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     Volume 4 Issue 9 | August 20, 2004 |

   Cover Story
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Scandalous Sylhet
Sylhet is known as a "spiritual city" because it is the abode of Hazrat Shahjalal (r) and 360 saints. However, the sanctity and austerity of this city are at stake after a sequence of bomb blasts within a short span of time. According to a Daily Star report on August 7, 2004, 23 people were killed in 14 explosions in the last seven years in Sylhet. Amongst these blasts, two consecutive bomb attacks at Shahjalal (r) shrine cost seven people their lives. The apparent target of the second bombing was British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Anwar Chowdhury, who miraculously escaped death. The latest explosions, which killed a young man, took place at two cinema halls on August 5. No headway has been made in the investigation of the other blasts, which has probably encouraged the culprits to continue their killing spree. These explosions are glowing examples of debacles on the part of the local administration and police. These two key sectors have to be revamped in no time. The local political bigwigs should contemplate on the prevailing deterioration of the law and order situation. I urge them to make on all-out effort to combat crimes and restore peace and security for the people of Sylhet. We do not want to see the spiritual city turn into a killing ground.
Md. Nazrul Islam Sumon
Department of English
University of Dhaka

On the August 6 Issue
SWM's belated cover story on the floods seemed to be a job reluctantly done and could surely have been better. Another article with the conspicuous title "Service to the Nation" had little to do with the subject matter. It should take something more than some aristocrats sacrificing their "gala dinner" on one particular occasion (they did enjoy the beats of Miles ) to justify the use of such a weighty title. Trivia is often repetitive and I think New Flicks could use two pages. I loved "The Golden Years are Beginning to Tarnish" by Jan Zeh and hope to see more of her writings. It is easier for people with modest command over the English language to read articles like these rather than ones like "Eternal Fascism".

"A City Submerged in Misery"
SWM's in-depth cover story last week on the recent flood situation in the country was an interesting, though somewhat sad, read. While some of the information was new, some of it was not. It is just a pity that measures for the prevention (or at least the extent) of the disaster caused by floods are apparently known but not much seems to have been done -- even year after year of the same tragic situation. It almost seems unjustified to refer to floods as completely "natural" disasters anymore because there seems to be a lot we could do to offset the extent of the calamity. Neither does the relief work seem adequate. What will become of this country which places such little value on human life and suffering?
Saima Khan

Changes in Our Culture
Here are some thoughts emanating from reading Imran H. Khan's piece "What's brewing in the melting pot" (SWM, July 23, 2004), on our cultural changes of the past, present and future. The Faraizi and Wahabi movements were aimed to inculcate an Islamic way of life among Bangali Muslims for whom Hindu culture reigned supreme. This effort gave rise to the Islamic syncretistic tradition in Bengal, where Islamic and Bangali traditions blended. As an aftermath of the famine in 1942-1943 and the deluges of 1954, 1987 and 1988, we saw millions of rural people lose their homes, which ultimately forced them to migrate to city slums. The partition of the sub-continent in 1947 and our own independence in 1971 had not only created a vacuum in the ownership and management of commerce and industries, but also left only a few qualified people to man the bureaucracy. Almost all such professional positions fell vacant with the migration of Indian Hindus and Pakistani Muslims respectively. The vacuum thus created provided an opportunity for Bangali Muslims (particularly the vast majority of farming-Muslim community) to occupy these vacated positions in due course.
There are three types of changes by which our culture has been affected. The first is man-made, which brought about and influenced direct changes in our beliefs, morals, knowledge etc). The second change is due to devastating natural calamities, which destroyed the land and property of the rural population. Thirdly, our way of life was also changed by technological innovations such as industrial machinery, satellite television and the mobile phone. Changes in culture include those in knowledge, belief, art, morals, laws, customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by us.
Syed Waliullah

English Language Teaching at the Secondary Level
The government has implemented a new curriculum for English language teaching and learning in the secondary level known as the Communicative Method of Learning English. Students in the secondary level have been studying in this curriculum for the past couple of years, but is it really benefiting them? Our English teachers (I don't know how they can be English teachers without an English language background) don't have any idea about what is Communicative English. Many of them are not properly trained, and are actually taking classes as per the traditional method. They even conduct English classes in Bangla, throwing translations and rules of grammar at the students. I am quite anxious about the teaching system at the secondary level. I would request the government to take necessary steps to properly train all English language teachers for it is only through this that the government's aim and the new curriculum will be successful and the students will truly benefit from learning.
Ahmed Hasim
Sakhua Adorsha Bidyaniketon

On "Poison in my Bloodstream"
In the July 30 issue of SWM, there was an article by Voyager called "Poison in my Bloodstream" on his experience of drug addiction and the light of life. I thank the writer for his realisation and advise him to consult with a doctor immediately. I also invite Voyager to join our website www.positivebangladesh.com to discover the good things in life.
Jabed Ahmed
Nazira Bazar

Letters to the Editor, Dhaka Diary & Write to Mita with the writer’s name and address, should be within 200 words. Articles should be within 1,200 words. Articles and photos submitted will not be returned. Plagiarised articles will not be accepted. All materials should be sent to: Star Weekend Magazine, 19, Karwan Bazar, Dhaka-1215, Fax: 8125155, or e-mailed to <dsmagazn@gononet.com> Articles may be edited for reasons of space and clarity.
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