information and Communication (Menkominfo No 598/M.Kominfo/11/2009 tertanggal 19 November 2009) to mean a total ban on the world's largest blog host server, I cannot say, or even conjecture.

As far as I can make out - all my info comes from Indonesian language sites - one blogger, Nabi Muhammad SAW upset someone somewhere, possibly by expressing 'blasphemous' thoughts.

Read VivaNews for the thoughts of "blogger senior" Enda Nasution.
Well its working again and I am able to post this and surprisingly the targeted blogsite is also unbanned. So I wonder what was the point of this whole exercise?

November 21, 2009

Google Chrome OS

Google Chrome OS is a lightweight computer operating system devoted to using the internet. (Check the Video to learn more)

Although it is set to have a publicly available stable release during the second half of 2010, probably in a netbook, a version of it is already available for download via ZeroSec. Continued...

November 20, 2009

Now Listening: Meghdol - Ommm


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Brilliant music from Meghdol, a theatrical(!) band from Bangladesh. Listen to their albums here.

More information about them can be found in their Last.fm page:

November 19, 2009

The Girl Who Silenced the UN For 5 Minutes

Severn Suzuki, gave this speech in 1992. Wondering how relevant is it after 17 years.

November 18, 2009

Wake Up! The Clock Is Ticking

Imagine you lived in a world of water. Your home is two-feet under. You wade through it, cook on it, and sleep above it. This is the reality for hundreds of thousands of people around the world, coastal populations on the front lines of climate change.

The latest PBS documentary called "water world" shows the effects of climate change in Bangladesh and how it threatens the world.

The situation has become so alarming that Dr. Atiq Rahman says that 'climate change', 'global warming' - these are soft words. We should be referring to this phenomenon as 'catastrophic climate destabilization'.

Dr. Atiq also talks about the climate refugees and the plea to the world to take them. Bangladesh wants $10 billion to fight climate change. But I think the climate refugees issue should be brought forward and plans should be made for their shelters and livelihood.

This video by Shahjahan Siraj of Machizo shows the victims of climate change:

November 17, 2009

Corporate Social Responsibility and $1 Adidas training shoes

This is a very welcoming news:

Adidas, the German sports giant, is to make €1 trainers for millions of people around the world who cannot afford to buy shoes, with pilot production to begin next year in Bangladesh.

This is rather at a conceptual state still as the final price will be slightly higher than this. But the important thing is that the shoes will be sold on a non-profit basis by Adidas. other sports companies accused of exploitation in the developing world, Adidas is keen to improve its image and reputation for corporate social responsibility.

The original idea came from Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Bangladesh's Nobel prize winner and an Adidas spokesman said "It is correct that Adidas Group in conjunction with Muhammad Yunus aims to put such shoes on the market."

According to the report Dr. Muhammad Yunus convinced Adidas that Bangladesh needed "social businesses" which would create jobs in the country.

Now, this may be groundbreaking step in the fight against poverty. One of the noticeable differences between the developed nation and the developing nations is the wider gap of rich and poor. From looking at the people in the streets of Berlin, Milan or New York you will rarely make out who is earning minimum salary or who is from higher middle class. Because there is a wider choice of apparel and footwear according to the power of wallet and all are in a standard quality. But if you look at the streets of Dhaka, Delhi or Lahore, you can easily make out who are poor from their clothes. There are cheaper versions of apparel and footwear for them but neither they are manufactured by brands nor do they keep up a standard quality.

The Tata Nano in India revolutionized in saying that car is not a luxury item and even lower-income groups can afford them. So why not lower-income groups should be allowed to afford more items from renowned brands in reasonable qualities? If you want to eradicate poverty then you need to bridge the gap between rich and poor.

Quote Of The Day

"As more of us become absorbed in publishing content we become less talented at listening and paying attention to others. Here today we are not communicating with one another, we are talking past each other. We are more interested in what each one of us is saying – and how others react to what we say – than in what others are saying. We are increasingly forgetting how to listen." - David Sasaki aka El Oso.

November 12, 2009

Rainy Season Begins in Jakarta

The long rainy season of Jakarta falls between late October and early May. We experienced first heavy rain of this season today. The flood situation is normal but heavy traffic jam occurred as seen in the above picture (visit Aulia's posterous for more).

Another Travesty of Justice

Another travesty of justice happened in Bangladesh today. After cartoonist Arif was acquitted by a higher court last year, a lower court in Jessore finds him guilty.

From BDNews24.com:

A Jessore court has handed down two months of rigorous imprisonment to cartoonist Arifur Rahman of satire magazine Alpin, a weekly publication of the daily Prothom Alo.

The verdict was given in the case regarding publication of sacrilegious cartoon in the magazine in Sep 2007.

"Arif is at large. The verdict was given in his absence," his lawyer Alamgir Siddiqi told bdnews24.com.

However, Arif told bdnews24.com that he knew nothing about this case.

He said treason and blasphemy cases against him have been dismissed in court.

The case was filed by ATM Shoaib, the imam of the Jessore Collectorate Mosque, at the Executive Magistrate's Court on Oct 23, 2007. The case alleged that the irreverent cartoon on prophet Hazrat Muhammad had hurt religious feelings.

Prothom Alo publisher Mahfuz Anam, editor Motiur Rahman and Arif were accused in the case. Later, the court issued arrest warrant only against Arif.

This shows that there is no coordination between trials in the courts of Bangladesh. And how can the court finishes the trial without the presence of the accused? Why is he deemed absconding from law when he knows nothing about the case. He also worked for government after he was released (read his interview).

Arif needs legal support now. Is there anybody in Dhaka who can help him?


* 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
* Free Arifur Rahman - an update
* Court orders release of Arifur Rahman
* Interview with Arif

November 10, 2009

Aminul Islam Bulbul's Cricket Journey To China

Those who are familiar with Bangladesh cricket must know Aminul Islam Bulbul. He is one of the successful spinners of Bangladesh and has played for Bangladesh for 15 years since his debut in 1988 in the Asian Youth Cup cricket tournament.

Ever wondered what he is doing now? He is working as the ACC Development Officer for China, Brunei and Myanmar. And from this video you will notice that he speaks decent Chinese to do his job to spread the game in China:

Talent From Bangladesh

This September when I was in Dhaka, I met some netizens from Dhaka whom I know from blogs and other online activities. One of them was Mehdi hasan. He is a young Bangladeshi in his mid twenties and keeps a low profile. I was surprised to learn that he is the one who wrote the Avro software, the versatile and open source Bangla typing software which is used by thousands of Bangladeshis because its free and supports multiple platforms including Mac OS and Linux. It was first released in 2003 by Omicronlab (Mehdi is the CEO) and since than it had many updates which makes it a perfect Bangla typing software.

The remarkable thing is that he is medical student (Mymensingh Medical College) and IT is his passion, not business.

And it turns out that he is a damn good photographer too. Check out his photographs at Flickr. I am sure you will be immersed into the photographic depiction of Bangladesh, its people and nature.

Image by Mehdi Hasan.

November 09, 2009

Learning Indonesian (Bahasa) - Online Resources

I have started to learn Indonesian with the help of some great online resources. I scrapped the idea of taking classes after I found them. But self learning is sometimes more time consuming as you don't have deadlines and exams. So I haven't had much progress. But hope I will be able to speak decent Bahasa in three months time.

Here are the online resources for learning Indonesian.

Learning Indonesian - It is a product of a small family business run by Shaun and Cici. It has free resources like great audio guides for downloading and paid program with study texts.

Indonesian in 7 days - Michel Bordt & Liswati Serum

Flirting In Indonesian - Great online language resource even if you're not in the game of flirting.

Learn Indonesian - Language Guide

Beginning Indonesian - For practicing online

Indonesian Tutorial - by Vremita Desectia

Bahasa Indonesia study aid

Podcast: Indonesian Language Guide for your iPod

Indonesian Language Course at Wikibooks

Learn To Speak Indonesian - Free audio courses

Indonesian reading and Conversation materials

More links for online dictionaries and vocabulary aids

Hope these help those who want to learn Indonesian.

November 06, 2009

Digital vs. Analog TV

What happens to your old TV when you switch to digital (LCD/Plasma) TV?

"The major digital TV switchover in north-west England has coincided with a huge increase in dumped analogue TVs" - reports The Guardian:

This year, the council has recycled 50,000 analogue TVs thrown away by households, of which 30,000 could have been upgraded to receive digital TV signals with a simple £20 set-top box.

The e-waste dumps in developing nations are piling up. US government is even thinking about asking electronics manufacturers to offer free door-to-door pick-up service of used devices. Tree Hugger reports:

In the US, only about 18% of the 23.9 million toxic CRT TVs thrown out in 2008 were recycled. And Sarah Westervelt, a Basel Action Network official, said about 80% will actually be shipped abroad to be "recycled" in China and Africa - and that is a violation of provisions of the Basel treaty that ban the shipment of toxic waste from the rich countries to poor ones.

Over the long run, it is likely better to have an extra set-top box and not a new TV. It's just a matter of actually telling people this, and encouraging them to keep what isn't broken.

Image via Jaymi Heimbuch, Tree Hugger

Timeline of Withdrawal of US Forces From Iraq

(click on image to enlarge)

The draw-down from Iraq includes the withdrawal of approximately 128,700 U.S. troops, over 115,000 contractor personnel, the closure or transfer of 295 bases, and the retrograde of over 3.3 million pieces of equipment.

U.S. Government Accountability Office has this excellent report on the progress of this draw-down.

Via Raed Jarrar.

November 05, 2009

A Thrilling Match

"They are going to be talking about those three consecutive sixes for a long time in Chittagong."  - Cricinfo
The match situation was like this:

End of over 47 (3 runs) Bangladesh 198/9 (24 runs required from 18 balls, RR: 4.21, RRR: 8.00)

Then something happened:
47.2 Chibhabha to Naeem Islam, SIX, Naeem dances down the track and launches that on over long-on for a six to bring up his half-century, that was a length ball

47.3 Chibhabha to Naeem Islam, SIX, wow, what a shot that is, another length ball, Naeem gets under it and whacks it over the bowler's head for another six

47.4 Chibhabha to Naeem Islam, SIX, A hat-trick of sixes, Naeem Islam is going berserk here, Chibhabha not learning his lessons, offers a length ball again, Naeem smashes it over wide long-on for another six
 And Bangladesh went on to win the match clinching the series against Zimbabwe 4-1. All hail Naeem Islam. A hero was born today.

October 31, 2009


Trailer for Determinism, the movie by Sanjit Majumder from New York.

Its a drama about a South Asian in Pennsylvania, USA financially cut off from his family who plans a heist that goes horribly wrong.

Alec, the film’s anti-hero, is an alienated South Asian. He’s always been an outsider, and he certainly doesn’t fit in here. New York is his Mecca.

Broke and cut off from his family after he flunks out of school, Alec sets off to free himself from the stereotypical role of “South Asian Geek” imposed upon him from birth. So opposed to typecasting that he can barely use a computer, he is determined to transcend Determinism — by any means necessary.

October 29, 2009

Bangladesh is a growing force in cricket

“The age-group cricket is very competitive and at junior level they (Bangladesh) are very good.

They have a lot of good spin bowlers, they are a good fielding side as well as being very aggressive and they have also some impressive batters as well, so, all in all, they are a growing force.”
- England Under-19s coach Mick Newell on Bangladesh U-19 team.
Two good news unfurled today. Bangladesh Under-19 cricket team leads a 7 match series at 4-0 after a comprehensive win over the England Under-19 team.

Secondly Bangladesh beat Zimbabwe comprehensively to level the 5 match series at 1-1. Winning is not an upset anymore for Bangladesh cricket. Just look at the winning margins they are achieving. These show that they are a growing force in International cricket.
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October 27, 2009

I love Bangladeshis

This is an unusual but brilliant opinion from a Kuwaiti - Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli, the Former Minister of Oil, published in the Arab Times:

IT is wrong to dread the citizens of certain countries simply because some of their compatriots are involved in illegal and unethical activities. Inadequacies are not inherited, yet some people seem to enjoy discriminating others due to the misdeeds of their compatriots. Actually, the main problem is the improper enforcement of the law. Some groups, including the security authorities, consider certain nationalities like the Bangladeshis as outlaws!

Kuwaitis should not forget the fact that Bangladeshis clean your streets, collect your garbage, and serve you in public and private offices as they deliver documents, in addition to preparing tea and coffee for you. In other words, the Bangladeshis do the work of lazy citizens in government departments. Moreover, Kuwaitis should also realize that Bangladeshis are the watchmen in your houses and chalets. They also drive your children to school and your wives to cooperative societies. Everybody is aware of the vital services rendered by Bangladeshis, yet many have disregarded such great contributions due to nationality-based discrimination, which has negatively affected the lives of more than 100 million people with remarkable achievements that 300 million Arabs cannot accomplish.

Those who insult or discriminate against Bangladeshis, are they aware that a Bangladeshi discovered laser eye surgery? Do YouTube subscribers know that it is a Bangladeshi entity? Does the Kuwaiti military pilot know a Bangladeshi discovered the light aluminum in his aircraft? Do users of Bose speakers know that Mr Bose is a Bangladeshi?

Do you know the first man who built a skyscraper — Sears Tower in Chicago — was a Bangladeshi? Do women who got the so-called test tube babies know that one of the leading figures in this field is a Bangladeshi? Do you know that a Bangladeshi has invented a certain statistical equation? These are just few of the contributions of Bangladeshis to the world. What are the achievements of Kuwaitis or GCC citizens who have been abusing Bangladeshis?

Wow Mr. Al-Baghli, I am moved! And thank you from the bottom of my heart.

2009 Global Hunger Index And Bangladesh

Global Hunger Index - BANGLADESH | RANK: 67, GHI: 24.70 (Alarming)

The Global Hunger Index (GHI) shows that worldwide progress in reducing hunger remains slow. According to the report, Bangladesh’s Global Hunger Index (GHI) score is 24.7, which gives it a rank of 67th out of 84 countries. The index ranks countries on a 100-point scale, with 0 being the best score (no hunger) and 100 being the worst.

This report compares the 2009 GHI with the 2008 Global Gender Gap Index, which is made up of four subindices: economic participation, educational attainment, political empowerment, and health and survival. The evidence shows that higher levels of hunger are associated with lower literacy rates and access to education for women. High rates of hunger are also linked to health and survival inequalities between men and women. Reducing gender disparities in key areas, particularly in education and health, is thus essential to reduce levels of hunger.

The web Has Your Records

All netizens have a digital dossier. Your dossier is the accumulation of all the digital tracks you make when you use social media tools or browse online.

You may or may not be aware of the above fact but there are some alarming news like the CIA and the European Union are building a social networking surveillance system.

Tom Burghardt at Dissident Voice writes:

Researchers on both sides of the Atlantic are busy as proverbial bees building a “total information” surveillance system, one that will, so they hope, provide police and security agencies with what they euphemistically call “actionable intelligence.”

In this context, the whistleblowing web site Wikileaks published a remarkable document October 4 by the INDECT Consortium, the Intelligence Information System Supporting Observation, Searching and Detection for Security of Citizens in Urban Environment.

Hardly a catchy acronym, but simply put INDECT is working to put a human face on the billions of emails, text messages, tweets and blog posts that transit cyberspace every day; perhaps your face.

According to Wikileaks, INDECT’s “Work package 4″ is designed “to comb web blogs, chat sites, news reports, and social-networking sites in order to build up automatic dossiers on individuals, organizations and their relationships.” Ponder that phrase again: “automatic dossiers.”

New Scientist reported back in 2006 that the National Security Agency “is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks.”

The above is information scary but you can confuse the data miners if not avert them if you put your real life information in your social networking activities at minimum. And if you are a blogger writing on sensitive issues, you might want to do it anonymously.

Pesta Blogger 2009

Last Saturday (October 24, 2009) I attended the Pestablogger 2009 conference held in the SMESCO building in Jakarta. Around 1200 bloggers from all across Indonesia participated in this third annual Indonesian bloggers gathering.

(SMESCO building at Jalan Gatot Soebroto)

This year's theme was "One Spirit One Nation", which reflects the nation's unity and diversity. Iman Brotoseno, the chairman of the event tells:

"Blog and other social media are able to break through physical, religious and cultural boundaries to keep us united as one nation with one spirit."

(Click here to read the rest of this entry)

The Hawa Bhaban Conspiracy

Who was behind the August 21, 2004 murder plot against Sheikh Hasina left unanswered for years. But now shocking details are emerging.

Last year we learned that the former BNP lawmaker and deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu Pintu was detained and charges were made against him and 22 persons including top Harkat-ul-Jihad (Huji) leader Mufti Abdul Hannan for the sensational August 21 grenade attack against Hasina. He confessed of his involvement in the assassination attempt during interrogation.

Now a Daily Star investigation reveals some characters behind the chilling conspiracy to kill Hasina. We hear that former home minister Babar 'supplied' grenades and the militant organization HUJI was used as mercenary group:

(Image courtesy The Daily Star)    (Click here to read the rest of this entry)

October 22, 2009

Hizbut Tahrir Banned In Bangladesh

In 2007 I wrote why Hizbut Tahrir is the next threat for Bangladesh. They had been recruiting talented youths from Bangladeshi education institutions and brain washing them for their quest to establish Khilafat. Rawi commented in my above post:

I happened to closely follow the alarming emergence of HT in Bangladesh over the last 5 years -- alarming because they openly reject democracy as "un-Islamic", unlike the other Islamist parties that at least accept the democratic system as a pragmatic norm and act within it. Ironically, when they first started their activities at universities in Dhaka in the name of "intellectual debate", I heard some of these British-accented returned-to-Bangladesh leaders claiming that HT is a "non-violent, non-political" movement (exact words). Imagine my reaction when, less than 2 years later, I come across explicitly political leaflets being distributed outside mosques in Dhanmondi.

It's not entirely true that HT is "totally peaceful". Rather, they have taken on different colors in different countries. In places in Central Asia, HT-inspired movements have been known to engage in openly militant activities. Also important to note, though HT is currently based in the UK, they were originally founded in Palestine over 50 years ago by a cleric named Nabhani. A professor I knew at college, who once personally interviewed the late founder of Hamas, said he happened to meet an HT man in Palestine whose views were the most "extremist" he had ever seen -- even more extreme than Hamas!

Finally the Bangladesh government made the right decision in banning Hizbut Tahrir in Bangladesh.

"The organisation's activities have been banned from today [Thursday] as its activities go against public security."

Hizbut-Tahrir (the Party of Liberation) has already been banned in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Pakistan, Tunisia, Libya, Turkey, and in the former Soviet states in Central Asia.

October 20, 2009

My Interview Published In Asia Media Forum

Lynette Lee Corporal at Asia Media Forum has published an article on Blog Action Day and quoted me from an interview which I submitted via email earlier.

Here is the article:

Battle for Climate Change Waged in Cyberpace Too

October 19, 2009

The State Of The Blogosphere 2009

"In a year when revolutions and elections were organized by blogs, bloggers are blogging more than ever, and the State of the Blogosphere is strong."

Technorati State Of The Blogosphere for 2009 is out. Since 2004, Technorati's annual study has followed the growth and trends in the blogosphere. 2,900 bloggers were surveyed directly by market research firm Penn Schoen and Berland. Here is a summary of the report.

Day 1: Who are the Bloggers?

  • Bloggers are a highly educated and affluent group. Nearly half are graduates, majority earns $75000 p.a.
  • Two-thirds are male
  • 60% are aged 18-44
  • More than half are married
  • Half are employed full time
  • Half of bloggers who responded are working on at least their second blog
  • Media Habits of Bloggers 

Category of Bloggers:

Hobbyists: 72% - They blog for fun. They don’t make any money from their blogging. Half of them blog to express their “personal musings”.

Part-Timers: 15% - They “blog to supplement their income, but don’t consider it a full time job.” They blog to share their expertise, while some blog to attract new clients for their business. They measure the success of their blog by the unique pageviews they attract.

Self-Employeds: 9% - They "blog full time for their own company or organization." 88% self employeds use Twitter.

Pros: 4% - They “blog full-time for a company or organization".

Twitter and other social media represent one of the most important trends affecting the Blogosphere this year. With more areas of involvement, and more ways to tell the story, the blogosphere is strong - and only getting stronger.

Coming Up:

Day 2 — The What and Why of Blogging

Day 3 — The How of Blogging

Day 4 — Monetization And Revenue Generation: Brands in the Blogosphere

Day 5 — 2009 Trends: Political Impact of Blogging, Twitter Usage

Image Credit: Technorati

October 18, 2009

3D Animation Film From Bangladesh

A 3D Animation film made by Nishu and Mazhar of Batch 02 (Mechanical Engineering) from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).

October 16, 2009

I swear my chair moved

Earthquake in Indonesia have been so frequent these days that people don't bother. I was sitting in chair and I felt it was moving for a bit. I was deeply concentrated in work and I thought probably my head was spinning. Then the shaking was no more. I asked my family members who did not feel anything probably it was for a brief period - 5 seconds or so. No apparent damages in Jakarta.

And a while after a twitter message came up:

W7VOA: Another quake has just rattled Indonesia -- M6.4 prelim -- probably not big enough to trigger tsunami.
I searched the internet and saw in Detik news that the earthquake happened. USGS Earthquake Hazards Program confirms:

  • Friday, October 16, 2009 at 09:52:52 UTC
  • Friday, October 16, 2009 at 04:52:52 PM at epicenter
6.692°S, 105.153°E
55.6 km (34.5 miles)
135 km (85 miles) S of T.-Telukbetung, Sumatra, Indonesia
185 km (115 miles) WSW of JAKARTA, Java, Indonesia
185 km (115 miles) W of Sukabumi, Java, Indonesia
270 km (165 miles) W of Bandung, Java, Indonesia
Location Uncertainty
horizontal +/- 12.3 km (7.6 miles); depth +/- 17.5 km (10.9 miles)
NST= 33, Nph= 33, Dmin=350.5 km, Rmss=1.41 sec, Gp= 76°,
M-type=teleseismic moment magnitude (Mw), Version=7
Event ID

More Twitter messages:

RT @BrettMcGuire: 5 seconds in Pondok Indah. Hanging plants are still swinging #Jakarta #earthquake
I am amazed that because of Twitter I could confirm the news within 10 minutes.

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Better Than That One!

Via Jakarta Daily Photo:

The owner of the biggest McDonalds franchise in Indonesia has converted all his McDonald’s counters into the new restaurant: Tony Jack’s. Apparently he’s pissed by McDonald’s decision to sell its majority franchise ownership of McDonalds Indonesia to the Rekso group.

Detik Finance reports that 13 McDonalds branches were converted to Tony Jack’s on the 1st of October. The new entity vows to offer different food items from the previous venture although still dominated by burgers and fried chicken.

Since the first day of opening, the packaging of food and beverages were prepared plain, without logo and name of the store.

Their tagline is "Better than that One", hope they can live up to the expectation.

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October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

Today is the Blog Action Day and this annual event aims to unite the world's bloggers where they write about a single topic in a single day to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion on the subject.

I have posted a round-up of some of the Rising Voices projects discussing climate change in their blogs.

This is my third year of participating in the Blog Action Day. You can read my posts from 2007 & 2008.

Now the question is why Blog Action Day is important. We all take part in our share of activism in our everyday lives. But they hardly make any impact on the society. Sometimes we also miss out on important issues. Blog Action Day is the opportunity to unite our voices to a common cause so that we can shake the inertia and tilt towards a change.

Every day you will find many govt. sponsored events or international conferences discussing on critical issues. But do they have the capacity to engage every common people? The advantage of citizen media is that it is free and accessible to many who wants to raise their voice. And what bloggers write do not obliterate, they remain in webspace searchable by search engines. So Blog Action Day gives people the opportunity to speak out their opinions and it is an wonderful initiative to have more local perspectives on important issues.

One may wonder whether the Blog action day will make any impact on the policy makers. Slowly people are becoming more aware of citizen media. What bloggers can do is to discuss about the ground realities of the different policies taken by governments or authorities. They should share their personal experiences, observations etc which can provide important feedbacks to the policy makers.

The bloggers are part of the local communities. With the promulgation of initiatives like Blog Action Day, non-bloggers from their communities will be interested to read what the bloggers are talking about and take part in the discussion via comments or in real life actions. Writing about issues like environment in blogs is only a catalyst to some offline actions that need too be taken.

Now coming to the point - this year's theme - climate change. Bangladesh is in the forefront of the impacts of climate change. If sea level rises, parts of Bangladesh will submerge and millions of people will be refugees.

In my opinion we cannot avoid the consequences of climate change. What we can do is to reduce the damages through careful planning, save lives via strategic migration. Less resourceful nations like Bangladesh cannot do all this alone. The world needs to act, lend a hand and plan the right course of actions.

Bangladesh has already sought 5 billion US dollars from the developed countries in compensation for damaging effects due to climate change caused by global warming. But only money won't suffice. I would like to quote Shehzaad Shams of Bangladesh Corporate Blog in explaining strategic migration here:

We do want free money...as compensation..or fresh funds..whatever you call it. However, I am sick and tired of getting free alms which almost always go down the drain (or personal pockets and fortunes). Let the deal be fair.....we will train our manpower to serve your foreign labor markets, we will take care of all legal and social coverage issues...in return we demand preference in overseas recruitment selection and eventual settlement in foreign territories, provided the incumbent meets criteria set and agreed by host and source countries. The idea is to convert potential climate refugees from burden to skilled workforce and help them get (either local) job assignments in countries which are held culprit for the climate change fiasco. In other words, if a time arises that 5,000 people are displaced due to rising tidal waves in Satkhira district, they need to be labelled formally as 'climate refugees' first. These people are free to move to higher lands or even to capital to seek for security of life and food. They need to be trained and made export ready to countries which are primarily responsible for global warming.

We can also learn from the experience from the millions of environmental refugees from Bangladesh who lose all their belongings in the recurring natural disasters and have the courage to start all over again. This courage will be the key to survive in all the future natural calamities that are going to happen because of climate change.

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Featured in Asia Media Forum, Thailand

I am featured in an article published in Asia Media Forum, Thailand. This is republished here purely for archiving purpose:
Screenshot of the article
Battle for Climate Change Waged in Cyberpace Too
By Lynette Lee Corporal

BANGKOK (Asia Media Forum) — Like veritable Davids to the status quo's Goliaths, who contribute one way or another to environmental apathy, bloggers have been busy using a very powerful weapon to smote climate change in the eye.

On Oct. 15, bloggers created a loud buzz in cyberspace via the Blog Action Day (BAD) '09 (www.blogactionday.org). BAD '09 has a yearly event since 2007, which aims to get together bloggers worldwide and have them write about a common cause on the same day — and hopefully onwards.

This year’s blog action day is being held against the backdrop of just-finished negotiations in Thailand, which are expected to lead to a new climate change deal in December 2009.

"Our primary plan is to connect as many bloggers as possible with the great organisations that are working hard every day around the world to confront the climate crisis," said Robin Beck, organising director of leading social action blog network Change.org, and the group behind BAD '09.

"On Oct. 15, we will have thousands of blogs that usually write about gadgets, or travel, or cars, or sports, or food, or any of hundreds of other topics all posting about one thing: climate change," Beck told the Asia Media Forum.

Bloggers are also expected to be creative by uploading videos, music or anything that would convey the message in a catchy manner.

As of Oct. 14, there are more than 6,300 registered blogs from 131 countries on the BAD site. Language translation, including into Chinese, are being done by volunteers and organisers expect to have about a dozen of languages up on the site come D-day. 

According to Beck, as of Oct. 13, about a thousand blogs from 19 countries in the Asia-Pacific region alone have registered. Topping the list of countries with the most number of registered blogs are the Philippines with 167 blogs, Australia (165), Japan (128), India (123) and Indonesia (113).

Bloggers and environment advocates know only too well the need to have an inclusive global interaction and dialogue about the issue, and blogging is one of the easiest ways to do this.

"There are many government sponsored events or international conferences on critical issues. But do they have the capacity to engage every common people?" asked Rezwan, an avid Bangladeshi blogger (The 3rd World View - http://rezwanul.blogspot.com/) and Global Voices Online (http://globalvoicesonline.org/) regional editor for South Asia. 

Having taken part in BAD activities since 2007, Rezwan recognises the gap between policymakers and ordinary citizens, especially when the former starts talking in rhetoric while the latter thirst for action.

"What bloggers can do is to discuss about the ground realities of the policies taken, personal experiences, observations, etc, which can provide important feedbacks to the policy makers," said Rezwan, also a translator coordinator for the Global Voices Bangla Lingua (http://bn.globalvoicesonline.org/).

Greenpeace South-east Asia media campaigner Chuck Baclagon agrees, saying that blogs "provide traction for any issue" and help people engage in conversation whether online or offline.

According to Baclagon, Greenpeace South-east Asia (http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/) has its own community of about 300 bloggers who support and campaign for Greenpeace activities. Their Greenpeace Philippines Facebook site has over 8,300 fans and growing.

He said that Greenpeace blogs are written in a very personal manner. "There is power in presenting the issue from a personal context because it gives a very complex issue a human face," said Baclagon, who manages the environment watchdog's blogsite, www.blog.greenpeace.org.ph.

Moreover, said Rezwan, bloggers are part of the local communities, and that means attracting even non-bloggers to join in the discussion "via comments or in real life actions".

"Writing about issues like the environment in blogs is only a catalyst to some offline actions that need to be taken," he added.

Gilbert Sape, a presenter for 'The Climate Project' (http://www.theclimateproject.org/) under environment activist and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore, has seen for himself the power of blogs.

"A lot of people don't read news anymore. However, they read blogs. Thus, blogs are indeed a new source of information for many. Even decision-makers, particularly the populist ones, read blogs to weigh their position on issues," said Sape, who facilitates the international collaboration work of the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International's regional centres. He is also former coordinator of Food Sovereignty and Ecological Agricultural Programme of PAN Asia-Pacific.

For an online cause to be successful, Girard Philip Bonotan, who works for a Bangkok-based international NGO on Southeast Asian heritage and culture, said that bloggers need to be united by a common cause and stick by it.

"By joining with larger groups that are not bloggers, the message that these groups want to spread can be easily conveyed," said Bonotan, a BAD member who maintains a blog at www.kawadjan.blogspot.com.

He, however, sees that there is still a dearth of blog posts on the environment. "My blogger network and the blogs I read are limited around certain interests, and sadly, that does not include the environment," he admitted.

One reason, said Baclagon, could be that while everybody is talking about climate change, they "still know so little about the issue".

"Climate change is a very complex issue and we need to put it in a language that is easy to understand," he said, adding that even bloggers are guilty of writing very technical stuff about it.

But more and more bloggers are learning from their oversights. Said Bonotan, "Bloggers have made their mark in how public opinion is shared, perhaps largely because of the nature of blog entries, which more often use colloquial language, hence, rather inclusive and accessible."

Rezwan also lauded the advantage of the technology in that "what bloggers write do not (get) obliterated... they remain in the webspace searchable by search engines".

For Baclagon, a good blog should always speak about how an issue directly affects a person. "A good blog, too, does not merely present a problem, but also gives an empowering message and a call to action," he said.

Sustaining the interest of bloggers and readers about climate change, said Sape, can be achieved by "providing concrete and tangible actions that readers can do".

"It could be from the simplest thing (like recycling or turning off the air-conditioning when not needed) to bigger actions (like donating money to NGOs or taking part in protest actions)," added Sape.

Knowing how vulnerable Bangladesh is to the effects of climate change, Rezwan can only hope that world leaders and individuals start to take the future seriously.

 "The world needs to act, lend a hand and plan the right course of actions," he said.