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     Volume 5 Issue 94 | May 12, 2006 |

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Giving Voice to the Silent

Imran H. Khan

Focus Bangla, a news, photo and video agency presents what they believe is the essence of Bangladesh through the launching of their new book, "My Beautiful Bangladesh" by Nadeem Qadir. Qadir is one of the country's leading journalists who has been working in the international arena for over two decades, holding important positions in Reader's Digest and Agence France-Presse (AFP). Some may have even come across his contributions to our local news dailies such as The Daily Star, Holiday, Dhaka Courier, Bangladesh Today as well as the national news agency Bangladesh Shanbad Shangstha. Others may know him as a television and radio anchor. A dynamic man of numerous identities, Nadeem Qadir in a book-launching ceremony at the National Press Club, introduced his new book titled 'My Beautiful Bangladesh'. This is the second book in his line of work and contains a special selection of his essays on Bangladesh. Focus Bangladesh gave this hardback a visual appeal by adding pictures to further illustrate the writer's words, hence appropriately amplify Quadir's thoughts; thoughts which reflect the bona fide Bangladesh.

Present at the launching ceremony as the Special Guest was Amina Morshed, Head of IRA Department of Dhaka University. She expressed great joy at the publication. "When you look at this book, you have to look at the methodology of the book. This book tries to bring in all the silent voices of Bangladesh," said Morshed. She further states how Qadir talks of the war heroes of '71, including the 'Biranganas,' women fighters who were raped by the Pakistani troops during the war. These women were once ousted from the community for the humiliation that they had 'apparently' brought upon themselves. Through this book, a lot of the silent faces got voice.

Shafiqul Karim, President of Dhaka Reporter's Unity also spoke on the occasion and said, "This will be good reading material for the newer generation, as well as to the older ones." Farid Hussain, bureau chief of AFP thought this book to be a fine projection of Bangladesh to the outside world.

Reazuddin Ahmed, Editor of the News Today and the President of National Press Club also took the spotlight to speak on the occasion. "Nadeem has projected the real Bangladesh with illustrations and pictures. He has portrayed all our heroes, starting from the women villagers to our very own master magician Jewel Aich to our freedom fighters. His is a new style of writing," said Ahmed.

Through much anticipation, Judith Chammas unveils her issue of the hardback.
Ferdousy Priyabhashini (centre, right) made an appearance to applaud the author on his work.

Judith Chammas, Charge d' Affaires of the US Embassy, Dhaka was the Chief Guest of the ceremony. After unveiling the book to the audience, she started off her speech by praising the choice of the cover photograph. The photo was "… very compelling as it directly drives the reader into the book," said Chammas. She pointed out that ten percent of the profit from this book will be donated to the Acid Foundation, a noble gesture indeed which she felt needed recognition. Chammas went on to praise the works and activities of the journalist community, both in Bangladesh as well as in the United States. They not only brave criticisms and comments, but must also come to terms with harsh conditions while getting a story, be it through threats, scrutiny, abuse and even physical danger. Some journalists have also had to spend time in prison for simply wanting to expose the truth. Such is the life of journalism. Nadeem Qadir, the author was the last one to take the stage and was quick to express his love for Bangladesh's countryside. It is there that he has discovered the real Bangladesh. He thanked his colleagues at Focus Bangla, who had his back all through out the making of the book.

A man of vision, Nadeem Qadir praises his colleagues for their continuous support behind the book

An interesting element of the book is that there is no apparent sequence to the write-ups. Once can start to read about a fun time at the 'Hash Festival' and then go on to read about Dhaka's Floating Hotels and then get a VIP ticket into the lives of the Medicine Gypsies. The transformations are just like life in Bangladesh; one never knows where they will find themselves in the next turn. Qadir's father Lt. Col. M. Abdul Qadir was a well-known martyr and his mother late Hasna Hena Qadir was an activist against religious fundamentalism. Qadir inherited the love for his country from his parents, and that patriotism is obvious is his essays. He highlights some of our key figures such as Mustafa Monwar, S. M. Sultan, Shahabuddin Ahmed, Tareque Masud and even Ferdousy Priyabhashini. Priyabhashini was present at the ceremony to support Qadir in his endeavour. Nadeem Qadir also speaks about Bangladeshi art works in France, our Peacekeepers abroad, the lives of our fakirs, bauls and River Gypsies. Qadir also takes us through the journey of how cellular technology is empowering village women as well as changing lives of beggars. From one of his essays I quote "The Bank is empowering the poor by arming beggars with mobile phones so they can sell as they move around instead of seeking alms." He also talks about Grameen Bank's micro-credit scheme to alleviate poverty.

One criticism about the book would have to be that the choice of some of pictures did not do justice to the voice of the writer. Rather, some of these pictures seemed irrelevant especially because of the absence of captions. The book, however, is rich enough in content to make it worth acquiring. Anyone seeking to discover the real Bangladesh would have to look no further then "My Beautiful Bangladesh".


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