Gayatri C. Spivak: “Bring Justice Home, Free Shahidul Alam”

Shahidul Alam has been treated in a disgraceful way.  We demand his release.

But what I want to emphasize is the damage to the state if a voice such as his is silenced. If creative artists and intellectuals such as Shahidul Alam are silenced, then the conscience of the state is killed. It is the role of the creative artist and the intellectual to offer constructive criticism so that the state can be a real democracy. And this is not allowed when the state makes these laws that simply say:  we will punish you if you perform your task. read more

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Improving Dhaka traffic with the power of kindness

About a month ago, students in Dhaka city led massive protest on the streets demanding safer roads and stricter traffic laws and punishments. The protests were sparked by a bus accident that killed 2 students. But road accidents in Bangladesh are very common. More than 4000 people died last year from road accidents alone. Clealy something is horrendously wrong with our roads. read more

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Desensitizing Injured Children

This article was originally published in Dhaka Tribune.

The early August peak of the students’ movement for road safety, or the Kishor Bidroho, has now passed. 

While many claim that the demands of the movement have been met, many more believe that the reforms that followed were merely eyewashes. The most challenging demands of the kids — including the resignation of Minister Shajahan Khan and the cancellation of the route permit of Jabaal-E-Noor bus line — were simply overlooked, and other demands were watered down to symbolic moves, like the Traffic Week and the traffic law amendments. read more

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From Quota Reform to Kishor Bidroho for Road Safety: Social Movements for Justice and Rule of Law

Both political executives and employees in public service must be held accountable for each and every action. That’s the hallmark of democracy. There are formal institutions and stipulated guidelines to make the state actors accountable. For a country like Bangladesh, the effectiveness of formal institutions such as, parliament, judiciary, Office of Controller and Auditor General, Independent Anti-Corruption Commission and so forth entrusted with the vital role of disciplining the actors in the executive branch has waned. Accountability through periodic elections has lost its significance as non-participatory and rigged elections have reappeared on the political landscape. The majority of the civic forums have also been encapsulated by the executive state. What we find in Bangladesh is nothing more than executive despotism. In fact, all kinds of channels through which citizens can ventilate their disapproval of executive actions have been shut down. Under this kind of pathetic situation, spontaneous social movements concerning pressing demands as perceived by citizenry can play an effective role. The glaring examples are Phulbari and Kanshat movements. Of course, there is no guarantee that such social movements generate positive outcomes all the time. But at least, these can expose the ugly face of despotic governments. read more

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The Democratic Project is Far from Over

“Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. ”
Winston S Churchill, 11 November 1947

A quick skim through dusty history or political science books will tell you of a time when democracy was the new kid of the playground. Democracy was conceived as a noble concept of governance. Yet, historically, its practice has been frequently flawed. Democracy’s embrace must be thus accompanied by safeguards against its susceptibility to abuse and distortion. read more

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Americans Lose in Trump’s War on Trade

Despite the consensus among the vast majority of economists against Trump’s tariffs, Trump insisted, “Trade wars are good and easy to win.” Well, it has not been a winner for the manufacturers across the nation in the U. S. Fed’s July issue of the Beige Book, a qualitative report by Federal Reserve of its twelve branches, which indicates mounting concerns among manufacturers about tariff increase. The purpose of the report is usually to understand the current economic trends through anecdotes from businesses and community organizations. This time, the 32-page report heavily featured Trump’s tariffs. Many businesses reported that Trump’s tariff prompted a shortage of raw materials, disruption in the supply chain, and an increase in prices. read more

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“Politicians today are chronic liars” – Obama : A look back at his famous lies

Last week, President Donald Trump surprisingly sided with this his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the question of Russian meddling in the 2016 election by saying that he didn’t see why it would be Russia who had interfered in the election. This drew a barrage of criticism from both sides of the isle and sent Trump on the back foot. Realizing the damage that was done, Trump quickly retracted his statement. “The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia’” instead of “why it would,” Trump said Tuesday of the comments he had made standing alongside Putin on the summit stage in Helsinki. read more

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Bangladesh Should be Warned by Pakistan’s Monetary Crisis

For the past one year, Ishaq Dar has squandered Pakistan’s good credit standing to issue billions of dollar bond to prop up rupee against US Dollar as opposed to raising fund for expanding the economy. Independent economists and IMF has consistently predicted that Pak Rupee is overvalued and its true market value is somewhere close to Rs. 130 per USD. read more

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