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     Volume 6 Issue 41 | October 26, 2007 |

   Cover Story
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News Notes

Sex, Drugs and Fancy Cars?
In an attempt to impede the city's growing drug problem, RAB forces arrested six men who are involved in dealing and peddling drugs. The arrested, Mushfiqur Rahman Tamal of Baridhara, Dai Khan alias Chiku of Gulshan, Sheikh Ahed Shafiq of West Rajabazar, Tejgaon, Salman Rahim Joyardar of Banani, Altaf Akmol Kollol of Gulshan-1 and Mahmud Al Zuberi alias Shenon of Gulshan-2, were picked up one by one in various parts of the city by RAB as a part of their anti-drug movement. One of the arrested, Mushfikur Rahim, Tomal had been previously arrested in 2002 by the Narcotics Control Department, but was released. In their possession RAB forces found sixteen tablets of Yaba, five bottles of Phensidyl, 24 pornographic CDs, sex toys as well as two cars, a Porsche and a BMW, (for which none of the accused had valid paperwork).
Yaba, which is apparently Thai for 'crazy drug,' is a mix of Metamphetamine, caffeine and heroine. It was originally smuggled into Bangladesh from Thailand, but due to the high demand of the drug, mainly in the city, a crude version is manufactured in some parts of Dhaka. Interestingly enough, Metamphetamine was used in World War II to give the Nazi soldiers more energy and the ability to stay up all night. It became a craze amongst the rich in Bangladesh in 2004 and has been a growing problem since then, now targeting people between the age range of 15 to 35. It is especially popular among young girls because it causes dramatic weight loss, in addition to lack of sleep.
It is with these promises of weight loss that these six men enticed young girls about 16-18 years of age, to take refuge in their drug den and start using Yaba. Perhaps what is even more disturbing is the fact that in addition to peddling drugs to teenagers, these men took it a step further and became sexually involved with them. With the exception of one, every one of these six men arrested for drug peddling is either in his late twenties or early thirties, all of them being subsequently involved in one way or another in the real estate business. Whether this falls under the category of rape, since most of these girls are under age and were probably having sex under the influence of these drugs, is still to be decided.

A School in Jhalakathi
For the last three years, none of the teachers of Nachmahal Secondary School (NSS) in Jhalakathi is getting their salary. Some of the frustrated teachers have even stopped going to work. The school, which was established three years ago with the funding of the government and the Asian Development Bank, has 262 students, of which 35 are going to sit for the Secondary School Certificate Examinations in 2008. Most of the examinees are facing the dangerous prospect of dropping out, at a time when the government is vocal about spreading the light of education to every nook and cranny of the country. The school was established with much hype and hoopla-- the ruling politicians and civil servants talked about spreading education to the remotest corners of the land, the NSS was declared as the jewel in the crown of the government's long-standing commitment to quality education. Morning, however, did not show the day. Many teachers, who left their previous job and joined the school to better their lives, are now facing destitution. One reason why the school is facing such a sorry state is because it is still not included in the Monthly Pay Order List of the ministry even though repeated requests have been made. It is not understandable why the government is refusing to give it an MPO status even though it has spent 90 lakh taka to build it and even though it is recognised by the Barishal Education Board.
The NSS is just a small instance in a bigger tale of neglect and indifference. Education has been the most neglected sector of this country. People with money can buy education from different private schools and universities, but to the poor like the 262 students of the NSS we only have a raw deal to offer. There is no denying the fact that the quality of our education is deteriorating sharply; leakage of exams question-papers, cheating, incidence of teachers taking bribe is rampant. We must not forget that the future of a nation solely depends on its children, and the way adults mould them. If we treat our future generations like the way we are treating the teachers-students of the NSS, the day is not far away when we will stumble upon an era of bigotry and intolerance. Time is certainly running out on us.

DIED: Obaidul Haque
Veteran journalist Obaidul Haque, former editor of The Bangladesh Observer, passed away on October 13 at the age of 96, leaving behind his wife, four sons and three daughters. Haque was born in Feni in 1911. He joined the Bangladesh Observer in 1951 as assistant editor and served as its editor from 1979 to 1993. Later he served as editor of the now-defunct Daily News. Haque was also chair of the Dainik Bangla and Bangladesh Times Trustee Board, Nazrul Institute and Bangladesh Press Institute.
Obaidul Haque was also a pioneer filmmaker, involved in the film industry as a director, producer, lyricist, playwright, film critic and film society activist. He made his first film -- Dukkhe Jader Jibon Gora, on a Hindu family during the famine of 1943 -- in Calcutta in 1946. Due to the mounting communal tension in Calcutta at the time, Haque even had to assume a Hindu name -- Himadri Chowdhury -- in the film credits, but succeeded in his filmmaking venture despite the social obstacles of the time and his own lack of expertise in the field. Filmmaker Alamgir Kabir described the film as a bold attempt and a risky venture, adding that taking risks has always been the way with pioneers. Haque established a film distribution house in Calcutta, was a member of Bongiyo Chalachitro Samity and took initiatives to make both Bangla and Hindi films but was forced to withdraw from the projects due to the communal tension. In this side of Bengal, Haque directed the film Dui Diganto. Film adaptation of his stories include Azan and Ontorongo. He also contributed to the field of cinema by serving as a member of National Film Award Committee and the Censor Board, through film grants and film society activities.
Obaidul Haque was awarded the Ekushey Padak for his contribution to the field of journalism. He also won the Bangla Academy Sahitya Award Padak and Unicef Gold Medal, among others.

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