SWM's cover story of November 11, "When Community Cares" lent some light on the desperate battle being fought by the poor people of the northern part of our country and how some NGOs are helping them in their battle. But I wonder whether our NGOs are doing justice to their reputation in this respect. It is indeed a great pity that for a couple of months every year, millions of hapless poor people in the North suffer because of monga, or near famine. The main reason for monga, we all know, is the seasonal joblessness during the lean period of farming. The failure to prevent and cure this situation obviously falls squarely on the government. But Bangladesh is also the home of these big and famous NGOs who are loudly and proudly displaying their highly successful and pioneer models for poverty alleviation and even marketing them abroad. Their financial strength combined with generous external aid and profits from pure business ventures now stands at billions.
When monga is a recurrent phenomenon in our country, it is difficult for me to understand the real impact of the so-called innovative ideas and initiatives of our great NGOs. I wonder how much money they have really spent solely for alleviating poverty. If there are no convincing answers to these questions one may very well assume that their poverty alleviation activities and rhetoric are simply a means to do poverty-business.
Meshkat Ahmed Chowdhury
On "Advertisements are Brutal"
"Advertisements are Brutal", by Rubaiyat Hossain, published recently in SWM, was excellent. I think the writer has talked about one of the most important issues of our present society. I have experienced it firsthand. My nine-year-old sister is extremely beauty-conscious. She buys whatever she sees advertised on television, from hair care products to face creams, scrubs, packs and a host of other beauty products. I agree with the writer that advertisements for these products are humiliating for women. They portray women as products. After watching the ads it seems as if women were born only to entertain men. I wish models would be conscious of the rights and status of women and not do such ads. Women are not products to be showcased but respectable people with the power to construct a nation.
Dirty politics and the people's sufferings
Our beloved country is going through a very critical time thanks to our beloved(!) leaders playing their dirty tricks and politics. We, the common public have to suffer for their selfish and rash actions. The main opposition party Awami League and the 14-party opposition combined successfully organised their grand rally at Paltan Maidan on November 22. In order to foil the oppositions' grand rally, the government allegedly backed the transport union's wildcat strike which eventually paralysed the entire country.
Not only that, the government also instructed the law-enforcers to indiscriminately beat up the opposition activists who came to join the rally. They didn't even spare the journalists. But did it serve the government in any way? Did it restrain the opposition supporters from coming in large numbers to Paltan Maidan? The law enforcers' extra cautious approach and manhandling of the opposition workers had no impact whatsoever except to make the opposition call a hartal which simply added to the suffering of the public. Hartal is a self-destructive weapon against the greater interest of the country. But our politicians don't seem to care. So do we assume that their petty party interests are greater than the interests of the masses? Politics is for the welfare of the general masses but in our country it seems that politics is for the welfare of our politicians!
The government doesn't want to give any room to the opposition while the opposition wants to dislodge a democratically elected government by force! How long will the people have to suffer because of the clash of their egos? In a democratic country, the opposition has every right to hold rallies, processions, etc., as these are their democratic rights. The government should not try to resist the opposition from exercising them. On the other hand, the opposition shouldn't do anything which is against the interest of the country. As both of our leaders are regarded as born politicians -- they should know this already! But they don't act as they should. When will our leaders' good sense prevail? When will the public be freed from such dirty politics which is destroying the entire nation?
Notre Dame College
On "Congratulations to Bangladesh . . ."
I have been following up on the article "Congratulations to Bangladesh and better luck next time to Finland" (November 11, 2005) and the contrasting responses of Karim A. Sajwani as well as AZM Abdul Ali. In my personal opinion, I think patriotism is the key to a country's triumph and success but most of us hold back to show and apply our nationalism. We tend to discourage and suppress anyone who talks in favour of our country, which was evident in AZM Abdul Ali's reply. I don't think Sajwani's intentions were at all "ill-founded" and neither was his hope "hollow". His views were rather optimistic, encouraging and full of national pride. To achieve something a person first needs to aspire, dream and wish. If in the beginning we discourage ourselves, criticise and don't trust our abilities then there is no way we will dissolve our hardships or flourish. I would also like to remind AZM Abdul Ali that everything happens by the will of Allah and there is nothing called pious hope or impious hope.
I have to say that what Karim A. Sajwani from AIUB wrote about the writer of "Congratulations to Bangladesh…" mocking this country is blind. Yes, I agree that this country is beautiful but the main problem is with us Bangladeshi people. We take everything for granted. The writer is right to mock about the fact that we have won the corruption race for the fifth time now. I mean, are we not even allowed to talk about the rampant corruption in our country? I would advise Sajwani to watch more of the news.
Riyadh Al Nur
The British School
On "Aadil's Day Out"
Congratulations to SWM for the special feature of a couple of weeks ago, "Aadil's grand day out" by Dr. Leedy Hoque. In this foreign land, when 90 percent of the news from home is demoralising and depressing, this article brought a fresh scent of hope and encouragement to me. I am not sure how much research is going on in Bangladesh regarding autism, but from what I have heard, social acceptance of those who are developmentally disabled is far from reality. The day to day struggle of autistic children and their families needs to be talked about not only for the benefit of those who are directly affected, but also for the physicians and healthcare providers. What truly amazed me was the sense of optimism, courage and care of the mother in the excerpt from the diary, which is probably the most important part in Aadil's care. Congratulations again and hope SWM brings us more such encouraging stories.
Medical College of Georgia
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