'The Invisible Millions'
I was moved by last week's cover story, 'The Invisible Millions' (May 4, 2007), about the heinous oppression that prevails blatantly behind closed doors in our country on homeworkers. Hana Shams Ahmed has done an excellent job in focusing on the despicable acts of cruelty on the helpless home workers by the so-called gentlemen and women of our society.
Homeworkers come to the city with dreams. Changing their fortune and in the anticipation that they might be able to provide for their family back in their villages. But their hopes get shattered by falling in the wrong hands of some shrewd city dweller who deliberately takes maximum service from them and deprives them of their very basic rights.
Some of the posh city dwellers happen to be pure hypocrites; they brag about their status and reputation and falsely pretend that they deeply disapprove of child labour. But in practice, they are the ones employing the defenceless children in their homes to do heavy chores and other household activities exploiting their innocence by giving the poor children meagre wages.
Although numerous voluntary NGO's are relentlessly raising slogans to prevent child labour and torture on domestic workers, these crimes go unnoticed and unpunished. So, in addition to revealing the forms and faces of domestic oppression, some strict measures must be taken by the government and all of us to stop such deeds to further continue.
I would like to comment on the letter 'Stop Noise Pollution' (May 4, 2007). I am a guest in your country on business, to assist with the modernisation of a small part of your government and I fully agree with the observation on noise pollution.
However I believe that the situation goes a lot deeper than folks laying on their horns for seemingly no reason whatsoever. There are times that blowing a horn is a matter of survival, avoiding killing someone or causing a serious accident.
Horn blowing, in my opinion, may be nearly completely stopped if people here would only learn how to drive and to obey traffic rules. Then of course if people break the rules they should be subjected to the traffic laws, meaning, tickets and or suspension of driver licenses.
The Police force requires some serious training in many aspects of traffic rules and regulations. This will be time-consuming, but essential. Once we have this phase completed, all officers with motorcycles should be ON those vehicles monitoring traffic and giving out tickets to those who violate the rules, and not leaning on their motorcycles along the roadside chatting with their colleagues.
Any person that sits behind the wheel or handle bar of a vehicle must at all times obey the rules, for example, staying in one lane, instead of crowding other vehicles and driving on the lines between two lanes,observing Police Officer directions as well as traffic lights and traffic signs and yielding to other vehicles according to
international driving rules. Just observing these few rules can eliminate a lot of traffic confusion, inspire some courtesy in the drivers and bring some order in our traffic dilemma.
To look at the economic benefits, let us propose that five hundred officers are required to write two tickets per hour, every hour of the day. To begin with, for every traffic violation there will be a charge of 500 Taka. Five hundred officers at two tickets each per hour will amount to 500,000 taka per hour. Proper and timely vehicle registration controlled by a very simple method of identifying whether vehicles are legally registered can add tremendously to the Department of Motor Vehicles treasury as well.
This amount can fund pay increases for Police Officers to reduce bribery and corruption, but just as important, if not more so, it can support improving road conditions and building overpasses or tunnels to better control pedestrian traffic thereby avoiding the overwhelming amount of Jay-Walkers.
This will most definitely be a win-win situation as these are truly very simple solutions to a horrendous traffic challenge, not only in Dhaka but in other cities as well. A concerted effort and planning can reap enormous rewards, create a more organised traffic flow, reduce horn blowing and above all, save lives.
On 'The State of our Religion'
Trying war criminals like Golam Azam (L) and Ali Ahsan Mujahid (R), who have perpetrated numerous acts of mass murder during Bangladesh's Liberation War in 1971, is a popular demand.
The cover story 'The State of our Religion' (April 20, 2007) was outstanding in highlighting how Islam is being used as a magic wand by many political parties to grab power. These parties do not even understand what Islam stands for. They are straining the religion of peace and submission with their dirty policies. As most Bangladeshis have religious leanings, the general people seem to have a weakness towards the parties which talk about religion.
But I was a little disturbed that the word 'jihadist' was used to describe terrorists and militants. I would like to stress that the meaning of 'jihad' is to struggle for God's satisfaction and not exactly 'Holy war' as the western media is trying to propagate. As far as I am concerned, the people who kill innocent people in the name of Islam are definitely not in God's favour and do not deserve to be called 'jihadists'.
Md Shahanur Rashid
Thanks to Ahmede Hussain for such an eloquent and timely article on separation of religion and state.
Some of the readers have misunderstood him. He never wrote religion or religious attire should be banned. He wrote “political use” of religious elements should be banned, with which I agree 100%. If you pay a little attention to his article, you'll see that historically, politicians have used religion as an instrument to gain power. Nizamis and Golam Azams have used religion to stop our struggle for independence in 1971. Later, all major political parties have used religion and united with religious parties to win power. This should be stopped by any means. The place of religion is at home and heart. For state affairs, everyone should have equal access regardless of their religion.
One aspect I would like to put emphasis on: “This is high time that the interim government, as it wants to cleanse the country's politics, forms a truth and reconciliation to try the war criminals; their participation in politics should be banned, so should the political use of religion and places of worship.”(Hussain)
Once and for all, let's demand the removal of these war criminals from politics, criminals who have been doing politics in the name religion in independent Bangladesh the creation of which they had opposed so violently.
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