Bangladesh and South Asia

Aug 7, 2019

I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. P. Chidambaram when he said that BJP is unleashing forces that it would not be able to control. This is exactly what the Muslim League did on 16 August 1946 by calling for a Direct Action Day. The violent genie that was unbridled on that day, especially in the streets of Kolkata, was never again possible to put back in the bottle. The result was 1 year of incessant communal rioting and the bloody break up of the Subcontinent. BJP is not only playing with fire in Kashmir but also in West Bengal, Assam and Tripura on communal lines. Its NCR is on the verge of making more than 4 million people stateless only in Assam. The same will be done in West Bengal. Can anyone imagine the social chaos that will unleash in North-east India? Most people are oblivious now, but 10-15 years later, 5 August 2019 will be marked as a day of a tectonic shift in the history of the South Asian subcontinent.

Aug 6, 2019

Modi has done the impossible. He has managed to prove Jinnah to be right, albeit just once. This is unbelievable. Never thought I would have to say this but it looks like Jinnah was right in rejecting a united India that would give full autonomy to its Muslim majority states under constitutional guarantee. But Muslim league always suspended that once the British were gone, Nehru would overturn those constitutional provisions by the dint of Congress ‘s brute majority. That fear has come true after 72 years.

Aug 5, 2019

This is nothing but a constitutional invasion. BJP-led Delhi has successfully occupied one of its own states (Kashmir) and will soon colonize it. Truly amazing!! Reminds me of March 1971. Yahya-Bhutto thought that by taking away rights and then cracking down on them, they would be able to subjugate Bengalis of East Bengal forever. History knows how that backfired spectacularly. The same will happen to India. Shame! Truly a black day for Indian democracy.

Jul 22, 2019

It is true that in Bangladesh Hindus and their properties come under politically motivated attacks and their land and livelihood are being grabbed by powerful vested quarters. While in West Bengal Muslims are more secured physically, they don’t get enough job opportunities. On the other hand, in Bangladesh, Hindus get a lot of government jobs especially under the present government.

Jul 22, 2019

The fiasco over someone as insignificant as Priya Shaha is nothing but a tempest in a teapot. She is no well-know representative of the minorities of Bangladesh. Somehow, by chance or by luck or by knowing someone particular, she might have managed to land herself in front of the Raciest in Chief, Donald Trump. Do you think Trump remembers her by now? He has much bigger fish to fry than thinking about the not-so-well-known, day-to-day predicaments of the minorities living in an insignificant third world country, whose name Trump has never heard. So why so serious? Why so much over-reaction? Awami League is over-reacting, as always. Its insecurity, its constant fear of losing power, and its knowing of the nature of the process through which it is clinging to power has made it paranoid, schizophrenic. Any deviation from normalcy is seen by the government as an attempt to unseat it, any misstep by anyone is perceived by it as a conspiracy. The government needs to grow up. It cannot have justice by the mob or the media. And then there are genuine racists, communal hatemongers, Muslim extremists and fundamentalists who are just using Priya Shaha as a vehicle to vent their hatred towards the minorities, just as a pretext to stir communal hatred, just as an excuse to preach Islamist fundamentalist views. And there is the other group: cheap popularity and attention-seekers, those who want to earn a bit of profit through social and traditional media by sensationalizing a petty incident, by feeding the 24-hour, breaking news TV channel-cycle. What my understanding is that Priya Shaha does not have a good command over the English language and public speaking in that language. What she meant is that since 1947 division of India, the minority population of Bangladesh has decreased from 29% to 9%, and 20% of the population has migrated to India due to both domestic and regional issues and push-pull factors, which is well documented and I will not go into details about that. But she could not articulate this long and complicated history in a few short sentences within a minute in front of the most arrogant, ignorant yet the most powerful man in the world. Neither could have I or many other people from Bangladesh. So she misspoke, it was a slip of tongue, a miscommunication, just a bad day at the office. Get over it, noting substantial will happen. Far more important is the fact that we have so many people breathing communal air in this country (and frankly in the whole of South Aisa); and the most important is that we should not let the actions or deeds of one single individual to disturb the communal harmony (or whatever of it is still left) of the country. If this episode is used to humiliate, insult, profile, blacklist, harass, or even worse, physically attack minorities or their interests, then that would only give validity to Priya Shaha’s outrageous and silly claims. And then, make no mistake, Donald Trump would remember her and Bangladesh, for someone was persecuted just for talking to him. And you don’t want to be on the wrong side of Mr. Trump.

Jul 21, 2019

Begum Khaleda Zia, the leader of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, once mistranslated “Gonotontrer jonno Podojatra” as “Democracy for March.” I believe Priya Shaha did the same. She meant “Hindu jonogoshthi hariye jacchy” but said “are disappeared”, not knowing the legal meaning or implications of the word.

Feb 24, 2019

on popularizing tea in Bengal and India under British rule: most of the owners of the Tea Estates and companies were, no doubt, British Colonialists. Therefore, it was merely an effort to accrue more profits to the Imperial Center from the Periphery via this new found love for tea in the Crown Jewel of the British Empire.

August 24, 2018

As a political discussion in Bangladesh between a pro-Awami League/neutral observer and an anti-Awami League observer grows longer, the probability of the anti-Awami League observer openly wishing for or happily predicting another bloodbath/military coup like the one on 15th August 1975 approaches 1 (adapted from “Godwin’s rule of Hitler analogies”).

August 18, 2018

When I argue, in 1975 the remnants of the anti-revolutionary forces just reversed overnight the revolution of 1971 and that this should not be allowed to happen again, some anti-Awami League people suggest that things are heading towards a repeat of ’75 and even insist that some people within the AL and the pro-AL intelligentsia were also involved in the conspiracy which led to the tragic events of ’75. They share journalistic pieces in newspapers written right after the 15th August massacre as evidence. However, maybe the so-called pro-AL journalists they refer to wrote those things cause the tanks were on the streets and the bayonets were up against their chests. Then they argue that why didn’t the people come out on the streets right after the assassination or after hearing about it, and why some people even celebrated the incident? My answer is that people’s first reaction is not always the best indicator of the real situation. They take time to process and digest what has happened. We all remember the overwhelming positive reaction to the army takeover of 2007. But when people came to realize what really had happened, most of the people didn’t want them within 7-8 months. And we all know and remember the “minus-two theory” and the reformists of AL and BNP. You will always find people who will stab you in the back. That’s not to say Bangabandhu and AL didn’t have any faults. They made a lot of mistakes. But I am sure that sane people will agree that doesn’t legitimize the killing of his whole family along with his daughters-in-law and his 10-year-old boy. There were both national and international factors in play like US support for the anti-USSR and anti-India factions within the army and the AL. The same year Chile’s socialist president Salvador Allende was also killed in the similar fashion by the army and with US backing. And people celebrating on the streets? There will always be people who oppose a regime and accept whatever it takes to take it down, including bloodshed. We all remember people celebrating on the street of Baghdad after the fall of Saddam (not that Mujib was in any way like Saddam) only to witness in horror how premature those celebrations were.

August 07, 2018

To echo the students in Kolkata: “Bangabandhu hare nai, here gesy Hasina.” It’s high time we liberated the slogan “Joy Bangla”, the slogan of the Liberation War and the Freedom fighters, from the grips of the bankrupt AL-party goons, and restore its purity by giving it back to the people.

August 06, 2018

By all their senselessly brutality, murderous atrocities, ceaseless oppression, Awami League is only giving an aura of legitimacy to the most illegitimate and illegal and tragic act in the history of Bangladesh: the brutal murder of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib and his family, and his closest associates. Those tiny reactionary forces who could not support the murder of Bangabandhu in public for a long time are now exposing their true faces by openly supporting, and even advocating, another bloodbath of the Sheikh family and the AL. They are even finding some support amongst some quarters of the population, who otherwise would never have entertained such an abhorrent idea, but now do so only because they see no other option of change. And who has enabled these people? It’s Sheikh Hasina and the AL themselves by their arrogant, autocratic behaviour towards school children and university students. If Hasina and his men had the slightest of foresight, a bit of intelligence, any reading of the history, they would not have acted in such a way. I plea to you, in order to keep the honour of you ten-year-old murdered brother Sheikh Russell, to honour the sacrifice of you murdered pregnant sister-in-law and other female relatives, and to uphold the honour of the blood of your martyred father and brothers, please stop this utter madness, Prime Minister Hasina. For, I fear, if you and your party do not turn back from this path of self-destruction, this road of suicidal apathy, this month of August might mark the beginning of the end of your regime for a generation. Our nation cannot afford another 1975, which might throw back the country another 25 years by ushering in the most extreme reactionary forces; and the power is within you, Sheikh Hasina, to stop that catastrophe from happening. Now it is your choice or else the people may fall for something very unpleasant.

August 05, 2018

Why, even after all the atrocities committed by the Chattro League, all the repression by the government and its total apparatus, all the outbursts of issue-based uprisings after uprisings, is the Awami League still in power? Because the people do not see any viable alternative. They realize that if they bring down this semi-fascist govt., the “crown” will only be picked up by a quasi-fascist BNP-Jamaat alliance (which they equally distrust). That’s why we see spontaneous issue-based but uncoordinated movements by students, job seekers, workers, teachers etc., but no attaining of a boiling point whereby all these elements mix together like an explosive chemical that would destroy the current impasse. If there were a viable secular, pro-liberation liberal or social democratic party, or a left-wing force that really appealed to the masses, all these disparate social forces would have rallied around them and created a critical mass for lasting change. That was the case in ’69 in the form of AL and NAP, and in ’90 in the form of AL and BNP. Until there is a trustworthy “vanguard party”, to borrow from Lenin, to lead and guide the present generation of fluid and hapless masses, a visible face representing the faceless yearning of the people, a forceful voice to give the voiceless their utterance, we will only see futile agitations ending in tragic consequences; and people again settling down for, depending on who you talk to, the lesser evil or the status quo. I am not necessarily talking about A leader but A GROUP of leaders. A sort of collective, coordinated leadership.

August 04, 2018

Bangladesh Awami League failed to understand that these high-school-going students will turn 18 soon and become voters. Just think how anti-Awami League these new voters will be due to their treatment now. Hatred for the Awami League has been now ingrained in their genes. And there WILL BE a free and fair election in the future. Just think where AL will stand politically the day after that election? Perhaps it will take them another 21 years to come back to power again. Even the Kings Charles I and Luis XVI, Tsar Nicholas II, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and many other monarchs fell from power due to mass uprisings, who is Sheikh Hasina compared to the power, influence and grandeur of these former Emperors? If Sheikh Hasina has the slightest bit of sensitivity and the sense of responsibility towards the people, she should come on national television right now and say sorry to the nation for police and Chattro League excesses, fire Shahjahan Khan and those within the Chattro League responsible for the attacks, and promise to implement all the demands of the students. Only then should she expect to survive the crisis this time around.

Aug 4, 2018

If Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, has the slightest bit of sensitivity and any sense of responsibility towards the people, she should come on national television right now and say sorry to the nation for police and Chattro League excesses, fire Shahjahan Khan and those within the Chattro League responsible for the attacks on innocent and peaceful protesters, and promise to implement all the demands of the students. Only then she should expect to ride the crisis this time around.

August 02, 2018

What is the golden rule of Bangladesh politics? If apolitical, urban students from the public education system die during an agitation due to Police-action, the government falls. Ayub Khan learned it the hard way, Ershad learned it the hard way; let’s see if the current government has learned anything from that history…

June 06, 2018

The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) is nothing but a tactical, limited although long-term deployment of the Bangladeshi military personnel in the disguise of a law-enforcement force since most of its mid-ranking officials and sector-commanders come from the military bureaucracy.

Dec 31, 2017

I would urge my Indian chauvinistic friends, can you show any record of massacre of minorities in Bangladesh after in 1971? Yes, there have been incident of looting and burning minority houses. But can you show any record of thousands of people being killed in mass-scale rioting in Bangladesh like that of Gujarat and Assam? Not that looting and burning houses is not a crime. But the level of violence needs to be taken into account. And when I am talking about Bangladesh-India relations, why do I need to bother about Kashmir? India is the big boy in the region, right? You have more responsibilities if you want the leadership as well. I criticize Islamist terrorism and Wahhabism every day and hate Pakistan for its political and social backwardsness. But that does not mean I cannot talk about something in neighboring Assam of India which is going to directly affect Bangladesh. Bangladesh is not an Islamic republic, it is a people’s republic and secularism is enshrined in the constitution as one of the pillars just like India has it. You know, you will find a few bad people everywhere in every community. That doesn’t mean all is bad. Hopefully, one day everyone will be able to live in peace and harmony.

Dec 30, 2017

The unsubstantiated claims by BJP and its allied right wing parties is that there are 3.8 million so-called “illegal Bangladeshis” living in Assam. But Bangladesh denies that and would not accept any attempt to push these people back, as there is no documented proof that they are Bangladeshis except for the fact that they may speak Bengali. But Bengali is an Indian language too. So just language would not be sufficient to convince us. So, ultimately, these 3.8 million will become stateless and give rise to another Rohingya crisis. That will give rise to unnecessary communal tension inside Bangladesh as well, which we all want to avoid.

Dec 29, 2017

As per the proposed policy of BJP, anyone moving to India as late as 2016 gets to immigrate there just because the person is a non-Muslim but Muslims living in Assam since as far back as 1971 could be deported if that poor, illiterate person is not able to produce all the documents. This is a recipe for an ethnic cleansing in the making. This were the sort of techniques used by Myanmar as well. And we all know the declared intentions of BJP in Assam is the same. I know Bangladesh is not perfect by any means and we have our own problem of communal mentality, right wing Islamist politics and silent persecution of minorities. And I speak against that whenever I can. But at least we do not intend to enact laws to kick people out who have been living in our country for generations based on their religion.

Jan 7, 2017

A Pakistani General will now lead solders of Bangladesh’s armed forces, which was created through Liberation War. What an irony of fate!!

December 21, 2016

Although there could be no comparison, if Mujib was Lenin, then Tajuddin would be Trotsky -the organizer of revolution- and Gen. Zia would be Stalin – the destroyer of it.

Sep 7, 2016

In Modi’s India, equal rights for all minorities are not enforced with police power with the same zeal of Islamophobia. Modi comes to power at the cost of the minority. What’s the difference with Pakistan then? The point is, Bangladesh never claims greatness, which India does. Bharat Mahan; but this tarnishes that claim. Let’s face it. There is no difference between BJP, Jamaat-i-Islami, Saudi Wahhabies, Trump or Le Pen — they are all right wing extremists discriminating against minorities. And let’s not forget the Gujarat riots or anti-Sikh riots for their agenda is to establish the Hindutva. Crying: ‘illegal migrants’ is another populist propaganda of the right wing. There is no refugee crisis in South Asia. None of my Hindu friends have gone to India. The way BJP is running the country is creating a paranoia in the Indian society. It is not good. If India is truly secular and democratic, why is there so much discontent in the 7 sisters? In the Maoist belt? And have they ever been to Nepal? It is a Hindu majority country. But most of the Nepalese I have met had an adverse opinion of India. So don’t blame only Muslim majority countries, as it goes beyond communal-ism. It’s about national interests of sovereign states.

Sep 5, 2016

The supporters of Jamaat-i-Islami Bangladesh are fools, for even if their fathers were shot by Jamaat leaders and their mothers and sisters were picked up and served to the Pakistani military goons in 1971, they would still say there is no proof Jamaat did it and it is all AL’s propaganda. In this way, they are like Trump supporters: see no evil, hear no evil.

July 02, 2016

There exists a culture of spreading hate in many Islamic religious circles in Bangladesh: hate towards other religions and their followers, hate towards minorities of all shades, hate towards the West, hate towards dissent and difference of opinion. If the false sense of religious superiority and the propaganda of achieving heaven by killing others do not stop, we would see more of these kinds of terror attacks. And just killing identified terrorists is not a solution, the solution lies in the reform of the religion-based education establishment of Bangladesh.

July 02, 2016

I have a feeling that we are in for a surprise when the identity of the Dhaka terrorists would be revealed. From the looks of the pictures posted by bloody ISIS as the perpetrators of the attack, from the dress up that is visible in the photo published by the Bangladesh Police of the dead bodies of the attackers, and from what I am reading in some of the social media statuses, at least some of these guys may be from well to do educated families, and not from the usual suspect: the Madrasas. Let’s see………

Oct. 23, 2015

It looks like, at the moment, Justine Trudeau is the most popular person in Bangladesh as well. LoL.

Oct 9, 2015

People like us from the 3rd world are perpetually wretched, no matter where they live.

Jun 23, 2015

Some cricket fans/spectators of Bangladesh, like others in other spheres of life here, are still very unruly and immature, like the English football hooligans. They do not know how to behave. Even many Bangladeshis face there rowdy behavior. In place of Sudhir of India (an Indian cricket fan) if it were Qadir of Pakistan, they would have behaved in the same shameful way.

March 14, 2015
I have to admit, the role played by The Daily Star in the last 2 years has been much more positive than that of its sister concern — Prothom Alo.

March 01, 2014

A pro-Jamaat, anti-liberation spirit, anti-war crimes tribunal friend asked me today: how many times you want to cut the same old chicken….???? I said: As long as it’s not dead… ’71 has always been a myth to those who do not believe in its spirit. For us,’71 is as alive as the human language. The “just” wish of the majority is not fascism but the unanimous will of the sovereign people. That’s what the Shahbagh anti-collaborator movement was.

May 5, 2013

It is a matter of national security now. The main business district of a nation’s capital cannot remain occupied and inaccessible by some mindless fundamentalists. The security apparatus must act swiftly and efficiently to clear the place of extremist miscreants.

May 02, 2013

Life in Bangladesh has reverted to the Hobbesian State of Nature: Life here is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.

Mar 3, 2013

It is the year of taking sides clearly, and I have chosen my side, which is against Jamaat-Shibir-Rajakars (violent religious extremists and war criminals associated with them) in all its forms and manifestations. It is a duty for the law-enforcement officials now to crack down on violent rioters carrying daggers, machetes, other sharp weapons, Molotov cocktails, explosives and bamboo sticks for attacking the police, minorities, journalists, public transports and businesses indiscriminately. This has created a situation of mass violence in the country that Jammat and its allies are misrepresenting as a “massacre”, whereas they themselves are the initiators of that violence, just as they were perpetrators of genocide in 1971. However, it is also a failure of the Govt. in the sense that they failed to anticipate this kind and degree of reaction from the vested corners. They have also failed to take the feelings and realities of a certain quarter of the people living in the villages and small towns into account. Jamaat has used these people successfully to their cause. The Govt. has failed to take the mass people of the backwaters of this country into confidence and convince them why this trial of the Rajakars is so important for us. Jamaat has used that vacuum to create their base. It is a wake-up call for us so-called progressive forces. I don’t see any way out without dialogue with the confused and astray masses.

Feb 5, 2013

Yes, we know that politics is the high art of compromise, even with the devil. But just remember, England and France couldn’t avoid WW2 by appeasing Germany but only made it stronger. If the Bangladesh Govt. doesn’t take a hard line against the violent miscreants of Jamaat-Shibir now, it’s game over.

September 13, 2012Thanks to Tofael and Menon. They have shown that there are still a few drops of the blood from those tumultuous days of the ’60s, when our present PM was nowhere in the picture, of course, left in them.

March 14, 2012
Congratulations to all Bangladeshies! We have won the case on maritime boundary against Myanmar at ITLOS in Hamburg. Special felicitation goes to our ministry of foreign affairs.

Sept. 08, 2011

So, does it mean, from now on, Bangladesh needs a two-pronged foreign policy for India? One for New Delhi and another for Kolkata, for taking all the parties on board?

June 26, 2011

Though the West is ahead of us now but we as South Asians should be proud as, actually, we are a part of this same Indic-civilization. The reason to be proud is not to boast of it but to take inspiration from it and work to emulate the same now. The past will only give us the believe that we can do it again.

June 16, 2011

Myopia is our national problem.

March 12, 2011

Even a developed country like Japan can’t handle nuclear power plants during natural disasters. Is Bangladesh ready for nuclear energy yet? Especially after considering that we are in a high earthquake prone zone.

Feb 26, 2011

Who will rescue the unfortunate Bangladeshis stranded in Libya? Please raise your concern at least on Facebook in support of them in order to pressurize the Bangladeshi Govt.

March 30, 2010

I think Jatio Party’s idea of decentralizing the country into few provinces to relieve Dhaka of its excessive pressures should be given consideration…………

March 29, 2010

There is an intriguing piece of writing on Bangladesh-Israel relations on the front page of Aamader Shomoy today. It’s very much thought-generating………..

August 01, 2010

Far too many people are dying of tragic road accidents these days, the govt. must take appropriate steps to prevent these.August 10, 2010It is a good decision that the Govt. is banning physical punishment from the schools.Sept. 12, 2010Bangalee’r ‘Radha-vhab’ probol, tara dukhe jemon kator abar sukheo temoni kator……….February 29, 2009

A holistic and longterm strategic action-plan should be taken regarding the institutions concerning our national security and sovereignty.

May 27, 2009

While taking all the responsibility of an ecological fallacy, I want to state that very few people in Bangladesh are professional, most of us are amateurish.