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    Volume 9 Issue 28| July9, 2010|

 Cover Story
 Food for Thought
 One Off
 A Roman Column
 Star Diary
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The Omnipresent Plastic Bag

I remember the days when my mother used to read with amusement the writing on the paper bags (known as thonga) that came from the market with daily commodities. Before throwing them away she loved to read those as the thonga were made from old newspapers, books and magazines. It was a source of recreation to her and we, the children, used to have fun with them too.
Those days have gone, and now we are used to the plastic and polyethylene bags instead. But although they are convenient, they are dangerous to the environment since the material is not absorbed in the soil. The time it takes them to decompose range from 20 to 1000 years. One of the disquieting facts stemming from this is that plastic bags can become serial killers. Once an animal that ingested a plastic bag dies, it decays at a much faster rate than the bag. Once the animal has decomposed, the polythene is released back into the environment more or less intact, ready to be eaten by another misguided organism. The incredibly slow rate of decay of plastic bags also means that each bag we use compounds the problem, because the bags simply accumulate.
As well as being an eyesore (next time you are outside, have a look around - you'll be amazed at the number of plastic bags littering our streets and waterways), plastic shopping bags kill large numbers of wildlife each year. They also clog the drainage system, and lead to the water logging that we see in Dhaka after heavy rains.
In Bangladesh, it seems we are deaf and dumb to the consequences. Sometime ago the government imposed restrictions and banned the usage of these harmful bags. But people seem to have no respect for the law, and are unconcerned about environmental side-effects. Is it too late to bring back jute bags and the thonga?
Humaira Haque
Perth, Australia

Remembering M R Akhtar Mukul
Thanks to Syed Badrul Ahsan for his tribute to M R Akhtar Mukul. Those who listened to Shadin Bangla Betar Kendra during the liberation war cannot forget Mukul's Charampatra. It cannot be quantified how much this radio programme inspired Bengalis as a whole including the freedom fighters. But it is very sad that Akhtar Mukul has not been honoured or evaluated properly in his lifetime.
So I request the authorities to take necessary steps to name a road or institution in Dhaka or Rajshahi city after this eminent intellectual, writer and journalist who gave so much to his country.
Md Nazrul Islam Khan

Time to Implement Technology

The refereeing at this year's World Cup in South Africa has been poor. But perhaps the most controversial moment came during the crunch game between England and Germany. With England trailing 2-1 in the first half of the second-round game, Lampard's shot from just outside the area hit the crossbar and bounced down. Replays showed the ball had crossed the goal line. After landing inside the goal, the ball spun back and was collected by Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. The referee and the linesmen missed the incident and didn't award the goal. Germany went on to win.
Lampard's strike came during a spell of England dominance and would have levelled the score at 2-2. Experts have said that it could have changed the course of the match. Fifa president Sepp Blatter has apologised to the English Football Association over the mistake. But the incident highlights the imbecility of Fifa's decision not to use goal-line technology to determine whether a ball had crossed the line. The stakes are too high for Fifa to go on resisting practices which are now an accepted part of sports like cricket and tennis.
The moment recalled a famous controversial goal from the 1966 World Cup final between England and Germany. In that game, England and Germany were tied at 2-2 in extra time when Geoff Hurst's shot struck the underside of the crossbar, bounced down and spun back into play. That time, the referee consulted his linesman, who awarded the goal. Hurst went on to score a third goal in England's 4-2 victory at Wembley.
Alim Uddin
Shahjalal University of Science & Technology, Sylhet

The Practise of Democracy
No one will disagree that the Chittagong City Corporation election has introduced a new dimension in our political environment, and it can be seen as a triumph of democracy.
Mayor Mohiuddin had been holding the position for the last 17 years and had run again this time with the blessing of the ruling party. Despite this, the BNP candidate Mr. Manzur won on Election Day. The defeat of Mayor Mohiuddin proves that he failed to fulfill a lot of his promises, and had to pay the price. In many ways the government cannot avoid its responsibility also. Hopefully, the ruling party will take a lesson and will be able to mend its ways in future. No one stays in power for ever.
But overall, this fair election led by Returning Officer, Ms. Jesmin Tuli has set an excellent example in the practise of democracy. Our heartiest congratulations to her and her team! Her tremendous leadership has made this election fair which inspires us to avoid election under caretaker government in the future. If the election commission can work without political interference, and can be made truly independent, free and fair elections are possible. It is really a significant event for us! If we can learn and practice leadership and work in a team environment as well as being honest, we will definitely be able to establish ourselves as a strong democracy in the near future.
Bandana Amir
Uttara, Dhaka

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