Noted Dhaka University Professor Ajoy Roy, father of slain writer and blogger Avijit Roy, passed away at Bangladesh Institute of Research and Rehabilitation in Diabetes, Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders (Birdem) Hospital in the city on Monday. He was 85.
Roy was admitted to the hospital with fever and breathing problem on November 25 and breathed his last at 12:35 pm at the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, said Dr Ariful Haque, duty officer of the ICU.
Roy was founder and president of the Shishka Andolan Mancha (Platform For Education-Movement) and chairman of Shamriti Mancha (Platform for peace-harmony-tranquility).
He was also editor in chief of Muktanwesa magazine, a Bengali publication for promoting freethinking and secular humanism and member of advisory board of the Mukto-Mona, an internet forum of freethinkers, atheists.
In 2012, he received EkusheyPadak, the highest civilian award of Bangladesh.
Born in Dinajpur, Roy received his Bachelor's degree and master's degree from Dhaka University, and took his Doctor of Philosophy degree in physical chemistry from Leeds University of England.
His son Avijit Roy was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants near TSC on Dhaka University campus on 26 February, 2015.
The High Court on Monday issued a rule asking the government to explain as to why directives should not be given to demolish or remove illegal structures built on Cox’s Bazar beach without certificates from the Department of Environment (DoE).
The HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman issued the rule following a petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association (Bela).
Advocate Minhajul Haque Chowdhury and Advocate Syed Ahmed Kabir stood for the petitioner while deputy attorney general AmitTalukdar represented the state.
The HC also issued a rule asking the government to explain as to why the failure of the respondents to protect the hills, hillocks and forest in Sadar, Maheshkhali, Teknaf, Ramu, Chokoria, Ukhiya and Pekua upazilas of the district should not be declared illegal.
Besides, it wanted to know why the ineffectiveness of the authorities concerned to stop pollution by business entities, encroachment of the sea beach, municipality wastes and dumping of disposable plastic products should not be declared illegal.
Twenty-two people, including the cabinet secretary, secretaries to the Forest and Environment Ministry, Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry, Housing and Public Works Ministry, Public Administration Ministry, Water Resources Ministry were asked to respond to the rule within three months.
Earlier, Bela filed a petition seeking necessary steps to stop pollution and construction of illegal hotels and motels in seven upazilas of the district.
The Cabinet on Monday approved the draft speech of President Abdul Hamid to be delivered at the first session of the 11th Parliament in 2020.
The approval came from the cabinet meeting held with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair at the Bangladesh Secretariat.
The President will address Parliament at the commencement of the first session of 2020 calendar year as per Article 73 (2) of the Constitution, said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam while briefing reporters after the meeting.
The speech will focus on the country's overall scenario, including macroeconomic condition, the government's measures and successes in improvement of the country's socioeconomic status, local and overseas employment, expansion of social safety net programmes and activities and programmes taken in different sectors to implement the Vision 2021, he said.
The speech will also highlight the progress in the trial process of war criminals, implementation of different programmes over ICT development for building Digital Bangladesh, successes achieved regarding foreign relations, administrative policies and strategies, development philosophy and guidelines for progress (of the country), said the Cabinet Secretary.
The last (5th) session of the 11th parliament was prorogued on November 14 last. So, the maiden session of the 2020 calendar year is likely to begin in early January as the period between the two sessions cannot exceed 60 days according to Article 72 (1) of the Constitution.
Besides, the cabinet meeting was informed about the Prime Minister’s participation as the Chief Guest in the opening ceremony of Bangladesh-India Test Match in Kolkata on November 22.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the government of Bangladesh have signed an agreement to launch a project to accelerate inclusive economic growth, sustainably reduce poverty and improve food and nutrition security for 445,000 rural families.
The total cost of the project is US$200 million, of which IFAD is providing an $80 million loan and a $1 million grant, IFAD said on Monday.
The remaining costs will be covered by implementing-agency Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation ($13 million), the beneficiaries themselves ($0.9 million) and collaborating entities in the private sector, partner organisations and non-bank financial institutions ($96.8 million).
The financing agreement for the Rural Microenterprise Transformation Project was signed by IFAD President Gilbert F Houngbo and Secretary, Economic Relations Division, Ministry of Finance, Bangladesh, Monowar Ahmed.
Poverty rates in Bangladesh have declined from 49 percent in 2000 to 24.3 percent in 2016. Despite this impressive progress, an estimated 40 million people still live below the poverty line, according to IFAD.
Rural poverty remains higher than urban poverty, and agriculture accounts for only 15.4 percent of the GDP, but employs 41 percent of the population.
IFAD’s Country Director in Bangladesh Omer Zafar said the key drivers constraining the agriculture sector are farmers’ limited access to what they need: updated technology, viable markets, and financial services.
Zafar said millions of small farmers and micro-entrepreneurs are unable to make transition from semi-subsistence farming to commercial operations.
“A wide range of underlying causes hampers this transition process, among them low productivity, outdated technologies, lack of differentiated produce, poor quality of output, limited processing to add value, inadequate advisory services, insufficient access to financial services and the absence of structured markets,” said Zafar.
This new project aims to respond to these challenges by boosting the agribusiness sector and increasing the overall profitability of farming by integrating food production with selected agriculture value chains.
Focusing on the districts of Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi and Rangpur, the project will offer small-scale farmers and micro-entrepreneurs access to improved production technologies, financial services and market linkages.
“The project will create synergy between producers and agribusinesses, enabling sustained income growth and employment creation,” added Zafar.
The project will also organise and train producers to have the necessary skills to meet food safety standards, enabling them to increase the quantity and improve the quality of their output. This will also ensure higher-quality produce is available for agribusinesses.
The project is in line with Bangladesh’s National Agriculture Policy which aims to accelerate the transformation from semi-subsistence to commercial agriculture through productivity gains diversification, value addition and agro-processing.
President Abdul Hamid on Monday said commercial courses are turning public universities into business institutions disrupting the campus atmosphere.
“Thousands of graduates are being produced every year with these commercial courses. A particular class of teachers is making profits [from these courses] … and turning the universities into business institutions,” he said at the 52nd convocation of Dhaka University.
President Hamid, also the Chancellor of the university, noted that there was a question about how much students are benefiting from these degrees even though a section of teachers is benefiting.
“This is disturbing the education atmosphere at the universities. Many public universities assume the character of private universities at night … This is unacceptable,” he said.
Hamid noted that there are some teachers who are reluctant about taking classes of regular courses but are very serious when it comes to evening and diploma courses, and classes at private universities.
“It’s because they get cash benefits from these private universities. But remember, the universities are run with taxpayers’ money. So, you’ve to be accountable to people,” the Chancellor said.
He said it is the responsibility of vice-chancellors and teachers to ensure the proper use of university funds.
"But the activities of some VCs and teachers make it seem like they’ve forgotten what the real task of the university is. The job of the university is not just to impart knowledge, rather, the real work is to apply the acquired knowledge," he added.
Terming research a “very important and fundamental task of higher educational institutions,” Hamid said there is a lot of criticism about the quality of research. Research for promotion, or basic research, should also be taken into consideration.
"In many departments, the number of professors is now higher than the teachers of other positions. Many teachers have forgotten the identity of a teacher who got an administrative post," he said.
President Hamid also criticised the university authorities for a series of recent incidents.
He said the image of universities and the reputation of students were tarnished by some inhumane and undesirable incidents in recent times.
"Students are enrolled in university for acquiring knowledge, not to return home as corpses or expelled. These unexpected incidents could have been prevented in many cases if the authorities took the right steps in time. The university authorities cannot avoid the responsibilities completely," he said.
President Hamid hoped that the authorities will take proper action in this regard in the future.
The 52nd convocation of Dhaka University (DU) was held on its campus with the participation of 20,796 graduates.
Nobel Laureate in physics and Special University Professor Dr Takaaki Kajita, also Director of the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research of Tokyo University, delivered his speech as the convocation speaker.
Extending his sincere thanks and felicitations to the Nobel Laureate for his gracious presence at the convocation, President Hamid said his presence provided a fresh impetus to the graduates and the university as well.
The President said Prof Kajita’s deliberation has been a great source of inspiration for the graduates and the students.
Ninety-eight students received gold medals from the president while Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degrees were conferred upon 57 and 14 recipients respectively.
Seven DU-affiliated colleges also participated in the convocation ceremony from two venues — Dhaka College and Eden Mohila College– through videoconferencing.