‘Bangaleer Joy, Bangaleer Berthota (Victory of Bangalees, Failure of Bangalees)’, a book by little known author Dr Faizur Rahman Al Siddique, has become a new attraction for booklovers at Amar Ekushey Book Fair-2020 after the publication of its second edition.
The 86-year-old writer, also a former researcher and scientist of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) who received PhD degree from the University of Cambridge, came into the limelight when his photo standing in front of a book stall at the book fair went viral on social media on the second week of the fair.
The picture shows the man dressed in a shirt with a jaunty cap going past a book stall carrying three bags and a single book in his hand.
The people of all ages, especially the youth, were seen gathering in front of 'Bangla Prokash' pavilion that published the second edition of the book on February 20.
Talking to UNB, Sirajul Islam Rubel, a fourth-year student of Dhaka University who came to the fair with his friend, said they visited the book fair twice this year.
“But today we’ve come to the fair to buy Dr Faizur’s book as some of my friends already bought it and suggested me to do so. Though many new books are being published every day but quality books are very few,” Rubel said.
“More quality books should be published so that the young generation can know the history. I hope this book will help people know the history and culture of Bangalees,” he added.
Senior manager of Bangla Prokash Syed Mahfuzul Hossain said they have got huge response from the readers for this book.
“A lot of people, especially students, are thronging our pavilion only for this book. Every day around 400-500 copies are being sold,” he added.
Talking to UNB, Dr Faizur said Poroma Publications published 500 copies of his book in 2000 but the publication house did not publish it further.
“After failing to find a publication house, I have been printing 150 to 200 copies every year using a photocopy machine, and personally selling the books at the book fair," said Dr Faizur, also a former director of Nuclear Science Research Institute (NSRI) under BAEC.
Expressing gratitude to the readers and writers he said, “I’m really grateful to the readers as they’ve warmly accepted my book though it’s not a new book. In the book, I wanted to highlight what we’ve achieved and what our failures are. A nation that does not know what mistakes it has made cannot develop. So, it's essential to know our mistakes, too," he said.
Born in 1934 at Charmaducharia village at Nawabganj in Dhaka, Dr Faizur Rahman Al Siddique completed his MSc degree and did post-MSc research in chemistry from Dhaka University and received PhD degree in nuclear chemistry from the University of Cambridge, UK.
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (Bari) has successfully produced bulbs of Lilium, a charming flower which usually grows in colder countries, opening the possibility of its commercial cultivation in Bangladesh.
A team of Bari scientists produced the bulbs of different varieties of Lilium flower and planted those on a piece of land. To the happiness of all concerned, the flower started blooming.
Lilium (members of which are true lilies) is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants growing from bulbs, all with large prominent flowers. It grows largely in the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, the USA and China.
It is so popular for its charming beauty, colour and fragrance that it holds the 4th position in global flower market.
Due to its huge demand in Bangladesh, the flower is imported from abroad.
According to Dr Kabita Anzu-Man-Ara, Principal Scientific Officer of Floriculture Division of the Horticulture Research Centre at Bari, said they launched a research on Lilium cultivation in 2015 following its huge demand in the country. “We’ve achieved a success in the production and technical issues as well as producing bulbs of Lilium. Now, 15 varieties of Lilium in pink, yellow, purple and white can grow in our country.”
She said they have also been able to prevent Lilium flowers from different diseases and insects.
“Our big challenge is now to grow good quality bulbs for producing Lilium flower to expand its cultivation and reduce the dependency on its import,” Dr Kabita said.
Generally, a Lilium flower started blooming within 90-100 days into the plantation of bulbs and if it can be collected in right time, a flower lasts for 14-15 days, she said.
In Bangladesh, each Lilium flower is sold for Tk 250-Tk 260 and the whole consignment is brought from abroad as it is not cultivated here.
Bari Director General Dr Md Abdul Wahab said Lilium started blooming in the research field in January after bulbs were planted. “This has opened the door of immense possibility of commercially cultivating the flower in our country,” he said.
He also said it will be possible to earn foreign currency through exporting the flower after meeting the local demand.
Thanks to the favourable weather conditions, bumper production of jujube, the small fruit more popular as ‘Boroi’ in the vernacular, has growers in Satkhira smiling from ear to ear.
According to the District Agriculture Extension (DAE) office, the soil of Satkhira is favorable for jujube cultivation and it has been grown commercially in the district since 2000.
Now the jujube cultivation is getting popular in the district as it is more profitable and allows farmers a quick return on their investment.
The growers have made great strides in jujube cultivation this year compared to last, and combined with the relatively high price to force them to bring more land under jujube cultivation.
This year jujube has been cultivated over a total of 660 hectares, with the authorities setting a production target of 7,000 metric tons of jujube.
Many local varieties including ‘Baukul’, ‘Applekul’, ‘Tawainkul’, ‘Narkeli’ and ‘Dhaka Ninety’ are being cultivated in the district, and the jujube of Satkhira also finds markets in other districts including Khulna, Dhaka and Chattogram after meeting the demand of people.
The farmers spent Tk 20-22,000 per bigha of land on jujube cultivation, and sell per kg of the fruit at Tk 40-50. After expenditure, the jujube growers have counted a profit of Tk 90,000 to 1 lakh.
Most of the farmers are making profits from selling the fruit.
Kalyan Ghosh, a jujube grower of Patkelghata in Tala upazila, said this year one kg jujube is being sold at Tk 80-100 at the retail level.
Arebindu Biswas, deputy director of DAE, said “The jujube farmers are blessed with the bumper production of the fruit this year and getting good cash after selling those to the market.”
Be it either unified admission test or cluster entry test, students of Dhaka University (DU), the highest echelon of education in the country, are against any change in the existing system with academicians doubtful about effectiveness of any new system for lack of a proper authority.
The DU students rather suggested making the existing method more effective to ensure the selection of candidates in a fair and appropriate manner.
On January 23, the University Grants Commission (UGC) decided to introduce a uniform entry test in all public universities across the country from the academic year 2020-21, aiming to reduce the plight of the admission-seekers and their guardians.
In the face of opposition by a number of universities to the integrated admission test, it proposed a cluster admission test system on Wednesday where all the existing public universities will be divided into four clusters for admission tests.
The proposed changes in entry tests for tertiary education have made impacts on the student community all over Bangladesh. However, the stance of DU students remains the same: they are against any change to the existing system.
Akterujjaman Raju, a student of DU English department, said there is no apparent need for a uniform or cluster admission test. “I don’t think there’s a need for a uniform or cluster admission test. The approach that has been in place since last year (introduction of written exam) is appropriate. However, more importance should be given to viva voce when it comes to the subject selection,” he said.
Another student, Marziya Alam, highlighted that any entry test out of the purview of DU jurisdiction will only facilitate question paper leakage and other forms of corruption in the examination process.
“The DU administration had to face the thorny problem of question paper leak until recently. Now, if the cluster or uniform test takes place at regional exam centres outside Dhaka, the problem will certainly stage a comeback given the current competition,” she said.
Marziya, a student of Tourism and Hospitality Management department, said although the current admission test procedure of DU is not without any flaw, it is, however, better than the proposed changes.
Sabbir, a student of Mass Communication and Journalism department, echoed Marziya, saying it might compromise with the standard of question patterns in the DU admission apart from giving rise to corruption.
“There’s no guarantee that question sets for cluster admission will meet the standard of DU. Also, it’ll set a populist ranking among public universities without any technical assessment,” he told UNB.
The DU student urged authorities of public universities to sit in talks and find a solution to the hassle of admission-seekers across the country.
Sushmita, another DU student, said the proposed changes in the admission test process can harm the future of students.
“Bad day can take over anyone and any student might have a terrible exam. The proposed systems won’t allow them any more chance to get enrolled which is really disheartening to me. They at least have alternatives in the existing admission test system,” she told UNB.
Megwati Sarker, a student of Sociology department, proposed introduction of a complete written exam format instead of current hybridised multiple choice and written method.
“The cluster admission test system might eliminate personal choice of any university for admission. Many will lose the chance to get admitted to DU in the process. I think the administration should opt for a complete written exam format to pick eligible candidates,” she said.
Another student, Sumya Arefin, highlighted that there should be proper planning before hastily introducing any new admission test system. “It might backfire forcing the admission-seekers to pay the price,” she said.
Talking to UNB, DU Professor Emeritus Dr Serajul Islam Choudhury mentioned that there are certain reasons that put the proper implementation of the new admission test procedure in doubt.
“Be it uniform or cluster system, they might not be effective because there’s no proper authority to handle it. We hold public examinations under separate boards. It’s not possible for a single authority to assess such a large number of students with one or four exams simultaneously across the country,” he said.
"There was a proposition of holding a uniform test on the basis of rotation, but this can’t be done either because the number of students sitting for admission tests is too large for a single university to handle. Many universities simply don’t have the logistic facilities to do it,” Dr Serajul Islam said.
He also highlighted the difference in the selection procedures of individual public universities. “Each university has its own admission procedure; their verification process is also different,” he said.
The eminent academician suggested few changes to the admission process to ease the hassle of students and their parents.
“Although the current university admission test procedure is expensive for students, it can be synchronised so that everyone can sit in the entrance exams of universities of their choices. Another solution could be eliminating the admission test method altogether. Instead, the education authority must enhance the quality of public exams (SSC, HSC) so that universities can enroll students based on the results obtained from there,” he told UNB.
He ultimately encouraged drastic changes to ensure quality of overall education.
“Things we need to do are to increase the number of public universities as well as quality of teaching at every level. I don’t think there’s a need to implement a new admission test system for higher education in a hurry,” he told UNB.
Coal dumping in a particular place may be a casual exercise for the importers but it may end up causing serious health hazards for those living in the area. This is what is happening at Rajghat in Noapara of the district.
The Rajghat area of Noapara municipality up to Chengutia Bazar have been turned into a coal dump yard, causing respiratory problems to locals.
They complained that their food is also being spoilt by coal dust as coal traders keep dumping it alongside roads, riverbanks and railway tracks of the area.
Coal is also dumped on croplands and around homesteads. Poisonous coal dust is making life unbearable for the residents of Noapara.
Locals told UNB that coal dust spreads through the air and enters their nose, mouth and spoils their food and furniture.
They complained that their doors, windows, furniture and even the clothes are becoming unusable. “We’re consuming coal dust with our food,” one of them said.
They expressed frustration and indignation as the authorities concerned, including the Department of Environment (DoE), did not take any step despite their repeated pleas.
Sources at DoE said that setting up of any coal depot within 1.5 km of the locality is prohibited. Besides, the dumping ground has to be surrounded with high walls.
Md Azim Chowdhury, a resident of Bhangagate area, said almost every member of his family is suffering from respiratory illness due to the poisonous coal smoke and dust. Besides, they are forced to use face masks all the time.
Coal traders of Noapara bazar said around 15 importing firms bring in this huge amount of coal and dump it there. After unloading the imported coal, it is kept beside the Bhairab River.
Later, it is dumped beside the highway, railway track and residential areas. The retail and wholesale businessmen buy the coal and take it to various parts of the country on trucks.
Coal has been dumped haphazardly from Prembagh to Rajghat areas of the upazila, Taltolaghat area in Noapara municipality extending up to the Jashore-Khulna Highway. Many trees along the highway, railway track and on the river bank have withered away and died since the area turned into a coal dump yard.
Many people have sold their land property and left the area for good. A college lecturer told UNB that he and his family left their paternal homestead as they could not tolerate the unbearable irritation from coal.
Dr Mahmudur Rahman Rizvi, health and family planning officer of Abhaynagar Upazila, said smoke from coal is extremely hazardous to health.
“People are coming to hospital everyday with breathing and respiratory problems due to the haphazard dumping of coal in the area,” he said.
Nazmul Husain, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) told UNB that he has notified Jashore Deputy Commissioner and the Railways about the hazardous situation.