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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