imperfect | world | 2010

Archive for February, 2006


  • Filed under: Misc
Feb 10,2006


Spotted by jonz

And a quite unbelievable story spotted by jonz again in The Sun about a “Mustafa Shag” toy. Newsinternational’s two cents’ worth?

Feb 9,2006

UK’s view of Globalisation & Bangladesh: posted in Docs.

Feb 9,2006


From sorting out visas to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Patricia Butenis is packing her bags for Dhaka. She has not got far to come. She is currently Deputy Chief of Mission in Islamabad, Pakistan and of course one can’t help wondering what ideological baggage she brings because of that. There is very little information about her apart from the White House statement of her nomination. She has written an article about Pakistani women entitled Standard Bearers for Freedom for the Daily Times in Pakistan. I suppose we can get an idea of where she is located in her thinking if we consider that she did her apprenticeship in Pakistan under Ryan Crocker? Here is a brief US State Department resume of his life. Yes you can guess can’t you? All the badges of shame and dishonour are there: Lebanon ( during the 1982 Israeli invasion), Iraq and Afghanistan.

Well, one can always hope that Patricia is different and wish her well…

Feb 8,2006


If you live abroad then next time you are in Dhaka make sure you pick up a copy of Jamini. It is an international arts quarterly and lively with it. The reproductions are great, the coverage of Bangladeshi art is excellent, and the writing is top notch too. I mean there was even a little criticism of Noazesh Ahmed and his recent photography exhibition unlike the gushy stuff I read (or more truthfully did not bother to read in the mainstream press). It isn’t parochial and its articles are wide ranging. Only one criticism - it doesn’t come out often enough. It is a quarterly and the overseas subscription is also a litte steep…

Web 2.0 confessions

Feb 7,2006

I am having lots of geeky fun trying out so-called Web 2.0 products. In my AJAX haze I would like to engage in a pointless exercise and bring to your attention some of the “beta” products which i have tried and “tag” them with a few comments.


Feb 6,2006

Shock and horror surrounded some bizarre statements by the West Bengal Transport, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Subhas Chakraborty to a gathering in Midnapore at the end of last month. The gathering had come for the opening of a library and clearly the minister wanted to ensure that this would be a memorable meeting. Hence his startling and undiplomatic statements about Rabindranath:


Feb 5,2006

Do you earn 50,000 times less than your boss? If you are a garment worker in Dhaka and you contract for Wal-mart you probably do.

Wal-Mart logo

Wal-mart, as is well known, isn’t exactly an ethical outfit . It is synonymous with bad wages, bad labour relations, bad environmental management, and probably even bad breath. In the UK, where I live, its local manifestation is ASDA. The price wars it engages in through its “Every Day Low Pricing” has an impact right up and down the chain: suppliers are squeezed and third world producers are squeezed as the largest supermarkets source from the cheapest suppliers. And that means from countries where labour, human rights and environmental standards are the worst.

Anyway, I came across an interesting report which compared the hourly pay of Wal-Mart’s CEO wth average Wal-Mart full time employees in the US and sub-contractor employees of Wal-Mart’s operations in the developing world. Here is the hourly pay gathered from 2005 stats for the year 2004.

Wal-Mart CEO: $8, 434.49 PER HOUR
US worker: $9.68
Bangladesh: $0.17 (garment workers)
Indonesia: $0.46 (garment workers)

Yes correct $8.434.49 per hour based on $17,543,739 per year and 40 hours per week for H Lee Scott! That is about 50,000 x more than a garment worker in Bangladesh.

Feb 3,2006

I went to see a Drik photography exhibition last year in Dhaka. The exhibition was called Tales from a Globalizing World. It contained some of the best street photography I have seen. I recently took delivery of the book of the exhibition and I have taken the liberty to scan this pic below and reproduce the associated text. I hope the publishers don’t get upset.

THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN who take refuge in the big buildings of Kamlapur Railway Station and Sadarghat Ferry Terminal. They try to earn a living by helping passengers carry their luggage to and from their trains and boats, or by selling cigarettes and fruit on the ferries. They sleep in a group, almost on top of each other, in order to protect themselves. Men, older street children, drug addicts, even policemen often try to use them sexually. Sometimes these children serve a purpose for the politicains and policemen. When the police cannot find enough trouble-makers for the required quota, they come here and pick up street children instead. Dhaka, Bangladesh, November 2001.

Pic and text by Shehzad Noorani in chapter entitled Childhood Denied, Nepal, India, Bangladesh: the struggle to survive.

I was in Sadarghat terminal in December 2005. Don’t think things have changed…..

Feb 3,2006

Smut (including kissing) will get you a jail term. On 1st February, Broadcasting minister Shamsul Islam brought in this new law after a “threadbare discussion” in parliament. Well they know best, don’t they, these MPs?! See my earlier post about porn in Bangladesh cinema.

Erasing poetry in Singapore

  • Filed under: Asia
Feb 2,2006

Spare me 15 minutes and read this piece here. It is an article by Umej Singh Batia written three years ago but remains well worth reading now. It is called “A place not our own: on the poetry of Singapore.” This article typifies what I mean when I say Singapore is seductively conservative. At first the author laments the state of poetry in Singapore.

The decline of Singapore poetry in English is part of a wider phenomenon. A tiny island-city, Singapore is affected by broader currents. The engine of today’s global economy hums to the tune of advertising jingles and the hook of pop songs.

He, in my opinion, rightly notes the attempt to harness poetry to serve nation building purposes failed and needed to fail…. But then out of the blue he turns conservative and wants to “recognise the limits of the poem as an art-form and look beyond it.” He decries it as lesser form of creativity and one that is not needed in Singapore ie not good enough for nation building!

He, like the city-state’s principle mantra, sees Singapore as a hub-city “positioned on the cross-roads of trade” and the “cross-cable of information…” and as such “may somdeday produce a gloablised poetry that transships the touchstones of humanity in our new century.” But his conservatism is breathtaking - he goes onto define poetry by giving up the chase for it! I couldn’t believe it. And he is a Cambridge product too. Singapore is spending billions on technology. It wants to be the hub in this digital age. And it is setting about doing it with a technicist and mechanistic view of creativity. And it will stay a net importer of talent if it continues to control and restrict and censor ( read: repress) and produce skilled writers like Batia to pen conservative nonsense like this.

Feb 1,2006

Prime Minister Blair was defeated yesterday in his pursuit of laws which would have criminalised, among other things, criticism of faith. It was a disgusting assault on free speech. On the one hand Blair has pursued a war which has inflamed muslim opinion and on the other he is trying to appease certain sections of muslims at home and claim the moral high ground. He is desperate to be seen to be sensitive to islamophobia and is trying to develop an agenda which claims that Islamophobia is rife and that something needs to be done about it. Is it rife? Where is the evidence?

The Muslim Council of Britain, one of the bodies baying for this bill to become law, regarded it as an opportunity to punch and operate at the level occupied by the Jewish community through the offices of the Board of Deputies of British Jew. They wanted their piece of the action. And at what cost ? The problem with multiculturalism is this: this thing about tolerance and respecting others is not as innocent as it sounds. Kenan Malik last year wrote:

Diversity is important, not in itself, but because it allows us to expand our horizons, to compare different values, beliefs and lifestyles, and make judgements upon them. In other words, it allows us to engage in political dialogue and debate that can help to create more universal values and beliefs, and a collective language of citizenship. But it is just such dialogue and debate, and the making of such judgements, that contemporary multiculturalism attempts to suppress in the name of “tolerance.”

It is worth noting, by the way, that the current Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Iqbal Sacranie (knighted by the Queen last year!) is linked to Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin (an associate of MCB), who is believed to have been instrumental in plotting the assassinations of intellectuals, journalists and students during the 1971 LiberationWar. He was the subject of a UK TV documentary. Read Here or Read Here. The vinnomot article is no longer on the web (June 06) but I managed to get a pdf of it. Click HERE.
Sacranie and Bliar