Nazmul Ahasan


Nazmul Ahasan is a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley.

Dwindling university autonomy in Bangladesh

Our recently published study has found several alarming factors contributing to declining academic freedom in the universities of Bangladesh.

Muhammad Shahidullah’s 135th Birth Anniversary: Shahidullah, a linguist and language activist

By the time Muhammad Shahidullah was old enough to begin his secondary education, he already knew five languages. Besides his mother tongue of Bangla, he not only learnt Urdu, Persian and Arabic—perceived to be the languages of Muslims—but he also became proficient in Sanskrit, the primary liturgical language of Hinduism.

Social media and fake news: The beginning of the end?

When the Internet came, media outlets were faced with two contrasting choices: provide a web version for people to read content freely or risk descending into irrelevance.

From victims to villains: The changing discourse on Rohingyas

Yet another attempt to send Rohingyas back to Myanmar ended up in an embarrassing debacle last week: Not a single Rohingya

Tax the rich

September last year, a ranking of countries prepared by Wealth X, a global financial intelligence company, calculating the rise of ultra-rich individuals in their respective populations put Bangladesh on top.

Vigilante justice or what?

On January 17, police in Khagan, Savar recovered the bullet-hit body of a man who was later identified as Ripon. Ripon, a line chief at a local garment factory, was the prime accused in a gang-rape case involving a female worker from his factory.

Loan default increases because of bad management

The new finance minister, Mustafa Kamal, has vowed to address the longstanding concerns regarding increasing non-performing loans in banks. Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled, a noted banker and former deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank, talks to The Daily Star's Nazmul Ahasan about the issue.

Choking social media is not the answer

It's common knowledge that many opposition candidates were unable to campaign for themselves in the recently concluded elections

The effect of partisan policing

In less than five days after the candidates officially hit the campaign trail on December 11, a number of opposition candidates—including prominent figures such as Dr Kamal Hossain, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Mirza Abbas and Reza Kibria—came under attack from their opponents, a trend that has since continued unabated.

Nitpicking over nominations

Among the reports of a record number of nomination papers being rejected by election officials, Reza Kibria's case is particularly intriguing.

EC seems to be in denial of ground realities

It's barely a secret that even after the election schedule was announced, the police filed hundreds, if not thousands, of so-called political cases against leaders and activists linked to the opposition.

What rocks Hefajat's boat?

In a grand rally, Hefajat-e-Islam, a Qawmi Madrasa-based Islamist pressure group, has recently thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her government’s recognition of Dawrae Hadith (Takmil) Certificate in Qawmi Madrasa. Hefajat enjoys considerable support among the country’s conservative populace. Therefore, its endorsement of the current government can make a difference in the forthcoming elections.

After the dialogue, now what?

It was unsurprising that the much-hyped dialogue between the ruling and opposition alliances didn't yield notable signs of progress.

How will the coalition politics pan out?

After much deliberation, the government finally allowed the Oikyafront, the opposition alliance, to organise rallies in both Sylhet and Chittagong.

A rocky road ahead for Oikyafront

Just a week or so ago, Dr Kamal Hossain, Badruddoza Chowdhury and BNP seemed to be on the same side of the fence. They held grudges against one another, yet they were allies in opposing the incumbent.

August 21 verdict and its implications for BNP

The grisly attack on Awami League's rally in Dhaka on August 21, 2004 marks a watershed moment in Bangladesh's contemporary political history.

Will the 'National Unity Process' succeed?

Regard-less of his distinguished credentials as a jurist and academic, Dr Kamal Hossain was once a formidable politician. He was the country's first law minister, leading the constitution drafting committee.

The rise of the super rich

A recent report that says Bangladesh has had the highest rise in its ultra wealthy population, surpassing any other country in the world, may have taken many by surprise.

A curious case of 'extortion'

The way Mozammel Hoque, a road safety campaigner, was arrested was hardly normal. A complaint was filed with the police by “a transport labour leader” accusing him of demanding extortion. Understandably, such cases are common in Bangladesh, and many of them false, targeting journalists and human rights defenders.

A devastating assault on our national security

The August 21, 2004 grenade attack on an Awami League rally, targeting the-then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina and top party leaders, marked possibly the most devastating assault on our national security.

How an unrestricted press could help assuage violence

There's an increasing inclination, both globally and domestically, among those in power to impede the media.

An uneven battlefield

Among all ruling party-backed candidates in the three-city elections, Khairuzzaman Liton, in Rajshahi,

Defining Tajuddin's place in history

Tajuddin Ahmad was the one who filled a crucial void in leadership during Bangladesh's most important nine months in 1971 after Bangabandhu had been taken prisoner by the Pakistani army.

What does the US-China trade war mean for Bangladesh?

Professor Shakhawat Ali Khan, a veteran journalism professor at Dhaka University, often invokes a Second World War-era story in his classes to make his students realise just how important international affairs is. When the war persisted, many Indians were faced with an increased price of some of their essential commodities.

Why women migrant workers are compelled to come back

From the human rights perspective, the treatment received by thousands of Bangladeshi female workers at the hands of their employers constitutes a grave violation of their rights. Can a human being work for 17–18 hours tirelessly without any day-off—that too at very low wages?

The race between 'development' and 'justice'

A politician for nearly four decades, Hasan Uddin Sarkar, the opposition candidate in the Gazipur mayoral election, is well aware of the odds against him.

Prioritising effective social safety net projects

The idea of the universal pension scheme is new, but it's just a good idea. With our bureaucratic inefficiency, it's highly unlikely that we would be able to make headway in this regard in the near future.

Why digitising our public services is so important

It is hardly a subject that is discussed in the public domain nowadays, but one recalls “Digital Bangladesh” being the centrepiece of the ruling party's electoral campaign in 2008 and onwards. The aim was to transform the bureaucracy-ridden system, making it faster, more efficient and of course less prone to graft. But such a grandiose mission, till now, remains largely unaccomplished.

Our environmental saviour?

As global concerns continue to rise with 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags being produced every year around the globe, a number of eco-friendly companies come up with a seemingly wonderful idea: biodegradable bags.

Efficacy of the anti-drug war

“Why don't you tell the truth?

Why Bangladesh's inequality is likely to rise

The issues of growing income inequality and unequal distribution of wealth between the rich and the poor have lately gained traction across the west. Oxfam's yearly inequality report serves as the most damning indictment of this rise in disparity. Eighty-two percent of the entire global wealth created last year, the report estimates, went straight into the pockets of the richest one percent of the world's population. The poorest 50 percent, on the other hand, received zero percent of that wealth.

The quota movement signals an underlying discontent

The student protests that swept the country weeks ago were not just about the quota system in public jobs. As a whole, they should be interpreted as a major symptom of a much more complex disease: soaring youth unemployment that can have serious implications for the country's future.

A law to gag your online freedom

Less than a month after Bangladesh's cabinet approved the 'Digital Security Act 2018' in late January, Human Rights Watch, a top rights group, published a strong response in its website. Pointing out the vagueness of Section 31 of the draft act, which would criminalise posting of information that “disturbs or is about to disturb the law and order situation,” HRW said, “Almost any criticism of the government may lead to dissatisfaction and the possibility of

What has changed since the Spectrum disaster?

The Spectrum factory building collapsed on April 11, 2005. I remember, I was returning to Dhaka from Rajshahi. No one was prepared for a disaster of such a devastating magnitude. The army was called in immediately for the rescue operation. In the meantime, almost 73 people were killed, with a few hundred others injured.

Combating our fake news problem

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has put the issue of fake news into spotlight again. It has also renewed conversations as to how best prevent fake news peddlers from manipulating democracies.

How do we stop cruelty towards children?

When his mother asked him to collect fodder for their cattle, Yahin went to play with his friends, instead. The venue happened to be an embankment. While they were romping around, a part of the newly constructed dam was slightly damaged. Incensed, Odud Miah, a local political leader and the head of a committee in charge of building the dam, took it upon himself to teach them a lesson. He caught Yahin while the rest of the kids managed to flee.

No dove in the White House

In yet another “apprentice-style” dismissal, US President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—his 20th dismissal as

Rural social fabric shattered by politics

Since I left home to pursue higher studies, I have been visiting my parents, in the village, two to three times a year.

Shahidullah, a linguist and language activist

By the time Muhammad Shahidullah was old enough to begin his secondary education, he already knew five languages. Besides his mother tongue of Bangla, he not only learnt Urdu, Persian and Arabic—perceived to be the languages of Muslims—but he also became proficient in Sanskrit, the primary liturgical language of Hinduism.

Will EU become chief peace negotiator?

European leaders are not unfamiliar with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's gate-crashing. For example, he invited himself to

The state of our student politics

The recent fiasco at Dhaka University (DU), involving a tussle between Chhatra League (BCL) and the protesters against sexual assault, stems from a grossly wrong-headed and reckless administrative decision.

Enabling political bullies

Last week, a video went viral on social media of a protest rally by a group of students at MH Samorita Medical College. They were protesting against the alleged fee hike by the college.

The rise of tycoons in politics

According to media reports, Tabith Awal remains as BNP's man in the Dhaka North mayoral polls, while Awami League is set to choose Atiqul Islam as its candidate.

Facebook's threats to the social fabric

Former US President Barack Obama has recently joined a growing chorus of critics of social media.

Events that defined 2017


Spot the VC

In October 2016, one particularly astute professor (let's call her VC-aspirant A) received an intel “through reliable sources” that the government would soon appoint a pro-Vice Chancellor at Rajshahi University,

Lifting the fog on disappearance

The year 1979 was probably the first time when the word “disappear” was used as an intransitive word. The New York Times Magazine wrote, “While Miss Iglesias 'was disappeared,' her family's writ of habeas corpus, filed on her behalf, was rejected by the courts.”

Bangla Academy: Custodian of Bengali language for 62 years

Contrary to popular belief, the idea of establishing Bangla Academy predates the language movement.

November 29, 2017
November 29, 2017

Why scarcity of data should worry us

A week or so ago, a colleague and I needed to fact-check a claim about gun deaths across the United States. We simply googled and found a number of sources. The most cited of these was the US government's own data. The National Center for Health Statistics, like many other federal agencies, preserves an enormous amount of important data on its website.

November 14, 2017
November 14, 2017

China embraces possibilities as Trump looks inward

It's a bit strange to see Chinese president Xi Jinping, of all people, defending globalisation and economic liberalisation in the face of resistance from Donald Trump, the leader of the capitalistic world. But here we are, getting accustomed to a scenario that would have seemed impossible only a few years ago.

November 6, 2017
November 6, 2017

Urban Chaos

Last week, at a conference about urban development hosted by World Bank, almost all the municipality mayors of Bangladesh were present to share their experiences with experts and mayors from different other countries.

November 3, 2017
November 3, 2017

“Subodh” artist arrested [SATIRE]

Dhaka, Bangladesh: The police in Dhaka have arrested an artist who they say is the creator of the much-talked-about graffiti series “Subodh,” along with his two alleged collaborators.

October 30, 2017
October 30, 2017

When PayPal didn't come to town

If there were anything that our growing number of IT freelancers would die for, it would be PayPal, one of the fastest, easiest and most popular online payment systems in the world.

October 18, 2017
October 18, 2017

Subodh never runs away

Some say it depicts the minorities who are finding it increasingly harder to live in their ancestral land. Some believe Subodh is the face of the dissenting voice or free speech under siege. To me, Subodh represents our collective conscience.

October 9, 2017
October 9, 2017

The DUCSU conundrum

It's been 27 years since the last election of the Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU) was held. First held in 1924, DUCSU elections have taken place even under the most arduous circumstances, during the Pakistani rule and even with the military regimes in power in independent Bangladesh.

October 6, 2017
October 6, 2017

Is the press as free as Modi's regime would like us to believe?

When Gauri Lankesh was killed, all quarters of Indian society condemned the killing except for the prime minister himself. Lankesh was editor of the Kannada weekly Gauri Lankesh Patrike, a secular activist and, most importantly, a staunch critic of Hindutva, the predominant form of Hindu nationalism in India.

October 1, 2017
October 1, 2017

Private tutoring isn't the problem, our education system is

One of the primary reasons put forward to make a case for outlawing private tutoring and coaching is that it is discriminatory. In a country where one in four students drop out of school before completing their primary education due to poverty, tutoring being a necessity, certainly adds extra pressure on the economically less fortunate parents.

September 23, 2017
September 23, 2017

What hope is there for Rohingya women and children?

It is a well-documented fact that women and children fare worst in wars and conflicts irrespective of where they take place. The conflict zone in the northern Rakhine state of Myanmar is no exception.