• Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Op-Ed

Editorial

  • Editorial

    A new turn in Indo-US relationship

    Obama visit, an impetus to sustainable partnership

    THIS was  for the first time that a US President visited India twice  during  his incumbency and two summits were held between the  heads of government  in four months  of each other. These 'firsts'  coupled with another maiden gesture of  having  US President  as the chief guest at the Indian Republic Day celebrations clearly underlined the  current level of importance Washington and New Delhi attach to  their relationship. What transpired from the second summit between Obama and Modi  transcended  beyond symbolism, what with the latter's glamorous trip to Washington earlier on and their chemistry gelling. The present outcome has been a concrete follow-up on the commitments made in the first  summit. In order to  take Indo-US strategic partnership to the next higher stage  a robust political will has  come into play to  move forward in terms of cooperation in economic, defence, nuclear energy and climate change spheres. Both the leaders have come to realize that their values, interests and needs are converging, even mutually complementary. America has the biggest Indian Diasprora who are making the host as well as  their country of origin stronger. Job creation in the USA is dependent on expansion  of trade. Little wonder, Washington...

Opinion

KNOT SO TRUE

Unless we stop…

“She stayed for 8 minutes!” “No, she stayed for 3!” “They thanked her for her almost-a-visit!” “No, they did not!” While we are incessantly discussing about failure of courtesies and indulging on how many minutes our Prime Minister stood near the gate of the Mrs. Zia's office while digging out past instances of who visited who when someone had died at some point, the rest of the world is moving on. The 'rest' includes our next-door neighbour, India, which has just celebrated its...

Modi-Obama bonhomie in Delhi

Modi-Obama bonhomie in Delhi

President Barack Obama was in Delhi between 27 and 27 January. He was the first US President to be the Chief Guest at India's Republic Day parade. Obama is also the first US President to visit India twice while in office. Republic Day parade is a colourful pageant held in Delhi from the...

Environment: At the mercy of the policy makers

At every opportunity, the leadership of Bangladesh reminds the industrial nations that global climate change is pushing the country towards a grim, uncertain future. Yet, the government staunchly defends not only the construction of the coal-fired Rampal Power Plant near the Sundarbans, it also gave green signal to commercial vessels to ply the Shela River flowing through the forest despite the recent environment-threatening oil spill and recommendation by UN experts to declare the river an out-of-bounds area. And the recent...

STRAIGHT LINE

The depravity and desperation

DISCERNING observers would agree that we are passing through excruciating times, ravages of which will surely have deep repercussions on our society for long. Responsible people dressed in formal authority are imploring for extreme actions, being oblivious of the deadly consequences. Some are pleading for summary actions beyond the ambit of law. All these are happening in the name of protecting the citizens of the republic whose miseries continue to multiply with each passing day. The much talked about issuance...

POLITICS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

GOBESHONA

CLIMATE change is a major problem that both Bangladesh and the rest of the world will have to face for many decades to come. It is based on knowledge from the scientific community both about the problem as well as the solutions to those problems. At the global level the collection and assessment of knowledge is very well organised under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  which produces periodic assessment reports on the state of knowledge from the...

Replacing fossil fuel based electricity?

BANGLADESH targets 10% electricity generation from renewable sources within 2021. To attain this target various fiscal and policy support initiatives have been offered. In 2003 the target was put forward by the government to install 50,000 solar home systems (SHS) within 5 years but the target was attained within 3 years. Already 3.5 million SHS have been installed in the country. Approximately 65,000 SHS were installed in the country every month. Alongside the remote hilly settlements and the isolated...

Loader

Letters

Letter To The Editor

No more killing please

We have never countenanced the way Sheikh Hasina came to power, that is, through uncontested elections; but it was also imprudent of Khaleda Zia to remain intransigent to her demands, one being election under CTG. And now the blockade programme to unseat Hasina's government is continuing. The BNP leaders are saying that blockade is a peaceful programme, then why are people falling victims to arson attacks? The death toll is rising every day. Why doesn't the BNP chief ask...

Letter To The Editor

Bring back peace and harmony

Bangladesh is one of the countries in the world where Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and people of other religions live peacefully. People of different opinions and different political affiliations have been living in this country peacefully, but now fear has gripped us. My husband has been working in Dhaka for many years. He used to come to Rajshahi on weekends. But he has not visited us for the last couple of weeks because of the political unrest. We always...

Letter To The Editor

Best wishes to Tigers

Best wishes to Tigers

Last year, our team had a torrid time on the field. Some might say we were unlucky and some might have other opinion. However, I would like to wish our national team every success on this very challenging mission. The bouncy wickets are going to be a challenge for them. However, they have...

Comments on news report

“Only if the two wish,” published on January 24, 2015 Saleh Tanveer Our people need to get out of the feudal mentality where legitimacy to power is only through family connections to late icons, never mind how ill-suited they are to be leaders. The idea that people will accept them and them only as legitimate leaders has stunted the political development of the country. The two major parties have been enslaved at the whims of these two ladies. Rey 619 Is democracy for...

Letter To The Editor

Published Date: January 27, 2015
So much for coming to power!

On one hand the BNP is talking about 'free and fair' elections to uphold democracy and on the other it has held the country hostage with its continuous hartal and blockade programmes. Hundreds of people have been burnt and at least 30 people have died so far. It is simply unacceptable that children, who are supposed to be our future leaders, cannot even go to school. Important examinations are being cancelled. Despite being aware of people's sufferings, the opposition...

Letter To The Editor

Published Date: January 27, 2015
Punishment of perpetrators

In going through your editorial of January 23rd about the punishment for "alleged perpetrators", I have noted what you say about how there should be due process of law in dealing with them. This does not address what should be done to prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place. It's all very well to "carry out thorough and impartial investigations" into these incidents. A glance at your newspaper's coverage in recent days will show the dreadful horrors...

Letter To The Editor

Published Date: January 27, 2015
As the nation burns…

As the nation burns…

Inhuman acts of arson and rampage upon passenger vehicles have taken a heavy toll of innocent lives since early January. In the name of so-called political movement, some quarters are currently out to destabilise democracy and unleash a reign of terror across Bangladesh. Innocent children, youth, men and women of every class and profession...

Published Date: January 27, 2015
Comments on news report

“Question over commitment,” published on January 23, 2015 S.M. Iftekhar Ahmed Having no rule about how many times an individual can become prime minister it has become a game of musical chairs as to which of the two ladies will come to power. Unfortunately, no steps have been taken to rectify this grave flaw in the system to prevent the same person from assuming the post of the head of government. And unless something is done, the crisis will continue, because,...

Letter To The Editor

Published Date: January 26, 2015
The fallout of a flawed election

The seed of the present unrest was sown the day the CTG was abolished with the 15th Amendment of the constitution. The sprout should have been uprooted, but instead it was allowed to grow and become a gigantic tree which is now making the atmosphere poisonous. We abhor the killing, burning and maiming of innocent people. Miscreants are taking advantage of the volatile condition in the country. If there was stability in the country, this sort of incident would have...

Letter To The Editor

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Faridabad-Gandaria roads in bad shape

Faridabad-Gandaria is a well-known area in the old part of the city. About 7/8 lakh people live in this locality. But most of the roads here are in a bad shape. The road between Loharpool (K.B. road) and Postagola is in a dilapidated condition with so many potholes here and there. During the rainy season, water accumulates in the potholes on the road, creating extreme inconvenience for the passersby. Due to bad road conditions, the area is lagging behind...

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Comments on commentary

“Stop this butchery,” published on January 23, 2015  Mortuza Huq Another good piece by Mr Anam as usual. However, I think he should have emphasized and explored the root cause of the current crisis and should have asked Hasina to accept people's legitimate demand and take necessary measures to hold a credible election. BNP led 20 party opposition showed maximum restraint (for last 12 months) for a peaceful settlement of the current political deadlock by dialogue in order to hold an election...

Letters to the editor

Published Date: January 25, 2015
'Shoot on sight'

I read with astonishment that the BNP-led 20 party alliance are claiming that the government is giving law enforcers a licence to kill. It seems to me that it is the 20 party alliance that is giving its activists the licence to kill. Scores of innocent people, who are just trying to get on with their lives, are being brutally burned in attacks with petrol bombs. How such attacks can fall under the umbrella of "peaceful protest" is beyond...

Letters to the editor

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Break the political stalemate

Being a septuagenarian, I had the opportunity to observe Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from a close distance. He was very simple, kind-hearted, and dedicated to people's cause. He sacrificed his own life for the cause of this country, leaving himself ever shining and immortal in the hearts of millions of his countrymen. Sheikh Hasina is blessed with such an outstanding legacy! The whole country is now on the threshold of an imminent political catastrophe. I strongly believe that she can...

Comments on news report

Published Date: January 25, 2015
“All-out steps to contain violence,” published on January 21, 2015

Siraj Government should take the toughest measures to maintain law and order and save lives and properties of the people. Along with this, the leaders of the other parties should be allowed space to speak openly about their political demands. Snr Citizen A stitch in time could have saved nine. S.M. Iftekhar Ahmed In my view, a state of war should be declared against these miscreants, who, in the name of movement, are actually indulging in criminal activities against the people. Deep The current state of...

Comments on news report

Published Date: January 25, 2015
“Public servants making political statements,” (January 21, 2015)

Habib This is a very timely article. But as always, we will see no righteous action. On the contrary, it's going to be appreciated. We are living in an "all possible" country. Here nothing is right, yet everything is right. No one bothers listening to conscience. Mithun Ahmed I thank Dr. Hashmi for making an important point. It was indeed timely. It is one thing to execute the directives of the government and another thing is to make random, brash public and...

Letters to the Editor

Published Date: January 24, 2015
Netaji's mystery!

Your 'Wide Angle' page on January 16 was taken up by three write-ups, related to the final phase of Subash Chandra Bose's disappearance from Japan during the last World War. The mystery of his death while travelling in a Japanese aircraft has remained unsolved or kept a secret by the Indian authorities till today, adding to the complexity of the episode! One wonders why the matter related to the identity and background of the mysterious "Gumnami Baba" (No name Mendicant!)...

Letters to the Editor

Published Date: January 24, 2015
Corporal punishment in schools

It saddens us all to think that there is still a need for campaign to abolish corporal punishment in our schools. What is wrong with our school system? What is wrong with our teachers? Indeed, what is wrong with a society that permits the future of Bangladesh to be mercilessly beaten at the whim of a teacher? We whole-heartedly agree with the respected foreign friend of Bangladesh Sir Frank Peters when he says “the damaged children of today are the broken...

More

Editorial

Published Date: January 27, 2015
Will sanity prevail?

We have editorialized on the current plight of the country many times since the beginning of the month when the nation was revisited by the trauma of blockade and hartal. And we will do so till the two leaders get down from their high horse and, for the sake of the nation, bring to an end the unbearable state we are in. It is just not on that our political leaders would allow public sufferings to continue, all in the...

Published Date: January 27, 2015
The political impasse can end

Exhortation to the contending political camps to take a moral high ground, stop horrendous violence in the name of democracy, not punish the public and sit down for a dialogue is clearly falling on deaf ears. Both sides insist on taking a hard line. Even Machiavellian calculation calls for compromise to achieve the goal. The Awami League (AL)-led coalition has the advantage of incumbency. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina should not squander her bargaining chips. Doubts about the political legitimacy of...

Editorial

Published Date: January 27, 2015
Fatwas must not violate laws

The Supreme Court on Sunday released the full-judgment in a case regarding fatwa, in which it declared that a fatwa may only be issued by “properly educated persons” on “religious matters” as long as it doesn't violate the existing laws of the land. It further stated that fatwa cannot be coercive, nor can it violate or affect the rights of reputation or dignity of any person. The full-judgment has come 44 months into the announcement of a short verdict on...

Published Date: January 27, 2015
Importance of Obama's India visit

Importance of Obama's India visit

President Barack Obama's visit to India to attend the Republic Day celebrations is rich in symbolism and has political and diplomatic significance. This is the first time that the president of the United States is the chief guest in India's Republic Day parade. Obama is also the first American president to visit India...

Published Date: January 27, 2015
Thoughts on a possible dialogue

THERE are three main points that can be discussed in a possible dialogue: (i)    How the interim government that will conduct a national election can be formed; (ii)    When the next election can be held; (iii)    A way out of the current bloody turmoil. Interim government Let us not try to find eleven persons from the retired judges, professors, etc. because they are not elected by the people.  Making them MPs using the parliament goes against the spirit of the apex...

Published Date: January 27, 2015
THE NEW KING

THE mantle of leadership passed from King Abdullah to the lone surviving son of the founder of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), King Salman bin Abdel Aziz al-Saud, without a hitch. The new king has his work cut out for him. He ascends to the throne in a troubled region. A coup in the neighbourhood in Yemen is raising the political mercury to new heights. Egypt has seen the coming and going of 3 presidents in 4 years and...

Published Date: January 27, 2015
War for democracy: For the people or on the people?

War for democracy: For the people or on the people?

In Bangladesh, a successful movement for restoration of democracy took place in December 1990 when the dictatorial regime of H.M. Ershad was forced to quit. Another movement took place in April 1996 when the government instituted under the leadership of Khaleda Zia after the farcical election of February 15, 1996 had to resign....

Published Date: January 27, 2015
Whither a 'strong Bangladesh' and the missing middle-class?

In his State of the Union Address 2015, President Barack Obama urged building of a 'Strong America.' He affirmed: “This country does the best when everyone gets their fair share, everyone plays by the same set of rules. Everyone needs to contribute to the country's success.” His 'mantra' of middle class economics seemed to be working as per the statistics presented in the address. It is indeed a contradiction of Kuznets' hypothesis that the income inequality tends to decrease...

Editorial

Published Date: January 26, 2015
A good gesture by PM

It was a good call of duty the Prime Minister intended to redeem entirely out of her own volition. She dashed to grieving BNP chief Khaleda Zia's office on Saturday night to personally condole the premature death of her younger son Arafat in Malaysia. Unfortunately, the PM's spirit in that very humane circumstance went unrequited as the two could not see each other. One realises how the BNP chief could not predictably be in a mental or physical condition, having...

Editorial

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Woes of adivasis in Rajshai

REPORTEDLY, in the last two years 150 families of several adivasi communities in Rajshahi left their hearths and homes for India. It is undesirable that a section of the minority community should feel compelled to seek sanctuary across the border. The plight of the adivasis community in the Rajshahi Division may be fairly representative of the condition of the indigenous communities elsewhere in the country. Obviously land and landed property of this weak section of the society is the main cause...

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Zero-sum politics: Mutually agreed rules of the game

The political space of Bangladesh is bedeviled by extreme forms of disagreements, confrontation and hostilities between the two largest political parties. There are exceptions and variations in degree but, starting from the top to the rank and file, because of endemic mutual mistrust and hatred the dominant sections on both sides are perennially at loggerheads to delegitimise and apparently eliminate each other, if possible. Ironically enough, they also agree a lot with each other, and indeed seem to have a...

VISIONARY VOICES

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Aid in a world of crisis

NEVER in the 64-year history of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has it had to address so much human misery. At the beginning of 2014, more than 51 million people were displaced from their homes, uprooted by conflict and persecution. Many more have had to flee in the past twelve months. Protracted wars, environmental disasters, and state failure have stretched the international humanitarian-aid system passed its breaking point. If the UNHCR and other relief agencies are to address the...

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Is this Bangladesh?

My four-year old granddaughter, Zariya, keeps asking questions all the time. She was born in the States and lives there. Last year, she came to Dhaka for the first time. Before coming here, she could not figure out what Bangladesh looked like. Naturally, she was very curious and excited. At the JFK airport in New York, she asked her mother: “Is this Bangladesh?” My daughter replied: “No, we are not in Bangladesh yet.” Zariya repeated this question wherever they...

#ResearchMesearch

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Travel anecdotes: Migrant workers

Travel anecdotes: Migrant workers

Will you have to forget everything you have learnt abroad once the plane lands?” asked one passenger to another on a flight to Dhaka as he quickly got up to push his way forward the moment the aircraft had touched down at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. Another passenger chipped in: “I'm sure...

Published Date: January 26, 2015
Is economics still important?

Is economics still important?

AS an economist, I get a lot of criticism about the profession, the discipline, and its role in modern society. Some of these are pretty well known and I will mention three. One, we are too much into model building and do not provide any guidance to real-life problems. Second, most of our...

Editorial

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Our leaders inured to our plight

For government ministers to say that there is no political crisis is like burying one's head in the sand. If there is no crisis then why the 30 dead and more than 900 injured since January 5?  The country has suffered three weeks of violence and one sees no end to it. And while it is well and good that the government should take all necessary measures to stem the spate of violence it must also address the fundamental issue,...

Editorial

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Passing of King Abdullah

We join with the rest of the world in mourning the sad demise of King Abdullah. We shall remember him for his efforts to further strengthen the long fraternal relations between our two countries.  The late King will also be remembered for ushering in reforms in various sectors, his advocating the cause of religious tolerance, and for women's rights, albeit in a limited way, in spite of strong opposition from religious conservatives from within. He is credited with opening the...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Democracy on the brink: Can we pull it back?

State of aspiring democracies Democracy, globally, has been facing a lot of challenges and setbacks in recent years. Two big, dynamic middle-income countries, Thailand and Egypt, where democracy was expected to consolidate, have returned to military rule as a result of political polarisation and intolerance. The democratic undertow has been particularly apparent in Muslim-majority countries. Arab Spring has given way to an 'Arab Freeze' in Egypt with the army's de facto political domination now constitutionally entrenched for some time to...

PRAFUL BIDWAI COLUMN

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Europe in Islamophobia's grip?

More than two weeks on, the debate on the barbaric killings of Charlie Hebdo journalists and the freedom of expression has become a conversation across time-zones and political, cultural and legal divides. This is probably the first time that such a debate is taking place in a world connected by Facebook, Twitter and U-Tube. Serious doubts are being raised about the argument that the attack wasn't calculated, premeditated murder, or akin to other recent acts of terrorism; rather, it was...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Real concern for the nation

Strikes obviously affect everyone. Firebombing is useless and senseless and should be condemned in every case. Watching the targets each day in Bangladesh, the people of this country should start to consider the fact that apparently there is no pattern to the bombings and likely no forethought into the long term repercussions for this nation. The most recent example included two attempts to start fires inside Jagannath University campus. I wonder if the strikers have considered what strikes do to...

Published Date: January 25, 2015
Which way to a sustainable solution?

Which way to a sustainable solution?

The voterless and non-competitive 'election' of January 5, 2014 had created an unusual and potentially unstable situation in the country. It is clear from the blockades, deaths and destruction of the past two weeks that the potential instability has already begun to turn into reality. Redressing this situation would obviously require holding a...

SHIFTING IMAGES

Published Date: January 25, 2015
I cry for you, Bangladesh

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” said Marcellus, a palace guard, in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Marcellus was referring to the decay and corruptionz that prevailed in the kingdom. One could rephrase the quote (with apologies to the bard) to say, “Something is rotten in the state” of everything in Bangladesh. A country that is being pushed toward anarchy and chaos by the partisan squabbles and mutual recriminations of shortsighted politicians. Recently, when a member of the main opposition party...

Bitter Truth

Published Date: January 24, 2015
Agenda peaceful but consequences fatal

BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia's announcement that the blockade will continue until the government creates a congenial atmosphere for free, fair and participatory election has created further panic in citizens who are already facing death and destruction on the streets. Latest figure says that 28 people, mostly non-political persons like day labourers, bus helpers, rickshaw pullers, met tragic death on the roads. What is most appalling is that five children have fallen victims to this violent game of power politics. All...

Published Date: January 24, 2015
North East may emerge as a hub of trade, transit and connectivity

There is a growing realisation in India that it's once marginalised North East, which shares 4,500 km long international borders with China, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, has immense potential to develop as a key centre of trade, transit and connectivity. The Indian ruling elites remained indifferent to North East's needs and aspirations for long despite its abundant resources. The successive governments at the Centre hardly demonstrated political will to properly utilise the region's resources for bringing about economic growth...

Published Date: January 24, 2015
Much ado about little

The TDS report (16.1.2015) on recovery of a radioactive substance at Chittagong port makes interesting reading.  A 3 inch long, 300 gram radioactive substance got mixed up with 19,000 kg of steel scrap collected from industrial units around Dhaka and held in a transport container. It took 9 experts from USA, unknown number from Sri Lanka and our own experts to recover it. You cannot compare the operation to finding a needle in a haystack because needles do not give out...