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Topics - Md. Anwar Hossain

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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।’’

রথম বাণিজ্যিক কৃত্রিম উপগ্রহ ‘বঙ্গবন্ধু-১’-এ সফল উৎক্ষেপণ করল বাংলাদেশ সরকার। কাল স্থানীয় সময় দুপুর দু’টো নাগাদ আমেরিকার ফ্লরিডার কেনেডি স্পেস সেন্টারের ‘৩৯-এ’ লঞ্চ প্যাড থেকে ‘বঙ্গবন্ধু-১’-কে নিয়ে মহাকাশের পথে রওনা হয় ফ্যালকন -৯ রকেটের নতুন সংস্করণ ব্লক ফাইভ। ১৯৬৯ সালে কেনেডি স্পেস সেন্টারের এই লঞ্চ প্যাড থেকেই চাঁদের উদ্দেশে যাত্রা শুরু করে ‘অ্যাপোলো-১১’। প্রথম বার মানুষ পৌঁছেছিল চাঁদে।

উপগ্রহের সফল উৎক্ষেপণের পরে বাংলাদেশের প্রধানমন্ত্রী শেখ হাসিনা বলেন, ‘‘আমরা স্যাটেলাইট ক্লাবের গর্বিত সদস্য হলাম। প্রবেশ করলাম নতুন যুগে।’’ উপগ্রহটির গায়ে দেশের লাল-সবুজ পতাকার নকশার উপর ইংরেজিতে লেখা রয়েছে, বাংলাদেশ এবং ‘বঙ্গবন্ধু-১’।

এর আগে বিদেশি উপগ্রহ ভাড়া করে বিভিন্ন অনুষ্ঠান সম্প্রচার ও প্রাকৃতিক দুর্যোগ সংক্রান্ত নানা গবেষণার কাজ চালাত বাংলাদেশ। তাতে কয়েক কোটি টাকা করে খরচ পড়ত। সেই খরচ কমাতে সরকার নিজেই তিন হাজার কোটি টাকা ব্যয়ে এই উপগ্রহটি তৈরি করে। সরকারের পক্ষ থেকে জানানো হয়েছে, এই উপগ্রহে ৪০টি ট্রান্সপন্ডার থাকবে। যার কুড়িটি বাংলাদেশের ব্যবহারের জন্য রাখা হবে। বাকিগুলি মায়ানমার, নেপাল, ভুটানের মতো দেশকে ভাড়া দিয়ে বিদেশি অর্থ অর্জন করতে পারবে বাংলাদেশ। প্রধানমন্ত্রী হাসিনার কথায়, ‘‘শুধু মাত্র বিনোদনের ক্ষেত্রেই নয়, শিক্ষা, চিকিৎসা, প্রাকৃতিক দুর্যোগের সময়ও এই উপগ্রহ থেকে আমরা নানা তথ্য সংগ্রহ করতে পারব। বাংলাদেশের প্রত্যন্ত অঞ্চলেও এই পরিষেবা পৌঁছে দিতে পারব।’’

উৎক্ষেপণের দেড় মিনিটের মাথায় ফ্যালকন-৯ রকেটটি ম্যাক্স কিউ অতিক্রম করে। নির্দিষ্ট উচ্চতায় পৌঁছনোর পরে রকেটের স্টেজ-১ খুলে যায়। তার পর স্টেজ-২ কাজ শুরু করে। পুনর্ব্যবহার যোগ্য স্টেজ-১ পৃথিবীতে ফিরে আসার পরে অতলান্তিকের ভাসমান জাহাজে অবতরণ করে। উৎক্ষেপণের প্রায় তেত্রিশ মিনিটের মাথায় ‘বঙ্গবন্ধু-১’ পৌঁছে যায় ‘জিওস্টেশনারি ট্রান্সফার অরবিট’-এ। তার পরই ফ্যালকন -৯ রকেট থেকে বিচ্ছিন্ন হয়ে মহাশূন্যে গা ভাসায় উপগ্রহটি.

Story, Article & Poetry / Put Mind at Ease
« on: May 12, 2018, 09:42:28 PM »
One day, Buddha was walking from one town to another with a few of his followers.

While they were traveling, they happened to pass by a lake. They stopped to rest there and Buddha asked one of his disciples to get him some water from the lake.

A disciple walked up to the lake. When he reached it, he noticed some people were washing clothes in the water and, right at that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake.

As a result, the water became very muddy. The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink!”

So he came back and told Buddha, ”The water in the lake is very muddy. I don’t think it is suitable to drink.”

After a while, Buddha again asked the same disciple to go back to the lake and get him some water.

The disciple obediently went back to the lake. This time he found that the mud had settled down and the water was clean so he collected some in a pot and brought it to Buddha.

Buddha looked at the water then looked up at the disciple and said, “See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be and the mud settled down on its own. It is also the same with your mind. When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time and it will settle down on its own.” (Collected)

IOM research on attitudes and practices:

To gain more evidence on the attitudes and intentions of potential migrants and which communication channels are used for migrating abroad, IOM conducted a baseline survey for creating a stronger evidence base that guided the setup of an effective awareness-raising program on safe and orderly migration, which was funded by the European Union.

The survey was administered under 600 potential migrants in 12 districts of Bangladesh. The areas covered were Faridpur, Munshiganj, Madaripur, Shariatpur Sylhet, Sunamganj, Habiganj, Comilla, Feni, Noakhali, Jhenaidah and Jessore.

The profile of those surveyed were 70 percent male and 30 percent female, within the age group of 15-35 years, with education up to higher secondary. The findings showcased that the typical age of potential migrants tends to be 24-29 years old and the typical age of returnees, with potential to re-immigrate tends to be 30 to 35 years old.

Interestingly, 70percent of the respondents planned to approach relatives for information to migrate abroad, and 54 percent trusted people who migrated and returned as reliable sources of pre-departure information.

This issue, titled Rethinking Urban Spaces: Dhaka and Beyond, is the fourth instalment of our 216-page special supplement series on the occasion of The Daily Star's 27th anniversary.

Dhaka is a city of historical roots and deep problems; a city we love and sometimes love to hate. As the urban share of the country's population increases, the problems we face become more acute. But we like to think that none of the problems we face today is beyond solution. Be it traffic congestion, lack of public spaces, encroached waterbodies, or issues of decentralisation, we look towards a future Dhaka which would be a city at once modern, liveable and yet rooted in our history. For that, we need to rethink our priorities when it comes to planning, be mindful of preserving our heritage and invest in infrastructure that are needed for today and the future. And, as the country dips its toes out of the LDC category, our concerns cannot remain with Dhaka only—development and planning must decentralise towards a wider vision for the whole country.

Towards that visions, in this segment eminent academics, engineers, planners and professionals tackle some of these issues with their insightful and rich articles. Some look towards a Dhaka of the future, while others take a crack at the problems of our present. Together, they present the idea that a better Dhaka is possible and recommendations about how we can get there. We are grateful to all the writers who made this issue possible.

The last instalment of our supplement series, Changes that make us: #NowInLifestyle, is due to be published on the 24th. We wish you a very joyful and enlightening reading.

Mahfuz Anam

Editor & Publisher

The Daily Star

Bangladesh economy is set to post 7.40 per cent growth in the current fiscal year, according to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

The UN organisation has made the projection in its annual flagship publication ‘Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2018’ released on Monday in Bangkok.

It also projected that inflation will be moderated at 5.9 per cent by the end of FY18 and likely to be lower further to 5.5 per cent in FY19 while economic growth rate will remain static.

“Economic growth among least developed countries (LDCs) in the region is expected to remain robust in 2018 and 2019, with most least developed countries growing by 6-7 per cent or higher, with the exception of Nepal and the small island least developed countries,” it added.

“Bangladesh, Cambodia and Myanmar continue to benefit from the migration of low-cost manufacturing from such higher-wage economies as China, with positive spillover effects on their consumption and investment,” it continued.

The report also mentioned that the Asia-Pacific region is home to 12 LDCs and achieving 7 per cent annual GDP growth is a target under Sustainable Development Goal 8, but only some of these countries are meeting this target.

“In 2017, Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Nepal benefited from the favourable global and regional economic conditions and grew at or close to 7 per cent,” it added.

UNESCAP report quoted 7.20 per cent growth for Bangladesh in the last year.

According to the report, developing economies are estimated to have sustained a relatively high economic growth rate of 5.8 per cent in 2017 compared with 5.4 per cent in 2016.

“About two thirds of the regional economies, accounting for more than 80 per cent of the region’s GDP, achieved faster economic growth in 2017 than in the previous year,” it mentioned.

It also projected that growth will be moderated to 5.5 per cent in the current year in developing economies of the region.

How would you differentiate the existing education system with the one under the BNP government? What does the current system lack?

The main difference is corruption in the system. It has been increasing at an alarming rate in recent times. Question leaks have become an epidemic.

Adopting of unfair means in examinations at the individual level previously existed ,but now the situation has worsened. Our government took care of it thanks to [former] state minister for education Ehsanul Hoque Milan’s timely measures.

But after the BNP’s tenure, cheating in exams started again. Introduction of MCQ system, focus on CGPA, increasing number of coaching centres, and widespread use of digital means have driven the students away from their studies and increased chances of cheating during exams.

The Awami League has been in power for a long time but the government seems to be hiding the real scenario and giving an untimely statement without taking proper actions. These are also encouraging crimes such as cheating on exams. The government finally took measures to tackle the menace after admitting the incidents of question paper leaks in the face of mounting criticism as the problem reached a new high.

I do not know how much longer the government will keep up these measures or how effective they will be. But these steps should have been taken much earlier. In fact, the government never took any measures for the development of the country’s education system.
What measures are needed to tackle the problem and what would the BNP have done to tackle the situation?

It is sad but true that question leaks involve ministry officials, government employees, and teachers of coaching centres and schools. But the most saddening thing is that the innocent students are also getting involved in this procedure. It is breaking our [nation’s] backbone.

It would have been better if the government recognized the problem at least five years earlier and took the measures it is implementing now.

If I were in power, I would have first addressed the issues raised by the teachers, introduced orientation programs, started capacity building training for them, and shut down all sorts of coaching centres. I would have also evaluated the merit of the teachers and formed a monitoring cell in every school to ensure no teacher was involved with any coaching centre.

As the teachers did not teach well in the classes, the students were forced to go to coaching centres. This causes a huge wastage of their time and many of them are not able to prepare well. That is why so many students are adopting unfair means.

It is the teachers’ duty to build up the morale of their students and that is why they need to be trained first and then the students would learn accurately.

If teachers run after money, then so will students. Crimes like question leaks nowadays involve money and students can easily be lured to be part of the crime. We cannot ignore this issue since students are supposed to receive moral guidance from schools and not the opposite.
The oppression of women and children has increased. Is the lack of moral guidance behind the situation?

It is the duty of the teachers to teach their students about morals and mutual respect. Another big mistake is that our current curriculums do not address moral lessons properly. Issues like the oppression of women and children and human relationships need to be included in lesson plans as well.
Can politics and education be separated from each other? There is a possibility that if the country faces any unstable situation then it could affect the education system.

The education system should never be affected by the political situation of the country but our society is yet to develop a firewall between the two. And again, education and politics could never be separated from each other. The quality of the country’s politics will degrade if the leaders are not educated.
Then what about student politics?

Student politics means building a force for a political party which will run the party as well as the country in the future. This force is not meant to be used in crimes or violence against women or for creating any untoward situation to build pressure on certain people or community.

It is true that this force is difficult to control. If the leaders acted properly, the senior leaders whom the forces are following, then they would never choose the wrong path.

Career / The flawless CV
« on: May 10, 2018, 11:07:15 AM »
Applying for a job or an internship? Stuck with an unprofessional CV? Don’t know how to make one? Don’t worry, we have your back.

No matter who you are or where you are in life, you should have a curriculum vitae (CV) ready. A high school student set to graduate next year? Yep. In a stable job? Definitely.

But why? Because regardless of how qualified or experienced you are, your CV is what stands between you and the job you deserve. If your CV is badly written, you will even have trouble landing the interview. Now it may sound intimidating, but don’t worry because we are here to help you through this process.

What is a CV?
A CV is a bit like an advertisement. It is to market you to your employers and demonstrate how you meet your employer’s requirements by having the right qualifications and experience. But don’t get me wrong, your CV isn’t to log your job history or to summarise your skill set.

It should be mentioned that a CV doesn’t guarantee you a job. A good CV increases your chances of landing that interview.

So write your CV to impress your prospective employers. Remember, there is no point padding it with unnecessary information. After all, when was the last time you looked at a text-heavy ad for more than 10 seconds?

How to format a CV
There are a few formats when it comes to writing CVs. As we don’t want spoil you for choice, we will just talk about the the more common ones.

This is the more conventional format for writing CVs and you will probably find a version of this if you Google “CV.” This format lists your education and experience chronologically and shows how you have progressed in your career. Stick to this format if you are new to the job market. However, if you have had major gaps in your career, or have been changing jobs regularly, it is best to steer clear of this format.

Instead of focusing on career progression, this format highlights your skill set first and foremost. If you have gaps in your job history, or you feel that you have a lot of experience in a specific field, then this format is for you.

What information to include in a CV
Before deciding on what information to add, remember that much of it depends on which format you have chosen. As a general guide, however, you can follow this format:

1. Contact information
The name for this section speaks for itself. List your name, mailing address, telephone number, email address, and a link to your LinkedIn profile (if you have one). It goes without saying, but make sure that all the information you use is appropriate (don’t use your high school email address if it is cringeworthy), and updated.

2. Introduction
The first part of your CV is the introduction, and this is what could make or break your future job. Surveys suggest that 80% of CVs are discarded within the first 10 seconds of reading. Your introduction should outline your major achievements (which are relevant to the job you are applying for), and what you can bring to this job.

3. Qualifications and experience
This is the meaty part of your CV; the part where you detail why you should be hired. Here, you list your qualifications, like a university degree, state your degree, your educational institution’s name and city. When you detail your experience, remember to only include relevant experience. Your employers at the bank probably don’t care what club you were president of in school (although that does not make it any less of an achievement). Make sure you also state the company’s name and city.

4. Additional sections
Before you save and send off your CV, add a few extra sections detailing your certifications, publications, awards, technical skills or additional skills which might be relevant. If you have already been shortlisted for the job, this is what might give you that extra edge you need to land that job.

When you detail your experience, remember to only include relevant experience. Your employers at the bank probably don’t care what club you were president of in school

So now that you have a draft, it’s time to make it pretty. Not with glitter and rainbow colours, but with some good quality word processing.

1. Font and sizing
This should be obvious, but a lot of times, it isn’t. It is pretty simple if you think about it. Choose a font and size that is easy to read, and be consistent throughout. If you are still not sure what I mean, just use Times New Roman. Boring? Sure, but at least you look professional. As a general rule, size your fonts to be appropriate to the section. Write your name in 24pt, your body headers in 12pt, and everything else in 10pt.

2. Number of pages
Do a double check to make sure the CV is not too long. A rule of thumb is a page of CV for every 10 years of experience. However, if you feel that you cannot add enough relevant information, then feel free to add an extra page.

3. Margins
Ah yes, the margins. The part of the word processor you never notice. Your prospective employer, however will not fail to notice your margins. A safe bet is to keep your margins at a single inch. If you have too much information, you can cheat a bit and reduce margins. Too much and its overkill making your page look crowded.

So that is it. A simple guide to making a CV. Once you have done it, give yourself two pats on the back.

One for writing a perfect CV and the other for the job you will soon land.

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Let’s be honest, internships can be a daunting experience. Putting your blood and sweat into work without any expectation of getting paid may seem unsettling. You may start thinking if it’s at all worth it. Hold on to your horses before jumping into any conclusion and passing that life changing opportunity of an internship. Be it paid or unpaid.

Keep reading to give yourself more reasons to take the first step for pursuing your life’s ambition.

Make no mistake, your internship experience is going to boost your resume while you get a taste of the real world. It will set up a platform for you to work in the field of your career choice while giving an insight of enough know-how for you to survive in the job market.

Internships will greatly shape you to glide into the direction of your career. It will expand your horizons of knowledge, moulding you into a strong candidate for a potential job in the ever-so-competitive job market. Most importantly, it creates great opportunities for making new contacts to feature in your professional network. Utilising your networking skills can even take you to the right people at the right time and even land you a full time, paid job!

The unpaid factor
Some businesses, may it be a non-profit organisation or a start up, don’t usually pay their interns for their efforts. The reason is simple- they are not obligated to. They do not necessarily need YOUR services. They probably have plenty of potential candidates vying on that internship notice. It is also likely that the payment does not fit into their budget. So the opportunity cost of turning down the unpaid internship for you, is too high. To be fair, the unpaid factor seems meagre in comparison with the golden ticket to step into the world full of opportunities.

The trial period
Internships can be looked at as a “free trial period.” The reason it is free is quite obvious. Organisations actually use internships as a trial period where interns are assessed on different criteria. If you can make the cut, you are welcomed aboard and a permanent member of the team. Freshly out of school, you are lined up with a job for which you are qualified as you are already accustomed to the job environment and shaped perfectly with training.

After getting an insight into the experience of unpaid internship, all the points can be co-related to one very important thing: getting a full time job that pays well. Internships may not amount to hefty pay-cheques even after the hard labour poured into the work. However, the experience gained in the process in your desired work field is priceless. You must remember, there is a competitive job market out there. So all the work experience, network and knowledge you gain will surely be helpful when you are applying for a full time position at your desired organisation. Therefore, keep everything in mind and think twice before letting the golden ticket slip away.

A movement that sparked over language set the stage for the creation nearly a quarter century later of a new sovereign nation-state. On February 21, 1952, however, when protests and demonstrations roiled the streets of Dhaka, and police fire claimed the lives of five young men, no one chanting “Rashtro Bhasha Bangla Chaii” would have given a moment’s thought to a separate country named Bangladesh for that language and its speakers to exist. East Bengalis were fine with being part of the newly formed state of Pakistan, one could argue even happily so, as they had been at the forefront of supporting its cause. It was Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s declaration in Dhaka in March 1948 that only Urdu would be the state language of Pakistan that dealt Bangalis the first critical blow – the only one they needed.

Bangladesh, in fact, had not been spoken of until after the general election of December 1970, which the Awami League and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won by a landslide, and which General Yahya Khan refused to honor. As was proclaimed by Sheikh Mujib in his historic speech of March 7, 1971: “He [Yahya] didn’t keep his word to me, he kept his promise to Mr Bhutto.” In hindsight, it is easy to connect the emergence of Bangladesh as an inevitable outcome of the Bengali nationalism that ignited almost immediately following the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, of which the first and seminal episode was the Language Movement. But to do so would be closer to an oversight, if not over-generalization. Bangladesh’s emergence on December 16, 1971 was the result of vastly different circumstances than those that had fanned the flames of the Language Movement. Therefore, at the intersection of the two events stands the conundrum of being Bangali and/or Bangladeshi. For me this has become an increasingly fraught mental exercise, crammed as it is with its own charms and lures that perhaps only a writer and academic might feel like indulging in. Add to that my US citizenship, and I’m a living, breathing quintessence of postcolonial identity crises. But I choose to see it not as a crisis but an opportunity; to free myself of entanglements weaved by migration and emigration and circle back to the bridge connecting my Bangali ethnicity to my Bangladeshi identity.

As I see it, no one claiming roots and/or identity from the subcontinent can make a clean getaway from a chat about colonization.

Colonization in the form that is pressed between the pages of history books is, by conventional accounts, over. In most of Africa and Asia, it has been so since the 1970s of the last century. Its devolution into neocolonial regimes, dictatorships, and other nefarious and oppressive local governments is a combination of internal corruption and the residual systemic inequities of the colonial era. Physical and political colonization ended, but colonized minds are a different work in progress toward decolonization. And it goes both ways.

Empire apologists and defenders of colonization not only exist, but rank today among some of the most widely read scholars, historians, political scientists, and writers. A personal experience I had with one such thinker took place last November at the Dhaka Lit Fest. A writer friend, who’s also a professor, and I met and engaged in conversation with a historian, a white Englishman, who was waiting for the start of a panel on colonization in which he himself was a panelist. By the time our nearly two-hour-long debate ended, he either left adequately warmed up for his session or physically depleted from the exercise with us.

His entire argument rested on the age-old and not-at-all-original faith that the empire had not been all so bad because it brought technology to the subcontinent. (I’m unsure what we would have said if he mentioned “civilization” or Christianity and God to savages). When my friend and I pointed out that benevolence was the last motive behind the building of railroads across the subcontinent – at the cost of staggering human suffering – and it was done exclusively to consolidate colonial expansion and designs, it had no effect. The man insisted that we, my friend and I, find some good to pick out of the rubble of empire to truly bow our heads to, or, at the very least, embrace the good over the bad just so it does not all end on a dark and nihilistic note. In other words, the white Englishman needed to feel good. The problem, in short, was us, the burden ours to unpack.

Physical and political colonization ended, but colonized minds are a different work in progress toward decolonization.

Now let me reverse the roles. We, two Bangalis, both born into Muslim families, are arguing with a white Englishman, sitting on his home turf, defending mass murder, exploitation, theft, slavery, rape, and systematic brutality on British soil over white Englishmen and women, done over centuries. Not only would we be shouted down, in today’s heady atmosphere of Islamophobia and anti-immigrant vitriol, we would be called defenders of terrorism, if not outright terrorists. We would be called “uncivilized”; we would be termed “savages” for seeking some good in what was calculated criminal conduct.

Here is the rub: In these reversed roles we would likely be apologizing instead of defending – not the same kind of apologizing as the white Englishman, that is, trying to push the white Englishman and his fellow countrymen and women to find the good to be gracefully acceptable out of colonial carnage, but actually apologizing for the behavior of our entire race/religion for the carnage. This has especially been a reality in the post-9/11 world created by the American Empire narrative – to which I will return later – as clerics, imams and religious and community leaders in the US and Europe sprinted to the first press conference they could find, unless they were invited to one or passive-aggressively shamed into being there, following a terrorist attack, (aka an act of violence specifically committed by a Muslim or brown-skinned person), to condemn it and reassure everyone that not all Muslims were evil, that Islam was a religion of peace.

Our passions were unabashedly running deep, the same as they would if the topic of discussion had been the Bangla Language Movement or the Liberation War, and the argument before us was that East Bangalis were a bunch of rioting troublemakers over something as small as language, and East Pakistani Bangalis were treasonous miscreants.

On August 1947, when East Bengal became part of Pakistan, one era of colonization ended while another began. While an army of occupation would not descend on Dhaka and East Pakistan with full and deadly force until 1969, from its earliest months East Bengal began feeling the weight of inequality. Jinnah’s declaration to make Urdu the state language of Pakistan was an opening salvo that paled in comparison to the barrage of inequities and inequalities that unraveled over the next two decades. Not only did then East Pakistan effectively become a colony of West Pakistan, but also in keeping with “colonizing tradition”, West Pakistan eventually marginalized Bangalis in a racially prioritized hierarchy.

Whether this attitude would have developed over time without colonial chicanery being its catalyst, as the conflict between East and West intensified along the lines that eventually led to war and separation, is fodder for another exercise; of relevance is the essential perspective that the wedge between West Pakistan and East Pakistan, between Punjabi and Bangali, and Pathan and Bangali, was a historical product of colonial training. It was part of the race-based project of colonialism that was transferred from its original purpose of subordinating dark-skinned peoples to their white subjugators and reenlisted in the colonized space to create distinctions along religious, communal, and ethnic lines.

By the time of the war in 1971, the mentality of West Pakistan’s government and military elite had substantially absorbed the mindset handed down to them – that of the superior ruler based on ethnic provenance, and thus the natural wielders of authority and power over a portion of its population that had to be controlled, if for nothing else but for their own good. Included in this, in colonial fashion, was violence if and when necessary, notably embodied in Yahya Khan’s statement of February 1971: “Kill three million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands.” True to his word more literally than East Pakistan’s Bangalis could imagine, Yahya Khan ordered a crackdown on Dhaka on March 25, 1971, after which Bangali identity summarily got linked with the quest to liberate the space for it, Bangladesh.

The bridge connecting Bangali identity to Bangladeshi sovereignty was more a gradual construct than the inevitable end result of one steady continuum. Unlike the chicken or the egg quandary, however, being Bangali came first, without the necessity of belonging to Bangladesh.

What does that make a person of Bangali ethnicity and Bangladeshi origin that moved to the United States and now holds a passport of that country as well? The easy answer: Hyphenate it all. To what? Bangali-American? Bangladeshi-American? Bangali-American from Bangladesh? Or, as most bureaucratic paperworks offer in one fell swoop in the form of a box to check, Asian (in which I have recently seen a further breakdown to specify heritage of the Indian subcontinent)?

There is an easier answer. American. But I cannot claim that no matter how much I have been “given permission” on paper by the United States Customs and Immigration Service and the US Department of State respectively.

The age of the American Empire is unlike that of its British predecessor. The United States cringes at the thought of the E word as vehemently as Britain expounded the glory of its imperial might across the globe from the late 19th to the middle of the 20th century (not counting Hong Kong, which it officially left in 1997). Colonized peoples under British rule were “members” of the Empire, its sovereign subjects – however racially inferior – whereas Americans of all stripes must do with a mere hyphen between their ethnicity/place of origin/country of birth and American. The only exceptions are indigenous peoples or Native Americans, and African-Americans. In those cases the communities were respectively victims of settler colonists and their expansionist rampage, and enslavement, which provided free labor for the building of the US Republic. The so-called hyphenated American, therefore, is a feeble attempt at drawing a distinction between subject and citizen, albeit with the marked difference that calling myself American will not offend “real Americans” (maybe a few) the way an Indian calling him/herself British or English during the Raj would incense or baffle even the most liberal white Englishman and woman.

Identity is complex. Maneuvering it is complicated. Navigating its intricate pathways is at best enlightening, at worst completely confusing, together creating the beautiful place of inquiry. There is no straight line from anywhere to anywhere. There are only pathways, incongruent and numerous, that we attempt to connect. By connecting them we may build as best a bridge as is possible, a long and winding link propped up not by one single feat of engineering but by a collective of multiple inspirations, which most certainly can lead to the same place. Sixty six years after the Language Movement and forty seven since the Liberation War, and continuing, Bangali identity and Bangladeshi sovereignty keep meeting on the bridge of solidarity that takes them from “Rashtro Bhasha Bangla Chaii” to “Joy Bangla.”

Nadeem Zaman is a Bangladeshi-born American fiction writer. His first collection of short stories is forthcoming from Bengal Lights Books and his debut novel, In the Time of the Others, from Picador.

Internet Technology / How will the satellite benefit Bangladesh?
« on: May 10, 2018, 10:46:53 AM »
The Bangabandhu Satellite-1 (BS-1) will be the first Bangladeshi communication orbiter and is expected to meet the need of a satellite connectivity facility.

Bangladesh’s annual expenditure for satellite connectivity is $14m. The cost is due to renting bandwidth from foreign operators. After the BS-1 launch, it would be unnecessary.

Private TV channel operators and Direct-to-Home (DTH) as alternative of cable television service providers will be the main consumers of the satellite, according to officials.

The weather department as well as the defense sector will also benefit from the satellite.

The BS-1 will help to bring uninterrupted telecommunication during disasters like cyclone or tornado. It will also play a role in telemedicine, e-learning, research and DTH services. It will be able to count holdings as well as measure population density.

Also Read- Bangabandhu Satellite-1 set to be launched on May 10

The Bangabandhu satellite is going to be located at the 119.1 east geostationary slot which will cover all the SAARC countries as well Indonesia, Philippine, Myanmar, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkestan and a part of Kazakhstan.

Bangladeshi satellite television channels that have a large viewership in the Middle East countries are expected to become the main commercial user of the first Bangladeshi satellite.

However, BTRC chairman Shahjahan Mahmood said: “These problems are very simple to solve. We have the opportunity to access other facilities through collaborating with other satellites.”

Faster broadcasting system
Direct-to-Home services always provide faster access to worldwide television entertainment.

Currently, there are only two companies that have licence from the government. These are Beximco and Buyer Media Limited.

Before, the operators conducted a monopoly business. Now there will be a big change and easier, faster access to global TV entertainment will be ensured.

The satellite will make video distribution easier too. The broadcasters can effortlessly distribute their content to intermediaries like cable TV network operators or re-broadcasters like DTH operators.

The satellite will have VSAT private networks consisting of voice, data, video and internet services to the banks, corporate offices etc. The service will be delivered using Ku-Band in the Bangladesh and the India Plus coverage regions and using C-Band beams, according the BTRC.

Other services
In the event of unexpected disasters hitting the country, telecommunication system in Bangladesh might be unavailable. During such emergency situations, satellite network can play an important role in ensuring uninterrupted telecommunication services in the country.

The remote areas of the country like the coastal area will have much better internet connectivity, thanks to the BS-1.

BTRC chairman Shahjahan Mahmood told  “The Bangabandhu Satellite will help to make Bangladesh an advanced country. It would also speed up many aspects of our daily life.”

The United States has said that it will come out of the Paris Agreement. How would climate-exit effect the global pact to reduce global emissions? What would the impact be for developing countries?

This is a burning topic in the climate arena as to how the world will move forward since a major power is poised to exit the Paris Agreement. Under Article 28 of the Paris Agreement, a party may wish to withdraw at any time three years after the date on which the agreement for the country entered into force. For the US, the formal exit would not be until 2020. 21 years ago, the story was not so different. The US did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol because of domestic economic concerns.

The argument was based on the fact that India and China both were exempt from the agreement emissions targets and thus the US would not partake at the seemingly unfair treatment. Not surprisingly, China now accounts for over 29% of global C02 emissions and followed by the US at 14%. It is important to note that even without US involvement within the Paris Agreement framework, the remaining signatories of the Paris Accord will still account for almost 80% of the global emissions of greenhouse gases.

Moreover, many countries export negative externalities through for eg, the sale of coal and set up of “clean-coal” burning plants as part of a tech-transfer policy, and China being an example of doing just that. Further complications arise through accountability of emissions is on shaky grounds because the methods of verification are still being developed. A recent BBC article from August 2017 titled “Dodgy Green House Gas data threatens Paris Accord,” clearly shows us how verification and accountability is on a weak pedestal.

In the article it states “Our estimate for this location in Italy is about 60-80 tons of this substance (a type of GHG) being emitted every year. Then we can compare this with the Italian emission inventory, and that is quite interesting because the official inventory says below 10 tons …” The article continues: “Levels of some emissions in India or China are so uncertain that experts say it is plus or minus 100%.”

Therefore, we can postulate that efforts to curb Green House Gases is already a major challenge for the world to address. Regardless of the final policy decisions, 14 US states are a part of the US Climate Alliance which together accounts for approximately 22% of US C02 emissions. This is an automatic movement towards cleaner energy forms simply because through economies of scale, it is becoming cheaper to adopt green energy. Furthermore, did you know that five US cities are already running on 100% renewable energy?

It has been the case that some media and eager politicians have actively portray developing countries with a complete doom and gloom scenario. However, it is important to note that is not the entire case. Countries such as Kenya, India, Brazil, Costa Rica (90% of total energy required are renewables), to name a few, are doing well in terms of moving towards cleaner forms of energy and prices are falling every year.

However, adaptation to weather extremes is pertinent. That is with rising sea levels, lowering of agricultural output due to droughts or sudden deluges, we must be able to reduce impact through saline resistant crops, low carbon farming, infrastructure development such as building of sea walls, to name a few. This is an area that developed countries can assist poorer countries through GEF. It seems fair to have wealthy nations contribute significantly to global pools and although we have seen slow progress, the process will significantly slow down our adaptation to climate extremes.

Noting your research and studies with climate envoy Todd Stern and former Assistant Director for the Environment in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Paul Anastas, how do you envision global policy to address extreme climate variation?

Both President Obama and US climate diplomat Todd Stern were instrumental in garnering international support for a globally agreed policy. Professor Paul Anastas was a key person to bring the field of Green Chemistry to the US EPA. However, aside from these important strides, we now understand that the US political position has changed. However, the debilitating position of extreme weather has not.

Weather events which causes extreme and uncontrollable forest fires, longer droughts and deluges (as we had seen in Bangladesh and the Texan coastline in 2017 to name just a few places), and oceanic acidification from increased atmospheric C02 levels is creating an uncertain future for our ailing planet.

One such example which will help better equip ourselves to extreme environmental change is through technology transfer, stated in Article 10 of the Paris Agreement. This movement falls under the auspices of TEC (Technology and Executive Committee) which focuses on policy, and CTCN (Climate Technology and Center Network) which focuses on implementation. This is important to reduce the unnecessary impact of reinventing the wheel. However, much is needed to propel it forward. We need to garner further global support to get tax free and extremely strong incentives as a package to transfer technology and materials.

This is critical if Article 10 is to make the most efficient use of monetary resources. We cannot limit our options due to a financial figure stamped by regulatory authorities when it comes to weather extremes. Our next global policy movement should be a new omni-directional global priority to transfer knowledge circumventing any weaknesses of inter-governmental issues, economic regulations, and trade impediments.

Finally, in terms of archaic inefficiencies of some UN bodies, it is nonetheless still the most effective vehicle for moving policy initiatives through political and national boundaries. However, at the end, I believe it is the strong will of the people to demand green living and businesses following suit that will propel our global pact to address climactic extremes. Otherwise it would not be long before we see climate refugees shaking the foundations of our governments creating the platform for regional followed by global instability.

What are some of the latest research you are concerned with in addressing green-house gas emissions and climate extremes?

This year has been challenging for the US. In particular, California has seen some of the worst fires in recorded history. The last Thomas Fire burned over 280,000 acres and has thus far cost the state 110 million dollars to fight it. It is estimated that the fires have cost California $10 billion in damages alone. This money could have been better used to both mitigate and adapt to increasing fires from dry forests. In order to address this serious problem, we can attempt to postulate a simple cause and effect to better understand the reasons behind forest fires.

In many regions we are experiencing a period of high rainfall which causes a rapid increase of forest floor shrubs. In California’s case, it was followed by a very hot summer which dried out vegetation and became an easy fuel source. Any lightning, dry barks rubbing against each other or someone accidentally throwing away a cigarette butt can cause uncontrollable and deadly fires.

This is one example of many national and international catastrophes. Most worrying is that the public is becoming is slowly becoming desensitized and inured to these events due to the increased frequency of them. We urgently need better systems in place to recognize when an area may generate an uncontrollable fire.

As one example of data gathering, our understanding of total atmospheric concentration of C02 comes from measurements on top of a 3,400-metre mountain in Hawaii. This is combined with GIS data from satellites, national fuel accounts and power plant data to paint a global emissions picture.

However, just by that information, one can gather several accountability and technical limitations to the system. First, it is dependent on the information the parties involved wishes to divulge, second, the satellites are using passive sensors (basically taking a picture at a certain time dependent on the reflection of the sun), along with a dependence on the geo-stationary position.

To overcome these issues, I call for another system using existing commercial aircrafts to be retrofitted to carry light weight active and passive sensors. Commercial flights follow a predictable route and if one looks at global flight data paths, it creates a world-wide grid system covering most geopolitical and oceanic boundaries. The idea will utilize light weight passive and active sensors (for eg Lidar for topographical bathymetric, multispectral image analysis etc) retrofitted on commercial aircrafts.

The new proposed system of using the existing commercial aircraft network will enable us to gather big data sets. Cities will better understand their emissions and the Paris Agreement will be able to take better policy decisions. This far simpler and much more reliable system can be used to gather scientific data to better understand the carbon sequestration cycle, rising sea levels, and to help better prepare firefighting mitigation and adaptation. In fact, I believe the world will reap its benefits if this simple technology is amended right into Article 10 within the Paris Agreement framework.

I see this system to be in a three-prong advantage.

First, the system will be easier to maintain and upgraded on a regular basis. Therefore, it would take away the necessity of monumental expensive space rocket flights and extremely expensive space materials. Second, the data can be real time, using an algorithm to constantly update emissions and other data such as forest canopy moisture from certain locations based on the aircraft overhead.

This data can be put together for scientists to better understand GHG emissions and visualize the moisture of vegetation and soil, combined with wind patterns from weather systems analysis, and thus be able to effectively predict forest fires, flood zones and so on. This is envisioned to be a simple technology that will save millions of dollars and most importantly save human lives around the world.

Some professors and scientists at Yale have already shown strong interest in this work of mine and if successful, it will be an important part of the tool set scientists and governments can use to better understand and subsequently adapt to global climate change.

We spend a large amount of time deciphering economic data to give credence to national policy decisions. I believe the major impediment to us moving forward is our attempt in rationalizing every bit of action we take through egregious financial data. The question is, can we ever really put a capitalistic and greedy monetary value for a just and safer planet for all?

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable nations when it comes to climate change. It has already observed seasonal variations due to the adverse effects of climate change.

For instance, we hardly notice the spring season in Bangladesh anymore.

There is hard rain (like before) in the monsoon but, surprisingly, there is a good amount in winter. The temperature in the atmosphere is increasing alarmingly, and the pattern of rainfall has become unpredictable.

Due to environmental degradation, Bangladesh encounters natural disasters like floods, cyclones, storms, sea level surges, riverbank erosion, earthquakes, intermittent droughts, salinity intrusion, tsunamis. There has also been a drastic drop in air quality, as well as frequent thunderstorms and hailstorms.   

A report of BBS revealed that Bangladesh has lost Tk18,425 crore due to natural disasters from 2009 to 2014 — while the total cost of damage and loss by hailstorms was Tk1,147.169cr.

The latest deadly storms and lightning in different parts of Bangladesh reflect the wrath of nature. Every year, many people and animals are killed or injured by lightning. In Bangladesh, more than 80 people have been killed by thunderstorms and lightning in the last two months.

This is a result of climate change.

The air we breathe

Bangladesh has been repeatedly ranked as the most polluted and unliveable cities in the world.

It is widely acknowledged by scientists that air pollution is one of the key effects of climate change. It not only fuels climate change, but is also a major threat to human health. It is one of the major environmental concerns in Bangladesh due to our inadequate and dysfunctional disposal sites that create acute health problems.

The continuous inhalation of particulate matters consisting of dust, fumes, mist, and smoke cause long-term health problems such as chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and even damage to the brain, nerves, liver, or kidneys. Repeated exposure to air pollution affects children’s lungs and can worsen or complicate medical conditions in the elderly.

According to a World Bank report, 15,000 people are killed due to air pollution every year in Bangladesh. Among the top 10 causes of death in Bangladesh, five of them are: Lung cancer (13%), lower respiratory tract infections (7%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (7%), ischemic heart disease (6%), and stroke (5%) — all related to air pollution.

According to the National Institute of Diseases of Chest and Hospital (NIDCH), nearly seven million people in Bangladesh suffer from asthma — over half of them children.

However, the big questions are: How can we curb air pollution? What are the causes of pollution? Who is responsible for such pollution? How are we responsible for this?

A few decades ago, scientists began warning us. However, we were very reluctant to accept that human activities are responsible for climate change. But we continued to pollute the air with exhaust fumes and smoke from our vehicles, factories, and industries. We contribute to greenhouse gas emissions by burning fossil fuels, gasoline, diesel, and other fuels.

    In order to protect human lives and the environment, it is high time that we create public awareness of all these environmental issues

Reckless activity

Deforestation is another eminent reason for thunderstorms, which accelerate the greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere — the heat generated by electricity production, unplanned and unregulated operations of brick-fields, frequent rain-forest fire calamities, industrial productions, black fume generation from the fuel burning engines like street-plying vehicles, water-vehicles, buses, and trains.

All this has a monumental impact on the environment. In order to protect human lives and the environment, it is high time that we create public awareness of all these environmental issues via print and electronic media.

These frequent deadly storms are yet another wake-up call for all of us.

Last but not least, there are a few things that should be considered by policy-makers to save our environment.

For example, people of all classes must be concerned with improving the sanitation system, minimizing waste generation, promoting recycling, improving the disposal system, increasing the number of landfills, sorting waste, and more.

Moreover, relevant authorities should update the drainage system, impose taxes on polluters, reduce deforestation, and promote plantation by the roadsides without delay.

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