Skip to content

Who Is The Pawn?

Indian Army chief’s recent remark on illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam caught everyone off guard in Bangladesh.

General Bipin Rawat in a discussion program said,”A planned immigration is taking place because of our western neighbour. They will always try and ensure that this area is taken over, playing the proxy dimension of warfare.

I think the proxy game is very well played by our western neighbour, supported by our northern border (China) to keep the area disturbed. We will continue to see some migration happening. The solution lies in identifying the problem and holistically looking at it.”

Despite the fact his comment was rebuked by Indian politicians and journalists, the subsequent news reports suggest that the security establishment has endorsed his views. Two former chiefs of Army staff also seconded his views.

The remark fazed friends of India in Bangladesh. In addition, it drives a wedge between the two countries’ good relation that witnesses periodic up and down with political events.

Assam has remained a sore point long before Bangladesh came into being. India has long been accusing Bangladesh of sending illegal settlers to Assam. Separatist movement overshadowed the issue for long. Later, the issue resurfaced following detention of several key leaders and waning down of the secessionist movement.

Bangladesh did play a key role in diffusing tension in Assam by helping the Indians nabbing key suspect and denying them refuge in this country.

Moreover, defense relations between the two countries thawed with the $500 million Indian credit for Bangladesh’s defense procurement.

The remark came at a moment when the Assamese govt is updating its controversial citizen repository, which many fear is a bid to drive out the Muslim population of the state.

The Indian Army Chief also expressed his concerns over the rapid rise of Badruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF, which have 3 MPs in Indian parliament, in Assam. Badruddin , who expressed his deep admiration for Bangladesh’s indefatigable leader Maolana Bhasani in an interview with BBC Bangla and maintained that his party follows Bhasani’s politics, accused the Army Chief of making political statement while holding the top job for leading the country’s secular army.

The controversial remark also came after Bangladeshi PM’s press conference on her visit to the Vatican City. In that press conference, She drew parallel between the asylum seeking Bengalis in India in 1971 and the Rohingyas in Bangladesh today. She divulged that Bangladeshis returned to their homeland when it had become independent. She hoped that Rohingya would do the same when they would feel safe to return.

I think not everyone liked such parallel.

Her dealings with the Rohingya crisis not only gave her government, which was reluctant to give refuge to the Rohingyas at the initial stage, an international exposure but also made it more authoritarian.

BNP chief Khaleda Zia, who urged the government to open the border for the Rohingyas when the onslaught began at Rakhine State, was thrown into jail. Her close aides and rank and file workers met more or less similar fate in an election year when the major parties are supposed to be busy in election campaign.
In recent months, major Islamist parties including Jamaat-i-Islami distanced themselves with BNP-led alliance.

JI, which lost its registration in a court ruling, is also preparing itself for next election without consulting BNP. It also conducted separate campaign for relief distribution among the Rohingyas.
Introduction of the draft law of Digital Security Act, which contains clauses to dub journalists as spies, also besmirched the image of the ruling party.

Delay in resettlement of the indigenous people who lost their homes in a communal clash in Rangamati and rape of two Marma sisters did also damage to the image of Bangladesh.

In addition, displaced Santals whose houses were set on fire by ruling party stalwarts and Police in Rangpur are yet to be rehabilitated.

These incidents ascribe to the rise of a regimented and authoritarian government in Bangladesh.

Apart from the troubling internal developments , sloppy governance also put Bangladesh on the international headlines.

Right before the eyes of local law enforcement authorities Bangladesh turned into a human traffickers paradise a year ago.

Thousands made risky boat jaunts to Malaysia. In most of the cases they drowned in the sea or starved to death in the jungles of Thailand and Malaysia.

In war-torn Libya, Bangladeshis waited on shores along with the citizens of failed state to cross the Mediterranean sea to reach Italy, where they became top asylum seekers.

Two affluent Muslim countries—Malaysia and Saudi Arabia—also took a tougher stance against Bangladeshi migrant workers.

Indians clearly take advantage of the anti Bangladesh image abroad when it comes to rein in human trafficking.

In recent Rohingya crisis, none of the ASEAN member countries , Muslim majority one, want to provide temporary refuge to part of the Rohingyas residing here.

Clearly, Indian version of this so called “proxy war” by demographic invasion has many takers in International arena.

At the same time , since BJP came to power, the Modi government failed to identify a single illegal Bangladeshi immigrant in India.

There is no denying that there are Bangladeshi economic migrants in India. But a systematic campaign to outnumber Indians with illegal Bangladeshis may be exaggeration.
If BJP government wants to push forward its political campaign in Assam, then it will be the Armies of India and Bangladesh who will be riddled with this problem.

At least few divisions of Indian Army, who have more important role to play in the North East, will be needed to implement this huge logistics operation. On the other hand , similar number of Bangladesh Army soldiers will be needed to thwart the push-in or to arrange resettlement program in Bangladesh. If the timing coincides with few months before the next general election when Bangladesh Army will be encumbered with maintaining law and order, then it will not be able to execute both the tasks simultaneously. Moreover, both the armed forces may be deployed in their respective countries to deal with the fallout of such political campaign.

One Rohingya crisis is witnessing the decimation of a liberal center-right political party in Bangladesh. What does an anti-Bangladeshi campaign in Assam portend?

Rise of populist parties and ultra-nationalists in Europe and America is partly financed by foreign governments. That is what reported in international media. The weakening of social harmony divides the unity in the region.

Is this what we are witnessing in Indian subcontinent? If any foreign government wants to destabilize India why will it invest on some poor and backward have-nots ? L’Affaire Beef is an eye opener that shows where the money of this “proxy-war” is usually invested.


La Semaine Dernière A Mes Yeux

( 16 février — 23 février )

D’après les nouvelles indices de corruption, Tsar de l’anti-corruption Transparency International a classé Bangladesh au 143ème position.

Selon un reportage, Amnesty International a exprimé soucis pour abdication, appréhension des activistes de l’opposition, harcèlement des activistes des droits de l’homme.

Selon un blog militaire, fabricant des fusils brésiliens Taurus a remporté le contrat de livrer fusils automatiques et révolvers à l’armée de l’air.

Des fidèles de l’ancien dirigeant du Chhatra League ont dévasté les bureaux de l’Université de Chittagong. Selon un reportage, le dirigeant n’est pas arrivé à remporter le contrat de construire l’annexe du bâtiment actuel.

A Shariatpur, un dirigeant du parti en exercice a violé une étudiante et a disséminé la vidéo dans le compte de Facebook, selon un reportage.

Selon un reportage, le chef de l’armée indienne a causé polémique en accusant Bangladesh le pion de la Chine et le Pakistan. Le chef s’est dit que la Chine aidait Pakistan à l’envahissement démographique de l’Assam en utilisant la terre de Bangladesh.

La force élite RAB a appréhendé des étrangers pour avoir tenté de visiter les campes de Rohingyas sans papiers. Le gouvernement de Bangladesh stipule que tout les étrangers qui désirent à travailler pour les Rohingyas aient le Visa, le passeport et le permis de travail.

In Search Of Lost Spirit

Bangladesh commemorated another mother language day , already earned the recognition “international”.

No other nation shed so much blood for the honor of language. The Bengali’s struggle for cultural identity culminated into a full blown freedom struggle that ended up in the creation of Bangladesh.

Irrespective of political creed, every one takes part in Ekushey February commemoration. Transcending all the differences, it unites all , including the people of other ethnicity. For this reason the day is a special one.

Overwhelming participation of Bengalis only manifests their deep veneration.

Month-long Ekushey book fair is at the heart of this participation. Publishers, writers and readers long for this month. Bibliophiles make a ritual pilgrimage to the book fair.

However, in recent years assailants closed in on bloggers, publishers and writers whose contents deemed taboo and branded slanderous in a country where a section of the population gives in to the crudest version of the dominant faith.

The shambles shuns bibliophiles and writers. In addition, vice policing, like the one exists in theocratic states, has been introduced for the last two years to have a close watch on the published content.

Net result is that the trickle never grows into the stream.

A whole slew of new books are published every year in this book fair. Writers, both professional and amateur, never want to miss the occasion to display their works.

However, very few know about them and the writers unless the major dailies or TV channels run reviews or special reports about them.
Writers rose to prominence have loyal readers who somehow glean information about their favorite writer’s works and grab a copy of them.

The ritualistic buying spree do the rest. Children’s books, translated works and reprinted works of famous writers are the highest sellers.

Unlike the 21st February that takes an international outlook, the book fair enjoys some sort of protectionism. Only domestic publishers are allowed to sell books published here. Indian Bengali publishers whose titles are popular here have no access to the fair.

This stance contradicts the very spirit of Ekushey, which intends to unite Banglaphones through culture and to promote the Bengali language.It is not that the works of Indian Bengali writers are not featured in the book fair. Local publishers who got the copyright of their works publish them and satiate their local readers.

But the authority could allow to allot few stalls to Indian publishers so that they could display their titles and exchange copyrights.

When films and other cultural exchanges taking place, why is the bar on Indian publishers still there at Ekushey book fair? Even the drugs are making ways into the hands of Bangladeshis.

This protectionism does not yield the desired results. Furthermore, readers are deprived of quality books.

The whole publication industry revolves around few writers. Since the demise of popular novelist Humayun Ahmed, whose work alone accounted for one-quarter of the sale, our publication industry is reeling from his loss.

This year my personal encounters with some crestfallen book sellers revealed a gloomy picture of book sale. Turnout of the bibliophiles on key days like 13 , 14 and 21 February was as spectacular as it was in the previous year. However, the sales figures did not cheer up the publishers who target this month for book sales. In fact, half of their annual sales takes place in this fair.

Unlike previous years, there has been less political agitations in this year. So the cause of sales drop remains a mystery.

Another institution that shares the task of promoting Bangla language and culture is International Mother Language Institute. An eye dazzling building was constructed and few jobs were created. Most of the Bangladeshis do not know about its mission and future projects. What projects will it undertake to promote Bangla language?

Though the country accommodates a homogeneous population, languages of other ethnic groups are still alive in Bangladesh. Before embarking on a journey to reach out global audience, International Mother Language Institute should take initiatives aiming to promote the languages of other Bangladeshi ethnic groups.

For instance, languages of Chakma, Santal, Bihari, Rakhine and Rohingya communities are pretty much neglected in this country.

If mother language is the best medium to impart basic knowledge to a kid, why are these communities deprived of that?

International Mother Language Institute should start initiatives that will publish text books written in the languages of these ethnic groups for primary level students.

The spirit of Ekushey February teaches us to respect languages of all the mothers. It does not matter if a mother speaks in Urdu, Chakma, Santal, Rakhine or in Rohingya language.

The spirit of Ekushey calls for unity, it never implies division and protectionism. A peerless event does not mean others have no entry into this glorious fair.

The panoptical eyes of reproof, the fear of giving away and ignoring the right of other ethnic groups only remind us that we are yet to grasp well the spirit of Ekushey.

La Semaine Dernière A Mes Yeux

( 09 février — 16 février)

Des députés du Parlement européen ont fait ça assez claire que l’UE aimerait voir que tous les partis assisteraient à la élection prochaine, selon un reportage. Ils ont fait une visite officielle à Dacca.

Selon un reportage , Police australienne a arrêté une étudiante bangladaise, qui s’est inscrit à La Trobe University, pour avoir tenté de tuer un infirmier malais, son propriétaire. Elle était ancien étudiant de North South University où les assassins de Holy Artisan Bakery étudiaient. La police bangladaise a arrêté sa soeur pour avoir attaqué un policier pendant interpellation.

A Dayaganj, Police a laissé aller des coupables et une voiture qui avait frappé et tué un enfant, âgé de 9 ans, selon un reportage.

Selon un reportage, luttes intestines du parti en exercice ont tué 41 fidèles dans 9 ans. Le député a été reproché pour les tueries.

Selon un reportage, une société bangladaise s’est trouvée une victime d’une escroquerie. Au lieu des ingrédient plastiques, exportateur chinois l’a envoyée un container qui est plein du sable fin.

Presque 176 familles du groupe indigène restent sans abri il y a sept mois. L’année dernière suite à la mort d’un dirigeant du parti en exercice, des gens avaient mis leurs maisons à feu.

Gouvernement a décidé de reconstruire les maisons. Cependant, agences immobilières ne sont pas intéressé à assister pour réaliser le plan. Parce qu’ils pensent que le coût gouvernemental est assez baissé pour chaque maison.

Un dirigeant de l’Awami League et un conseiller pour le gouvernement local à Narail a été tué par balles.

Le ministre de l’intérieur de la Birmanie est venu au Bangladesh dans une visite officielle. Bangladesh lui a transmis une liste de 8302 Rohingyas.

Le service véhicule-partage Uber a commencé une nouvelle service pour les voyageurs, personnes âgées et les salariés. Il est nommé Uber Hire.

Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission a fait un appel de vente de 4G. Tous les opérateurs mobiles, sauf CityCell, y ont assisté. Banglalink a acheté le spectrum maximum en donnant Tk 50 milliards, selon un reportage.

Victims Of Lawlessness

Degrading law and order situation of the country claiming lives of more and more ordinary people.

Moreover it is making a heavy dent in the business confidences of the local entrepreneurs by holding them back from implementing their initiatives.

Within a month , we the ordinary citizens noticed gruesome murders of people who were apolitical and gave their best to serve their country and the institution they represented.

Last month I read the shocking murder of a retired medical assistant school teacher. This gentleman came all the way from a mofussil town to Dhaka to draw his retirement benefits. But the bribery came an obstacle to clear his compensation packages. He was later hacked to death outside his hotel.

Like many others, I could not figure out why a man after serving his nation had to meet such tragic fate. All he wanted is his dues. And the the people in charge of running the country not only failed to clear his payments in time but also failed to protect him.

The recent bout of attacks on the agents of mobile financial services run by NGOs and NGO officials is another indication of growing lawlessness and hate crimes.

The recent attack on a bkash agent took place at sector 5 in Uttara. Muggers killed him on the spot and got away with his collected money. Earlier, a separate attack had left another bkash agent severely wounded.

Staff of another micro credit providing NGO ASHA remains missing from the same area. Earlier another ASHA staff had been murdered in Savar while he was collecting the payments.

This somehow catches the picture of the business environment prevails right now in the country.

When mobile financial service agents of a corporate NGO came under attack in the city and cannot discharge their daily duties, how can the small fry do his business as usual?

SMEs are at the forefront of creating employment and other business opportunities at this barren time. While govt’s focus is fixated on big projects and FDIs, its indifference to deteriorating law and order situation does not translate into its goodwill of propelling a business environment for Bangladeshi entrepreneurs.

Fear not only drives back good business initiatives, it also blurs the prospect of doing business in the country.

Ultimately FDI and rapid industrialization , which aim to mop up the inactive population, will fall victim to this growing lawlessness. Because worsening law and order condition works more like an entry barrier.

If a local entrepreneur is not hundred percent sure that his stakes will be safe and his cost of doing business will not go up because of unwarranted conduct of some political goons, he will not embark on a costly project whose return will be uncertain.

And the current business climate is more conducive to fraudulent activities. There are reports that forged documents were used to fetch loans from commercial banks to invest on projects that do not exist.

More recently, an import scam laid bare to ridicule ability of country’s financial institutions. A Bangladeshi company imported four containers full of granular plastic ingredients from a Chinese importer. When the customs opened the containers, they found sand in them.

Flurry of reports like the incident I mentioned have been published on the business pages over the past few years. Yet government did not wake up to the gravity of the situation.

Trust and confidence are two key factors for drawing the entrepreneurs. If the two factors are lacked or hampered, entrepreneurs do not go ahead with their sound business plans.

At one hand frauds are allowed to operate without trouble;on the other hand, govt fails to provide a safe and secure environment for those who are doing business honestly.

We have also witnessed significant rise of narco trade and smuggling activities. It appears that government is encouraging clandestine activities in business.

This kind of business climate does not attract the true entrepreneurs, investors and FDI. Rather, unwanted strangers , opportunists and thugs operate in this kind of polluted business environment.

Mugging of ordinary citizens, NGO workers, mobile financial service providers is a worrying sign that govt fails to rein in hooligans.

Small businessmen, ordinary people, SMEs keep alive the economy. Growing lawlessness only strangulates the economy. In the end, a dysfunctional economy will not help the government much to meet its development and economic goals.

Why does a govt that claims to hold democratic values and to care people’s opinion tolerate this kind of lawlessness ahead of election?

La Semaine Dernière A Mes Yeux

(02 février —- 09 février)

Une cour de Dacca a envoyé chef de l’opposition à la prison après la cour l’avait trouvée coupable de s’emparer de don destiné à Zia Orphanage Memorial Trust. BNP l’a nié en accusant le gouvernement pour avoir joué un rôle pour l’incarcération de Begum Zia.

Les dirigeants supérieurs se sont dit que Police avaient appréhendé presque 3000 fidèles du BNP depuis le 30 janvier.

Selon un reportage, RAB , la force élite, a trouvé 10 lance-roquettes anti-chars depuis le parc à Habiganj. Ils sont fabriqués en Chine.

La banque publique Janata Bank a causé polémique en franchissant le seuil crédit. Le comité exécutif de la banque a accordé Tk 50 milliards aux succursales d’ Annontex Group.

Selon un reportage, les fidèles du Chhatra League a torturé un étudiant de l’Université de Dacca.

Selon un reportage, presque 20 dirigeants de la succursale de l’ Awami League se sont trouvés dans la commerce de stupéfait.

De plus en plus des salariés de service financier sont ciblés par voleurs. Un salarié de bkash a été tué à Uttara le jeudi, 01 février. Un autre salarié a subi des blessures à Demra. Les voleurs leur ont dérobé leur argent.

Selon agence de presse américaine, cinq charniers ont été trouvés à Rakhine State. AP a aussi publié des images.
Le ministre des Affaires Étrangères de l’Angleterre et le président de la Suisse ont fait visites officielles au Bangladesh pour connaître les souffrances des Rohingyas.

Selon un reportage, un ingénieur russe est mort à Apollo Hospital après il était tombé malade à Ruppur, Pabna.

It’s Time To Launch New Social Media


Recently, I watched an interesting debate on BBC apropos breaking up  of the tech giants.

There has been  great worry for last couple of years in the West as only a few companies control the search engine and social media market.

Their worry is well founded because two thirds of the online advertisement revenues actually fill the coffers of these companies.

According to Net Market Share, Google still dominates the market, with 75-80% of the  market, followed by Bing, which holds between 5-10% of the total search engine market shares. But when searches are made through mobile devices, Google surpassed all its competitors, bagging 90% of the search engine market.

According to stat counter, Facebook alone holds the 75% market share of the social media. If we take into account  other Facebook owned social media, the market share of Facebook reaches to more than 80%.

Concentration of online search and social networking markets into few companies augurs ill for business, transparency and privacy.

These big companies already get a major part of the online advertisement revenues. Though they claim their services are free, they sell personal information to third parties and allow them to exploit net behaviors of netizens.

Clearly, they do have a role in influencing the the online market. Their policies and actions have impacts on billions of netizens.

As a news junkie I depend on facebook where pages of my preferred news outlets keep me inform about the major news every minute.

Facebook news feed showcases  the  crucial news of the day, reported by major media outlets . This is the  way commercial media outlets draw billions of viewers and readers  from social networking sites.

Recently, Facebook made it clear it would redesign the news feed so that users could see more and more the news of their friends and dear ones and less the news of others.

Many users, including me, gravely disappointed by this decision. It means we will no longer have the chance to get informed by our preferred news outlets via facebook.

While Facebook is at the center stage of criticism for destroying the ecosystem of traditional media, its news feed feature and other means to assimilate the media into the Facebook somewhat offset the losses due to digital revolution.

The latest decision of Facebook may unwind this measure and impose an unwanted restriction on the choice of the users.

Clearly, it is highly undemocratic and a step that deprives of media houses gaining viewers and readers.

The decision is tantamount to control the flow of information. A measure nowadays pursued by the authoritarian regimes.

In Bangladesh, the country where I live, Facebook is being used to spread hatred against vulnerable groups and to incite communal tensions.

Communal violence in the Rakhine State of Myanmar and in Cox’s Bazar of Bangladesh happened because of fake Facebook posts and hate posts.

Facebook did little to prevent those hate posts.

It is said that disinformation can be best dealt with more factual and correct information.

How could Facebook intend to fight fake news by taking off the traditional media reported news from its news feed?

Many aspiring small and medium enterprises in my country depend on Facebook to grow and promote their businesses.

Facebook’s latest decision will hurt their businesses as well. Already many users start to leave Facebook or spend less time on it following its  decision.

The lesser traffic in Facebook means the local businesses will have less consumers to showcase their products.

In the pretext of offering free services, these tech companies force us to comply their own rules and services. At the same time, they are setting their own rules to steer the market towards their desired destination.

So what should the world do?

I personally think it is time to end their dominance. The world needs more social media and search engines. Like regional satellite news channels and entertainment industry, different regions may have several social media and search engines.Well, it will primarily serve two purposes: first, cultural sensitivity of different regions will be respected; second, new business models will be developed based on these regional tech companies where tech savvy persons will find jobs and show the world their marvels.

To kill any ambiguity , I  would like to elaborate the purposes. For instance, these sites may not allow users sharing images and videos, fake or true, of desecration of holy places or brutality meted out to vulnerable groups when the risk of violence is too high. Or they can hide the identity of a dissenter from vested groups because he has expressed views that are not aligned with those of the majority people or deemed taboo in the society the dissenter lives in.

Sometimes, the new social media may ask the user whether the content the user uploading is right protected or has the approval of the subject of the content.

At the same time, users of these new media may receive copyright revenues if the social media use them for commercial purposes. The new media may seek consent of the user prior to sharing the user’s net behavior or personal information to third parties. And if the user agrees, they can share their revenues with the user as well.

Apart from SMEs, budding artists may use the media to promote their works and receive due payments for their works. At the same time content makers and regional entertainment companies may tap the potentials of the new social media by offering their products at an affordable price. This will help the netizens to get used to a copyright culture.

Moreover, local businesses can launch special events and campaigns  to sell their products on special days targeting regional users. Both global brands and local brands find it handy to reach out a consumer class to whom they earlier find hard to reach. And cash-strapped govts may find another source of the tax revenue to implement priority projects.

Most importantly, this new tech initiatives will help governments to cultivate a new breed of tech savvy population and  to offer the users special government services like passport issue, driving license issue, TIN registration , apply for government jobs etc.

So, from stimulating businesses to boost up govt revenues, from user safety to govt’s control over stalling unintended consequences, the concept of regional social media and search engines appear to be a game changer. Since one cannot dictate which direction the flow of river will take, one cannot fix the direction of flow of information. The best way to fight the pollutant substance and fake news is to increase the volume of real substance and real news. For that we need new entrants in the search engine and social media markets. When that happens, we have a real, safe and law abiding internet world where we will witness social media by the netizens, of the netizens and for the netizens.