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

April 29, 2014

Bangladeshis Are Not Happy With India's Bharatya Janata Party

Subramanian Swamy speaks in Mangalore, India on Dec. 17, 2013.
Subramanian Swamy speaks in Mangalore, India on 17/12/13
The world's biggest elections are underway in India, and so far elections have been completed in 21 out of 28 states. As voting nears its end, the competing political parties are trying to lure voters with lucrative and populist promises they say they will implement if they are elected.

Subramanian Swamy, a leading figure of the conservative Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) whose prime minister candidate is Narendra Modi, caused much outrage in neighboring Bangladesh when he mentioned in an election rally in Assam that Bangladesh should compensate India for its undocumented migrants there by giving the country one-third of its land.

He also claimed that since the independence of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971, one-third of Bangladesh's Muslim population migrated to India. According to him, Bangladesh should take them back or hand over one-third of the land to India.

There are no reliable figures for how many Bangladeshi immigrants are in India, but a significant number of Bangladeshis do migrate to India to reunite with family members, for job opportunities, to escape environmental crises and other reasons. The wave of people in the past decade has prompted India to step up security along its border with Bangladesh, including the installation of barbed-wire fences.

Bangladeshi newspapers first picked up Swamy's remarks from Assam's Bengali daily Samayik Prasanga on 19 April. Along with Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and China, the country's political analysts are closely following the election as international relations will be shaped by the policies of the parties that win.

Angry reactions soon followed. User Veja Beral on forum projanmo.com commented:

BJP is an anti-Bangladeshi party. If it comes to power, it will mean trouble for Bangladesh. The [long] pending issues like the Teesta water-sharing contract and border disputes will remain unresolved and all implemented treaties will be stopped by the Modi government.
The user also wrote:
There are a number of undocumented Bangladeshis in India that everybody knows. But the astronomical figure of 50 million (which is BJP's claim) is illogical and untrue. Maybe BJP is purposefully campaigning the figure 50 million instead of 500,000.
Shamim Sujaet opined on the blog Shobdoneer:
As if Bangladesh is a plaything. You can shape it however you like.
Meanwhile, Bangladeshi hacker group "Bangladesh Cyber 71" allegedly hacked more than 300 of the Indian government's websites in protest of Swamy's comments. The admin of the group told BanglaNews24.com that they will continue the attacks until BJP withdraws the statement.

Screenshot of a website hacked by "Bangladesh Cyber 71" in protest of comments made by Indian Subramanian Swamy of Bharatya Janata Party.
Screenshot of a website hacked by "Bangladesh Cyber 71"
In retaliation, the official website of the Bangladesh Cabinet Division was apparently hacked by an Indian hacking group.

Narendra Modi, the prime minister candidate from BJP, doubled down on the comments during a rally in West Bengal:
You can write it down. After May 16, these Bangladeshis better be prepared with their bags packed.
Undocumented Bangladeshi immigrants have been a part of the BJP's agenda, which claims that they are being used as a vote bank for the ruling Indian National Congress party. But Modi's comments indicate that this could be a political weapon they would use against their neighbor if the party comes to power.

This isn't a case of one-way migration, however. India would stand to lose its fifth largest source of remittance if relations were to sour. Around half a million Indians work in Bangladesh, and they remitted 3.716 million US dollars to India last year.

This post was written in collaboration with Abdul Aleem Khan

April 19, 2014

Bangladeshis Mourn Gabriel García Márquez, the 'Magician Of Words'

[caption id="attachment_467088" align="aligncenter" width="658"]Gabriel García Márquez. Image by Wikimedia/Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara. CC BY 2.0 Gabriel García Márquez. Image by Wikimedia/Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara. CC BY 2.0[/caption]

Gabriel García Márquez, the Nobel-prize winning literary legend from Colombia, died April 17, 2014 at the age of 87. He was not only popular in Latin America but also in South Asia, especially in Bangladesh through translations of his works. There, he was known as the "magician of words".

Most of the local newspapers in Bangladesh carried the news of his death with importance. On Facebook, Bangladeshis paid tribute to the author of such beloved works as "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Love in the Time of Cholera".

Blogger and author Mahbub Morshed wrote:

Márquez is the greatest author of our lifetime.
Tanvir Haider Chowdhury acknowledged the influence of Márquez:
Nostalgia. Melancholy. Solitude. Romance.

I look at these words, and they always make me think of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He taught me to look for the magic underneath the facade of the everyday. Mr Marquez's prose to me defined lyricism. In his hands, the poetry, poignancy and pathos of the human condition lay revealed.

He will always evoke to me my early youth, when I incredulously devoured 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' and 'Love in the Time of Cholera'. I vividly remember sitting there stunned, trying to absorb the fact that these were contemporary works of fiction.
In literary critique Facebook group Boi Porua, writer Ahmed Mostafa Kamal mentioned while discussing the influence of Márquez on Bengali literature:

Márquez's style did not influence Bengali authors much. It was hard to mimic his writing style. Some skills remain unique, such was Márquez's.
Blogger Megha wrote earlier on Sachalayatan blog in a review of a Márquez novel:

I have read many [of his] books. I have learnt how imaginative a person can be, how magnificently one can write about the future and the past in one line. I have known what a "magician of words" truly means.
Kaberi Gayen, an educator and writer, paid homage to him:

No, I will not cry. As I believe that he will live at least a few more centuries with resonant words of love, how could I cry mourning his death? Let his love and dreams conquer our hearts little by little.
Blogger and Global Voices author Pantha Rahman Reza bod farewell:

Farewell Márquez. You will live on in our reading lives.