Bangladesh Post Office
I found the cover story (July 18, 2008) on the Bangladesh Post Office (BPO) quite fair. However, the cover itself, with the caption of 'Service Undelivered' sent an entirely different message.
As you would know it is the cover that makes a greater impact than what is written in the article. This is really unfortunate as the message the reader is left with the impression that the BPO is totally inefficient. My own experience has been the opposite. Considering the lack of resources and the many odds stacked against them, the BPO, (in both the Shantinagar and Kemal Ataturk locations) gives very efficient service. Queues of people are dealt with patiently and politely, and there is an atmosphere of quiet discipline, which is heartening. What is more, letters posted from there have always reached their destinations, and in all my years I have not been aware of any letter written to me, not being delivered. The downside of the BPO service though is an occasional tardiness in delivering local post.
Overall, my experience has been good and I would count myself a satisfied customer of an institution that I hope will get the resources to grow from strength to strength.
Is Capitalism Failing
The sub prime crisis led to the housing mortgage market crash and then a worldwide credit crunch. The falling dollar led to galloping oil prices, and ultimately to an economic slowdown. Now everyone is uttering the unutterable word 'recession' with a big 'R' in the world economy and nobody knows how bad or how long it will last.
I tend to look at the catastrophic condition of capitalism in the western world from a medical point of view. First there was a septic shock in Britain due to the fall of the Northern Rock and then two rapidly occurring coronary attacks at the Bear Stearns and Indy Mac in the USA. Then came the mega collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac almost like a paralysing cerebral haemorrhage. In each of these cases, the respective governments started immediate emergency treatment with IV infusions of socialist medicines.
The signs and symptoms indicate a looming financial crisis in the capitalist world. When capitalism starts failing, their governments start giving socialist medicine to prop up the economy by using taxpayers' money in billions (or trillions as in the cases of Fannie and Freddie). Big Swiss banks like the UBS and Credit Suisse have posted billions of dollars in losses. A crisis condition is also prevailing in big US banks like the Bank of America, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, Chase and Citigroup, some of which have already declared heavy recent losses. The Northern Rock, Indy Mac, and also Fannie and Freddie were bailed out, but can all other failing private banks and enterprises be rescued? Meanwhile, common people all the world in both poor and rich countries are being lynched by high inflation and unemployment as rewards of the 'glorious capitalist market economy'.
The use of socialistic medicine in rescuing failing capitalist enterprises does not mean that traditional socialism might be the answer to solving economic problems of the developing countries. Traditional socialism is already proved to be inefficient and outdated. Totalitarianism and a lack of competition caused the ultimate failure of socialism in the USSR and Eastern Europe. A proper balance between socialism and capitalism is needed right from the beginning, and for the future to come. Following the dictum of their ancient great sage Confucius, the Chinese people seems to have found a 'golden mean' in the form of their 'socialist market economy'. For the development of Bangladesh, we also need a balanced form of mixed economy very similar to the Chinese 'socialist market economy'. This only can rescue our inefficient economy and lead us to a humane and stable form of social democracy. Unfortunately, our economy is still without a central guiding principle, and none of our political parties has a frank and clear-cut economic agenda.
In accordance with a valorous step taken by the previous government in 2000, polythene bags disappeared from the country to a large extent, especially from Dhaka city. Commitment from the administration and the law-enforcing agencies as well as awareness of the common people accelerated the process of replacing polybags.
Unfortunately, with the passage of time the administration has turned a blind eye and polythene bags are being widely used again everywhere.
Polythene is a threat to our environment. When used polybags are thrown out they find their way into the drains causing breakdown of the drainage system that results in clogging in many areas of the city. It's also a threat for our farmland as it is not biodegradable.
I would like to request all concerned groups, environmentalists, government administration, law-enforcing agencies, civil society and common people to come forward and implement the existing law more strictly and discourage all from using polybags. Recyclable paper bags or traditional jute or cloth bags can be easily used instead.
HM Mirajul Islam
Dept of Finance, DU
Sacred Relationship, Not Sacred Anymore
Your cover story 'Violating a Sacred Relationship' (1 August 2008) was like breaking the silence! Sexual harassment is happening all the time. It is all over, and it really doesn't matter by what name we denote these ugly and disgusting signs. The most tragic aspect of this monstrous phenomenon is its occurrence among the egalitarian and the enlightened section of our society. This is the worst kind of pollution that is affecting all of us.
'Sexual harassment' is a term coined in the West in the late 1970s.The need to deal with such behaviour as socially unacceptable has only very recently been acknowledged in Bangladesh. Several laws exist that deal with offences that are generally described as sexual harassment. That harassment occurs in work places, outside and inside the home, and even between a student-teacher relationship, perpetrated not only by male teachers but male students as well, as elaborated in your writing, is only beginning to be admitted openly.
What sexual harassment means is still unclear, just as what is unacceptable and falls within harassment continues to create confusion. Some consider only violent sexual behaviour like rape to constitute harassment and anything less as harmless, to be laughed at and ignored.
It is indeed commendable that amid the semantic jungle of 'sexual harassment', concerted effort is being made by teachers of Jahangirnagar University to put in place a policy against sexual harassment. The student body has rightly championed the cause of human rights in these modern days particularly to meet the gap of 1970 Proctorial Law's ill defined clause to deal with sexual harassment, and it is hoped that the industrial workers, the female garment workers employed mostly by male supervisors, follow in the same foot steps and set up a policy against sexual harassment in their work place.
This article deserves immense appreciation and attention. Malignant sexual desire in a certain category of men (I deny to assign them an honourable attribute such as that of a teacher or student) is leading the society to a degeneration of thoughts and is affecting all and thus infecting the society in a form synonymous to plague. Deferred action by people with authority (I won't call it their negligence as they are also part of the society and will be affected sooner or later) to implement the proposed codes proves them to be patrons of the situation in which heinous animals celebrate their 100th rape. Efforts by the conscious few to bring the authorities conscience alive has failed several times over the years and as mentioned, it is now a ritual. Therefore, in order to rise above the accused, the authorities should carry out strict execution of any perpetrator regardless of his/her political or social standing. Any further delay to focus on the situation might result in an upsurge of another form of despotism in which authorities can be behind bars and the already affected can decide their modes of execution.
Senior Economics Teacher
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