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 29, 2011

On the way to Panchagarh

Started my journey towards Panchagarh, near the northern border of Bangladesh, I was worried how to get to Shayamoli early in the morning. Finding a CNG autorickshaw is a tough ask these days. I have to use autorickshaw to go to office everyday so I know the pain.

Until recently the autorickshaw drivers have created an anarchy by not going as per available meter. For every short and medium distance they would ask Tk. 100 to Tk. 150 ($2) whereas the fare as per meter would be one third of that. And they never would want to go to the place you want to go - but if you would offer them some more fare than what they asked they would definitely go.

They were exploiting common people. The police helpline didn't work. Once I complained to a police mobile team and the autorickshaw driver was bragging how he bribed the police (in front of me at a distance) by the extra monex ex-meter he was earning from me. You see that the general people were the victim.

Since this month the government had increased fare and are conducting mobile raids to ensure that the drivers ask the right fare. Now sanity prevails.

Today the Autorickshaw driver was telling about his plights - how they are losing by the new measures - aparently the autorickshaw drivers are still paying more to the owners and they are losing by traffic jam.

It remains to be seen how long it takes for them to restore anarchy.

We have strated from Shaymali towards Panchagarh. It will be a whole day journey (500 kms).

January 13, 2011

Khan Academy Translation Project (Bangla) : Call for Volunteers

Khan Academy is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) with the mission of providing world-class education to anyone, anywhere. It is the free classroom of the world. Agami is a US-registered non-profit charity, dedicated to promote basic education for the underprivileged children in Bangladesh. 1° Initiative is a registered nonprofit youth organization with a vision to create changemakers through social innovations and currently operates in Bangladesh, Nepal and Canada. In Bangladesh, it focuses on access to education, sustainable environment and right  to opportunities.

For 2011, Khan Academy has partnered with Agami USA and 1°  Initiative - Bangladesh for an exciting translation project where videos will be translated to Bangla, thus bringing the world's classroom at our doorsteps.

Email: ka-bangla@1di.org



Translators are required to translate dynamic video content in English into a written, proofread, logically sound and interesting Bangla script. They will work closely with the Translation Section-in-Charge, their respective HR Managers and Voice Talents. They will also be required - on a case-to-case basis - to produce visual, stick diagrams on paper to illustrate their translated scripts.
  • Must have a fluent understanding of both Bangla and English (preferably from Bangla-medium or Madrasa background with a good control over English)
  • Must be able to translate English text to Bangla scripts precisely
  • Must be able to type Bangla on a laptop or desktop computer
  • Must be able to understand the flow of English language on a video file and translate it to written text in Bangla on a script
  • Must commit a minimum of 20 hours per week
  • Should have a good control over MS Word, MS Excel, Paint
  • Should be able to improvise and localize Bangla scripts
  • Should have a clear idea on current classroom textbooks - both in government and non-government curriculum
  • Should be able to work in a team, meet deadlines, maintain punctuality and be spontaneous
  • Preferable with a good understanding of general and advanced mathematics, laboratory (core) sciences (i.e. chemistry and physics) and statistics

Voice Talents

Voice talents are required to dub and sync on the original videos as per the translated Bangla script. Voice talents play a very important role in keeping the listeners/audience interested and motivated; and therefore needs to have a patient, interactive and engaging voice. They will work closely with the Voice-in-Charge, their respective HR managers, translators and audio-video editors. 
  • Must have a fluent understanding of English and Bangla
  • Must have a clear, articulate and engaging voice
  • Must have excellent and accurate pronunciation of English and Bangla 
  • Must commit a minimum of 30 hours per week
  • Should have a good control over MS Word and Paint
  • Should be comfortable using microphones, headphones and other audio recording equipments
  • Should be able to improvise and localize Bangla scripts
  • Should be able to work in a team, meet deadlines, maintain punctuality and be spontaneous

Audio - Video Editors

Audio-video (AV) editors are required to combine all elements of the translation process and produce a well-synchronized, well-composed, engaging and finalized translated video. They will work closely with the Editor-in-Charge, voice talents and their respective HR managers. 
  • Must have a good understanding of English and Bangla
  • Must be able to perform simple audio and video editing tasks on a laptop or desktop computer
  • Must have a good control over Windows Movie Maker, and preferably Adobe Premiere or Sony Vegas 
  • Must be able to cut, paste and join audio and video clips
  • Must commit a minimum of 36 hours per week
  • Should be comfortable working long hours in front of the computer and multi-task with several file formats or editing tasks
  • Should be able to work in a team, meet deadlines, maintain punctuality and be spontaneous
Human Resources Managers

Human resources (HR) managers are the main point-of-contact for each team, and are required to manage all members of the team, form schedules and ensure their respective team meets all deadlines. They are accountable to all section-in-charges and will work closely with the remaining HR managers, report writers and the Project Head.
  • Must have a fluent understanding of English and Bangla
  • Must be able to communicate ideas and resolve intra and inter team conflicts
  • Must demonstrate leadership, organizational and planning skills
  • Must commit a minimum of 36 hours per week
  • Must be able to type, edit and proofread English and Bangla scripts on a laptop or desktop computer
  • Must be able to maintain a good rapport between all teams and HR managers
  • Should be efficient at using MS Word, MS Excel, MS Powerpoint and Paint
  • Should have minimum knowledge of a translation process and be able to guide the team
  • Should be able to produce weekly reports on the team's progress in written formats
  • Should be patient, responsible and fair at all times
  • Must be able to meet deadlines, work in a team, maintain punctuality and be spontaneous
Report Writers

Report writers are required to produce weekly, monthly and quarterly reports for external and internal PR. They will work closely with the Project Head, translators, section-in-charges and HR managers.
  • Must be fluent in English and Bangla
  • Must be able to write clearly in a well composed and well formatter manner
  • Must be able to meet deadlines, work in a team, maintain punctuality and be spontaneous
  • Should be comfortable using blogs, social networking sites and other online platforms
  • Should be efficient with MS Word and MS Excel
  • Should be well informed about current affairs and be able to combine inputs from all sections to produce a well-balanced report on time

Applications are available here.
Application deadline: 25 January 2011
N.B. This project is limited to applicants residing in Bangladesh only. 

Benefits and Opportunities

On volunteering for the Khan Academy Translation Project (Bangla) this year, you will receive:
  • A recommendation letter from Khan Academy (at the end of your contracted period)
  • Credits at the end of each video you have worked for
  • An international platform to show your contributions towards ensuring education for all
  • An opportunity to work alongside talented professionals and receive mentorship
  • An unforgettable experience!

January 12, 2011

Bangladesh, India: Human Rights Hanging On The Border Fence

Bangladeshis were shocked by widely published photographs of the dead body of a 15 year old Bangladeshi girl hanging on the India-Bangladesh border Fence. According to news reports the girl named Felani was shot dead by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) at Anantapur while she was illegally crossing the border with her father while traveling back to Bangladesh.

Mahmud Faisal elaborates how the girl was caught in this tragic fate:

বাবা কাঁটাতার পেরিয়ে চলে এলেন, ফেলানীর কাপড় আঁটকে গেলে সে ভয়ে চিৎকার করে ওঠে– সাথে সাথে গর্জে ওঠে বিএসএফ-এর বন্দুক। একটা গুলি ফেলানীর পিছন থেকে ঢুকে সামনে দিয়ে বেরিয়ে যায়। তবু সে বেঁচে ছিলো। বি,এস,এফ চাইলেই তো ঐ ৪ ঘন্টা’র মাঝে কিশোরীটিকে আরো কয়েকবার গুলি করে হত্যা নিশ্চিত করতে পারতো। তা না করে তারা ৪ ঘন্টা অপেক্ষার পর যখন মেয়েটি’র গোঙ্গানী বন্ধ ও দেহ নিথর হয়েছে বলে নিশ্চিত হয় তখন এসে লাশ নিয়ে যায়। কাঁটাতারে গুলিবিদ্ধ অবস্থায় ঝুলে থেকে ফেলানী “পানি পানি” বলে চিৎকার করছিলো। সাড়া দেয়ার কেউ ছিলো না। তিরিশ ঘন্টা পর তার লাশ এলো যেভাবে মরা গরুকে ঝুলিয়ে আনা হয়।

Her father managed to cross the barbed wire, but Felani's clothes got stuck in the wire and she started screaming in fear. Noticing her BSF shot instantaneously and a bullet went through her body. But she did not die. If BSF wanted it could end her misery by putting more bullets into her. But they waited four hours to be sure that she stopped screaming and she is dead. She was screaming "water, water" while she was hanging in the barbed wire, hurt. Nobody listened to her and BSF finally took away her dead body. After 30 hours she was brought back to Bangladesh like hanging a dead cow (in a bamboo poll).

Indian Border Security Force And barbed Wire. Image by Sanjeev Syal. Copyright Demotix

In a recently published 81-page report titled, "‘Trigger Happy': Excessive Use of Force by Indian Troops at the Bangladesh Border," Human Rights Watch found numerous cases of indiscriminate use of force, arbitrary detention, torture, and killings by the Indian Border Security Force, without adequate investigation or punishment.

"The border force seems to be out of control, with orders to shoot any suspect," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The border operations ignore the most basic rule of law, the presumption of innocence."

Bangladeshi human rights organization Odhikar says in a report that BSF kills one Bangladeshi in every four days. It also says that BSF killed 74 innocent Bangladeshi citizens in 2010, injured seventy-two and kidnapped 43. In the past decade more than 1000 Bangladeshis were killed in the border regions by BSF.

Alfaz Anam says:

শনিবারের নয়াদিগন্তের ছবিতে দেখা যাচ্ছে লাল পায়জামা পড়া ফেলানির ছোট্র শরীরটা ঝুলছে বাংলাদেশ-ভারত সীমান্তে কাটাতারের বেড়ায়। যেনো একখন্ড বাংলাদেশ ঝুলে আছে। কেন ফেলানিকে হত্যা করা হলো? [..]

বাংলাদেশ নামক এই রাষ্ট্রের নাগরিকদের প্রতি অপরিসীম ঘৃনার মনস্তত্ব থেকে গুলির নিশানা হচ্ছে বাংলাদেশের নাগরিকরা। ফেলানিকে সহজেই বিএসএফ ধরে ফেলতে পারতো। নিতে পারতো আইনগত ব্যবস্থা। কিন্তু তা তারা করেনি। কারণ ফেলানি বাংলাদেশের নাগরিক। হত্যায় ওর উপযুক্ত শাস্তি।

In Saturday's Naya Diganta (Bangla News Daily) we see a photograph of the body of little Felani in red cloth hanging on the barbed wire of India-Bangladesh border. Seems like a piece of Bangladesh hanging. Why was she killed? [..]

Bangladeshi citizens are being subjected to this inhuman atrocity out of extreme hatred towards them. BSF could easily arrest Felani and take necessary legal measures. But they did not as she is a Bangladeshi. Death is her ultimate punishment.

এভাবে প্রতিনিয়ত মারা যাচ্ছে পারুল আর ফেলানিরা। কিন্তু খুব কম সময়ই এরা খবর হন। পারুল আর ফেলানিদের জীবনের কোনো নিরাপত্তা নেই। নতুন বছরের প্রথম সপ্তাহেই হত্যা করা হয়েছে ৬ জন বাংলাদেশীকে। [..] ভারতের সাথে শত্রুরাষ্ট্র পাকিস্তানের সীমান্ত আছে। কাশ্মীরে ভারতীয় বাহিনীর সাথে নিয়মিত গোলা বিনিময় হয় কিন্তু এভাবে নিরীহ মানুষ নিহত হয় না। আজকে পাকিস্তানের চেয়ে বাংলাদেশের নিরস্ত্র মানুষ যেনো ভারতের প্রধান শত্রু।

In this way Parul (another 13 year old civilian Bangladeshi girl killed in 2009 by BSF) and Felanis die everyday. These are not highlighted in the news prominently. They do not have any security. Six Bangladeshis were killed in the first week of new year (2011). [..] India has also borders with alleged enemy state Pakistan. In Kashmir there are regular shootouts between border guard. But no civilian is killed like this. It seems that unarmed Bangladeshis are greater enemy than Pakistan to the Indian guards.

Rahnuma Ahmed highlights in a post titled "Killing Thy Neighbors" why despite all these threats people cross border between Bangladesh and India legally and illegally:

The fence divides and separates. Villages. Agricultural lands. Markets. Families. Communities. It cuts across mangrove-swamps in the southwest, forests and mountains in the northeast.

It split up Fazlur Rehman’s family too, the fence snaked into their Panidhar village homestead, his younger brother who lived right next door, is now in another country (Time, February 5, 2009). Other border residents have had their homes split in two, the kitchen in one country, the bedroom in another.

Banner of the Blog Platform Amar Bornomala

Netizens are also frustrated with feeble government response. Helal M Rahman at Blog Platform Amar Bornomala complains:

এতসব হত্যাকান্ডের পরেও আমাদের রাষ্টযন্ত্রের সবোর্চ্চ পর্যায়ের কোন মাথাব্যথা বা হত্যাকান্ড বন্ধের কোন পদক্ষেপ নিতে দেখা যাচ্ছেনা।

After all these incidents the highest authorities of the government remain silent and they are not doing anything to stop these indiscriminate killings.

Blogger Arif Jebtik writes [bn]:

দিন আগের মতোই চলতে থাকবে। কিছুই বদলাবে না। ভারতের ঋণে আমার রাষ্ট্রে একটা বড় রাস্তা হবে। সেই রাস্তা দিয়ে আসবে যাবে বন্ধুরাষ্ট্রের গাড়িগুলো। আমরা অতিথিপরায়ণ সভ্য জাতি, কোনো দিন তাদের দিকে গুলি ছুড়তে যাব না। চিকন চালে ধোঁয়াওঠা ভাত আর ইলিশ মাছের ঝোল দিয়ে আমরা অতিথি আপ্যায়ন করব।

তৃপ্তির ঢেকুর তুলতে তুলতে বউয়ের জন্য জামদানি শাড়ি ব্যাগে পুরে বিএসএফপ্রধান আমাদের শান্তি আর বন্ধুত্বের বাণী শোনাবেন।

আমরা মোবাইলের এসএমএসে জানব ও বন্ধুদের জানাব, তিন কোটি টাকায় নিলামে বিক্রি হয়েছেন ক্যাপ্টেন সাকিব হাসান। হিন্দি চ্যানেলের সিরিয়াল দেখে আমাদের গিন্নীরা হাঁপুস নয়নে কাঁদতে থাকবেন।

কিন্তু সীমান্তের পাখির মতো মরে যাওয়া আমার বোন ফেলানির জন্য আমরা কেউ কখনো কাঁদব না।

আমরা শুধু তোতাপাখির মতো স্লোগান দিয়ে যাব, ভারত-বাংলাদেশ মৈত্রী_জয় হো!

This will continue to happen. Nothing will change. A long highway will be built with loans from India. Cars from neighboring states will roll into Bangladesh on that highway. We are civilized hosts, we will never treat them with bullets rather with steamed fine rice and Hilsha fish curry.

The BSF chief will continue to preach about peace and friendship after bagging Jamdani Sari as gifts for his wife.

Via SMS we will merrily spread the information that the Bangladesh cricket captain Shakib Al Hasan has been sold in auction of the Indian Premier League for 30 million Taka ($425000). Our housewives will continue to watch Indian TV serials and shed their tears during tragic scenes.

But we will never shed tears for our sister who was butchered in the border inhumanely.

We will just utter the magic words like parrots, long live India-Bangladesh friendship.

First published in Global Voices Online

January 08, 2011

Google Bangladesh Page Hacked And A Probable Solution

When hackers make a breaking news headline it tells a lot about the security infrastructure and knowledge about internet security. This is from BDNews24.com, the leading Online news website in Bangladesh:

Hackers have broken into the Bangladesh site of leading search engine Google, internet service experts said Saturday evening.

"The site has definitely been hacked," said Pradip Dey, chief technical officer of ADN, a leading ISP.

"A couple of other ISPs have also got similar complaints from their clients." [..]

Attempts to access the site by users are rebounded with message reading," Google Bangladesh OwN3D by TiGER-M@TE.

In some parts, however, the site is still being accessed as ISPs cache top sites for user convenience.

But, internet surfers, who use connections of GP and CityCell, are still getting access.

I noticed this a while ago when I failed to access gmail and Tweeted about it. Twitter is a resourceful network (if you have resourceful followers :) ). Shawn Ahmed of Uncultured.com came to my rescue. Here is his solution:

Shawn Ahmed: Okay I think I have a solution for those affected in Bangladesh by the hack of Google. It looks like the hack is targeting @OpenDNS.

Shawn Ahmed:

So @google is still up and running, but OpenDNS points to a hacked page. Deactive @OpenDNS and you should be fine.

Shawn Ahmed:

If your ISP in Bangladesh uses @OpenDNS, you can bypass by manually overriding and using and as your DNS servers instead.

And soon I Tweeted:

Voila! Deactivated Opendns and I am accessing Gmail right now..

So if you are still unable to access Google sites you can try the above settings. Please do let me know if you are still facing problems.

January 07, 2011

Attending a workshop on contribution to Wikipedia.

The workshop has been arranged by Wikipedia Commons Bangladesh, a community of Wikipedia users in Bangladesh and its supporters.

Bangladesh has potential to engage more volunteers to create more contents in English and Bangla for the growing number of internet users in Bangladesh.

January 02, 2011

Happy New Year