View from the Bottom
A Roman Column
Writing the Wrong
A Grand Exit
I would like to give profuse thanks to the author for her cover story “A Grand Exit” (February 1, 2008) in SWM.
The news of the death of this person was indeed a shock. Salim Al Deen is the only playwright in Bangla literature who improved the theatre theory and successfully applied it in his plays. His plays have magically enriched our literature in order to have been met around the world. No doubt, his thirst was always for creativity and knowledge.
He is also one of the foremost representatives of cultural thought in Bangladesh. Plays like Kittonkhola, Keramat Mangal etc revealed the very large canvas on which he worked. His association with Natyachakra and Dhaka theatre was a contribution that complemented the drama movement going on nationwide.
We may have lost this maverick but it is most important to see what we have gained from his life, his work and his thoughts. He will still remain a unique inspiration for all of us especially the young generation.
Wireless Gate, Mohakhali
Response to “Men and the Media”
I agree with the letter written by Rubaida W Sharmin 'Men and the Media' (February 1, 2008), however I think before accusing the media, we should take a look at our home environment first. The first lesson always starts at home from our own family, which is most of the time a patriarchal one; the boys learn how to treat women from their family. I have never seen parents teaching their sons how to respect the daughters. They always see that the males of the house treat the females as inferior beings and from the very beginning of their life they learn to look down upon girls.
Now women are acquiring higher education and are also respectable positions in the job market, yet even today women are treated in a derogatory way and educated girls face eve-teasing and other forms of sexual harassment.
When men comment about women's body--they forget that they are also referring to their mothers, sisters, daughters and every other women in their life, whom they respect.
Department of English
Bird Flu and Tipping Point
One thing a lot of people ask is why “educated” consumers have stopped eating chicken. Of course, the experts tell us, there is no risk of contracting the strain from cooked food. When you ask them about the risk of contracting a strain from the handling of the chicken prior to cooking, they tell you that the strain does not jump from fowl to human. Yet how long would it take for a mutated strain to develop, especially in an unregulated, unhygienic, food culture such as ours.
The government should understand that consumers are loath to trust assurances from officials about “safety” given the long history of suppressing facts from consumers, including government's continued policy of denial about the extent of bird flu.
Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It is only chance that has prevented us from falling victim to health outbreaks on surrounding countries such as India's HIV epidemic and the SARS outbreak in East Asia. But this good luck will not last, and the bird flu epidemic shows us the shape of possible future outbreaks. Eric Schlosser's excellent book “Fast Food Nation” documents the insanely unhygienic conditions that exist in the US food industry. This has gone unchecked due to the economic and political muscle of agro-business and food lobby. As the food needs of crowded Bangladeshi cities explode, we will rapidly industrialise food processing with associated health risks.
One immediate step that is needed is Consumer Watchdog groups that can monitor health conditions in food production, sanitation, water supply, industrial sewage, etc that are poisoning our cities. In the US, the crusade of Ralph Nader's consumer safety group forced the entire auto industry to change its safety standards in the 1960s. That was the beginning of that country's consumer rights movement. We need a similar movement in this country. Before the next health crisis arrives.
The outbreak of bird flu once again points to the lack of preparation, arrangement and awareness procedure about an already known winter occurrence which has been affecting one of the most thriving industries by bringing about a disaster of financial investment of so many rising entrepreneurs across the country.
Though there are no proper vaccinations, several arrangements should have been made to stop the disease from being spread to the neighbouring farms and households which would at least lessen the financial loss of the struggling and panicking entrepreneurs.
Biosecurity, though an expensive mechanism for small entrepreneurs, is one of the most effective, practical and environment-friendly process by which this epidemic could be brought under control. The government can also start subsidising for this sector so that the small farms can afford it.
Of course the most devastating tragedy will be if the flu attacks humans especially in third world countries. The government supported by the researchers, poultry farm owners and other beneficiaries must implement biosecurity and other effective bird flu prevention and awareness mechanisms to sustain a hygienic atmosphere within the farm compounds and peripherals which will help reduce the risk of spreading bird flu, stabilise the advancement of this flourishing industry and ensure a proper compensation for the unfortunate farms in order to minimise the great financial havoc.
Convener of DPELS, Dania Pathagar, Dhaka
Department Of Finance, University Of Dhaka
In the cover story part 'A philosopher, Mentor and Friend' the name and identity of Dr. Shazedur Rahman was mistakenly printed as 'Dr. Sajedul Rahman, a dramatics teacher at JU'. We sincerely regret the error.
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