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 - 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 - 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.

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.

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.

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

Posted on Tuesday, September 03, 2013

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