Less living room for Bangladeshis

this story registered a little on other blogs, but has since been forwarded around quite a bit. The problem at hand is how to adapt to the various sea level rise impact projections for Bangladesh. Im not going to dwell on how much? and how fast? questions as the early projections have reduced dramaticaly as the science has refined. I just wonder how much importance GoB and the national society will give to this long term challenge to their resourcefulness. or will it turn out to be another branded begging bowl and outsoursing of responsibility... because....... 'we dont' pollute nearly as much as you industrialised types, but we want to be and live like you'.

Don't get me wrong, Environmental Justice is a fight worth fighting. But taking control of your situation, deploying your skill, translating your values and plunging your stake in national integrity deep into the ground is vital.

Given the current lack of anarchy and hartal in Bangladesh, longer term issues over the 20-50 year scale are easier to think about and discuss. One of them is the Adaptation to Environmental Change. Without climate change Bangladesh is already and incredibly dynamic natural environment. River move, Rivers die, Islands form, Cities Grow...

The Adaptation end of the Climate Change debate is picking up, theres a fund for it and even petroguilt dollars are flowing in. No doubt there are lots of opportunities and buzzwords for NGO types to do what they do best.

However, there are 2 government projects that have been running for decades that really need to be considered. They have been assisted by european agencies over the years and are just mind boggling in their difficulty. Bangladeshi politicians need to have some patience and skill with these government initiatives.

The first is the Adarsha Gram Project and the second is called something along the lines of 'char development and settlement programme'. The first creates new model villages for the landless and the land lost. Hundreds of new model villages have been created since the idea came up in 1971. A few have sadly been lost to river erosion. Land aquisition is a real bummer but the AGP is inspiring (save for the donor funding).

The second project has a more engineering focus, where the tidal effect in the south and the hundreds of megatons of silt (annual) flowing through the main river system are manipulated by means of cunning crossdaming and engineering jadoo(magic) to grown new land. The annual figure for accreated land was 6-8000 hectares. Its slow hard work, which i feel should be honoured more and taken closer to the center of water board operations once they sort their lives out. Theres little political faith and mojo in these things. The Netherlands have stuck by Bangladesh on this project. All we need is for a General Zia type figure to pop out and kick it up the arse.

Ok, so two (limitedly) succesful approaches to the 'less living room' problem, but totally absent from the lyrics of the climate/development tourists and sycophants. And I am not even venturing into the realms of resettlement in the Chittagong Hill Tracts yet. When i read cute articles like the NYT one linked to at the top I really wonder who is talking to the national reality.

Of course the Western audience is the target of the piece and the global discourse on the matter is threaded through it. But where's Our Wisdom and foresight?

The biggest problem ive heard about from the people in 'areas of reduced living room' is of conflict. Imagine individuals families and communities gradually beeing pushed back onto eachother by an encroaching waterline. The indignity of having to squat on a roadside, to having to depend on near neighbour and not-so-near-neighbour kindliness.

It's hard to convey the depth of loss that losing your living room means. People's local identities and relationships are what frame their dignity to a large extent. They do not want to loose this, and generally hope for an engineering solution, yes an engineering solution in these matters. Eat that hippies.
"if you are robbed you can still go home
if your home catches fire you still have your land
if your land is removed, you do not even have the land beneath your feet."

Things to do:

Shove a whole lot of 'proper' scientists and engineers into the problem, listen to them and act according to the new knowledge. They will discover new options. Land reclamation should be honoured as much, if not more than theoretical physics, economics and literature in Bangladeshi culture. Raising climate awareness (scaring the crap out of people and jumbling up facts a la business as usual) with climate proofed development dollars is inadequate.

As a lot of this comes under the Water Resources ministry (though it has little to do with irrigation et al), accord the relevant minister with the prestige of a premier portfolio, not a midranking one. Come on, you are Bangladesh after all.

Sort out the Chittagong Hill Tracts issue. No not in an effete lilly livered human rightsy way, but in a broader minded view that we prefer our people to live in Bangladeshi territory than get shot up crossing over to India, or made miserable there.

Crank up the Adarsho Gram Project, but in a multi-story kind of way. This has been envisaged for the river erosion areas further inland.

Supercharge Khulna and Chittagong Universities of Engineering and Technology with well boned research programmes. Find a way of linking local engineering students and the coastal societies to eachother.


political weathering

There is a week in mid August when the Bangladeshi qaum's political imagination is thundered upon by 3 battling storm fronts.

14th August - Independance from the British for Bangladesh under the guise of Pakistan
15th August - Independance from the British for India

the two fronts represent two(or more) visions for a just society and much theatre has been made of the exageration of the difference.

add to this a particularly nasty front,

15th August (early hours) - The assasination of Mujib ur Rahman (the political leader to whom Bangladesh's own independance is attributed) and the merciless annihilation of his family.

And you get stormy weather, check the papers every 15th August for real confusion. Three nation state creations remembered in a few hours. Imagine how the Afghani's must feel, they have several national sovereignty switches over an even shorter period of time.

A similarly configured meeting of meteorological fronts is represted by the idea of Shibir students and Jamat e Islami people joining in with Independance Day celebrations, and how that makes those who feel that they own national creation. There is plenty of content on violent crime, responsibility and sequences of events already out there and easily googleable, that is not my focus.

Rajshahi University is a public univeristy where the 'islamist' and 'secularist' aligned youth are played of against eachother. One paper reports with disgust how Shibir are allowed to be present at the ceremonies there. Considering that most undergrads there, except the very retarded ones, are under 37 years old and absent from the mayhem, its a bit strange.

But then again it's not. I wish the Jamaat shura meeting in which they pondered what they should do about what they should do in the midst of national disintegration and recreation had been better guided, and those calling for longtermism and a reality check had been heeded. I dont know what Allah's plan for Bangladesh actually is, but its really hard at the moment. Young virile members of the Bangali Muslim qaum have few options for a political pathway at the moment, the ones that they have are difficult. (.... maybe thats the whole point)

Just as the Late Aftab Ahmed traces the dynamics between factions within the Independance movement up untill the end of the Mujib era I want 'the other sides' contextualised with sobriety. The secularist, leftist and liberalIST forces who were present in those years are deliberately covering up a lot of the truth, a nonlinear and plural truth.

ka-fa-ra = to cover (the truth)

Therefore, finer grained analysis of 'Islamic' forces, 'Leftist' forces and 'Nationalist' forces who were not moved by the Awami programme and the armed struggle needs to be conducted.

sa-la-ha = to reform

Those who project ownership of national creation, often do so with a particularly constructed ideological lens, which they camoflage from the people like Romulans. My feeling is that most default 'Nationalists' aren't into Independance for the unsacred blessings of secularism. It is of disgust for the unacceptable behaviour metted out to the East Pakistanis, and the restoration of dignity that throwing of that shackle gives them.

Without voicing the socially present alternate partial narratives of the period there is a mental block for the people who now merely mime the present hegemonic national mythology. Such a limitation to modes of thought is really sad.

Others are more eloquent, confident and open with their view;

"...Anisuzzaman (DU Bangla Prof) said, ‘Scrapping of secularism from the constitution and subsequent imposition of Islam as the state religion reversed the country’s fundamental state policies.’ The people from other religions or faiths were relegated to second-class citizens by the imposition of Islam as the state religion which was contradictory to the spirit of the war of independence, he said. ‘The majority of the people still cherish non-communal ideals. So whatever be in the constitution, the spreading of the people’s non-communal belief would widen the scope for secularism to be reinstated in the constitution,’ he said."

"Writer Selina Hossain said the major source of inspiration for the war of inspiration had thus far been ignored. ‘We had adopted secularism as one of the basic principles of the state but it was scrapped and later Islam was established as the state religion.’ She also pointed to the revival of fundamentalism, state patronisation of communalism, and gradual increase in fundamentalists’ dominance. ‘The secular character of Bangladesh can be regained by creating mass awareness and forcing the next elected government to reinstate secularism as a state policy,’ Selina said. It has become essential to resist the fundamentalists and ensure trial of war criminals to establish a secular society, she added."

"Playwright and director Mamunur Rashid said ‘How can Bangladesh be a secular nation when Islam is the state religion?’ Despite vigorous attempts from the state to patronise communalism, it failed to wipe out non-secular ideals from across the country, he said. Mamun said the only way to revive secularism was through trial of the war criminals." (NewAge)

The final quote is telling, that war crimes trials have a political purpose. I wish them precision and guidance, but ultimate failure in desacrilising the people and society of my father and grandfatherland.


The Governments own celebrations are lessened by parties boycotting it due to the presence of Jamaat. The Awami League, the Worker's Party and the Nationalist Socialist Party are at least a little ideologically honest about why. However, the BNP's spokeslady is quoted by NewAge (26/3/8),

‘We will not attend the programme due to the present political situation and considering the peoples’ suffering for skyrocketing prices of essentials.’

If the BNP were to evolve a braincell, or if AnAwami forces were to ponder a bit and just get real, mature and blossom I would truly have hope that we might have a more Independant Bangladesh. A country where the newspapers didnt cry with glee to announce reception of 'Development' resources, where the leader didn't ask the enormous neighbouring country for help improving horsemanship in the Armed forces, where there was more than one chunky water control element, where there wasnt a football club still calling itself 'Mohammedan' and where so many of the talented people didn't want to leave.


Sheep wake up! Our turn is coming

The video and the translation of Notis Sfakianakis's 'Provota', which means 'Sheep'

We put a wolf to guard the sheep
In a White House let's not say names
Some little sheep fight alone
They fight the wolf that entered their flock.

Sheep, our turn is coming
And you little shepherds can go get a haircut
Sheep, wake up, reach the heights
Wolves will exist as long as sheep exist

There was a bear that was looking for the wolf,
The bear was looking for the wolf while the wolf watched out for the bear
Wolf, the bear is not harmless
Now hurt, it’s dangerous.

Sheep, wake up our turn is coming
And you little shepherds go get a haircut
Sheep, wake up, reach the heights
Wolves will exist as long as sheep exist



That internal moral compass that keeps us from wrong but also immobilises when the symbols change.

When its lost, you might as well slash your wrists.


Ken will get through won't he?

I am getting rather worried that Ken won't be London Mayor for long and that a Boris win will usher in a new era of blueness in the land. After all, the people of the UK are actually a lot more conservative than London gives them credit for.

A guardian interview with ken, hillary's resurgence, pro-boris opinion polls and local media suggest that the whole lee jasper resignation affair (key variables: rude email, LDA grant to Brixton Base, Evening Standard and Martin Bright) is going to linger a bit and benefit boris.

The whole business of getting government funding to do good stuff in less organised, reorganised communities who dont focus too much on administrative mojo is tricky. Ken goes,
"If we had given this money to - what kind of organisation can I
think of? - a well-established, functioning group like the RSPCA, you would
expect much clearer lines of accountability. But you're dealing here with a
marginal, excluded group of kids, and people who do not have, as many of those
charities have, 50 or 100 years of established banking practice, legal
practice, accountancy practice. You're dealing with communities that don't
have lawyers and accountants who just happen to live down the road ..."

Not too long ago i think i faced a similar scenario, well not directly. If you want to work with youth you need to do it through youth groups, and yes these groups arent going to be very clear about what they are about. I can see a thread running through ken's defence of his colleague, and i'm always miffed when some lefty type goes bahaya. More fundamentally, I think a lot of group autonomy is lost by registering as a charity and playing the funding game. It detracts from the work one is hoping to accomplish, opens you up to being hamstrung and organises your collective life in a certain way. I'd prefer some kind of jizya or khums financial arrangement to make things easy though more realistically we should go for small community donations. The dishonour of sponging off the state should be avoided if possible.

The london press and electronic media is quite fed up with Ken. Certain forces have been picking off his political comrades one by one for years now. The innocent bystander wont be able to sense the tacit goings on here, especially as the london media is so partisan and some fool leaked some randy sounding emails.

Oh well. I saw lee jasper at the european social forum a few years ago, just after my foot-in-the-sink-moment with george galloway. His speaking style was entertaining to say the least. Yooowkip, Raysisum et al. I wonder if he gets exhonorated in the end?


The Spirit of the Ganj

Is in short supply and jealously guarded lest it be appropriated by dark forces.

It requires.

Non-capitulation to dubious forms of white think (secularisation, deradicalisation, liberalism).
Practical utility.
Fellowship with the humble and the noble.
Unashamed advocacy and defence of one beleaguered and dishonoured comrades.
Social Memory.

The Spirit of the Ganj influences the individual and collective in a nonlinear fashion, crushing hurdles, finessing rough edges but generally fueling certain activities.

It is uncertain whether the Spirit of the Ganj is the same as the Spirit of the Pind. Consultation continues.

Be Kind Rewind

Thought i.d attempt a film review. This production stars Jack Black (School of Rock and Tenacious D), Mos Def (who played Zaphod Beedlebrox in the recent rendering of the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy) and Danny Glover (Leathal Weapons et al). .. and its directed by Michel Gondry who brought us the zany Science of Sleep. So i was expecting something rather silly and fun. Only see this film if you are feeling that way and only watch it with people who are similarly inclined.

It starts by building up the apparatus for the gagfest and proceeds to delight the viewer with brazenly ingenious mimicry of emblematic scenes from popular film. In fact it does to film what Jack Black does to rock music in general. Physical humour is abundant, with my favourite moment, lasting all but a few seconds consisting of an imitation piano, with black peoples fingers representing the black keys and... yeah well.

Maybe i should write about Jerry's magnetic wee, or Mos Defs incredible initial camoflage or the way he handles different characters heads. But that would be telling.

Hmm, big idea content. I think there was some. MAGNETISATION for a start. SWEDING. The open sourcing of videomaking. The idiocy of overzealous copyrightists and the viral spread of crazes and the impersonality of the film maker to audience community relationship.