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     Volume 8 Issue 69 | May 15, 2009 |

  Cover Story
  Special Feature
  Writing the Wrong
  Photo Feature
  Straight Talk
  Musings - A   Self-  effacing,   Brave Man
  Neighbours-Blood in   the Red Corridor
  Neighbours-Living   with the Taliban
  Star Diary
  Book Review
  Post Script

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Making It More Endurable
I read with great interest the coverstory titled "Making it More Endurable" regarding the plight of domestic workers. Being an expatriate Bangladeshi, it has always been of great sorrow since my early teens that the rights of domestic workers have never been addressed by successive governments. While I commend the writer for addressing the issue, I must admit my disappointment at the fact that the article does not provide any original thoughts as to solutions but merely states the status quo.
I noted that there is whole list of rights sought by rights groups for domestic workers. However, until expectations meet reality and accommodate each other such demands will meet a dead end. The fact is that no one cares for the plight of the poor and powerless. The only way to make others care is if it can be proved that the creation of a scheme to protect domestic workers will in fact benefit their employers, businesses and most importantly the state's coffers.
Rashid Islam
Trainee Solicitor, UK

Your cover story "”Making it More Endurable" makes some valid points regarding the suffering of house maids. But we must keep in mind the realities of our socioeconomic condition. It is easy for the NGOs and foreign media to demonise employers, just as they have done with RMG factory owners. But are the domestic workers any worse off than the ones who are breaking bricks under the hot sun, or begging on the road? Which 14-year old is in a safer environment? The one who is living in a family setting, or the one who is selling popcorn under the street lights? Although some excesses occur, not all employers are harsh and cruel. The story gives the impression that these workers are held as virtual slaves. But that is not the case. Also, I find the proposals about recreation leave unrealistic. Most of these domestic workers live as part of the family, and take part in the recreational activity of the household, like watching TV etc. We have a young girl as a domestic worker. She used to roam free in her village. We give her home schooling, and are really fond of her. If she started demanding standard wage, and recreation leave, we just wouldn't be able to afford her. It is as simple as that.
Md. Abu Jafar
Jashimuddin Road
Uttara, Dhaka

Answers, anyone?

We Dhakaites are experiencing the worst possible power and water crisis. Frequent and haphazard load shedding, along with foul smelling water has made our lives unbearable. But this is no real surprise. The real bad news is that it is our own fault in many ways. Together with our sheer callousness and the shameless excuse mongering of the authorities concerned, we have made our own lives a living hell. Consider the following: The Chairman of the WASA and his cronies, it has been reported, enjoyed all kinds of luxuries while turning a blind eye to people's miseries. The Power Ministry is not to be outdone. A file concerning a foreign-funded power plant project, scheduled to be sent back within 40 days to the Planning Commission, wherefrom it came, was not sent back even after 140 days out of sheer negligence. But we, the long-suffering people, are so naive that we promptly believe whatever concoction those in authority feed us with. They tell us the crisis is everybody's fault but their own. We are gullible enough to believe them.
M. Shawkat Ali,
Uttara, Dhaka

Parrot Scholars?
It is a matter of great concern that now-a-days children are becoming nothing but parrots! Like machines, they are compelled to memorise everything from their early age that is provided by their institutions. From my experience I notice that the students of kindergarten and those who are at the primary level are very much adept in cramming. Almost none of them are good thinkers. They just memorise some answers to a few questions for their exam and regurgitate them word for word in the exam paper. Apart from this, teachers encourage them to memorise their books. One of my students complained to me that if he writes a single sentence that is not in the text book the examiner will give him low grades. By this, what are we doing? Are we not destroying their imagination creativity? We are not only hampering their originality but creating a bunch of parrot scholars. When these students come of age and are ready to take their place in society they will not be able to create anything new. Their creativity is being nipped in the bud.
Mohammad zia-ul-haque
English Department
International Islamic University

HSC Exams should not be in the Summer
We already have a power crisis of huge proportions. On top of that the weather is getting hotter and hotter. It is not easy to study hard in summer especially in a country like ours where the humidity adds insult to injury. So, it is better to place HSC exams in winter like January-February. We can also place the SSC exams in November-December. We should also plan our school year in such away that the summer will be a vacation for the schools and the new session should start after summer and completed in Spring (before summer).
In summer water crisis and humid weather bring the problem of dehydration and there is a lot of possibility that students working hard for their exams will be affected. A few days ago, I saw on TV the story of an HSC examinee bringing water from distant places in spite of giving more attention to her studies. So summer is riskier for HSC examinees. Rich families can afford IPS, generators, AC, but the less fortunate ones will suffer. Is this a level playing field, I don't think so. I am not asking the government to buy them all IPS but at least don't place the HSC or SSC exam in the summer. It is inhumane!
Asif Rahman Saikat
A&S Engineer

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