Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lovers' License

Well, let's talk silly and have some fun.

I intend to develop a few softwares which will be distributed under a new kind of license. Call it The Lovers' License. It will definitely evolve over time and will be updated here. Here it is:

01. The product will be freely distributed to anyone who have fallen or otherwise risen in love at least once in his/her life

02. Technical support will be available only to those who have dared to send a flower to their beloved one.

Any suggestion from you? :-D

Friday, August 22, 2008

Higher Education in Cyprus and Prothom Alo's Unethical Practice

I can't remember precisely when I started seeing alluring advertisements in the Bangladeshi newspapers promising a prosperous future for higher education in Cyprus. In our country where pursuing higher education has become difficult even in undergraduate level due to a severe lack of seats in public universities and exorbitant tuition fees in private universities, this kind of advertisements is sure to catch hordes of naive, unsophisticated yet aspirant people.

Each and every day, a noticeable portion of the pages of various popular newspapers is occupied by ads of different agencies located in Dhaka who purport to make sure your higher education in Cyprus. While I was going through today's issue of Prothom Alo, the leading Bangla newspaper in Bangladesh, a news item caught my eyes - "Going Cyprus for education has become a nightmare" where a myriad of adversities faced by the unfortunate students who went Cyprus were described and tales of torment of a few students were also narrated. In a nutshell, these students didn't get what they had been promised by those agencies. Out of sheer curiosity, I opened the ad page immediately and saw a tiny puny ad of an agency named SK INTERNATIONAL which confirmed visas for Cyprus with facility of bank loan and no IELTS score and described many advantages such as credit transfer to UK, USA, EU countries.

I have been a regular reader of Prothom Alo for the last 7 years because it, in my opinion, presents objective news and views. But today's contradictory approach on their part filled me with dismay and I decided to make a phone call to their office. When I managed to talk to someone after passing a few minutes listening to their promotional ringing tone and computerized instructions, I introduced myself as a reader of Prothom Alo and wanted to know the justification of publishing a news item describing the plight of expatriate students in Cyprus and the deception by numerous agencies here in Dhaka in its last page as well as an ad of an agency for higher education in Cyprus in its page 14. The man on the other side told, "This news is a warning to the aspirant students who want to go Cyprus. Now it's you who have to decide whether you'll go there or not. Before you fly to Cyprus, you must investigate the claims of different agencies and assess the prospect." When I termed it unethical practice, he, in an attempt to enlighten me, immediately told, "A newspaper needs both objective news and ads for its survival. We don't know which agencies are honest and which are fraudulent. We publish ads of only those who are approved by concerned authority." He tried to assuage me by saying that he would convey my displeasure to the news editor. When asked, he told me that he worked at 'service desk' and gave me the official phone number of news editor in case I wanted to talk to him directly. I thanked him and ended the conversation, being even more disgruntled.

I don't think, a newspaper of that stature like Prothom Alo is badly in need of ads from fraudulent agencies since its circulation is huge and it can easily manage ads from other sources. I believe it can smoothly go without these ads which are luring many young people to a seemingly prosperous and improved future behind which a dark life fraught with lots of predicaments lurks.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Threat by BGMEA and RMG workers

The recent threat by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) to resort to strike certainly bodes ill for the economy of the country.

RMG sector has been thriving since the 90s thanks to country's huge manpower and in the process contributing to the country's economy to a great extent. Nevertheless, the workers have been persistently exploited by the owners who never deemed it necessary to increase wages during inflation and they did it only when the workers became violent and forced the owners to meet the demand. As a result, a culture of violence as a tool to press home the very just demands has flourished and now the RMG sector is being plagued by this insidious phenomenon.

BGMEA's disregard for workers' way of venting pent-up frustration attributing it to some miscreants' misdeeds will prove foolhardy. In spite of recent low profit caused by, as the owners claim, increased production cost and declined prices of finished products, BGMEA cannot afford being callous to the plight of workers who are bearing the brunt of price hike. For the owners, it's a question of amount of profit. On the contrary, it's a matter of making both ends meet for the workers. Can we expect progress with a half-fed dissatisfied work force?

The workers who toil from dawn to dusk deserve wage raise. The BGMEA shouldn't exploit them as hostage when dealing with the government with regard to security and improvement of infrastructural facilities.

[ published as a quick comment in New Age on August 18, 2008 ]

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Shameless Yet Innocent Boy

On my way back home from office, I felt hungry as usual. So I decided to go to a restaurant. Just before entering, I felt behind a soft touch and instantly looked back to find an innocent-looking boy of around 12 years. Before I managed to ask him anything, he shyly asked me to give him 10 taka so that he can buy a cup of curd.

"Why do you want to eat curd?", I asked being intrigued by the way he approached me.

"I saw people around me eating that and now I wish I could have had some also", he replied even more shyly.

"But a cup of curd costs at least 15 taka now. So what will you do with just 10 taka?"

"Then buy me a cup of curd from there", He pointed at a nearby restaurant.

Then I could realize his mind. This kind of wishes may spring up in children's mind but approaching strange unknown people for money is obviously unexpected. Immediately an eerie fear that this boy may fall victim of nefarious acts of wicked people while approaching money in this way in future came to my mind. So I told him that I would buy him a cup of curd but he had to promise me that he would not ask money in this way in the days to come because wicked people may take this opportunity of his childish wish and take him with them to a dark life - a life of a mutilated begger lying on the overbridge - a commonplace in Bangladesh. The boy agreed with me. I took him to the restaurant and started chatting while eating.

"Where do you live?", I asked.
"At T&T colony, building number 1"
"hmmm... What does your father do?"
"My father doesn't live with us."

I thought his parents had a divorce and so didn't want to further talk about his father.

"What does your mother do?"
"Nothing. We live with my maternal grandfather."

I thought his family isn't solvent enough to indulge his childish wish. I felt sad for him. This boy reminds me of my childhood when I used to do trivial daily market for my family and take 2 or 3 taka from my mother, as though I deserved this money for the job I used to do. When I wanted to eat or buy something for me, I bought that with my money. I thought this boy didn't have such opportunity.

"Okay. Then what class do you read in?"
"Class 5"
"Fine. Which school?"
"T&T high school"
"As far as I know, high school starts with class 6. But you read in class 5!"
"yes. I read in class 5. The name of the school is T&T uccho biddalay."

I was confused as to whether this little boy was deceiving me or not by providing wrong information.

"What's your roll number?"
"Study hard. If you study hard, then you'll get a good job and lead a happly life. Otherwise you won't be able to make both ends meet." I tried to make him envisage a life of that much simple!

A hiatus of silence in the insipid conversation.

"Have you come back from abroad?" Suddenly the boy asked with his eyes glowing.
"No. What has made you think so?" I asked with a skeptical voice.
"Nothing. My father has been living in Saudi Arabia."

I heaved a heavy sigh recalling the hazardous condition the expatriates of our country had to cope with over there. May be his father had not been able to send money to Bangladesh for a long period of time and lots of crises beset his family living here. The possibility of divorce of his parents didn't come up this time around in my mind.

"My father had been in Australia before going to Saudi Arabia." He told with an air of pride. I couldn't figure out why he made it a point of pride. I felt intrigued about his expatriate father but resisted myself from making further queries because I thought this little boy would not know much regarding this kind of matters.

The boy finished eating a cup of curd and I was almost done with mine. It was time to say him good-bye. Just before leaving, to my astonishment, he asked for 5 taka for buying an ice-cream. I was speechless at his request! For the moment, it seemed to me that this boy has an incorrigible inherent instinct of asking anything from unknown persons! I chided him saying that for his this kind of behavior his parents would be humiliated in the society since he was doing something that is very very bad and asked him if he wanted this and if he would like his family humiliated. He replied negatively. I told the boy to leave. I intended to ask his name at the end of conversation but he spoiled my mood.

While walking from the restaurant to home, I thought about this and felt I was lucky that I didn't have to pass my childhood in a time of recession and inflation. The way children of today are being forced to inhibit their small petty wishes due to their parents' poor financial condition, this kind of incident may no longer remain rare.

I pray the tough days will be over soon and we'll be able to indulge children to fulfill their little wishes.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Militancy Issue in RCC Election

Today I've gone through a news item published in The Daily Star regarding Rajshahi City Corporation election candidates' reluctance to express a firm stance on militancy issue during their campaign.

AL backed candidate AHM Khairuzzaman Liton defends himself by saying that he expects to draw large number of votes from BNP-Jamaat supporters which could swing if he talks too much against militancy and so it is better not to talk about this issue. Surely he has preferred votes to the spirit he professes to have. A man of integrity can never do what he has done by being reticent about a crucial issue of Rajshahi. His reticence is tantamount to being lenient to the militants. AL frequently claims to be on the pro-liberation axis of Bangladeshi politics. Nonetheless, when weak-minded people like Mr. Liton are strongly supported by AL, their commitment to the great spirit of Liberation War is again called into question. Mr. Liton fears that his words against Islamist militants could be wrongly interpreted by conservative Muslim voters. If he isn't determined to convince the voters of his message, then what's the point of his becoming a candidate? Islam doesn't permit terrorism and militancy and he should have persuaded his voters in favour of him by getting across this message to them.

BNP-backed candidates Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul and Rezaunnabi Dudu showed lame excuses for their silence - none of their competitors has raised the issue, talking about the militancy issue would create disputes among candidates and will not bring them any positive results rather it would impact negatively on their vote tally. How could they blatantly ignore the voters who bore the brunt of militants during the last BNP-Jamaat regime and now want to know their stance on militants? Those who can ignore the constituents now can surely do so when elected.

It's really frustrating that people of RCC are going to vote for a mayor without even knowing their chosen candidate's precise position on militancy issue.

[ published as a letter on The Daily Star on August 08, 2008 ]