Milia Ali


The writer is a renowned Rabindra Sangeet exponent and a former employee of the World Bank.

Post-Covid musings: After the deluge

Now that we have stepped into a new year, it may be time to take a brief pause from our hectic schedule.

Salma Khan: A mind without fear and a head held high

She gave visibility to the invisible by exposing the exclusion of women from development activities.

Choosing the Slow Lane

Recently, I have been reminiscing about my music guru, the late Kanika Banerjee (known to her intimate circle as Mohordi).


I begin with an apology to my readers for my long absence. Covid played havoc with our lifestyle and livelihoods. Even then, we could make choices still within limited parameters.

Begum Sufia Kamal: A moral hero

Today, after a period of hiatus, I have once again taken up my pen (metaphorically) to remember and celebrate a hero—a woman of courage and integrity who changed the world, not with fire and fury but with her soft touch.

Isolation and solitude: Life in the time of corona

It has only been a month of isolation, yet it feels like “One hundred years of solitude”.

When will America be ready?

As my daughter and I drove to the polling booth last week to vote at the Democratic Primaries in the United States, I asked: “So,

The shift of ‘soft power’

Over the past three months, I have lost many nights of sleep, abandoned my favourite political TV programmes, and ignored household chores.

Happy 20/20

I am sitting at my desk, with a hot cup of tea, peering out at the foggy winter morning enveloping the placid Gulshan Lake.

Passage to freedom

Forty-eight years have elapsed since we overthrew the yoke of exploitation and oppression and gained our Independence, through blood, sweat, and tears.

The Age of Alternate Reality

Common sense tells us that life’s experiences should help us acquire a degree of certainty about most issues. However, I seem to be the exception to this conventional wisdom.

The ‘seditious heart’

I often wonder about the psyche and motivation of people who choose to resist unfairness, inequity and tyranny at a great personal cost. And I don’t mean luminaries like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King Jr., but the unsung heroes who feel it their bounden duty to act in the public interest and ensure that future generations benefit from their selfless acts of moral valour.

Revisiting our social structures

In the midst of all the political chaos and confusion reigning in our world today, we are perhaps overlooking an important issue—the basic fibre of our social structure is going through a tectonic shift. One would have thought that, over time, class barriers would be

Seeing life anew

As some of you may have noticed, I have been absent from the writing scene for about six months. No, I haven’t retired from column writing—rather it has been a forced hiatus. Forced by an eye condition that struck without any prior warning. The affliction that stole part of my right eyesight came stealthily and silently—a white fog refusing to be dislodged obstructed my vision.

When being wrong can feel right

I never imagined that most of the values and precepts I learned while growing up would become dated and rendered almost irrelevant during my lifetime. In particular, the lessons in humility that our parents and teachers taught us seem to have simply gone out of the window.

The Rise of Hate

In the “long 18th century” (1685-1815), European politics, philosophy, science and communications were radically reoriented during the course of a movement referred to by its participants as the Age of Reason, or simply the Enlightenment.

America's moment of self-reckoning?

The past week has been tumultuous and agonising for most Americans. A week of speculation, media hype, and political and personal

A champion in triumph or defeat

Years ago, when I first migrated to the United States, I was asked to read Robert Ringer's Winning through Intimidation as part of my acculturation process.

Something to reflect upon

Today, I choose to address an issue that has generated years of soul-searching resulting in an inner struggle to draw the line between right and wrong.

Nationalistic competition or cosmopolitan carnival?

While I cannot claim to be an avid football fan, the World Cup bug does attack me every four years. I write this column on a sleepless night, disturbed and disenchanted after watching the rather physical and hostile match between England and Colombia, fighting for a place in the quarterfinals.

Social laws of upward motion

Of late, I have been reflecting on an interesting aspect of our social discourse.

Looking back as we move ahead

For most of us, major events of our lives are marked by the Gregorian calendar. But we reserve a special sentiment, even reverence, for

History, propaganda or just a movie?

For some time now, I have been resisting the urge to add my voice to the Padmaavat controversy.

Prioritising life's choices

Recently, I made an unusual journey—a journey of love to pick up old relationships and energise them.

The power of empathy

Almost every day we come across positive news about Bangladesh's economic progress, and the individual achievements of creative, entrepreneurial, and innovative Bangladeshis.

Regenerating the Tree of Life

Post-retirement is often advertised on birthday cards and in Art of Living books as the “golden era” of a fulfilling life.

A brave new world

It is quite natural to be reflective during the final stretch of a year, tallying its low and high points.

When ‘them’ becomes ‘us’

As one more year fades away into the realm of the past, it may be useful to reflect on the core aspects of our life.

The new wave of resistance

When Donald Trump won the 2016 elections by brazenly exploiting the racial divide and targeting immigrants, he unleashed the primal roar of disaffected white working-class voters who felt abandoned by the Washington Establishment and the Democratic Party.

Crossing cultures through fashion

The term well-dressed has multi-layered connotations—especially in today's diverse world, where the concept of fashion is constantly changing and there are no fixed standards or norms.

Testing the limits of sexual harassment

Earlier this month, The New York Times published an explosive story on allegations of sexual harassmenagainst Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. The report was based on accounts of multiple women accusing him of all forms of sexual misdemeanour ranging from rape to verbal abuse.

“We the people”

Of late, I have started avoiding social gatherings. The reason? Friends and acquaintances have become somewhat edgy and contentious, so that even civil discussions quickly rise to high decibel levels. Needless to say, the divisive issues mostly relate to world affairs and politics, with conversations rotating in circles!

It's all in a word

“I'll miss you… may God be with you, etc.” Her response? A text with a single emoji, that of a crying face.

Long walk to coexistence

Who would have thought that a car could be employed as an instrument of terror? Only twisted minds, demented spirits, and agents of evil can harness a seemingly innocuous vehicle to mow down innocent pedestrians going about their business…

Redefining cultural borders

Some years ago, at a tea party in our home, an English friend devoured five samosas and exclaimed: “I just love these "triangular starters"—you must share the recipe with me!” The guests laughed, relishing the quaint nomenclature for a samosa—a South Asian

Time to take a pause

The truth is that taking a break from the routine activities frees our mind to perceive the sights and sounds that are often hidden by the noises in the system. Thank God that Rabindranath Tagore was not fixated on “doing”.

We need activism more than ever

Recently, I watched a TV news clip of protesters in the United States demonstrating against the Health Care Bill that, if passed by the Senate, would deprive millions of basic medical benefits. What struck me most was the image of a young protester in a wheelchair struggling with the security guards trying to forcefully evict her.

Expanding the frontiers of connectivity

The debate about “art for hedonistic pleasure or art for a greater cause” is ongoing and will continue. But there is broad consensus on one issue: a good work of art can connect you to your senses, not just your mind. In our fragmented world, it's important for people not only to comprehend adversity with their minds, but also to feel it emotionally and spiritually. This might motivate some of us to turn compassionate thinking into compassionate actions!

Is this the “tolerant society” we wanted?

Is this the “tolerant society” we envisaged as the outcome of our independence struggle?

Bollywood, please spare us your Muslim stereotyping

Films are powerful tools that shape ideas, attitudes and social norms. But as any art form, the message can be diffused or even distorted if it's not presented in the right way.

Coping with 'otherness'

Some years ago a South Asian friend shared an interesting anecdote with me. When she landed her first job in the corporate banking sector in London, she bought herself a new wardrobe of business suits and dresses.

The bell also tolls for you

The Pahela Baishakh festivities bring out the best in us Bangladeshis. Apart from its creative and cultural aspects, Pahela Baishakh

Being Muslim – a pre-existing condition?

Recently, I have started reflecting on the implications of being a Muslim in a world that is predisposed to think that Islam is a religion of violence and hate.

Love – the best revenge

There is no silver bullet for raising a child since parenting is a complex task with uncertain outcomes. Perhaps the hardest part of parenting is imparting a value system to children. It's hard because values are often subject to cultural, ethnic and social biases.

What's in a word?

Nelson Mandela aptly said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”.

“Then they came for me”

In his bestselling book, The Black Swan (2007), Nassim Nicholas Taleb developed an interesting theory.

Goodbye, Barack Obama

All good things must come to an end, but some things leave us with a lingering “feelgood” emotion. Such was the Presidency of Barack Obama.

The complexity of simplicity

Recently, I have been reflecting on the act of giving gifts. My thoughts were partially triggered by the frenzied shopping sprees I witnessed during the Christmas season in the United States.

December 25, 2016
December 25, 2016

Living in a post-truth world

I have been racking my brain for a positive New Year message. But the US election outcome, the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Aleppo, the brutalities against the Rohingyas in Myanmar have plunged me into despair.

December 11, 2016
December 11, 2016

Cuba:Looking back to move forward

Following Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro's death on November 25, numerous columns and articles have been written about his achievements and failures.

November 20, 2016
November 20, 2016

An open letter to Donald Trump supporters

Let me begin by congratulating you on a stunning victory after an unprecedented campaign that your candidate conducted for more

October 30, 2016
October 30, 2016

The politics of misogyny

The media is replete with analysis and counter analysis of the ongoing US presidential race. So far, I have refrained from adding my voice to the cacophony because politics is not my cup of tea!

October 16, 2016
October 16, 2016

Living in the now

I truly believe that happiness can flow from small things. Time spent with loved ones, an uplifting word from a casual acquaintance, a chance meeting with a long lost friend; all these seemingly mundane things can make us happy.

September 25, 2016
September 25, 2016

While Aleppo bleeds…

You would think that the Information Age (spurred by the internet) has made us more aware and well informed about the challenges

September 11, 2016
September 11, 2016

The "Me" factor

Consider the following situation: You meet someone at a social event and within seconds you are subjected to a monologue about her posh home, luxury car, high performing kids and a doting husband.

August 28, 2016
August 28, 2016

The audacity of hope

We live in a world of instant news and communication, with its enormous

August 7, 2016
August 7, 2016

One swallow can make a summer

While speaking at the Democratic National Convention last month, President Obama observed: “People outside of the United States do

July 24, 2016
July 24, 2016

Life must go on

More than three weeks have elapsed since the carnage at the Holey Café and Bakery in Dhaka. Despite assurances by the government to combat terror and assertions by the police about strengthening surveillance, the city remains in a state of deep shock and partial paralysis.