Respite for Ramadan Shoppers
Prices of rice, vegetables and iftar items in the markets
of Dhaka city are relentlessly sky-rocketing as people wait
in vain for the government to intervene. Opposition political
activists jumped at this opportunity to demonstrate against
the government's failure by holding rallies and processions
throughout Dhaka on Sunday, October 17. Jubo League activists
carried some of the priciest vegetables throughout the rally.
The police intervened on Bangabandhu Avenue with clubs and
dispersed the crowd. At least a dozen Jubo League activists
were arrested during the protests. Opposition activists are
planning more anti-price hike rallies to protest the government's
lack of action.
Commerce Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury explained to the
media that after three days of sunshine, millers would be
able to dry their paddy stocks, which would therefore lead
to the lowering of rice prices. His theory, however, proved
to be flawed, as rice prices are still on the rise. Shoppers
all over Dhaka are finding it harder and harder to buy their
daily goods, and appeal to the government for help. When asked
about government intervention, Commerce Secretary M Aminur
Rahman said that although the government was planning to sell
goods at subsidised rates under an Open Market Sale programme,
they were hesitant to "take any drastic action as it
may send a wrong signal to the traders." The wrong signal
that the government is giving the rest of the country by allowing
traders and hawkers to rob the people blind without taking
any action, is unfortunately of no consequence or importance.
Confusion over Grenade Attack
While the government's one-member judicial commission has
mysteriously announced the involvement of a foreign country
in he August 21st grenade attack, the inspector general (IG)
of police has said there is no such international link. At
the 73rd Interpol General Assembly in Mexico on October 7th,
the IG Shahudul Haque said that the few bomb blasts that have
occurred were carried out with locally made bombs. But he
did admit in the speech that the culprits behind any of the
bomb blasts or grenade attacks have not been found.
For some strange reason the IG did not specifically mention
the deadly grenade attacks in Sylhet and Dhaka which were
carried out by foreign-made grenades. But he did claim that
Interpol, FBI and Scotland Yard were all helping in the investigations
of all bomb and grenade attacks since 1999. This is not true
since the government itself has announced that Interpol and
the FBI would be assisting local intelligence agencies in
their probe into the August 21st grenade attacks. The government
also said that Scotland Yard would help prove the grenade
attack on the British High Commissioner on May 21st in Sylhet.
For the public all this is very confusing.
The IG did, however, say that there were a few terrorist groups
operating in Bangladesh under the shelter of some political
parties. Haque sought international efforts to combat organised
crime that goes beyond borders.
UGC urges the close down of eight private universities
Out of the 53 private universities swarming the streets of
the country, especially the Capital itself, an eight-member
high-powered committee has recommended shutting down eight
for violating rules and regulations.
The committee headed by its convenor Dr M Asaduzzaman, chairperson
of the University Grants Commission (UGC) submitted its report
to the prime minister yesterday, according to BBC radio.
The committee, through its evaluation of the institutions'
performance, has revealed that 18 universities do not follow
the government rules, while performance of 10 of them was
satisfactory. These universities have also been given different
deadlines of two and one and a half years to meet the requirements.
According to Prof Asaduzzaman the UGC had recommended a fixed
deposit of Tk 5 crore, employment of 80 percent full-time
teachers and determining tuition fees in line with the country's
socio-economic perspective. However, it seems that the private
universities are not complying with the rules and regulations
and most of them have already withdrawn the Tk 5-crore fixed
"A few universities are functioning well. But most of
them are run by only part-time teachers with miserable academic
programmes," said Prof Asaduzzaman. Some of them have
also opened departments, which have no students at all, he
The Education Minister Dr Osman Faruque said that the recommendations
made by the UGC would be reviewed and that effective measures
would be taken.
The committee has also recommended setting up of an independent
accreditation board and introducing amendments to existing
laws, to oversee private universities.
want Bush out
According to an AFP report, most of the Asians are not very
happy with President Bush and want him voted out of office
in the November elections.
Most people have a negative view of Bush's US-led war on Iraq,
not just in the Muslim dominated countries such as Malaysia,
Indonesia and Pakistan.
Surveys show that in Japan (which has sent troops to Iraq),
around 80 percent of the people oppose the war and an online
poll showed 56 percent of the respondents favoured Kerry while
21.5 percent favoured Bush.
In many Asian countries, Bush is favoured by conservative
business leaders and seen as being strong on economy, while
Kerry scores more highly with the public, media and intelligentsia
on international issues.
Filipinos too like Bush because of his strong stand on international
terrorism. Philippines has been attacked several times by
Al-Qaeda- linked militants. India seems apathetic towards
either candidate while Vietnam favours Kerry because he has
played up his military service in Vietnam.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004