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    Volume 8 Issue 93 | November 6, 2009 |

  Cover Story
  Current Affairs
  Writing the Wrong
  Star Diary
  Book Review
  Write to Mita
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Crowded Out
I would like to thank the Star Magazine for highlighting the issue of population growth. Your cover feature "Crowded Out" was a frank look at this number one problem for Bangladesh. Almost a billion people go hungry each day due to rising food price rises that have pushed 40 million more people around the world into the ranks of the undernourished over the last five years. According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the cost of basic staples measured by an FAO index is still high: 28% higher on average than two years ago.
That has led to an increase in the number of people unable to afford to eat enough calories to lead a normal, active life. There are now estimated to be 963 million people, 14% of the world's population, going hungry in 2009.
It's not a question of either consumption or population. Both are big problems. Why is this apparently so hard to understand for our policymakers? And global warming is far from the the only environmental crisis. There are several -- the destruction of wild habitat and biodiversity, mass extinctions, pollution, soil erosion, etc., and all, without exception, are made worse by human overpopulation. Ignoring it isn't going to help. It is time for a concerted effort to curb population growth.
The picture in Bangladesh is grim. We already have very limited resources, so we must up the ante in the efforts to stop the explosive growth of our population. This demands the attention of our policy makers. The political parties, especially the ruling party, should concentrate on these problems rather than on purely political agenda.
There's only so much food and there's only so much land. Exceed this and you have chaos.
Md. Abu Jafar
Jashimuddin Road
Uttara, Dhaka

Pathological Tests
Diagnostic centres are essential for diagnosing a patient's disease through clinical tests. Nowadays it is available within easy reach in our country. Unfortunately most of these centres are not well equipped to perform proper diagnosis. Some of them provide proper diagnosis but the prices of diagnosis are too high. All of us are well aware of the difficulty of getting proper testing, and about the high fees charged by these so called diagnosis centres. But we are mere puppets in the hands of these centres. Because they are working in a sector in which there is high demand. General people of our country don't get proper treatment because they are unable to cope with the high price of these diagnosis centres. It seems that there is nobody influential in our country to prevent these commercial institutions from getting out of control. I believe that it is not so costly for them to do laboratory tests but they charge inflated fees which they collect from the patients in the name of diagnosis. I would like to request the concerned authorities to control these centres in order to assure reliable and affordable healthcare.
Md. Zahidul Islam Zibon
Dept. of English
International Islamic University Chittagong

Unrest in RMG Sector

Photo: Amran Hossain
Violence continues to hit the apparel sector in the country. Recently agitation among the readymade garments (RMG) workers flared up in Tongi and surrounding areas. Many garment units were damaged by the unruly mob resulting in colossal damage to properties. Some people were killed and hundreds injured in these incidences of vandalism. In a recent incident two RMG units of famous Hameem Group were set ablaze.
Why are RMG units being targeted? Some experts say rising prices of essentials, unpaid salaries, government inaction and absence of responsible trade unions are some of the reasons behind the rising violence in the sector. There are many other reasons cited by them. Absence of good relations between workers and owners, misbehaviour of mid-level officials and deferred payments to workers are some other problems that dog the embattled sector.
However, a number of RMG entrepreneurs claimed that administrative failures of the government, 'conspiracy' from outside and lax implementation of law and order were to blame for the violence. They demanded exemplary punishment of the 'real culprits' and introduction of industrial police to bring back normalcy to the sector. They said unrest must be stopped at any cost as the sector is considered one of the main pillars of the economy.
There are allegations that a vested group is behind the violence in the garments industry. Proper investigation into such allegations should reveal the truth. Very often, the agitating workers are being aided by some unknown outsiders. Who are they? Nobody knows for sure.
The apparel sector, for the last couple of decades, has been the lifeline of Bangladesh's economy. We should not kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
Rahat Shams Uddin
Baridhara, Dhaka

One Polytechnic for each Upazila
Bangladesh has been expanding its industrial base since last two decades. Mentionable development has been achieved in garment, cement, textile, steel, sugar, paper, pharmaceutical, ship breaking, shrimp culture, etc. industries. Garments industry, information technology and ship building industry have tremendous potential. To operate the existing industrial ventures, to expand the industrial sector and to export technical man power abroad, Bangladesh needs technically educated manpower. Without proper manpower no industry can develop. One polytechnic training institute in each Upazila is very much needed to provide technical education facility to all locations of the country. As Dhaka has developed into a mega city, at least 10 polytechnic institutions are required for Dhaka. Technically qualified manpower is the only solution to our unemployment problem.
Tahshina Ashraf
Bashabo, Dhaka

In last week's cover story "Crowded Out", the population density of Bangladesh was inadvertently printed as 400-people/sq. km. The figure should read 1100/ sq. km.
In last week's Book Review, 'Perek a collection of short stories,' Jackie Kabir's name was misspelt as Jaekie Kabir. We regret the errors.

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