A new year is just around the corner. Like every walks of life, the cricketing fraternity of Bangladesh is also looking forward to forgetting the year of 2020 which started with joy and ended up with a ray of hope.
In January-February 2020, Bangladesh national team toured Pakistan for a Test and three T20Is but failed to impress in the field. But around the same time, Bangladesh U-19 cricket team won the ICC U-19 World Cup in South Africa beating India in the final.
It was Bangladesh’s first triumph at the World Cup level in any games. The year had started this way, but in next two months, the things have changed dramatically as the Covid-19, a deadly virus, has invaded the world and claimed about 2 million people around the world so far.
Also read: Bangabandhu T20 Cup Cricket begins Nov 24
Joy in South Africa
Bangladesh never won a World Cup in any game before the U-19 cricket team create history in South Africa. Bangladesh performed well throughout the event and lift the title without losing any game.
They started beating Zimbabwe in the event opener by nine wickets and outclassed Scotland in the second game by seven wickets, but the third match, which was against Pakistan, ended with no result due to bad weather.
The junior Tigers, however, thrashed the hosts South Africa and New Zealand by 104 runs and six wickets respectively in the Quarter-Final and Semi-Final, and in the final, Bangladesh beat India by three wickets in DL method to lift their first title in the event.
Also read: BCB eyes to resume domestic cricket soon
Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Tanzid Hasan, Shahadat Hossain, Akbar Ali, Rakibul Hasan, Shoriful Islam did exceptionally well in this edition of U-19 World Cup.
Disappointment in Pakistan
It was Bangladesh’s first tour to Pakistan after more than a decade. So the expectation was high among the Bangladeshi spectators. But the Mahmudullah Riyad-led Bangladesh T20Is team and Mominul Haque led-Test team failed to impress in this series as they lost all the matches.
Bangladesh were due to travel to Pakistan to play a Test and one ODI in April, but the Covid-19 invasion halted those games indefinitely.
Familiar result with familiar foe Zimbabwe at the home
Zimbabwe came to Bangladesh in February-March 2020. They faced the hosts in two T20Is, three ODIs and one Test and lost all the games. The once-powerful opponent of Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, proved that they are not a strong opponent of the Tigers anymore.
In the last ODI of the series, Liton Das smashed 176 off 143 with 16 fours and eight sixes. This is the record of the highest individual total by a Bangladeshi in an ODI. Along the way of making this record, Liton surpassed his opening partner Tamim Iqbal who also hit 128 in that game.
In the same game, Bangladesh recorded their highest partnership in ODIs at any wicket— 292 by Tamim and Liton.
Sports halted indefinitely
In March, along with the other sporting events, cricket was also halted by the authorities to stop the contagious coronavirus. Due to the Covid-19, the Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League was stopped after a few matches. Despite some talks at the Bangladesh Cricket Board, the league was never restarted.
After the lockdown of more than four months, some cricketers started individual training in July. And the national team started preparation ahead of their Sri Lanka tour. But due to the Covid-19 situation in the island nation, the series was later postponed. Sri Lanka had set a strict two-week-long quarantine for Bangladesh, but BCB asked to reduce it. Sri Lanka denied to do that, and thus the series was postponed.
Bangladesh missed many matches
Apart from the Sri Lanka series, Bangladesh missed at least 11 international games due to Covid-19. Bangladesh missed an ODI and one Test in Pakistan, three ODIs and four T20Is in Ireland and two Tests at the home against Australia.
It’s still unclear what will happen to these games, though, BCB has been saying that they will try to convince the other boards to play the halted games in future. However, there is no development in this regard now.
Cricket makes a return
In October, BCB hosted President's Cup 50-over competition involving three themes consist of the national team, HP and U-19 cricketers. After organizing this event successfully, BCB hosted a T20 event on November-December— Bangabandhu T20 Cup 2020.
This event was a fresh platform for the local players to prove their mettle to do well in the larger stage of the game. Many youngsters played some wonderful cricket in this event which has prompted BCB president Nazmul Hasan to say that this league might have a permanent place in the local cricket calendar.
BCB maintained a strict bio-secure bubble in these events. All the participating players had to undergo several Covid-19 tests during these leagues. The BCB had also arranged Covid-19 testing facilities for the journalist who covered these competitions.
During this event, a two-member delegation of West Indies paid a visit to Bangladesh to see the arrangement for their tour to Bangladesh in January-February 2020. They expressed happiness after observing the health protocol that Bangladesh whould provide them during the tour.
Also read: In 2020, cricket took a backseat to COVID-19
A ray of hope
The West Indies have confirmed the Bangladesh tour in January-February 2020. It’ll be marked as Bangladesh’s first international cricket event after the Covid-19 hiatus.
The Cricket West Indies have already announced the team for Bangladesh tour, which have missed some key players who opted to stay out of this series due to the current Covid-19 situation around the world.
But if BCB could make this series a flawless and provide the best health protocol to the touring side, the more teams might be interested to tour Bangladesh during the pandemic.
The recovery of the country’s economy following the coronavirus crisis is long and slow due to data scarcity, experts say.
Relief distribution is also affected due to the lack of a proper database, according to them.
The experts also claimed that the data scarcity has appeared as one of the major challenges in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
They would like the government to resolve the data scarcity problem, enabling them to take up proper plans to tackle the socioeconomic challenges.
Distinguished Fellow of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Professor Mustafizur Rahman underscored the need for the formation of an “Independent Commission” to provide accurate data for the sake of proper policies of the country on the overall economic situation.
The noted economist said providing wrong information influenced by political perspective will distract policy makers from formulating proper policies. So, data gathering has to be strengthened in the government institutions for the sake of sustainable employment too.
“Accurate data is much needed to overcome the impact of Covid-19 pandemic. We’re getting a wrong signal observing overall economic indexes like employment, inflation, income disparity and GDP growth. The unemployment problem won’t be resolved if the government formulates policy in the dark,” he added.
Read Also: Covid-19 claims 28 more lives in Bangladesh
According to CPD, poverty rate could go as high as 35.0 percent, (24.3 percent in 2016) as a result of COVID-19 with the consequence that, an additional 1.75 crore (17.5 million) people could have fallen into poverty. A study by the thinktank in June 2020 indicated that due to COVID-19, about 1.3 crore (13 million) jobs were at risk, which is approximately 20 percent of the domestic labour force.
Dr Sajjat Zohir, Executive Director of Economic Research Group, said the government’s different good initiatives can’t be implemented in a transparent way due to lack of accurate data.
“We appreciate the government’s initiatives like cash allowance, housing and social safety net programme. But initiatives will be criticised for not having proper data. We should improve our database and upgrade the country’s firms who work here,” he also said.
Dr Sajjat urged the government to improve the quality of the country’s consulting firms. “If we can improve our consulting firms then our institutions will remain safe as well,” he also said.
He opined the data scarcity has appeared as one of the major challenges in implementation of the SDGs.
Dr Firdousi Naher, professor of economics department at Dhaka University said the coronavirus created an impact on overall society and economy. “In this circumstance, we should make a list to identify “new poor” to overcome their problems quickly,” she also said.
Dr Firdousi added that accurate data will help to take innovative activities.
Read Also: Global COVID-19 cases exceed 82 million
CPD’s Research Director Dr Khondoker Golam Moazzem said the recovery trend of Covid-19 impact in the country is slow and long due to data scarcity. Some 28 percent young people left their studies to support their families.
“The government’s stimulus package has covered 33 percent poor in the country. The Covid-19 created huge number of new poor. So, all of them should be assisted. Proper data is needed to help them and take innovative programmes,” he told UNB.
The Executive Director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM) Dr Selim Raihan added a proper assessment of the challenges posed by the pandemic is crucial through data collection and research. “Without regular data collection and surveys, informed policymaking will not be possible. Increasing the frequency of data collection is needed to overcome the statistical limitations in policymaking. So, the government needs to develop its capacity,” he added.
Dr Raihan said there are no data matches among the government agencies including the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) that’s why it’s tough to estimate the supply of essentials here. Data scarcity creates many problems in Bangladesh.
Dr Shamsul Alam, Member (Senior Secretary) of General Economics Division at Bangladesh Planning Commission mentioned the country is facing many challenges in implementation of SDGs. One of the major challenges is mobilisation of required resources for implementation of interventions for achieving the SDGs.
According to SDGs First Progress Report 2018 made by him, “The data paucity has emerged as a major challenge for monitoring of SDGs. We have felt the pinch in preparing the 2018 SDG progress report, because we have data for only 70 indicators (30 percent) out of 232 indicators prescribed by the UN to assess progress of SDGs. The National Statistical Organization (NSO) needs to step up its efforts to reduce the gap. For this to happen, capacity of the BBS needs to be strengthened, perhaps revamped.”
Dr Shamsul added that the Line Ministries/Divisions should also take initiative in generating administrative data related to SDGs. UN agencies and other development partners have to come forward immediately to strengthen BBS and other Administrative line Ministries capacity to generate quality and reliable data in a timely manner.
“A bit sadly, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN) ranked Bangladesh 120 out of 157 countries in the SDG Index and Data Dashboards Report 2017 observing change for only one year (2016). The ranking could have been made based on partially available data or data gathered from non – credible sources. Latest data, albeit often with a lag of 2/3 years, of course do not support this ranking. It is therefore necessary to harmonise data between the Government of Bangladesh source and UN SDSN,” he mentioned in the report.
People live in hope. Ronhingya refugees also do so and thus they spent another, 2020, that they would have a dignified return to their homeland in Myanmar. But, the hope for a better day did not come.
Now that it is another new year, 2021!
The year 2021 is expected to see fresh talks on Rohingya repatriation with no discussion in 2020 collided with Covid-19 pandemic and Myanmar general elections as big countries find the repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Myanmar’s Rakhine State is the only solution.
More than three years ago, Myanmar’s soldiers “targeted, killed, and raped” Rohingya and burned their villages, as the United Nations, Refugees International, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the U.S. State Department itself, and many others have documented.
Over 800,000 Rohingyas fled the “genocidal violence” and Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas.
“We had our last formal discussion with Myanmar in January this year (2020). Though Myanmar agreed to take back their nationals after verification, no Rohingyas returned home. There is a lack of sincerity from Myanmar side,” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told UNB.
He said the Rohingyas do not trust their government, and Bangladesh gave a number of proposals to build trust among them. “Myanmar didn’t say no to those proposals but no proposal was implemented.”
Bangladesh is trying in multiple ways - bilaterally, multilaterally, tri-laterally and through the judicial system – to find a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis.
“Myanmar is a friendly country. They aren’t our enemy. We’ve nothing against Myanmar. Myanmar must create a conducive environment as Bangladesh wants to see the return of Rohingyas to Myanmar in safety and security,” Dr Momen said.
Bangladesh proposed deployment of non-military civilian observers from Myanmar’s friendly countries -- Japan, China, Russia, India and Asean countries.
“Myanmar did neither say yes or no on that particular proposal,” said the Foreign Minister adding that Bangladesh also proposed visits of Rohingya leaders to Rakhine and Myanmar government officials’ visit to Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar to interact with the Rohingays.
In the process, Dr Momen said, there should be confidence building and the main objective of Bangladesh is to see repatriation of Rohingyas. “They must return home (Myanmar).
Responding to a question, Dr Momen said all countries agree that repatriation is the solution and any delay in repatriation might create instability in the region and beyond.
Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki has recently said Japan supports the repatriation of Rohingyas to their homes in Rakhine State and wants to see the process starts next year.
"The Rohingya issue is very important. To see progress, we should see the start of the repatriation process next year. Japan will continue to help in this matter," he said.
Dr Momen said Japan has huge investment in Myanmar and has leverage over Myanmar; and sought continued support from Japan over the repatriation issue.
Ambassador Naoki said they are communicating directly with Myanmar's top military officials and at the government level on the Rohingya crisis as Japan sees it a proper channel to play a role.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi reiterated the importance of safe, speedy and sustainable return of Rohingyas to Myanmar.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina congratulated India on its election as a member of the United Nations Security Council and expressed Bangladesh’s expectation to see India assist in the repatriation of the forcibly displaced Rohingyas back to Myanmar.
The Foreign Minister said Bangladesh is discussing tri-laterally with China and Myanmar to find a solution to the Rohingya crisis.
In the face of growing concern over the extreme congestion in the camps of Cox’s Bazar and to avert any risk of death due to landslides and other unwarranted incidents, the government of Bangladesh has decided to relocate, in phases, 1,00,000 Rohingyas to Bhasan Char.
Accordingly, in the first phase, more than 1600 Rohingyas, who expressed their willingness voluntarily for relocation, were shifted to Bhasan Char on December 4.
The second batch of 1804 Rohingyas -- 433 men, 523 women and 843 children -- was shifted on December 29.
“Bhasan Char and other plans -- these are temporary arrangements,” said Dr Momen adding that the UN and UN agencies are vocal about this temporary arrangement.
“They should look at Rakhine whether a conducive environment is created there or not. If we go for doing anything, they create barriers,” he said.
The Foreign Minister said the rights bodies talk against Bhasan Char but their countries are not taking any Rohingyas as a burden sharing.
“UNHCR gets funds. But how do they spend? There’s no transparency and accountability though they’re collecting money in the name of Bangladesh,” Dr Momen said.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017.On January 16, 2018, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.
Bangladesh thinks Rohingyas will "jeopardise regional and international security" if the 1.1 million Rohingya people are left unattended and not given the opportunity to return to their homeland.
Myanmar did not take back a single Rohingya from Bangladesh over the last three years but Myanmar, in its attempts to “mislead” the international community, claimed that a total of 397 displaced people have voluntarily returned from Bangladesh to Myanmar.
Two repatriation attempts turned futile as Myanmar “failed to remove trust deficit” among the Rohingyas and there was “lack of conducive environment” in Rakhine for their return.
Though a number of restrictions were put in place to combat the spread of coronavirus in the country since March, which have disrupted normal life of the people, including criminals, several incidents of violence against women such as rape and gang rape have been much discussed in the outgoing year 2020.
Among the incidents, a housewife in Sylhet M C College, video-viral on social media of a young woman violently assaulted and gang-raped by a group of men in the south-eastern Noakhali district were mostly talked of the country.
Besides, killing incident of Major (retd) Sinha Md Rashed Khan, who was shot dead by a police officer at at Shamlapur check post on Cox's Bazar-Teknaf Marine Drive on the night of July 31, has also much discussed in the outgoing year. He was on his way back to Nilima Resort in Himchhari area after filming a video on Marishbunia hill in Teknaf. Though police has been trying to preaching the incident as a gunfight instead of cold brain killing but the real picture has come to light when his sister Sharmin Shahria Ferdous subsequently filed a case against nine policemen on Aug 5.
Such frequent incidents of mass rape and women violence as well as the Maj (retd) Sinha killing have felt the government and law enforcement agencies into embarrassing position.
On September 25, a 19-year-old married girl was reportedly raped by a group of youths in a dormitory of Sylhet MC College in the evening after tying up her husband in a room of the hostel. The victim’s husband filed a case with Shah Poran Police Station following day early morning against six named accused, including Saifur Rahman, and three unnamed accused. Students of Sylhet MC College staged demonstrations blocking the road in front of the college protesting the ‘gang-rape’.
The heinous incident also sparked a countrywide protest that forced the government to take prompt action. Law enforcement have arrested eight people in this connection. They are now in police custody. Even the High Court on 30 September formed an investigation committee to look into the incident.
In first week of October, footage of a young woman being violently assaulted and sexually harassed by a group of men in the south-eastern Noakhali district went viral on Facebook, after the video was released by the attackers to blackmail and shame the victim.
Soon after these heinous acts, both Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and Inspector general (IG) of Police Benajir Ahmed had strictly instructed all law enforcers to go for tough action against the offenders. As per their instructions, law enforcers including police and RAB went for action through arresting the culprits in most of the cases.
Home Minister had warned that those involved in the heinous and dreadful rape incident in Sylhet MC College hostel will not be spared.
Police on December 3 pressed charges against eight people in a case filed over the gang rape of a woman at Sylhet MC College dormitory. Investigation officer of the case Indranil Bhattacharya submitted the charge sheet before Sylhet Metropolitan Magistrate Court judge Abul Kashem. Police said they found direct involvement of six people in the rape while two others helped the others in the crime.
The video footage of five men torturing the Noakhali woman went viral on social media platforms has raised concerns among natives. Locals said the incident took place at a certain Noor Islam’s house in Khalpar area of Begumgonj upazila in Noakhali . After the video went viral, police detained a youth named Abdur Rahim, 22, for questioning.
According to the video and the locals, five youths Delowar, Badal, Kalam, Abdur Rahim along with an unnamed youth – all members of a criminal gang Delowar Bahini -- stripped the woman naked and brutally tortured her. Eight people have been arrested in connection with the incident.
In a statement on October 6, Amnesty International said Bangladeshi authorities must ensure justice to the Noakhali woman, who was stripped and severely beaten by a group of men for around half an hour, as a video of the incident emerged online. This is the latest incident in an escalating wave of violence against women in the country, the statement said.
“This truly disturbing footage demonstrates the shocking violence that Bangladeshi women are routinely being subjected to.
“In the vast majority of these cases, the justice system fails to hold the perpetrators responsible,” said Sultan Mohammed Zakaria, South Asia researcher at Amnesty International.
“There can be no excuses here – the Bangladeshi authorities must immediately launch a thorough and impartial investigation and bring those responsible for this vicious attack to justice through fair trials without recourse to the death penalty,” he added.
Between 2001 and July 2020, only 3.56% of cases filed under the Prevention of Oppression Against Women and Children Act 2000 Act have resulted in a court judgment and only 0.37% of cases have ended with convictions, according to data from the government’s One Stop Crisis Centre.
Local women’s rights organization Naripokkho examined the incidents of reported rape cases in six districts between 2011 and 2018 and found that out of 4,372 cases, only five people were convicted, Amnesty also said.
According to human rights organization Ain-o-Salish Kendra (ASK), between January and November 2020, at least 1546 rape cases were reported in Bangladesh, including 303 gang-rapes, While the figure was 1413, including 327 since January to December in 2019.
Meanwhile, as the killing of Maj Retied Sinha had become countrywide criticism, the Home Ministry formed a high-level probe committee on Aug 2 while allegations of ‘extrajudicial killings’ against the police also resurfaced.
Later, seven policemen, including in-charge of Baharchhara investigation centre Inspector Liakat and Officer-in-charge of Teknaf police station Pradip Kumar Das surrendered to the court in connection with the case filed by Sinha's sister. They were also suspended from their jobs.
The government also made wholesale changes to the police force in Cox's Bazar with almost all police personnel, including top officers and constables, being transferred out of the district.
Chief of Army Staff General Aziz Ahmed and Inspector General of Police (IGP) Benazir Ahmed have both visited Cox’sbazar on August 5. In a joint press briefing there, both of them stressed that the killing of retired Bangladesh Army major Sinha Md Rashed Khan will not create a rift between the two forces.
The army chief said a joint inquiry team had been formed at the behest of the prime minister, while the IGP said the committee, formed by the government will complete an objective investigation and action will be taken as per the recommendations of the committee.
Meanwhile investigation officer, RAB-15's ASP Md Khairul Islam of the Maj (retd) Sinha killing case has pressed formal charges in court on December 13 against former Teknaf Police OC Pradip Kumar Das, former in-charge of Baharchhara investigation centre Inspector Liakat Ali and 13 others over the killing of retired army major Sinha Md Rashed Khan at a police checkpoint in Cox's Bazar.
"In addition to the 14 arrested in connection with the case, another suspect has also been added to the charge-sheet," he said.
According to the human rights organization Ain-o-Salish Kendra (ASK), 184 people were killed in so called gun fights with members of law enforcement agencies between January and August 2020, but after the furore raised over the incident no such encounter/crossfire killing by the law enforcement agencies has been reported. And so it is just about possible that one bright spot emerged in the field of crime, law and order in 2020: an end, or at least a lull, in crossfire.
The Latin phrase, 'annus horribilis' (horrible year), aptly sums up the story of 2020, the last year of this decade.
Yes, the Covid pandemic has not only adversely affected the daily lives of people but also subdued the enthusiasm of almost all cultural festivals and events across the globe. And Bangladesh is no exception -- from March, either the celebrations had to be scaled back or cancelled altogether in this country due to the pandemic.
In fact, before the imposition of lockdown in late March, Bangladesh was gearing up to celebrate the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, throughout the year. But Covid forced the government to defer the grand plans to the year-end.
However, at the same time, the pandemic opened up new opportunities for people around the world through virtual platforms, forcing them to embrace the new normal. In Bangladesh too, almost all events -- from press conferences to exhibitions and art camps to cultural performances -- moved online due to the outbreak of Covid.
Highlights of major art events and cultural programmes in 2020
Major events before lockdown:
The first major event was Bangladesh Cultural Festival, organised by Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA), which took place at National Theatre Hall from January 3 to January 23, featuring artists from 64 districts and 64 upazilas.
The same month the 18th edition of Dhaka International Film Festival, which enthralled film enthusiasts from home and abroad, took place from January 11 tol January 19.
In February, the country celebrated two major events -- Amar Ekushey Book Fair at Bangla Academy and Suhrawardy Uddyan, and the 5th edition of Dhaka Art Summit (DAS), South Asia’s biggest art and painting biennale exhibition at the National Art Gallery.
Also read: Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2020 in a nutshell
The 6th edition of Joy Bangla Concert also took place at Army Stadium on March 7, marking the day of the Father of the Nation's historic March 7 speech. BSA arranged a grand carnival marking the birth centenary of Bangabandhu, titled ‘Muktir Mohanayak’.
However, Covid forced organisers to shelve live recordings and then broadcast the same on all TV channels in Bangladesh on March 17 night.
The new normal:
As offline and crowd-based programmes had to be shelved since late-March, the entire world, including Bangladesh, opted for virtual arrangements throughout the remaining months of 2020 -- all thanks to online platforms such as Zoom and Streamyard, and social media networks like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
BSA arranged multiple virtual programmes throughout the lockdown months under its ‘Art Against Corona’ campaign, in which noted artists from home and rural areas to abroad, joined and performed for the live audiences on its Facebook page.
The country’s renowned cultural institution, Chhayanaut also catered to several virtual arrangements on its official Facebook page and YouTube channel throughout the year. From organising special programmes on Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam to celebrating occasions such as Pahela Baishakh, it embraced the new normal.
International institutions in Bangladesh, including the EMK Centre, Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre (IGCC) and German cultural organisation Goethe-Institut Bangladesh also arranged many virtual programmes throughout the year.
Amid Covid, Gallery Cosmos, the artistic wing of Bangladeshi conglomerate Cosmos Group, also continued its committed dedication towards arts as it organised the first-ever online live art camp on June 8, titled ’Brightening The Spirits With Art’, in association with 'Hidden Her Foundation' and Cosmos Foundation. Indeed, it was a noble effort to raise funds for the Covid victims and their families.
Gallery Cosmos also arranged ‘BRAVE HEART’ -- the first-ever virtual exhibition from August 14 to 31, reminiscing the founder of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, marking his birth centenary and National Mourning Day.
Also read: Fifth Dhaka Art Summit ends in style
Several festivals also went online this year, most notably the 8th Annual Liberation DocFest Bangladesh-2020, organised by Liberation War Museum from June 16 till June 20.
Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Cosmos Group, was also associated with this year’s festival as the technology partner, while United News of Bangladesh (UNB), South Asia’s first fully wired digital news agency, was the media partner.
The 4th edition of Dhaka DocLab was also held virtually for the first time from August 23 till October 3.
Reopening of venues, welcoming crowds again:
From September, the government gave its nod for the reopening of several venues, based on the requests and demands of people in the arts and culture fraternity as their livelihoods mostly depends on the physical presence of the audience.
BSA reopened for audiences in September and the National Art Gallery also began organising several exhibitions again. Most notably, a month-long exhibition marking PM Sheikh Hasina's 74th birthday. The art exhibition reflecting the aftermath of Covid, titled 'Art Against Corona' was a special three-day art event organised by the Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre (IGCC) and the High Commission of India in Dhaka, in collaboration with BSA.
After six months of closure, all museums and heritage sites under the Department of Archaeology also reopened on a limited scale from September 16. The National Museum also reopened around the same period.
Gallery Cosmos also organised an exclusive Art Camp, titled ‘Sheikh Hasina: On the Right Side of History’ on November 27, with 22 leading and promising painters of the country at Gallery Cosmos, Cosmos Centre (Studio, Books and Rooftop), Malibagh in the capital.
The camp, held in collaboration with Cosmos Atelier71 and supported by the Cosmos Foundation, led to an exclusive exhibition that was inaugurated on December 12 and will remain open till February 12, 2021.
Theatre arena after the reopening:
While 2019 was a great year for the theatre arena in the country, 2020 was pretty gloomy as the pandemic forced venues to shut their doors for some seven months from March 18.
Also read: Gallery Cosmos art camp on PM Hasina begins
According to several theatre artistes and activists, only 13 plays were premiered offline by eleven theatre troupes in 2020. Before that, theatre troupes and BSA started holding online shows, including rehearsals and staging of plays with scattered cast members from different places during the lockdown.
Theatre group Prachyanaut premiered three plays at its month-long theatre festival, titled 'Mahala Magan', which was held from September 4 to October 3 at its rehearsal room in Katabon, Dhaka, with a very limited number of audiences.
Known as the sacred ground of theatre in the country, Bangladesh Mahila Samity was reopened for theatre lovers on October 2, with the staging of Laal Jamin by theatre group Shunnon Repertory.
BSA reopened its National Theatre Hall, Experimental Theatre Hall and Studio Theatre Hall and also started welcoming performers and playgoers on Friday and Saturday, following the health directives on October 23. Theatre troupe Palakar staged its play 'Ujane Mrityu' and Jagarani Theatre staged 'Rajar Chithi' that weekend.
Dhaka Theatre also premiered its 49th production, 'Ekti Loukik Othoba Oloukik Steamer' at the National Theatre Hall on October 30; Theatre troupe Ethic premiered its new play 'Aynaghar' at the same venue on November 13, Anurag Theatre premiered 'Objection Overruled' on November 27, Padatik Natya Sangsad premiered 'Pake-Bipake' on December 8, and Spardha premiered '4.48 Mantras' on December 18, to name a few.
In the journey of togetherness under the reality of global lockdown, the cultural arena in Bangladesh has also seen how ‘things fall apart’ since the end of March, despite 2020 being the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation.
Some celebrations got shelved this year, including festivals like Pahela Baishakh and Victory Day, and several religious events. Major and international events such as Dhaka Lit Fest, Dhaka Folk Fest and Asian Art Biennale were also deferred due to Covid.
However, the creative minds are eagerly looking forward to an ‘annus mirabilis’ (wonderful year) in 2021, with new hopes and aspirations.