Dec 13, 2013

থাক! বল্লামনা।

আমি কিছু বলতে চাইনা।

রুচিতে বাধে।

We've been through a lot, a nation who stood its ground in '71 to gain independence. However, since inception we've failed to really create any single period of time or a continuous number of years when we've been able to put down an even rule of law. Laws are made, but a lot are visible running away having broken it. Presidential pardons or partial treatments are also not unknown to us. Through all this, I fear one thing when you don't see people quitting the parties that propagate such sickness with a bold statement that puts the blame in its rightful place. We lack whistle-blowers or have successfully swept them under lavish carpets pretty quickly. I welcome other good explanations.

I watched a movie named "The Whistleblower" which was based on true events, about a Kathy Bolkovac, a policewoman who while serving on a UN mission uncovers some really sickening and illegal operations. However, as the movie ends with some notes about what happened to Kathy in later life, it was mentioned that she couldn't get a job in the security industry, the industry for which she possessed the right skills and experience!

I feel we've always been a careful nation, where most would deny to get into a 'situation' by starting a confrontation. This probably is truer for those with a lot to lose, things like reputation or social standing, or their livelihood. The conscience doesn't haunt at the level that one would be overpowered to not care for those aspects of the self. And then there are those who took brave strides and faced discouraging outcomes like Kathy, and even faster (driver of the bus who revealed Suranjit Sengupta's black cat?). Edward Snowden, and Julian 'WikiLeaks' Assange?

However, I feel that our lack of whistleblowers or whistleblowing has helped lead us the wrong way. I wish more people would blow the covers off matters causing a serious rot.

Related:
Whistleblower Forms Party
List of Whistleblowers in History

Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013

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Nov 14, 2013

* রাজধানীতে বাসে আগুন, আহত ৬
* সাভারে যাত্রাবাহী বাসে আগুন
* কলাবাগান থানায় তালা, সাংবাদিকদের 'না'
* পরিবেশবাদীদের আন্দোলন অর্থহীন: অর্থমন্ত্রী
* খালেদার বাসায় ‘বিশেষ পানি’ বন্ধ: বনমন্ত্রী
* হাসিনার পা ছুঁয়ে দোয়া চাইলেন পাঁচ প্রতিমন্ত্রী!
* খালেদার সঙ্গে দেখা করলেন বিএনপিপন্থী শিক্ষকেরা
* কুমিল্লায় কাভার্ড ভ্যানের চাপায় নিহত ৫
* মাদক নেই বললেও ইয়াবাসহ গ্রেপ্তার দেখিয়ে মামলা
* কক্ষ দখল নিয়ে ছাত্রলীগ-ছাত্রদল হাতাহাতি
* ...

Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013

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Oct 29, 2013

PM asks AL men to help police: যেন বিয়ে বাড়ির অনুষ্ঠান! What? Help plan a birthday party? (New Age)

Hartal violence kills 5: At 5 deaths a day, are death tolls with 3 + pre-hartal day violence at 25? Salute to our democracy! (The Daily Star)

Non-stop Dhaka blockade planned: মাইরালা রে! মাইরালা! Interesting how much losses we counted over the years for this thing which is called 'care taker'. Interim now I suppose. (The Daily Star)

China hails Hasina-Khaleda talks: Huh? Do you guys have translators that good? (BDNews24)

BNP slams govt for tele-talk telecast: Wonder who this'll tip the scale towards! Interesting.  (BDNews24)

Govt schools asked to install hoardings on govt’s success: My word! :S (New Age)

Posted on Tuesday, October 29, 2013

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Oct 19, 2013



The father tells his daughter about his 'status' in society, and his expensive possessions, and implies that she should look for in a future beau exactly those qualities. Enter the cocky (beyadob) boyfriend, who tells the father that his 'status' is clear on Facebook. What a view of society and growth we have here!

From that ad to a drama seen during the eid programming, a similar scene. Father asks the daughter who his boyfriend of hers is. To that she starts, he's Arif, from a 'rich family', son of so-and-so businessman, owner of a car sales showroom. The father here is at least unmoved, but we still have to chalk it up to some parental glitch somewhere.

Of course, our beloved Ananta comes to mind next, who has many people rallying behind him since he is 'investing' money in cinema (not one yet which didn't star him, and didn't become an 'accidental comedy'). Over an online interview he states that he bought a Bulgari (bvlgari?) watch for his wife, and he doesn't forget to tell us how much it had cost - 22,000 USD.

?

Posted on Saturday, October 19, 2013

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I've been waiting eagerly for this one. The trailer had given me an immense amount of hope, and taking advantage of the Eid-holiday-empty of Dhaka City, some of us managed to go and watch it at Bashundhara City.

I entered while the opening credits were rolling, and the intense music had me turning towards the screen stopping my efforts to find my seat. Those glimpses still gave me hope, till I actually found my seat, and saw the opening act done by amateurs. The intensity of the music carried on unfortunately throughout the film, drowning the dialogues even! In retrospect, if it wasn't for the subtitles, I might've been terribly lost. Especially the scene that seemed would be a very strong point in the film - the part where Babu has the letter typed out for Akbar's wife (also shown in the trailer).

In the end, I can appreciate the effort, it has broken out of the usual story lines - romance, and '71. In its quest to attain a gritty film, it probably goes overboard, with amateurish moments and dragging parts. But in its realism of showing that evil doesn't change overnight, it passes. Despite all the flaws I perceived, I am glad it just so different.

Posted on Saturday, October 19, 2013

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Oct 1, 2013

While reading an article discussing how we're laughing at Ananta Jalil's English accent (while some of us laugh at his Bangla accent too), I came across this:
For a chance to prove yourself too, click below:

Cheers!


Update! Freaking Update!

As luck would have it, my comment was okayed on the article, and if anyone had trouble making the 'lunatic' connection, here it is:

Mmmmmm. As someone who is dying to see a revolution, be it cinema or society, I place Ananta at the same level as the ‘gonojagoron’. I disagree that we’re laughing at his accent, but at the bad acting, the ridiculous scenes and the overall kitsch flood. He reaches into his chest and pulls out a CGI heart where explosions take place, a bullet passes through and other animated things. Its a scene that is apparently meant to be emotional! I am laughing at Ananta at that point.
As for accents, before we had ‘English Medium’ education, we had people who could normally speak the language very well, as I see in people from my father’s generation. At some point we lost that (how? why?)and these specialized schools took on a role to fill that vacuum. Ananta came on TV and claimed to be very highly “ezucated”which should form doubts in everyone’s minds. Is he the one trying to reach out to the English Medium/Private University kids? Its often reiterated that he is a successful businessman, and he has succeeded here too. I don’t agree that he is the savior of cinema, as it were. If India had Satyajit Ray who later inspired many a great filmmakers, we should just hold our breath waiting for our ‘Ray’ to come. Ananta’s accidental comedies, should be treated just as that, without lifting him up to some pedestal.

Posted on Tuesday, October 01, 2013

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Sep 30, 2013

I can see how people are going out of their minds wondering if they're ever getting out of this gutter of a system where things move slow unless you pay an illegal extorted 'fee' aka bribe. Sometimes its a matter of getting your rightful papers back from an officer you just handed them to. I blogged about a website that is used in India to track the occurrences and also to share ideas about how to fight bribes and corrupt officials - www.ipaidabribe.com. I once also saw a pin on Google Maps on our Dhaka BRTA (Ikuria) which was labelled "The most corrupt place in the world" or something along that lines. I imagine it served well to make the victim feel like he got a semblance of a payback.



Recently I found another such site from a post from Thailand, and it seems to have a more global coverage - Bribespot.com. On a world map you can see pins of where bribes were paid. Right now certain countries have localized iPhone and Android apps too that serve to create the pins. It can help identify the bribe 'hotspots' according to its statement under the website's 'How it Works > Does it Matter' section.

People are trying hard to overcome this plague that seems to be ailing societies. However its a greater challenge I feel for us where people can actually empathize with the bribe demanding officers and institutes, and the government can ignore media and whatever public sentiments exist and issue statements of denial.

Related:
The 'Corruption' Tag


Posted on Monday, September 30, 2013

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Sep 3, 2013

This morning I was greeted with the Facebook Page of A2i, the Access to Information program that was developed by our government with the aid of UNDP. There they posed this question last night:

Did you know that Bangladesh ranked 130 among 142 countries in terms of innovation in 2013? In 2012, the ranking was 112. What can we do to improve the score?

The World Innovation Index 2013 is published jointly by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a UN agency. The GII 2013 looked at 142 economies around the world, using 84 indicators including the quality of top universities, availability of microfinance, venture capital deals - gauging both innovation capabilities and measurable results.

Take a look. http://tinyurl.com/kk68sl9

The report is quite interesting if you start noting the countries that sit ahead of us. Right above us is Ethiopia, and way ahead is Jamaica. I mention Jamaica, since I was cracking some wise ones seeing them innovating so well. The attempt at a quip went along the lines of - Oh, what are they innovating, cocktail recipes and strains of ganja? 

Displaying a bad sense of humor and racial stereotypes, I threw that one at my wife, who is more socially aware. She pointed out that Jamaica is a developed country, with a higher HDI than us by far.



Back to the question of the day, it clearly will require us to take a good look at the success stories such as Jamaica, Sweden and others, and figure out what we need for our unique challenges. Its possibly a good endeavor to ask people on Facebook, and there could be other formal approaches involving university academics and research think-tanks. The attitude from the government should be, How may we help?

We have over the years had innovations in the field of, and related fields of agriculture, but I don't recall that ever being promoted as a subject to go for to students leaving school who will join a university soon. Meanwhile a report from Daily Star recently outlined how these academics feel about the kind of remunerations they receive.

Should we consider Dr. Yunus' achievement as being 'innovative', when in the last 5 years there was a political whiplash on his work and him?

Either way, it seems like we have to take proactive steps to harbor innovation. A culture of respect among academics and for academics, ways of sharing information among them, a State that produces opportunities for research and innovation in academia that address local and national problems and so forth.

Related:
HDI - Bangladesh
HDI - Jamaica
A Jamaica Newspaper
Global Innovation Index : Compare Any Two Countries 

Posted on Tuesday, September 03, 2013

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Aug 7, 2013

Do We Congratulate Ourselves Too Much?

Let's not look at a mirror in awe of the sight before us, instead let us look at what we  see and question it. How can we do better? If we can make that sort of a critical eye part of our national character, I think we could progress much better in the coming years.

While in a concert, albeit brilliantly arranged (3 or 4-days long Eastern Classical  shows, great stage and a great crowd), I heard one of our politicians declare in her closing statement that we are the BEST audience in the world. Its not a big claim, and its not a usual claim. Even if such a competition exists, the claim is harmless. This might be one instance where we're praising ourselves unnecessarily, when we could actually do that better by our actions instead. E.g., there could be massive support from industry and government for artists in our country both locally and internationally. India has a world renowned flutist; how can we have a maestro too?

This post is closely aligned with what I've stated in Beware the Wide-Eyed Optimist, but today I was just thinking of our education system and whether we're preparing the population for the future. While doing interviews, going through CVs at the workplace, or interacting with random young individuals, I often meet people who are self assured, and confident (approaching cocky). While conversing I am not convinced I have the same confidence in that person as the person holds for his/her own self. At other times, the flashy self confidence is not there, and all of the inadequacies is just there for you to see. A few times, you find a candidate you can talk to or work with.

Our language has the saying 'অল্প বিদ্যা ভয়ঙ্কর' ∞ 'Its dangerous to know a little', implying that a person should not get cocky with what little she has learnt, but continue on the journey with humility gathering knowledge. Its blatantly unfair to just state that the young are at fault. Instead of doing that we really need to reassess our society's value system and definitely our education system.


We should prevent sentimental siding from society, starting from parents, peers and maybe even some educators; looking down on some subjects (such as Sociology) and vice-versa (engineering or medicine). It would be ideal to do away with those distinctions and provide school students a better understanding of what scopes, what industries our country holds, so that they may be inspired to choose a path and have an objective view of the purpose of education along with the broad perspectives that early education provides. The system itself should have mechanisms to identify a student's strengths and helping her grow.

So I think it is great that we recently did some reassessing of how we're testing our students, but a dangerous trend seems to be rising also since we see a great rate of passes and top grades are being used as proof of a political party's contribution while in power! Instead of using 'education' for such means, we need to think of decades ahead and harbor a country where social, technological research takes place, and the educated are employed in solving problems and puzzles to move our country ahead.

Related:
A College Degree Sorts Job Applicants, but Employers Wish It Meant More
EDU Tech Magazine (May 2012 Issue, India)
Breaking the Stigma of Social Studies

Posted on Wednesday, August 07, 2013

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Jul 18, 2013

Since preparations of the tribunal began, the BAL government and many experts created a strong front for the tribunal, fighting off anyone who raised a hair of concern about its legitimacy. It was easy to fight off BNP on this, since they were caught holding Jamaat's hand since last election. Other critics weren't tolerated either, and were accused of being anti-liberation (if that's possible). We, the people, joined in on this, whether fully grasping it or not, but wholly out of desperation for closure. Everyone believed that this time, closure is coming.
With that one year left of BAL's term in power, the sentences have started to pour out of the courts. It has been nothing short of the rise of the greatest conundrum for the people from what I can see.

The big blow was dealt last with the sentence of the big one - Golam Azam. Yes, said the courts, he should be hanged! Yay, cheered the masses! But then, continued the court, since he is old and his health is not so good, we think he should be given a 90 year term in jail. Nay, came back the response from the masses, who just couldn't believe it.

Its a massive imbroglio and its pushing the citizens to mime the position we've been 'taught' (someone taught us, or we taught ourselves) to take - do not question the tribunal's validity (lest you want to lose what we've achieved, yes?), even if from one sentence to the next, things do not make sense to you, or if by next election, this becomes the factor behind your vote.

Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013

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Jul 13, 2013

There are a few worlds we reside in, different realities when you enter one room or turn into a road. My work hours are spent in a world where I have a 6th floor view of lots of trees and smaller buildings, and a great big sky. Within that ecosystem I have the respect of a team I command and colleagues I confer with to create the solutions we were hired to.

To get to work, I have to take a rickshaw ride over broken roads, over puddles if there was rain, behind men who have separate realities themselves. Some have faces that show desperation, others a defiant arrogance. From the rickshaw I walk among other workers making their way to their workplaces sometimes stopping to have our suspicious and fishy 'law enforcers' search my bag to ensure the security of the masses. These men have their own realities, their own stories that shaped them.

This weekend I went to a garage for my car, on a street that I once crossed many times to get to work before. When driving into it this time, I was surprised that I was blocking incoming traffic. The two lane road was reduced to one by those massive dumpsters laid along haphazardly, and of course with a great amount of garbage lying outside them. Once I stopped at the garage, it was right opposite a couple of them, and the stench was unbearable, at least at first.


Since I had to be there, I got used to it, like the mechanics who work on that corner everyday. You can see the people passing by hold their noses and breath as they pass them. For someone who'd be there for a couple of hours, holding ones breath is not an option. There are a few buildings around there and from one came out one man with his child on his colorful bicycle with safety wheels. Poor kid is also used to this unholy surroundings, and has to have his play time in it.

This was another world, where there were other worlds in it. Soon after the Friday Jummah prayers were over, the roads were a little barren, and suddenly a few kids appeared. Each about 3.5' tall, they were still wearing panjabis, suggesting they had been to the mosque a while ago. What they were doing there at the time, was another unholy thing. These puny human beings were mouthing each other off, with insults that involved their mothers. As one hurled one insult describing what he would do, the other came back with something more sinister. Those were the rules of the game I suppose, and for this surrounding it made no difference to its inhabitants, only to the alien who was visiting with his problems from another world.

Another excerpt from City of Joy:
[Voice of Musafir Prasad] 'I knew that to do my job properly, I needed a heart of stone like my boss. How else would I be able to claim the five- or six-rupee hiring fee from some poor sod whose carriage [rickshaw] hadn't budged from the spot. I knew that some days many of them would have to go without food to pay me. Poor fellows! How are you supposed to pull two clients and all their parcels or two fat women from one of the rich neighborhoods with nothing in our stomach? Every day pullers collapsed on the street. And each time some fellow couldn't get back on his feet, I had to look for a replacement. Thank God there was no shortage of candidates!

Posted on Saturday, July 13, 2013

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Jul 8, 2013

It must have been years since I bought Freedom at Midnight and City of Joy from one trip to Neelkhet's bountiful used-books mart. I finally picked up City of Joy, having lost my copy Freedom at Midnight recently while I was still halfway through it. City of Joy is fat book, the kind I am prone to avoid, but out of a sudden act of courage, I picked it up. If I don't survive the first few pages of a book, its a sign that there is no future there, and here I read over 20 pages in one go! Bravo!

The more I read the book, as the characters unfold, their fates unfold, I realize how after such a long time, after such drastic changes in my country (similar to India, once India, once Bengal), its almost like nothing has changed after all!

Check this:
But when the December wind blew down from the Himalayas and swept through the avenues, it was as cold as death on the pavements. From every direction there rose the same haunting noises. The sound of coughing fits, of throats being cleared, the whistle of spitting. The worst for Aloka was to have to 'sleep on the bare ground. You woke up in the morning with limbs as painful as if they'd been beaten. By some cruel stroke of irony, an advertisement on a hoarding seemed to flout them from the opposite pavement. It showed a maharajah sleeping snugly on a thick mattress. From his dreamland he inquired solicitously, 'Have you ever thought of a Simmons mattress as a present?'

I am a long way from finishing the book, but I feel like this book should be a part of school curriculum. We are growing up now with education, as if a brand of orange juice, has quality levels that depend on the parents' bank accounts. There are even English medium schools whereby you can graduate to own a very good grasp of English while having a very low level knowledge of your own mother tongue. Overall, education can have an effect that creates a distance between a person and the realities that plague the rest of the country. The age of globalization also showers us with images of lifestyle habits that may further exacerbate this.

The fate of a person who leaves his village out of necessity to find work as a rickshaw puller in urban Kolkata (then Calcutta) is easily transferable to our beloved Dhaka. Just see how many people are in that profession right now. To not be able to fathom what they, or those who sleep under the sky at Shahbagh, Karwan Bazaar and other places go through, cannot create a society where the marginalized would ever get anyone to empathize with them. Literature like this, would go a long way to nurturing that empathy.

Related:
Dominique Lapierre
Kathryn Spink (Who translated City of Joy)
City of Joy Aid
Simmons Mattress

Posted on Monday, July 08, 2013

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May 26, 2013

That's Joe Satriani on the left. Bless him! He is a great guitarist and entertainer, and has always said loudly how big an inspiration Jimi Hendrix is to him. Its also known to us how largely he has also inspired and taught a generation of guitarists (Remember Ayub Bacchu's tak? Yup, its a Joe thing)

Here, though our TV won't generally show Joe's videos or concerts, you can still hear a lot of his music, as background scores of our TV dramas!

This is however something that bothers me, since there are so many instances of this. It shows a large flaw about or entertainment industry. The lack of flow of money. These drama show producers  could've easily hired a musician to produce some original music, but when even the makers are in fear of if and when they'd be paid, there's little motivation to do so (unless freebied). Also, with international copyrights laws absent from the scenario, its easier to use something available to us from someone like Joe or Bach or Britney. Since laws are so slack, there is also the chance to use material from any local artist without citing credit or paying a paisa.

The local label owners scream and shout about copyrights and sometimes even manage to get some artists to join in the chorus, but the gist of that whole deal is that the artists are not in any part of that chain - receiving maybe as little as parts of the recording costs, to nothing. Especially, someone new. And then there's the visible lack of distribution of the music and promotions. One would wonder why they release the CD's in the first place! They must have figured out how to make some profit with the least bit of effort possible, since otherwise it wouldn't have happened.

There is also the type factor, behind the kind of attention an artist will receive. Watch Channel 16's Top Ten to see what that might mean. You'll hear 10 songs that almost sound the same. Habib, Hridoy Khan, and a few others started a trend in pop music and their slower numbers seemed to have influenced multiple acts into being and they are churning out some pretty bland lovey dovey pieces of crap that is available on TV and radio.

I am taking a liberty here claiming I know good music from bad, and businessmen don't, or don't care. They wouldn't have cared to support a certain kind of music if they didn't think it had a market and I guess I could hang up my gloves on that point. I have to come back with a 'But' jab, and say, they are not giving some musicians who are more creative, more unique, and more entertaining a chance by not promoting them after their CDs come out. Its just a lack of foresight. The lacking that stops labels from promoting a CD after having put it on the shelf of a store.

If the drama directors had a formidable budget, they could use local musician's work giving them their rightful dues and helping promote their music. I remember one drama starred members of the band Black, and featured them lip syncing the very famous song "Shay Je Boshe Achhey" from Arnob. That level of fame that song and Arnob reached was helped along by that spot on TV, and its still possible to find someone today who mistakes that as a song by Black.

Till we learn to cultivate and appreciate artists, its no use just putting their CDs on the shelves where the masses are unaware of what they sound like or what they represent.

Posted on Sunday, May 26, 2013

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May 19, 2013


How does a band go from creating an artful album like These Days to creating a drab song like It's My Life?






Posted on Sunday, May 19, 2013

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May 7, 2013

Finally, we see the government. Not in any way close to the way we want to see them. On the other hand, the points I fret upon last time, came out in an article today (more than a week later) in the Daily Star, titled Silver Linings Generation. The tone is a bit different, praising the youth for its contributions to the rescue effort. Some young groups are still active and taken on ways to contribute to the rehabilitation of the survivors and the families who has lost their sole bread winners. Some of these are
As for how we recently saw the government, it was in a shady tone of suspicious. They allowed a group to declare and carry on with a blockade of Dhaka city, and to hold a meeting and rally in the same day in the center of the old commercial area of Motijheel. They spent the whole day there doing their thing, one guy carrying a board with a message "Want an Atheist Free Bangladesh", and carried on till night time. Just after darkness fell, something somewhere went wrong, no one seems to know what exactly. Our media reported that apparently someone was trying to burn a car, when police tried to stop them, and then clashes broke out. Any party who is in opposition will tell you burning cars is a democratic right, so is the occasional death or deaths of random people on the street, but anyhow, hell did break loose. We saw on TV lots of fires, lots of stones being thrown, lots of gunshots. Now if you think we all know how it started and ended - there are two versions to that story. Its anyone's guess what those versions may sound like. But if you consider that Diganta TV was unplugged  (TV sympathetic to the Islamic cause) in the middle of the night, you were bound to see some channels interviewing Police personality with questions like - "Everyones in awe of how you guys handled this situation, how did you do it?" Meanwhile, Facebook and other social channels are flooding with pictures of dead protestors from the Hefazot-e Islam (Protectors of Islam, remember He-Man?) which definitely points towards more deaths than the uncensored papers and TV channels would admit to.

Now, with the way things are, the definition of "death from natural causes" have expanded almost, to include:
Road Accidents/Treatment Errors/Political Assassinations/Death at the hands of Extortionists with Political Clout/Others ... as you can see, we're pretty open about how we die, no hullabaloo required in the form of protests or actions. This was almost the case, but its noticeable that some are outraged by this recent thing, even though the real version of the story is still not verified. Either way, I hope we can agree one day on one point - our government is (governments are) shady.

I feel that most of our youth activism is holding parallel actions to the government, like the rescue of trapped workers, followed by rehabilitation. I can sense their lack of faith in the government, but I am still convinced that sooner than later, we should come together to point our fingers at Them, and demand they do their jobs properly.

Posted on Tuesday, May 07, 2013

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Apr 28, 2013

If the Savar collapse wasn't the prime opportunity for the sarkar to put some shine on their armor otherwise laden what what hit the fan, I don't know what is! However, my problem is I always think I am too smart for the sarkar, when I've been totally outrun by them my whole life.

I apologize for the title, since there is a matter other than the sarkar that is eating at my grays. Its our media. Its no secret that the news media, especially the TV news channels, get a chance to get more viewers in this case, but hey, we the people, appreciate getting a direct telecast of the gruesome events also, its information we crave. And of course, one has to notice the 'emotional journalism' that takes place often here (as opposed to passionate journalism, terms I've come up with), e.g. juxtaposing violin and cello music on top of slowed down footage of those suffering loss and pain.

But whats more troubling is the blind eye they all turned on the massive civil action (not a lawsuit) that is taking place to help this rescue operation. Anyone who turns on Facebook now sees the different groups and individuals who have been communicating back and forth between the Savar site and those who are on their toes to go out and give blood, buy supplies - anything from medicine, dry food, shrouds, torch lights to oxygen tanks. Not to forget, cash donations also. You can even see advertizing agencies lined up there among medical students and pharmaceutical companies and Walton -  a crazy and passionate mix of people there.

From day 1, there has been one noticeable party who has been slow to respond - Le Sorkar! (or is it La Sorkar?)

However, on Day 3, we hear from our Health Minister AFM Ruhal Haque, respond to the media's coverage:
“Last night, Ekattor Television in a talk show said there is scarcity of medicines. But we have stockpiles of drugs in Savar hospitals. We have supplied double the demand. I talked to them (doctors in Savar). No one says there is a dearth. We have enough blood, enough oxygen. We have deployed an agent of the government’s oxygen supplier. They are instructed to supply any amount.”
The minister assured that government would provide Bangladesh’s ‘best treatment’ to the injured ‘as long as they need.’  [BDNews24]
On Saturday, we also saw Tuku from the Home Ministry answer about government initiatives first with a rant on how the visit by Khaleda Zia (Opposition Leader) wasted 3 hours of rescue time, and then with a vague "we will tackle this with the help of the people". To which the reporter thanked him. Intense stuff!

Social media's role in overthrowing governments have been widely covered by media corporations before, but seeing them ignore these valiant efforts that are clearly taking place now in mitigating this catastrophic situation is beyond me. Then again, I am the lunatic.

Overpowering my skewed sense of justice, is of course a sadness, at the deaths, and also at those who are making it out alive without an arm or a leg, disabilities that might take away their livelihoods. That is still another issue that is being widely avoided at the mainstream media desks, and if you want to see what has been done, switch to your Facebook.

You could follow:
Red Blood
HelpSavarBuildingCollapseVictims
Iresh Zaker
1 Degree Initiative
Shanto

Related:
Story of one survivor: http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2013/apr/27/back-grave
(Some survivors have shown signs of psychological trauma and fought off the rescue workers)
Thoughtless? http://www.dhakatribune.com/editorial/2013/apr/28/think-things-through 

Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013

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Apr 25, 2013

Posted on Thursday, April 25, 2013

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Apr 6, 2013

On Mar 10, yours truly ranted on about how he thinks that people have forgotten the purpose of having a government, and how they seemed to have launched into the War Crimes Trial half cocked.

April 6, we're looking at a massive gathering of the Hefazat-i-Islam - the protectors of Islam at Motijheel, the older commercial center of Dhaka. When they announced it last week, they said it'd be to protest the blog posts that satired the life and character of Prophet Mohammad SA, the prophet of Islam. When the time came closer to their march of the 6th, they published 13 point demand that went beyond demanding punishment for the bloggers. The word 'punishment' there is listed as 'death sentence', and includes other things as demands to change the constitution to include a declaration of total faith and reliance on Allah and his messenger, and a stop to all development programs that are formulated around women or independence of women.

Again, the government seemed lost as to how to react to this one. To support or stymy?

Well, forget my analysis, this time, I'll share Prof. Ali Riaz's points from Prothom Alo's editorial of yesterday.

ধারণা করা হচ্ছে যে সরকার গোড়াতে জামায়াতে ইসলামীর বিপরীতে ইসলামপন্থীদের একটা আলাদা শক্তিকেন্দ্র তৈরিতে উৎসাহ জোগালেও হেফাজতে ইসলামের নাটকীয় উত্থান, তাদের আচরণ এবং তাতে জামায়াতে ইসলামীসহ বিরোধীদের লাভবান হওয়ার সম্ভাবনায় এখন শঙ্কিত।
 ---
একসময় নির্বাচনকালীন সরকারের কাঠামো অর্থাৎ তত্ত্বাবধায়ক সরকারব্যবস্থার দাবিই ছিল মুখ্য। এখন তাদের লক্ষ্য হচ্ছে সরকারের পতন ঘটানো। এই অবস্থা মোকাবিলায় সরকার যে শক্তি প্রয়োগের পথ বেছে নিয়েছিল, তার পরিণতি সরকারের জন্য ইতিবাচক বা অনুকূল হয়নি। সহিংসতা দমানোর জন্য শক্তি প্রয়োগের প্রয়োজনকে অস্বীকার না করেও বলা যায়, সরকার শক্তি প্রয়োগের ব্যাপারে যথাযথ ব্যাখ্যা প্রদানে সব সময়ই যে সফল হয়েছে, তা নয়। অনেক সময় সরকারি কর্মকর্তাদের, এমনকি স্বরাষ্ট্রমন্ত্রীর বক্তব্য ভিন্ন ব্যাখ্যার সুযোগ দিয়েছে।
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পুলিশ বাহিনীর সদস্যদের ওপরে উপর্যুপরি হামলা কেবল জামায়াত-শিবিরের কর্মীদের ভয়াবহ অমানবিক চেহারাই তুলে ধরেনি, নিরাপত্তা প্রদানে সরকারের ব্যর্থতাও প্রকাশ করেছে। সরকার সংখ্যালঘুদের ওপর হামলা মোকাবিলা করতে পারেনি, এখনো পারছে না। কোথাও কোথাও সরকার-সমর্থকেরা তাতে যুক্ত ছিলেন বলেও অভিযোগ রয়েছে।
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যুদ্ধাপরাধীদের বিচারের মতো এত বড় একটা বিষয় হাতে নিয়ে সরকার তার গুরুত্ব ও মাত্রা বুঝতে সক্ষম হয়নি বলেই এখন মনে হয়। কেননা, এ রকম একটা কাজের জন্য যে প্রাতিষ্ঠানিক কাঠামো তৈরি করা দরকার ছিল, যে ধরনের মানবসম্পদ বরাদ্দ করা দরকার ছিল, বিচার-প্রক্রিয়ার সমালোচনা এবং বিচারের বিরুদ্ধে প্রচারণা মোকাবিলায় যে ধরনের প্রস্তুতি ও কার্যক্রম দরকার ছিল, তার প্রায় কিছুই গত তিন বছরে লক্ষ করা যায়নি।
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বড় কাজের জন্য যে ধরনের শৃঙ্খলা দরকার, অন্য অনেক আশু স্বার্থ জলাঞ্জলি দেওয়ার প্রয়োজন, তা আওয়ামী লীগের নেতারা এবং সরকার দেখাতে পারেনি।
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২০০৬ সালে নির্বাচন সামনে রেখে আওয়ামী লীগ খেলাফত মজলিসের সঙ্গে যে চুক্তি করেছিল, তা হেফাজতের ১৩ দফা থেকে আকারে ছোট হলেও মর্মবস্তুর দিক থেকে ভিন্ন নয়, অনেক দাবি আসলে একই। এসব সত্ত্বেও গণজাগরণ মঞ্চের সমর্থকদের একাংশ যে আওয়ামী লীগের কাছ থেকেই আশা করেছে, তা-ও আমরা ভুলে যেতে পারি না। তাঁরাই এখন এই বলে এখন ক্ষোভ প্রকাশ করছেন যে ‘আগামী নির্বাচনে দেখা যাবে’। কিন্তু নির্বাচনের সময় যে সম্ভাব্য দুটো বিকল্প তাঁদের সামনে থাকবে, সেই দুই বিকল্পের মধ্যে কাকে তাঁরা বেছে নেবেন?

Now, its a little dangerous to have so many anti-govt. points on my blog, so to even the sentiments out a bit, I think both sides are playing with fire in terms of their (open or covert) collaborations and agreements with the fanatics we see gathered in the capital today. They've labeled this government as being Nastik, the bangla for Atheist, and representatives from BNP are sitting on that stage as these are being said. The two parties have always proved that their enmity is bigger than the good of the state and the citizens, and now at a most explosive time of our history, and on a larger scale than before.

(via The Daily Star, the actual 13 demands:)
  • Reinstate the phrase “Absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah” in the constitution as one of the fundamental principles of state policy.
  • Pass a law keeping a provision of capital punishment for maligning Allah, Islam and Prophet Muhammad and smear campaigns against Muslims.
  • Punish the “atheist” leaders of Shahbagh, bloggers and anti-Islamists who make “derogatory comments” about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
  • Stop killing, attacking and shooting Islamic scholars and madrasa students.
  • Free all the arrested Islamic scholars and madrasa students.
  • Lift restrictions on mosques and remove obstacles to holding religious programmes.
  • Declare Qadianis (Ahmadiyyas) non-Muslim and stop their publicity and conspiracies.
  • Ban all foreign culture including free mixing of men and women and candlelit vigil.
  • Stop setting up sculptures at intersections, colleges and universities across the country.
  • Make Islamic education mandatory from primary to higher secondary levels after scrapping women policy and education policy.
  • Stop threatening teachers and students of Qawmi madrasas, Islamic scholars, imams and khatibs.
  • Stop creating hatred against Muslims among young generation by misrepresentation of Islamic culture in the media.
  • Stop anti-Islam activities by NGOs, evil attempts by Qadianis and conversion by Christian missionaries at Chittagong Hill Tracts and elsewhere in the country.

Posted on Saturday, April 06, 2013

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Apr 1, 2013

I have heard it many times, why can't our parties practice democracy in their own administrations? Why do the parties keep hanging on to the same leadership of the two Queens? Haven't you?

The point we fail to grasp again and again, is that without them, the parties cannot picture themselves conducting the simplest of affairs without falling apart! There is a lack of respect among the members of each of our largest political parties. They literally begged these women to come and take the helm of their ships at a point when otherwise, infighting would've created so many holes that they wouldn't have enough hands or behinds to cover them and prevent sinking. After decades of having these women, who also uphold grande symbolism due to the family trees they bloomed out of, the rest of the party men and women still don't feel confident or adult enough to conduct their parties without these figureheads. They are so unused to thinking of the future that all their glories are rooted in the past, and you can see from the asinine comments they make in the media that they are much more conscious of what their leader will make of them than the voters and the taxpayers. Their faith is so deep, that they are also welcoming their Queens' fawns as their next leaders rather than have to deal with deciding on fresh leadership based on merit and experience. Dynasty, Dallas, what have you.

To make a long (horror) story short, our politicians are much like babies who need their mommies, and we're sort of behind a TV screen watching this badly written comedy (like Everybody Loves Raymond maybe) by producers who aren't worried about ratings at all, as long as their urges are met.

Image from bangladeshwatchdog.blogspot.com/ 

Others:
I do not believe in Democracy

Posted on Monday, April 01, 2013

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Mar 11, 2013

For a long time now, I've been theorizing that we've completely forgotten why we have a government. We've all gotten so used to paying our own way out of everything, that the 'government' is almost a group of entertainers who go on Sangsad TV and say the darnedest things. Accountability is a fairy tale creature, while Corruption is a way of life.

This freedom from responsibilities given to any Bangladesh government is too painfully clear at this stage of our lives in the backdrop of a few things - trials of war crimes/human rights violation of 1971, Awami League's indemnity due to being in power, the Shahbagh movement which is now called the 'Stage of Mass Awakening', and the violence we're witnessing across the country, especially outside Dhaka.

The way I, an ordinary working man and lunatic, see it, is that the war crimes trials would have taken massive planning to complete successfully. Especially, since if I am the party, then I've been lenient on criminals who work for me, and similarly, to war criminals who work for me, but I am happy to persecute the others. For success, in really wanting a successful rooting out of anti-liberation elements, I'd need to have either been fair to start with, or, planned way ahead using lots of intelligence gathering and precautions to avoid a violent situation, knowing very well that one particular opponent in the arena, have a knack for it just like me!

If I had security considerations, and knowing the violence-knacked-opponent, I also would not have allowed the Shahbagh to carry on, instead of using it to poke that violent beast and to put more ordinary people in harm's way.

BAL was never one to play down their 'party' identity even while holding the majority in parliament. Every hartal, we've seen their party members taking law into their own hands, right in front of the police. It is commonly alleged that the police is a force that was built largely using political leaning as a criteria. Even if it wasn't, they sure do let the BAL guys do what they want in front of them! In such times, when you hear the Queen mother ask us (the general people) to form 'defense committees' in every area, its everyone's guess that it would mean defense committeees comprising of these same BAL guys who have that knack. Whereas before,  I could say they were unlawful, now, its the Queen's calling!

The government has been given their rights by us the voters and taxpayers, and they usually have 'responsibilities' in most countries. Security in the wake of a 40 year late war crimes trial, combined with the criminals in question all being active in politics should've been of utmost importance. This should be counted in their tally of failures.

Note: The photo was the cover of a documentary titled My Architect, about Louis Isadore Kahn the architect. The film was created by his son.

Posted on Monday, March 11, 2013

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Mar 6, 2013

I hate it that I am inspired to write these long, meandering posts about politics, which lose meaning pretty quickly.

Posted on Wednesday, March 06, 2013

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Feb 13, 2013

Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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Feb 10, 2013


Posted on Sunday, February 10, 2013

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Feb 9, 2013

Our interesting times continue. What started small, has now taken a form as large as could've been seen in the past decade in Bangladesh. No people were brought over there by political cadres on trucks with promises of  cash and free meals. The call went out over the social channels - Facebook and blogs, and what happened is largely documented there and also on video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Photos are flooding the internet and the print media is also enjoying covering this.



Shahbagh Square, it is being called (and in some places "Projonmo Chottor" or "Generation Square"), deriving from Tehrir Square and how a massive amount of people gathered there in protest. But unlike the latter, this was not opposing the government. Not once in the 3 days.

Not once? Even though the tribunal was thought by many to be greatly politicized by the government? That could've been changed if just one of the slogans asking for the hanging of Kader Mollah would be replaced by the question - Why wasn't he given the death sentence? Why, when Abul Kalam Azad was!? (esp. since he went missing before he could be arrested) (Can also read: সময়ের প্রতিবিম্ব: ফাঁসি কেন হলো না, জানতে চাই)

The square is illustrated with colors and paintings and long signature sheets and they are all calling for one thing only - the death sentence for all of the traitors of the independence movement of 1971. It is worthy cause, since their actions of that time led to genocide and those tales make you shudder in horror. But even then, I was waiting slowly again to see one banner or read about one shout that acknowledged that current times are not rosy, or that this movement doesn't stop with the war crime trials and banning of Jamaat-e-Islami. Surely we need to rid of this stigma of having among us those who do not believe in the sovereignty and the future of Bangladesh. At many times during the day, I felt strong urges to rush out and join the crowd, and the next questioning, why would I just ask for this? Just this? Are they all happy with how things have been running then? Who am I asking justice from? This movement is placed in a manner where its easily hijacked by the government.  Even though major members of the government were not allowed, and no political banners were allowed in the gathering, the last day did see a big presence of the pro-BAL intellectuals. The government is  showering praises on this generation in parliament and discussing submitting an appeal to get the death sentence to replace life-long imprisonment. As one editorial opines, this event seems a definite win-win. Are we just after mob justice then? Since we aren't questioning the mild sentence, just asking for the killing of the criminal over what the courts passed as judgement?

The positive thing of this gathering is that its big, its spirit has spread beyond Dhaka. I suppose an anti-corruption, safe roads, or good roads (we really don't have good roads anywhere and thats why the newly built Hatirjheel was our recent love affair), or  or pro-democracy* gathering might not have seen such unity. And they seem to be taboo now that we have a mass gathering, which is kind of sad. On the other hand, if anyone thought this would go over as a mild political drama, they were wrong! I believe it shakes things up a bit, a little bit, while being safe and pro-government. I would still want to see people rise from the core to get above ALL things that are adverse in our public life and for being a civilized and progressive society.

As it says in the song:
আমাদের যেন সব ছুয়ে যায়


Meanwhile:
Padma Bridge levy on cards 
(Mobile phones, air tickets, land sales among a dozen items on provisional NBR list)
জাহাঙ্গীরনগর বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের ছাত্রলীগ: লজ্জা!

Posted on Saturday, February 09, 2013

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Feb 5, 2013

A roommate once cooked something, or recommended a movie, I forget, to which I replied:
"Interesting!"

She just gave me a smile that let me know that she knows I am being nice to avoid saying I didn't think it was good! When, I title this post as "Interesting Times" - it is totally in that context.

I was just reading an article titled Sweatshop Garments Drag All of Us Down, which starts off with a little story from 102 years ago in New York, USA:
The turning point in the United States was the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, when 146 garment workers — mostly women seamstresses — were burned to death when an exit gate was purposely locked.

The article describes the reaction that incident caused from a huge number of people that ultimately led to reforms in laws and ensuring better protection for workers. That is an important result that we should be learning from considering the fires that are continually claiming lives of workers here. The thing to realize, is that businesses will be businesses, with their eye on profits, and it falls on a government to make sure the rights of the general people which includes workers, are set and protected.

Issues like this are all around us now in Bangladesh, but its amazing that most of us are not aware of our rights and what we can expect from the government. Two highly revered economists a few weeks ago tried to tell us on a TV show that the 'growth' stats that the government throws in the face of its critics can take place very much in spite of them. My own feeling is that the government hasn't taken very many steps to ensure growth of new entrepreneurs and in fact, that they step in the way only to move aside for a price. In USA today, big businesses are very influential, but they also have a culture of startups and small businesses. Big businesses are after all, now taking their production off USA to countries where their cost of production will come down. Again, on this end, we are relying on a pressure created from abroad, rather than local, to ensure our workers have a safe and just workplace.

I am now writing this from home while a hartal is underway. Called by the Jamaat-e-Islami party, whose many "top" members are on trial for war crimes of 1971. But they have on their side a factor that helped ease them into mainstream Bangladesh, despite their past - religion. Religion, namely Islam, is the religion of the masses here and that remains the one thing that can create a visible reaction - unlike workers dying in factory fires, unlike students being tortured by police, unlike any other issue that should create a massive uproar. The YouTube ban is an example. Jamaat's religious base helped them get a big following across the country who upholds their religious identity more than their national or any other. That resulted in them being invited into alliances time and again when the elections came and numbers mattered. They are also known to command a good financial hold.

Just like religion trumps most social issues we should've cared about, the war crimes trial is in a similar way clouding our already clouded consciences from other things happening around us. War crimes included murder, rape, and destruction. Each of those are still carrying on in this independent country of ours. Whereas to me it seems like the last ticket the ruling government holds over this country's people for a second term in office is this war crimes trial, its also a maneuver in the overall game to foil the chances for their arch nemesis, BNP. Meanwhile, the ruling party cadres are instructed openly to take to the streets on hartal days to protect the 'people', whereas just weeks ago a young boy named Biswajit was brutally stabbed to death by these people-protectors on suspicion of being a Jamaat-e-Islami! There were heart wrenching photos of that in the papers, and accounts of how he begged for his life, and tried to make them aware that he was hindu. The irony is almost forgotten. Even the police stand by while these party people go on showing their weapons - batons, guns or swords. Either the people don't know how to speak up against these things, or these events don't register in the heads of people as being serious enough for any thought for a significant amount of time. Right now, we just naively sit home and hope for justice from the war crimes.

Posted on Tuesday, February 05, 2013

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Feb 4, 2013

They've been establishing a political culture for ages now, and the citizens have over the days just tried to stay out of trouble and live a happy life considering themselves to be outside the effects of the political world. They paid taxes, the necessary bribes to get public services, and enjoyed the occasional voting rights the system allowed them.

Meanwhile, slowly, we've been losing the intellectual capacity for 'opinions' and critical thought, further facilitating this political culture where there are strong talks of strengthening 'education' and 'zero tolerance' for corruption, whereas culturally we're harboring 'mediocrity' in every sphere.

It would fall on the media and the people to stay connected and oppose this culture as one, but sadly, none of them are that strong.

Posted on Monday, February 04, 2013

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Jan 29, 2013

The west is adamant that the east should have Democracy. Sure! I say, its a good ideology. Starts with "by the People, for the People... " and other goodness. However, what we get here instead, is worse than what the west ended up when theirs mixed with capitalism and corporate interests.



Since we failed to have education that leads to a moral society, rule of law, and a justice system, we ended up with "By the politician (and their friends), for the politicians (and their friends), ..." and so on. This latter phrasing of what is usually toted as the principle of democracy was however nicked from an editorial piece by Abul Moksud. You may (and should) read it here.

The watchdogs from the international arenas have problems with many things we do, except this new found implementation of Democracy.

Related:
No Faith in Democracy

Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2013

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Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2013

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Jan 9, 2013


.... .... ... Or so I am told. 
And the age old question, "What is love?"

Posted on Wednesday, January 09, 2013

2 comments

Jan 8, 2013

The world isn't fair to a lot of people. That may mean a person dies of an unexpected car accident, an unexpected heart attack could claim the life of a seemingly well-functioning health nut, one could lose his life savings at the hands of a close friend and eloping wife, or it could mean you are beaten and stabbed to death from a political case of mistaken identity, or you are gang raped in a bus that is circling the city you call home, to die in its arms a few days later.

Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2013

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Jan 2, 2013

eu·pho·ny

[yoo-fuh-nee]
noun, plural eu·pho·nies.
agreeableness of sound; pleasing effect to the ear, especially a pleasant sounding or harmonious combination or succession of words: the majestic euphony of Milton's poetry.
[Source: Dictionary.com]


I picked it up from a forum where I guess it was wrongfully used in place of 'epiphany'. The definition to be defines the effect of reading Edgar Allan Poe.

Posted on Wednesday, January 02, 2013

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