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Primary School Dropouts in Bangladesh

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Blogger, rape and refugee: a boat in Bangladesh part 1

In recent months, Bangladesh has hit several times the headlines of renowned media outlets:

Ananta Bijoy Das: Yet another Bangladeshi blogger hacked to death

Yet another is here, the third.

Now, blogging is something of a crime if you look at the general mass’s opinion for the last 2 years, specially after the Shahbagh protest that was initiated by blogging community against the war criminals of Bangladesh. A point to highlight here, which is often not much visualized: All the war criminals convicted, or in jail are Muslim and they mostly supported the same political believe at the time of committing the crime.  

So, why it is a crime in the eyes of common Bangladeshis? Because a big portion of the peaceful religious people who do not take part in any violence and often close their eyes, in places where crimes take place associate blogging with atheism. Which of course is sin to them.

There is an extra layer to that logic, which nails it: These atheist use keyboard to write against the prophet, although many I interviewed never read a single word written by the bloggers already been attacked, killed or threatened.

And it makes sense. The Islamist group systematically chose Rajib, a self-claimed atheist to start there prey to silent the protest against war criminals. The protest got people’s support within days and the only way to turn this around was: to stick the sentiment or value that matters most for Muslim Bangladeshis: Islam and prophet. Before that blogging and atheism was even hard to explain to people. And like a domino effect, and of course with supporters of war criminals and some other religious extremists this was a matter of time:

A hit list was made consisting only of bloggers and they are being killed slowly. Here is wikipedia list of attack on secularist.

I had the pleasure to teach in a school and work in a media house during the Shahbagh protest.And like many other minorities of the country, I refrained myself from commenting, getting involved in any kind of discussion at work place due to my shear  religious identity and inner beliefs. I observed the hatred the educated class have in them (educated: most teachers, some journalists) have in them for a person whose work none witnessed, yet taken as blasphemy by all.

Believe can not be dealt with logic, that I learned.  Bangladesh is not the safest place (not even safe!) to express yourself, express thoughts which even harm nobody yet somebody may harm you in any way possible. Finding people who will at least listen to your words and then declare you are wrong is scarce. For example, I recently shared my views sharing my solidarity with most Irish people that I love them because they gave every people the right to marry the one they really love with both sides consents. Now, this is what happened, in my simple view of the world. To others, this a giving homosexuals the right to get married. I may have to think multiple times before saying this if I were living in Bangladesh. My words here show no disrespect to any community, yet to some (who commented in the post/inboxed) it’s the end of world.

I really love Bangladesh, but I do feel scared there. I only wish people were more humane than peaceful, more open-minded than educated, more tolerant than religious, a little bit logical than whimsical.

(part 1 of 5)

Why IPL and J-PAL studies make sense

748/8 just came to read this article on washington post. The first thing I did, I smiled. The thing I have been telling people for the last 8 years has at last been published as a research.

Micro-finance sucks, unless you go to a model village of it (Yes, when you visit Bangladesh with Grameen bank, you will be taken there. You will see a documentary claiming 95% success rate). The eye-witnesses are usually delighted, excited, hyped and go back to their country to their job or get a job that often does not related in any means to micro-finance.

Does Micro-finance alleviate poverty? Not necessarily, not as much they claim
Does Micro-finance alleviate poverty? Not necessarily, not as much they claim

My uncle used to work for Grameen Bank—the banker of the poor. Once I had the chance to visit his place of work, which was Natore. I remember some of his words about not liking the job. It breaks heart to be rude to loan takers and he felt that quite often. He left the job after 10 years of service.

Two most acclaimed things about micro-finance: 1) It works. 2) Success rate is high. I beg to differ.

It does not work for some countries, that is already proven, countries like Mexico, Philippines. Two years ago, during TEDGlobal conference I met some of south american social workers who were furious about micro-finance. Why? Mainly because of the reasons the Washington Post article describes. High interest rate with people’s tendency not to give the loan. And it is impossible to impose such things by law on people in South America.

What about Bangladesh, the birth place of Modern-Micro-finance. 1970 to 2015, how much poverty has been alleviated? I tried to find out what the Grameen Bank meant by poverty line. Nothing came out on that. What is meant by poverty line by Grameen Bank?

The next in point, like any other Bank Grameen is financed by Government of Bangladesh ( At present the Bank’s authorized capital is Tk. 10,000 million (increased in current year from Tk. 3,500 million) and paid-up capital is Tk. 734.05 million. Members who are also borrowers hold 79.57 percent of Grameen Bank shares. The remaining 20.43 percent is held by the Government of Bangladesh, Sonali Bank Ltd. and Bangladesh Krishi Bank). And it does need to comply with Bangladesh Bank (central bank of Bangladesh) rules and regulation. Muhammad Yunus did hold his position even being the laws pretty well by himself.

The Grameen bank 16 decisions contain some points which I take as hilarious. For example decision 3 says, ” We shall not live in dilapidated houses. We shall repair our houses and work towards constructing new houses at the earliest.” Firsthand witnesses have seen loan collectors take the roof, cows or any other valuable things from borrower when they fail to pay interest.  Some other account of such incident can be found here.

Grameen Bank also claims that 50 million people has risen out of poverty because of their effort. Cool, lets take it granted. Grameen bank is operational for almost 40 years. right now, poverty rate is around 30-35% in Bangladesh. 50 million is 1/3 of the total population. Now, of that one third, yes of that one third the voices coming out should be much louder than it seems. What happens afterwards? You are out of poverty, and then you live in constant condition?

I had a simple logic before. I still have it. If suppose, Grameen Bank is successful in its cause, there should be no poverty at all in Bangladesh and as a result we will not be in-need of the bank, because it does business with poverty. If no poverty, no business.

Lastly, I know it may sound personal— when you see a person who works with the poor and talks of getting rid of their poverty, but rides one of the luxurious cars in Dhaka, you do tend to question. When you hear employees are not paid well enough and the employee turn-over rate is high, you do need to ask questions. World media may try to put it in a political agenda, but what is right will remain right, no matter who the person is. Getting a Nobel does not mean you are above all laws and regulation. It makes you more responsible as people do look up on you for examples.

[Two recommended articles to read are in link 1 and 2, but there are in Bengali]

ADB-SANEM Conference on Understanding and Analysing Financial Soundness Indicators (Live Blogging)

ADB and SANEM (South Asian Network on Economic Modeling) jointly organised Conference on understanding and Analysing Financial Soundness Indicators. Shitanghshu Kumar Sur Chowdhury, Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank is the chief guest.

The first session started with Dr Guntor Sugiyarto, Senior Economist of ADB talking about Financial Soundness Indicators and their criteria. He also talked on the perspective of Bangladesh. He talked about why trend is important and why early warning system is needed. Reason being countries do not want to caught in financial damage after the crisis of 1997-1998. He said that still in Indonesia the affect is visible. Most of the times, the crisis came from other sectors rather than from financial sector. “A economy should be healthy and resilient,” he explains, “It should be ready for crisis.” 

Dr Selim Raihan, Executive Director, SANEM told, “We do not have the very updated data of the scams that took place in Bangladesh. How this is effecting the financial soundness of the economy?
When we talk about FSI, we have to keep in mind that we have a large informal sector, large informal economy then as well. ”
Some of the basic features of his paper-
1. Overview of the Bangladesh Economy and Financial Sector
2. Over the years the BD economy has shown stability.
3. How authority can provide access to better data set.

Will keep updating.

thepavilion360 dot com: Sports only in Bengali

I was looking for a full fledged Bengali website, that only showcases sports news in Bengali, nothing else. A general search showed none, then I tried to go through my ex-colleagues and other people from the media arena, and the question was raised whether it is necessary to have such site.

Nevertheless, a through search led me to thepavillion360 couple of weeks back and I was pretty much amazed.  Do have a look by yourself as well.
Logo of thePavilion.com

 

The site is pretty recent, took off in May and a talk with the people involved in the initiative brought up plans to make the site more informative. It now only deals with international and national top sports stories, but soon there would be local news incorporated. Also, there will be blogs, live updates and corners for online shopping provided with due time.

It felt great to see such initiatives being in place, because sooner or later we would have started looking for one.

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Garden to Keep it Green: Dhaka City Corporation North Rooftop

 

Two weeks back, for academic purposes I had the chance to go to Dhaka City Corporation (North). I got to know about some of the amazing work they are doing including renovating public toilets, creating wifi zone within the corporation office arena, using the roof top space for composting, rain water harvesting and many more.

Here is a glimpse of some of the photos I got the chance to take.

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Composting instruments on roof top
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The Constant Gardener
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So many plants!Use of Space
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Straight (Far), rain-water harvesting instruments
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Forgot the name of the plant (I am bad with plant names)
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Forgot the name of the plant (I am bad with plant names)
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So many plants!Use of Space
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Forgot the name of the plant (I am bad with plant names)
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Mango!
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Mango!
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Fruit
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So many plants!Use of Space
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Pomelo Fruit on Roof Top Garden!

I really liked what they did with the building as well. Trying to recycle and improvise. Such initiatives and steps should be told to people to make them aware of the good things the government and the authority is doing.