Media Article - Billionaire Allen to invest in Bangladesh
- Recently BanglaDesh has reappeared in the International News media with a lot of news. The killing of Journalists and Opposition leaders , extra judicial killings by RAB, fundamentalism and etc etc are all very bad news for the country. Yet at about the same time, quite a few of the richest entrepreneurs of the world has been going to the country with their investment plans. These parallel events seem contradictory to each other. Or are they? Is one event just to distract from the other? Then which is which? Is it possible for BanglaDesh's neighbors playing a role here? Peace - RCFrom: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=733456Billionaire Allen to invest in BangladeshReuters
May. 6, 2005 - The billionaire co-founder of Microsoft plans to spend $1.6 billion building Bangladesh power and fertilizer plants, marking the second-biggest investment into the poor but fast-growing nation.
Paul Allen, the world's seventh-richest person according to Forbes magazine, will make the investment through Global Vulcan Energy International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of his personal investment vehicle, Vulcan Capital.
"We signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday with the U.S energy firm, which will invest $1.6 billion in the next three years," said Mahmudur Rahman, executive chairman of Bangladesh's Board of Investment (BOI).
Vulcan will spend $900 million of Allen's $21 billion fortune building a number of gas-run power plants with a total 1,800 megawatts (MW) of capacity -- equivalent to almost half of existing national capacity.
The new plants will help meet new demand that is set to double to 7,000 MW by 2007, and make up a power shortfall that already stands at between 500 MW and 700 MW.
Vulcan will also build two plants with the capacity to produce 140,000 tonnes of carbon-based organic fertilizer at a cost of $200 million, and set up a $500 million project to capture methane gas for power production from coal mines, Mahmudur told Reuters.
Allen's injection of funds will be the second biggest in Bangladesh behind a $2.5 billion project by India's Tata group. Together, the two investments dwarf total foreign direct investment of 3 billion since Bangladesh became a nation in the early 1970s.
Half of Bangladesh's population lives below the poverty line, and the nation is home to the third highest number of poor people in the world behind India and China, according to the World Bank. However, GDP grew by six percent last year and is set to grow a further 5 percent in the 2004/05 fiscal year.
Mahmudur said Vulcan's president, Ford F. Graham, and other senior company executives, visited proposed plant sites last week and held meetings with Bangladeshi officials.
The firm will start a feasibility study in May, which will be completed within the next six months.
Copyright 2005 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Copyright � 2005 ABC News Internet Ventures
- Dear Alochoks,
Let me tell you all something interesting today. Its
about one of my favorite analysis about Bangladesh's
future in medium to long-term. It is a fact that we
are in a irreversible journey to "be in the center" of
this century's great economic successes that is
sometimes dubbed as Asian Century. The thrust of this
success will come from China, India and ASEAN in the
east. Given the geographical location of Bangladesh,
we will be in the center of this turbulence of
tremendous economic development. Now it is to be seen
whether we can "become the center" of this success
General people of Bangladesh has proven their ability
to be part of this high-stake game. Recent activities
in the investment sector is a proof of that. Now its
upon the "foolish" politicians whether they are up-to
the challenge. I mention the word "foolish" not out of
lack of respect, but I really mean it. How? Let me use
a metaphor here. Suppose you have three other siblings
and together you can achieve a crore. Would you rather
work side by side to achieve that crore or quarrel for
a bigger portion of the tiny grand that you four
inherited together? Certainly people of Bangladesh has
already set her eyes on the crore, but its politicians
are still trapped into the grandness of the grand that
they had! Hope they will catch up soon!
Sometimes we become worried to see the negative
campaign going on in the foreign media. Our
politicians are also concerned about this kind of
negative campaign. Wait a minute, are you sure about
the politicians? Ok, yes, they are worried only if
they are in the ruling side. Its a different story if
they are in the opposition. But we general people are
always worried. Thats why it's better that we do not
worry too much about who is saying what, keep up the
good work - that is all what I say to myself most of
the time, specially when I look around, listen to our
politicians or look at the news headlines in news
media. I believe that is exactly what most of our
countrymen are doing. Good result will come one day,
in fact, it has already started to pay back, one could
say that Microsoft's Paul Allen's or Ratan Tata's
decision as investors are the latest manifestation of
that truth. Need another one. Look at this analysis
from Philip Bowring's "The puzzle of Bangladesh" in
International Herald Tribune, Saturday, May 07, 2005.
So, time has come to ask ourselves whether we will be
ready in-time to take on our demanded role in Asian
Century along with our ASEAN neighbors to make sure
peace is our dream, not great wars!
Wishing you all the best!
- June 2005
Tigers deserve their stripes
If you thought the Ashes was the biggest Test series this summer, then you'd be wrong. Andrew Miller explains the importance of Bangladesh
Breaking the duck: Bangladesh celebrate their first Test win © Getty Images
Which sporting event in Britain this summer is going to hold the greatest significance for the greatest number of people?
At Lord's on July 21, a nation of 20 million of the most geographically blessed people in the world takes on its oldest, most privileged rivals - when Australia and England (UK population: 59 million) launch the 2005 Ashes. It could be a humdinger of a series, in which case a sizeable proportion of the cricket-watching world will also sit up and take note. But it is equally likely to be another damp squib to add to the eight that have gone before it, in which case 59 million Brits will give up their pretence for another four years and go back to watching football. Unless England can produce a miracle, this year's Ashes will become just another sub-plot in sport's oldest soap opera.
Now consider this. On May 26, Lord's opens its pavilion to 11 representatives of a nation of 150 million of the most wretched underachievers on the planet - a country with a tragic history, a desperate present and a far-from-certain future. In the 34 years since the country was born, numb with shock at the end of a bloody war of liberation, Bangladesh has been globally renowned for all the wrong reasons. Floods and cyclones frequently devastate the rural population; collapsing buildings and violent protest demonstrations stain the urban image, while the political scene is so implacably divided that the Berlin-based NGO, Transparency International, has ranked Bangladesh as the world's most corrupt country for four years running.
Some might argue that the country has got the cricket team it deserves. The circumstances of Bangladesh's acceptance into the Test family are dubious to say the least, while their first five years as a Test nation have served up a tale of barely relenting failure. Allegations of match fixing riddle the most famous moment of their sporting history - the 1999 World Cup victory over Pakistan that effectively secured their Test status - and it wasn't until they edged out their fellow stragglers, Zimbabwe - at the 35th attempt - that they finally broke their Test match duck. But six years down the line, the question of Bangladesh's illegitimacy is no longer relevant. So long as Asia remains the economic hub of the game, they are here and they are here to stay.
Nobody enjoys the stigma of being the worst nation in the world. Remember the summer of 1999, when England crashed to the bottom of the unofficial World Championship table and Nasser Hussain was booed off the balcony at The Oval? The ignominy was hard to stomach. The front page of the Sun declared the death of the national summer game, England's opponents all around the world doubled up in mocking laughter and the rest of us just shook our heads in bewilderment.
And yet, it was only a game. What does England, a nation that once ruled a third of the globe and has left as a legacy a single common language, really know about failure? Their crime in 1999 was to lose to New Zealand over a four-Test series, a result which left them ranked, albeit briefly, as the ninth Test team out of nine. The following year, Bangladesh rolled into town to take the Test membership into double figures, and since then, no one but Zimbabwe has come close to challenging for bottom spot. But how shameful, really, is it to be classed as the 10th-best team in the world? Until cricket burst into the national consciousness, Bangladesh had never come so close to such elite status in any walk of life. After independence, football was the nation's first sporting love - the national side had played an important role in raising awareness during their independence struggle - but a nation's football ability tends to reflect its economic strength (Brazil excepted) and Bangladesh remained firmly rooted towards the bottom of both tables.
Cricket with its narrower appeal and Asian-centric focus, offers something more tangible to a nation desperate for success. Suddenly, rank mediocrity is not the best that Bangladesh can aspire to. The country has found an outlet for its energies, and given time and talent to nurture, it is certain one day to stand proud among the established nations. This summer provides a glimpse of what lies in store, for Bangladesh have wangled an invitation to the most exclusive private party of them all. They have been asked to raise the curtain to an Ashes series, of all contests, and will do so by playing a maiden Test at Lord's, of all venues. And then, as if that wasn't daunting enough, they are to be treated as equal partners in a triangular series involving both heavyweights. In all probability they will be hopelessly out of their depth, and in the case of the one-dayers, horribly so. But don't be fooled into thinking that this little stopover doesn't matter: for 150 million Bengalis, that old adage: "It's not the winning that counts but the taking part", will never have rung so true.
The critics justifiably argue that there is little room for sentiment in top-level sport, so sympathy will be in short supply this summer when Bangladesh's defeats start rolling in. But Bengalis are resilient. In 1998, the London School of Economics led a study into the link between personal spending power and one's perceived quality of life. It concluded that Bangladeshis are in fact the happiest people on earth, for they are able to derive more pleasure from their modest incomes and unassuming way of life than many other richer nations - the UK was ranked a lowly 32nd. This is a people who have clung to their identity with unrelenting tenacity - from the days when, as part of East Pakistan, they were forced to fight against the imposition of Urdu as the nation's sole unifying language, to that bloody independence struggle in 1971 when over a million people were slaughtered in nine months of the most bitter hostilities. It speaks volumes for the importance of cricket in the development of a Bangladeshi identity that, in November 2000, the then president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, Saber Chowdhury, described the country's elevation to Test status as the third most historic event in their national life. In the circumstances, it is only right that living up to that status should also be a struggle.
Chowdhury's endorsement did not change Bangladesh's shameful lack of preparation for international cricket. For 20 years after independence, cricket was seen largely as an irrelevance - time-consuming and expensive, symbolic of a bygone era - and so the country had no first-class structure, just a Dhaka-based one-day league of middling quality. By England's inaugural Test series in October 2003, the sum total of the nation's indoor practice facilities was a four-lane concrete hut 75 minutes north of Dhaka and this in a country where monsoon downpours are the rule, not the exception. And yet, while the infrastructure has been lacking, the spirit remains indefatigable. Wild celebrations greet Bangladesh's every success, making a mockery of the blasé, uninterested, attitudes more successful nations adopt. When Bangladesh beat Kenya in the final of the 1997 ICC Trophy, it was the delirium that greeted the result, more than the quality of the victory itself, that forced the ICC to sit up and take note. This surging groundswell of support was the decisive factor that enabled Bangladesh to leapfrog the old front runners, Kenya, in the race for the next Test berth.
It has not been an unconditional love affair. By the time of the 2003 World Cup, Bangladesh's supporters were becoming grossly disillusioned by a cycle of humiliating defeats. This reached its nadir at Durban on February 11, when a dreadlocked plumber, Austin Codrington, bowled the no-hopers, Canada, to a 60-run victory in their first senior appearance for 24 years. Far from being the nation's saving grace, cricket was now dragging Bangladesh's inadequacies ever further into the glare of public scrutiny. The BCB wisely recognised the urgent need for action, and following a public enquiry, sacked the coaches Mohsin Kamal and Ali Zia along with the entire selection panel and captain Khaled Mashud. Mashud took the indignity on the chin, and has remained an indispensable part of the team ever since.
Into the fray strode the imposing, hugely respected figure of Dav Whatmore, a World-Cup winner as coach of Sri Lanka seven years earlier and a man who understood the need to nurture the team on a match-to-match basis, and protect them from the backlash that would accompany their inevitable failures. His first series in charge was a daunting two-Test series Down Under, in which the late David Hookes urged Australia to go for a victory inside one day and nobody bothered to deny that this was a possibility. And yet, by posting 295 on a greentop in the first innings of the second Test, Bangladesh avoided that ignominy hands-down and left the country in higher spirits than at any other point in their Test history. Two months later, they came within one wicket of a maiden Test victory in Pakistan, and even in defeat, they were garlanded by an ecstatic crowd on their return to Dhaka Airport.
Bangladesh will remain the whipping boys of Test cricket for several years to come and in all probability the forthcoming tour of England will mark another significant dip in their fortunes, after the heady success they enjoyed in their maiden series win over Zimbabwe back in January. But the breadth and depth of their support proves that this is a nation worth investing in, and undoubtedly, the most significant step in their development was taken back home in Dhaka in February 2004. The ICC has done Bangladesh few favours in their short time at the top but the decision to award them the Under-19 World Cup was an unequivocal masterstroke. Where else in the world could such a lowly tournament be embraced as the greatest show on earth? For the opening ceremony alone, 40,000 tickets were snapped up on the black market and matches involving even the makeweights of Uganda and Papua New Guinea were sold out a week in advance. For the first time, international cricket in Bangladesh carried beyond the narrow confines of Dhaka and Chittagong as five new stadia were inaugurated across the country. A heady fortnight came to the most jubilant of conclusions when Bangladesh trumped the mighty Australians to win the final of the plate competition. The man of the match on that day was a young left-arm spinner, Enamul Haque jr, who is fast becoming the standard-bearer for the new generation. His figures of 5 for 31 earned him a recall to the Test side that he had already represented, as a 16-year-old, on England's maiden visit in 2003-04. He became a superhero earlier this year, with three consecutive five-wicket hauls in the series victory over Zimbabwe.
Another of Enamul's Under-19 colleagues, the fast bowler Shahadat Hossain, will also be making the trip to England, as well as the precocious opener, Nafis Iqbal, who charmed a century in a warm-up match against England in October 2003 and then had the temerity to dismiss England's spinners as "ordinary". Factor in Mohammad Ashraful, the youngest centurion in Test history, and Mashrafe bin Mortaza, the most natural seam bowler in the country, and it appears Bangladesh has identified a core of talent that will reach maturity sometime over the next five years.
It could even be that some of them will reach maturity on this most exacting of tours, in front of a sea of their ex-pat supporters from England and the USA, who are expected to descend on Lord's and Chester-le-Street for the latest biggest step in Bangladesh's Test baptism. The main event of this English summer may not get underway until late July, but don't be fooled - what comes before has a significance all of its own.
Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Cricinfo
- Dear Alochoks,
We are having a strained relationship with our neighbour India. I
would like to draw a big picture behind this tension and give a hint
to the way out. However, I expect that many will disagree with me. I,
on my part, am fully prepared to modify my analysis.
I think the root of the problem lies deep. Many
Indians still think that Bangladesh should be indebted to them because
their army has given us freedom. By this, they implicitly expect that
Bangladesh should be a submissive or satellite nation to India.
Indeed, I think it was a great hope for many Indians when Bangladesh
seperated from West Paskistan in 71.
So, when Bangladesh reacts strongly, they feel surprized at our
courage. If we are submissive and timid like Nepal and Bhutan, then
there shouldn't be any problem with India. If you analyze India's
policy towards us, it is clear that they are not prepared to meet us
as an equal brotherly nation. Rather, they want to treat us with a
boss-like attitude and expect that we remain happy with such
treatment. When Bangladesh is receiving a lot of respect and very good
trade offers from neighbourly countries like Burma, Thailand, Malaysia
and others, India's snobbish and uncooperative attitude towards us
reflects thier superiority complex. As a small but conscious Muslim
country, India is never comfortable with us unless we totally submerge
with their Hindu or Indian culture as promoted by their mainstream
I think such is the realiy that we have to deal with very
diplomatically. I also think that so far our foreign minister has
shown some good smartness in this regard.
I strongly support that Bangladesh becomes an active member of ASEAN.
SAARC has almost completely failed. While we can stay with SAARC, it
is worth keeping in mind that its significance is little or nothing.
We can reasonably expect to do far better by getting economically,
culturally and militarily closer with our Eastern neighbours such as
Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia etc. while keeping an equal brotherly
relationship (as far as possible) with India.
Usman Ali Hannan
University of Toronto
- Dear Alochoks,
Alochok Usman Hannan's explanation of why we have a bad relationship
with India is a very good summary of what is considered to be the
truth by many Bangladeshis, particularly in the current ruling
By saying that India demands subserviance because of their help in
1971, and that India is uncomfortable with Bangladesh because of its
being a Muslim majority country and that it wants to culturally
assimilate us into its primarily Hindu one, and with the connivnce
of the media at that, one manages to protray an image of an
unresonable India that is making demands that we simply cannot meet.
If, indeed, India was asking us repay some debt from 1971 or enforce
a "Hindu culture" on us through some propaganda campaign, then it
would be fair to say that there is nothing we can do.
But that is not true. Yes, India is belliegerant, and unreasonable
often, but its not because of some mass xenophobic undercurrent in
the Indian society, although incidents like Gujrat have proved that
such undercurrents are not totally absent.
There are many many real-world reasons as to why we have a bad
relationship, and India's confrontational and non-cooperative
approach to water sharing, border fencing, trade relations, its
unilateral approach to cross-border infiltration and persistent
attempts to label Bangladesh as a regional epicentre for Islamic
fundamentalism because of the recent spate of bombings and attacks
on religious minorities are just some of them.
We need good diplomats to address these problems, and on this issue
too, I would like to disagree with Alochok Hannan on the fact that
our foreign ministry is going a good job. I think the truth is quite
to the contrary. That India is a neighbour we can deal with,
difficult though they can be at times, is illustrated well enough by
the water sharing treaty, for example. Let alone India, we seem to
have almost messed up our relationship with China because of the
Taiwan trade office fiasco, and then the stalling of a couple of
high profile projects.
By blaming everything that is going wrong on some huge international
propaganda against Bangladesh and looking for salvation by looking
away, to the "East", might turn out to be like the ostrich who hid
his head in the sand. I do agree though that SAARC is dead - in
fact, in my view, it was stillborn - and that we should try and
integrate with ASEAN sooner than later. But we must really be
careful not to put all our eggs in one basket.
Nahole dekha jabe, "ekul-o haralam, okul-o haralam".
- Dear Mr. Hannan,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
I could agree with some of your sentiments, but I would argue that your basic premise (shared by many) is part of the root problem. While I do not have the facts at my disposal, ( I am sure Munna can get all the info), India's portion of Muslim population is larger than total population of Pakistan and Bangladesh combined. In my humble opinion, its wrong to approach and analyze the bilateral issues between these two countries in context of religion. I am referring to your statement ['As a small but conscious Muslim country, India is never comfortable with us unless we totally submerge with their Hindu or Indian culture as promoted by their mainstream medias'].
India has the economic and institutional prowess to drive hard bargains with Bangladesh. It is up to the Bangladeshi political leaders to be able to stand-up a solid economic and social engineering master plan and execute to that. It is the weakness of the political players in BD, short sighted greediness of the local business people, lack of clarity of trade policies and security at the border, and even lack of intellectual sharpness among the government bureaucrats which all adds up to India's dominance of Bangladesh's fate and happiness. We are at cross roads now in the global theater post September 11, and the two wars. Bangladesh has to very carefully orchestrate its policies and responses to the various power camps namely the US, China, Japan, India and to a lesser degree the other South Asian countries. A neutral stance is essential to Bangladesh's long term survival as a nation state.
It is also time to shift the developmental focus from agro based economic activities to service activities. I am dismayed by the stagnating number of university graduates who are not fully employed, I am also disappointed by the lack of their skills even after going through four years of university. The quality of education has to increase and plans need to be in place for immersion of these graduates in the global workforce. Look what the Egyptians, Lebanese and Palestinians have done. Despite local trouble, these countries managed to produce highly educated and talented workforce which are then exported.
India would certainly prefer a less nationalistic Bangladesh. And as Talukder has pointed out, India is quite content with balance of trade in their favour. They are unwilling to budge even an inch to open up their markets for Bangladesh.
My solution is to face up to the facts, viz.
(1) India is huge and powerful
(2) It is rapidly globalising
(3) The country has a large intellectual pool (and I don't mean
(4) Within the next 20 years or so, India should become a
The situation is Bangladesh is exactly the reverse (especially on no. 3. We are the Costa Ricans living next to a large neighbour.
There is little point in grumbling about India. We should do our best to develop a partnership with that country. It will require swallowing our pride, but our best hope is that when India takes-off
we'll be firmly rooted to its tail.
New Jersey, USA
- The country has suffered tremendously due to the decision to
assimilate the unqualified person into the administration soon after
the independence. Now that the country has got rid of these
incompetent administrators recently after long 30 years through
their retirement we are in process of repeating the same mistake by
transferring the under qualified project staffs into the revenue
The recruitment in the project has been compromised by recruiting
candidates having inadequate qualification. The recruitment of IT
personnel in different projects has been severely undermined by the
recruiters with the pretext that qualified IT professionals do not
apply for positions in project. The result of undermining the
project by the decision makers have left the country with failed
projects in hand. For some the projects have been the means of
overseas trips. The approving authority of the projects - the
planning commission is the hub of all misdeeds. The officers of the
planning commission approves project only after ensuring their
overseas tour or ensuring job for their incompetent relatives. The
scrutiny of passports of the planning commission officers will give
the grim picture of wastage and unnecessary overseas travel at the
expense of state exchequer. The government should curtail the
overseas travel by the planning commission officers through projects
implemented by other ministries and departments without delay. This
will ensure that the projects are approved on merits not on the
associated benefit in the form of study tours or in kinds to the
The quality of human resource has always been the deciding factor
between successful and the failed enterprise. The state as an
enterprise should be run by the competent people. The vision of
competent personnel running the government is a cherished desire of
all. The ICT has changed the way of life and the ways of governance.
I do not see any wisdom in recruiting below par person to run the
ICT department of the country. The difference on the perception of
the developed world and Bangladesh is starkly opposite. The world
looks for the best to run the ICT department whereas we strive to
put our global worst in the ICT department. The world looks for
their successful bureaucrat to run the ICT ministry we look for our
failed bureaucrat to run our ICT ministry. The world looks for the
highly capable person to lead the ministry we strive to get rid of
our worst through placement in the ICT ministry.
The time has now come for the change. The bar to the excellent from
excelling must be brought down. The illogical recruitment rules for
assimilating the misfits from the project to the revenue setup
without scrutiny of the academic and other qualifications through
proper written and verbal aptitude tests should be stopped. All
process of discrimination for the ICT professional like mandatory
condition of membership to the Bangladesh Computer Society should be
scraped. The mandatory membership to any trade union or society is
also contravenes the basic law of the land.
The Bangladesh Computer Society unlike its comparable societies has
turned into a mafia, extorting the poor job seekers for government
jobs in the name of membership and associated charge. The society's
membership criterion have been compromised and the incompetents and
unqualified has been given different categories of membership to
create a loyal vote bank. The unacceptable academic qualification
backed with member certificate of the society has turned the ICT
recruitment rules into a mockery. A Harvard or MIT or Princeton
graduate with highest academic achievements is unfit for Bangladesh
of Government job unless baptized by the high priest of the
Bangladesh Computer Society. The ICT professional recruitment rule
needs a thorough overhauling to shed the mandatory baptization
requirement and make way for the Computer Science and Computer
Science and Engineering graduates to prove their mettle. I earnestly
request our honorable prime minister being the chairperson of the
ICT Task Force to immediately intervene and stop the assimilation of
the unqualified quacks from the projects into the revenue setup,
ensure selection of ICT projects on merit rather than on condition
of incentive to the approving authority and to revise the ICT
professional recruitment rules for better tomorrow.
- Dear Alochoks,
After successful (somewhat, eventual success is yet to be seen)
implementation of Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), next focus of the
government should be setting up a commission to protect consumers
It should cover not only food products and services, rather the
commission should be mandated with all kinds of protecting Bangladeshi
consumers in all sectors such as food products, health products,
mobile phones and other electronics products, transportation products,
entertainment products - everything that we buy.
Following are extracts from a superb series reporting highlighting the
dismal situation in food and medicine sector by Daily Star reporter
Alochoks, please share your thoughts regarding this idea of a
Consumers' Rights Commission, whether it will be complementary to the
actions of ACC and how it could influence the overall govenance in
Bangladesh. Also, special request to the expatriates to share their
experiences and thoughts about how they have seen similar bodies in
respective countries they currently live in.
======Excerpts and links for Pinaki Roy's Report============
"Please write down that 99 percent of the food items we get for tests
are adulterated and substandard. The market is flooded with
adulterated food," Dr. Md. Zahurul Islam, head of the Public Health
and Drug Testing Laboratory, told The Daily Star.
Lack of political will, coupled with crippling manpower shortages in
inspection agencies, has resulted in a breakdown of the government's
food regulatory system, allowing culprits to flourish while the public
is slowly poisoned by adulterated food, an investigation by The Daily
It is the constitutional mandate of the government, as outlined in
section 18 (1), to ensure quality food for the public. Fulfilling that
mandate means adopting effective measures to prevent harmful foods
from the reaching the market.
Other government agencies suffer from similar staff constraints. The
Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institute (BSTI) is responsible for
ensuring the quality of all food products throughout the country, but
has only 13 field officers to carry out this colossal duty. In Dhaka,
only 18 sanitary inspectors of the City Corporation are tasked with
ensuring the food quality for more than ten million people.
The Bangladesh Pure Food Rules of 1967, the law addressing food, is
now 38 years old, armed with such weak fines that traders are hardly
intimidated by it. The highest penalty for adulterating food is Tk
5,000. But the expenses involved in proving such cases in court and
realising the penalties are much higher.
"If we file a case, the defaulter does not even go to a pleader, as
the fees of the pleaders are much higher than his penalty," said an
official from the health directorate, requesting anonymity.
Eating dangerously - Watchdogs' role mostly missing
Consumers suffer as agencies lack manpower, political will
Fake medicines reign - Tk 700cr fake drugs smuggled into or produced a
year; link of small industries alleged
Eating Dangerously - Rotten fish, dirty plates in eateries
18 DCC inspectors left to monitor 5,000 food outlets
Eating Dangerously - Food tainted with toxic colours, risky mixings
Adulteration spree poses grave health risks; authorities lack means to
Eating dangerously - Showcased sweetmeats not what they seem
- Dear Alochoks,
Excellent writeup by Mr. Andy Mahmud !! My sentiments matched almost
The 10% where I don't agree with Mr. Mahmud is (some of it already
quoted by Mr. Hannan and others)
-- Indians in my opinion will never look upon Bangladesh favorably
as a respected economic partner if some geopolitical perceptions
prevail within New Delhi diplomatic circles. They see Bangladesh as
a mild (eventually critical) thorn on their side in the NE seven
sisters area as well as Assam and Tripura. The China equation,
chicken's neck, ISI involvement (whether real or not) will drive
this perception. But then perceptions are what drives actions in
today's world. Ergo -- have we done enough to dispel these notions
through diplomatic channels? Have we ascertained that is beneficial
to do so politically? The earlier we start -- the more pragmatic the
results. We don't need to be India's lackey or friend. If we stop
being a perceived irritation they'll be happy enough.
-- Bangladesh (has been, is now and will be) by and large a Muslim
nation-state, all pretenses notwithstanding. It may treat it's
minorities (hopefully) equally but the 150 Million muslims aren't
going to turn Hindu or Christian anytime soon -- despite the wishes
and machinations of 'Hindu Rashtra' idea-mongers. Some of the 'diet-
coke' Muslims in Bangladesh will act quite secular at times (More
Hindu or Christian in outlook, attire or lifestyle) but the
overwhelming peer pressure to conform to the Muslim 'label' (i.e.
identity) will persist for the long term -- especially as a
collective consciousness within our national entity. Look at Turkey
for example. Erdogan (Turkish P.M.) can cry hoarse on being secular
and the Turkish Govt. can try to be all European -- but who decides
where Turkey's future is? The Turks. The Islamists are edging closer
and closer to victory in that country. I think Madeliene Albright
said it best -- If there were free elections in Islamic countries
today -- We'd have all Islamist governments leading them. But I
digress. I'm sure you all get the point. The people in any country
will ultimately get their wish. In Bangladesh's case it won't be
full bore Islamist Govt. but along the lines of with other Islamic
economies like Malaysia, Indonesia and other Middle-Eastern Govts.
-- Therefore Bangladesh being a homogenous outpost of Muslim people -
- cannot peg its success by aligning its future 100% (Not even 75%)
with India which eventually will be for all intent and purposes a
Hindu Rashtra (secular pretenses notwithstanding). India is there
as a gargantuan neighbor and it is real. We will trade because of
proximity and hopefully the balance of trade will be a bit more even-
keeled toward our advantage. But -- we have to align our future
with 'level-headed' and pragmatic Asian Muslim economies (namely
Malaysia and Indonesia) because that is where I see our collective
(multi-national) future as a Muslim nation-state. I don't always
agree with Dr. Mahathir Muhammad -- however I do agree with his
pragmatic idea in having a common Islamic currency -- maybe a
common 'Dinar' among all Islamic economies (like the 'Euro') to
strengthen Muslim economies. We should think about these ideas to
let Bangladesh assume a stronger role in the larger Muslim world and
prosper together with other Islamic countries that way.
> India's portion of Muslim population is larger than totalpopulation of Pakistan and Bangladesh combined. In my humble
opinion, its wrong to approach and analyze the bilateral issues
between these two countries in context of religion. >
While I agree with the facts above -- numbers alone don't make a
political equation. Those numerous Indian Muslims do not belong now
to the Indian power-structure -- nor do I see that happening anytime
soon because of our 'subcontinental' mentality (common racial and
discriminatory practices). [Yes yes I know about Azeem Premji at
WIPRO :) -- he is one in a Million]. Indian Muslims will always be
minorities in a largely Hindu Land. I claim to have quite a few
Indian Muslim friends and they say their options are,
1. Either to migrate to Pakistan
2. Remain in India and try to 'blend in' by adopting becoming close
to a secular Hindu person (Shahrukh Khan wearing red powder on
forehead for example).
That is reality for Indian Muslims. No matter how patriotic an
Indian Mussalman is -- his credibility and his loyalty can always be
questioned in India (and often is).
> My solution is to face up to the facts, viz.mean
> (1) India is huge and powerful
> (2) It is rapidly globalising
> (3) The country has a large intellectual pool (and I don't
> poets)-- I wouldn't be so sure. True -- Indians are planning their ascent
> (4) Within the next 20 years or so, India should become a
> economic superpower
to superpower status. They'd like to be in the Security Council.
They're doing great with Call center and BPO outsourcing businesses.
But like my Asian friends say -- the true measure of a country's
economic status lies in the quality of it's airport toilets (well --
public toilets in general) and India on that count doesn't even
compare to puny countries like Singapore, much less China or Japan.
I'd advise those who are so convinced about Indian Superpower status
to visit that country (and its toilets in particular) to refresh
their memory. Indians are fond of overstating things (as all
subcontinentals are) and some of us are a little too convinced of
Indian greatness. Rest assured that all of their country does not
look a lot different that parts of Bangladesh and Pakistan
(Sometimes actually worse). The existence of one Leela Kempinski
hotel (or three) in a country does not mean the rest of the country
looks like it. Being a superpower takes more than re-engineering a
50's era US Scout rocket and then equipping it with a small nuclear
warhead or welding together Russian subs or ships from blueprints.
-- I'm also not very sure of the high-technology (Nuclear, space
technologies) status of a country when I see that most of the Indian
Pickle jars are leaking. If they can't make a proper screw-on lid
for a pickle jar then how can you be so sure of the efficacy of
their Missile technology?? :) (I couldn't resist this as I did try
some Indian pickle of late).
But seriously -- I know of at least a dozen '10 Million dollar DRDO
projects' that have simply not worked and are money wasters. The
Indian people love being duped in this fashion. Quick examples are
the Arjuna Tank Project(dud), Kaveri Turbofan engine project (dud)
and then the biggest dud of all duds, the LCA 'cheap fighter'
project, the 'gnat' of the new millenium in typical Indian 'frugal'
fashion -- which didn't end up being frugal at all!! (This is the
subject of another complete thread altogether.) I could go on and
on -- but I rest my case. On the other hand -- most Chinese projects
(the J-10 fighter for example) are technically at par with western
projects and are 'marketable' outside their country -- unlike Indian
> There is little point in grumbling about India. We should do ourbest to develop a partnership with that country. It will require
swallowing our pride, but our best hope is that when India takes-off
> we'll be firmly rooted to its tail.I agree grumbling is pointless. But we should negotiate from a
position of strength -- whether economically or
politically. 'Swallowing our pride' won't make us any deraer to
Indians. Since we _are_ buying their products -- they (Indian
Businessmen) _should_ care if we take that seven billion dollar
(unoffically) market away from them (even half of it). They _will_
take heed. This is not rogue behavior but very pragmatic behavior.
Only thing that is lacking is political will. I also don't think we
should peg our future on Indian leftover scraps they throw us on
their ascent to first-world status. We don't need to wait that long.
The premise that Bangladesh economy will not get better before
India's is a myth that we need to work hard on breaking. And we can
do it only if we stopped our infighting.
- Dear Alochoks
By now most Alochoks should be aware of the events of the last 48
hours in Bangladesh. For further information, please see the following
We would like to invite the Alochoks to consider the following
questions in the aftermath of these events:
1. Why has this happened?
2. How should the government and opposition parties respond?
3. What can be done to prevent this from happening again?
4. What are the implications of these events?
5. Where do these events leave Bangladesh in the US led "War on Terror"?
It is undoubtedly an emotive subject and many avenues of discussion
become involved, some more relevant than others but all tied in some
way to the matter at hand. For this reason, Alochona Management will
suspend its moderation policy for the next 2 weeks so that as many
viewpoints and opinions can be heard as possible.
Please note that customs of etiquette and language still apply.
We look forward to hearing from you.