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     Volume 8 Issue 90 | October 16, 2009 |

  Cover Story
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On Shaky Ground
Your excellent cover story "On Shaky Ground" focusing on earthquake in Bangladesh was a timely reminder of the threat we face from this natural calamity. Significant damaging earthquakes have occurred in and around Bangladesh in the past, and moderate magnitude earthquake occurs every few years. Although earthquakes occur less frequently than cyclones and floods, they can affect much larger areas and can have long lasting economic, social, and political effects. Therefore it is essential that we are prepared, and people know what to expect.
Although, some awareness exists among limited groups, due to some recent earthquakes in the region, practically the country is far behind the minimum preparedness level to face such a disaster in any of our cities. The media has an important role to play here. Without spreading panic, accurate information must be propagated. Recently, we have seen a lot of discussion in talk shows. Many of the "experts" talking about earthquakes are not experts in this field at all. Just because one is a professor of geology or a civil engineer does not mean that person is an expert in seismology. The media should play a responsible role in interviewing and inviting actual experts so that proper information is disseminated.
Jashimuddin Ahmed
23/H Pisciculture Housing Society, Shyamoli, Dhaka

Time and Tide

We all know that time and tide wait for none and also that time is money but still we are forced to waste time in commuting everyday. There are many problems in our country but our urban transportation must be the worst. The buses are broken and overcrowded and the drivers drive recklessly. Now we turn to CNG and taxicabs and endless problems arise. They are also in deplorable condition and the commuters mostly hear the word 'NO' from the CNG drivers. If they are willing to go they ask double fare. Rickshaws cannot go everywhere because of the VIP roads. The government has almost turned a blind eye to this problem and so I ask the newspaper and the common people to raise their voice for a better transportation system, a better bus service along with proper CNG and taxicab services. If we cannot solve this problem, we will be left behind in the competitive global market.
Md Mahbubur Rahman
Student of A Levels, Old town, Dhaka

Gandhi and Suu Kyi

October 2 was the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, a man who has left his imprint on South Asia. Through out the world, International Day of Non-violence is observed. Gandhiji spent his whole life with the ideal of non-violence.
But what place has he in the heart of the present generation? Is the present generation really interested in this “simple-minded man”? We hardly see any programmes in the media on the life of Gandhi. Even in the newspaper, we often find research-based information about the Great War leaders. It seems that these men are more important than Gandhi!
It is the curse of South Asia that a woman like Aung San Suu Kyi who is a staunch follower of the doctrine of non-violence is now leading a captive life. The UN must vow on this day to free Aung San Suu Kyi. If the international community does not take any step to rescue her, then it is quite needless to observe International day of Non-violence.
Pradip Das

Let There Be Rickshaws!
We are all victims of excruciating traffic jam in this overcrowded mega city and the car owners amongst us along with those on a visit from abroad are often quick to condemn rickshaws and call for their complete removal. It is true to some extent that the slower rickshaws are sometimes incompatible with motorised vehicles and the illiterate rickshaw pullers do not follow traffic rules.
But I want rickshaws. Dhaka is a land of muslin (now obsolete), mosques and of course the colourful and ornate rickshaws. Many people will talk about the enjoyable rickshaw rides when the city roads are empty during Eid vacations or 'hartals'. Ask any tourist be it a Westerner or an NRB and they will confirm it as one of the most famous sights and unique experiences of Dhaka/Bangladesh. For the city dwellers, the predominance of rickshaw as a transport is evidenced by the fact that they comprise 49%, 78%, 80% and 55% of traffic in Dhaka, Sylhet, Comilla and Rangpur cities respectively [Banglapedia]. Rickshaw is as much a necessity as a cultural symbol.
The fuel-free rickshaws do not cause any air pollution or any noise pollution. In the global green awakening, this alone should be enough reason to promote rather than discourage the rickshaws. Developed countries have already realised the drawbacks of excessive usage of automobile and they are now encouraging the usage of non-motorised transport (NMT). Pedal powered emission free rickshaws are now available in Western cities like New York City; in London they are known as 'pediabs' and in San Diego they are called 'bike taxis'.
The argument that rickshaws cause traffic jams may not be correct since the roads that have no rickshaws still experience congestion. Let us not cut off the head to cure the headache.
Mehrin Shahed

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