Saturday, April 14, 2007

'Chief Adviser's speech reflects people's desire

Lauding the speech of Chief Adviser(CA) Fakhruddin Ahmed, different political parties, civil society leaders, and former advisers to the caretaker government yesterday said the speech was tuned to people's desire as the uncertainty over holding of the next election has been dispelled.

Political parties, however, expressed concern as the CA said nothing about the lifting of ban on political activities.

They urged declaration of a more specific timeframe of election.

Fakhruddin Ahmed in his address to the nation on Thursday outlined the road maps of his government. He categorically said that the next parliamentary election would be held before the end of 2008.

Welcoming the chief adviser for setting the timeframe for the next election, BNP Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan said some aspects of his speech are positive.

He lauded the government's steps for political reforms and strengthening constitutional and democratic institutions as well as the local government system.

Bhuiyan also praised the CA's assurance to create a congenial environment for holding free, fair and neutral elections without the influence of black money.

Awami League General Secretary Abdul Jalil in his reaction appreciated the chief adviser for mentioning a timeframe to hold the next general election.

Jalil also hailed the caretaker government for the achievements during the last three months.
Workers Party of Bangladesh described the CA's speech as the reflection of people's desire.
They, however, expressed concern over the CA's silence on the issue of ban on political activities.
Jatiya Samajtantric Dal in their reaction said the CA's speech has helped to remove the uncertainty and concern over holding of the next election and over the future politics of Bangladesh.

Former adviser to the caretaker government SM Shahjahan said the CA's speech is a 'very good gift' to the nation on the eve of the Bangla New Year.

"We have got a timeframe of the next general election that we all craved for. Now the chief adviser should set a timetable for implementing everything that he has mentioned in his speech," he said.

Prof Emajuddin Ahmed, former vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, said, "It is a positive matter that the chief adviser has set a timeframe for the next election."

Muhammad Kamaruzzaman of Jamaat-e-Islami welcomed the CA's speech for mentioning a timeframe of the next general election."

He, however, said, "It would be beneficial for all if the timeframe of next general election were shorter."

Jatiya Party and Palestine Returnees' Muktijoddha Sangshad also hailed the CA'a speech.

Monday, March 5, 2007

'Banker to poor’ Nobel Peace prize laureate formed political party

Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Peace laureate known as the “banker to the poor”, is to form a political party to try to rescue Bangladesh from a political crisis that has raised the spectre of military rule.

The founder of Grameen Bank raised hopes for a new era of democratic rule in an open letter to the Bangladeshi people exactly a month after the army forced the President to cancel an election and impose a state of emergency.

A military-backed caretaker government took power on January 12, promising to clean up its notoriously corrupt politics and to organise elections as soon as possible, but it has yet to set a date, raising fears of a return to formal military rule in the world’s third-largest Muslim country.
Dr Yunus, 66, who won the Nobel prize for his work of granting small loans to very poor people, lives an austere life in Dhaka, wearing clothes made of a simple cotton cloth that he designed to help poor textile workers. He asked Bangladeshis to send him letters, e-mails and text messages advising him how to build a “Bangladesh we all dream of”.

He said: “The way the present caretaker Government is trying to create an acceptable atmosphere by carrying out necessary reforms has made me optimistic, along with all citizens of the country. In this situation, I feel it with my heart that I should, showing due respect to the people’s expectation of me, participate in the mission of taking the nation to the height it deserves . . . I know that joining politics is to become controversial. I am ready to take that risk.”
His announcement offered the first real prospect of a democratic alternative to the “battling begums” — the two women who have dominated Bangladeshi politics for the past 16 years.

(By Jerome Page)

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Expert body on voter ID card submits report - Cost estimated at Tk 385 crore

An expert committee has estimated that preparation of voter identity cards will cost about Taka 385 crore.The eight-member committee, constituted by the government to examine the proposals for introduction of voter identity cards, on Sunday submitted its report estimating a budget of Taka 385 crore for the ID cards which would be bio-metric and laminated.

According to sources close to the expert committee, the report recommended for creating a database of voter ID cards on a priority basis which could later be expanded to a national database for distribution of national identity cards.

The cost could be reduced by Taka 50 crore if a list with photographs is prepared and cards are not provided immediately, the report says.The report suggested that the ministry of home affairs could be the authority responsible for maintaining the database—a job so far done by the Election Commission.

The expert committee handed over the report to science and ICT adviser Tapan Chowdhury. The committee prepared the report incorporating all the ‘best proposals’ made by different institutions including the army, BUET, BASIS, BSC and a number of NGOs .

The committee, headed by Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, comprised secretary to the ministry of science and ICT Wahid-uz-Zaman, IT specialist Mostafa Jabbar, executive director of Bangladesh Computer Council and representatives from BUET, army and ministries concerned. It was formed on February 1 to conduct a feasibility study on the preparation of the voter ID cards.

Drive against corruption will be conducive to fair polls : Chief Adviser

Chief Adviser of the Caretaker government Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed on Sunday said drive against corruption will create a favourable atmosphere of election and at the same time will help bring economic benefits to people.

The government is determined to check corruption, Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed said and called upon all to cooperate in rooting out the menace from the society.Corruption was spread out everywhere and it made lives of common people vulnerable, he added. The Chief Adviser made the remarks while exchanging views with high civil and military officials of Barisal division at the local circuit house. Previously he exchanged views with divisional level government officials at Chittagong.

Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed asked the officials to take effective steps so that price of the essentials can be kept at a tolerable level. Price level can be controlled by ensuring smooth supply system, he said and added vigilance should be kept so that the dishonest businessmen cannot manipulate the market. He also asked the officials to be alert so that the genuine businessmen are not being harassed during the drive of the law enforcers.

The Chief Adviser directed the government officials of all levels to discharge their duties with utmost sincerity, neutrality and responsibility rising above fear and intimidation. "You are the officials of the republic and will perform your work as per rules under the constitution and not being loyal to any party or opinion" he added.

Terming the government officials as servant of people, he also asked them to work with a mentality of service. Referring to various reforms undertaken by the government including the Election Commission and Anti- Corruption Commission, Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed said these are aimed at holding a free and fair election.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Bangladesh Facts (Language)

Bangla is the language of more than 99 percent of the population. Bangla is the seventh most extensively spoken language in the world after Chinese, English, Russian, Spanish, Hindi and Arabic. The Bengali script is derived directly from Gupta Brahmi script which has close affinity to Cambodian and Thai scripts. The origin of this language is usually traced to the 10th century. Bengali is a rich language capable of expressing the finest nuances of thought and feelings, a language that continuously mirrors the ever-changing play of life. It is rich in poetry, short story, novel, drama, essay and belles-lettres.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bangladesh Facts (Art and Architecture)

The Bangladesh region contains relics of the finest specimens of Buddhist monastic architecture. The Buddhist vihara at Paharpur occupied a quadrangle measuring more than 900 feet externally at each site.

"No single monastery of such dimensions" asserts an art historian", has come to light in India, and the appellation mahavihara, the great monastery as designating the place, can be considered entirely appropriate". Similar vihara of Deva dynasty has been unearthed at Mainamati. The relics of Mahasthangarh where the ancient city of Pundravardhana was located suggest that a large monastery was built there. Of notable sculptures in ancient Bengal, stone figures of Buddha from Ujani in Faridpur district, Varaha avatara from Bogra (10th century) the Vishnu Stela from Comilla (11th century) and Chandi image from Dhaka district (12th century) deserve special mention. Another remarkable achievement was the terracotta art of Paharpur which drew its inspiration from the simple village life. This depicts the daily life of people with intense human interest. As an art historian observes, "It is impossible to find in the hieratic religious art of India at any given period such a large social content, such variety of human feelings, such intimacy of contact with the events and experiences of daily life, such spontaneous action and movements, depicted with such powerful and purposeful rhythm".

The Middle Age in Bengal saw the construction of a large number of Islamic monuments which were characterized by massive arches and bold clean lines. The emphasis was on utility and simplicity. Among these monuments the Satgambuz mosque of Bagerhat, the mausoleum of Shah Ali Bagdadi at Mirpur and the mosque of Rasti Khan at Hathazari deserve special mention

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bangladesh Facts (Religion)

Bangladesh contains the second largest (after Indonesia) Muslim population in the world. In 1981, 86.6 percent of the population was Muslim. The proportion of Muslims increased from 85.4 percent in 1974 to 86.6 percent in 1981. On the other hand, the proportion of Hindu population dropped from 13.5 percent in 1974 to 12.1 percent in 1981.

The increase in proportion of Muslim population may be attributed to higher birth rate among the Muslims. Census records from 1872 to 1981 clearly indicate that birth rate among the Muslims was always higher than that of the Hindus. The Buddhists constituted about 0.6 percent of the population in both 1974 and 1981 censuses. There are about 175,000 Christians in Bangladesh. The percentage of Christians was about 0.3 percent.