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Volume 3 Issue 9| September 2010



Original Forum Editorial

Secularism, Bangali Hegemony
and Our Constitution

--Hana Shams Ahmed

Where the Streets Have no Name
--Bina D'Costa
A Triangular Manipulation
--Md. Shairul Mashreque
The Need to Know
--Ahmed A. Azad
The Transfer Chronicles--Quazi Zulquarnain Islam
Photo Feature: TB (Tuberculosis) in Bangladeshs
--Amdadul Huq
Two Hands are Better Than One
--Ishfaq Ilalhi Choudhury
Where's the Endgame?--Nilantha Ilangamuwa
Global Warning
--Rafique Ahmed

Pushing the Kashmiri to the Wall, Again
--Shivam Vij


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Editor's Note

With the world indigenous people's day behind us it is about time we review what the day means to us and more importantly what we do the other 364 days of the year when they are not in the spotlight. Here in Bangladesh the first battle we must overcome is that of the terminology used to describe our indigenous peoples and as in any debate, the definition is what sets up the argument.

It is easy to say that sticks and stones break bones and names never hurt, but the truth of the matter is that for the indigenous people of Bangladesh, being called anything other than a Bangladeshi is just as much of an insult to them as it is to the non-indigenous population. But the sensitivities run much deeper than that.

Their problems are confounded not simply by how they are addressed, but also by how society at large views them. At the risk of generalising, indigenous people are often treated as outsiders and their culture viewed as foreign. These stereotypes play into the psyche of both the indigenous and non-indigenous population in vastly different ways.

Many within the non-indigenous population view the different customs and culture as something alien to them, something not quite in line with what they view to be Bangladeshi, and in doing so seek some kind of assimilation from them. They quite clearly view themselves as the self and the indigenous people as the other. A sort of post-post-colonialism which rather than being accepting of different cultures and customs as part of a national identity, view them as straddlers on the very periphery of the definition of a Bangladeshi.

This has in turn hardened the indigenous people to such an extent that they think of themselves as the “other” in the self-other dialectic. By being pushed to the very borders of society, for example by not being educated in their own language and often living in close proximity to the army (in the Chittagong Hill Tracts), we have managed to marginalise a group of our own countrymen. That is surely not the example we hope to set for the next generation and to influence the leaders of tomorrow we must act today.

The US very proudly calls its self the world's "melting pot" because people from around the world flock to its shores in search of a better life and hope to live the American dream. The term is significant because it insinuates that many different people from many different places are churned together to form one dish. Canada calls itself the world's "salad bowl" because people from all over the world come together there and they are not asked to melt together. Just like a good tossed salad they are mixed well but in the end remain separate and clearly discernable ingredients in the same dish. We here in Bangladesh need neither the melting pot nor the salad bowl, but we do need a dish of our own where people from across this great country with vastly different tastes and cultures can come together and celebrate just being Bangladeshi.



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