Friday, September 12, 2008
The BNP chairperson and former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia is freed from special jail as she was awarded bail by the High Court paving the way for a credible election to restore democracy in the country.
Begum Zia and her younger son Arafat Rahman were arrested in GATCO graft case on Sept. 3 last year. The High Court granted her bail in all the four graft cases during the last several days ,the last one on Tuesday.
Begum Zia, who was prime minister of the country for three terms, was greeted by several thousands of party leaders and workers when she came out from the makeshift jail at the Sanghsad Bhaban.They raised full throated slogans seeing their beloved leader.The members of the law enforcing agencies had a difficult time to maintain discipline and control the cheering crowd who thronged the jail gate to have a glimpse of Begum Zia after long one year.
After stepping out the special jail Begum Zia waved to the crowd who showered her with flower patels amid slogans.
BNP secretary general Khandaker Delwar Hossain and other senior central BNP leaders were present.
Immediately after her release from jail, she accompanied by senior party leaders went straight to the grave of her husband former president Ziaur Rahman and offered munjat.Thereafter, she went to the BSMMU Hospital at Shahbagh to see her ailing son Tarique Rahman. A large number of party workers and general people gathered to see her at both places.
Later, She talked to the press in the BNP central office at Naya Paltan. She was all surrounded by hundreds of media and newsmen.
Referring to Tarique Rahman's physical condition, Khaleda Zia said she talked to the physicians who advised sending him abroad on emergency basis for his better treatment.
"Physicians said Tarique would have to stay abroad for his treatment for a long time," she said, adding that he will not conduct any political activity during his stay abroad. "After returning home cured, he will resume his political activities," she said.
"Tarique wants to be relieved of political activities as well as of his political posts. He won't perform any political activity unless he recovers from his illness," said khaleda Zia.
She broke down in tears telling the newsmen about condition of her son, Tarique Rahman, who was arrested by army-led joint forces after the state of emergency was declared in the country. Tarique, the BNP's senior joint secretary general was very highlighted political character in Bangladesh during her ruling.
There she told reporters "Emergency should be lifted as it is not possible to hold any credible election under emergency".
The BNP chairperson said, "We do not want upazila election before national elections." Describing BNP as an election-oriented party, Begum Zia, who had headed government thrice since the last restoration of democracy through the 1990 people-power movement, said if the government creates election atmosphere, her party would certainly participate in the upcoming elections.
"We are ready to sit in discussion and electoral dialogue with the government. "Election has to be held with the participation of all parties."
She urged the interim government to take rapid initiatives so that "people's government can come to power for healing the country's deplorable condition".
Khaleda reached her Dhaka Cantonment home at around 5:20pm.
Earlier at 11: 30 am,Deputy inspector general of prisons Major Shamsul Haider Siddiqui said the BNP chairperson was now free to go home on bail.
Bail bonds for Khaleda were submitted by her lawyers earlier on Wednesday to four separate courts conducting the GATCO, Niko, Zia Orphanage Trust and Barapukuria coalmine cases.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
In the spirit of all the successes and failures of BUET, starting from today, they are observing a four-day long event to commemorate their long journey.
‘It is for the public to decide what we have done and how much we were able to achieve. We have tried to make students who are capable of contributing to the development of the country,’ Professor A M M Safiullah, the vice-chancellor of BUET.
‘Our goal is to make competent students who can be leaders in the technical areas, and who will think about the country and do something for the people. Our achievement is vast but our scopes are very limited. We are not celebrating our 60 years of engineering education. Celebration is a very light word to describe what we doing here. This event is a reflection for us. To try and understand why we are not getting the opportunities,’ he expresses.
Safiullah says that BUET does a lot of work but few people end up realising the extent of good work done by BUET. ‘We work for the people, but there is no realisation among the people. We engineers are too consumed in our work and research to do something about that.’
‘There should be ways for engineers to communicate with the people so that they can explain what the challenges are and what they are set out to do in simple terms for the general people to understand,’ adds the vice-chancellor.
BUET has a long and illustrious history, a journey which tells the tale of how a small rented house school transformed itself into the premier university of the country. ‘It is quiet astonishing how big this institution has turned out to be,’ reflects Imamuddin Ahmed Choudhury, an alumni of BUET and the first batch to graduate from this institution.
The record of this institution can be traced back to as early as 1876 when the British Raj had established one Dacca Survey School in Nalgola. Under the British colonial rule, the institution started fulfilling its duty of making land surveyors out of people, through two years of courses in a rented house. ‘The building was situated near the present day Salimullah Medical College,’ informs Imamuddin.
‘The school gained popularity and in 1897 the status of the school was raised and it became the Dhaka School of Engineering. The number of students was 400 at the time.
The school started to offer three year sub-overseer course,’ says an officer-in-charge of the event.
‘At that time the Nawab family of Dhaka took keen interest in the advancement of the Muslims and in 1902, Nawab Sir Salimullah donated 112,000 rupee as per the wish of his father, for the development of the school,’ adds the officer.
In 1905, a new curriculum was introduced. It was called the overseer course in civil engineering for the duration of four years. The next year, the school was moved from Nalgola to a specially chosen building near the present day Shahidullah Hall in the Dhaka University campus.
‘Those who are old enough would remember a Chimney near the hall which stood tall till late 1970s. That was the last symbol of the Dacca School of Engineering at that campus,’ remembers Imamuddin.
In the year of 1908, the name of Dhaka School of Engineering was changed to Ahsanullah School of Engineering as a tribute to the contribution made by the Nawab Family. In the same year, the engineering school was affiliated by the Overseers Examination Board of Bengal. Under the board, the study programs were modified, and the sub overseer course was reduced to a course of two years, and in the meantime, one year practical training course, for the overseer program was added. And subsequently, in 1913, a diploma course in electrical and mechanical engineering commenced. However the diploma courses were brought to an end in 1919. In the year 1920, Ahsanullah School of Engineering was again moved to a capacious building, which was originally built for the press of the then East Bengal.
In the mid 1940s, the then Government of Bengal felt the necessity for graduate engineers, after the historic division of Bengal. A committee was soon formed in May 1947, and they had decided to convert Ahsanullah School of Engineering into a College. And the college was affiliated with Dhaka University and formed the faculty of engineering.
The engineering college started its journey with Hakim Ali as the first principal. In the year 1958, the Metallurgical Engineering Program was introduced while the Department of Agricultural and Textile Engineering was closed. ‘In 1954, with the financial support from International Co-operation Agency (presently USAID), Ahsanullah School of Engineering started a very successful co-operative program with Texas A&M college,’ says Imamuddin. ‘This relationship assisted Ahsanullah School of Engineering to develop curricula, improve the teaching quality and physical infrastructure. The relationship continued for more than 20 years,’ Imamuddin continues.
‘In 1958, according to the Syndicate decision of Dhaka University of 1956 the diploma classes were held for the last time,’ says Imamuddin. In 1962, under the autocratic administration of Pakistan, Ahsanullah Engineering College was made into the East Pakistan University of Engineering and Technology (EPUET).
Afterwards, two faculties were introduced, one was the faculty of engineering and the other was the faculty of architecture. Under these faculties, very new and exciting subjects were offered to students wishing to acquire knowledge in those fields. Under the faculty of engineering, there were Civil engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Material and Metallurgical Engineering, Petroleum and Mineral Resources Engineering, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. And under the faculty of architecture, there were Architecture and Humanities.
As the then East Pakistan reemerged as an independent nation, EPUET was renamed and given the name of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). Like every other educational institutes of Dhaka, the students of EPUET actively participated in the political development. After March 25 1971, the students, teachers and staffs of BUET fought with arms to liberate the country.
‘20 of the heroes never returned. On this occasion, we proudly remember their names,’ says Professor Shahidul Islam Khan, the director of Electronic and Electrical Engineering Department of BUET. From there on, BUET started a whole new journey of development and expansion. In 1972, a new program in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering was introduced to meet the necessity of naval architects and marine engineers in a riverine country. And in 1973, the first convocation of BUET was held with Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the chief guest.
Today, BUET consists of five faculties, 16 departments, three institutes, six research centers, 545 students and more than 8500 students.
‘In my personal opinion, the strength and the backbone of this university are the faculty members. It is the teachers that make this institution, but more importantly, they create brilliant engineers,’ the vice-chancellor of BUET, proudly reflects. ‘Most of the engineers working in Bangladesh are BUET graduates. Although there are other engineering institutions, but BUET is the leading contributor in educating engineering students.’
He goes on to elaborate on the situation, ‘I will not say that we have achieved success in all the areas, one of the big problems we face is the fact that a lot of our brilliant and talented students leave Bangladesh in search of better opportunities. Say I teach a student something and he does not have the opportunity to apply his or her knowledge and talent, that student will be very frustrated. Our students face a lot of restrictions as far getting the right kind of job where they can express their brilliance. If someone gets a job in a bank, the salary is very high, compared to the salary structure of engineers on average. But a banker does not require talent or specialised skills that an engineer does.’
‘But the biggest problem with BUET is that we stress too much on the undergraduate programs’, admits Professor Shahidul. ‘If we can stress a lot more on the PhD programs and research programs, students will be able to deal with our national issues’, he argues.
‘We are a public university, we are bound to have shortcomings,’ says Professor Mazharul Hoque, of the Faculty of Civil Engineering. ‘We have limited funding, laboratories are not being expanded, and we are not being able to bring in new equipments and not a lot of research facilities. If we cannot strengthen our resources and technically develop in the face of globalisation, we may not be able to survive.’
With a long and glorious history of BUET, it also has a long list of alumni. Many of them have found great success and some of them achieved recognition from the world. The name of the late Fazlur Rahman Khan is always the first name to be uttered by people when talking about high rise buildings.
‘Around three lakh students graduate high school, from there only 3000 students are eligible to take the admission test in BUET, and from there we select a little over 800 students. That is why I say we have the cream of the crop,’ concludes Professor Safiullah.
As BUET steps into its 60th year, they are busy developing themselves further and expand their horizon. They have plans of increasing post graduate studies and researches, and they are putting a lot of effort in cutting edge technologies like robotics, nano-engineering and multi-disciplinary subjects like bio-medical engineering, accident research, housing for poor and much more.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Doctor Zohra Begum Kazi entered history at a time when Muslim women in the Indian subcontinent did not have a voice in the public arena. They were guided by superstitions and expected to remain within the confines of their home. As the first Muslim female physician in the British ruled Indian subcontinent, Doctor Zohra ushered the way for modern medical treatment, particularly for these Muslim women. Through her teaching, she paved the way to progress for the subjugated women of the then British Raj. Doctor Zohra Begum Kazi, a Bengali woman, not only provided medical treatment but was also responsible for inspiring a social revolution.
Zohra Begum Kazi was born at Rajnangaon in Madhya Pradesh (now Chhattisgarh), India on October 15, 1912. Her father Doctor Kazi Abdus Sattar grew up Gopalpur, a village in Madaripur, Bangladesh. After a neighbour died during delivery, Zohra’s father was determined to make his daughters physicians. Zohra attended primary school in different areas of India as her father was a physician he was often appointed to different places. She finished secondary school in 1926 and was admitted to the Aligarh University where she completed her intermediate examination in science with a distinction. She was the first Muslim female who received a stipend from the university as a reward for her academic excellence. In 1935, she completed MBBS from the Lady Harding Medical Collage for Women. The first ever medical college for women in Asia was established by the then viceroy of India Lord Harding and named after his wife. As she obtained first class first in MBBS, the British government awarded her the prestigious ‘Viceroy’s’ medal. She also received a scholarship from the central government of the then India. Zohra’s only sister Shirin Kazi was also a physician.
Zohra started her profession as a voluntary gynaecologist at Sebashram, a charity organisation organised by Mahatma Gandhi that provided free medical care for the poor. Zohra’s father also worked at the organisation as a volunteer. Both father and daughter strongly believed in Gandhi’s philosophy and devoted themselves to the pursuit of social development. Zohra’s relatives, however, disapproved of her and her father actions as they thought that she was spoiling her family’s reputation by constantly relocating herself to provide medical treatment.
Apart from being a government doctor she worked voluntarily in different charity organisations in India before she immigrated to Dhaka. She worked as an honorary secretary of the Kastura Bai National Memorial Hospital and worked hard to improve the hospital.
After coming back in Dhaka in 1948, Zohra was offered a teaching job at the Mitford Medical College which she declined as she wished to pursue her education and do research. Later in 1949, she received another proposal to join Dhaka Medical Collage as their resident surgeon. She agreed and joined as the only Bengali Muslim doctor.
Doctor Akhtar Iqbal Begum, former additional director general of health services of the government, was a family friend of Zohra Begum Kazi. ‘I knew her since my childhood. On 14 August, 1948, Zohra came to our house in Raipur, India, and told my father that she was immigrating to East Pakistan. She urged my father to send me to Dhaka with her to attend Dhaka Medical College. My father consented, hoping a bright future lay ahead in Dhaka,’ she continued, ‘I came with her leaving my family behind in Raipur and lived with her. She admitted me to the Dhaka Medical College.’ ‘She took great care of me and showered me with motherly affection. As a person, she had superb human qualities.’
When Zohra was 32 years old, she married the former lawmaker Raziuddin Bhuiyan of Narsingdi. Her husband died in 1963. They had no children together. ‘She did not regret her childlessness. She considered her students and patients to be her children. She devoted her life to serve people,’ describes Doctor Lutfunnahar, Zohra’s former student.
In 1964 the Pakistan government conferred Zohra with the title ‘Taghma-e-Pakistan’ for her contribution in the healthcare field.
Being the first Bengali female doctor of the country she had many opportunities to work in different areas within the healthcare field. She became the head of the gynecology department of DMCH. Zohra also worked as an honorary colonel of Combined Military Hospital and taught as an honorary professor of Holy Family Hospital and Bangladesh Medical College.
Kazi Ashraf Mahmud, Zohra’s elder brother also studied at the medical college until he was expelled for his political involvement. He later became a distinguished politician and a poet in Hindi. He also taught botany at Dhaka University and closely associated with Comrade Mozaffar Ahmed, the legendary left politician, who took an active role in the anti-colonial movement. He was the secretary general of All India Student Federation when the president of the organisation was the national poet of Bangladesh Kazi Nazrul Islam.
A 1952 Language Movement veteran, Zohra directly extended her help to the freedom fighters during 1971 Liberation War. She was the only female recipient of the title The Bangladeshi government had awarded her with the ‘Begum Roquiah Padak’ while the Bangladesh Medical Association honoured her with a gold medal for outstanding contribution to humanity and medical services.
Doctor Zohra also shared her brother’s affection for the Kazi Nazrul Islam, Mozaffar Ahmed, Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Haque and other distinguished personalities of her time. Famously, Kazi Nazrul Islam is said to have once asked young Zohra about her aim in life and she replied, ‘I will read, and will teach and serve people. You will pray for me.’
Doctor Zohra had a specially soft sport for the Gandhi family. ‘Gandhiji used to say to me “never be scared in life. You may lose your life. As you have born you must die”, the advice still resonates in my ear,’ Zohra Begum Kazi would tell her students, relatives and well-wishers. Gandhi and his wife Kasura Bai were very affectionate towards both Zohra and her sister Shirin. Both the sisters worked at the Sebagram, established by Mahatma near Nagpur of India. ‘I have sweet memories with Gandhiji. When we went there we had a lot of fun. Gandhiji requested us to have this and that when we were having meal together. His wife Kastura Bai was a very kind person. It was a one hour journey from Nagpur to Sebagram and yet she insisted on always giving us food when we were coming back,’ Zohra Kazi recalled her memories in an interview to the magazine ‘Saptahik 2000’ published on April 21 in 2003.
Zohra Begum Kazi, widely known as the ‘Lady Doctor’, had inspired her students to strive for the betterment of people. ‘It was very difficult for a female doctor to go from place to place to visit the patients’ houses, but she did not hesitate to do so even at night. She fought against illogical superstitions and convinced female patients on the need for modern medical treatment,’ she added. ‘“Duty first, duty last, and duty always” was her famous line to all her students,’ said Lutfunnahar.
Zohra Begum Kazi died on November 7 at the age of 97.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The holiest month of the Islamic calendar, the start of Ramadan is traditionally determined by the appearance of a new crescent moon. But the lunar sighting often divides Muslim communities over its exact date.
Across much of the Muslim world, Ramadan began on Thursday, although Libyans and Nigerians began the fast one day before.
During the month, Muslims are required to abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn until dusk. And in many Muslim countries, offices are required by law to reduce working hours.
Life thus slips into a lower gear during the day, and activity peaks between "iftar", the breaking of the fast at sunset, and "suhur", the last meal of the day before sunrise.
In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, Ramadan began under the shadow of an earthquake, after an 8.4 tremor struck off Sumatra island.
At least nine people were killed and dozens injured as emergency teams headed for the remote region.
Meanwhile, conservative Indonesian Muslim groups have warned they will act against nightclubs and other "dens of vices" that disregard restricted opening hours for the month.
Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, Thailand's army on Wednesday lifted a night curfew meant to pressure separatists in Muslim provinces, where people will also begin fasting on Thursday.
Singapore is marking Ramadan alongside the Chinese mid-autumn festival and the Indian Deepavali festival next month.
In Bangladesh, the government has offered rice at a 20 per cent discount around the country, while also opening 100 convenience stores in capital Dhaka to sell other foods at reduced prices.
Dhiraj Malakar, secretary for food and disaster management, said: "We want poor and middle class people to have a comfortable Ramadan."
In Cairo, a shopping frenzy began weeks ago despite soaring prices. Egyptians prepared for the first day of fasting, gathering extended families to break fast traditionally on Thursday with dates and milk.
Traffic police have been banned from taking time off during Ramadan in the teeming city of 18 million notorious for gridlock. Extra wardens have been deployed to control pre-iftar accidents as cars clamour to get home by sunset.
Gulf countries, including Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have banned restaurants from operating during the day throughout Ramadan.
The Kuwaiti interior ministry threatened a 100 dinar ($356) fine or one month imprisonment for anyone caught eating in public or encouraging others to do so before dusk.
Confusion about when Ramadan was starting led some people to wake up in the Afghan capital Kabul at 3am on Wednesday for a pre-dawn meal - just in case it was the first day of the month-long fast. Once the sun was up, broadcasters said that the holy month would start on Thursday, with restaurants opening only in the evenings and government offices closing by 1pm. The Taliban has threatened to use Ramadan to launch a new wave of attacks on government and Western military targets throughout the country. But in Baghdad, where thousands of US troops are deployed, the US military said levels of pre-Ramadan violence were lower this year and expected the trend to continue.
Confusion about when Ramadan was starting led some people to wake up in the Afghan capital Kabul at 3am on Wednesday for a pre-dawn meal - just in case it was the first day of the month-long fast.
Once the sun was up, broadcasters said that the holy month would start on Thursday, with restaurants opening only in the evenings and government offices closing by 1pm.
The Taliban has threatened to use Ramadan to launch a new wave of attacks on government and Western military targets throughout the country.
But in Baghdad, where thousands of US troops are deployed, the US military said levels of pre-Ramadan violence were lower this year and expected the trend to continue.
The nightly curfew in the Iraqi capital and a vehicle curfew are to be eased during Ramadan to help families break fast together.
Baghdad's 400-year-old Shorja market has been bustling with activity with war-weary residents stocking up on spices, sugar, tea and nuts - mostly imported from Syria.
Iraq's Sunni community will begin observing Ramadan from Thursday, followed a day later by the country's Shias, religious leaders in Baghdad said.
Rival Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza argued over the content of mosque sermons and collection of donations during the month, but agreed to start observance together on Thursday, nominally preserving unity during the holy period.
Gaza residents are bracing for clashes after Fatah and other Palestinian groups called for sunset street prayers despite a Hamas ban.
Nabil al-Ali, one Gaza resident, said: "The prayers and religious practices should not be transformed into manifestations of violence and hate.
"We just want a little serenity and calm to bring us closer to God."
In a gesture of good will, Hamas announced on Wednesday plans to release on bail about 80 prisoners, including 25 Fatah supporters, Abu Obeida al-Jarrah, a Hamas commander, said.
Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, is preparing to receive an expected one million pilgrims to perform Umrah, or a smaller pilgrimage, to Mecca during the month.
As generosity towards the poor peaks during the month, Kuwait is monitoring fund-raising activities by Muslim charities and has banned any cash donations to make sure that charity money does not reach extremist organisations.
Monday, September 3, 2007
Ms. Zia, who left office last October, and her son, Arafat Rahman Coco, were detained early Monday.
A judge in Dhaka refused Ms. Zia bail and sent her to jail, while her son will be held in custody for questioning about the case.
The charges filed Sunday allege that Ms. Zia misused her powers in awarding government contracts, including one for development of port facilities in Chittagong, to a private company.
Ms. Zia's older son, Tarique Rahman, has been in jail since March, and he is currently awaiting trial for extortion.
The military-backed government that took power in Dhaka nearly nine months ago also filed new charges Sunday against Ms. Zia's bitter rival and predecessor as prime minister, Sheikh Hasina.
Ms. Hasina already is in jail, awaiting trial on previous corruption charges.
The additional charges filed Sunday against Ms. Hasina allege that she illegally took payments of more than 400 thousand dollars during her term as prime minister, from 1996 to 2001.
Ms. Hasina is said to have used the money to buy land for a charity that she heads, the Bangabandhu Memorial Trust.
Months of violent clashes last year between supporters of Ms. Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Ms. Hasina's Awami League prompted the military to cancel scheduled elections and take power in Dhaka on January 11.
An interim government appointed by Bangladesh's military has ruled the nation since then, vowing to fight corruption, reform electoral rules and clean up the nation's politics before calling new elections.
Mannan Bhuiyan expelled from BNP
BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia Monday expelled Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan from the party as secretary general.
She made the announcement while on her way out of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court, Dhaka where she had been produced following arrest in a corruption case.
Khandaker Delwar Hossain replaces Bhuiyan and will work as the acting secretary general, said the former prime minister, after she was ordered to jail.
Delwar will be assisted by two senior BNP leaders—ASM Hannan Shah and Gayeshwar Chandra Roy.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
the Bangladesh Postal Department published the commemorative stamp of 10 taka (1 U.S. dollars equals about 70 taka) denomination and a first day cover of 6 taka, private news agency UNB reported.
The commemorative stamp and the first day cover are being sold in all main post offices of the country from Wednesday. The stamp and inaugural envelope would be available in sub-district post offices too.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Adviser Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed said it was a very joyful moment when entire Bangladesh got overwhelmed hearing the news on Oct. 13 last year that Prof. Yunus and Grameen Bank won the Nobel Prize.
He said this achievement is not only for Prof. Yunus but also for whole Bangladesh as it brought pride for the country.
Expressing his feeling over publishing the commemorative stamp, Prof. Yunus said it will help keep the big achievement of Bangladesh memorable and further encourage all for attaining bigger achievements for the country.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Bangladesh is the top Hilsha producing country and this year the production is higher than that of the previous years due to the ban imposed on catching of Jatka (Hilsha having a length of 6 inches or less) during the breeding season.
Livestock and Fisheries ministry adviser Dr CS Karim who chaired the meeting told newsmen that though the amount of Hilsha yield this year is higher than that of the previous year, yet due to the massive exports of it to India, domestic market was experiencing a supply crisis during the ongoing peak season. He hoped that the decision to ban the export would reduce the prices of Hilsha in the domestic market.
The meeting was also told that in April this year 6700 KGs of Hilsha were exported to India at 2.5 US dollar per KG whereas the price of it in the local market is nearly 5 US dollar per KG.
The meeting also asked the joint forces, BDR and Coast Guard to prevent the smuggling of Hilsha following the imposition of this ban.
Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation and Fisheries Department would monitor the prices of Hilsha in the local markets to assess the impact of the ban, the meeting decided.