• Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Op-Ed

Editorial

  • Editorial

    When will pleasure trips end?

    Stop wasting national wealth

    IN a country where thousands of crores of taka is siphoned off from banks without so much as whimper from the government, spending a sum of ten crores by Rajuk on wasteful trips, euphemistically called study tours, may look like pittance. But the issue is more fundamental than the sum involved. It is the planned and calculated manner of misusing public money by persons in high places of a government institution that is the point at issue. And unless cognizance is taken and the matter rectified through severe administrative actions after thorough auditing, wasting public money will assume an endemic proportion. Even a person who has himself availed of the benefits of such pleasure trips terms these as wasteful expenditures for purposeless tours. And no less than the parliamentary standing committee on housing ministry has called these as trips for pleasure shopping having no use for the general public. But all that they have done is to reprimand the relevant authorities since the standing committees have no power to do anything more. Merely reprimanding is not enough. We feel that such waste of public money borders on criminality and must be taken cognizance of by the government. Unfortunately,...

Opinion

Saarc energy cooperation

THE 5th Saarc Energy Ministers Meeting has finalised the Saarc Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation. Although Pakistan was missing from the meet, seven out of eight Saarc member countries have now come on board on sharing energy resource across borders. This is undoubtedly a very welcome step in the right direction given that it paves the way for member countries to buy and sell electricity as per individual country's needs. Signing of the framework is due to take place...

Natural gas price adjustment initiative

Natural gas price adjustment initiative

NATURAL gas has been the major primary energy input in the country for industrial, business and domestic consumers. Since the late 1960s, pipeline gas connections have been extended to domestic users, mainly in the urban areas, with the objective of expanding commercial uses of natural gas. At present, approximately 2 million domestic consumers...

Will Didi flex muscles against Modi?

PASCHIMBANGA Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, popularly known as Didi, is very fond of flexing muscles. She first demonstrated her muscle power by opposing the Teesta water sharing agreement with Bangladesh in 2012. Manmohan, then heading a coalition government, returned to Delhi without signing the highly publicized Teesta agreement. Didi triumphed. During the last general election, Didi challenged the Election Commission (EC) for ordering the transfer of four IPS and three IAS officers in Paschimbanga without consulting her. She publicly declared,...

Pias Karim: A different perspective

Pias Karim: A different perspective

I never thought I would write an obituary for Pias Karim, who was much younger than me. I came to know him some 35 years ago, when he was a diehard leftist, both in conviction and in practice. He accompanied me on the maiden trip his elder sister made to my home town...

SATELLITE CHANNELS AND MOVIES

Protection of culture or protectionism?

UPON a writ petition, the High Court Division (HCD) of the Supreme Court has asked the government to explain why three Indian satellite channels would not be barred from being telecast in Bangladesh. What the HCD would ultimately do in this legal battle is purely a matter of law to be settled by...

Is presidential clemency possible for war criminals?

LAW, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Huq on Sunday stressed the need for bringing an amendment to the constitution so that the convicted war criminals cannot get president's clemency in future. He said that former president Abdur Rahman Biswas had pardoned war crimes convict Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed. In the...

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Letters

Letters To The Editor

Hold probe into frequent train accidents

Hold probe into frequent train accidents

In railway parlance, the pair of parallel rails is called permanent-way. However, given the regular frequency of train derailments happening all over the country in the last few months, isn't it better to call it temporary-way? Many passengers got injured and on occasions there were fatalities too. Also there was serious disruption in...

Letters To The Editor

International Day of the Girl Child

International Day of the Girl Child was observed across the world on 11th October 2014. This day promotes girls' human rights and highlights gender inequalities that remain between girls and boys and addresses the various forms of discrimination and abuse suffered by girls around the world. Violence against girls limits their opportunities and choices and threatens their futures. We want an end of harmful practices such as sexual violence and child marriages all over the world. Hasna Begum Advocate, Supreme Court...

Letters To The Editor

Congratulations to JS speaker

It is heartening to learn that the Speaker of Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury has been elected the Chairperson of the executive committee of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) for the next three years in the CPA elections held in the Cameroonian capital of Yaounde recently. Dr. Chaudhury has earned a great honour for Bangladesh by winning the election. Heartiest congratulations to her. Professor M Zahidul Haque Department of Agricultural Extension & Information System, SAU, Dhaka

Comments on news report

“State's costly silence,” published on October 17, 2014 Snr Citizen It's a very good piece of news that false cases against Limon have been withdrawn. Limon now needs rightful compensation and rehabilitation. The media again can help develop public opinion and draw the attention of the authorities. Nawfal Talukdhar The government should not only compensate Limon for the irreparable emotional and physical damage he sustained, but also take the responsibility for his higher education. **** “Thermal scanners for int'l airports” (Oct. 17, 2014) SM What is the...

Letters To The Editor

Published Date: October 20, 2014
Tuni's tragic end

Ours is a society where we push some to commit suicide and then criticise why they ended their lives in such a silly way, ignoring our responsibilities to help them when they were in crisis. We all remember Nayar Sultana, who played Tuni, a young girl in the popular drama serial “Ei Shob Din Ratri” on BTV in the 1980s. Reality pushed her too hard so that she forgot about her two daughters and take the unthinking decision to...

Letters To The Editor

Published Date: October 20, 2014
Preparedness against Ebola

Ebola virus has spread to USA, Germany and Spain. If it comes to Bangladesh, its impact will be no less bad than in the West African countries. As prevention is always better than cure, I propose the government takes these following measures to prevent its entry into Bangladesh. a.    Upon arrival, announcement should be made by immigration officials requesting the passengers coming from Ebola-affected countries to step out from the queue. These passengers should then be handled by a trained...

Letters To The Editor

Published Date: October 20, 2014
Ending violence against women

On October 10, 2014, 'World Boston', a Boston based council of world affairs, sponsored an open conversation on the topic: Preventing Violence against Women: A Project for Bangladesh. This project was sponsored by the US State Department to understand the gender-based violence in Bangladesh as a global issue. This project also emphasised the need to make a comprehensive study on civil society and government to work together to prevent gender-based violence and thus explore legal, social, and community based...

Published Date: October 20, 2014
Comments on news report

“ACC probe 'fails' to identify culprit,” published on October 16, 2014 Maruf Rahman Should we be surprised? ACC means Awami Clearance Commission. Sayed Rahman I myself am serving in a bank of Bangladesh, and from my experience I can say that no embezzlement can occur without someone behind it. Some officials may be involved in the matter. New Generation There are instances that other similar probes also failed to identify the perpetrators when certain coterie was behind the screen. ***** “Birth rate drops” (October 16, 2014) S. M....

Letters to the editor

Published Date: October 19, 2014
Rights of estranged/ divorced spouse's child

This refers to the report, “What the Nobel Committee says” (Oct.11). This is for the first time that the Nobel Prize has recognised the rights of children -- education of children. When children work as labourers, they are exploited. But there is another type of exploitation of children -- by one of their own parents. In case of divorced/estranged couples, children are denied the love and affection of one parent as the other parent have custody of the child. Victims...

Published Date: October 19, 2014
Brazenly displayed spelling mistake

Brazenly displayed spelling mistake

Every day as I pass through the airport railway station, I feel utter disgust when I look at the signboard which reads: 'Dhaka Binan Bandar', instead of 'Dhaka Biman Bandar'. Years have passed since the signboard's erection. Isn't it a matter of surprise and at the same time sorrow that the management of the...

Published Date: October 19, 2014
What about those who can't have egg?

10th October was the World Egg Day which was celebrated in many countries of the world. But this day appeared rather purposeless to this writer. In our country most people cannot afford to have an egg once a day. The minimum retail price of egg in urban areas is eight taka apiece. So it needs at least two hundred and forty taka a month for each person of a household for having egg. How many of the low income...

Comments on news report

Published Date: October 19, 2014
“From 2 to 17,” published on October 15, 2014

Vikram Khan Doesn't it prove that the SSC and HSC results are not so successful? Students get high marks in the HSC exams but are actually illiterate in English. And DU is lowering its criteria. So the quality of higher education is victimised by the low quality of secondary education in Bangladesh. Dev Saha Students lack real passion for learning with a few exceptions. Embarrassing indeed!  

Comments on news report

Published Date: October 19, 2014
“12 denied visa” (October 15, 2014)

SM I guess it would have been better if they had granted only 12 visas and rejected the rest! BD could save some money.  

Comments on news report

Published Date: October 19, 2014
“Khaleda calls AL party of atheists” (October 15, 2014)

S. M. Iftekhar Ahmed Very silly comments made by the experienced politician and leader. They need to clean their own house first. Touchstone Is there any glory in making silly comments?  

Comments on news report

Published Date: October 19, 2014
“Do not lower age for girls' marriage” (October 14, 2014)

Moazzem Hossain In what sense the government is making such a move to lower the age of marriage for girls is not clear to us.

Letters To The Editor

Published Date: October 18, 2014
It's time our cricketers delivered

It's time our cricketers delivered

This is in response to the letter of Aminur Rahim published in your esteemed daily dated 4th October regarding the game plan of Bangladesh cricket team for the upcoming series. I do appreciate his valuable suggestions. It is true that our paper tigers played the entire year without any particular game plan. During...

Letters To The Editor

Published Date: October 18, 2014
Exorbitant fees at English medium schools

I'm a parent of a student who is studying at an English medium school in Dhaka. We were somehow managing the costs associated with our child's studies, but after the High Court verdict and subsequent government draft policy announced (as reported in the media), we were hopeful. But that has been shattered because we're still forced to pay exorbitant fees. Now, my question is: wasn't the policy finalised and put into effect? We don't see any indication as my ward's...

Letters To The Editor

Published Date: October 18, 2014
BTV's politically biased Eid programmes

The common people of the country always expect that BTV will entertain them with good programmes on the occasion of Eid. But it is a shame that about 90% programmes of BTV is produced under political consideration which lacks quality. The producers are forced to cast certain artists for their programmes. These are some reasons why BTV programmes do not attract viewers. BTV should stop making programmes under political banner if they want to attract more audience. Rehana Akter Rampura, Dhaka...

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Editorial

Published Date: October 20, 2014
Declaring people non grata

A very insidious precedent has been set by the situation evolving out of the denial by Chhatra Sangram Parishad to take Piash Karim's body to the Shaheed Minar. The reason was that the views of the late professor on certain national issues were not in accord with that of the students' body. The matter did not stop there. Nine eminent persons including several journalists and educationists have been declared persona non grata in the Shaheed Minar by the said...

Editorial

Published Date: October 20, 2014
Trafficked Bangladeshis in Thai jungle

OBVIOUSLY lured by enticement of jobs desperate Bangladeshis often fall prey to traps laid out by wily traffickers. The latter promise something to the job-seekers but once in their clutch, they will be bandied about like chattels as though in an insidious version of modern-day slave trade. The case in point is the discovery of 37,53 and 81, largely Bangladeshi victims, in the last  month and on October 11 and 13 respectively in Thai jungles. They were enticed by job...

Published Date: October 20, 2014
Parliament and judiciary: Striking a balance

Parliament and judiciary: Striking a balance

A Supreme Court (SC) lawyer recently filed a writ petition with the High Court challenging the legality of the 16th Amendment made to the Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh regarding the removal of SC judges based on incapacity and misconduct (The Daily Star, 15/10/14). The amendment allows the parliament to impeach...

Exclusive to The Daily Star
THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMY

Published Date: October 20, 2014
China's vicious growth circle

China's vicious growth circle

MOST economists have a reason to be worried about China's economy -- whether it be low consumption and large external surpluses, industrial overcapacity, environmental degradation, or government interventions like capital controls or financial repression. What many fail to recognise is that these are merely the symptoms of a single underlying problem: China's skewed...

Published Date: October 20, 2014
Diamond Jubilee of National Press Club

TODAY, October 20, the National Press Club celebrates its Diamond Jubilee (60th Birth Anniversary). As a witness to its evolution here are some nostalgic snapshots of my six decades long association with the National Press Club. In 1962, it brought out a historic procession, led by the legendary editor of Daily Azad Moulana Mohammad Akram Khan, protesting the repressive Press and Publications Act promulgated by the Martial Law regime of Ayub Khan. The government was forced to abrogate the law...

Published Date: October 20, 2014
'Our government is focusing on empowering women'

'Our government is focusing on empowering women'

The Daily Star (TDS): The government has taken quite a few positive steps to enact pro-women laws and policies. Which areas do you think the ministry needs to focus on more now? Meher Afroz Chumki (MAC): When it came to power, the government undertook initiatives for women's empowerment keeping in mind the MDGs. Now...

Published Date: October 20, 2014
Integrated maritime policy for blue economy

GUNTER Pauli designed the blue economy concept, which came out of the 2012 Rio+20 Conference. In Bangladesh, discussions on blue economy started after the settlement of maritime boundary delimitation dispute with Myanmar and India. Proliferation of marine resources in this area offers Bangladesh scope for sustainable economic development, which needs an integrated maritime policy. According to Article 56 of the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982, the coastal state (Bangladesh) has sovereign rights in the...

Published Date: October 20, 2014
BIMSTEC: A beacon of hope?

THE Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) was established in 1997 with Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand as members. BIMSTEC emphasises connectivity by road, rail, air, including digital connectivity and electricity corridors throughout the region. Trade liberalisation and free movement of people, goods and services are at the heart of such connectivity. The BIMSTEC region has a huge amount of untapped natural, water and human resources. India, as the regional...

Editorial

Published Date: October 19, 2014
Kalam's inspiring words

What could be a more propitious conjunction of events than the 110th birth anniversary of MCC&I, Dhaka, kicking it off with a celebration of the youth in a dialogue with 700 university students and that addressed by the iconic former Indian President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. The outcome was suffused with inspirational messages of which Abdul Kalam is a brilliant wordsmith that have had a spellbinding effect on the youth. We thank the MCC&I, Dhaka for bringing the friend-philosopher-guide...

Editorial

Published Date: October 19, 2014
CHT Peace Accord

Despite repeated promises, the government is yet to take concrete steps to ensure the full implementation of the CHT Peace Accord 1997. Almost 17 years have passed since its signing, but human rights violations and land occupation, instead of being addressed, is increasing at an alarming rate in the region. According to indigenous groups and human rights organisations, even the most basic demands in the accord have not been addressed. For instance, even though the government was supposed to hand...

SUNDAY POUCH
UK Recognition of Palestine

Published Date: October 19, 2014
Lessons forgotten

In a highly symbolic vote in the British House of Commons, members overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution last week to provide diplomatic recognition to a Palestinian state. The vote, 274 in favour to 12 against, was a reflection of the growing global dissatisfaction with Israel and its policies. World public opinion seems to have shifted since the breakdown of US sponsored peace negotiations and the armed conflict in Gaza earlier this year. Voices, both from the left and the...

PRAFUL BIDWAI COLUMN

Published Date: October 19, 2014
Hype over India's Mars mission

The contrast between India's two recent science and technology (S&T) projects couldn't have been starker. One, by delivering accurate early warnings about Cyclone Hudhud, saved thousands of lives. The other put the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) Mangalyaan into orbit -- a technological achievement, without much scientific or social consequence. The media exulted over MOM, and ultra-nationalisti-cally declared India a great global science power. But it ignored the first project -- based on low-key, unglamorous, painstaking...

Published Date: October 19, 2014
Child brides of South Asia

South Asia accounts for almost half of global child marriages, in which an underage girl is married to a man who is usually much older than she is. According to Unicef, while Niger has the highest overall prevalence of child marriage, Bangladesh has the highest rate of child brides who are under the age of 15. Bangladesh is also ranked second globally in terms of the rate of child marriages, where 74% of women currently aged 20-49 were married...

Published Date: October 19, 2014
The politics of death, and the death of politics

Piash Karim passed away on October 13. He was an engaging and effective teacher who has left a legion of grateful students as his legacy, a distinguished academic who had made lively presentations and published well-received articles in national and international platforms, and an honest individual who tried to remain faithful to his intellectual commitments and moral imperatives. But it was not his scholarship or pedagogy or personal charm that brought him to the national limelight. He found his métier,...

Published Date: October 19, 2014
Gas pricing for captive power

Gas pricing for captive power

Energy experts and analysts have long been talking about good management in the energy sector. The principal element of good energy management is sound pricing. The importance of pricing has never been fully appreciated in Bangladesh. Wrong pricing -- over-pricing or under-pricing -- can have many negative consequences, most important of which is excessive...

SHIFTING IMAGES

Published Date: October 19, 2014
To be “free” or not to be?

It has been a tumultuous summer, leading to an uncertain autumn. Israel's atrocities in Gaza and the brutal killings of the Islamic State have plunged many of us into stunned bewilderment. Our hopes of a liberal democratic world, where all races and religions are allowed to coexist, have been rudely shaken. Faced with a dystopian situation many like me are consciously seeking refuge and comfort in the arts. For art is not just a source of pleasure and relaxation,...

Editorial

Published Date: October 18, 2014
Limon's ordeal ends

AFTER more than three years of hell, the tribulation of a hapless boy of 19 has come to an end. While Limon's legal battle might be over we wonder whether he has got justice. Can the state recompense his losses in any meaningful way? On the brighter side, Limon should consider himself lucky he has lost a leg only; more unfortunate victims of police coercion are not alive to tell their tale. Limon was made the target of deliberate victimisation...

Editorial

Published Date: October 18, 2014
Falling birth rate

AN outstanding improvement has taken place in containing birth rate in urban slums. It has dropped from 2.5 in 2006 to 2.0 in 2013. For non-slum and semi-urban women the rate is 1.7 per mother. If this trend persists, we are looking at equalisation of birth and death rates after the population reaches 18 to 18.5 crore mark. Therefore, the existing projection of our population stabilising after it peaks in the next 20 years at 22 crore can be...

STRAIGHT LINE

Published Date: October 18, 2014
Corruption and the admirable jurisprudence

UNBRIDLED executive arrogance, both bureaucratic and political, has at many times halted the nurturing of democratic traditions and at worst resulted in the delay and denial of justice. In South Asian perspective it has not been unusual to unfortunately witness the discriminatory dispensation of justice, particularly when the overbearing executive has been at the wrong end of the transaction. It is in this background that the recent conviction of a sitting chief minister of India on corruption charges, and...

Published Date: October 18, 2014
Recognising Palestine

IN his recent meeting with President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he was “committed to the vision of peace for two states for two peoples.” That sounds nice. But if he'd been pressed, Netanyahu might have admitted that the two states he had in mind were Israel and the United States, not Israel and Palestine. After all, Netanyahu has done everything possible to demonstrate that he's not interested in negotiating a two-state solution with Palestinian representatives. The...

Published Date: October 18, 2014
Split in Taliban ranks

THE rise of the self-styled Islamic State was always going to have repercussions for the militant complex in Pakistan. The only real question is: how much of an effect will IS have here? The announcement this week by several TTP commanders, headlined by Taliban spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid, that their allegiance now lies with Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi has underlined the lure of IS has for splashy headlines, but the real impact may be limited. Certainly, the banned TTP stands further weakened...

Published Date: October 18, 2014
Mitigating pollution from coal based power plants

Mitigating pollution from coal based power plants

AFTER Rampal, Bangladesh is going to set up more thermal power plants of 1,320 MW capacity each at Moheshkhali, Patuakhali and Matarbari under foreign collaboration based on imported coal. All these plants will emit pollution into atmosphere. The Rampal power plant is a potential threat to the Sundarbans nearby, and all of them...

POLITICS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Published Date: October 18, 2014
The case for a climate change envoy

IT is now clear to all concerned that not only Bangladesh but the rest of the world too will have to deal with climate change for decades to come. Hence it will require permanent national and international institutions to deal with adaptation as well as mitigation and green development over not just the next five-year plan but for the next few five-year plans. At the global level, the main institution to discuss and agree actions is the United Nations Framework...

Published Date: October 18, 2014
Black holes DO exist

Apiece in The Daily Mail reports the conclusion of Laura Mersini-Houghton, a cosmologist and a theoretical physicist at the University of North Carolina, that black holes do not exist. In order to understand what led Mersini-Houghton to make such an earth-shattering claim, it is necessary to have a brief understanding of the history of black holes. A black hole -- one of Einstein's general relativity's predictions -- is an unfathomable hole drilled in the superstructure of the Universe. Inside a...