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    Volume 9 Issue 14| April 2, 2010|

  Cover Story
  Food for Thought
  Special Feature
  A Roman Column
  Star Diary
  Write to Mita
  Post Script

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Unliveable Dhaka

Some days ago, we all found out that Dhaka is the second worst city to live in. But I was very shocked that after hearing this distressing news, our government does not seem to be concerned at all. It seems that it is a simple matter and we all were waiting to achieve such a dubious distinction. But this declaration indicates that our quality of life is getting worse. We are lagging behind from all sides. So, we have to take immediate steps to make Dhaka habitable again. If we don't then our life will be hell. We can take steps by controlling population growth, raising awareness, developing infrastructure, following different rules, utilising resources, bringing proper management, encouraging tree plantation, saving our rivers, keeping our city clean, decentralising some government offices etc. There are so many things that can be done, but is there the will to do it?
Tahmina Akter
Department of Marketing
University of Dhaka

Turmoil in the Garments Sector

It cannot be overemphasised that the Ready Made Garments (RMG) sector has been playing a vital role in the vulnerable economy of our developing country, Bangladesh, over the last two decades. The RMG factories have faced stiff competition in the international market from the beginning. But cheap labour cost, good foreign relationship etc. have helped this sector to survive. Economic contraction in the world in the last two years has shaken this high-performing sector very much. As your cover story (March 19) pointed out, output gap is increasing in the RMG sector due to power shortage, uncertainty in transportation, steep interest rates, imposition of higher taxes etc. Employers sometimes try to exploit workers by depriving them of their wages, although this is not the norm. However, labour unrest creates a lot of negative publicity. So it must be said that this vital sector is facing a challenging time. Although government intervention in the RMG sector is a controversial matter in the era of open market economy, government initiative is always welcome. Our government should provide incentives to this vital economic sector both financially and technically like China, Vietnam, and India have done. Power shortage must be alleviated on a priority basis. Only then will our dream of becoming a middle-income country by 2021 be achieved.
Muhammad Anisul Islam
Depatment of Finance
University of Dhaka

The Ridiculous Debate Over VoIP

As Bangladeshis, we can't seem to stop talking about how we won freedom in 1971 but we don't look around us to see what this country is turning into. Why can't we achieve independence of thought and spirit? The long battle over so-called 'illegal' VoIP is a case in point. The whole issue of banning a beneficial technology is so fundamentally laughable. The government is worried about 'losing revenue' and for a long time this was the rationale for banning VoIP -- isn't that absolutely ridiculous? The governments of this country have a long history of having the tail wag the dog rather than vice versa. If there is a technology that will allow the common people to make cheap overseas calls, why should it be prohibited just to prop up some government corporation that is too cumbersome to remain competitive?

VoIP is an acronym for Voice Over Internet Protocol, or in more common terms, phone service over the Internet. VoIP is a revolutionary technology that has the potential to completely rework the world's phone systems. I think that banning VoIP services is unfair, we as consumers should have the right to use the Internet that we pay for in whatever way we choose. I believe it should be up to consumers, not regulatory authorities, to choose the winners and losers in the communications space. That is what happens in competitive markets. VoIP is the technology of the future, and the government should embrace it, rather than restrict it. The question must be asked: is it fair competition that potentially better services for customers should be banned to protect certain businesses?

In no other country have I known VoIP to be illegal. I mean, my friends overseas use skype to call me, and software like net2phone is easily available. While the government is busy changing names of different places in memory of the nation's father, the common people are suffering from frequent power cuts, disrupted telephone lines and slow internet speeds. Digital Bangladesh indeed!
Riyadh Al Nur
Buet, Dhaka


Brick Fields

Every day on my way to my work I am struck by the sight of numerous brick kilns on both sides of Dhaka-Tangail highway near Konabari, Gazipur. Sky-high chimneys emit a large amount of smoke almost blotting out the blue sky and polluting the air of this area drastically. People living around this area are suffering greatly because of unstoppable environmental pollution. Moreover, outmoded vehicles used for carrying bricks, sand and soil from one place to another contribute heavily to air pollution as they also produce huge amount of smoke. The land grabbers have encroached upon the vast cultivable land area in both legal and illegal ways. There is no sign of cultivation of food crops. The brickfield owners have filled up the rivers and rivulets flowing over this land and the authorities pay little heed to these encroachments. We can only hope that this important issue will come to the notice of the authorities.
Muhammad Abu Hanif
Chandra, Kaliakoir, Gazipur


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