Published: Sunday, November 3, 2013

Of, For & By Bangladesh: To Oslo and Beyond

To Oslo and Beyond

Sami Tahsin (L) and Safa Tasneem (2-L)

The youth of our country is brimming with potential that can take them — and consequently, Bangladesh — to new heights. Sisters Safa Tasneem and Sami Tahsin, of Institute of Business Administration, Dhaka University, are living and shining examples of that. They were the winners of the maiden Telenor Youth Summit Idea Contest in Bangladesh, and come December, they are set to represent Bangladesh at the Telenor Youth Summit 2013 in Oslo, Norway.
The focus of the competition was to bring about a positive social change using mobile technology. Over 400 entries were submitted by the contestants, all aged between 18 and 25, via Facebook, of which 28 made it to the initial screening and then the top 5 to the finale. The finalists, consisting of two members each team, were students from IBA and North South University.
The finale took place on 28th September, 2013, at the GP House in Bashundhara R/A of Dhaka. The finalists took turns to present their ideas in front of the judging panel which consisted of A.K.M. Musha, country director of Concern Worldwide; Salehuddin Ahmed, managing editor of The Daily Star; Ananya Raihan, executive editor of DNet; and Tanvir Mohammad, CTO of Grameenphone. Safa and Sami’s idea “BipodBarta” won the contest on the basis of the accumulated scores from the judges.
Grameenphone had held a seminar at IBA promoting the summit. Safa Tasneem attended the programme, and decided to participate in it with her sister Sami Tahsin, who writes for SHOUT. BipodBarta’s concept is to inform close ones and local authorities, using mobile technology, about any danger that one might face. The speed dial numbers proposed by Safa and Sami for BipodBarta revolves around various algorithms containing “71”, which signifies liberty.
Sami informed, “Both of us have been passionate about social business for a while now. When this competition came about, we were particularly inclined towards proposing a solution for a broad range of civic issues rather than addressing just one. So we came up with a somewhat overall solution system for all types of dangers and emergencies both inside and outside of home, catering to both genders. Be it mugging, eve-teasing, heart/asthma attack, domestic violence, road accident — BipodBarta will hopefully ensure a one-stop solution.”
As for the service, Sami elaborated, “Along with this value-added-service for feature phones, we have also proposed a smart phone app version of it. Moreover, we have also kept the option of post-incident crime reporting via voice SMS so as to avoid the attacker’s retaliation. This complaint database would be accessible to the police. A counseling helpline is another prospective avenue.”
Their concept of BipodBarta was so good that it was selected to represent Bangladesh in the summit at Oslo. The sisters were awarded by Vivek Sood, CEO of Grameenphone, and the Norwegian Ambassador Ragne Birte Lund.
“BipodBarta is a personal security solution for anyone in danger and our effort would only pay off if a more secured society is born out of it,” expressed Safa. “For us, winning the competition once again proved that hard work, sincerity and well wishes from parents take you far. The victory not only strengthened my belief in our idea but also motivated the both of us immensely to transform it into reality.”
Safa and Sami, alongside other teams from around the globe, will get a chance to attend seminars and workshops during the Nobel Prize giving ceremony in Oslo in December.
“I’m highly excited about presenting our idea at the upcoming Telenor Youth Summit and I’m expecting everyone’s prayers so that history repeats itself in Oslo, Insha Allah,” Safa added. “We are of Bangladesh, for Bangladesh and by Bangladesh!”
High spirits as such imply that the future of Bangladesh will be brighter if the capable youth of this nation takes a positive step towards Bangladesh’s development. The SHOUT team wishes all the very best to Safa and Sami, and hopes that they’ll bring glory home to Bangladesh.