'The place feels very much of my own'



Ashraful Islam, Planning Editor & Ishtiaq Hussein, Special Correspondent, Barta24.com
photo: Barta24

photo: Barta24

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Recently, a delegation of 66 members led by the Deputy Chief Minister of Meghalaya province of India recently visited Dhaka. The delegation, which came to Dhaka to attend the unveiling of the sculpture of Khasia Hero U Tirat Singh, a highly revered freedom fighter by the people of Meghalaya and East India, visited the Nazimuddin Road Jail in Old Dhaka, where Tirat Singh was once imprisoned.

Later, the delegation also visited Ahsan Manzil Museum in Dhaka. In an exclusive interview given to Barta24.com at Ahsan Manzil premises, the head of the delegation, Deputy Chief Minister of Meghalaya Sniavalong Dhar spoke about the development of bilateral relations including tourism, business and trade expansion. In the interview, he also highlighted his provincial government's interest in increasing Meghalaya's civic engagement with Bangladesh, noting that the place "feels very much its own".

Planning Editor Ashraful Islam and Special Correspondent Ishtiaq Hussain took this interview of Sniavlong on Ripon Raza’s Camera.

Barta24.com: Now we want to know about the visit of this delegation of Meghalaya government to Bangladesh...

Sniavalong Dhar: Our visit to Bangladesh this time is of special importance for the people of Meghalaya for many reasons. We are very happy and proud to pay our respects to our great freedom fighter 'Khasia Hero' U Tirat Singh who died in captivity in Dhaka during the colonial British rule. This visit touched the emotions of our people. On behalf of the people of Meghalaya and India, we express our sincere thanks and gratitude to the Government of Bangladesh and the Indian High Commission in Dhaka for extending us a warm welcome.

Barta24.com: Bangladesh has a land border with Meghalaya. Meghalaya is the Indian state closest to the capital Dhaka. How can we use this opportunity in business and tourism?

Sniavalong Dhar: There is undoubtedly a strong bond between Bangladesh and Meghalaya. Especially in business we have a lot of import and export going on. As you know, many Bangladeshis go to Meghalaya. We always welcome the people of this country to Meghalaya. Again our people come here. We want tourism policies to make this travel easier; So that the people of both countries benefit. As part of this, we are now discussing many issues between Meghalaya and Bangladesh because Bangladeshi businessmen are expanding their business in Meghalaya. We want to know how to strengthen this business relationship.

Barta24.com: Can cultural heritage and spirit of freedom struggle improve this relationship?

Sniavalong Dhar: We have similar traditions in many respects. There is a deep connection between Bangladesh and Meghalaya in the light of cultural and history of freedom struggle. We want to build on this tradition. Our visit to see Khasia Hero Tirat Singh's memories of Dhaka is part of that. Along with that we are planning to exchange cultural programs.

Barta24.com: How do you see the role of media workers in increasing the harmony of the people of Bangladesh-Meghalaya...

Sniavalong Dhar: Mass media can play an important role in enhancing mutual communication between people of neighboring countries. You will notice that the public is getting to know the news of Tirat Singh's memorial unveiling in Dhaka only through the media. I myself think, in the development of bilateral relations; In particular, it is important to continue the role of the media in deepening citizen relations.

Barta24.com: How do you feel now after visiting Bangladesh?

Sniavalong Dhar: Every time I come to Bangladesh this place feels very much like my own. Bangladesh's continued progress makes us extremely happy. I and my delegation have been given high regards in all the programs I have attended here. We are very fortunate. Thank you very much to the people of this country and everyone concerned.

   

Mild tremor in Chattogram, no damage



Special Correspondent, Barta24.com Chattogram bureau:
photo: collected

photo: collected

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Chattogram and its surrounding districts were shaken by moderate earthquakes. The earthquake was felt at around 10:46 pm on Saturday (April 21).

Earthquake monitoring website Volcano Discovery confirmed this information. It is said there, the magnitude of this earthquake was 3.7. And the depth of the earthquake was 10 km. The epicenter of the earthquake is 43 km north of Chattogram in Kaptai upazila of Rangamati district.

However, no damage was reported in the earthquake. But people felt some tremors. Then some wrote about the earthquake on social media Facebook. 

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Sports teaches discipline, loyalty and patriotism: PM



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com Dhaka:
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photo: collected

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that sports give people physical and mental strength. Also teaches discipline, loyalty and patriotism.

She said this at the prize distribution ceremony after the final of the Bangabandhu and Bangmata Gold Cup football tournament at the Bangladesh Army Stadium on Saturday (April 20) afternoon.

Along with other sports, Sheikh Hasina has urged to promote domestic sports as well. She also shed light on the steps taken by the government for the development of sports.

Sheikh Hasina said that whenever she came to power, she tried to encourage more children in sports because sports give people physical and mental strength. Also teaches discipline, loyalty and patriotism.

The Prime Minister said that she wants the children to develop into suitable citizens through sports, physical exercise and cultural activities along with education.

Sheikh  Hasina said by giving instructions to the concerned, that our children should be more interested in participating in sports, we should give equal opportunities to our domestic sports as well because our children will have more opportunities to develop their talents through local sports.

The Prime Minister said, today we can take the country forward through this sport. I can introduce the country to the whole world. I am really happy that not only our boys but also our girls are able to go abroad and show their talent. Since the formation of the government in 2009 when we started this primary school football tournament for boys and girls, Bangmata Gold Cup and Bangabandhu Gold Cup, Our boys and girls are showing excellent skills even when they go abroad across the borders of the country. Most importantly, SAFF Women-2022 has earned the opportunity to become the champion. It is our girls who have brought this achievement.

The head of the government said that the government is making one mini stadium in each upazilla, so that sports opportunities are created in each upazilla. Sheikh Hasina said, I want our boys and girls to make themselves suitable through sports, physical exercise and cultural practices along with education. All education and sports will be better in all aspects, we will walk with our heads held high all over the world. Our today's golden boys and girls will build the golden Bangladesh of the Father of the Nation's dream. My congratulations and blessings to all, she added.

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Biodiversity of Haor threatened by temporary beauty



Saidur Rahman Naim, Upazilla Correspondent, Barta24.com, Katiadi(Kishoreganj):
photo: barta24.com

photo: barta24.com

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Alpana inaugurated this road with fanfare from administration, public representatives to Bangla New Year. But no one thought that this temporary beauty would become a threat to nature. After a few days, new water will come to Haor. And now there is a heated discussion about how much damage this color will cause.

On the occasion of Bangla New Year, a beautiful Alpana was painted over 14 km from Mithamoin Zero Point to Ashtagram Zero Point on Haor all-weather road recently. Environmentalists have expressed fear that if these colors of Alpana are washed by rain and mixed with the water of Haor, it will harm the reproduction of fish in Haor.

Environmental experts said that any color naturally contains various chemical components. The amount of paint used in the Alpana on Haor road will harm the aquatic plants, fish and other aquatic animals there due to the chemicals contained in it.

Digital service provider Banglalink Digital Communication, Asiatic Experiential Marketing Limited and Berger Paints have jointly implemented the world's longest Alpana painting on Haor's all-weather road. Asaduzzaman Noor, a cultural personality and Member of Parliament, officially inaugurated the work of drawing Alpana by scratching Rangtuli at Zero Point of Mithamoin on April 12. It is known that 16,000 liters of paint has been used on the 14 km road to paint this Alpana. And a large amount of turpentine is mixed with the paint. This turpentine is more dangerous than kerosene.

Since then, environmentalists started protesting on social media, claiming that this Alpana, painted with a mixture of paint and turpentine, will have an adverse effect on crops and fish. They said that Haor is a very safe place for fish. In the first rains of Baisakh, various native species of fish including Tangra, Batasi, Punti, Mala, Boal, Shoal, Gajar, Pabda, Gulsha, Kai, Shing, Magur usually lay their eggs. If it rains, the paint used here will wash off and get mixed with the water in the Haor. This color will dissolve in the water and kill the crops, aquatic animals including fish, grasses and insects. Soil and water will be polluted and the food chain of the ecosystem will collapse.

Saiful Islam Jewel, general secretary of Kishoreganj district branch of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa), told the media, "We will dress up in Alpana colors on Baisakh, this is the traditional custom of Bengalis. But the authorities should have kept the environmental disaster in mind first. The worst thing is that the paint contains toxic chemicals. Biphenyl in particular contains endocrine disruptors, which in water will cause serious adverse reactions in fish. Whenever aquatic animals including fish are exposed to this high level of biphenyl, aquatic animals including fish will not lay eggs, they will not be able to fertilize the eggs.

About 14 percent of the country's fish demand is met from Haor. For this reason, Haor region of Kishoreganj is also called as one of the fisheries big source of Bangladesh.

According to the sources of District Fisheries Office, 28 thousand 21 tons of fish are produced from Haor in Kishoreganj in the fiscal year 2022-23. On the other hand, as the soil of Haor is very fertile, a lot of paddy is grown here. 25 percent of the country's rice demand is met from the Haor area. In the fiscal year 2022-23, 4 lakh 82 thousand 283 tons of Boro and Aman rice were produced.

Professor Ahmad Qamruzzaman Majumder, dean of the Faculty of Science of Stamford University and an environmental expert, said that the common elements that are in the color (such as benzene, diclovision, tetraclovision, toluene, cadmium, chromium); they contain many types of chemicals. The amount of paint used on the 14-km road in Haor will naturally affect the wetlands, aquatic plants, microscopic aquatic animals and even small fish.

Bangladesh Agricultural University Faculty of Fisheries Professor Dr. Haroon Or Rashid said, "Any type of chemical is a threat to aquatic life. Alpana has been painted over a large area; That must be somewhat harmful to fish and other animals. We have laws to protect the environment, like various mill factory effluents are harmful to rivers. And in that case the environmental law is also applied. Everyone needs to be more careful considering the environment before doing these things.

Environment Department Kishoreganj District Assistant Director Md. Abdullah Al Mateen told the media that the next steps will be taken by talking to the higher authorities.

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'Developing countries like Bangladesh are the first victims of the Middle East crisis'



Ashraful Islam, Planning Editor, Barta24.com, Dhaka
Pic: Barta24.com

Pic: Barta24.com

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Israel-Iran conflict has again become a great threat to the stability of the entire Middle East without the end of Israeli brutality in Palestine along the path of Israel-Hamas conflict. International relations expert Professor of International Relations department of Jahangirnagar University Dr. Shahab Enam Khan thinks so. He said, developing countries like Bangladesh will be the first victims of instability in the Middle East. Referring to this ongoing crisis as 'long-term', Bangladesh should not only rely on garments and remittances to deal with the possible situation, but should prepare international trade diplomacy. The Professor said these things in an exclusive interview given to Barta24.com. Planning Editor Ashraful Islam spoke.

Barta24.com: How to assess the recent tense situation in the Middle East? What kind of global challenges is this creating, especially for developing countries like ours?

Dr. Shahab Enam Khan: The situation in the Middle East is completely unpredictable and this unpredictability will continue for a long time. This unpredictability is not just like Israel or Iran jumping for a few days and then stopping again. This unpredictability will continue for a long time and will be at the center of Israel. The relationship between the Arab and Western world revolves around Israel. So here is the volatility centered on Israel. And the crux of it is that the Western world handles it. To be clear, the Arab world has no role here except to wage war of words. There is another point - in view of these events, there is now a big polarization between Russia-China-Turkey-Iran, centered on them. On the other hand, there has been a polarization in the Western world around Israel. This polarization will have a huge impact on the global economy. They would like the West to not be able to do this, which would put a huge strain on the global economy and monetary system. The first victims will be the developing countries.

Barta24.com: Does that mean it is becoming clear that the Western monopoly on the world order has collapsed?

Dr. Shahab Enam Khan: Absolutely. That is why polarization has been created in the world. The Western world has a monopoly on Israel but not Iran. But what will happen to Israel's relationship with the West, how they handle this relationship will depend on how the days ahead will be. What Israel's relationship with the Arabs will be does not matter here.

Barta24.com: Can't we see some kind of contrast between the speeches and statements of the Western countries, especially the United States, and their internal stand...at least when assessing the situation?

Dr. Shahab Enam Khan: That's right. I will add one more thing, that is - the upcoming election in the United States is also an important issue. Because of this, the Israel-West relationship will remain unstable for a long time. It is precisely because of this that the world economy and monetary system are under great stress which will have an impact on developing countries like Bangladesh.

Barta24.com: What kind of impact do you think?

Dr. Shahab Enam Khan: First of all, different types of sanctions, alternative currency pressure will come. Secondly, there will be a lot of strategic diplomatic pressure at this time. We have a kind of constitutional commitment to stand by Palestine, we have been showing it. We have taken the same stand in the case of Rohingyas. Stand up for endangered humanity.

Barta24.com: What kind of precautions should we take in terms of reality?

Dr. Shahab Enam Khan: We need a complete rethinking of international trade. It will not be possible to depend only on garments and remittances. India has not been hit as much by the current world situation or as much as we were by the Ukraine crisis because of the diversity of the Indian economy. I think we have to work hard on four areas. First: Energy security, more precisely we have to achieve self-sufficient energy, which is directly related to national interest. It needs to be mentioned here that many people confuse the national interest of our country with personal interest. In national interest we have to ensure our energy security from indigenous sources. We will not have it with inefficient energy institutions. The entire energy system needs to be overhauled.

Second, our trade diplomacy should not only be verbalized, but trade diplomacy should be strengthened in a practical sense. Among these will be the number one priority, 'Diversity'. That is, various sectors of the economy should be strengthened.

Thirdly, existing relations with Arab countries should be deepened. Also, it is important to create strong alliances with other developing countries that will be affected by this global tension and conflict. We may not be interested in going to BRICS and try to do something ourselves, where our own interests will be prioritized where many countries like Bangladesh are worried about the existing situation. If Bangladesh can bring many economies together to create a collective voice, it will also bring effective results.

Many countries will tell us a lot, but we have to think about how effective it will be in practice. Bangladesh has been talking about trade multi-lateralization for at least a decade, but there is no action on what to export, what to have. Indigenous people are not creating any industry here, nothing much has been done with the potential jute. That means not only words, but a practical effort needs to be taken in the practical sense.

Fourth is to strengthen and expand the internal market. At the moment, the domestic market of Bangladesh is largely dependent. A Cadbury chocolate in India manufactured by themselves to British standards and offered to consumers. There is no more trouble with foreign currency. People are eager to buy old cars in Bangladesh. With such a large market, why is the indigenous car industry not happening here? If it was a country with a small population like Bhutan or the Maldives, one would think so, but that is not the case. We are very relieved to ride in an old car, because the reality is that a car is a necessity. Where economic productivity has increased, scale has increased; Human mobility will naturally increase. But here the productivity and safety of people are being minimized by importing with 200-400% tax.

There is a lot of talk about transitioning into a developing country in 2026, but what will happen to the pharmaceutical industry here? Let the government create APIs with subsidies, let them create commodities - but apart from all this, we are filled with thoughts of impossible adventures which should not be done at all.

Barta24.com: Is excessive bureaucratic reliance a barrier to discouraging possibility and diversity?

Dr. Shahab Enam Khan: Of course, the economy can never be bureaucratic. Here the private sector needs to be brought into more policy making. Private sector believes in profit. So they always want variety. If bureaucrats could understand export diversification, why did the jute industry fail? I think creative industries should be brought in here by reducing bureaucracy dependence by going for extensive privatization. It will help the country's economy a lot in the current global crisis.

Barta24.com: The tension on the border of Myanmar is not stopping, do you see a sustainable solution?

Dr. Shahab Enam Khan: Sustainable solution will come only when Arakan is stabilized. Bangladesh needs to play a leading role in stabilizing Arakan. It can be done in many ways - single support or contribution to infrastructure development. Steps can be taken to strengthen their civil society, political society. It will be seen that the Americans from across the Atlantic are doing it right. Bangladesh is talking about democracy and then Bangladesh can work to restore democracy there. We need to engage with the actors that are active there, not just the Arakan Army because without them the repatriation of Rohingya will not be possible. The Tatmadaw (Myanmar's government military) will not solve this. Nor will the Rohingya crisis be resolved even if the Tatmadaw takes root in Rakhine. If the Tatmadaw cannot stay, the Arakan Army comes; it will not be a solution if they are not engaged. Although Bangladesh has made a lot of progress on the Rohingya issue in the past year, nothing has happened before.

Edited by: Mahmood Menon, Editor-at-Large, Barta24.com 

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