Monday, April 28, 2008

Bangladesh celebrates Pahela Baishakh with Hindi songs!

I wrote a letter (published on April 21, 2008) in The Daily Star regarding James' rendition of Hindi song at a concert on Pahela Baishakh. A rejoinder, vehemently opposing my point of view, from one reader Nazmus Saquib was also published in DS on April 27, 2008. You can take a look of these two letters at my post Hindi Song on Pahela Baishakh.

In this age of Internet, news and views are hard to conceal from other parts of the world. There are lots of forums around the world of Internet which discusses social and cultural events of various countries. I happen to come across this issue put forward by me posted in one such forum - soc.culture.india. Here they have focused this issue with a title like - Bangladesh celebrates Pahela Baisakh with Hindi songs!

As a minute part of Bangali nation, I can't but feel ashamed. Cause of my repentance is two-fold.

i) As a Bangali or Bangladeshi whatever you say, I had to swallow the news of Hindi song performed on Pahela Baishakh.
ii) Because of my letter, this issue is now being publicised in other parts of the world.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bad Day ...

An absolutely bad day for me. Lots of long-lasting expectation but nothing in the end!

Question paper of CSE-303 was formidably hard. For me, it was an improvement exam. I did horribly bad.

Now I'm profoundly perturbed with the thought of getting 1st class. Nevertheless, preparation for this exam gave me the impetus I badly needed. I've made up my mind to give my 4th year final exam a hard try, when I'm just a month away from it. There's nothing wrong in trying it late.

Allah knows what is stored for me. Only time will reveal the outcome. This may sound sort of inclination to fatalism, but I do believe in diligence.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Political Leadership or Constitutional Dealership?

Benefits of 1/11 - this concise write-up may serve as a mean for ventilation of grievance for many of us.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Equal Rights to Property for Women in Islam

In innumerable articles by the so-called feminists that I've gone through so far, Islam has been dubbed as giving women unequal rights to property - half the share of a man. As a firm believer of Islam in the sense of the ultimate complete code of life, I was disconcerted and googled to know what lay behind this kind of apparently dubious discrimination. Surprisingly, the findings were really impressive. The subject matter is not that straight forward, taking into consideration other factors such as responsibility entitled to men on the part of Islam.

Extraction from one enlightening article:

... The rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of a man but they are not necessarily identical with them. Equality and sameness are two quite different things. This difference is understandable because man and woman are not identical but they are created equals. ... Equality is desirable, just, fair; but sameness is not. People are not created identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no room to imagine that woman is inferior to man. There is no ground to assume that she is less important than he just because her rights are not identically the same as his. Had her status been identical with his, she would have been simply a duplicate of him, which she is not. The fact that Islam gives her equal rights - but not identical - shows that it takes her into due consideration, acknowledges her, and recognizes her independent personality. ...


It's worth your time to read an article with lucid explanation - Status of Women in Islam.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Perspicacious Police!


Kudos to Khalilur Rahman, a police constable who has saved lives of many people.

The story is really heartening.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Powerless Police!


The above picture, thanks to Star Weekend Magazine, shows a pitiable police who was being beaten by a man and whose gun and helmet were snatched away from him by other twos during the clash occurred at the premise of Baitul Muqarram Mosque between police and activists of Anti-Quran Law Resistance Committee formed to foil National Women Development Policy.

No doubt substantive police reform is the dire need of the hour. No more bliss from bribe. It's time to give them rewarding salary which will effectively purge their proclivity to pecuniary gain.

Nonetheless, how about recruiting the belligerent bigots in the police force taking into consideration the great gusto with which they handled the hapless riot police?

Hope for a skilled and polite-to-people police force may be dim, yet we look forward to that.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Equal Rights of Women to Property?


Nowadays feminists are fierce in demanding equal rights of women on properties, in accordance with CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women) which Bangladesh has ratified.

Today I came across a different dimension of thought to this proposition as highlighted in a letter by Md. Shah Jahan published in The Daily Star and I found it thought-provoking. Here's the letter:

Whenever questions of inheritance under Shariah Law are addressed, it seems that people take for granted that each and every parent would leave behind huge properties and their heirs have to share and enjoy the same. In fact this is a misconception. Many a father leaves behind huge debts. Who pays back the debts of the deceased parents? Usually in our society a girl is not asked to pay the debt of her parents.

If a law is passed that boys and girls would inherit equally the assets of parents, then the question of liabilities would also come up. In that event if a poor girl is required to pay the debts of her parents, then I can guarantee that it would become a doomsday for hundreds and thousands of poor girls, including the married ones. They will lose their husbands and their families will be broken.

It is the microscopic wealthy section of society, which may claim equal rights of inheritance for boys and girls but the majority of the girls will not be able to pay debts of their parents. They are far greater in number, but their voice is not heard.

Allah knows best what is good and what is bad for His creation.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hindi Song on Pahela Baishakh!


On the hilarious occasion of Pahela Baishakh, a concert entitled "Nokia Fusion Baishakhi Concert" was held at Gulshan Youth Club. I could not attend that music feast but later came to know which artist performed which songs through The Daily Star dated April 16, 2008. To my utter dismay, James, my most favourite singer since childhood, performed Bhigi Bhigi, one of his popular hits in Hindi, on this very occasion whose spirit is nothing but BANGLA!

James has enviably created and given voice to, no doubt, a good number of tremendously hit Bangla songs throughout his long and colourful musical journey. By virtue of his uncommon voice together with inherent talent, he surpassed many of the singers of our country contemporary with him in terms of popularity and has showed the world once again that Bangladesh can produce world-class singers.

With popularity comes responsibility. In an interview with a leading national Bangla daily, James tells that he enjoys most singing in Bangla, no matter how much popular his Hindi hit numbers are. That sounds really nice but this latest incident made me sorely sad. There are at least ten more Bangla songs more popular than Bhigi Bhigi that he could have performed in the concert celebrating this Bangla occasion - Pahela Baishakh! Given that Hindi songs are very popular among the young here, performing a Hindi song on part of an immensely popular singer on such an occasion is indubitably inopportune.

I strongly expect that my most favourite singer would act more sensibly in future.

[ published as a letter in The Daily Star on April 21, 2008. ]


REJOINDER

Nazmus Saquib from Department of English, Stamford University, Dhanmondi sent a rejoinder to the above letter published in The Daily Star dated April 27, 2008. Here it is:

This is in response to the letter of Ahmed Ferdous Bin Alam published in The Daily Star on 21 April. The writer got hugely disappointed with the Hindi song performance of the popular singer of our country James on Pahela Baishakh. He even went as far as saying that a singer like James should not have rendered a Hindi song on Pahela Baishakh in order to show his true patriotism!

I think what James did was not at all something for which we should blame him. Rather, we as Bengalees are proud about the fact that our very own singer James has brought international name and fame not only for himself, but also for the whole country and its people in the field of music. Moreover, Mr. Alam should understand that to refrain from singing in Hindi for just one particular day would not prove our true love for our mother tongue. If we blame the fm radio stations for broadcasting Hindi songs, it will not help us in any way to establish our true love for our language. Rather, we all should respect our language from our hearts. The love for our country is not something which we should demonstrate. The love for our country and language should come from within ourselves.

If we really love this country, then we should try to protect its true identity, culture and tradition. These days some so called modern music composers are composing Bangla songs using vulgar words, and thus trying to destroy our language. So, instead of shouting at Hindi songs, we should condemn those singers and composers who in the name of experimenting with Bangla songs are actually doing great harm to our language.


I've sent a response to his rejoinder. Here it is:

In response to my letter published in DS on April 21 regarding James' rendition of Hindi song at a concert on Pahela Baishakh, Mr. Nazmus Saquib, in his letter in DS on April 27, 2008 tried to enlighten me and I aptly appreciate his kind effort. But I'm sorry to say that he misconstrued the message I intended to pass. So I feel I should make my point unambiguous.

Mr. Saquib said that we all should respect our language from our hearts. I do agree. He also said that what James did was not at all something for which we should blame him. I can't but disagree! No doubt it's a matter of great pride when we see our own singers make their powerful presence felt on the international arena. But that doesn't mean that a singer of that high stature can act irresponsibly by singing a Hindi song at a concert celebrating an occasion that signifies the identity, culture and tradition of our Bangali nation. Personally I enjoy melodious Hindi songs. Nowhere in my letter did I "shout at Hindi songs" as he told. I simply expressed my opinion that it was indubitably inopportune and irresponsible to sing a Hindi song on Pahela Baishakh and James should have been careful of this. That's it.

"To refrain from singing in Hindi for just one particular day would not prove our true love for our mother tongue", He says. Does that justify stage performance of Hindi songs on Pahela Baishakh either? Really ridiculous!

Respect and love for our own country and mother tongue are something that need not be flaunted, rather are felt in the way we act. Irresponsible behaviour on part of a popular celebrity can mislead his ardent fans in their realization of the spirit of Pahela Baishakh.

[ published as a letter in The Daily Star on May 07, 2008. ]


REJOINDER no. 2

Mr. Nazmus Saquib had been tenacious and sent again a rejoinder to the above response that was published in DS on May 12, 2008. Here it is:


This is once again in response to the letter of Mr. Ahmad Ferdous Bin Alam published in DS under the above title on 7th May.

I don't understand why he is trying to make an unnecessary argument over a simple matter. I made my point very clear by saying that James didn't commit any mistake by singing Hindi songs on a Pahela Baishakh concert, simply because his intention was not to hurt the sentiments of the audience, rather the audience present on that concert were requesting him consistently to sing Hindi songs. Being a born and professional singer, he just obliged to the request of the audience. As songs have neither religion nor any language, so we shouldn't take a parochial view of the matter.

Moreover, if we stop listening to Hindi songs on Pahela Baishakh, then why not on 21 February, 16 December and 26 March? It doesn't make any sense to me why people are always eager to show off even a serious thing like patriotism.

Patriotism is something which should come naturally, showing our true Bengalee identity by stopping Hindi songs on one particular day or some particular occasions will not make us great to the rest of the world. We all love our country and love our language and therefore we know how to value others' language and culture as well. The bottom line is that respect to our mother tongue should come from within ourselves.

I've already sent the response:

This is in response to the letter of Mr. Nazmus Saquib in The Daily Star on May 12, 2008 regarding the above issue.

He said that James performed Hindi songs on incessant requests from his fans in that concert. I have to reiterate - with popularity comes responsibility. A singer is not supposed to swallow every request of his fans. He must have sense of appropriateness and should have reminded his fans of the spirit of an occasion that signifies the identity, culture and tradition of our Bengali nation, instead of gleefully singing Hindi songs.

Nevertheless, I do agree that we should not be complacent with our 'patriotism of one day'. Add to that, patriotism is felt in the way we act, no matter on an occasion or in our day-to-day life.

My dissent with Mr. Saquib lies in the sense of appropriateness. I think performing Hindi songs in a concert arranged on the occasion of Pahela Baishakh was inappropriate. Mr. Saquib thinks it was alright. Both of us have made our points clear and I hope the matter ends here.

[ published as a letter in The Daily Star on May 14, 2008. ]

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pahela Baishakh 1415



Today's Pahela Baishakh. Shubho Nababarsha!

One of the key centres of celebration for this occasion is Dhaka University Campus. I went out at around 9 AM and joined the carnival at DU campus. It seemed to me that this year the throng diminished than past celebrations. I could easily manage to make my way through watching the festive faces of the crowd.

However, I had a hard time in finding out my other friends. I was having difficulty in contacting them due to congested mobile phone network. Luckily at last I could finally contact and met at the premise of Institute of Fine Arts. We rode 'nagordola' but didn't enjoy it much. The riders were all adults and hence the manual operators couldn't make it move fast enough to be enjoyable. Anyway, I rode it again after my childhood and I'm happy with that!

After mediocre lunch at Public Library canteen, we went to Suhrawardy Udyan and had a tremendous adda.

Finally, already exhausted due to the enervating weather, I returned home and had a late-day sleep!

Thanks to my friends - Sherita, Shabnam, Mufti, Tariq, lomba Zami, Wali, Elin, Muna, Zereen, Sadia, Banna, Tawhid, Ripon for making my day an enjoyable and memorable one!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Joy Bangla!


In the above picture, the cover of Time Magazine, you see a freedom fighter shouting in hard-earned jubilation. What was he shouting at the top of his voice? Most probably, "Joy Bangla!"

Today while I was going through an article entitled "Joy Bangla!" by a writer under the pen name Chintito in Star Weekend Magazine, I could realize for the first time what an unceasing source of intense motivation the chant "Joy Bangla" was to the valiant freedom fighters and the Bangalis alike during that turbulent time of 1971.

But the very next moment a question popped in my mind - how the Bengali nation which is now painfully plagued by factionalism could be united in that glorious way in 1971 and chanted in unison? With hindsight, the answer that came to me was - in 1971 we had a clear vision of what we wanted, what we were going to do and above all a very well thought out guidelines by our great leaders. Unfortunately, after hard-fought independence we lost our vision and submerged ourselves into greed for power and wealth disregarding the interest and cause of our own country, so much that we confined that immortalised chant to a particular group! Perhaps the final straw was the alleged controversial activities and attitude of the very Father of the Nation Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujib and his subsequent assassination.

We all know that Bangabondhu used to put an end to his speech by uttering these two words. But that doesn't necessarily give pro-AL people the exclusive right to chant it.

No matter how much dissent exists among us regarding our socio-political views, the chant that infused the Bangalis with patriotism and passion for independence shouldn't belong to a certain quarter of the nation.


[ An abridged version of this post was published as a letter in Star Weekend Magazine on April 18, 2008. ]

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hasina's Mockery of Potato Consumption


Despite being incarcerated, Sheikh Hasina has been vocal about different crises Bangladesh is now facing. As for present food crisis, she frequently refers to her tenure's success in food production.

Running a small country with such a large population is indubitably a daunting task. Every government faces myriads of crises, so does the current CTG. Devastation of crops by unprecedented repeated floods compounded by cyclone Sidr has made its task much more difficult. We expect that Sheikh Hasina would consider these facts in earnest and instead of mocking potato consumption she would give CTG her well-thought advices to overcome the food crisis.

It would be really nice for us to observe that it's the people of Bangladesh who matter most to our allegedly corrupt politicians rather than the CTG, even when they are behind bars.

[ This post was published as a letter entitled "Sheikh Hasina's stand" in The Daily Star on April 17, 2008. ]

National Women Development Policy and Fights at Mosque Premise



It's deeply disheartening that police and activists of Anti-Quran Law Resistance Committee, on the very premise of a sacred place like Baitul Mukarram National Mosque, engaged in clashes and turned the premise into a battlefield.

Most people of Bangladesh are religious-minded and we believe that Islam is a complete code of life. So whenever it comes to formulating some policy like National Women Development Policy (NWDP) that may be misinterpreted by opportunists as anti-Islamic, the policy-makers must exercise extreme caution and be proactive deeming it a very delicate issue, with a view to dispelling false fear and grievances of pious people as well as preempting violent agitation among the activists of Islamic parties. But unfortunately, CTG has miserably failed to show its foresight regarding this.

History says that Islam is the first religion that had given due rights to women but its various doctrines have been misinterpreted by some evil people and thereby misunderstood by common people. There are Islamic scholars in Bangladesh who are very well knowledgeable about the rights of women in Islam. Before thrashing out different delicate issues of NWDP, they should have been consulted and their views along with necessary references to Quran and Hadith should have been propagated effectively.

A little learning is a dangerous thing. Mere assurance on the part of government that the policy isn't anti-Islamic can't be enough, rather why and how the policy doesn't go against Islam should be publicised. Therefore, sufficient information must be disseminated to the common people in order to get them enlightened and preclude this kind of unrest.

[ An abridged version of this post was published as a letter entitled "Shocking indeed" in The Daily Star on April 16, 2008. ]

Birds of same feather flock together

Honestly speaking, the news of ex-MPs' unity to resist govt move regarding allocation of Nam Bhaban flats made me laugh out loud. How funny! As the news had it, our "honourable" ex-MPs have taken a firm stance to protect the "dignity and property" of the parliament. I had nothing to say if the word 'dignity' would been been omitted but when it comes to the question of dignity of parliament, I could not resist myself from saying a few words.

Do our ex-MPs really know what dignity means? When they used to make the parliament ineffective by boycotting or being absent, did they dignify it? When they used to hurl indecent words on each other in the parliament, did they dignify it? How long will they continue to pretend shamelessly before the whole nation? We do know that it's not the dignity but the property of the parliament that engages their interest.

[ This post was published as a letter under the title "Dignity?" in The Daily Star on April 04, 2008. ]

Media Exploitation



Presentation of women in many TV commercials in a derogatory manner has brought to the forefront the issue of exploitation of women by the media. A good number of write-ups by renowned columnists, personalities and even by the readers have already appeared on the different leading dailies with regard to this issue. But as far as I'm concerned, a crucial point that can be very effective in order to address this has been missing all the way.

Whenever an ad of a company turns out to be sexist, we vehemently come down on that company. But should we ignore the fact that society can't be fully free of exploitative elements and so there's always a chance, be it little or great, of being exploited? Companies are always there on the lookout for making money by hook or by crook and no doubt, this practice on the part of advertising companies is utterly reprehensible. Nevertheless, at the same time women should guard themselves from being exploited. Performers must exercise caution and use their own intellect while scrutinizing the script of an ad, especially whenever it comes to ads of cosmetics products. Models performing in sexist ads must be brought under severe criticism and this way they can be discouraged to perform this kind of role. If women themselves don't agree to perform in sexist ads and are not sold, exploitative companies will be left with no choice but giving up this policy. This can be an effective way for getting rid of media exploitation.

After all, it's better to look at our faults before blaming others.

[ This post was published as a letter in The Daily Star on April 02, 2008. ]

Women in Student Politics


For more than the last two decades, student politics has been subjected to demoralisation by growing intolerance and rampant violence perpetrated by unscrupulous activists of most political parties'. Student fronts have made it more difficult for female students to participate actively in politics, let alone to make their meaningful presence at the policy-making level felt. If we have a look at the policy-making committees of student fronts, few women may be found which is really regrettable. I have hardly come across a female student leader declaring her party's stance on issues of political interest.

Universities are the playgrounds of brilliant minds who play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the country. In a time when the demand for meaningful representation of more women at the policy-making level of political parties and the parliament is gaining acceptance, the need for active participation of female students at different universities in politics has been reinforced. Breaking the barrier of discrimination against women in this arena, we can easily ensure enough qualified female leaders for working efficiently at the policy-making level side by side with their male counterparts.

[ This post was published in SWM as a letter on March 21, 2008. ]

Quota or Merit?



With tangible development in quality of education and immense increase in the number of students at all levels of education leading to an unbelievably huge number of competent candidates in job market, a fierce competition comes as no surprise. Keeping in mind the fast-evolving nature of the current world which requires veritable competence in order to survive as a dignified nation, we can't afford compromise with the quality of public administration, a crucial organ of the state.

Needless to say, our country achieved independence through the nine-month long liberation war and the supreme sacrifice of the sons of the soil, the freedom fighters. Hence our valiant fighters, no doubt, must be duly honoured. With a view to repaying our debt, they along with their offspring have been privileged to enjoy a quota in many sectors. With due respect to them, it's time to say that the quota system in BCS exams warrants a thorough revision.

We are now in a situation to make a fair trade-off. Reducing the current 55% quota boils down to reducing 30% quota for freedom fighters to an acceptable extent resulting in a fair overall quota of, say, at most 15%. Many have opposed this in a derogatory manner trying to tag a 'mercy' flavour with the issue. This kind of attitude is utterly reprehensible. Our freedom fighters, who could risk their own lives during the liberation war, were not so narrow-minded as to insist on recruiting their children, if incompetent, into government service through an unfair quota system that has reportedly been exploited by the past ruling parties to place their party men in the administration.

We can't expect good prospect of our country if we further indulge in wholesale rejection of competent candidates in one of the most important state organs at a time when the country is already plagued by innumerable inefficiency problems in various sectors. Now is the time to ensure quality at all levels of administration by giving the deserving candidates a real chance to prove their worth.

[ This post was published as a letter in The Daily Star on March 21, 2008. ]

True Leaders



Many of you may already know the story of our two environmental heroes.

Some successful people go through life unnoticed simply because they excel in areas that are unable to catch our immediate attention, but in the long run tremendously affect our very lives. Two such people are Saleemul Huq and Atiq Rahman, who have become leaders in the field of climate change by dint of their extraordinary efforts in their research on the adverse effects of climate change.

It feels really good when we see people of our own country conducting leading research in a field relevant to Bangladesh. Although they are already recognised outside Bangladesh, the unfortunate fact that these two people go without due recognition in their motherland is unacceptable. They are the heroes who are relentlessly making a crucial contribution to the purpose of future survival of mankind.

[ This post was published in SWM as a letter on February 29, 2008 in response to their cover story on environmental heroes ]

Machiavellian Manoeuvrings by Bangladeshi Politicians



Nowadays there is tangible sign of politicians trying to be clamorous again. Conscious people wonder how they dare to be oblivious to the suffocating pre-1/11 situation they themselves created being driven by the greed for power.

Do the politicians regard people of Bangladesh as having fickle minds and now try to capitalize on this? Then they must be warned that people may be so but not so much to forget the grim memories of pre-1/11.

Are they encouraged by the success of DU students' peaceful movement? Then they must be cognizant of the fact - DU students' unfeigned expression of exuberance was palpable when DU was reopened right after imposition of state of emergency after a several months' painfully long unscheduled closure in 2007 due to political turmoil and surprisingly DU students except some sycophants of student fronts didn't show a whit of protest. Things could go otherwise if DU students' had felt it unjust. Politicians should take lesson from this if they ever feel ecstatic expecting to exploit the example of DU success to hinder the tortuous journey of caretaker government further.

There must be an ulterior motive behind the demand of early poll made by political parties - they intend to steer clear of the tribulation of trials! They do know but pretend to forget that EC should be given sufficient time to prepare itself for the cause as good as possible. But they seem to be desperate to escape the trial.

It's unfortunate to hear the invariably vacuous remarks our 'beloved' politicians are doomed to frequently make. Two blatant examples follow. After showing a sign of sagacity by giving consent the party leaders to take part in the election regardless of her being incarcerated, Hasina's hollow remark "If Awami League was in power, we would have kept the price of rice at 16 taka a KG" is utterly unexpected. Secretary general of pro-Khaleda faction make us laugh by stating, "Current difficult situation can be best handled only by an elected government". People have already seen enough of the ugly face of elected governments and they no longer trust them. But they are helpless to get out of this vicious cycle of current political parties.

There's a limit to everything. If politicians regard the common people as inhabitants of fool's paradise and continue exploiting their helplessness, they will inevitably be thrown out of the country. Politicians better stop playing with the people right now!

Perils of Private Hospitals

A few years ago, Bangladesh experienced an upsurge of private universities. Now the trend is towards private hospitals whose fancy ads are quite regular in different dailies. They share two similarities - one is expected, the other unexpected. The expected similarity is that both are expensive. The unexpected one is the fact that most of the private universities and now allegedly some of the private hospitals have failed to maintain the required standard.

To make matters worse, what if they find one of those doctors having a fake degree?
Although private hospitals are supposed to provide better service, though in exchange of a 'better' amount of money, appalling allegations against them have been made by many patients and their relatives. That affluent section of the society is their prime target comes as no surprise. But think a while for those who belong to the middle class, can't afford the high expense of treatment, yet manage the required money by selling their valuable property or borrowing and finally get their beloved one admitted in those expensive hospitals, with the hope of better treatment. Their effort is awarded only when doctors take proper care of the patient and even if their dear one dies, they get the appropriate consolation of trying their best. But what if the patient dies due to negligence of the doctors and the patient's family becomes penniless in the process? To make matters worse, what if they find one of those doctors having a fake degree?

It's not a simple matter involving a single life because a death may severely affect a family in various ways. So the issue must be addressed immediately. We expect a quick initiative by the CTG to stop playing with human lives!

Here are some links to illustrate the grave situation:

# direct link to a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnJZIg_x1KI
# a blog created by a man who has lost his father in LabAid, with details: http://labaid.wordpress.com
# another blog focusing on several LabAid scandals: http://onnesha.wordpress.com/

[ This post was published, without the links, as a letter in The Daily Star on February 13, 2008. ]