Vol. 5 Num 1137 Fri. August 10, 2007  

An appeal to all NRBs

As per the request of the prime minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and having great feelings for the country, all non-resident Indians across the world came forward to help the victims of tsunami that killed over 280,000 people in towns and villages along the coasts of the Indian Ocean on or after December 26, 2004.

Over 3 million survivors had their livelihoods destroyed. India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Somalia were affected.

Although Bangladesh survived the effects of the tsunami on December 26 because of the natural barrier of its continental shelf stretching 200 km into the Bay of Bengal, the present floods across Bangladesh are no less a natural disaster, and have already taken at least l64 lives (till August 7). Millions have been marooned or made homeless, and remain in abject misery for dearth of bare necessities and the outbreak of diseases.

According to the government estimation, floods have marooned over 9.7 million people of 1.9 million families in 239 upazilas in 40 districts, where at least 89,048 houses were completely, and about 600000, partially damaged. More than 1.5 million acres of land were fully or partially destroyed, and a total of 317 educational institutions were completely, and 4,628 partially, demolished. Some 58,092 km flood-protection embankments were completely washed away, while 1,475 km were partially affected.

In this devastating situation, chief adviser (CA) to the interim government, Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, appealed to everyone in his address to the nation on Sunday 5 to come forward and join in relief and rehabilitation operations for helping out the flood-stricken people.

Imbued with the sprit of human welfare and patriotism, the CA further called on everyone to stand beside the helpless flood-affected people hand in hand.

Like many other times, non-resident Bangladeshis (NRB) across the world can help the helpless flood-affected people in a broader way, as they always keep Bangladesh in their hearts wherever they are.

From 1976 to April 2007, around 4.751 million Bangladeshis went across the globe, and their remitted money is now the main earning source for Bangladesh. With a continuous growth in remittance, Bangladesh's inflow reached $561.92 million in May. The NRBs send roughly $7 billion every year, but a significant amount still comes through "Hundi."

During the liberation war, the Proclamation of Independence was formally announced by the Bangladesh government-in-exile on April 17, 1971, in Kolkata, India. The Proclamation, in effect, provided the fundamental instrument of law as well as an interim constitution of the Mujibnagar government, and that of the government in liberated Bangladesh, until the adoption of the Constitution from December 16, 1972. They organised guerrilla groups with the help of India to continue the war against Pakistan.

It was a great achievement on the part of Bangladesh, thanks to some NRBs' steps. Probably nothing equally great has been achieved after the Independence War. The International Mother Language Day is not only for Bangladesh; rather it is for all speakers of all languages all over the world. In spite of that, Bangladesh cannot but feel proud that February 21st has been chosen as International Mother Language Day.

Like all the general people, international organisations, well wishers of Bangladesh's democracy, and even the political parties in Bangladesh, NRBs played an important role in the last political turmoil by campaigning and upholding their views across the globe through media and different international organisations.

Wherever they are, NRBs always talk about the government, opposition, politics, administrations, constitution, democracy, fundamentalism, parliament or elections of Bangladesh. They believe that everything will become meaningless if they can't help the general people of Bangladesh when help is needed.

Bangladesh is in now facing a big natural disaster. The water has started receding in flood-hit areas but the sufferings of the people have been compounded, with thousands getting infected with water-borne diseases, and facing shortage of drinking water, food and shelter, and farmers facing challenges for future production. Waterborne diseases are likely to break out in more areas when floodwater recedes.

Although the government has started distributing relief goods, the shortage of food and drinking water is still acute in many places, and millions of affected people are waiting eagerly for relief goods and rehabilitation.

Seeing how badly people have been affected by the flooding, the government is planning to divert funds towards relief work. NGOs, political parties, businessmen, professionals, international communities and even individuals are distributing relief goods.

But like many other times, the contribution of NRBs can solve the major problems of relief goods and rehabilitation.

Ripan Kumar Biswas is a freelance writer based in New York.