<%-- Page Title--%> Chintito <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 119 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

August 22, 2003

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Freedom of the


In Barisal there is an old tale doing the rounds. One local saying to another, 'Baidu, in life I have had many keel (punch) and goota (jab), but porkeeto-pakkhe (in reality) I have never been insulted'.

Horrific launch accidents and subsequent apathy of the authorities, launch strikes and the strange haughty mind-set of launch owners, abducted Chittagong businessman remaining untraced for weeks despite joint drives, concurrent killing of another abducted businessman in the same city, turmoil in the courts across the country, fake 500 Taka notes unearthed in the vault of the Bangladesh Bank the very protectors of our currency, beating up of journalists, spiralling price rise of essentials, leaking of BCS question papers twice within the year, discovery of murdered children in a dustbin, unabated crime... but in reality a bibek-bihin nation is never insulted.

At times like this the ever-reliable fourth estate cannot sit idle. Moreover, it also means a lot of money to people who already have a lot of money. Funny, but that's how money rolls. In fact money could easily have been called 'funny', except that under the familiarity of their respective use, the switching may also sound money, sorry, funny.

Hodol: 'Can you loan me some funny?'
Kut-kut: 'You know I am totally broke. So why do you make mon of me?'

Given today's circumstances, several new newspapers may soon hit the stand.

What with newspersons unable to consider anything but murder, abduction, kidnapping, hijacking, rape, fake notes, price rise, strikes, break-in and robbery as being newsworthy, entrepreneurs are pondering on cashing in on the state of affairs. And call a spade a spade.

Their yearning to go for such a venture is perhaps induced by French historian and writer,
Voltaire (1694-1778), who had said, 'It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong'.

But you can hardly blame only the powers that be if you lend a ear to the American comic actor Groucho Marx (1895-1977), who in one of his rare moments of seriousness said, 'Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it and then misapplying the wrong remedies'. I think he meant all of us because we are a nation that thrives on 'politics'. To understand that meaning we have to rely on an anonymous brother in Old Dhaka, who in his frustration uttered: Kee aar komu! Maag'r, nowadays politics has even entered our rajneeti'.
Publication houses have almost finalised the names of newspapers that will ride on the current state of affairs and will soon apply for registration.

Bangla titles such as Dainik Rahajani, Uttam Madhyam and Raktakto Bangla may soon see the light of the day or, as the sponsors prefer, the dark of the night. On the saucier side, a tabloid titled Chora-churi, where daggers will be featured alongside damsels, is being contemplated by a group interested in both. In it 'Dhaka Tonight' will highlight attractions forthcoming after sunset. It's something like a weather forecast in a traditional newspaper. It should be helpful to people trying to keep away from harm's way. Who said newspapers will not continue to benefit the common man?

English language readers will not be denied their lust for grim news either. Blood Sweat and Fears, Murder We Wrote, and Daily Subversive are some names already booked. At least one conventional newspaper is thinking of switching its title to 'The Daily Surrender'.

One that is drawing a lot of interest is the 'Daily Q&A' that not only promises to leak questions of any and all private and public examinations, but will have answers too. Some doctors and their diagnostic partners are trying to prevent part of it, saying that matters of private examinations are best left to them.

The idea of weeklies is presently shelved because hawkers may refuse to carry the large bulk that will be the weekly dossier on murder, abduction, kidnapping, hijacking, rape, strikes, break-in and robbery.

Each newspaper will be edited by a Creditor, who will be assisted by the Executing Editor. Unpaid advertisement bills will be a thing of the past. Those who will not pay will pass away. There will of course be the usual posts of Joint Creditor, Assistant Creditors and Sub-creditors; the latter so named because they will mostly be working from the underground.

There will be several seditions with a late-night sedition being specially planned for the perpetrators of the deed, as they may want to read something after a hard evening's work.

Obviously, like everything else in Bangladesh it will not be a rosy path all along for the pioneers of this exceptional venture. Opponents to the idea are relying on the American version of our Khan Ata, director, screenwriter, actor and comedian Woody Allen, who is on record as saying, 'Capital punishment would be more effective as a preventive measure if it were administered prior to the crime'.


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