Commuting in Dhaka
Your cover story "Commuters Taken for a Ride" was a timely piece. Travelling in Dhaka has become a torture, especially for the middle class. There are some issues that your article should have explored. The yellow cabs, run by Navana and a few other companies, are air conditioned and relatively safe because they have individual numbers, and they are connected to a central control centre by wireless. Nowadays, the number of yellow cabs seems much less. The black cabs on the other hand are very unsafe. The mostly Indian-made cars often break down stranding passengers in the middle of the road. The drivers are often involved with muggers. The government should take steps to ensure that enough of the yellow cabs are on the roads. The process of issuing road permits should be made smooth. Fitness of the cabs must also be checked carefully. The law enforcement agencies must make sure the companies have total control over their drivers.
It is also strange that A/C buses have disappeared from our roads. Your story says that they are expensive to maintain. But many people like me would happily pay more to enjoy a comfortable ride, rather than having to squeeze into a bus with standing room only. I hope the government and private entrepreneurs will address these issues immediately.
Department of Urban and Regional Planning
White Tiger and Contemplating Navel
While leafing through the old issues of your magazine I came across an article titled 'Visioneme: Our Own Academic or Subaltern Gaze' (Volume 14, Issue 627). Pedantic though the title is, as it flashes the photo of Aravinda Adiga, one of my favourite authors, I took the trouble of reading the piece. Written by an Assistant Professor at a private university, where to study would cost the subalterns (or an 'ultra-poor person'), to quote the professor himself, a fortune, the article claims that Adiga has won the Man Booker Prize after impressing the authority by becoming sarcastic about his own society and country, washing one's own dirty linen in front of the imperialists. The whole idea is too simplistic and smacks of the old putrid version of Marxism that we were familiar with in the early sixties. I think it is time the writer (who also proudly declares that he has bought the book from 'the street hawker'; a pirated copy?) must know that a novelist's prime (if not sole) responsibility (this word I am using quite grudgingly) is that of a laundry (wo) man. Dissecting reality and reinterpreting it for herself and before her readers is what an author does. Whatever this jargon-filled article tells the readers, White Tiger brilliantly portrays the reality of a budding capitalistic society, a country where quasi-feudalism, lumpen capitalism and the transnatiotionals (Abdus Selim will approve) cohabit peacefully. Adiga truly writes back to the centre, and like Ekalabya's arrow it hits the centre of horror, true horror.
University of Bristol
Once again, the SSC results have been published across the country. Needless to say that the students who achieved good results in their first public exam are ecstatic with happiness. But will their happiness be short-lived?
It is a matter of great regret that most of the students who got GPA-5 in the exam may not get admitted to their first choice colleges. Nowadays, it is a common phenomenon that obtaining GPA-5 is easier than getting admission to a renowned college or university. A large number of students compete for a few positions at the most prestigious institutions.
Aiman Bin Shaofiqul Hamid
Department of English
International Islamic University Chittagong
The Death of Canals
Canals in Dhaka, the vital link between the existing water bodies in a densely populated area, have fallen victim to acute neglect which has hindered the free flow of rain and flood water during monsoon. The use of these watery channels as a place of waste disposal has eliminated the possibility of this water being used for drinking and irrigation.
Immediate attention must be paid to these dying water bodies to make the people of the city free from the imminent threat of water-logging in the rainy season. Though many factors are responsible for the near death of the canals of Dhaka city, relevant authorities with the active co-operation of the dwellers must come forward to initiate a raid, like the much discussed raid against adulteration, against all sorts of encroachment, landfill etc. We must save the canals if we want to see a safe and healthy Dhaka.
Department of Finance
University of Dhaka
The story “Disband or Reform?” correctly concludes that RAB should be reformed, but it misses the most important point regarding extrajudicial killing. The blame does not lie entirely with RAB but with the highest level of government. The decision to use “crossfire” comes from the political leadership, not from RAB itself. It is also a reflection of the failure of our law enforcement and judicial system which is failing to mete out punishment to the most dangerous criminals. This is why “crossfire” started as an act of desperation to stem the tide of crime. Over the last few years crossfire was used against most dangerous criminals who would go free if arrested. Local people celebrated after these criminals were eliminated. But there is the danger that the same guns will be turned on innocent people. We are now seeing this through the killing of some students last week. Some political quarters are trying to use RAB as their hired goons. So, instead of calling for RAB to be disbanded, Human Rights Watch should take the government to task so that these killings may stop.
School of Business
Independent University Bangladesh
A Social Evil
Hardly a single day goes by without news reports of women being tortured and often murdered for dowry. I was shocked when I read in the Daily Star newspaper that a girl named Fuljan was brutally tortured by her husband and in-laws because she was unable to pay dowry. When will such evil acts stop? Dowry is one of the disgraceful social norms of our country. Dowry spreads its poisonous tentacles from the lower class to the upper class of people. But the demand for dowry is different according to social circumstances. Lower income people demand dowry openly and often physically abuse the unfortunate girl whose father is unable to pay up. The upper class people demand dowry in a more subtle way often calling it a gift at the time of the wedding ceremony. Many Fuljans are being tortured and even murdered in every corner of the country in the name of dowry.
I would like to request the concerned authority to act firmly to prevent such malpractices. We should also mobilize social opinion against this practice.
Md. Zahidul Islam Zibon
Dept. of English
International Islamic University Chittagong.
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