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     Volume 6 Issue 43 | November 9, 2007 |

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News Notes

After-effects of the Floods
Despite the many steps taken by the government, various areas in the country are still paying a high price for the major damages caused by the recent floods that hit the country. In fact, villages in Sylhet are still going through food shortage because of the recurring floods, not to mention lack of employment opportunities in these areas. To add to it all, rise in prices of rice and other essentials are making the situation worse. As an alternative, villagers are now moving into towns, looking for work, money, food and shelter. According to newspaper reports, delay in starting the Test Relief and Food for Works Programme has worsened the food shortage problem in these villages.
According to the statistics, Sylhet experienced floods at least thrice this year, as opposed to twice by the rest of the country. The crisis might continue till the next IRRI-Boro crop, which will be delayed this year as flooding has delayed land preparation. According to official estimates, the Amon crops, on about 55,000 hectares, were damaged completely and on about 40,000 hectares, partially affecting over 3,12,000 farmer families. The floods also damaged about 100 kilometres of pucca, 283 kilometres of kutcha roads and 27 kilometre flood control embankments.
The after effects of the floods have begun to spring up, which, if not tended to, will cause more damages, especially in the rural areas of Bangladesh. The government needs to look into these issues and formulate immediate action plans to solve this national crisis.

Remembering Nur Hossain
On November 10, 1987 the valiant Nur Hossain went out on the streets of Dhaka with a bare torso and words written on both the front and back of his body that the ruling regime found so provocative and powerful that the 26-year-old could not be allowed to breathe on this earth for another second. Minutes after he was photographed, the military shot Nur Hossain dead. "Shoirachar Nipat Jak, Gonotontro Mukti Pak" (Down with Autocracy, Let Democracy be Unchained) written in white on his body was quickly covered with the red of his blood.
It has been exactly 20 years since Nur Hossain was silenced, but as with all martyrs the silence does not last long. There is an old saying that it is tough to keep a good man down, in this case it is true of his message as well. 1987 was a turbulent year, there were shambolic elections which led the farcical government of former president Ershad to continue for another term. His autocratic rule was opposed by millions, but only one person was brave enough to take a stance against it. To put things into context these days it is quite easy to oppose governments and take on people in positions of authority, people can voice their opinions almost unhindered in blogs and websites online and there is the wall of privacy that the internet provides that protects them from being targeted. But in 1987 if one wanted to make a statement and be heard of, the only way was to do it the Nur Hossain way.
It was one of the single greatest acts of revolutionary nationalism that the country has ever seen. While it is commonly known that he was an Awami League activist his message was not biased towards his party. It was in fact the voice of millions of repressed people of Bangladesh. People like him are few and far between, twenty years since his death both his message and his spirit should be celebrated. The spirit of resistance has long been part of Bangladeshi nationalism and in events such as the one in Phulbaria people have shown that they will not stand down to intimidation. The autocracy that Nur Hossain spoke up against has long left us, in no small part to his contribution and since then the dream of our new found democracy has been spiked with a different kind of autocracy, all powerful party leaders with their legions of corrupt sycophants. We are currently trying to fix the mess that was created out of his chant for an unchained democracy and one hope sometime in the near future his words will resonate louder than ever. The day we free ourselves as a nation from all forms of autocracy is the day we hope to find ourselves with an unchained democracy, a democracy where his words will find the true meaning they deserved 20 years ago.

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