Progress


gitr_2007_cover_image.jpgThe Global Information Technology Report by World Economic Forum has become a valuable and unique benchmarking tool to determine national ICT strengths and weaknesses, and to evaluate progress. It also highlights the continuing importance of ICT application and development for economic growth.

The Report uses the Networked Readiness Index (NRI) to measure the degree of preparation of a nation or community to participate in and benefit from ICT developments. The NRI is composed of three component indexes which assess:
- environment for ICT offered by a country or community
- readiness of the community’s key stakeholders (individuals, business and governments)
- usage of ICT among these stakeholders.

The 2006-2007 report report is published today. And where do we, Bangladesh, stand?

At the bottom, where else!

It was a beautiful evening at the lawn of liberation war museum. The program marked a milestone in Bhobodoho project implementation. The money raised for the water logged students of Bhobodoho area to help them sit for the HSC exam was handed over to the local partner of Drishtipat, Daily Jugantor. The simple but very rich program was arranged by DP’s partner Ain o Shalish kendro and DP BUET chapter. Jugantor, in turn, will with the help of their local forum will hand over the money to respective students.

PICT0177

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While we wait for the events to unfold within the next few days, let me explain my take on a 3rd political force.

1. Liberal democratic party has been formed and Bangladesh citizens are embracing this new entity in the hope that it will be the much coveted 3rd party. I knew LDP was coming, but was not as elated.

Why not?

B and Mahi Chowdhury with Major Mannan formed a quite organized political party called Bikalpa Dhara within a short time. Mahi has been forced to learn politics from the basic grassroots level. I was hoping Oli and others will join this force under B Chowdhury’s leadership.

Col Oli was in Michigan this summer. No doubt he is relatively honest, headstrong, and outspoken. But I also saw in him was grandiosity, impractical ambition and a lot of rhetoric.

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We had a pre-planned meeting with Mrs Nurjahan Begum of Grameen Shikhkha, the scholarship management program of Grameen Bank for the benefit of underprivileged students .

She offered us to a day long field trip at one of the Grameen locations to see the activities of Grameen. Due to time restraint, we decided to do it the following day. A car was rented, a Grameen Bank officer, MR. Shahabuddin would accompany us to Madhabpur of Singair Thana at Manikganj.

Here is a pictorial essay of the day,
We went deep inside Bangladesh, we drove beside the paddy fields,

We walked through paddy fields

These farmer’s family members get loans for seeds, tractor rent, fertilizer etc.

GS Scholarship recipients, walked miles to meet us

They walked miles to greet us at the Bank office. We found them waiting for us.
As grameen scholarship recipients, their high school and college education expenses are partly met by Grameen education scholarship.

Please view the full post with 32 more pictures in next page.

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Let’s start with USA, the icon of democracy. The president of this country was initially elected by a Supreme Court decision, not by publics vote. And although it was face to face election, the person bagging more votes did not get the power. And over the last six years, on the plea of war against terrorism, basic principles of democracy and liberty are trampled one after one.

Then Go to UK, the birth place of this industrialized democratic civilization. The elected prime minister is more influenced by a leader of a different country on the other side of the Atlantic than his own constituency, his own colleagues in the parliament.

In the rest of the democratic Europe, conservative, more authoritative hawkish parties are winning the election one after another.
A man is ruling a continent called Australia and he is also apparently more inclined to appease the king of world than his own people.

Democracy in the rest of the world, Africa, Asia is nothing but a joke. Most cases there are monarchy running in the name of democracy, notable among these dynasty are the Nehru Dynasty of India, Lee dynasty of Singapore, the Chakri dynasty of Thailand, Sukorno dynasty of Indonesia, with here and there some half hearted experiments of democracy ( Japan, Korea, New Zealand, south Africa etc.)

And now zoom in to Bangladesh.
The options people have are either, Hasina and Joy- the daughter and the grandson: Khaleda and Tareque-widow and the son or an ambitious army general.

In the middle ages, ruler used to be decided by palace politics and usually at the cost of some royal blood. Now a days, rulers and ruling family are decided by street politics and at the cost of some subjects’ life.

And at the end of the day, be it Tareque, Joy or Ershad, there is basically no different in the life of people except a handful.

Malaysia and Mahathir is probably the most frequently quoted words in our political tea cup storm. Mahathir himself was never an icon of democracy, he was an authoritarian leader.

In fact there is no moral high ground in supporting a corrupt son or a disconnected grandson than a general or an authoritative ruler.

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But there is definitely a moral high ground in supporting democracy. This democracy is not about selecting the family who will occupy the palace and exploit the subjects. This democracy is about social justice, the freedom of speech. Because we have democracy, I can write this blog without fear, because there is democracy, I can watch what I watch in TV news, because there is democracy, there is finally an agreement about the garments workers minimum wages, because there is democracy 4th largest national Bank, Rupali goes to the real highest bidder, because there is democracy poeple like Anu Muhamamd can speak out loud against Fulbari oppression, becasue there is democracy Golam Rabbani finally comes out victorious in Kansat, because there is democracy, people in Bangladesh have a hope, the hope for better days. People under communist regime in East Europe didn’t even have any hope.

There are many reasons to be hopeful of my friends.

Failure of leadership does not make the system a failure. Islam is in the wrong hands now a days, it does not mean that Islam is all bad. Similarly, there is no reason to denounce democracy because the custodians have failed to perform.

Let’s try to separate democracy from the people who abuse it.

Picture courtesy Daily Prothom ALo.

After watching the clip can any of us remain not convinced to return home someday?

I was attending a meeting of Bangladeshi medical professionsals living in USA. One whole afternoon was devoted to a seminar on healthcare in Bangladesh. However the seminal virtually turned into a recruitment campaign for different large healthcare ventures desparately looking for foreign trained physicians. Leadership of Bangladesh Diabetic asociation, Apollo hospital, Square Hospital, Lab Aid Hospital, Americal Health Consortium Hospitals did their best to present their systems in an intense recruitment effort. All the speech was followed by well designed multimedia clips. Here is one that followed Square group’s Tapan Chowdhury’s passionate appeal.

[ I have no relationship with Square Hospital. This clip was chosen as, with my very limited technological skill, this is the only one I could figure a way to upload and share with you in this blog.]

After 15th August 1975, we lost one of the greatest assets of our natonal idenitity, i.e. our constitutional declaration of secularism.

30 years have passed since then. It seems like slowly we are getting used to our non-secular constitution. Nobody talks about it anymore. Dream of a secular Bangladesh is no longer promised in our political party meetings. It’s no longer a prominant election highlight.
In last 30 years, as far as I can recall, no party has ever submitted a bill in our parliament in an attempt to bring secularism back in Bangladesh.

In fact the word secularism turned into a ‘name calling’ word now a days. People use it as the words like fascist etc and the people in the receiving end also do not pride too much in being secular anymore.

And in the backdrop of our relentless regression away from secularism, Nepal changes it’s constitution to bring in secularism, first time in the history of this traditional Hindu kingdome. Bravo the people of Nepal. Bravo prime minister Mr Koirala, Bravo the parliament of Nepal.

Bangladesh prime Minister is visiting India. And a lot of roaring is coming out of Indian media quarters on how to give a good lashing to the visiting premier.

This calcutta Telegragh editorial predicts that Bangladesh prime Minister is expected to get some good lashing from her Indian counterpart. This editorial goes on saying, ” Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is likely to encounter some plain-speaking when she arrives in India on March 20 for a three-day state visit……After fighting Pakistan-sponsored terrorism with US help, India is now determined to slam the brakes on terrorism out of Bangladesh and will mince no words during meetings with Khaleda, a home ministry official said. ”

Over the last years, a portion of Indian media has been busy promoting Bangladesh as the bottom of all hell. In this pursuit, India had generous help from some western media.

This frontpage magazine article The Threat of Bangladesh starts like this “..Recent developments in Bangladesh have been of increasing concern to India — and for good reason…”

Another prominent Indian Media outlet put’s it this way,

Bangladesh crackdown on terrorism is a farce

“Bangladesh is paying lip service to fighting terrorism ahead of Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia’s visit to India next week, arresting two Islamist leaders it earlier allowed to operate with impunity….”

Now it has turned into a fashion to blame Bangladesh for anything bad that happens in India, like this article blaming Bangladesh for Varanshi incident. It says “..The presence of a wide range of terror affiliates, some with organic links to Al-Qaida, in Bangladesh has been an object of intense external intelligence gathering operations. Militants of Afghan, Chechen and Pakistani origin are believed to be operating from hundreds of camps.”

And while our prime Minister listens to all these bashing, complains, she should respond.

In her response she should mention of a more serious threat, coming out of India through it’s border into Bangladesh.

She should remind India that rather than spending money in rocket, nuclear science, and not pretending to be world’s most advanced country, India should focus a bit more into some basic issues.

She shoukld tell that ..”Only 4 countries are still polio-endemic – : Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. ” This deadly polio virus is more dangerous than any possble terrorism.

Bangladesh is a succes story in immunization campaign agaist different deadly diseases. Polio was eradicated six years ago. But as India ( While focused on showcasing herself as world’s super power, did a poor job eradicating Polio; and this polio is spreading Back to Bangladesh.

Seattle Post Intelligencer reports,
” Bangladesh confirmed on Friday the country’s first case of polio in nearly six years, prompting plans to resume mass vaccinations against the crippling disease next month….Samples confirmed the type of polio that infected the girl was genetically similar to the virus circulating in India.”

She should also mention that, “While Bangladesh so far has extreme low prevelance of AIDS/HIV, it is in increasing danger of an HIV pandemic thanks to uncontrolled spread out of bordering India.” She should assert that, ” Globally India is second only to South Africa in terms of the overall number of people living with HIV.” She should warn her Indian couter part that “A 2002 report by the CIA’s National Intelligence Council predicted 20 million to 25 million AIDS cases in India by 2010, more than any other country in the world”.

While India media keep on reciting Bangladesh as the desperately poor terrorist country in the world, Bangladesh Prime Minister should state these facts before Indian people,

Sumita Kale in business standard emphasizes this point…”Over the past 15 years, India reduced its infant mortality rate from 84 to 62 per 1,000, even as Bangladesh’s achievement was from 100 to 56 over the same period”

She should further say that, ” 95 per cent of infants in Bangladesh are
vaccinated against tuberculosis, and 77 per cent are vaccinated against
measles. The corresponding figures in India are only 81 per cent and 67
per cent, respectively.
Similarly, 97 per cent of the population in Bangladesh have access to an
‘improved water source’, compared with 84 per cent in India; and 48 per
cent of Bangladeshis have access to ‘improved sanitation,’ compared with
28 per cent of Indians.”

She should also mention that, ” the maternal mortality rate is much higher in India
than in Bangladesh: 540 and 380 per 100,000 live births, respectively.
Contraceptive prevalence, for its part, is higher in Bangladesh than in
India.
Bangladesh appears to be closer to universal primary
education than India: it has achieved a “net primary enrolment ratio” of
87 per cent, higher than India’s 83 per cent. “

She should emphasize that the so called Islamist terrorist Bangladesh ” has eliminated the gender bias in primary education, in sharp contrast with India where school participation rates continue to be much higher
for boys than for girls. Other gender-related indicators also put
Bangladesh in a relatively favourable light, compared with India:
Bangladesh, for instance, has a higher female-male ratio and much higher
rates of female labour force participation.”

It was crushing defeat, one after another. They lost 0-6 and 0-10 to teams from Kazhakystans and India.

They are the women’s football team of Bangladesh, participating in their first ever tournament and the first international tour.

However despite these crushing defeats, at the end of the tournament, the face of each of the Bangladeshi players glowed like the victorious.

Indeed it was a victory for bangladesh women booters. They came out of typical women’s indoor sports, stepped into traditionally men’s arena, and now they have just finished their first international fixture.

It was history of sorts for the Bangladesh under-19 women’s football team as they made their way through the tunnel. It was the first time they were competing in any junior tournament in football. So much so that, most of the players who are part of the squad though are sportswomen, have never played football.

. You can read the full article here.

This story, as ancipated, was missing from Bangladeshi Blogosphere. However it would have been all over the blog if this trip had been cancelled by governmnet, or some zealots issues some threat, or something bad happened with it etc.

Fairness While Blogging, is it too much to ask?

Bishwa Ijtema was a major news out of all Bangladeshi media outlet. Even international press covered the event with due importance.

Millions gather for Islamic prayer

Muslim gathering closes in Dhaka
At least four million Muslims are estimated to have attended a three-day gathering in Bangladesh.

I was going through the Bangladesh related blogs over the internet during these days. Young Bangladeshi bloggers are ever vigilant against any negative, sad, bad news coming out of Bangladesh. Any slightest flicker related to Jihad, violent islam gets magnified in the Bangladeshi blogs and keeps on Banging the blogs like 10.0 richter scale apocalyptic event.

But except for a childlish negative write up, bloggers were mostly dead silent about the successful management of Ijtema.

But it should have been the other way. While we are ever hellbent against Islamism, vigilant against rise of violent islam, we could cease the opportunity and show the muslim population of the country that Islam can be non-violent, non-political also. Compared to violent political Islam, Ijtema host Tablig Jamaat has come up as a good alternative movement of nonviolent, non political Islam. Tablig jamaat, born in our subcontinent, has shown this. Rather than importing wahhabism from Saudi Arabia, we have a peaceful movement to export to those Islamic countries which are the breedig ground of violent Islam.

In fact, I feel the the way, esp without any major incident, mishap, rather with relative efficiency, this huge gathering is being hosted annually, is commendable. Comparing the consistent catastrophies during Hajj in Mecca, Ijtema organizers as well as Bangladesh administrations over the years are doing a superb job in handling the crowd.

Not only for Muslims, Bangladesh has been arraging the mass crowd of the ‘Langalband snan’ of Hinduism followers for hundreds of years.

Langalband is a holy bathing river bank for the hindus since the Vedic time. It is situated on the right bank of Old Brahmaputra river, 12 km to the South East of Dhaka, on Dhaka Chittagong highway. Every year Over 50,000 Hindus gather here on the 8th lunar day during the Bangla month of Falgoon (April-May) to bathe in the holy water of the old Brahmaputra, purifying the soul and mind, driving the evil out.

A fairness while blogging— will it be too much to ask?

Rumi

So many good news in a day. Am I dreaming?

JMB military commander Sunny held
He was behind all suicide attacks; explosives warehouse found at Sabujbagh containing grenades, pistols, bullet dies, bomb-making gel; Ctg militant commander caught with bombs and ingredients

Better late than never.

Babar takes U-turn to term Yadav innocent.

In a U-turn from his earlier knee-jerk reaction, State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar yesterday said that Yadav Das who was killed in December 8 suicide bombing in Netrakona was innocent.

Gobu Montreer Bodhodoy. Qudos to Brave Bangladesh media.

‘The win is for the martyrs’
Sports reporter from Karachi.

Everybody was on the edge of their seats as the clock was ticking towards the final whistle. The nervy Bangladesh tent at the People’s Sports Complex Stadium here went for frantic changes to buy precious time. It worked for the holders as they survived a late Pakistan pressure to eke out a 1-0 victory and a place in the final of the SAFF Championship for a second successive time.

Shabash Bangladesh.

Political consensus a must to root out militancy. Speakers tell roundtable.

Civil society members, political leaders and educationists at a roundtable yesterday called for a political consensus to stamp out Islamic militancy, which has threatened the national security and has been destroying the economy and social fibre. They also stressed the need for the unity among political parties and good governance at this critical period.

Al Presidium Member Suranjit Sengupta also wants political consensus.

World Potential Economy
Bangladesh on Goldman Sachs ‘Next Eleven’ list

Goldman Sachs, a US-based investment banking and securities firm, in a report on world’s potential economies has placed Bangladesh on its “Next Eleven” list as a key member.

The report said, “Bangladesh, the world’s tiny economy with most corrupt brand, will power the global economy something of the magnitude of the BRICs economies.”

The “Next Eleven” is the second term the Goldman Sachs has coined to describe economies with high growth potential, such as the “BRICs” economies encompassing Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Probably Goldman Sach’s is positively impressed about the potentials of Bangladesh after observing the work ethics of some of its Bangladeshi origin leadership.

The New Nation. Bid to deny duty-free access Bangladesh warns of veto at WTO conference, By BSS, Dhaka, Wed, 14 Dec 2005, 11:00:00

There are indications that some developing countries are trying to figure out Bangladesh as an advanced LDC, not similar to other LDCs to deny it the duty-free and quota-free trade access to some of its products, more precisely to RMG products to the markets of the developed countries. It appears Bangladesh is being singled out to be punished for its success in global trading as an emerging exporter from the LDC group, experts here in Hong Kong said in their initial reaction to such an exclusion possibility.

Advanced LDC!! Doesn’t sound bad at all.

Sakib alone suffices
Bangladesh clinch U-19 title beating Lanka

Sakib Al Hasan struck a swashbuckling hundred as Bangladesh clinched the under-19 tri-nation trophy in style with an emphatic six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka at BKSP yesterday.

Please keep up the form as you grow, dear kids.

ADB transport and energy proposal
Bangladesh as regional hub
In our opinion there is a great deal of merit in the proposal that has been put forth by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to help build up South Asia’s transport and energy infrastructure by means of developing Bangladesh as the sub-regional hub around which these sectors can pivot.

It’s snowing allover midwest. Let it snow. Leet it snow. Let it snow.

–Rumi

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