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Messages - Md. Anwar Hossain

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Story, Article & Poetry / The case of prestige in higher education
« on: July 26, 2018, 08:37:24 PM »
No sooner had the results for the Higher Secondary and School Certificate (HSC) examination been published that strong deliberation regarding the problems and prospects of further education after HSC sprang up. Major print and electronic media covered the news giving utmost priority to the said issue.

Tertiary education is divided down two streams—one is 2-3 years long diploma and certificate courses in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutes; and the other is 3-years and above long degree courses in colleges and universities. An estimate showed that only 0.52 percent of people completed diploma, certificate or an equivalent degree, whereas approximately 95 percent students completed pass degree, honours degree, masters' or its equivalent degree and 2.63 percent students completed professional MBBS/BDS, engineering or an equivalent degree in 2013. Implying that, popularity of university-level degree among HSC graduates and their parents/guardians is very high. But labour market prospects of university graduates are bleak compared to TVET graduates. An estimate shows that 25 percent of TVET graduates are unemployed compared to 45 percent of university/college graduates. Despite that, HSC graduates and their parents prefer higher education to diploma or certificate degrees.

In the 1950s, James Becker, an American economist, first explored the relationship between education and income and, thereafter, published his seminal work known as “the theory of human capital”. Putting it simply, human capital refers to knowledge and ability of human beings. At that time, contemporary economists agreed that both human and physical capital are essential for a country's development. And the return to human capital is very personal. Here the personal gain is obviously nothing but monetary gain. Consequently, in order to maximise personal gains, graduates aspire for higher education in their preferred university or college. Apart from that, there are facts that, asymmetric labour market information, social matters like social prestige and status where an HSC graduate lives, influence their decision about higher education. James Becker missed this point in his theory.

Experience shows that social network and connection play a vital role in the decision-making process of an HSC graduate's preferred destination for further education. In the decision-making process, an HSC graduate or his/her parents are not aware of the implications of further education. More than two close relatives of mine, who live in the peri-urban city Savar have sent their sons and daughters to private universities to get a bachelor degree in business. A few months back, when I came across them, I asked why their parents had sent them to university. They replied that it is their perception that the prospect and prestige of a business graduate was very high in society. They were unable to verify their perception with any evidence as there is none available. The pity is that many parents send their children to pursue higher education in both public and private universities, hoping that their children after graduation will get decent employment. Their expectation in terms of both economics and prestige fall flat when they find that their children, despite having a university/college degree, neither find any employment nor are they self-employed. The parents are seldom, if ever, advised to take an alternative direction of educating their children in TVET institutions.

In addition, in spite of enough information, some parents decide to send their boys/girls to university to maximise social prestige although their children do not have good pre-university academic results that make them fit to pursue higher education. In developed countries, the matter of prestige in occupational choice is totally absent. Once, at an Australian university, the Head of the Department of the School of Commerce, who was a Professor in Economics, very proudly said to me that his son was a carpenter. Similarly, I can recall in the Netherlands, where I attended a training organised by a big consulting firm, the top boss of the company told me that his son was a hotel receptionist. None of them felt shy to disclose the profession of their children. This is absent in our country and other underdeveloped countries.

In today's globalised world, we can no longer keep ourselves isolated from the rest of the world. It is important to change the social taboo associated with some professions. At this stage, the government and parents have crucial roles and responsibilities to fulfil. The government can set up “Employment Centres” (EC) in its remote administrative districts under the Ministry of Employment and Labour. The ECs will run a vital point of consultation (or share information) about employment or vacancies in home-based companies/firms/offices as found in developed countries like Australia or the UK. The centres may work as a bridge between the employers and potential employees. Finally, although it is not very easy to change the social outlook about TVET graduates overnight, the government may work to prepare a national qualification framework including TVET and university/college level degrees so that TVET graduates can attend university at any stage of their life to get a higher degree if they wish. This will enhance their social position to some extent.

Shamsul Arifeen Khan Mamun is an Education Economist, who has been working at the Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU) of the Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project (HEQEP) since 2016. Email:

Dhaka and Chittagong nowadays are not alone in going through the ordeal of waterlogging. With urban development taking place under no well formulated plan, newer cities and towns are falling in the grip of waterlogging. Low-lying areas and the major roads of these cities and towns go under water, premises of offices and educational institutions remain submerged for days, transports and pedestrians struggle hard to reach destinations. It appears that the factors causing Dhaka's waterlogging have virtually been made to replicate in the urban points outside the capital. These cities and towns include divisional and district headquarters, upazila towns as well as busy river ports and trade centres.

Like Dhaka, many of these urban areas stand on large and small rivers. A few of these towns are hemmed in by one or more rivers and their tributaries and distributaries. Thanks to reckless encroachment of these rivers and man-made impediments created to their flows, water overflows during the monsoon. A large volume of the excess water from the rain-fed rivers swamps the areas on their banks. The greater danger is posed by the moribund in-city natural water channels, and the collapsing drainage.  As has been seen with the Buriganga and the three other Dhaka rivers, the choked canals and drains in these cities, too, cannot carry the rainwater to the nearby rivers. What follows is the spilling over of water into the various neighbourhoods of these towns. It is mainly riverbank encroachment and the grossly inept drainage management, coupled with canal-filling in cases, which is being held responsible for waterlogging in the smaller cities. The situation, veritably, is an extended tale of the capital.

While singling out the causes of waterlogging, experts identify haphazard urbanisation, rising population and faulty drainage. In the context of Bangladesh there are other less visible, but important nonetheless, reasons behind this annual scourge. That unplanned urbanisation has a major role in the deterioration of drainage in the emerging cities is implied. Developers indiscriminately landfill the low-lying water retention areas or water bodies all around.
As the capital's waterlogging situation continues to worsen, the collapse of its overall drainage comes to the fore. This decades-old urban backdrop also features a lot of concomitant infrastructural shortcomings. When the country's capital, a feverishly growing metropolis, remains plagued with glaring infrastructural lapses the scourge of perennial waterlogging cannot be expected to go away overnight. With the outlying cities and towns viewing the capital as a model in their long-term planning, one cannot expect anything innovative and people-friendly from them. The whole urban policy making and the operational phase of Bangladesh are hinged on the nation's centre. The resultant newer cities and towns thus cannot make much of a difference. By making a break with the traditional style of development, the newly emerged cities can prove themselves a pioneer of new-age urban growth. Dealing with the recurrent socio-economic dampers created by waterlogging is no herculean task. This is achievable even in the resource-constrained Bangladesh reality.

লাইভ প্রতিবেদক: ৩৭তম বিসিএসের চূড়ান্ত ফলাফলের বিষয়ে আজ মঙ্গলবার সিদ্ধান্ত নেওয়া হবে। তিন মাস আগে এই বিসিএসের মৌখিক পরীক্ষা শেষ হয়।

বাংলাদেশ সরকারি কর্মকমিশনের (পিএসসি) উচ্চপর্যায়ের একটি সূত্র জানিয়েছে, দুপুর সাড়ে ১২টায় পিএসসি বিশেষ সভা অনুষ্ঠিত হয়েছে। সভায় ফলাফল কবে প্রকাশ করা হবে, সেই সিদ্ধান্ত নেওয়া হয়। মঙ্গলবার এক বিশেষ বৈঠকের পর এই ফল প্রকাশ হয়।

গতকাল সোমবার ৩৬তম বিসিএসের নন–ক্যাডারদের মধ্য থেকে অপেক্ষমাণ ২৩ জনকে প্রাথমিকের প্রধান শিক্ষক পদে নিয়োগের সুপারিশ করা হয়। এর মধ্য দিয়ে ৩৬তম বিসিএসের কার্যক্রম শেষ ঘোষণা করেছে পিএসসি।

বিসিএসের চূড়ান্ত ফলাফল প্রকাশের পরে নিয়োগ পেতে প্রার্থীদের একটা দীর্ঘ সময় অপেক্ষায় থাকতে হয়। এ সময় তাঁদের স্বাস্থ্য পরীক্ষা ও পুলিশি যাচাই-বাছাই হয়। সব পরীক্ষা-নিরীক্ষার পর প্রতিবেদন পাওয়া সাপেক্ষে জনপ্রশাসন মন্ত্রণালয় গেজেট বা প্রজ্ঞাপন প্রকাশ করে। এরপর নিয়োগপ্রাপ্তদের পদায়ন করা হয়।

গত বছরের ১১ ফেব্রুয়ারি ৩৭তম বিসিএসের লিখিত পরীক্ষা শুরু হয়। শেষ হয় গত বছরের ২৩ মে। এই পরীক্ষায় ৫ হাজার ৩৭৯ জন পাস করেন।

২০১৬ খ্রিস্টানের ৩০ সেপ্টেম্বর ৩৭তম বিসিএসের প্রিলিমিনারি পরীক্ষা অনুষ্ঠিত হয়। এতে অংশ নেন ২ লাখ ৪৩ হাজার ৪৭৬ জন পরীক্ষার্থী। প্রাথমিক বাছাই পরীক্ষায় ৮ হাজার ৫২৩ জন উত্তীর্ণ হন। তবে লিখিত পরীক্ষায় অংশ নেন ৮ হাজার ৩১ জন। প্রথম শ্রেণির গেজেটেড কর্মকর্তা হিসেবে ১ হাজার ২২৬ জনকে নিয়োগ দিতে ৩৭তম বিসিএসের বিজ্ঞপ্তি প্রকাশ করেছিল পিএসসি।

পিএসসি চেয়ারম্যান ক্যাম্পাসলাইভকে জানান, ৩৭তম বিসিএসে বিজ্ঞাপনে ১হাজার ২২৬ জনের কথা থাকলে ১ হাজার ৩১৪ জনকে ক্যাডার হিসেবে নিয়োগের সুপারিশ করা হয়েছে। এতে সাধারন ক্যাডার হয়েছেন ৪৬৫ জন, সহকারী সার্জন হয়েছেন ২৭২ জন, ডেন্টাল সার্জন হয়েছেন ৫১ জন। অন্যান্য কারিগরিতে ক্যাডার হয়েছেন ৩১৬ জন এবং শিক্ষা ক্যাডার হয়েছেন ২১০ জন। এছাড়া ৩ হাজার ৪৫৪ জনকে নন ক্যাডারে অপেক্ষমান রাখা হয়েছে। পদ পাওয়া সাপেক্ষে তাদের নিয়োগ দেওয়া হবে।


ঢাকা, ১২ জুন (ক্যাম্পাসলাইভ২৪.কম)//এমআই

« on: June 12, 2018, 06:27:13 PM »
Information and Communication Technology means the new world as set  of tools, processes and methodology (Such as programming, data communication, data conversion, storage and retained, system analysis and design, system control) and associated equipment employed to collect, process and present information. In board terms, IT includes office automation, multimedia and telecommunication. In a nutshell we can say without it this new era of present world is a big zero.
It is the infrastructure and components of that enable modern computing. Though there is no single universal definition of ICT. The term generally accepted to mean all devices, networking components. Applications and systems that combined and allow the people and organizations to interact in the digital world like business, non-profit organizations, Governments and criminal enterprises. Almost every day the concept of ICT evolving, the broadness of ICT  covers any product that will store, retrieve, manipulate, transmit or receive information automatically in a digital form.
We the Bangladeshi are passing this era. Bangladesh is dreaming, the present Government has created this dream and  now implementing effectively through IT expert Mr. Sajib Wazed Joy the IT advisor of Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. A substantial achievement has already been made and it will be continued in future to do hundred percent digital Bangladesh in a short span of time. 
The World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) represent the global information and communications technologies (ICT) industry sector. The ICT sector and the Internet are now one and the same.  Both enable growing trade in information goods and services and are the basis for 21st century commerce and communications, and central to global economic, social and development. Wherever it is available, the Internet provides, and must continue to provide, information that reduces gaps and inequalities in health and education. The single, global Internet, not multiple national versions, enables this, and must be preserved, extended and enhanced.
The World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) is a leading consortium of ICT industry association members from over 80 countries/economies around the world. WITSA's members represent more than 90 percent of the world ICT market. WITSA was founded in 1978 as the World Computing Services Industry Association, and participates in advocacy in international public policy that affects the "global information infrastructure". It voices the concerns of the international IT industry in organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the G8. WITSA's motto is "Fulfilling the Promise of the Digital Age"
WITSA members are leaders in a globally interconnected marketplace. As the challenges facing the ICT industry are undisputedly global in nature, their members work together to achieve a shared vision on important issues of common interest. It is possible for the members throughout the world to identify common issues and priorities, exchange valuable information, and present a united position on industry issues.
WITSA is the leading recognized voice of the global ICT Industry which is the key driver of global economic growth. To promote and facilitate the global growth of the information and communications technology and services industry through public policy development and advocacy, the promotion of global trade and investment, global forum and experience.
WITSA has identified and adopted eight key critical forces to propel the organization to greater height which has appended below:
Public Policy: To strengthen WITSA's advocacy role in the development of ICT-related international public policy.
Global Trade: To facilitate global trade among WITSA members that impacts the growth of the ICT industry.
Membership: To increase and to retain WITSA members by providing greater membership value.
Partnership/Collaboration: To build and to enhance WITSA's relationships with corporations, globally recognized organizations and institutions and governments in order to garner greater support, participation and recognition of WITSA.
Flagship Events: To continue hosting WITSA's flagship events in different parts of the world in order to strengthen WITSA's global thought leadership position.
Global Recognition: To improve WITSA's brand and public relations efforts in order to increase and enhance WITSA's image and reputation globally.
Operational Efficiency: To improve WITSA's operational efficiency in financial capabilities, organizational capabilities, and increase value to WITSA's members and partners.
Organizing Global ICT Excellence Awards: To recognize outstanding ICT users from around the globe.
Capacity building: To focus on understanding the obstacles that inhibit people, governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations from realizing the benefits from ICT and its development.
These key critical forces will be supported and implemented via various initiatives, activities and tasks.
WITSA Global ICT Excellence Awards 
The WITSA Global ICT Excellence Awards  honor achievements in the application of information technology around the globe. Winners have exhibited excellence in one of four categories: Public Sector Excellence, Private Sector Excellence, Sustainable Growth and Digital Opportunity. A Chairman's Award is presented to a nominee selected from the entire pool of candidates from all four awards categories. The award ceremonies are a signature event of the proceedings at the World Congress on Information Technology.
Global Trade Committee
The Committee was established in September 2008.  The Committee played a key role in facilitating global trade among WITSA members to spur the growth of the ICT industry and support the following key objectives:
To promote global trade on ICT leveraging on WITSA's global network and members;
To offer a platform for members to engage in business matching and multilateral meetings; and
To promote the ICT economy in global trade
The Committee was responsible for the establishment of the Soft Landing Zone.  It was first announced in October 2009.  Through these soft landing zones, members, global partners and their affiliates would have at their disposal the necessary infrastructure and facilities to identify and build business alliances with buyers, sellers or investors.
WITSA Trade Mission is another initiative by the Committee to provide a platform for member economies to host trade missions, attract potential investment and promote the ICT industry of the host economy.  Through the trade missions, WITSA provides opportunities for participants to network with potential business partners, to forge strategic alliances and to explore global business opportunities.
Mr. Sabur Khan re-elected WITSA director and GTC chairman
To represent Bangladesh in Global Information and Communication Technology, Bangladesh Computer Samity nominated the Chairman of Daffodil family Md. Sabur Khan, getting highest votes, has been re-elected as WITSA (World Information Technology Services Alliance) Director and GTC (Global Trade CommitteeChairman)
This competitive election took place at the WITSA General Assembly held at Sao Paolo in Brazil on October 4, 2016. This achievement has been possible due to have continuous and regular communication of BCS with WITSA. It is naturally expected that Bangladesh will play a more significant role in the field of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) sector through this remarkable achievement.
Bangladesh gets WITSA global ICT award
Bangladesh was awarded with the prestigious 'Global ICT Excellence Award' in the category of 'Public Sector Excellence' for outstanding contribution in social development of the nation using IT. ICT division State minister Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak received the award on behalf of Bangladesh Government at World Congress on IT-WCIT in Mexico.
After receiving the award, in reaction, State Minister said that with the active guidance of the PM we were able to make a huge leap toward a true digital Bangladesh. Mr. Palak also added that the award was in fact the achievement of 16 million people of Bangladesh as they all cooperated to make this happen.
The expert committee of World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA), comprising of 80 nations, nominated Bangladesh in this particular category. The Awards program aims at identifying the most outstanding users of information and communications technology. Held every two years, the WCIT is covered by hundreds of local and international media representatives as well as approximately 2,000 high ranking delegates from around the world. WITSA represents IT industry associations in over 80 countries or economies.
WITSA Awards 2021 World Congress on IT to Bangladesh
The WITSA Board of Directors at its March 10th meeting in Canberra, Australia, selected the Bangladesh Computer Samity (BCS) to host the 2021 World Congress on IT in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Bangladesh, a 147,570 square kilometer land of diversity that is truly an amazing nation filled with natural beauty, resource and warm hospitable people. Bangladesh is one of those few high potential nations that smartly harnesses its strengths while utilizing information technology to leap into the digital age and go on to become one of the strongest economies of the world. With the ambition to set the stage as the upcoming technologically advanced nation, Bangladesh as a nation is looking forward to hosting the 25th World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) in Bangladesh in 2021.
In fact, hosting this illustrious event fits very rightly in the overall Vision 2021 of "Digital Bangladesh" agenda. As per Vision 2021, Bangladesh with the Midas touch of ICT will graduate to a Middle Income Country by 2021 where the knowledge based population of the country will create wonders. Vision 2021 is a strategy that also has its clear reflection in the country operation plan, namely the "Seventh Five Year Plan". For operational excellence, Bangladesh does an extensive planning every five years. Likewise, the reflection of "Digital Bangladesh" and it's involvement for future development is apparent in the plan. Hence, the year 2021 is a year of celebration for Bangladesh and hosting the WCIT 2021 will be one of the central pillars to this celebration. This will be the immense and diversified goal which has been dreamt by our Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at all the times.

(Md. Hamidul Haque Khan (Murad), Treasurer, Daffodil International University).

Business Model Generation / Make way for private investment
« on: June 12, 2018, 06:25:39 PM »

The Finance Ministry needs to realize that private investment is crucial to our future economic progress

The newly unveiled budget heralds a much needed shift in the priorities for our country -- the fact that one-third of the entire budget is being allocated to the development of women speaks volumes.

But while the Finance Ministry deserves every bit of the praise it has been receiving in formulating a budget that is so forward-thinking in so many ways, one key issue rightly pointed out by the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) is the need for policy which could help raise private investment in Bangladesh.

To that end, MCCI’s observation that Bangladesh’s economy “is progressing well, but below its true potential” rings very true.

Our RMG industry, the primary engine of our economic growth, is perhaps the best example of how far a country can go when the private sector is allowed to flourish at the right time; the same applies to numerous other burgeoning industries that are helping bring in much-needed FDI to our country.

In order to maintain this growth trajectory, it is imperative that the administration make some urgent policy reforms, consider simplifying the existing taxation system, and adopt business-friendly policies such as increased incentives and a blanket reduction in corporate tax.

And hence, proposals such as a 5% sales tax on what the budget describes as “virtual businesses” could prove to be somewhat problematic, considering our aspirations to flourish in the IT sector.

Bangladesh has come a long way, but there are still daunting growth challenges ahead of us if we are to reach developing country status. The Finance Ministry, and any other administrative body concerned, needs to realize that private investment is crucial to our future economic progress.

Case Study / Training boosts garment workers' productivity: study
« on: June 01, 2018, 12:36:45 AM »
The garment factories that have trained workers have seen a productivity rise by 5 percent, according to a survey of the International Finance Corporation released yesterday.

The trained female operators of the factories were also promoted to the posts of supervisors for their efficiency gained from the trainings, it showed.

The study report -- Cutting through the Cloth Ceiling -- prepared by the IFC in collaboration with the Japanese government was released at a discussion at Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden.

The IFC trained 144 female sewing operators and their mid-level managers in 28 factories in collaboration with Better Work Bangladesh and the Innovations for Poverty Action in 2016-17.

Out of the 144 trainees who completed the programme, 92 were offered a promotion with an increase in salary within weeks of completing the training and 60 percent of them have accepted the offer, said the study.

Everybody received two months' training. The IFC provided the Work-Progression and Productivity Toolkit (WPT) to female sewing operators with five days of classroom training in the technical skills required to supervise a production line.

They were also given four days' of soft skills training on leadership, communications, and how to be an effective supervisor. The trainees had to put the lessons to use during an eight-week on-the-job training.

“The trainees were promoted to line supervisors and line assistant supervisors,”said Anaise Williams of the University of Oxford who along with her colleague Prof Christopher Woodruff led the study. About 2,000 people, including mid to top-level managers of the factories were interviewed during the survey between December 2016 and January 2018.

The number of female supervisors in the participating factories increased from an average of 5.22 percent before the training to 11.86 percent after the training, said the study.

“The training taught me how to speak to people at different levels, how to behave as a professional, and how to keep track of my work and calculate production and efficiency in an organised way,” said Popy Aktar, who is now a sewing line supervisor at Sparrow Apparels Ltd.

Wendy Werner, country manager of the IFC Bangladesh, said research showed that training increases line efficiency and benefits both the female supervisors and the factories that promote them.

“If scaled-up in more factories, it has the potential to overturn the industry's blind spot when it comes to career progression opportunities for women.”

Faruque Hassan, vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said in the early days of the garment sector in 1980s, the participation of females in the national workforce was only 8 percent and now it stands at more than 34 percent.

Story, Article & Poetry / The Circle of Good Deed
« on: May 27, 2018, 12:53:41 AM »
Once upon a time Shree Krishna and Arjun went for a short stroll around the city. They saw a poor looking priest begging. Arjun felt pity at him and he gave him a bag full of 100 gold coins. The priest became very happy and thanked Arjun. He left for his home. On way, he saw another person who needed help. The priest could have spared a coin or two to help that person. however, he chose to ignore it. But on way to his home, one thief robbed him of his bag of coins and ran away.

The priest became dejected and went back again for begging. Next day again when Arjun saw the same priest begging and he was surprised that after getting a bag full of coins which can last a lifetime, the priest was still begging! He called the priest and asked him the reason for this. The priest told him about the whole incident and Arjun again felt pity at him. So, this time he gave him a diamond.

The priest became very happy and left for home and he again saw someone who needed help but he chose to ignore again. Upon reaching home, he safely put the diamond in an empty pot of water with a plan to cash it out later and live a wealthy life. His wife was not at home. He was very tired so he decided to take a nap. In between, his wife came home and picked up that empty pot of water, walked towards the river close by to fill up the water. She had not noticed the diamond in the pot. Upon arriving at the river, she put the whole pot into the running river water to fill it up. She filled up the pot but the diamond was gone with the water flow!

When the priest woke up, he went to see the pot and asked his wife about the diamond. She told him, she had not noticed it and it must have been lost in the river. The priest couldn’t believe his bad luck and again started begging. Again Arjun and Shree Krishna saw him begging and Arjun inquired about it. Arjun felt bad and started thinking if this priest will ever have a happy life.

Shree Krishna who is an incarnation of God smiled. Shree Krishna gave that priest one coin which was not even enough for buying a lunch or dinner for one person. Arjun asked Shree Krishna, “Lord, I gave him gold coins and diamond, which could have given him a wealthy life, yet it didn’t help him. How will just one coin help this poor guy?” Shree Krishna smiled and told Arjun to follow that priest and find out.

On the way, the priest was thinking that one coin Shree Krishna gave him, he can’t even buy a lunch for one person. Why would he give so little? He saw a fisherman who was getting a fish out of his net. Fish was struggling. The priest felt pity at fish. He thought that this one coin won’t solve my problem, why not I save that fish. So the priest paid the fisherman and took the fish. He put the fish in his small pot of water which he always carried with him.

The fish was struggling in a small pot of water, ended up throwing out a diamond from the mouth! The priest screamed with a joy, “I got it, I got it”. At that same point, the thief who had robbed the priest’s bag of 100 gold coins, was passing through there. He thought that the priest recognized him and may get him punished. He got nervous and ran to the priest. He apologized to the priest and returned his bag full of 100 gold coins. The priest couldn’t believe what just happened.

Arjun saw all this and said, “Oh Lord, Now I understand your play”.

Moral: When you have enough to help others, don’t let that chance go. Your good deeds will always be repaid to you.

Story, Article & Poetry / A Man with a Lamp
« on: May 27, 2018, 12:47:38 AM »
Once upon a time, there was a small town. There lived a man by himself who couldn’t see. He was blind. Yet, he carried a lighted lamp with him whenever he went out at night.

One night as he was coming home after having a dinner outside, he came across a group of young travelers. They saw that he was blind, yet carrying a lighted lamp. They started passing comments on him and made a fun of him. One of them asked him, “Hey Man! You are blind and can’t see anything! Why do you carry the lamp than?!”

The blind man replied, “Yes, unfortunately, I am blind and I can’t see anything but a lighted lamp which I am carrying is for the people like you who can see. You may not see the blind man coming and end up pushing me. That is why I carry a lighted lamp”.

The group of travelers felt ashamed and apologized for their behavior.

Moral: We should think before judging others. Always be polite and learn to see things from others point of view.

OVERSEAS employment has become a major livelihood opportunity for thousands of low skilled laborers in Bangladesh. Since 1976, more than 1.1 million people left Bangladesh for overseas employment through official channel. The number of migrant workers through unofficial channel may be more than the official numbers. The Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training data shows that 1,008,525 Bangladeshi migrant workers travelled abroad with hope and aim to change their future in 2017. In the last fiscal year, 82 per cent migrant workers travelled to eight different Middle Eastern countries and about 15 per cent went to South East Asian countries. In recent times, the number of women seeking overseas employment is also increasing. Women migrant workers constituted 12.08 per cent (121,925 women and girls) of the total migrants in 2017.
In 2017, Bangladeshi migrant workers sent approximately BDT 1,102,470 million (US$13 billion) in remittances, which is 7.24 per cent of the country’s GDP and around 40 per cent of the foreign currency reserve. During the same year, the government earned BDT 554.68 million (US$ 6.93 million) as revenue from emigration clearance services and received BDT 3,529.83 million (US$ 44.12 million) from migrant workers as wage earners welfare fees. However, government’s programmes to protect and ensure the rights of the migrant workers are inadequate.

Government’s commitment and actions
THE government of Bangladesh recognises the contribution of its migrant workers to the country’s development in different policy documents. In the Vision 2021, the election manifesto of the political party in power, migrants’ contributions are considered and their concerns are shown as policy priority. Therefore, the 6th and 7th Five Year Plan (FY2010-FY2020) has given clear policy direction to three areas in relation to labour migration: (i) regulate the migration sector, (ii) ensure protection and welfare of migrant workers, and (iii) develop more skilled and efficient human resources. The government, with the aim of implementing that policy decisions has adopted the Overseas Employment and Migrants Act in 2013 and upgraded the Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Policy in 2016. In migrant labour related policy, it has committed to establish a ‘Rights based Protection System’ for migrant workers.
The ministry of expatriate welfare and overseas employment allocated only 1.64 per cent of the total budget (BDT 4,500,000 / US$ 56,250) of FY2016-2017 for development programnes. In addition, there was an allocation of BDT 47,950,000 (US$ 599,375) to cover salaries, administrative and operational costs of 17 government employees based in destination countries — who serve five million onsite migrant workers in eight Gulf countries. However, this budgetary allocation does not cover any direct support or assistance to vulnerable migrant workers.
The Wage Earners Welfare Board data (available) shows that, in 2017, BDT 1,025.77 million(US$ 14.07 million) was spent on dead body transportation, burial costs, and financial grants to the families of deceased migrant workers. Welfare fees have supported 2,658 children of migrant workers to access education (BDT 25,059,600/US$ 313,245). It has also supported critically sick migrant workers to access healthcare, and maintained the operation of three safe houses in two Gulf countries to assist vulnerable women migrant workers.

Gaps and Challenges
BANGLADESHI migrant workers pay extremely high migration fees, most of which are only possible by selling land or taking high interest loans. A realistic recruitment cost and mechanism to ensure safe migration is still not in place. In addition, migrant workers have to pay the government to issue clearance for overseas jobs. In return, the government gives no incentives — there is no special scheme or safety net programme for returnee migrant workers and no structural response to ensure healthcare of migrant workers who fell ill. The government does not provide adequate protection and welfare services for migrant workers. This has the potential to cause a huge social and financial burden on Bangladesh in the near future.

Future steps and budgetary considerations
GIVEN the economic contribution of the migrant workers, migrant workers rights originations, particularly OKUP, are asking the government to allocate necessary budget to the migration sector, as it does for apparel industrial sector. Through their works and advocacy programmes certain areas are identified for budgetary considerations.
The government must consider allocations for ‘Government Paid Migration’ for better regulation of the recruitment process. Instead of burdening workers, it must pay recruitment and welfare fees instead of migrant workers. They must provide free-of-cost services to get ‘manpower clearance’ for overseas employment. The ‘Government Paid Migration’ will reduce high migration cost, visa trading, deception and fraud that usually happen during the recruitment process. More importantly, it will prevent workers from incurring huge debt.
The government must increase number of labour wings in destination countries and ensure adequate human resources for them. The government must resource these labour wings in accordance with the side of migrant workers in respective destination countries so that workers get access to immediate and appropriate services. It is necessary for the government to allocate proper budget for the improvement of protection and welfare of migrant workers abroad.
The concerned ministry must take organisational and structural measures so that sick and suffering migrant workers get special health care in government hospitals free-of-cost. In addition, it hould have a ringfenced allocation for financial cooperation for their rehabilitation.
In addition what have been mentioned above, the Government must declare a special safety net programme for the most vulnerable migrant workers, particularly women who often return being deceived, abused and exploited. In order to ensure steady remittance inflow, the government must ensure and protect the rights of migrant workers.

Shakirul Islam is a social researcher, activists on migrants’ rights issues, and the founding chairman of OKUP, a grassroots migrants’ organisation.

প্রতিবছর এসএসসি বা সমমানের পরীক্ষার ফল বের হওয়ার পরদিন পত্রিকার প্রথম পাতায় কিছু হাস্যোজ্জ্বল তরুণীর বাঁধভাঙা খুশির ছবি আসে। হাতে বিজয়ের প্রতীক আর মুখে যুদ্ধজয়ের খুশি। আর প্রতিবার আমার নিজের জীবনের সেই দিনটির কথা মনে পড়ে যায়। কী প্রচণ্ড উত্তেজনাপূর্ণ একটি দিন ছিল! পরিবার, সমাজ, আত্মীয়, বন্ধু, শিক্ষক, পরিচিত সবার প্রশ্নসূচক দৃষ্টি ছোট একটা বাচ্চার ওপর, পরীক্ষার ফলাফল কী? ফল ভালো হলে প্রশ্নটা পাওয়ার জন্য টেলিফোন ধরা বা বেল বাজলে দৌড়ে গিয়ে দরজা খোলা খুবই আনন্দের হতো। তবে ফল খারাপ হলে এই প্রশ্নকেই খুব কর্কশ শোনাত।

লেখাপড়া করতে হবে পরীক্ষায় নম্বর বেশি পাওয়ার জন্য। কে কত জানে, তার মূল্যায়ন করা হয় নম্বর দিয়ে। নির্ধারিত সময়ে নির্ধারিত প্রশ্নের উত্তর নির্ধারিত শব্দসংখ্যায় দিতে হবে। সবকিছু এতই নির্ধারিত যে কী লিখব, সেটা ভাবার সময়ও থাকে না। সব উত্তর বাড়ি বসে শিখে আসতে হবে। মোটা মোটা গাইড বইয়ে আছে সব প্রশ্ন ও তার উত্তর। গাইড পড়ে পড়া না বুঝলেই-বা কী? পাড়ায় মানিক স্যারের কোচিং সেন্টারে পড়লে জিপিএ-৫ নিশ্চিত। ক্লাসে? ৮৫ জনের ক্লাসে ১ জন শিক্ষক ৪৫ মিনিটে এক-একটা ক্লাস নেন। তিনি সিলেবাস শেষ করবেন, নাকি সব ছাত্রকে বোঝানোর দায়িত্ব নেবেন!

বাচ্চাদের খাবার খাওয়ানোর সময় যেভাবে ভূতের ভয় দেখানো হয়, শিক্ষার্থীদের সেভাবে ফেল করানোর ভয় দেখিয়ে পড়ানো হয়। আমরা জেনেই বড় হতে থাকি যে পরীক্ষায় অসফল হওয়া জীবনের সবচেয়ে খারাপ একটা ঘটনা। তাই হয়তো প্রতিবছর পাসের খবরের পাশাপাশি পত্রিকার কোনো কোনায় ছোট করে কিছু ছাত্রের জীবনহানির খবরটাও থাকে। কী ভয়াবহ মানসিক চাপ এই খুদে, অপরিপক্ব কাঁধে চাপায় আমাদের এই শিক্ষাব্যবস্থা! কই এতগুলো বছরে কাউকে তো দেখলাম না এতগুলো বাচ্চার কাছ থেকে তাদের শৈশব কেড়ে নেওয়ার দায়ে এই পীড়াদায়ক ব্যবস্থাকে আসামি করে মামলা করতে!

আসলে জীবনে অসফলতাই বাস্তব। জীবনে সফল হয়ে গেলে আর এগিয়ে চলার অনুপ্রেরণা কোথায়? এই বাস্তবমুখী শিক্ষাটি কি আমাদের শিক্ষাব্যবস্থা দিতে পারে না! দিলে হয়তো শিক্ষাজীবনের পরের জীবনের সংগ্রামটার জন্য মানুষ আরেকটু তৈরি থাকত। মূল্যায়ন পদ্ধতির নামে মেলে কিছু সনদ, যা একজন মানবসম্পদ হওয়ার জন্য দক্ষতার মানদণ্ডের স্মারক। ভালো আঁকিয়ে, নাকি খেলোয়াড়, নাকি ভালো লেখক, তাতে কিছু যায়-আসে না। বাজারে এসব দক্ষতার কোনো মূল্য নেই। সবাইকে অঙ্ক-বিজ্ঞানে ভালো হতে হবে।

আমার এক সহকর্মী তাঁর ছেলে ও মেয়েকে একটি ইংরেজি মাধ্যম স্কুলে দিয়ে তাঁর বাচ্চাদের ভবিষ্যৎটা নিশ্চিত করতে পেরে খুবই খুশি। ভালো লেখাপড়ার পাশাপাশি সেই স্কুলে নাকি গিটার, পিয়ানো, নাচ, গান, পারকাসন, বিতর্ক, সাঁতার-সবকিছু শেখার সুব্যবস্থা আছে। আমি তাঁর কথা শুনে ভাবি, এই সুযোগগুলো তো সব বাচ্চার সমানভাবে পাওয়ার কথা।

পৃথিবীতে প্রত্যেকটি মানুষ নিজস্ব কিছু গুণ বা স্বকীয়তা নিয়ে আসে। সামাজিক জীব হওয়ার ইঁদুরদৌড়ে ছেলেবেলা থেকেই সেই স্বকীয়তাকে তিলে তিলে কতল করে সেই মানুষের মাঝে আরোপিত একজন ‘সামাজিক জীব’ বসানো হয়। আর বিভিন্ন সামাজিক প্রতিষ্ঠানগুলো সেই আরোপিত একজনকে ঘষেমেজে নিজেদের প্রয়োজনমতো তৈরি করে নেয় পুঁজিবাজারের খোরাক জোটাতে। এই ঔপনিবেশিক মানসিকতা থেকে আমরা এখনো বেরিয়ে আসতে পারলাম না! আমরা নিজের দেশের, নিজের মানুষদের বিচার-বুদ্ধি, সৃজনশীল ভাবনা বিকশিত হতে দিই না। হিসাব কষতে জানতে হবে, নিজেকে উচ্চ থেকে উচ্চতর দরে আনতে হবে, শ জনেককে ডিঙিয়ে কাজ পেতে হবে। এখানে আবেগ বা সহানুভূতির কোনো জায়গা নেই। এখানে কেবল দৌড় আর দৌড়। সবাই দৌড়াচ্ছে, আমাকেও ছুটতে হবে, আগে যেতে হবে।

বাজারের এই ইঁদুরদৌড়ের প্রস্তুতি শিক্ষাব্যবস্থাই দিয়ে থাকে। পড়া মুখস্থ করো, এক ঘণ্টায় ১৫ পাতা লেখো। জোরে হাসবে না। মাথা নিচু করো। খেলতে যাবে না, পড়তে বসো। পড়া শেষ, এখন লিখতে বসো। কথা বলবে না, এখন কথা বলো। কিছু ভাবতে পারবে না, পড়া মুখস্থ করো, কাল পরীক্ষা। এ যেন বাগানে বিভিন্ন গাছ কেটেছেঁটে হাতি-ঘোড়া বানানোর মতো অবস্থা। বেচারা গাছটাকে যদি কেউ জিজ্ঞাসা করত সে হাতি হতে চায়, নাকি ঘোড়া? নাকি গাছ থাকতেই সে খুশি! তেমনি ছাত্রদেরও নেই নিজস্ব স্বকীয়তা নিয়ে বড় হওয়ার স্বাধীনতা। পরিবার, সমাজ, শিক্ষাব্যবস্থা সবাই মিলে তার ভবিষ্যৎ এঁকেছে, তার নিজের স্বপ্ন দেখার অবস্থা নেই। কিংবা সাহসটাই আর নেই হয়তো।

তরুণদের মাঝে হতাশা-স্নাতক-স্নাতকোত্তর পাস করে দেশে চাকরি নেই। লাখে লাখে গণহারে কেন স্নাতক-স্নাতকোত্তর পাস করতে হবে! শিক্ষাব্যবস্থা তাদের স্বপ্ন দেখিয়েছে, তাদের জীবনের পরিবর্তন হবে। সবাই যদি লেখাপড়া করে অফিসে বসে কাজ করার স্বপ্ন দেখে, তবে আমাদের খাদ্য, বস্ত্র, বাসস্থান হবে কীভাবে? এসব কাজ, যেখান থেকে আমাদের মৌলিক চাহিদাগুলো পূরণ হয়, সেসব কাজে মানুষের অনীহা। দায় সেই শিক্ষাব্যবস্থারই, যেখানে মাটির বুকে সোনার ফসল ফলানোর মতো অলৌকিক ক্ষমতা ও মানুষের মুখে অন্ন তুলে দেওয়ার মতো মানবমুখী কাজকে মূল্যায়ন করতে শেখানো হয় না। অন্যের জন্য কাজ করতে অনুপ্রাণিত করা হয় না। বদলের স্বপ্ন দেখতে শেখানো হয় না মানুষকে, নিজেকে ভালোবাসতে বা নিজেকে বিশ্বাস করা শেখানো হয় না। আমাদের প্রত্যেকের মাঝে, আমাদের চারপাশে এত এত জ্ঞান ছড়ানো আছে, তা দেখতে বা তার থেকে শিক্ষা নিতে শেখানো হয় না। আমরা কৃষকের জ্ঞানকে শ্রদ্ধা করি না, যে বাতাসের গতি আর স্পর্শে বুঝে যায় ঝড়-বৃষ্টির আলামত, যে শুকনো মাটিতে খাদ্যশস্য ফলাতে জানে। আমরা শ্রদ্ধা করি না মাঝির দুঃসাহসকে, যে উত্তাল সমুদ্রের বুকে রাতের আঁধারে জীবন বাজি রেখে আমাদের জন্য খাবার নিয়ে আসে। রাস্তায় আমরা আমাদের রাগ ঝাড়ি সেই সব ভয়াবহ কায়িক শ্রম দেওয়া রিকশাওলার ওপর, যাঁরা নিজের গতরের শক্তি দিয়ে আমাদের যাতায়াতে সাহায্য করেন।

আমরা সময় দিই না আমাদের বাচ্চাদের। সময়ের অভাব পূরণ করি যা চায় তা-ই মেনে নিয়ে। ধৈর্য ধরে না বুঝিয়ে, কথা বা বায়না বন্ধ করি হাতে স্মার্টফোন ধরিয়ে দিয়ে। নিজেদের স্বপ্ন তাদের কাঁধে চাপিয়ে দিয়ে তাদের স্কুলে পাঠাই একের পর এক মানসিক চাপের মধ্য দিয়ে যাওয়ার জন্য। ফলাফল খারাপ হলে প্রশ্ন করি না নিজেকে, আমার সন্তান কেন খারাপ করছে? আমি কি তাকে কোথাও বুঝতে ভুল করছি? ভাবি না আমার সন্তান কী চায়, কীভাবে চায়। বরং বারবার তার সব ডালপালা কেটে দিয়ে তাকে আমাদের সেই চিরাচরিত ছাঁচের মাঝে ফেলি। বাংলাদেশ একটি তরুণ রাষ্ট্র। মোট জনসংখ্যার ৮০ শতাংশের বেশি মানুষ ৫৪ বছর বয়সের নিচে। এই বিপুল জনগণ দেশের অপার সম্ভাবনা, যাদের হাতেই আগামী দিন নির্ভর করছে। শুধু শিক্ষাব্যবস্থায় সংস্কার এনে, বাজারমুখী শিক্ষার বদলে উন্নয়নমুখী শিক্ষার মাধ্যমে প্রতিটি শিশুকে যদি কেবল একজন সামাজিক জীব নয়, বরং মানুষ হতে শেখানো হয়, প্রত্যেকের স্বকীয়তা বাঁচিয়ে রেখে যদি তার মেধার বহিঃপ্রকাশ করতে দেওয়া হয়, তবে বাংলাদেশের আগামী প্রজন্মের পায়ের নিচে থাকবে পুরো মহাবিশ্ব।

আইরিন খান: লেখক ও গবেষক
khan. ayreen@gmail. com

Ramadan and Fasting / A month of restraint
« on: May 22, 2018, 01:27:48 AM »
We cannot let extremism win, or let it besmirch the good name of the true teachings of Islam

Holy Ramadan is upon us.

On this month, Muslims of the world reflect upon the true values of Islam, and practice restraint and discipline in all aspects of body and soul.

Muslims pray and fast, and focus on ways they can be better human beings towards their fellow Muslims and countrymen.

With many in Bangladesh still living below the poverty line, Ramadan teaches us to be generous with what we have, and to help the less fortunate in whatever way we can.

It is a month to leave the ego behind, and embrace the brotherhood and sisterhood of Islam.

Islam teaches peace, harmony, and equality, but all too often people stray from these ideals and do harm in the name of religion.

The horrific attack on Holey Artisan Bakery from two years ago, which took place in the month of Ramadan, showed how violence and hatred was being justified by those claiming to be religious.

But we cannot let extremism win, or let it besmirch the good name of the true teachings of Islam.

The government has made great strides in rooting out extremism from our midst, but we must continue to stay vigilant against the dark forces which seek to divide us, and mislead impressionable young people.
It must also be respected that though Bangladesh has a majority Muslim population, it is still a country which does not discriminate against minorities, and respects the faith of all citizens.

We wish Ramadan Mubarak to all our readers.

Story, Article & Poetry / Blood and tears in Palestine
« on: May 22, 2018, 01:22:44 AM »
The recent shifting of the US embassy to Jerusalem by the Trump administration has demonstrated an utter disregard for the accepted world order and rule of law. It is yet another shameful example of how the US government can ignore decades-old international consensus just to carry forward its narrow foreign policy agenda. As many as ten resolutions have been passed by the United Nations on the issue of the status of Jerusalem since 1967. It would be wrong if those are considered mere expressions of Muslim sentiment. The righteous emotion of adherents to other religions as well as the need for humanism and justice were respected. The Western powers have deliberately refrained from taking decisive actions against Israel for repeated violations of the UN Security Council Resolutions. But they have not hesitated to take recourse to sweeping actions and wanton destructions mostly on unauthenticated allegations for regime changes in some countries in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region.

The slaughtering of 60 innocent Palestinians in Gaza strip, while they were protesting the US move, was even more condemnable. They were also demanding their right of return to their lost land on the occasion of 70th anniversary of their forcible eviction that coincided with the founding of Israel. This unjust and short-sighted US move also contradicts its 70 year-old commitment to reach a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on justice and fair-play. The USA has thereby rendered itself irrelevant for playing the role of a mediator in any future peace process. President Trump, as has rightly been commented by The New York Times, has used the exalted position of the USA in advancing the strategic interests of Israel.

The international condemnation of the US-Israeli move has also been very swift. The UN Security Council through a draft release expressed its outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians exercising their right to peaceful protest. At an extraordinary session held in Geneva on May 18, the UN Human Rights Council called for an independent, international commission of inquiry for looking into the violations of humanitarian law in Gaza. An extraordinary session of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), also held on May 18 in Ankara, condemned the criminal actions of Israeli forces against the Palestinian protesters, particularly in the Gaza Strip. It held Israel, the occupying power, fully accountable for the grave atrocities and the wilful murder of at least 60 civilians on May 14.
While signing the Oslo Peace Accord with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn in presence of US President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1993, the then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had unequivocally said on behalf of the Israeli people, "We who have fought against you, the Palestinians, we say to you today in a loud and clear voice, enough of blood and tears ... enough". Rabin, along with the then Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat, subsequently won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 in recognition of their courageous initiative to advance peace in Palestine. But Rabin was tragically assassinated in 1995 by a Jewish fanatic before he could give concrete shape to the peace process. Israel itself was then taken over by the radical Zionists like Ariel Sharon and Benyamin Netanyahu. The blood and tears that Rabin had vowed to bring to an end have thus continued to haunt the Palestinian people with relentless fury and brutality.

Against this backdrop, an international mechanism should now be forged aimed at fostering and guaranteeing the Middle East peace process. Recognition of the State of Palestine by entities like the European Union (EU) can be instrumental in bridging the current disparity and upholding international and humanitarian laws in the occupied lands.

Story, Article & Poetry / May Day in today's changed context
« on: May 22, 2018, 01:17:55 AM »
The world has undergone a sea change since 1886 when the workers in the US city of Chicago launched the blood-stained agitation to establish eight-hour working day. That was the first organised workers' rights movement in the world. More than a century and three decades have gone by, but the appeal of that epoch-making incident has not diminished even an iota. Every year on the first day of May, workers organise rallies, processions and other befitting programmes. Such events commemorate the supreme sacrifices that the Chicago workers had made to establish their just demands. The occurrence does still inspire the workers to wage movements against injustice and unfair treatment and pursue their justified demands. 

One can however hardly miss the fact that employment scenario and labour rights situation also have gone through a notable change since the Haymarket massacre. A number of factors, including establishment of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) under the auspices of the United Nations, spread of democratic practices across the continents and achievement of greater economic affluence and technological improvement, have greatly influenced both the employment scenario and workers' rights.

In the 1900s and before, the vast majority of workers used to be engaged in the manufacturing and other industries that were heavily dependent on manual work. The manufacturing sector does still employ a large workforce. But as automation is making deep inroads in developed countries, the demand for workers has been on the decline. But the workers have found an alternative; the services sector now employs a substantial number of people, including professionals. Thus, composition of labour today is not the same as it was in the past.
The workers' movement in Bangladesh has a glorious past despite the fact that there were a few violent eruptions during the post-independence period and recent years. The export-oriented garments industry, where organised trade union activities are not allowed, does often face labour troubles over wage-related issues. The labour situation in most other sectors of the economy has been otherwise calm and quiet, mainly because of healthy relations between workers and employers. Enactment of laws and rules in line with the requirements of the ILO conventions that protect rights and ensure welfare of the workers has helped to improve the overall working environment in the country.

There prevails a strong opinion that the workers should shun the path of traditional trade unionism and chose an approach that would help boost new job-oriented investments by entrepreneurs, both old and new. The country, where rate of unemployment is very high, cannot afford the luxury of strong and violent trade union activities. However, such a condition cannot be ensured by depriving the workers of their just dues. Truth is that the trade unions need to be both responsible and active and the management, responsive and sympathetic towards the cause of the workers to help maintain a healthy relationship between them.

What, however, is of great import is the workers' productivity level. Poor productivity level of workers is being considered a sore point of Bangladesh's industries. The labour laws and rules have given enough protection to the workers' interests, quite justifiably. But the framers of those laws have, by default or design, bypassed the issues of labour productivity and skill development. And the country is now paying a heavy price on that account. Exporters have been losing their competitive edge in the global market and foreign investors are getting discouraged by low productivity and poor skill level of workers. These deficiencies are also costing the country heavily through employment of foreign workers and consequent outward remittances worth between four and five billion US dollars. There has to be a change in this situation.


হাজার তারার আলো থেকে অনেকটা দূরে। ব্রহ্মাণ্ডের এক প্রান্তে। খুব চেনা নয়, এমন একটা প্যাঁচানো ছায়াপথে একাকী এক তারা।

কতটা দূরে? হিসেব কষে দেখা যাচ্ছে, সেখান থেকে পৃথিবীতে আলো আসতে সময় লাগছে পাক্কা ৯০০ কোটি বছর! অর্থাৎ, এই গ্রহ থেকে তার দূরত্ব ৯০০ কোটি আলোকবর্ষ। তাদের হাব্‌ল স্পেস টেলিস্কোপে সম্প্রতি এমনই এক বিচ্ছিন্ন নীলচে তারার ছবি ফুটে উঠেছে বলে দাবি করেছে নাসা। বলা হচ্ছে, এখনও পর্যন্ত আবিষ্কৃত এটিই পৃথিবী থেকে সব চেয়ে দূরের তারা। যার পোশাকি নাম, ‘ইকারাস’।

বিজ্ঞানীদের দাবি, এর আগে যে তারার অবস্থানকে দূরতম বলে মনে করা হত, ইকারাস তার চেয়েও ১০০ গুণ দূরে। এতখানি দূরত্ব যার, তার ছবি সাধারণত ফিকে হওয়ারই কথা। নাসা যদিও বলছে, তারা স্পষ্ট নীলচে আলো দেখেছে। আর এই ‘অঘটন’ সম্ভব হয়েছে হাব্‌ল স্পেস টেলিস্কোপের অসামান্য দৃষ্টিশক্তির কারণেই। মহাকাশে পৃথিবীর মাধ্যাকর্ষণের আয়ত্তে অথচ ভাসমান প্রথম এবং একমাত্র দূরবীক্ষণ যন্ত্র এটাই।

আরও পড়ুন: হকিংয়ের টাকায় ভোজ দুঃস্থদের

বিজ্ঞানীরা বলেন, ব্রহ্মাণ্ডের জন্ম হয়েছিল আজ থেকে ১৩৭০ কোটি বছর আগে। সেই হিসেবে সদ্য-অবিষ্কৃত এই তারাটি ব্রহ্মাণ্ডের বয়সের তিন-চতুর্থাংশ সময় আগেকার। ৯০০ কোটি বছর আগে আলো পাঠিয়েছিল ইকারাস। তাই মহাবিশ্বে এখনও সে টিকে আছে কি না, তার খতিয়ান নেই কারও কাছেই।                       

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স্টিফেন হকিং নেই। তাঁর ভাবনাগুলি আছে। সেগুলি নিয়ে তাঁর শেষ বইটি প্রকাশিত হবে আগামী অক্টোবরে। মহাবিশ্বের জন্ম, কৃষ্ণগহ্বর থেকে শুরু করে মহাকাশে উপনিবেশ গড়া, মানুষের তৈরি কৃত্রিম বুদ্ধি কিংবা ভিন্‌ গ্রহের প্রাণীদের বোধ, এমনকি ঈশ্বরের অস্তিত্ব— কী থাকছে না তাতে।

তবে নামেই প্রমাণ, থাকবে সব, তবে সবিস্তার নয়। স্টিফেন হকিং এস্টেট বুধবার এই ঘোষণা করেছে। বইটির নাম, ‘ব্রিফ অ্যানসারস টু বিগ কোয়েশ্চেনস’। চারটি প্রশ্নে ভাগ করা হচ্ছে বিষয়বস্তু। এখানে কেন আমরা? আমরা কি বেঁচে থাকব?

প্রযুক্তি আমাদের রক্ষা করবে নাকি ধ্বংস? আমরা কি উন্নতি করব? বইটি নিয়ে আলোচনা শুরু হয়েছিল গত মার্চে। স্টিফেনের মেয়ে লুসি বলেছেন, ‘‘বাবার সারা জীবনেই ভাব বিনিময়টা ছিল খুবই গুরুত্বপূর্ণ। তাঁর সব ভাবনা, রসিকতা, তত্ত্ব ও লেখাগুলি এক জায়গায় আনা হচ্ছে। এটা তাঁর উত্তরাধিকারেরই অঙ্গ।’’

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