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The week in re(ar)view

Thank goodness we don't have GPS
Mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka on 17 April unveiled plaques marking the renaming of two roads at Dhanmondi. These roads are namely (yes, bloody pun intended) Road No. 12 as 'Abul Mansur Ahmad Sarak' and Road No. 9 as 'Language Movement Veteran Toaha Sarak'.

Good thing we don't have GPS navigation systems for cars in Bangladesh. The confounded machines would quit in confusion.

Show IMF the money
The government plans to raise land valuation used for property transfer and vehicle registration fees in the upcoming budget. This was addressed to the International Monetary Fund's (IMF).

IMF has also made a number of recommendations of late for the government to perk up the state revenue.

Here's a lit of other things we feel the government investigate for greater revenue generation:
Licensing for guys who stand in front of girls' colleges.
Purchasing a days pass to The highest revenue generation of all should be a tax imposed on breathing. Those who cannot pay must not breathe.

Fox to get key to henhouse
A project taken up by Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) for making the Turag river navigable. That's all good. The contractor is to make the river at least 400 feet wide and dredge the riverbed raised by the earth and sand dumped by the sand traders for years. That's even better.

Azmal Khan, owner of the company in charge of he work, said if they could finish their work, BIWTA would make profit through leasing out the riverbanks to the sand traders. This is where we ask, “duh?” Didn't the sand traders cause a large part of the problem in the first place?

Resident Conspiracy Theorist (RCA): A good well functioning river is no good to a dredging company. That's why they need the and traders to silt up the banks again so they can get a crack at cleaning up the waterway in a few years time albeit for a few million, gazzilion takas.

What more? Not much more apparently.
Coach Dav Whatmore will end his stint with Bangladesh cricket after next month's home series against India, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) confirmed yesterday. He has coached Bangladesh to great victories against cricket giants Australia, India (twice), Sri Lanka and South Africa in one-day internationals besides success against the run down Zimbabwe and many ICC associate member countries. Big man, big victories.

Molehills? No problem
We redefine literary trends by making molehills out of mountains. Better yet, we make housing plots for officials. Molehills are not very comfortable to live in.

District admin bypassed rules, ignored forest dept's protest to level an ecologically critical hill near Cox's Bazar beach. Trees worth a few hundred crores of taka have been cut down and sold to prepare residential plots for bureaucrats. The hill had been under the jurisdiction of the forest department since 1935 before the district administration took it over. So this is actually a long term demolition plan.

Cutting down forests and hills started on October 24, 2006, just four days before the caretaker government assumed power. After much delay the army stopped the work and impounded the bulldozers.

MP' to be just like us poor people
MP's to dream of cool expensive cars just like the rest of us. A council of advisers on 16 April cancelled a lawmakers' privilege of importing duty-free cars as most members of parliament (MPs) in the past misused it.

At least 303 cars were imported by the lawmakers from 2001 to 2006, during the period of the eighth parliament, under the duty-free scheme due to which the government lost around Tk 211 crore in taxes.

An MP was previously allowed to import cars and SUVs without paying value added tax or supplementary duty as soon as they were elected. But they could not purchase more than two cars under this facility and could not sell the car within three years of purchase. If elected twice, they could purchase another car under the same facility after eight years.

Question is, how do we expect our MP's to work effectively if they cannot go to work in their V8 powered, DVD player/ wi-fi enabled, climate controlled (A/C is so low tech) luxury cars. They will go to work just as frazzled as the rest of us.

Bangladesh Cricket Team's Official Cricket handbook entry:

1. Mid wicket: The place between two wickets where Bashar usually finds himself standing.

2. Silly Point: the scariest place to be on the ground, especially with Mashrafee losing his cool and is bowling short ones.

3. Long on: the distance that is required to run in order to collect the fours and sixes hit by master batsmen.

4. bouncer: the delivery that makes us dwarves.

5. run out: out while taking a light stroll on the wicket amidst tight situation.

6. third man: the most comfortable place to field under the shade

7. leg/off break: the ball which takes a sharp turn after it hits the pitch, and then somehow fauxes the batsmen and goes on to hit the stump.

8. Googly: the special delivery bowled by a leg spinner going the other way which we can never understand.

9. Umpire: similar to vampire, can scare the shit out of you with just one finger.

10. Fan: refers to the general people who will dance with you on top one day and totally kick the hell out of you the next day.

Campus news
Towards greener pastures: The Linc Team

There's nothing like travel to broaden your horizons, dispel misconceptions, and open your mind to new cultures, new ideas and ways of thinking. It can also give you a fresh perspective on relevant issues.

This is probably the philosophy behind the Linc Exchange programme. The Linking Individuals, Knowledge and Culture Program (LINC) gives twenty young leaders from two countries (Bangladesh and the United States) the opportunity to view cultures, youth leadership, and environmental development from a global perspective through participation in a three-week international exchange and continued environmental service. The project is implemented by Relief International, and funded by the Education and Cultural Affairs Bureau of the US State Department.

The theme for this year's exchange was 'Science, Technology and the Environment'. McKay Captain McVey, Shad Emam, Karime Blanco, Mahaliyah Nevaehiyah, Jordan Hollarsmith, Mohamed Daniel Sirker, Shelsea A. Evans, Alysha Aziz, Anna O'Kelly, and Anthony Rodriguez made the long trip across the Atlantic to take part in an exciting three-week exchange program. They have been accompanied by student chaperone Amanda Gelender, and Relief International USA Exchange co-ordinator Payal Yogeshkumar Pathak. The students had been selected on the basis of their academic achievement, leadership, and interest in environmental science and community service.

The visitors spent their stay working with a number of local organisations such as Waste Concern, Environment and Social Development Organisation (ESDO), Democracy Watch, Young Power in Social Action (YSPCA), Pally Baul Samaj, Ekmattra, and others. When asked about the approach of these organisations to the issues of conservation, the students said they were impressed by how much the level of awareness amongst the local populace, and also their genuine passion for their work. 'The key word being used by everyone we encountered was 'sustainability', and it was clear that they were concerned with these issues' Daniel Sirker told us. “They are also doing a remarkable job with what technology they have, making the best of the situation.” The program also included a visit to the Sundarbans, which, as Karime Blanco puts it, 'Was so beautiful; usually we only hear about the problems, but this was proof that yes, there is something so beautiful here that you can take care of it."

The group also expressed their pleasure at being given a chance to experience a different culture up close, which helped them re-form their previous opinions about Bangladesh. Anthony Rodriguez claims 'It was particularly amazing to see how proud you all are to be who you are; of your identity and your country." They had praise aplenty for the music they heard (the Pally Baul Samaj treated them to a cultural show) and the shopping they got done. "The prices are unbelievable; didn't need to do any bargaining!" McKay McVey exclaimed. The bonding experience amongst the students themselves, and between the US group and the Bangladeshi students who will be visiting the US later this year, was also very successful, and Payal Pathak claims 'These guys are always looking for a chance to get in touch with their Bangladeshi friends.'

From their beaming, confident smiles, one could surmise that this leg of the exchange has been fairly successful. Here's hoping the same for the Bangladeshi students who will be heading off for their turn.

By Sabrina F Ahmad


This week's Topic: “What is your opinion on Hindi Musical and Western type functions being performed on Bengali New Year?”

An article came out during last week's RisingStars telling us about “Disco Hip-Hop Nights” and “War of DJs” being celebrated during Pahela Baishakh. So we thought we'd ask around to find out what young folks in general have to say about the topic:

“I think it's OK. The love for our culture does not change with us listening to other songs as we do all year around. Not listening to it just on the New Year looks like hypocrisy to me.” Tilka Fannana. Age: 18. Mastermind.

“It only goes to show how easily and badly we are being influenced by the world outside our own unique and esteemed traditions and cultures. It is very disappointing indeed.” Zaki Farhad Habib. Age: 18. The Aga Khan School.

“I am a total Hindi Music freak. Though I might like to hear Hindi songs at those functions, it is obviously not right. The reason our language still thrives are the hundreds of people who died fighting for our mother language and independence. The least we can do in return is to show some respect to that cause at least during the New Year.” Zerifa Zaman. Age: 17. Sunnydale.

“We are very adaptive to the new ways of the new generation, and I won't say that listening to English songs will make us 'Non-Bengalis'. However, having other cultures infiltrate ours during the very day that our cultural year starts is definitely an insult. We should celebrate at least Pahela Baishakh in a completely 'Bangla style' to keep that patriotic feeling alive, even if only for a day. Bengali songs are cool enough; I don't think we need some other language mutated into songs to make this day fun for us” Navid. Age: 21. ETE, NSU.

“Well, Pohela Boishakh is about melas and face-painting and everything 'Bengali'. Indians have already taken over TV channels with serials and all, so why let them have the pleasure of barging into our culture as well?” Munni. Age: 16. Oxford.

“We Bengalis are losing our cultural values very fast nowadays, because we are copying everyone! The whole Indian culture has fused with ours. We Bengalis have to understand that we are probably the only ones who are copying other cultures like that. DJ fusion nights are OK on regular days, but when it comes to occasions like Pahela Baishakh, we should stick to our culture and not copy others. Everybody else has a culture of their own right? That is why people know them better. We Bengalis are sometimes called Indians. That's not right!” Marzooq. Age: 17. Canada.

By Iftikhar Azam
With heartfelt thanks to Nuzhat, Nayeema, and Osama.

Random facts

Did you know...?
... That half the world's population earns about 5% of the world's wealth?

... And that half the world's population is under 25 years of age?

... There are more than 150 million sheep in Australia, a nation of 17 million people?

... There are 6,000 new computer virus's released every month?

... That women spend more than $65 million on new cars and trucks, influence 80 percent of all new-car purchases, and bought 60 percent of new cars in 2000?

... That 2007 years ago, the sky was red?

... That the above statement is false?

... That four people of the RS staff have suffered from sprained ankle?

Collected and Compiled by S.S. Emil



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