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     Volume 6 Issue 33 | August 24, 2007 |

   Straight Talk
   Cover Story
   Food for Thoughts
   View from the    Bottom
   In Retrospect
   Book Review
   Dhaka Diary

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The Inevitable Calamity
SWM's effort to present the recurring flood situation of the country with the cover story 'The Inevitable Calamity' (August 10,2007)was praiseworthy.
Floods are a common phenomenon in our country. Every year seminars and workshops are held on how to tackle the flood situation. But all these efforts go in vain because of lack of awareness. And the country ends up losing revenue from hundred of thousands of acres of crops destroyed and millions of people left homeless. Shortage of medicines, foods, lack of proper sanitation system makes the situation even more outrageous. During the tenure of the last three governments (1991-2006) there was a huge amount of misappropriation of relief materials. Now it is high time to seriously think about the situation. The caretaker government should work on building a proper river embankment system and improve the local roads, bridges and culverts to prevent overflow of rivers. They should also set up a modern weather forecasting system and give information to local people before the onrush of a flood. In the event of a flood the government should have the logistics to move people to a safe shelter and ensure health food and care facilities for them and also encourage the local people and the NGOs to get involved.
Farhana Hoque
Department of Applied Statistics, DU

The Government's Shocking Decision
I was very shocked to learn that our government is giving a foreign firm the contract to build 100,000 low-cost housing flats without going to tender locally. They made an illogical argument that the local firms did not have the necessary skills for the project. Are they talking about the same local firms that are building houses for the rest of us? The ones who managed to build the airport, stadiums, big towers, theme parks, revolving restaurants, satellite townships, schools, universities and all else? Does the government want to lose yet more foreign exchange for no reason? It is very difficult to understand the rationale behind this.
In other countries governments bend over backwards to give contracts locally. It creates local employment and raises the GDP and keeps the money in the country. Our government seems to be doing the complete opposite with a vague and pathetic reasoning behind it.
S. Kumar

Television Hampers Toddlers' Language Development
Parents usually park their babies in front of the television because they think that watching popular videos like Baby Einstein, Brainy Baby etc. would make their toddlers smarter than others. The latest research at the University of Washington shows that babies watching DVDs or videos regularly learn 6-8 fewer new words than babies who never watched the videos. These products, DVDs or videos, have detrimental effects on babies of 8-16 months age, the age at which language skills are starting to form. The same report also says that the more television children watch, the shorter their attention span is later in life.
Nihar Ranjan Ray
EMBA student (DU)

Agricultural Research and Climatic Shift
The climate of Bangladesh is changing very rapidly in the last few years. Within a few years we will face a major climatic shift from its sub-tropical climate to a more temperate one.
If climate changes in this way then it will be a major disaster for our crop production. Crop production is completely dependent on the environmental elements like temperature, rainfall, day length etc. and they are very important factors for seed germination, vegetative growth, seed or grain or fruit yield.
The cropping patterns followed by our farmers are based on the experience of their forefathers and changing this cultivation process is a really difficult job. In the past decades yearly distribution of temperature and other elements was almost same and their fluctuation was very narrow from year to year but now fluctuation is much wider. As a result farmers will not get the expected yield because of fluctuation in climatic factors. So now it is necessary to research with a focus on these aspects.
In our country we make plans for quick solutions. But in biological science there is no immediate solution. So it is the high time for the government to develop agricultural research plans in consideration of these climatic changes and their effect on future crop production.
Abu Kausar Md. Sarwar
Faculty of Agriculture
BAU, Mymensingh

Harmful Food
Now-a-days it's very common to see street vendors selling lemon juice, guavas, black berries, hog-plums, etc. covered with hot chilly spice around the busy areas near schools and colleges. They claim that these are very healthy for a hot sultry day and provide us with lots of essential vitamins and minerals.
But the delicacies are prepared under very unhygienic conditions. Sometimes there are flies swarming around the food and they are covered with the roadside pollutants and dust. These fruits may make up a good part of our balanced diet but under the conditions they are worse than junk food.
I request the concerned authority to take proper initiatives to warn people about the ill effects of these food items. We should be cautious about our health and what we put in our body.
Shatabdi Biswas
Regional Public Administration Training Centre
Officers Quarter, Rajshahi-6000

Ban on 'Education'
I was taken aback by the content of last week's (August 17, 2007) News Notes' 'Ban on private tuition' and 'Taxing the parents'. I am an A level student who just joined University. I have seen the hardship parents go through for their children in order for them to get an education. Does the government have any comments about why students leave school and go for private tuition? Why does British Council increase their fees every session? Or why don't schools have a proper education system so students wouldn't need to go for private tuition?
There will be a situation when students won't be able to sit for their O and A level exams because of how much it costs ultimately. I request the government to look into these matters for the sake of the students and parents and do something about the appalling condition of our education system.
Masha Sarah Huq
Baridhara DOHS

In last week's SWM (August 17, 2007), a caption to the article 'Of Coups, Murders and their Ramifications' written by Syed Badrul Ahsan read "Bangabandhu referred to as surjoshontan (son of the sun) by Khondokar Moshtaque Ahmed" should have read "Bangabandhu's killers referred to as surjoshontan (sons of the sun) by Khondokar Moshtaque Ahmed". We regret the mistake.

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