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Bertil Lintner's comment on Naeem Mohaiemen essay

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  • Jamal Hasan
    Interesting story. Just wanted to point out that this is wrong: (later it turned out the photo was taken at a rally protesting the Gujarat riots-- the lead man
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 2, 2003
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      Interesting story. Just wanted to point out that this is wrong:

      (later it turned out the photo was taken at a rally protesting the Gujarat riots-- the lead man in the photo has filed a lawsuit against FEER).

      The rally in question had nothing to do with the riots in Gujarat. It was a pro-Taliban demonstration. There are many other pictures from the same demonstration, including one showing the bearded "lead man" behind a banner saying "Stop attacking Afghanistan" and another with people sitting in front of big portraits of Osama bin Laden. And the "lead man" has not filed a law suit against anybody.

      best regards,
      Bertil



      Naeem Bangali

      Who's Afraid of Bangladesh?


      The "Taliban Hunters" search for the next bad wolf.
      Destination: Bangladesh?

      Over the last one year, the Bangladesh government has faced the type of media attention it would rather avoid. International news reports have focused on attacks against Hindu villagers, the unlawful detention of journalists and politicians, health epidemics, the alleged presence of Islamic militant groups, and the specter of �militant Islamicization.� How much truth is in these reports is up for debate. But each of these incidents illustrates the media colonialism mentality of the Bangladeshi ruling class. The lesson they have learnt is: You can commit any sin as long as the western media does not pick it up. But once they do, suddenly the issues become serious and worth paying attention to. Bangladeshi journalist Afsan Chowdhury wrote recently, "If anything is proven, it is that the authorities don't pay us enough attention but only care about foreign media. I d on't know whether to be insulted or relieved."

      On a lazy Sunday last week, I walked past a local newsstand. Staring up from the front page of the Sunday New York Times was the image of a sari-clad woman drinking water from a tube-well. "Bangladeshis sipping Arsenic" read the headline. Picking it up, I began to read with that familiar sense of dread. Inside, the story talked about "the largest mass poisoning of a population in history." "130 Million people", "country the size of Wisconsin", "35 Million drinking arsenic-laced water", "3 Million may die." Statistics, numbers, so many numbers-- familiar and numbing.

      For those familiar with Bangladesh's arsenic crisis, the story was not new. But the banner headline in the Times would guarantee a big reaction to the story. Already my mailbox is flooded with concerned e-mails. "I just read the story," wrote one friend, "What can we do?" Others were outraged by the revelation that Aid Agencies played a crucial role in the tragedy. Years ago, UNICEF aggressively pushed deep tube-wells in the villages, to prevent villagers from getting disease from drinking pond water. But the donors never tested the tube-well water for arsenic. By the time it was discovered, the projects had been running for two decades-- millions were already poisoned.

      Over the next few weeks, the Bangladesh government will rush to assure donors that they are taking all necessary steps. Just as it did three years ago after a CNN report, UNICEF will issue press briefings assuring all that it is doing its best to rectify mistakes. New reports will be commissioned to find out why people are still drinking poison. All this because of one report in the New York Times! Yet concerned Bangladeshi reporters and scientists have been raising these issues for years, and have continually been ignored by their own government. Even this time, the surge of interest will only last as long as western journalists are focuse d on it. Afsan Chowdhury, reminiscing about the last time arsenic was a hot topic, wrote:
      "And then CNN did a special. And all hell broke loose. People were confessing their water crimes, the World Bank went on chat shows explaining how they would save Bangladesh and UNICEF shed copious tears."

      The question for journalists like Afsan is always the same, how do you get any attention and action on issues if the reporting is not from CNN? Is it only western journalists whose words are important?

      This sensitivity to western critiques is not new in Bangladesh's history. With the exception of the early 1970s, when Prime Minister Sheikh Mujib openly clashed with Henry Kissinger (and paid the price when the US refused to ship grain to aid 1974 famine victims), each Bangladesh government has depended on the Paris-Geneva-New York aid circuit for sustenance. So only when western donor agencies (and the media they read) have paid attention to internal issues have they finally become "issues." Fortunately for autocratic Bangladeshi regimes, western newsrooms have often ignored their human rights abuses. Because they were not tied to larger pseudo-debates that pit "western enlightenment" against "third world barbarism" (e.g., headscarfs and burkhas, genital mutilation), Bangladeshi human rights cases were often ignored. The exceptions were when they were particularly savage and appealed to the missionary instinct or when they could be linked to Islam. Thus, fatwas calling for the stoning death of a woman received international attention, although the High Court edict, which declared fatwas illegal, went unnoticed. It seems that when local activists solved their own problems, rather than having to be airlifted out of harms way, it was not as newsworthy!

      Entering the post-9/11 world, Bangladesh, like many other Muslim majority countries, faces a new twist in human rights. Now, many human rights abuses can be linked to "creeping Islam icization." In the past, the only thing the government needed to worry about was a negative mark in a human rights report, which in practice often carried no bite. After all, Bangladesh has been receiving poor marks in Transparency International's survey of corruption for years, but this has done little to slow the rush of American oil companies looking to get exploration rights (a few years ago, the Halliburton delegation was led by Dick Cheney). But now, reports of human rights abuses come linked with warnings that Bangladesh is becoming "the next Afghanistan." This is the one human rights demerit that today's Bangladesh government does fear. As they desperately try to align with the "Axis of Good," the new Bangladeshi regime has been understandably prickly about media reports on alleged shifts towards Islamicization.

      Why is the green badge of "Islamicization" feared? Beyond the possibility of US military reprisals, there is an immediate impact in trade and busines s relations. Already Pakistan has received new exports quotas on garments for its cooperation in the "war on terror," with negative effects on the Bangladeshi garments industry. If Bangladesh were somehow anointed the "next Taliban" and an "exporter of terrorism" (for which the only pre-requisite seems to be a Muslim population), the punishment on the trade front would get worse. Interestingly, the Islamic bogey is used most often on the trade front, where the US has a history of looking for excuses to enact trade barriers (past excuses came from crocodile tears about child labor). US oil companies' interest in a potentially rapacious control over Bangladeshi gas fields has not been dimmed by these "Islamicization" reports.

      Bangladesh's uneasy new relationship with the western media intensified after the October 2001 election. In that election, the rightist Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) came to power. After the election victory, in an environment of anarchy and post-election violence, BNP-allied thugs carried out attacks against Hindu villages, a perceived vote bank for their rival Awami League (AL). The attacks received widespread coverage in local media-- some called them communal attacks, others called them political retribution. Facing government silence, NGOs such as Ain Salish Kendra (ASK) took action. ASK successfully petitioned the High Court to issue a show-cause notice on the government for their failure to protect minorities. Unfortunately, because the AL also joined the fray, portraying themselves as defenders of the Hindu community (even though their record in office is equally dismal in more subtle ways), the issue became hopelessly politicized. Added to the AL involvement was the local media's own reporting, which at times seemed intended to flame the fires of western Islam-phobia. Commenting on this, leftist activist Farhad Mazhar wrote in an article "Bad News for Bangladesh":
      "The main goal of the newspapers or the public media was to portray, by hook or crook, that the BNP-led government is a 'Taliban' government. They have been overtaken by the craze for establishing this 'Taliban� identity of Bangladesh before their own nation and abroad.�

      Through the cacophony of condemnation and accusations, the BNP stood unmoving-- alternately portraying the reports as "exaggerations" or "funded by AL". It was only when Amnesty International (led by Secretary General Irene Khan, who is of Bangladeshi origin) started investigating, that the government began paying attention. Now the government spokesmen went to full court, providing rebuttals to the Amnesty report. While the government disputed the Amnesty report, there were tangible results. Amnesty's subsequent focus on the arrest of Shahriar Kabir (who was interviewing Hindu victims) as a "prisoner of conscience" may have been instrumental in the government decision to release him on bail. Similarly, sensitivity to the Amnesty repo rt may have been a factor in the government's decisive action to prevent any retaliation riots after India's Gujarat riots. Here again, it was Amnesty that carried more weight than local activists like ASK, or local reporters like Afsan Chowdhury.

      In 2002, Bangladesh attracted more coverage from the "Taliban hunters." In April, the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) published an explosive cover story, "Beware of Bangladesh." The story was accompanied by the menacing image of angry, bearded men (later it turned out the photo was taken at a rally protesting the Gujarat riots-- the lead man in the photo has filed a lawsuit against FEER). The issue carried a secondary story about alleged terrorist camps, with the alarmist title "A Cocoon of Terror". The story provoked a firestorm in Bangladesh. The BNP banned the issue and launched an international campaign against the story. The BNP attack was expected. Far more discomforting to the FEER was the criticism from western-a ligned sources such as Bangladesh's DAILY STAR newspaper, Humanist Association of Hong Kong and, most damagingly, the former Editor of FEER. In spite of the criticism, the story was reprinted by the Wall Street Journal (Asia), which neglected to print any of the rejoinders. Following the FEER's report, THE NATION magazine came out with its own report, "The 'Talibanization' of Bangladesh." As of this date, the government's responses to THE NATION article continue in the local papers. However, because THE NATION has little circulation in South Asia, the reaction to that story has been much more muted.

      Of course, some of the rebuttals to the FEER story are quite valid. One critique points toward the many positive stories which have been ignored by FEER: the global microcredit movement led by Grameen Bank, the vibrant NGO sector, the dramatic increase in women's public role (including 33% representation in local bodies), the opening of army ranks to women, and the fight against international bio-piracy led by UBINIG. But after 9/11, only one thing seemed to matter to western journalists-- that Bangladesh had a large Muslim population. Therefore, it must already be a training ground for "militant terrorist Islam," or failing that, the danger must "lurk right below the surface."

      While there are indeed many problems in Bangladesh (some related to creeping "Islamicization," some not), the Bangladesh government found a very easy target in the FEER story. Because the story was sloppily researched, it was relatively easy to discredit. Almost all the story sources were "Indian intelligence," which are often politically motivated. Especially in light of the BJP government's recent moves to portray themselves as "surrounded by terrorists on all sides," this suspicion has increased. UBINIG leader Farhad Mazhar pointed out:
      "In the context of her intransigent approach toward the Kashmir issue, the ruling circle of India wants to take full ad vantage of George Bush's 'War on Terrorism' against Islam as a religion and Muslims as a community."

      In the FEER story, "Senior Indian police officers" accused Bangladesh of involvement in the January attack on the Kolkata American Cultural Center. Shadowy but reliable "Indian intelligence officials" claimed Pakistan's ISI was infiltrating Bangladesh. The FEER slyly pointed out that the charges are "angrily denied by Dhaka" (therefore they must be true?). Any information that contradicted the story was casually ignored. "Extremists belong to fringe groups and are not part of the mainstream," said one Western diplomat. Well, the FEER reporter wrote, he must be "trying to downplay the threat." Other diplomats also corroborated this view. So, FEER concluded, "their intelligence channels are not very good."

      While the government expends energy to discredit these "Islamicization" stories, an honest debate about the issues troubling Bangladesh is still missing. Ther e is no doubt that the country is going through a rightist tilt. The 1972 constitution's commitment to secularism has been weakened by successive governments. The leading Islamist party Jamaat has, for the first time, two of its members inducted as ministers in the BNP government's cabinet. Religious institutions are falling into the hands of those who promote a backwards-looking vision. Even the DAILY STAR, while debunking FEER's paranoid reporting, admitted:
      "We can only concede, however, that there are a huge number of madrassahs, many of which can be problematic with their obscurantist proclivities if a timely vigil is not mounted on them. A long-felt need has been to assimilate science and technology into their curricula."

      Whenever these issues are raised by the local media, the government dismisses or ignores them. When western media picks up the same story (often accompanied by poor research), the government wakes up, but then spends all its energy battling "media demonization." Afsan Chowdhury wrote in the DAILY STAR: "We, the national media, criticize the government and say everything against them, but they end up banning the FEER for a story that has nothing original in it." At no point does any of this coverage lead to introspection and remedy. Only if the Bangladeshi rulers learn to pay attention to their own media will it be possible to have any true analysis and reform. Until then, we are caught between two poles: media (our own) that we ignore, and media (CNN) that we pay too much attention to.

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    • Mahbub Khan
      Dear Bangladeshi Friends, Eid Greetings to all of you. The upcoming INS registration is a very important matter for our community. Even though we have appealed
      Message 2 of 4 , Feb 9, 2003
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        Dear Bangladeshi Friends,

        Eid Greetings to all of you.

        The upcoming INS registration is a very important matter for our community. Even though we have appealed to the US-Government to remove Bangladesh from the NSEERS registration list, we should be fully prepared to register on time, in case Bangladesh is not removed from the list. Please see below some helpful tips, which have been collected from: Bangladesh Embassy Website (www.bangladoot.org), AMA/PADF, CAIR, Islamic Center announcements, and other sources. Please forward this mail to your own e-mail distribution list, and spread the words around for the benefit of our larger community.

        Thanks and regards,

        Mahbub Khan

        Silicon Valley, CA, USA

        408-942-0256

        =======================================================

        1. Attorneys at Eid Gatherings:

        INS Registration Q&A.

        The Eid prayers will take place in USA on Tuesday, February 11, 2003, and also on Wednesday, February 12, 2003. The managements of various Eid gatherings have arranged for attorneys on site to answer the INS registration related questions as a free service to the community. Please find out about the nearest Eid gatherings where this free attorney service will be available. At MCA, the Eid gathering is on Tuesday. The SBIA Eid gathering is on Wednesday (Feb-12) starting at 8:30 AM at Fairground/Tully/SanJose/CA, and will have free attorney service for Q&A (where non-muslims are also welcome to take advantage of this service from 10 am to 3 PM).

        ============================================================

        2. Bangladesh Embassy Website:

        Only part of the information about INS registration has been re-typed here as shown below. For full report, please visit the Bangladesh embassy Washington DC website at (www.bangladoot.org).

        1. Notification:

        Call-in Group 4 list comprising Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, and Kuwait was created through an authorization signed by the Attorney General on January 9, 2003. The list was published in the Federal Register on January 16, 2003.

        2. Effective Dates:

        The notice will be effective from February 24, 2003. Bangladeshi non-immigrant aliens will be required under this notice to register with and provide requested information to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) on or before March 28, 2003.

        3. Scope of the Notice:

        Subject to exceptions noted below, the following shall be required to register pursuant to this notice:

        (a) A male who was born on or before February 24, 1987

        (b) A national or citizen of Bangladesh who (i) was inspected by the INS and was last admitted to the United States as a nonimmigrant on or before September 30, 2002 i.e. he entered the US with a valid visa; and (ii) will remain in the United States after March 28, 2003.

        4. Requirement to appear before an Immigration officer:

        The aliens described above shall, between February 24, 2003 and March 28, 2003, inclusive, is required to appear before an Immigration officer at any of the designated INS offices in the United States.

        5. Information to be provided:

        All such aliens shall

        (a) answer questions under oath before an Immigration officer

        (b) Present to such immigration officer (i) their travel documents, including passports and Forms I-94 issued upon admission and any other forms of Government issued identification, (ii) proof of residence, such as, but not limited to, title to land or a lease or a rental agreement, proof of Matriculation at an educational institution, and if applicable, proof of employment, (iii) such other information as may be requested by the immigration officer.

        6. Finger Printing and Photographing:

        Such aliens shall be fingerprinted and photographed by the immigration officer.

        7. Annual Reporting Obligations:

        All such aliens shall appear, within 10 days of each anniversary of the date on which they were registered under this notice, before an immigration officer at any of the INS offices in USA and answer questions under oath.

        8. Notice of Change of Address:

        All aliens shall advise the INS, through the filing of Form AR-11, of any change of address within 10 days of such change of address. If an alien fails to notify the INS in writing of a change of address and the new address, he may be subject to prosecution and deportation.

        9. Dual Citizens:

        This notice will be applicable to all Bangladeshi nationals or citizens covered under item 3 above regardless of any dual nationality.

        10. Inapplicability:

        The notice does not apply to:

        (a) Diplomatic Officers/Staff, dependents, attendants (see website for details)

        (b) Other officials (see website for details)

        (c) Asylum seekers (see embassy website for details)

        (d) Permanent Residents

        (e) Women

        (f) Undocumented aliens (see embassy website for details).

        11. Aliens arriving after Sept 30, 2002:

        Regarding Bangladeshi non-immigrants entering the US with valid visas after Sept 30, 2002, we (embassy) are told that special registration in their cases is done at the airport on arrival, including photographing, fingerprinting, etc.

        List of INS offices for special registration:

        Please visit the embassy website (www.bangladoot.org) for a list of over 75 INS office locations nationwide. Only two bay area locations are included here:

        (1) 444 Washington Street, San Francisco, CA 94111; (2) 1887 Monterey Road, San Jose, CA 95112

        Designated Ports for departure:

        (See embassy website for details)

        Sample Questions:

        (See embassy website for details).

        Name, date of birth, place of birth, country of citizenship, Passport number with issuing country/city/date, visa number with issuing-date/expiration-date, marital status, state/city of residence, port of entry & date, entry status, color of hair & eye, height, weight, address in USA with phone number & e-mail, I-94 number, purpose of visit with arrival date & airline name, car registration & license plate number, Parent?s names and other information about them, name of school, with major, name of employer, etc.

        =================================================

        3. Bangladesh Government Waives

        Urgent Passport Fee

        AABEA Press Release, Belal Rokonuddin, Feb 9, 2003

        It is our pleasure to learn that the Government of the People's Republic Bangladesh has approved our request dated 1-29-03 to waive urgent fees for new passport and passport renewal for three months effective February 6, 2003. This waiver will help a significant number of Bangladeshis in USA to obtain the necessary documents to face interviews with INS.

        Bangladeshis are usually law abiding, peace loving and hardworking people and contribute to the prosperity of
        USA in many ways. Inclusion of Bangladesh in the NSEER list through recent changes has, however, imposed an undue burden on them.

        We appreciate the sense of cooperation exhibited by the Honorable Ambassador His Excellency Sayed Hasan Ahmed, Embassy of People's
        Republic of Bangladesh, and Washington, DC Embassy. We commend Bangladesh Government and Embassy Officials, who has acted expeditiously on our request and forwarded a letter dated February 6, 2003, to American Association of Bangladeshi Engineers and Architects (AABEA) Secretary, Central Executive Committee Belal Rokonuddin indicating his favorable consideration. The letter is attached hereto.

        The detailed information is available in Bangladesh Embassy Website:
        "www.bangladoot.org" www.bangladoot.org

        Hosain Tauhidul Alam
        President-Elect
        AABEA Washington DC Chapter

        ======================================================

        4. Helpful hints from AMA/PADF

        Hotline for INS Registration

        1. Don?t go to an INS office without consulting an attorney. If you can afford to take an attorney with you, please do so.


        2. Do not go on a Friday because if there is a problem, you may be detained for two extra days.


        3. Make photo copies of all documents that you are taking for INS registration and leave those with your spouse, family member or friend because your documents may get lost or misplaced during the process.


        4. You cannot make a collect call from detention center to a cell phone. Arrange for a friend to be your emergency contact person who would also accept your collect call on a landline phone, who can then inform your family members on cell phone if required.


        5. Register with the AMA/PADF Hotline so that we can keep track of you. Please call us a night before you go for registration and leave a contact name and number to whom we could call if we don?t hear from you that evening.


        6. Stay calm, confident and courteous during the interview.


        7. Good luck.

        If you are a student, then you must take with you the following items:
        Passport, Driving license, Proof of valid visa, Student ID, School transcript, current registration and a list of previous semester courses to prove that you are taking more than 12 credits in each semester. Also take apartment or student housing phone or utility bill to prove your residency.


        Make photo copies of all documents.

        The AMA/PADF toll free hotline: 1-866-815-PADF or 1-866-815-7233 is available for consultation and advice 24 hours.

        ====================================================

        5. CAIR Announcement

        WHO IS REQUIRED TO REGISTER?

        The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently expanded the INS Special Registration to five additional countries. The new countries are
        Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait, and Jordan. Nationals or citizens of these countries who are 16 years of age or older, and who entered the U.S. before September 30, 2002, must now also register with the INS by March 28, 2003.

        The INS has also opened a 12-day grace period for non-immigrant nationals and citizens of
        Syria, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Iran, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. If you are from one of these 18 countries you may register between January 27 and February 7. It is highly unlikely that there will be any other grace periods, so CAIR strongly urges those who have not registered to do so after consulting with an immigration attorney.

        Currently, nationals or citizens from
        Pakistan and Saudi Arabia who are 16 years of age or older and who entered the U.S. Before September 30, 2002, are required to register by February 21, 2003.

        CAIR strongly disagrees with the nature and implementation of this new policy, but it is absolutely essential that those who meet the registration criteria visit the nearest INS center for registration before the deadline. Even if you are here legally, failure to register by the deadline WILL MAKE YOU DEPORTABLE.

        Although hundreds of people were detained during the first round of registrations and many others reported mistreatment, thousands have registered without serious incident and have thereby protected themselves from deportation proceedings.

        It is very important that anybody who believes he must register with the INS talk to an immigration lawyer to determine both his immigration status and what may happen when he registers. You must speak with a lawyer to determine your current status.

        Visit
        http://www.aila.org and http://www.ins.gov/graphics/lawenfor/specialreg/index.htm for detailed information about the registration program.

        For referrals and assistance, contact CAIR-LA at: 714-776-1847 or
        email: cair_sca@....

        NOTE: This INS regulation excludes permanent residents (green card holders), naturalized citizens, and people who have applied for asylum prior to
        November 6, 2002

        ================= END ==================================



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      • Mohammad Zaman
        ON BEING A PHYSICIAN: A PERSONAL ESSAY I was too thin and may be a little anemic. It was the time for Class V Scholarship Examination. My worried father felt
        Message 3 of 4 , Feb 9, 2003
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          ON BEING A PHYSICIAN: A PERSONAL ESSAY

          I was too thin and may be a little anemic. It was the time for Class V Scholarship Examination. My worried father felt that his son needed some vitamins! So I went to see Sukur Chacha (1). He was a physician. He was friend of my father. He talked to me, checked my eyes, my mouth and my tummy. He checked something in the microscope too. Nothing was wrong yet he gave me some yummy vitamins. I still chuckle with the thought of it! He was a fine doctor. When smoking was a fashion, he fought an almost one-man-war against smoking. My father died of heart attack a few months before our beautiful daughter was born. I wish my father listened to him! He was a caring doctor.

          Eventually I ended up in a Medical College. Tongue twisters like sternocleidomastoid (2) etceteras flew around. In the pungent aroma of the dissection room, it was a rude awakening. Many of those young lecturers of Anatomy were simply tyrant. They cultured not a grain of regard for novices like me. May be, I was not the best student, but it pained my feelings. Alas! Not all the docs are like Sukur Chacha!

          Well, the first two years were not much fun. I loved physiology, but anatomy sucked! Somehow, I made to third year. Every day, for two hours, I had patient contact. Proudly, as if it was a precious garland, I carried a stethoscope on my neck. It was a great feeling.

          All those famous professors were my teachers. And here was my second rude awakening. During my first clinical rotation in medicine, my batch was blessed to get one Dr. MH(3), a professor of medicine, as our teacher. Domiciled in Dhaka, he used to fly to Sylhet at his own convenience. In the whole segment of three months, we got his direct teaching for not more than three or four days. And all the patients assigned under his auspicious name were being cared for by his Clinical Assistant (a less experienced young doctor). Dr. AK(4), yet another professor medicine was so busy that he had to see more than one patient simultaneously in his office (chamber). I wondered, how a patient could discuss the tails of his intimate problems in the presence of a total stranger. Privacy of medical information is supposed to be sacred in every country and every culture! But not all was rotten. I also was blessed with Professor Hakim (who taught us a very complex subject like immunology so well) and Professor Barua (who was so caring, dedicated and appreciative).

          Well, the nitty-gritty of real learning follows the diploma, I mean, graduation. This one year of internship is like a cauldron, where all those learning are cooked to feed an aspiring young doctor for a lifetime. This is an intense time. Guidance and supervision is of paramount importance. Alas! Yet another rude awakening again! The one, who knows how to snorkel, is the only one to know the wondrous anemones under the waters of the cay. While the professors were busy tending their own ?chambers? we were supervised largely by our senior brothers (Clinical Assistant & Registrar). May be I am the odd one. I learned how to swim. I learned not how to snorkel. And I did not mind. I aspired to be one of them. It never occurred to me that it was wrong. It never dawned to me that I was only cheating myself.

          A year of internship was past in no time. In the mean time, my fate played its hand. I traveled in this distant land. Despite a fairly sound bookish knowledge, I found myself utterly ill prepared to be in the doldrums of caring for sick patients. But the system that did not work well at home, worked here extremely well. A person of moderate intelligence just can not fail in this system. The contrast is not in the system. It is rather in the people entrusted to run the system. I remember my days of rotation through Anatomic Pathology. After full days of signing out with attending pathologist, grossing and cutting the surgical specimens, we just could not go home by five. Dr. Solomon, our departmental chief, we know, shall keep working until almost seven. Suddenly, she just might dirt in the resident?s room with some interesting slides to teach a little pearl or just for the sake of a little gossip. I can not imagine a similar experience in the life of an intern in Bangladesh when the Professor will dirt in an intern?s room to teach or to talk. Well, I saw a little glimpse of this in Dhaka when I attended an evening conference at Diabetes Hospital with Dr. Ibrahim (5). I could feel the heart of a great teacher!

          Sometimes I wonder, why the likes of Messer?s. AK & MH, despite their professorial rank, failed to be professorial! Like Dr. Ibrahim they also went to England and got the same exposure, yet they failed their profession, their pupils and their nation so miserably. The answer to this anomaly and its cure is not far from our knowledge. We all know the game; we just don?t play it fair!

          Being a physician is not only a profession, but a mission too! A physician is meant to be a ?deep halcyon repose? for the sick and torpid. But are we?

          1) M. A. Sukur, MBBS was a physician at Barlekha, Sylhet. He was tireless advocate against tobacco smoking in the seventies and eighties. Dr. Ataul Karim, a famous scientist and a tireless social worker is his son.

          2) Name of a muscle found in the neck.

          3) Full name is not printed for understandable reason.

          4) Full name is not printed for understandable reason.

          5) Dr. Ibrahim needs no introduction. He is the founder of Diabetes Hospital at Dhaka

          Mohammad Zaman, M.D.
          (The author is a freelance writer and a practicing Allergist/Immunologist in the United States)

          03-08-2003

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