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     Volume 10 Issue 01| January 07, 2011 |

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The Penny is Dropping Traffic Jam

Most mental asylums have a popular test for inmates being considered for release. They are asked to empty a big bucket of water with a small mug while an open 4” tap pours into it. The ones who turn off the tap are considered first. The inference, rightly so, is that they have started to think logically.

A similar start to the solution of the infernal traffic jams of Dhaka is at last discernable amongst the high and mighty. First the Finance Minister stated that cars carrying less than 4/5 people should not be allowed on some roads. Then the Bangladesh Bank stopped car loans on 5-year cars. Harebrained and futile as these suggestions are, at least the real cause (hitherto swept under the rug) of traffic jams has been identified.

The FM must be asleep when he is stuck on the road, otherwise he would see that hardly 5 percent of vehicles (mostly office microbuses) carry 4+ people. Fully 30-40 percent private cars run empty/half-empty. The BB directive on loans for cars should be a BIG, FULL STOP for the next 3-5 years as we already have cars filling many times the capacity of our roads.

Grandiose free-ways, highways, airports and the like will only result in more and more cars. If there is any sense left in our Public Masters (previously Servants), let's have Mass Transit Systems for the Common Man first.

Sikander Ahmed

Eradicating the culture of dowry

The social disease called dowry is a curse for us even in this day and age. We are now more aware of this because we see incidents related to dowry almost everyday in the news. Dowry is not only demanded by lower class families, but it can be seen among the upper classes as well. This is often a result of illiteracy, lack of communication and awareness. But it is not impossible to abolish this practice. If we make women aware of their rights, empower them in their daily lives, provide them with education and the means to earn a living, we can eventually get rid of this practice. The government can play a role by issuing stringent punishment for those who demand it. Perhaps if we make a joint effort, we can put an end to dowry related tragedies.

Subrata Ray
SUST, Sylhet

Freedom of speech

Living in the height of the 21st century engulfed by a sea of information, I would like to introduce myself to be the strong proponent of Free Speech, which ironically, has been spoiled by many of its promoters. Being a simple citizen of a third world country, Bangladesh, I used to think that democracy of dispersing information would have to be compromised to some extent, due to the embryonic stage our state of democracy is in compared to the most developed ones in the world. However, I regret things are quite the opposite in reality. The characteristics of a vibrant democracy are free speech, freethinking and a free choice to know the truth are absent across the world including in USA. One can now hardly be convinced, while rallying the whole world to the path of democracy and freedom of expression how you can gag the person who has the guts to unveil the truth. Does the definition of press freedom differs from country to country? Or, is it applied to those only who are not in concert with the USA?

Undoubtedly I was a strong supporter of America when thinking of establishing and promoting democracy around the world through different media such as NDI (National Democratic Institute) and IRI(International Republican Institute) that work in favour of free and fair elections all around the world and for which I worked for two terms during the last parliamentary elections in Bangladesh. I appreciated the efforts and resources they made available to the people of Bangladesh in choosing and setting the right people in power through a remarkably fair election in history. I also appreciated the fact when western governments led by US dismissed the unjustified election results in Ukraine which later triggered the Orange Revolution in late November 2004 and reestablished democracy in the country as such. Nonetheless, I do not understand the fact why now the US wants to stop “Julian Assange” the Wikileaks founder from disclosing the bitter truth that people want to know.

It was none other than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who advocated press freedom and lobbied free access of Google in China to show the whole world that US stands for press freedom and thus she wanted to put pressure on the Chinese government not to withhold the rights of people. The same story applies to the Russian case. The Bush administration used to blame the Russian democratically elected government for not practicing democracy by blocking its press if they wrote anything against the government especially with regard to the Chechen war and alleged human rights abuse by Russian soldiers. We also saw the same thing during the Iranian presidential election in 2009. In all the events, US set an extraordinary example of leadership in pursuing universal democracy and freedom of speech.

On the other hand, the thousands of classified documents leaked by Wikileaks shook the whole world and brought it to-standstill. The long hatched unsavoury US diplomacy is an open secret. I wonder how a responsible government like US could spy on UN officials and other foreign delegates. Is individual privacy questioned? Are we still living in the authoritarian world where one country dominates others? The authenticity of the publication is verified all around the world including USA. Therefore, we know it is neither just a smear campaign nor a war against an individual sate but rather a campaign for Knowing the Truth. Meanwhile, the recent surge of international pressure on Julian is understandable as everybody in the party is busy trying to hide their weakness. I do not have any interest in whether the rape allegation in Sweden against him is justified or not and whether personally he is a good man or not. However, I do have strong interest in preserving people's rights to know the truth. The truth is out there and one day will prevail. I hope the legal procedure of Julian will find the right path and will not be influenced by any international power.

Shiplu Datta, on. e-mail


In last week's story “A sketch of Shah Abdul Karim Boyati's life and philosophy” Shakoor Majid was inadvertently mentioned as the director of the play, “Mohajoner Nao”. The play was directed and designed by Sudip Chakroborty, Shakoor Majid was the playwright and the production was by Shubachan Natya Sangsad, Dhaka. We regret the error.

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