Planet Bangla

April 11, 2008

Bangladesh News

Dozens injured in Bangladesh protest of women's rights policy

"It's unacceptable that some groups are trying to make it a point"

DHAKA, Bangladesh : Dozens of hard-line Muslims were injured in Bangladesh on Friday in clashes with police during a demonstration against a new policy advocating more rights for women, a police official said. via International Herald Tribune

April 11, 2008 08:15 PM

Sepai Mutiny

In Defense of Pakistan's Hindus

Ali Eteraz has an informative column on Comment is Free about discrimination against Pakistan’s 3 million Hindus. The immediate inspiration is a recent lynching of a Hindu factory worker in Karachi, after it is alleged that he uttered blasphemous words about Islam and the Prophet Muhammed. The family of the man who was murdered have suggested that he may have been killed for other reasons, and his co-workers have merely invoked blasphemy as a convenient ruse for a murder committed for more prosaic reasons. It is unclear whether his killers will be prosecuted, though there does appear to be some ...

April 11, 2008 04:09 PM

Bangladesh News

Scores hurt as Bangladesh Islamists battle police

"All roads around the Baitul Mokarram mosque were filled with white robed Muslim devotees since before noon despite strong presence of police"

Reuters Posted online: Friday , April 11, 2008 at 1457 hrs IST Dhaka, April 11: Hundreds of members of a group campaigning for Islamic rule in Bangladesh clashed with police on Friday over a plan to give women ... via Express India

April 11, 2008 03:32 PM

Sepai Mutiny

"Satyagraha," by Phillip Glass, at the Met Opera House

The New York Times has a behind-the-scenes look at a new version of Phillip Glass’s modernist opera, “Satyagraha,” which is playing at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York until May 1. There is also a companion video piece, which I could watch but not listen to from the computer I’m working on this morning. The libretto uses the Bhagavad-Gita as a source, and the opera as a whole aims to index some of the key events in Gandhi’s early political awakening in South Africa with the plot and text of the Gita. That alone might be a little confusing, ...

April 11, 2008 03:19 PM

Bangladesh News

Court rejects Khaleda's petition on talks with election commission

"As the appeal was rejected, the breakaway faction is now legally validated as the mainstream BNP legally"

DHAKA * A Bangladesh court dismissed yesterday an appeal by former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia to stop a breakaway group from representing her party in key talks with the election commission, lawyers said. via The Peninsula

April 11, 2008 10:57 AM

Food crisis has no link with govt: CA

"The main objective of the government is to supply as much rice as possible through VGF, VGD, and Kabikha programmes in rural areas and through OMS in urban areas before the arrival of Boro."

DHAKA: Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed yesterday said the question of political or non-political government has nothing to do with the current food situation in the country as temporary food shortages were seen ... via South Asian Media Net

April 11, 2008 06:06 AM

Munawar Hafiz

Inversion of Control

Blogs are rubbish. They iconify the first sign of degeneration of society. Here are two reasons,

a) Tainted information. Blogs are personal points of view. But who wants to know about my view? And who can trust that my views are sane?

People, with their blogs, have a medium to disseminate all sorts of garbage.  Have the readers ever thought why they are reading a view of a person, whom they never knew before and know even little now (see second reason)? This phenomenon is best described by George in the Seinfeld TV series. To a question as to why do people see all the crappy shows on TV, his answer is witty and sharp (very unlike George), "Because it's on TV". Are people reading all the garbage just because they are there on the Internet?   

Seriously, how frequently can an above average human being think about something interesting and innovative? Say one innovative thought a month. Then all the blogs produced in between are roughly bogus, they are just to keep the blogger visible.

This democratization of information is sickening because it is undermining scholarly activity. Stephen Colbert coined a term 'Wikiality', the reality created by editors of Wikipedia. At any point of time, a Wikipedia article may be garbage, full of bias of the jerk who edited it.

b) Fake portrayal. The second consequence of the democratization of information is more serious. Blogs enable people to paint their own reality. People cannot but fake in their blogs because the information is public and the bloggers reputation is at stake. If everything written in the blogs were real, we would have seen a horde of good guys around us, because all of us paint ourselves as sensitive, compassionate, godly human beings. In reality, aren't we all just hypocrites?

Finally, here's my point. Blogs could be and should be used differently. The social forum brings new opportunities of innovation, but not through over-productive/self-advertising impulses of human beings exemplified by their blogs. Blogs should be like discussion pools, where people can join an ongoing debate (hence the inversion of control). Conversational approach has always been preferred over a monotonous monologue as a more effective way of creating knowledge. Why are we suddenly denying this?

Note. A new paradigm of social engineering based on conversational approach ?? May be.

Note2. Let me give an example. Suppose there is a debating forum where people are talking about crisis in the US economy. People can bring in their comments/viewpoints. The centralized discussion forum will have more eyeballs, satisfying the ego of the commentators. But people will also have to revise their comments, because they can make a fool of themselves.  This does not contradict democratization of information, it only cleans the garbage. On the other hand, it will be easier for readers to get concrete information because the information in the forum is debated and tested. Finally, the information should be presented like a wiki, but not like Wikipedia, which hides history. Because every viewpoint is equally important, each should be represented as is.

April 11, 2008 05:21 AM

Sepai Mutiny

I went to Pakistan with my roommate

Barack Obama dropped a “bombshell” today, something not mentioned in either of his two books: According to his campaign staff, Mr. Obama visited Pakistan in 1981, on the way back from Indonesia, where his mother and half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, were living. He spent “about three weeks” there, Mr. Obama’s press secretary, Bill Burton, said, staying in Karachi with the family of a college friend, Mohammed Hasan Chandoo, but also traveling to Hyderabad, in India. [Link] Whoa. He went to Karachi and probably had Hyderabadi biryani on the same college trip over 25 years ago! If he is elected President might ...

April 11, 2008 03:13 AM

Don’t let your desi mom read this post

Especially if you are a smart, attractive, single desi woman. Seriously. This isn’t about desi women in particular but you’ll see how this information could be used for evil especially by desi parents. I know some of you forward posts to your parents but don’t do it with this one. You’ve been warned. NSFP=Not Safe for Parents. Ok, now that I’ve cleared my conscience let’s get to the article at hand shall we? recently published, The Eligible-Bachelor Paradox, which makes use of game theory to explain why the best women often end up single and alone if they wait ...

April 11, 2008 02:46 AM

Bangladesh News

UZ polls not after national election

"The upazila elections won''t be held after national elections. When time will come, you''ll see whether the elections will be held before the national elections or simultaneously"

Election Commissioner Brig Gen M Sakhawat Hussain Saturday said Upazila Parishad elections would not be held after national polls anyway. via News from Bangladesh

April 11, 2008 01:38 AM

April 10, 2008

Bangladesh News

Essentials get costlier

The wholesale price of rice slumped for the third consecutive day, without making any impact on retail markets in the capital as of yesterday. via The Daily Star

April 10, 2008 08:42 PM

Britain, Bangladesh to step up anti-terror campaign

Dhaka, April 10 : Britain and Bangladesh agreed in principle to step up joint action against suspected terrorists, officials said Thursday. via

April 10, 2008 03:33 PM

Khepa Baul

MATERIALITIES OF DEMOCRACY, Transnational Sociology Workshop

I will be presenting at the upcoming transnational workshop. Timothy Mitchell, a prominent social theorist and political scientist will be the keynote.

The 9th Transnational Sociology Workshop
April 12, 2008

Room 22 Education Building

9:00 Reception (Breakfast buffet and coffee)
9:30 Keynote by Professor Timothy Mitchell: "Carbon Democracy"
10:45 Coffee break

11:00 Technologies of Colonialism

Jamie McGowan (UIUC, Geography)
"Interpreting Conventional Signs & Imperial Designs: The Surveying and Mapping
of Colonial Ghana, 1874-1932"

Cheng-Heng Chang (UIUC, Sociology)
"Cultivating Hokkaidō: Environment, Modernity and Japan's Colonial Regime"

Discussant: Prof. Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi (UIUC, Sociology)

12:30 Lunch and coffee
1:30 Technologies of Justice

Sharif Islam (UIUC, Sociology)
"Problematizing Information and Communication Technology as Progress:
Assessing the Wider Social and Political Role of Free and Open Source

Chandler Armstrong (UIUC, Sociology)
"Development with Appropriate Technology in the Information Age"

Discussant: Prof. Rayvon Fouché (UIUC, History)

3:15 Coffee and snack break

3:30 Transnational Metabolisms

Dan Lord (UIUC, Sociology)
"Building a Global Energy System: Remembering the Nineteenth-Century
"Origins" of Oil Capitalism"

Prof. Zsuzsa Gille (UIUC, Sociology)
"Materialities of State Socialism and Postsocialism"

Discussant: Prof. Diana Mincyte (UIUC, Advertising)

5:15 Break

5:30 Concluding Remarks by Professor Timothy Mitchell

Papers will be available on the Sociology Department's wepbage:

April 10, 2008 02:04 PM

Sepai Mutiny

Here's to Closer Ties Between India and Africa

Representatives from 14 African nations were in New Delhi for the first-ever India-Africa summit, which just ended today. (The India-Africa Summit follows closely on the heels of the China-Africa summit of November 2006.) Attendees signed off on the Delhi Declaration and the Africa-India Framework for Cooperation, pledging cooperation in the areas of energy, terrorism, climate change and UN Reforms. An informal and equally important outcome: India is looking to play a far more prominent role in Africa’s economic development than China in coming years. My uncle Gobind is a retired World Bank developmental economist who has served as economic adviser ...

April 10, 2008 12:18 PM

DesiLit Daily Weblog

Review of Sidhwa's 'An American Brat'

It still surprises me when an experienced, acclaimed author produces such a mediocre novel.

And ‘mediocre’ would be a generous estimation of Sidhwa’s An American Brat. The protagonist is Feroza, a 18-year-old Parsee from Lahore. Her mother, fearing Feroza is becoming too timid in her surroundings, sends her to America for 3 months, under the care of her uncle, studying at M.I.T. Feroza’s experiences and encounters form the main plot line of the novel.

April 10, 2008 11:08 AM

Bangladesh News

Malaysian gunmen snatch $1-million in airport heist

"This case is isolated and the public should not perceive the airport as an unsafe location"

In Wednesday's drama, the gunmen ambushed two moneychangers and their two armed guards at the busy departure hall of the airport before opening gunfire and grabbing a bag containing the money. via The Globe and Mail

April 10, 2008 11:02 AM

The 3rd World View

Bangladesh: Hidden Hunger

First published in Global Voices:

Unheard Voices Blog quotes UNDP which hit the panic button for Bangladesh last month:

Skyrocketing oil prices have driven up the cost of food worldwide, but their impact has been particularly dire in Bangladesh, where almost half of the 145 million people live on less than one dollar a day.
For those who do not know, the staple food of Bangladesh is rice and the price of this commodity has almost doubled than what it was about a year and a half ago. And the poor in this populous country have been hardest hit.

WFP has warned:
The rising prices of food items, especially rice, may cause political instability in the country since poorer households spend up to 80 percent of their income on food.
Himu quotes a newspaper article which shows how many poor Bangladeshis even the middle class are barely making ends meet. The people are not well and you can hear their plights and anger echoing in blogs, media everywhere.Rumi Ahmed of In the Middle of Nowhere Blog questions about famine in his post "is it here". Posting photo of a skinny man who is presumably a drug addict he writes:
“The vulnerable groups are usually the homeless, the poorest of the poor of the society. And among them the first to fall through the safety net are the mentally-physically disabled persons, drug addicts, the elderly and the children. It has been many years I last saw a skeleton image of a Bangladeshi citizen.

News reports of hunger death started appearing scattered in our print media. This report [bn] confirms several hunger deaths. ”
Even the Ministry of Food and Disaster Management confirmed that no famine but a hidden hunger persists in the country.

Meanwhile Bangladesh's military chief’s remark encouraging eating potato instead of rice got bloggers reacting strongly. Shafiur has even posted recipes of mashed potatoes in response to his remark.

The reasons for this impending disaster are manifold. Bangladesh had a bad year in natural disaster in 2007. With a prolonged flood and the devastation of cyclone Sidr left its own rice production much lower than usual. There is a new government which did not have the experience in predicting the shortage and piling up sufficient stock although they were warned. Now the shortage in supply is effecting more on price. The government controlled food distribution centers were abolished some years ago with the pressure of World Bank and IMF. Now with no such wide scale distribution arm the government is not being able to keep the prices down with a small number of rationing booths.

Subinoy Mustofi, an blogger and an economist by profession describes [bn] why the price of rice has raised so much in his post in Bangla Blog Na Bola Kotha.
* Recent natural disasters in major rice producing countries hampered production
* The rice growing fields have decreased
* More demands from developing nations like India and China
So more demand and short supply have raised the price in the world market to a twenty years high.

Because of the rising price major rice producing countries like Vietnam, Egypt and India has decreased export and concentrated on keeping price in grip in domestic market. Neighboring India which is the largest suppliers of rice to Bangladesh set an import price of 1200USD per ton, a price almost three times high than 6 months ago. Moreover the food reserves all over the world is all time low.

Jyoti claims in Unheard Voices:
The chart below shows that taka depreciated by around 20 paisa against the (Indian) rupee since the beginning of 2007.

Taka depreciation

In addition to the global factors (see here) and the natural disasters, this depreciation alone could have sent our food market into a frenzy.
Subinoy Mustofi also shows [bn] that because of inflation the purchasing power (real income) of the poor in Bangladesh has gone down 5% although there is an overall GDP growth of 5%.

The situation is likely to persist in the near future. A Financial Times article on the March 28, 2008 reveals:
Rice prices jumped 30 per cent to an all-time high on Thursday, raising fears of fresh outbreaks of social unrest across Asia where the grain is a staple food for more than 2.5bn people.
Now the question is how to tackle the situation. Famous writer Anisul Haque quotes Indian noble laureate Amarta Sen in Bangla Blog Na Bola Kotha:
Famines are easy to prevent if there is a serious effort to do so, and a democratic government, facing elections and criticisms from opposition parties and independent newspapers, cannot help but make such an effort.
In a recent BBC debate (in Bangla) among politicians and general people the participants have echoed this and commented that Bangladesh needs to be back in the road of democracy really quickly.

An ordinary citizen reports that the government is introducing widespread employment opportunity for the poor people – a 10 million Taka project till April to enable the poor to have the purchasing power matching the price hike.

The Government hopes that a bumper Boro crop awaits and will be in market by end of this month to ease rice prices down. This news and the recent imports of rice from India at government level has apparently caused the price rises to cease but people fear will that be enough to minimize the hidden hunger?

April 10, 2008 08:16 AM

Bangladesh News

Indo-Bangla $550m steel MoU inked

"We signed the MoU at Delhi in February this year and we expect the ground breaking ceremony after signing the final joint venture agreement with the group"

DHAKA: A consortium of four steel companies S Alam, PHP, KDS and Abul Khair has signed a memorandum of understanding with India's $2.2 billion Essar Group to set up the country's first hot-rolled steel plant. via South Asian Media Net

April 10, 2008 03:57 AM

Munawar Hafiz

Glimpse of Hope

Bangladesh is a poor country that comes into limelight for all the wrong reasons. But today, at the ACM ICPC world finals, the team from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology ranked 31st. Another Bangladeshi team from East West University got honorable mention.

Bangladeshi team did better than all the teams from the subcontinent, which include teams from India (different IITs) and Pakistan. Also it ranked the same with CMU and Caltech and did better than many heavyweight US universities (including UIUC, Cornell, GATech, UT Austin, UW Madison and Brown).

The team was facing difficulties not long ago to raise money to come to Canada for the competition. In the end, the problem got resolved. Like I said, we come in the news for all the wrong reasons. But as long as we continue producing these brilliant souls, we will hope to overcome our difficulties.

Note. 6,700 teams from 1,821 universities in 83 countries took part in the preliminary round. 100 teams advanced to the World Finals.

April 10, 2008 03:27 AM

April 09, 2008

Bangladesh News

Bangladesh street kids turn bankers

"Often they spoil the money earned through hard labour by taking drugs or watching movies. Our bank keeps it safe for their future"

DHAKA: Mohammad Raju ran away from his poor family in Bangladesh's southern Khulna district eight years ago, hoping for a better life in Dhaka. via The Times of India

April 09, 2008 10:57 PM


Thoughts on food prices

According to recent news reports, perhaps a sliver of relief is on the way for the price of rice. Apparently there is a bumper boro crop this year (see here. This, plus the expected arrival of imported rice, has apparently caused the price rises to cease, at least for now (see here). [...]

April 09, 2008 08:00 PM

Sepai Mutiny

Amit Singh Sits Down With the Mutiny

Election 08: The Mutiny Inquires and the Candidates Respond. Well, one of them anyway . Last month, we profiled Amit Singh who’s running for a congressional seat representing Virginia’s 8th district. To get there, he’s first fighting for the GOP nomination against Mark Ellmore on June 10th. The winner of that race will in turn do battle against long serving Democratic incumbent, Jim Moran in November. Amit recently (and quite graciously) took some time out of his busy campaign and day job to answer some questions via email. The Q&A; is below the fold and spans the gamut from his ...

April 09, 2008 07:59 PM

Bangladesh News

Petrobangla okays Cairn proposal for more gas exploration in Bay

"We have approved the Cairn's plan to conduct 3D seismic survey there. However, the company will require approval on the detailed programme and budget for the survey"

BUSINESS REPORT The state-run Bangladesh Oil, Gas, and Mineral Corporation or Petrobangla has approved a proposal by the British oil and gas giant Cairn Energy Plc for further exploration activities in Magnama ... via The New Nation

April 09, 2008 05:42 PM

Three-year pact for Dhaka-Kolkata train

From correspondents in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 03:30 PM IST Reviving a communication link snapped more than 40 years ago, Bangladesh and India will resume the Dhaka-Kolkata train service under a three year agreement ... via India eNews

April 09, 2008 12:58 PM

The 3rd World View

Panic alarm

At first there were reports that a Bangladeshi plane was hijacked and made an emergency landing in Thailand. But later it was revealed that it was an apple pealing passenger with a fruit knife which has caused all this. The fellow passengers did not have any idea what was going on.

April 09, 2008 08:29 AM

Bangladesh News

Bangladesh Cabinet okays Dhaka-Kolkata train service

DHAKA: Bangladesh and India are set to sign here on Tuesday a supplementary deal on the commissioning of the trans-national passenger train service between the two countries on April 14 as the Cabinet approved ... via The News

April 09, 2008 08:01 AM

April 08, 2008

Bangladesh News

BCL protests Iajuddin's presence

"Till date some students of the university are facing police harassment in that connection. Also the country had fallen into its present political crisis due to Iajuddin's inefficiency last year."

DHAKA: Bangladesh Chhatra League , the student wing of Awami League, yesterday staged a demonstration on Dhaka University campus protesting President Prof Iajuddin Ahmed's presence at the 44th convocation of ... via South Asian Media Net

April 08, 2008 11:42 PM

Sepai Mutiny

Get up, Stand up TONIGHT in SF

I heart our readers. I do: Anna, Hi I live in SF, and was planning on attending the rally tomorrow voicing concerns around China’s various human rights abuses. I believe you live in SF? In any case are you aware of a Mutineer Team gathering to protest tomorrow? Dear Mutineer, I actually live in Washington, D.C. (that’s why Chocolate City gets all the meetups), but you aren’t the only one who thought otherwise; I frequently receive emails, FB messages, and tweets from people who think I still live in Baghdad by the bay. :) Since I am 3,ooo miles away ...

April 08, 2008 10:38 PM

What Microloans Miss... and then some

James Suroweiki of “Wisdom of the Crowds” fame has a piece that tries to reality check the current enthusiasm for micro-loans. Mohammed Yunus. Good vibes. Suroweiki clearly agrees that loans are a Good Thing by nearly any measure, BUT their ability to solve problems of the scale required in India is doubtful - There’s no doubt that microfinance does a tremendous amount of good, yet there are also real limits to what it can accomplish. Microloans make poor borrowers better off. But, on their own, they often don’t do much to make poor countries richer. This isn’t because microloans don’t ...

April 08, 2008 05:06 PM

Bangladesh News

Formation of NSC favoured

CHITTAGONG: Academics, leaders of different professional and political organisations, diplomats, security analysts and journalists at a roundtable discussion here on Monday strongly favoured formation of a ... via South Asian Media Net

April 08, 2008 03:25 PM