Dhaka, Nov 12 (UNB – BNP’s decision to contest the 11th general election with two alliances in its fold, one spearheaded by Dr Kamal Hossain, is seen by political analysts as its real political revival at a time when its chairperson Khaleda Zia is in jail with her election fate hanging in the balance.
“Though it’s not still clear how long it can go, BNP’s decision is highly positive unlike the past which had left it out of parliament. For any political party, it’s always better to remain in the election process, no matter how it’s held,” Dhaka University ex-VC Prof Emajuddin Ahmed told UNB.
He said BNP has taken the right decision as political parties must join election no matter whether it wins or loses. “If the party wins, it will form the government and if it loses it’ll remain as a strong opposition in parliament.”
Dr Emajuddin said politics will be benefited from BNP’s positive decision on joining the election. “I also hope to see a change in politics and political culture through the next general election.”
He said now the government and the Election Commission (EC) should play a responsible role so that BNP and its allies can remain in the election race.
Emajuddin said the government should immediately stop arresting opposition leaders and activists and free the political prisoners to ensure a level-playing field and restore voters’ confidence in the election process.
Dhaka University’s another ex-VC Pro AK Azad Chowdhury said BNP’s decision to take part in the election is very good news for a participatory election and it may pave a new journey for democracy and politics.
TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said, “That all parties are stepping in to take part in the elections is the news that everyone has been looking forward to. It’ll be viewed as a relief at least for the short term.”
He said this can also be viewed as a new opening for BNP to have itself politically rehabilitated as a party represented in parliament after nearly a decade -- first by a state of self-denial by their boycott of sessions throughout almost the whole period of the 9th and by the boycott of the debatable election for the 10th Jatiya Sangsad.
“Since the taste of pudding is in eating, much will, however, depend on how the key stakeholders behave in complying with the rules of the game to ensure the level-playing field,” the TIB Executive Director said.
He said the burden is mainly on the Election Commission, but not only. “People will watch how law-enforcement agencies behave and how the administration plays its role. Above all, the crucial factor is whether the political parties, especially the ruling ones, genuinely want people to have their say to determine who’re eventually elected.”
“If the EC shows lack of courage to be neutral, if the administration and law-enforcement agencies play a partisan role, and if political parties play the game deciding by themselves that they’re the ones to be in power whatever may the people's choice, and to that end involve in preventing the scope of fair completion, then it’ll be anything but election,” Iftekhar added.
He said the good news that came as relief today will turn sour and one would then call it a game of selection at best, not an election.
Secretary of Shusashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) Badiul Alam Majumdar said BNP and its alliance partners have taken a very good decision which is also a good sign for the country’s politics.
“BNP should join the election and they’ve taken the right decision. As BNP has no alternative to joining the election, now Awami League has no alternative to ensuring a credible election,” he said.
With joining the election race, Majumdar also thinks BNP has staged a fresh comeback in politics. “BNP was out of parliament as it boycotted the last parliamentary elections due to its wrong decision. On the other hand, the party couldn’t carry out political activities freely due to repressive acts. So, now the party has got a fresh chance to do politics both in parliament and outside of it as a strong party. I think they should use the chance properly.”
He said now the Election Commission and the government must create a level-playing field for ensuring a credible election.
Election expert Dr Tofail Ahmed said BNP has taken the decision as per people’s hopes and aspirations. “It’s news of great relief and comfort for the nation.”
He said now the ball is in the court of the government and the EC to ensure a credible participatory election. “The government and the EC should show respect the BNP’s decision by taking positive steps for creating a level-playing field.
Tofail also said the EC should now defer the election by a reasonable period of time to give BNP and its alliances proper space for contesting the election.
Besides, he said, the EC should take strong steps to stop the arrest and harassment of political activists by exerting its power on the administration.
Earlier in the day, BNP and its two alliances --Jatiya Oikyafront and 20-party -- announced to participate in the upcoming 11th parliamentary elections as part of their movement to restore democracy, and demanded the election be deferred by one month.
Dhaka, Nov 10 (UNB) – Tilda Swinton was asked a question which perhaps been echoed a 100 times before in the Abdul Karim Shahitya Bisharad Auditorium.
In response, when asked about her frequent visits to Bangladesh – it’s her second time at DLF - she in her trademark voice asked the hosts to turn up the lights and the hall got illuminated.
Swinton then answered by saying, “I just put light on the reason. You audience are the reason for my returning to Bangladesh every year!”
Cheers and applauds filled the hall as the 8th Dhaka Lit Fest (DLF), the much-anticipated annual literature festival, came to a close on Saturday.
As the day passed on the number of visitors got a boost with a noticeable amount of youth in the audiences thronging to all the different attractions.
The AKSB Auditorium was filled to the brim when Tilda Swinton, Oscar winning Hollywood actress and a sincere friend of Bangladesh took the stage with Ahsan Akbar, event co-director to partake in a dialogue session titled ‘On Drumduan Hill’.
Since the session’s beginning Swinton engaged the crowd in a thoughtful discussion regarding the definition of Education. She asked them to express their opinions about education.
Eventually she discussed Drumduan School, that follows an alternative Steiner- based curriculum in the Scottish Highlands, where Swinton hails from.
At one point she strongly condemned today’s generations’ overdependence on technology and said “Technology can disrupt the rhythm of a child’s curiosity.”
She even argued about how the Steiner-based education model could work in cities like Dhaka after the dialogue in a Question and Answer Session.
With Swinton’s final individual session completed, numerous other sessions were due attention.
The poet Shamsur Rahman Seminar Room hosted a dialogue session with the title ‘Rights in the age of fake news’ which engaged several key figures of modern media and literature including Zafar Sobhan, Afsan Chowdhury, Hugo Restall, Annie Zaidi and Asif Islam.
Several discussions and cultural performances were acted out on the final day of DLF all over Bangla Academy Premises.
Locations like Bangla Academy Lawn, the Cosmic Tent, the Nazrul Stage and other halls were filled with art and literature loving crowd enjoying different segments of DLF.
Finance Minister Abul Mal Abdul Muhith adorned the AKSB auditorium as the chief guest of the event in the penultimate session which marked the closing of 8th Dhaka Lit Fest 2018.
Before his finishing speech, English novelist Phillip Hensher and Actress Tilda Swinton spoke along with event co-director Sadaf Saaz, all of whom thanked everyone related to the festival and appreciated the crowd.
The Minister expressed his delight saying “It’s a matter of particular pleasure to me to stand here.”
He mentioned that all the ruling parties kept the art and cultural sectors of the country secure.
The Minister expressed his hope that the guests would return further to join in DLF in the upcoming years.
He concluded his speech by giving his best wishes to the participating speakers, authors, poets and likely the audience.
Much to the crowd’s surprise and joy, a highly anticipated dialogue session with enigmatic west Bengal author Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay took place after the closing ceremony with noted Bangladeshi Writer Imdadul Haq Milon.
The 83-year-old author graced the stage in the final dialogue session of the fest titled ‘Kathopokothone Shirshendur Shathe’.
The almost one-and-half-hour long dialogue session ranged between various topics related to Bangla literature and the author’s life and works.
Shirshendu mentioned about his first novel, ‘Ghunpoka’ and how the mass rejected it upon publication.
“I never have any idea about the ending of a work be it story or novel when I write,” he said.
He termed himself as an ‘unscientific’ writer nevertheless stating “I write for myself until I’m satisfied.”
The author also recollected past memories regarding his two late friends, prominent author Shunil Gangopadhyay and noted poet Shakti Chattopadhyay.
On a serious note, he remarked about our language saying “We need more research on Bangla language to improve its further impact on world literature.”
He also said that the current culture of Bangla short stories is being judged differently as with the passage of time, the readers’ perspectives have changed.
Following the insightful dialogue session, a Question and Answer session was held engaging the audience with several enquiries to their favourite author.
With the merriments of Dhaka Lit Fest being over on Saturday evening, the vitalizing literature carnival leaves us with more expectation from it for the upcoming year.
Khulna, Nov 10 (UNB) – Production in nine state-owned jute mills in Khulna-Jessore region is being hampered due to crisis of raw jute while the stock of unsold jute products is increasing.
Jute products worth TK 315 crore have been lying unsold for long,causing financial crisis in the mills and hampering payment of regular wages of workers and employees, said mills sources.
Among the nine state-owned jute mills, seven are located in Khulna and the rest two in Jessore area. The seven Khulna region jute mills are- Daulatpur Jute Mill, Khalishpur Jute Mill, Platinum Jubilee Jute Mill, The Crescent Jute Mill, Star Jute Mill, Alim Jute Mill, Eastern Jute Mill while Jessore region’s two Jute Mills are-Carpeting Jute Mill, Jessore Jute Industries (JJI) Mill.
Four types of products – sack, hessian, carper backing cloth and yarn--are produced in the jute mills.
Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) decided to produce products keeping 3,650 handlooms operative in the jute mills in the current fiscal year. But, only 2,099 handlooms are operating which is only 57 percent of the target. As a result, 47 percent of the mill workers remained unemployed.
The mill authorities said it is not being possible to buy raw jute for financial crisis, leading to failure in achieving the production target.
The target of buying raw jute for the year 2018-2019 was fixed at 7.48 lakh quintals. But only 81610 quintals have been bought in the last four months which is just 11 percent of the target.
However, the BJMC authorities said when the produced goods will be sold, the financial crisis will be over.
Md Sohrab Hossain, general secretary of CBA and non CBA Oikyo Parisad, said it is the season of purchasing raw jutes but there is no allocation for purchasing it. So the jute mill authorities are not being able to buy jute at lower price. Later, they have to purchase it at higher price which will boost the production cost.
The CBA leader urged authorities concerned to allocate fund for purchasing raw jute this season and take initiative for selling produced products.
Dr. J A M Mahabub-ur-Rashid Julfikar, project chief of Eastern Jute Mill, said that the production has been declined due to lack of fund. The production target is 16.34 metric tons where only 7-10 metric tons have been produced.
If the Jute Packaging Law is implemented in the local market, then the sale of goods will be increased, he said.
Sheikh Rahmat Ullah, regional coordination officer of BJMC, said that if the mill authorities can sell stock of products, the crisis will be solved. Then, the mill authorities will be able to buy raw jute.
He expected that the crisis will be over within one or two months.
Dhaka, Nov 9 (UNB) - Until recently, the Ekushey Book Fair was the only literature festival of note taking place annually in Bangladesh. With the advent of the Dhaka Literature Festival though, DLF for short, that can be said to have changed definitively.
Thanks to the international flavour of DLF, Dhaka can now lay claim to hosting a literature extravaganza on a par with anywhere else in the region.
This year DLF marks the 8th anniversary of the internationally acclaimed literature festival which was originally launched as the ‘Hay Literature Festival’, a gathering where authors, poets and media personas from both home and abroad exchange views, debate, and rejoice in the core belief of a modern society with an avid contribution from the spectators.
Having kicked off on Thursday, several crucial figures of world and Bangladesh literature and art will cram into the premises of Bangla Academy till November 10, including names like Adam Johnson, Mohammad Hanif, Nandita Das, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Imdadul Haq Milon, Selina Hossain and more.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Adam Johnson confronted UNB and exchanged his views shortly after the inauguration.
“To me it’s just a great honour as this is my first time in Bangladesh and it fascinates me to see such a world class literature-based event being held in Dhaka,” he said. He also had a message for emerging Bangladeshi writers, saying, “Your voices matter. You’re empowered to let the world hear your voice through such international-grade festivals.”
UNB also ran into noted Bangladeshi actress Bannya Mirza, who briefly expressed her plans for the event.
“I’ll be speaking about #metoo movement in Bangladesh in my session,” she said.
Some 20 sessions were held on the first day across several locations of the sprawling Bangla Academy premises with a noticeably young crowd milling about all over, a crowd that is expected to grow in numbers over the weekend.
Minister of Cultural Affairs and celebrated actor Asaduzzaman Noor partook in an inspiring dialogue session titled ‘Somoyer Gaan, Osomoyer Kobita’ with noted author Imdadul Haq Milon that was moderated by Shamim Reza at the Abdul Karim Shahittya Bisharad Auditorium, where they ruminated on the history of Bangladeshi media and literature.
Talking to UNB afterwards, the minister lauded the event and its purpose saying that he feels “encouraged by such a gathering of people interested in the arts.” The minister termed literature and art as the ‘life force’ of the nation and said such festivals should be encouraged to build a secular Bangladesh.
“The gathering of such art and literature-loving crowd and their interaction with foreign speakers, authors and poets would surely break the false image that has been propagated against Bangladesh in past decades,” the minister added.
Eminent author Imdadul Haq Milon also contributed to the conversation, adding that our youth are keener on foreign literature than Bangla, hence events with such international dimension are necessary to make them appreciate our literature.
Of all the events held on the first day, the one which stole the spotlight was the premier of ‘Manto’, a film based on the enigmatic Urdu author Saadat Hasan Manto directed by the award-winning Indian actress and director, Nandita Das.
The film premiered to an overwhelming reception at the Abdul Karim Shahittya Bisharad Auditorium, with Nandita Das claimed that this was the first public screening of the much-anticipated film outside film festivals.
After enjoying the dark yet frank take on Manto’s life, the audience enjoyed a thoughtful dialogue between director Das and Indian author Annie Zaidi, that examined several aspects of the film.
Annie termed the film as ‘particularly timely’ stating that, to her the experience was often self-contradictory yet comforting. She also lauded the film for being visually beautiful and said the struggles depicted in the artist’s life have been ever-present in the subcontinent.
Nandita remarked that current world affairs forced her to choose the life of Manto as the subject of her second film. “So much of what he fought for resonated with my own experiences,” she said.
Both the speakers lauded Manto as a writer whose work ‘transcended borders’. It was a fitting showpiece for an event where the large portion of visitors roaming the Bangla Academy grounds clearly held little regard for borders, stopping at the numerous stalls that contained books of both Bangladeshi and World literature.
Dhaka, Nov 7 (UNB) – The Election Commission (EC), now awfully busy to hold the 11th national election, says it will require an amount of Tk 700 crore to arrange polls, which is more than double than that of the 10th general election.
The Commission has recently approved the allocation of Tk 700 crore for the upcoming parliamentary polls likely to be held in late December.
Of the total expenditure, EC officials said, about Tk 400 will be spent on maintaining the law and order while the remaining Tk 300 crore on conducting the election as per the EC’s estimate.
In the 2014 general election, they said, the nation spent Tk 283 crore, including Tk 200 crore on maintaining the law and order and Tk 83 on conducting the election in 147 constituencies as the rest 153 constituencies went uncontested.
The EC on will announce schedule for the 11th national election Thursday next. The EC has a constitutional obligation to complete the election between by January 28 next.
The polls will be held through some 40,199 possible polling stations across the country. Alongside the law enforcers, some seven lakh polls-conducting personnel, including 40,199 presiding officers, some 80,000 assistant presiding officers and five to six lakh polling officers, will be required to arrange the countrywide election.
Of the allocated Tk 300 crore for conducting the next election, Tk 160 will be spent on the seven lakh polls-conducting personnel and Tk 30 crore on printing ballot papers for 300 constituencies across the country, the EC officials said.
Besides, Tk 10 crore will be spent on procurement of other printing materials and Tk 8 crore on procurement of stamp pads, different types of seals and ink.
EC Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed said the Election Commission has approved the sector-wise allocation of Tk 700 crore for conducting the national election and maintaining the law and order.
Some 10.42 crore voters under the country’s 300 parliamentary constituencies are expected to cast their votes in the election to pick the leaders of their choice.
In the 2014 general election, the election cost was only Tk 283 crore as the EC did not have to go for balloting in 153 constituencies. The number of country’s voters was some 9.19 crore during the 10th general election.
“But this time the cost will be more than double as the EC will have to arrange balloting in 300 constituencies across the country,” said an official wishing to remain unnamed.
He said the total expenditure was Tk 165.50 crore in the 9th general election, while Tk 72.71 crore in the 8th national election.
The expenditure for conducting the first parliamentary elections held in 1973 was only Tk 81.36 lakh when the number of voters was only 3.52 crore.
According to statistics provided by the EC officials, the nation had spent Tk 2.52 crore in the 2nd national election, while Tk 5.16 crore in the 3rd election, Tk 5.15 crore in the 4th election, Tk 24.37 crore in the 5th election and Tk 37.04 crore in the 6th general election.