Apr 27, 2011 at 08:03 o\clock

PM urges all to help implement national women policy at AUW campus

PM urges all to help implement national women policy.

AUW CHITTAGONG, Apr 26 ( Prime Minister (PM) Sheikh Hasina called upon all to help the government in implementing the proposed Women Development Policy (WDP) for the welfare of the country's women, report agencies. The PM expressed the hope that the country's women would stand against the misinterpretation of the proposed women policy.

She said that a certain quarter 'trading in religion' has been trying to mislead the people by misinterpreting the proposed Women Development Policy, although Islam as a religion never approves inequality between man and woman.

Sheikh Hasina made the remarks while laying the foundation of the permanent campus for Asian University for Women (AUW) in Chittagong Tuesday.

AUW Chancellor and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie Blair presided over the function while its acting vice-chancellor Kamal Ahmed delivered his welcome address.

The function was also addressed, among others, by Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid and World Bank (WB) Group Managing Director Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Sheikh Hasina also urged the women community as well as conscious citizens of the country to thwart the evil designs of the vested quarters.

She said that the government was fully committed to provide all-out support for women empowerment in the country. Enhancing women empowerment and ensuring their rights are the key focuses in the new National Women Development Policy.

She said that at present, education particularly for girls, is a priority of the government.

The PM said she firmly believed that the politico-economic empowerment is a prerequisite to empowering the women.

"They (women) are encouraged to participate in politics and administration, and are recruited in all professions including the armed services", she added.

The PM hoped that the girl students, who will be coming out of AUW, would emerge as modern, progressive and matured women, full of self-confidence, and ready to face challenges of an ever changing complex world.

The government has donated lands to the AUW worth US$ 80 million. This is the first time the government has made such donation to a private university.

Hasina expressed the hope that all the Asian countries and the WB would take this contribution of Bangladesh into serious consideration and come forth with their own financial package offer and support to enable the university to have its own campus with buildings as soon as possible.

Cherie Blair said that she was very much excited to have the official duty for the AUW and thanked Sheikh Hasina for her sincere cooperation towards the development of the university.

She also praised the vision and wisdom of the PM for the development and empowerment of the women.

The AUW would be a good example of regional cooperation across the world, Cherie Blair said, adding that Bangladesh has emerged as the bridge between the South Asian and ASEAN countries.

Some businessmen of Chittagong gave several cheques to the PM worth Tk 20 million as donation to the AUW, and the PM handed over the cheques to the chancellor of the university.

Apr 25, 2011 at 17:20 o\clock

PM Hasina launches e-book of textbooks

by: bangladesh   Keywords: ebook, hasina, digital

PM Hasina launches e-book of textbooks  [BSS]

ebook DHAKA, April 24 (BSS) - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today formally  launched e-book, a digitized compilation of primary and secondary  textbooks, opening a new horizon of easy access to text books through  Internet. The National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) and UNDP- funded  Access to Information (A2I) Programme of the Prime Minister's Office  jointly organized the inaugural ceremony. From now on textbooks will be available on for free.

  E-book is readable by digital devices like computer, e-book reader, mobile phone, PDA, CD and iPad. The e-book will be very helpful especially for the expatriate Bangladeshi students to take preparation for primary terminal, Junior Secondary Certificate and Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations from abroad.

The students could use the e-book easily as presently 40 percent of the country's schools have computer facilities and the government has taken initiative to establish multimedia classroom at 20,500 secondary schools.

The students with weak eyesight can read the e-book easily by make the font bigger on the computer screen. In future the 'text to speech' version of textbook will be introduced for the visually challenged students.

Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid, Primary and Mass Education Minister Dr Afsarul Amin, National Project Director of Access to Information Nazrul Islam Khan also spoke at the function held at Prime Minister's Office.

Apr 24, 2011 at 23:02 o\clock

A Victory For Secular Democracy

A Victory For Secular Democracy

By Huzaima Bukhari and Dr. Ikramul Haq

Secularism The Supreme Court of Bangladesh has declared the Fifth Amendment in the constitution unlawful as it allowed religion-based politics, not envisaged by the original document.

The recent judgment of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh reaffirming secular pluralistic constitutional democracy and barring use of religion in politics, has once again revived debate about the motives and purposes behind the partition of India. Dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971 exploded the myth that the "real" purpose behind establishment of Pakistan was establishment of an Islamic State. The two-nation theory, based on the foundation of religious divide of Hindus and Muslims, received an irretrievable setback when the Bengalis were maltreated by the ruling elite of West Pakistan. This ultimately led to a division of the Muslim state, proving that socio-economic factors play a decisive role in politics. Religion is just one of the ploys to achieve political goals.

It is well-documented (see Secular and Nationalist Jinnah by Dr. Ajeet Jawed), that Quaid-i-Azam wanted a secular Pakistan. Throughout his political career, he struggled against both Hindu and Muslim extremists. After independence, the feudal class with the help of its cronies - bureaucrats, clergymen and men in khaki - managed to hijack the new state and converted it into an Islamic Republic. Islam does not permit feudalism and its main stress is on the empowerment of the have-nots. Even in the very beginning, these classes tried to tamper with the famous speech of the Quaid, but failed to do so as Dr. Ajeet Jawed says in his book: " was allowed to be published in full only after Dawn's editor, Altaf Hussain, threatened those who were trying to tamper with it to go to Jinnah himself if the press advice was not withdrawn." For building a secular Pakistan, Dr. Jawed writes, the Quaid sought the help of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, because, as he said in his letter to Badshah Khan, he was "surrounded by thieves and scoundrels" through whom he could do nothing. With a mass of evidence, Dr. Ajeet Jawed has established that the Quaid remained a secularist and nationalist up to the last moment of his life.

The decision of the Bangladesh Supreme Court must be seen in this historic perspective. It reflects the ideology of the founding fathers and has restored the original constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. In the wake of this verdict, the Election Commission of Bangladesh, on January 26, 2010, asked the three Islamic parties - Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh Khelafat Andolan and Tarikat Federation - to amend their charters as they were in conflict with the supreme law of the country.

Just as Quaid-e-Azam was betrayed by the feudal class in his party, the founding father of Bangladesh also met the same fate. Sheikh Mujib's Awami League gave the nation its first constitution within one year of independence, based on the four cardinal principles - secularism, nationalism, socialism and democracy. Bangladesh became the third major Muslim country to officially embrace secularism after Turkey and Tunis. On August 15, 1975, Sheikh Mujib was assassinated along with his family. Luckily, Rehana and Hasina, his two daughters, residing outside Bangladesh, survived. In the wake of Sheikh Mujib's assassination, the country unfortunately witnessed a number of coups and countercoups within a very short span - from August 15 to November 7, 1975.

The successor of Sheikh Mujib, Moshtaque Khondkar, selected Chief Justice Abu Sadat Mohammad Sayem as President. Deriving power through martial law proclamations, he abolished secularism from the constitution by amending Article 38. The lifting of the ban on religion-based politics paved the way for theocratic parties to campaign in the name of religion. Abu Sadat transferred powers to Ziaur Rehman on November 26, 1976 after a deal that he would indemnify his illegal takeover as well as all actions taken between August 15, 1975 and April 9, 1979 and passing of the Fifth Amendment that ratified martial law proclamations including desecularisation of the constitution. Subsequently, Ziaur Rehman was assassinated by junior army officers and General Ershad took control, declaring Martial Law on March 24, 1982.

General Ershad, like General Ziaul Haq, abused religion for the perpetuation of his rule and Islam was made the state religion. In the wake of a popular democratic movement, his military rule came to an end and democracy was restored in 1991. In 1996, the Awami League once again won elections and abrogated all the unconstitutional amendments to sanction the trial of the assassins of Sheikh Mujib. In 2005, the Fifth Amendment was struck down by the High Court. The Court emphasized secularism as the guiding state policy. It held that religious non-discrimination and protection for all faiths, even for non-believers, should be the main responsibility of the state. It explained that secularism means ensuring religious tolerance and freedom of faith without any favor or discrimination. The Court, in unequivocal terms, condemned the actions of the military junta to convert secular Bangladesh into a theocratic state.

The Court's ruling was contested by the Bangladesh National Party (BNP), led by the widow of Ziaur Rehman, Khalida Zia. The Court granted a stay order that was ultimately vacated on January 3, 2010. As a result, the original Article 38 of the Constitution became operative and barred the use of religion or communal connotations in politics. This has been termed as a major development not only in Bangladesh but the entire Muslim world. It is commonly advocated in the West that Islam and pluralistic democracy are incompatible. The very use of Islam as state religion, critics of Muslim world say, negates the concept of democracy. Secularism requires that at the state level, there should be no propagation of religion and it should be the personal matter of citizens.

In the peculiar political milieu of Bangladesh and elsewhere in the Muslim world, religion has become a tool in the hands of vested interests. The mushroom growth of so-called Islamic political parties is a cause of concern for all. These parties, backed by military establishments, exploit the masses and grab the nation's wealth, all in the name of Islam. Militants are their front men, terrorism their weapon and they themselves are the pawns of neo-imperialism. In the face of these realities, it is heartening to see that the Supreme Court of Bangladesh has upheld the High Court's ruling delivered in 2005, declaring the Fifth Amendment in the constitution unlawful as it allowed religion-based politics, not envisaged by the framers of the original document.

In Bangladesh, this decision of the Supreme Court may enhance hostility between the two traditionally rival parties - the Awami League led by Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and BNP led by Khaleda Zia, widow of Ziaur Rehman. The verdict is a defeat for the BNP that challenged the High Court decision in 2005 and secured a tay. BNP will have to surrender to the commands of the law.

Article 41 of the Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees freedom of religion. It says:
(1). Subject to law, public order and morality,
a. every citizen has the right to profess, practice or propagate any religion;
b. every religious community or denomination has the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions.
(2). No person attending any educational institution shall be required to receive religious instruction, or to take part in or to attend any religious ceremony or worship, if that instruction, ceremony or worship relates to a religion other than his own.

The above command of the constitution guarantees religious freedom for all. The use of religion in politics only creates divisions, rather than achieving unity. The Bangladesh Supreme Court's verdict, restoring the secular character of the Constitution holds a promise of progress and democratization of society and sets a good example for other Muslim states.

Apr 20, 2011 at 23:21 o\clock

Bangladesh needs to invest $7 bn in transit facilities

by: bangladesh   Keywords: transit, facilities

Dhaka, April 20 (IANS) Bangladesh will need to invest Tk 500 billion ($7 billion) in road, rail and river ways and ports in the next two to three years to facilitate transit to India, Nepal and Bhutan, the government has estimated.

A high level committee that considered an experts report did not determine the contentious issue of how Bangladesh would charge the neighbours and how much it would earn. The task has been left to a sub-committee, The Daily Star said Wednesday.

The issue is contentious with opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), its Islamist allies and a section of the intelligentsia seeing the transit facilities as an economically losing proposition.

They have also raised security issues.

The transport of heavy equipment by India across Bangladesh to its northeastern Tripura state was criticised by sections of the media since Dhaka did not charge Delhi any transit fee.

The government later explained that it was merely following international rules prescribed by the World Trade Organisation and other bodies.

A high-level meeting, chaired by Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith, which studied the experts report was attended by Commerce Minister Faruk Khan, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, prime minister's foreign affairs Adviser Gowhar Rizvi and economic affairs Adviser Mashiur Rahman.

The newspaper quoted an unnamed official as saying that the report would be reviewed with cost benefit analysis added to it.

A minister said the fee will be fixed 'considering the benefits of all the participating countries'.

According to the report, the countries taking the transit facility will save between 12 and 70 percent on their transport cost.

The report said the river routes are now unfit for transit and major infrastructural development of rail routes is required. With the present condition, roads are capable of transporting 10 percent of the probable transit traffic.

Apr 17, 2011 at 11:59 o\clock

Historic Mujibnagar Day today

by: bangladesh   Keywords: Mujibnagar, Day, Meherpur

Historic Mujibnagar Day today PDF Print E-mail

Awami League taken elaborate programs on Mujibnagar Day, Day-long Programs in Mujibnagar

April 17,2011

The nation observes the 40th historic Mujibnagar Day today commemorating the formation of the provisional government of mujib_nagar_n.jpgindependent Bangladesh during the War of Liberation. As the barbaric crackdown of the Pakistan army on the unarmed Bangalees on the night following March 25 in 1971, senior leaders of Awami League congregated at Baidyanathtala in Meherpur on this day in 1971 to constitute the provisional government of independent Bangladesh. Baiddyanathtala, mainly a mango grove, was later named as Mujibnagar after ceremonial formation of the provisional government of Bangladesh. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was declared the first President of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, while Syed Nazrul Islam was appointed the acting President in the absence of Bangabandhu. Tajuddin Ahmed was appointed as the first Prime Minister, while Captain Muhammad Mansur Ali and AHM Qamaruzzaman were the cabinet members. General Muhammad Ataul Gani Osmani was made the Commander-in-Chief of Mukti Bahini while Major General Abdur Rob was appointed as the chief of staff by the interim government. In absence of Bangabandhu, who was in jail in the then West Pakistan, the Mujibnagar Government under the farsighted, bold and courageous leadership of Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Captain M Mansur Ali and AHM Quamaruzzaman fought the nine-month-long War of Liberation and achieved victory with the cooperation of the allied Indian forces by defeating the Pakistani occupation forces on December 16 in 1971.

Bangladesh Awami League, which led the War of Liberation, has drawn up an elaborate program to observe the historic Mujibnagar Day in a befitting manner. The day's program will commence with the hoisting of national and party flags at Bangabandhu Bhaban at Dhanmondi in the city and all party offices across the country at 6:00 AM. It will be followed by placing of wreaths at the portrait of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Dhanmondi in Dhaka at 7:00 AM. Wreaths will also be laid at the graves of four martyred national leaders--Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed and Captain Mansur Ali at Banani in Dhaka and at the grave of Shaheed AHM Quamaruzzaman in Rajshahi at 7:30 in the morning.

Daylong Programs in Mujibnagar
In Mujibnagar, a daylong program has been chalked out. The programs include hoisting national flag and party flags at 6 AM followed by placing floral wreaths to the Mujibnagar Memorial Complex at 11 AM in the morning. The living persons who gave the guard of honour to the first Bangladesh Government at Baidyanathtala in Meherpur district on April 17 in 1971 would present the guard of honour this time. A discussion will be held at 11-30 AM at Mujibnagar, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be attend as chief guest, AL Presidium Member Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury will preside over the discussion. Cultural programs will also be held after discussion. .
Awami League central leaders, Ministers, MPs and the top-level personalities of different socio-cultural organisations will attend the programs on Mujibnagar.
In a statement yesterday, Awami League general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam urged the people in general and party units across the country in particular to observe the Mujibnagar Day following the central programs in a befitting manner.

Apr 17, 2011 at 00:45 o\clock

Inspiration for Bangladesh: Parties joust over costs of shutting down German nuclear power plants

Bangladesh can have the inspiration from Germany about how to shutt-down nuclear power plant:

The German government, headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel, is set to introduce legislation by mid-June which will ultimately seal the demise of the country's 17 nuclear power stations. Shutting down nuclear power plants will be costly Now the focus of the country's energy debate has shifted to the question of how to pay for shutting down Germany's nuclear power plants without disrupting the economy.

The governing coalition of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their junior coalition partner, the Free Democrats (FDP), have stated flatly that they are opposed to raising taxes to finance the switch.

"I'm opposed to an energy tax," said the designated FDP chairman, Phillip Rösler. "I can assure you: With us there will be no tax hike to finance a changeover to renewable energies," he said.

CDU budget expert Norbert Barthle said "no new austerity packages are needed and I rule out tax increases."

But Barthle injected a caveat when asked by journalists about a possible rise in the cost of electricity.

"I cannot rule out that possible extra costs due to a quicker switch to renewable energies may have to be borne by consumers," he said.

A question of pace

The opposition Social Democrat parliamentary leader, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, warned against a hasty retreat from nuclear energy. Germany is aiming for a renewable energy mix

"Germany is not just any old country, but rather an important industrial center," he told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper, emphasizing that energy had to remain affordable for all consumers.

"When we shut down eight nuclear power plants, we produce one third less electricity all at once, and depending on the time of year, this cannot be automatically substituted with renewable energies," Steinmeier said.

He added that Germany's aim has always been to cover its own energy needs itself.

"Buying in nuclear power from abroad is not a solution," he said.

Facts or fear-mongering

The environmentalist Green party, meanwhile, has warned against "fear-mongering" and "hysterical debates" about rising energy costs. Nuclear energy is on its way out, but who will foot the bill? Bärbel Höhn, the deputy parliamentary leader of the Greens, said the debate urgently needed solid facts and figures.

Höhn pointed to a government study in 2010, which forecast price increases of just half a cent per kilowatt hour over ten years during a gradual changeover to renewable energies.

Energy experts from the governing coalition, however, issued their own warning on Saturday, saying a quick withdrawal from nuclear power, starting now, would cost about 16 billion euros ($23 billion) over the next four years alone.

This figure, they said, comes from the costs for subsidizing the construction of alternative energy sources, the massive expansion of Germany's electricity grid which would be required to deliver energy from new locations and lost revenues of several billion euros from the nuclear fuel-rod tax introduced just last year.

In addition, they stressed, it was still absolutely unclear, who is going to foot the bill for such an ambitious project.

[Author: Gregg Benzow (dpa, AFP, Reuters, AP)]

Apr 14, 2011 at 11:08 o\clock

Nation Celebrates Bengali New Year - Pohela Baishakh

by: bangladesh   Keywords: Bengali, New, Year, Pohela, Baishak

Pohela Boishak The nation is welcoming on Thursday the Bangla New Year 1418 in a traditional manner amid a colourful festivity.

The festivity in the city began after sunrise with thousands of people thronging the banyan tree at Ramna Udyan where artistes of cultural organisation Chhayanaut belted out the traditional Pahela Baishakh song of Rabindranath Tagore--"Esho hey Baishakh"--to welcome the day.

With the sunrise, the Bangalees left behind all their sorrows of loss and unfulfilled expectations and geared up for better days.

From early morning people in traditional attires started gathering at different venues in the capital and elsewhere in the country to celebrate Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla New Year.

The major centres of celebration in the capital including, Ramna Park, Suhrawardy Udyan, Shahbagh and Dhaka University campus, are under multi-tier security net.

The Bangla year with its first month Baishakh was introduced during the rule of Mughal Emperor Akbar from 1556-1605AD.

Thursday is a public holiday. Social, political and cultural organisations have taken up elaborate programmes to celebrate the day.

President Zillur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia in separate messages on Wednesday greeted the nation on the occasion.

Bangladesh Betar and all television channels air special programmes while newspapers publish special supplements.

Apr 12, 2011 at 19:17 o\clock

Bangla New Year - PM, Khaleda exchange greetings

by: bangladesh   Keywords: Hasina, Khaleda, Bangla, New, Year

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia yesterday greeted each other on the occasion of Bangla New Year.

Prime minister's Protocol Officer Proloy Kumar Joarder handed over the greeting card of Pahela Baishakh to private secretary to the leader of the opposition ASM Saleh Ahmed at her Sangsad Bhaban office.

On the other hand, the private secretary to the leader of the opposition handed over a greeting card to PM's PS(1) Nazrul Islam at the PM's Office at 1:00pm.

Apr 4, 2011 at 14:57 o\clock

Islami Oikya Jote Called Hartal

by: bangladesh   Keywords: Amini, hartal

Amini threatens non-stop agitation

Islami Ain Bastabayan Committee has called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal across the country today (Monday), demanding scrapping of some 'anti-Qur'an provisions' in the National Women Development Policy, reports UNB.

The shutdown was also called to protest the High Court verdict against 'fatwa' (religious edict) and demanding scrapping of the National Education Policy.

The National Women Policy approved at the cabinet meeting on March 7 provides for equal right of women on paternal property.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has taken allout preparation to maintain law and order in the city during the hartal hours.

Official sources said nearly 10,000 uniformed and plainclothes police will be deployed in the city to avert any untoward incident.

Besides, plainclothes men will also remain on alert with still and video cameras to identify the trouble makers during the hartal hours.

There will be non-stop general strikes if the government obstructs Monday's hartal, threatens chairman of a faction of Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ).

At a pre-hartal meeting at Muktangon in the city Sunday, IOJ chief Mufti Amini said, "This hartal is to save Qur'an. We'll declare non-stop hartals if we're barred."

He also asked leaders and activists of his party and its allies -under the banner of Islamic Law Implementation Committee (ILIC) - to take to the streets with Qur'an and burial cloth in hands.

Amini called the shutdown on March 8 to protest the proposed National Women Development Policy 2011, ban on fatwa by the High Court and the recently formulated education policy.

"No women development policy will be allowed to be executed in this country," he said.

"We are on the streets to establish the law of Qur'an and we'll not turn our back," he added.