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  • probirbidhan 18:51 on June 23, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , book, , pakistan, Penguin Books India, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: The Unfinished Memoirs   

    Mujib, Russia and Mumbai on the bookshelf 

    New Delhi, June 23 (IANS)

    The bookcart this week has gripping fiction and thought-provoking non-fiction. Browse with IANS…

    1. Book: “Barnabas”; Written by Sangeeta Nambiar; Published by Westland; Priced at Rs.250

    British India. The summer of 1942. Bombay. From the leafy lanes of Wodehouse Road, a British woman goes missing from her home. Her husband, Thomas Stanton, wants to keep the police out of the loop, and thus calls in Bombay’s first private detective, Barnabas Mehta. Barnabas, the son of a cook, has been brought up under the tutelage of his father’s employer, Francis Curtis, and thus knows the ways of the British. But that isn’t enough to solve the mystery for him. His search for Rose leads him to the bylanes of Girgaum where he finds a murder to solve and webs of deceit to traverse. Who would murder Rose so brutally? Family secrets and the workings of an evil mind — they’re all there for Barnabas Mehta to unveil!

    2. Book: “Spies & Commissars: Russia and the West in the Russian Revolution”; Written by Robert Service; Published Pan Macmillan; Priced at Rs.450

    In the immediate aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the Western powers were anxious to prevent the spread of Bolshevism across Europe. Lenin and Trotsky were equally anxious that the communist vision they were busy introducing in Russia should do just that. But neither side knew anything about the other. The revolution and Russia’s withdrawal from World War I had ensured a diplomatic exodus from Moscow. And the usual routes to vital information had been closed off. Into this void stepped an extraordinary collection of opportunists, journalists and spies — sometimes indeed journalists who were spies and vice-versa — who tried to infiltrate the political elite and influence foreign policy to the Bolsheviks’ advantage. Robert Service, acclaimed historian and one of the finest commentators on matters Soviet, turns his meticulous eye to this ragtag group of people and, with narrative flair and impeccable research, reveals one of the great untold stories of the 20th century.

    3. Book: “Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: The Unfinished Memoirs”; Written by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Fakrul Alam and Sheikh Hasina; Published by Penguin Books India; Priced at Rs.699

    When Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s diaries came to light in 2004, it was an indisputably historic event. His daughter, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, had the notebooks — their pages by then brittle and discoloured — carefully transcribed and later translated from Bengali into English. Written during Rahman’s stay in the jail as a state prisoner between 1967 and 1969, they begin with his recollections of his days as a student activist in the run-up to the movement for Pakistan in the early 1940s. They cover the Bengali language movement, the first stirrings of the movement for independence and self-rule, and powerfully convey the great uncertainties as well as the great hopes that dominated the time. The last notebook ends with the events accompanying the struggle for democratic rights in 1955. This extraordinary document is not only a portrait of a nation in the making; it is written by the man who changed the course of history and led his people to freedom.

    4. Book: “Once Upon a Hill”; Written by Kalpish Ratna; Published by Harper Collins India; Priced at Rs.499

    How do you find something hidden in plain sight? Begin in a village named for an epidemic, witness an exorcism, and enter a labyrinth. Emerge with a mirage and meet a curious cartographer. Journey 60 million years with a turtle and a frog. Then, finally, find Gilbert Hill. The book is a plea from Kalpish Ratna to their city of Bombay. Gilbert Hill is where our past and future are gathered. Shall we revere this still point, or as seems inexorable, destroy it with our dance? The writers travel back in time to find the origin of the coastal rock, a basaltic outcrop, and tells the story of its dying present. The hill, though declared a protected zone, is under siege from nature as well as man.

    Book: “Poor Little Rich Slum”; Written by Rashmi Bansal and Deepak Gandhi; Published by Westland; Priced at Rs.250

    One million little Indian entrepreneurs. These are the stories of the little people who make up the big idea of Dharavi. A slum of energy, enterprise and hope. The book assembles real stories of the people for whom Dharavi in Mumbai is home and of people who are toiling to make the slum a habitable and tangible new urban heritage.

  • probirbidhan 05:26 on June 7, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: Amena Begum, , ছয় দফা দিবস, , বংবন্ধু শেখ মুজিব, , Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan, Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury, pakistan, six-point movement, Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Tofazzal Hossain Manik Mia, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto   

    Six-point movement, the historic June 7 

    June 7 remains a milestone in the history of Bangladesh.

    On this day in 1966, the people of what was then East Pakistan observed a general strike in the province in support of the Awami League’s Six-Point programme of autonomy announced a few months earlier by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

    আজ ঐতিহাসিক ছয় দফা দিবস–প্রথম আলো

    The strike, in the course of which a number of individuals were killed in police firing and a number of others were injured, was a powerful instance of the Bangalees making their displeasure about their place in Pakistan known to the authorities.

    But even as the general strike, or hartal, kept the province in its grip throughout the day, the central leaders of the Awami League — Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Tajuddin Ahmed, Syed Nazrul Islam and others — stayed behind bars. The strike would be spearheaded by two young Awami League politicians, Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury and Amena Begum.

    Mujib, who would not become Bangabandhu till three years later, had been placed in detention under the Defence of Pakistan Rules on 8 May 1966. The reason was not hard to understand: Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan, president of Pakistan, had made clear his opinion on the Six Points. He told the country that the purveyors of the Six Points would be dealt with in the language of weapons.

    Ayub Khan was not the only individual who spotted a threat to Pakistan’s unity should the Six Points be acknowledged. His soon-to-be-out foreign minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto challenged Mujib early in the year to a public debate at Dhaka’s Paltan Maidan on the Six Points. It was Tajuddin Ahmed who accepted the challenge on Mujib’s behalf. In the event, Bhutto did not turn up.

    The Six-Point programme included the following:

    1. Pakistan would have a federal structure of government based on spirit of the Lahore Resolution of 1940, with a parliament elected on the basis of universal adult franchise;

    2. The central government would have authority only in defence and foreign affairs and all other subjects would be handled by the federating units of the state of Pakistan;

    3. There would be two freely convertible currencies for the two wings of Pakistan or two separate reserve banks for the two regions of the country;

    4. The power of taxation and revenue collection would be vested in the federating units;

    5. There would be two separate accounts for foreign exchange reserves for the two wings of Pakistan;

    6. East Pakistan would have a separate militia or paramilitary force as a measure of its security.

    Sheikh Mujibur Rahman planned to announce the Six Points at a conference of opposition political parties in Lahore in early February 1966. He was not permitted to do so by the other participants, including the chief of the Awami League at the time, Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan. They found the plan too incendiary to be articulated. Rebuffed, Mujib announced the plan at a news conference in Lahore the following day, February 5, 1966.

    Mujib’s move raised howls of protest all over Pakistan. The civil-military bureaucracy and politicians straddling both government and opposition circles were quick to dub the Six Points as a secessionist plot to dismember Pakistan. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s arrest in May 1966, followed by the 7 June strike, swiftly led to circumstances where the Pakistan government opted for repression in East Pakistan. Tofazzal Hossain Manik Mia, the respected editor of the Bangla daily Ittefaq, was arrested on June 16 over his support for the Six Points. The next day, a ban was clamped on his newspaper.

    Events would move fast after June 1966. In January 1968, Mujib would be charged with conspiracy to break up Pakistan. The case, which would become notorious as the Agartala Conspiracy Case, would eventually be withdrawn under public pressure on February 22, 1969.

    A day after his release, Mujib would be honoured as Bangabandhu (friend of Bengal) at a historic rally in Dhaka.



  • probirbidhan 18:51 on May 22, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: 1971 war of liberation, , Bangladesh War Crimes Tribunal, , looting, pakistan,   

    Bangladesh Cannot Hide 1971 History: Huffington Post 

    Anushay Hossain Huffington Post May 22, 2012

    The post- Liberation War generation of Bangladesh know stories from 1971 all too well. Our families are framed and bound by the history of this war. What Bangladeshi family has not been touched by the passion, famine, murders and blood that gave birth to a new nation as it seceded from Pakistan? Bangladesh was one of the only successful nationalists movements post-Partition. Growing up, stories of the Mukti Bahini (Bengali for “Freedom Fighter”) were the stories that raised us.

    My mother told me that in 1971 you would send out the men in your family to look in large public parks for the bodies of loved ones who had “disappeared,” picked up by Pakistani soldiers. Despite the endless killings and torture, she still says, “There was a feeling in the air that you could do anything. Everyone knew Independence was only a matter of time.”

    But the one thing we did not hear about as much as we heard about the passionate fighting that defeated the Pakistani Army, were the rapes that took place in 1971. Many academics state that the first time rape was consciously applied as a weapon of war was during the Bangladesh War of Independence.

    Yet growing up, those are the stories that were missing from the narrative the post-war generation were told. While the role of women as fighters and supporters of the war are highlighted, the stories of rape camps and war babies are largely ignored.

    But we all know that as hard as you try, history cannot be rewritten. The truth exists, and ultimately comes out. In recent years, the shame slowly is lifting from this part of Bangladesh’s Liberation War, as more scholars ask questions and more feminists demand the truth.

    Each time I go home to Bangladesh, a relative, usually male, takes me aside and whispers stories to me about the “piles, and piles of bodies of rape victims” you would find under bridges in mass graves. “How many women were raped and killed in the hands of Pakistani soldiers,” my uncle tells me as his voice whimpers. “You cannot imagine, Ma.”

    But a Bangladeshi scholar wants us to do just that. In fact, as a country we all owe a great deal to Bina D’Costa who went and tracked down the Australian doctor, Geoffrey Davis, brought to Dhaka by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and the United Nations. Davis was tasked with performing late-term abortions, and facilitating large scale international adoption of the war babies born to Bangladeshi women.

    D’Costa’s conversation with Dr. Davis was recently published in a Bangladeshi publication, and is worth reading in its entirety. The stories of women being tied to trees and gang raped, breasts hacked off, dumped in mass graves and being held in Pakistani rape camps are all detailed.

    When asked if the usual figures of the number of women raped by the Pakistani Army, 200,000 – 400,000, are accurate, Dr. Davis states that they are underestimated:

    … Probably the numbers are very conservative compared with what they did. The descriptions of how they captured towns were very interesting. They’d keep the infantry back and put artillery ahead and they would shell the hospitals and schools. And that caused absolute chaos in the town. And then the infantry would go in and begin to segregate the women. Apart from little children, all those were sexually matured would be segregated… And then the women would be put in the compound under guard and made available to the troops… Some of the stories they told were appalling. Being raped again and again and again. A lot of them died in those [rape] camps. There was an air of disbelief about the whole thing. Nobody could credit that it really happened! But the evidence clearly showed that it did happen.

    Dr. Davis talks about how Sheikh Mujibur Rahman labeled the rape survivors as “war heroines” to help them reintegrate into their communities, but the gesture largely did not work. After being assaulted and impregnated by Pakistani soldiers, the Bangladeshi women were completely ostracized by society. Many were killed by their husbands, committed suicide, or murdered their half-Pakistani babies themselves.

    Some women were so scared to go back home after being held captive in Pakistani rape camps, they begged their Pakistani captors to take them back to Pakistan with them.

    As I was reading through the article, I found myself simultaneously looking up sources online. This video of a NBC reporter who found a shelter where many women impregnated with Pakistani soldiers stayed until they delivered, makes you remember that when we talk about the large-scale violence against women that took place in 1971, often we are talking about young girls, sometimes just 13 years old.

    As I struggled through my emotions to keep reading, I stopped and sat back in my chair. ‘What am I doing this for?” I asked myself. ‘What is the point of digging up all this horror?”

    That is when I realized that the pain is exactly the point. The shame that the women of Bangladesh who survived the war carry should be shared with all of us. Why should they suffer in silence? They probably bore the greatest burden of the war, and out of respect we must recognize them. We must find honor in their experience.

    Yes, we are a “conservative” country. Yes, we are a Muslim country. Yes, we can use a lot of excuses as to why we want to close our eyes to this painful and horrifying part of 1971. But by doing that we are denying a huge part of our history to exist. As D’Costa says, we are intentionally suffering from “historical amnesia.”

    After Bosnia, the Rome Statute officially recognized rape as a weapon of war. While these survivors are still alive, Bangladesh must honor their testimonies and have these crimes prosecuted in the War Crimes Tribunal, finally set up in Bangladesh forty years after Independence.

    The question that keeps haunting me, though, is where can the vibrant women’s movement in Bangladesh go if we have a such a massive historical wound to heal from? We must look to the past and bring justice to these women, to all the survivors of the sexual violence of the 1971 war, if we really want to move forward.

  • probirbidhan 18:38 on May 22, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: Bangladesh war crimes trial, pakistan   

    Pakistan not influencing war crimes trial in Bangladesh, says official 

    Shakhawat Liton
    The Daily Star Publication Date : 22-05-2012

    Pakistan is not influencing the ongoing trial of war criminals in Bangladesh, a senior official of Pakistan foreign ministry said yesterday.

    “We have full respect for your [Bangladesh] laws, and holding the trial is an internal affair of Bangladesh. So, we don’t have many words to say on the issue,” the official, who preferred not to be named, said while talking to a visiting Bangladeshi media delegation in Islamabad.

    He denied the allegations categorically.

    Replying to a query, the official however agreed that some may refer to allegations.

    Meantime, talking to the delegation from Bangladesh at the foreign ministry, Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan, Pakistan state minister for foreign affairs, disclosed that the country’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar was planning to visit Bangladesh anytime this year to boost ties between the two countries.

    “Our foreign minister is very keen to visit Bangladesh. She has already been invited by her Bangladesh counterpart [Dipu Moni]. And she is now seriously considering the invitation,” he said.

    “The visit may take place before or after the coming Ramadan [which begins mid-July],” Khan said.

    The state minister also stressed the need for increasing high-level talks to boost relations between Bangladesh and Pakistan.

    He mentioned that the two countries have good relations. And Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani is very pleased with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he added.

    Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni sent an invitation to Hina Rabban Khar in January to visit Dhaka, according to Pakistani officials.

    “The foreign minister was immensely busy since she had to look after alone all the affairs. After the appointment of Nawabzada Malik Amad as the state minister last month, the foreign minister is now considering making a visit to Dhaka,” an official said.

    He however indicated that the possibility of a visit to Dhaka either by the president or the prime minister of Pakistan was still very slim.


  • probirbidhan 22:54 on May 16, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , development, , education system, , mismanagement in government, nuclear, , pakistan,   

    Pakistan needs to stress education 


    Pakistan Today May 16, 2012

    The gateway to a country’s success is undoubtedly education. It is what enlightens and boosts the country’s economy, sovereignty and development.

    Malaysia is a worthy example. It has dragged itself into the category of the developed. The education has been so wisely promoted that the literacy rate has flown up to 95 percent. This is why their economy and development has expanded greatly by the years.

    We have got so much to blame, but the Indians who became independent right along with Pakistan, are seeing great prosperity. They have population problems, but alongside that, they keep on promoting their education sector. They can’t be called fully developed, but they have improvised their financial status using the education and skills. They now are a nuclear power, have a reasonable tourist industry and an extremely successful film industry. It is the education that has done everything.

    It has been a lengthy discussion, but the best example is yet to come and is that of Bangladesh. They were a part of us in 1971. We lost them and are still crying over the spilled milk. But they instead have promoted the education sector immensely. Schools have been built for everyone with equal opportunity for the rich and the poor. This is why that today they have got quite ahead of us. They have a better currency value and a better GDP growth rate.

    We have untapped oil and gas reserves under the barren mountains of Baloshistan, and we have coal estimated 175 billion tons, under the sands of Sindh. We have everything but the problem is that we don’t have the key – that is education.

    In Pakistan, two education systems are running parallel to each other – the Cambridge and the Matriculation. I find this the primary cause of lack of equal opportunity of education for everyone here in Pakistan.

    The government schools for the lower and the lower middle class mostly offer Matriculation. These schools are mostly in a neglected and ruined state. Here, the students aren’t even facilitated with basic requirements including books, and furniture.

    To be honest the teachers come just for killing time and are focused upon their income instead of fulfilling the basic purpose of teaching. Children should be entitled to great care, security and a good upbringing. They should always be treated with respect and love, but here they are treated with inhumane punishments and humiliating treatment. This mismanagement in government schools have caused the children of the ones with a lower budget to lack behind in terms of education.

    The Cambridge system is ostensibly for the upper class. The rich think of nothing less than famous privately owned schools, which teach according to the Cambridge system. Here, the children aren’t given strenuous punishments, but are treated as ‘lords’. This causes the children to become arrogant and give less importance to studies, which is a great cause of this predicament.

    As said before, education is everything for a country to survive. We need to cover this massive gap between the rich and the poor. Education should be equally available to everyone. We must improve the standard of education and must standardise the present infrastructure instead of introducing new and ostentatious programs. The children of leaders and the servants should study together.

    Most importantly, there should be a single education system, and the teachers should be hired for their teaching skills and not their references from famous personalities. The teachers should also treat the children as their own, and with love and affection. Promoting education and improving its standards is intensively required in Pakistan. We have the capacity to beat the developed and even the so called ‘super powers’.

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