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     Volume 8 Issue 86 | September 10, 2009 |

  Cover Story
  Writing the Wrong
  In Retrospect
  Star Diary
  Book Review
  Post Script

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The Tragic Death of Saifur Rahman

The sudden death of former finance minister M. Saifur Rahman in a road accident is a tragedy and a shame. Die everybody must -- today or tomorrow. But Saifur Rahman was killed when the driver of the microbus carrying him had to skid to save a dog on the highway and plunged into a pond. Why should there be animals, people or slow-moving rickshaws on a highway? Is it not outrageous?
We can ill afford to lose brilliant minds in such a fashion. With Saifur Rahman's death we lost one of our longest serving ex-ministers -- a man who guided our economy through thick and thin.
Saifur Rahman was renowned for his blunt and no-nonsense approach. Back in 2003, this writer was at a conference organised by Agrani Bank to evaluate the performance of an IFAD-aided project called 'Employment Generation Project for the Rural Poor' in short EGPRP. The then finance minister M. Saifur Rahman attended the conference as the chief guest. As one of the speakers in his address he was narrating what the banks and NGOs had done so far and could do in future in respect poverty alleviation Saifur Rahman suddenly interrupted. To everyone's dismay he bluntly said: “Lectures kill time and issues. I want to hear from those ladies sitting in the front row why they have come and what they have to say.”
To everybody's surprise Saifur Rahman spent about four hours, oblivious of his lunch time, listening to long stories from not less than ten women -- beneficiaries of EGPRP -- about how they started their micro enterprises with small seed money and found themselves freed from the shackles of local lenders and NGOs.
That day all the participants who packed the auditorium including myself learnt that Saifur Rahman liked to go straight to the point. We were charmed by Mr. Rahman's candid and frank way of looking at the acute problem of rural poverty and his suggestions based on practical premises appropriate to our rural scenario.
Those people and officials who enjoyed his humour, warmth and cordiality will fondly remember him throughout their lives. In spite of his few failings mainly due to follies committed by some of his close relations the nation will remember his stature and the people will visualise the twelve budget speeches he delivered inside the parliament during his tenure as Finance Minister spanning three terms. With his death the nation must have lost a luminary.
The tragic death of Saifur Rahman should wake up our policy makers to find ways and means to ensure safety on roads and highways. We don't want to hear about another tragedy that could be avoided by proper redesigning of our roads and by immediate implementation of stricter traffic laws.
Maswood Alam Khan

Outbreak of Swine Flu

The recent outbreak of swine flu has created a menace for the people throughout the country. Recently there has been an alarming jump in cases of H1N1, and undoubtedly it is taking a formidable shape day by day. But the government is still complacent and says that the crisis has not reached its peak. But we must not forget that prevention is better than cure. No doubt the responsibility falls first and foremost on the government. So it is the government that must take the lead role in fighting this horrible crisis before encountering the full force of its disastrous ramifications. It seems that lack of proper knowledge about this flu is one of the reasons for heightening the horror among the mass people. So the first duty of government should be to launch a well-publicised country wide campaign so that people can have the adequate knowledge to face this problem. After all, as it is a national crisis so the efforts of public along with the government are needed to get rid of this growing horror.
Shahadat Hussein
Department of English
University of Dhaka

The Third Sex
It is a matter of regret that the hermaphrodites generally called "Hijras" are considered as outcasts in our community. They are always seen with a jaundiced eye and are not thought of as normal human beings. Always hated, always neglected by most of us. Even the hijras are deprived of their social rights. Is it our culture to do such wrong, and behave so rudely to the Hijras? I hope in the future we all should accept the Hijras, consider them as normal human beings, see them as fellow citizens, and help them establish their social rights.
Shajid Mahmud
Rosedale International English School.
Sonadanga R/A, Khulna.

Law & Order
Lately the deterioration of law and order has become a matter of concern across the country. It seems that no place of the country is safe. The muggers, hijackers and robbers have become more desperate not only on the road but also in burgling our houses. The common people are the real sufferers. But we do not see any satisfactory or strict measures taken by the government. Therefore it is very urgent to take immediate and long term initiatives to safeguard the lives and properties of the common people because it is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of the government.
Mohammad zia-ul-Haque
English Department
International Islamic University

Suggestion Well Received
Thanks to Prof. Nafisa Jamil (4 September, 2009) for her letter about my misquoting Wordsworth in my article Me and the Rain published on 21 August, 2009 in the Star Magazine. I have no excuses to defend myself and thus put forward my profuse apologies to my readers. Her suggestion regarding the writer's role is also well-received and I will try to be as careful as possible in future, especially when I have come to know that my readers include a scholarly person like Prof. Nafisa Jamil.
Abdus Selim
North South University

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