Last week the Star's cover story was an interesting read. The debate surrounding whether blog content is private or public was informative. People not familiar with this new phenomenon of expressing opinions and presenting oneself in a virtual public space should acquaint themselves with these ideas. But I wonder whether a comment on a social networking site should be considered public the same way a comment in a blog is considered. For example, anyone can follow my twitter account and see whatever I post there. Does that imply that I have to be more careful about what I tweet or just change my privacy settings instead? I wish the story had focused more on the people using social networking sites rather than expert opinions so that ordinary users could resolve their dilemmas by relating to the complexities pointed out in the story.
Economy at Jeopardy
Refayet Ullah Mirdha's piece “Be More Amicable” last Friday gives us a good understanding of the importance of maintaining warm bilateral relationships, especially with the US. Regrettably, our economy's growth has been spiralling downwards due to frequent hartal and blockade programmes. Despite the global recession a few years ago, Bangladesh has maintained steady GDP growth rate around 6 percent. Many say it was possible due to the hard-earned remittance sent by our expatriates and that the readymade garment industry should also be given credit. But it should be alarming for us that the IMF has recently warned Bangladesh of not attaining its projected GDP if our political unrest continues. Business leaders have requested the two major political parties to have dialogues for a resolution but it seems the politicians are totally careless about the warnings that our economy may incur grave damage. We earnestly hope good sense prevails and our political parties spare our economy of confrontational politics.
Lungi on Trial
What an outrageous and idiotic decision taken by the association of Baridhara home owners! It was a real shame for them to have dictated the rickshawalas what to wear and what not to wear. Lungi, for years, has been a symbol of our culture. The most outrageous thing was that a cross-section of people termed it an 'indecent dress'. It seems they were teaching the workers and rickshaw pullers the sense of decency. When the elite moves in their locality wearing western outfits and shorts, the rickshaw pullers would have no right to brand them as 'indecent people' even if it may seem appropriate to them. Instead, these people should realise that forcing the rickshawalas to wear pants, trousers and three-quarters was a perfect example of 'indecency'.
Here's what the renowned poet Kaiser Haq wrote in his poem “Ode to the Lungi” –
the lungi is a complete wardrobe for anyone interested:
an emblem of egalitarianism,
symbol of global left-outs”
“How far we are from
this democratic ideal!
And how hypocritical!
“All clothes have equal rights”–
this nobody will deny
and yet, some obviously
are more equal than others”
No Corpse, No Compensation, No Justice
The cover story on 5th April tells the plight of people like Rokeya Begum who suffered in the Tazreen tragedy last November. It is heartbreaking to admit that more families are still in a delirious state for losing their beloved ones. They stand the trial of reality with a heavy heart when DNA tests fail to identify their deceased relatives as some bodies might have become entirely incinerated leaving no substantial clue. The aftermath of the incident should be a stern reminder for the RMG industry that the workers' lives are the first priority. The government must ensure that the factories have proper fire exits and firefighting equipments installed so that incidents like this don't recur.
The Blogging Problem
I want to thank the Star magazine for coming up with an innovative cover story. It was a bit theoretical while making complex points but there are blurry areas regarding blogs that we need to understand clearly before making comments. From that point of view, the story captures the Byzantine complexity surrounding the new phenomenon of blogging. We also have to bear in mind that we expect more people to have access to the digital world in near future and it may become extremely challenging for the ICT policymakers to deal with certain cybercrimes if they don't address the issues and formulate policies speedily from now on.