Bangladesh BD Internal Affairs

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Dhaka, June 15: `Mongol Barota’ team of MIST won Global University Rover Challenge Championship held at USA recently this year.

The team members were accorded reception at Multi Purpose Hall of Military Institutes of Science and Technology (MIST) at Mirpur Cantonment on Tuesday (15-6-2021)

A total of 88 teams drawn from all over the world including Europe and America took part in the Competition. `Mongol Barota’ team of MIST showcased their superiority defeating all the 88 teams. `Mongol Barota’ team included 17 students of MIST. Captain Akib Zaman led the team. Colonel Mohammad Shahjahan Majib and Professor Dr. Md Mahbubur Rahman attended the competition as Super Viser.

MIST Commandant Major General Md Whahid-Uz-Zaman, ndc, aowc, psc, te, was present at the reception ceremony as the chief guest.

Besies, all the Faculty Deens, Department Heads and students of the MISt were present at the function.

 

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Could Bangladesh win back the religious space from fundamentalists through the model mosques?​

With religious intolerance and hatred causing violence in Bangladesh and around the world, the government has come up with yet another initiative to uphold religious harmony and peace by spreading the true essence of Islam and its spiritual practices.

New model mosque-cum Islamic cultural centres currently being set up at district and upazila level would, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says, show Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance while countering misinterpretations of Islam and incitements to violence.

“The model mosques and centers of excellence will create a friendly environment among Islamic scholars, imams, teachers, and guardians” at the local level, said Mizanur Rahman, a former member of parliament who is involved in the project in Khulna. “These people will be watchdogs against radicalism and terrorism.”

The government plans to build 560 such mosques and centres of excellence at the district and upazila level. Planners envision local hubs where residents can conduct research and gain religious education; where both men and women have places to pray; and where public awareness is raised against social ills like child marriage, dowry, violence against women, and drug abuse.

Bangladesh has suffered more than its share of senseless bloodshed thanks to the cynical twisting of religion.
In the most recent example, an April 9 attack carried out by self-proclaimed Hefazat-e-Islam activists at a mosque in Gaibandha’s Sundarganj left 12 men injured.

Over the years, Bangladesh has endured wanton attacks at mosques, shrines, and churches.

There was even a suicide bombing inside a mosque of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Baghmara of Rajshahi in 2015, possibly carried out by Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh or Islamic State militants, or by members of the Wahhabi-inspired Ahl al-Hadith Andolon Bangladesh, which runs a neighbouring mosque.

Perversely, ethnic and religious minorities have been targeted in many districts, including Rangpur, Sylhet, Chittagong, and Cox’s Bazar with a local mosque’s public address system serving as the attackers’ chief organizing tool.

A November 11, 2017, assault on the Hindu community in Rangpur’s Gangachara upazila was carried out after days of incitement over rented loudspeakers and from the muezzin’s microphone at local mosques. The attackers burned thirty Hindu families out of their homes and looted what they could carry.

All this violence is the outcome of religious ignorance, the misinterpretation of Islam, and hatred toward our fellow man. It is a global phenomenon, one that Bangladesh is working to reverse.

Against this backdrop, the government has taken several initiatives, among them updating the curriculum and training of imams. A national campaign has been launched to build awareness among people and to stop violence.

The Islamic Foundation regularly organizes discussions across the country to create awareness on social issues like, dowry, child marriage, drug abuse, militancy etc. It also organizes workshops for imams on these issues, so that they can bring up the issue within their community.

The model mosque program is the latest move to this end.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has inaugurated 50 model mosques in as many upazilas, showing her strong support for the initiative.

But reaching the prime minister’s target of 560 local Islamic centres won’t be easy. Success or failure lies in the details: Of planning, personnel, and oversight.

The mosques will be operated by the government through the Islamic Foundation, which plans to recruit 7,000 people, including imams and muezzins. These staff will receive government salaries.

A committee led by a deputy commissioner at each district model mosque or an upazila nirbahi officer at each upazila model mosque will provide supervision.

Md. Shafiqur Rahman Talukder, deputy project director of the model mosque program said, “Officials including imams and muezzins of the mosques will have a work plan to arrange different activities like seminars against terrorism or drugs, [and] training programs to sensitize imams about radicalism and extremism.”

“Islamic scholars, imams, muezzins will have many opportunities to practice and bring out the real spirit of Islam,” he told Dhaka Tribune.

Borhan Uddin Md Abu Ahsan, director of the Islamic Foundation’s Chittagong Division said “the model mosque will be a leading Islamic center of an area. The mosques would nurture all the prayer houses at those areas so that none can abuse” their authority, or promote “anti-development activities.”

Hopes are high, but tempered by experience.

Mufti Mohammad Mohiuddin, general secretary for Dhaka City at the Bangladesh Jatiya Imam Samity, said the ambitious project won’t succeed if the government fails to recruit competent and sincere imams and muezzins.

“We have frequently observed,” he said, “that the government recruited ineligible employees in the past for such sensitive tasks.”

 

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The average life expectancy of people in Bangladesh rose further as it reached to 72.8 years.

The average life expectancy of female in the country found higher than the male as it rose to 74.5 years for female compared to 71.2 years for male.

These were revealed at the publication ceremony of the ‘Report on Bangladesh Sample Vital Statistics-2020’ held at the auditorium of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics on Monday.

According to the BBS, the average life expectancy of country’s people was 72.6 years in 2019 which was 72.3 years in 2018, 72 years in 2017, 71.6 years in 2016.

Planning Minister MA Mannan spoke at the publication ceremony as the chief guest while director general of Directorate General of Health Services Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam spoke as special guest.

Statistics and Informatics Division Secretary Mohammad Yamin Chowdhury presided over the function while Director General of BBS Md Tajul Islam gave the address of welcome.

BBS joint director AKM Ashraful Haque, who is also the project director of Monitoring of the situation of vital statistics of Bangladesh, 3rd phase, revealed the survey findings.

The report showed that the current number of population in the country is around 16.91 crore (January 1, 2021). The population of the country till June last year was 16.82 crore.

The average size of each household in the country is 4.3, about 98.3 per cent people are availing safe drinking water while around 81.5 per cent people have necessary toilet facilities.

The average growth rate of population in the country is 1.30 per cent in 2020 which was 1.32 per cent in 2019 while it was 1.33 per cent in 2018.

The density of population has also increased during this period as it was 1,140 persons for per square kilometer in 2020 which was 1,125 in the previous year.

The report findings also showed that the total fertility rate is 2.04 per cent, the maternal mortality rate per thousand is 1.63, the education rate of 15 years and above people is 75.6 per cent, 7 years and above people is 75.2 per cent, the education rate of female aged 7 years and above is 72.9 per cent, some 96.2 per cent people have power facilities, the number of internet users aged 15 years and above is 43.5 per cent of which the male users are 52.7 per cent while the female users 34.3 per cent.

The report indicates that the trend of development in average life expectancy, health and education sectors has continued. Despite being a densely populated country, Bangladesh has attained notable successes in controlling population growth.

A mother in Bangladesh now gives birth to two children on average whereas 50 years ago, a mother gave birth to six children on average in the country.

Speaking on the occasion as the chief guest, Planning Minister MA Mannan said that the average life expectancy of people has increased in the country and it is an excellent news. ‘There has been overall development in the country which has resulted in increase in average life expectancy of people. I’m very much delighted since the report has been published in the shortest possible time.’

Mannan said Bangladesh is now not afraid of its population as population is its resources.

He opined that the population growth rate should remain at an expected level.

The Planning Minister also said there has been a revolutionary change in the country in recent times due to rise in literacy rate, availability of safe drinking water and power connection facilities.

Statistics and Informatics Division Secretary Mohammad Yamin Chowdhury said that this a very regular and vital publication of the government while the BBS has been conducting such operations since 1980.

The number of sample families covered under the survey is 301,131 involving a population size of 12,85,013 where the number of members for per family is 4.3.

Director General of DGHS Khurshid Alam said that a big consignment of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to arrive in the country in the first week of July from China which would help to a big extent to vaccinate people in the country.

Khurshid said although global politics is going on over vaccines and even many countries are yet to get vaccines, but Bangladesh has availed vaccines and also started vaccinating people.

‘But, we’ve sufficient face masks in the country and we’ll have to wear those properly to check the infection rate of COVID-19.’ He added.

 

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Police yesterday arrested another Indian citizen on charge of entering Bangladesh without proper documents and visiting the Padma bridge site in Shariatpur's Jajira late at night.

"Some army personnel detained Rupsa Roy while he was roaming around in the Padma Bridge project area in Jajira without proper documents and handed him over to us," Mahbubur Rahman, officer-in-charge of Jajira Police Station, told The Daily Star.

"A case was filed against Rupsa under the Control of Entry Act for illegally entering Bangladesh today (yesterday)," he said.

Police pressed charges against Rupsa (40) in the case after completing the probe, the OC added.

Earlier, Bijoy Kumar Roy, another Indian citizen, was arrested from Jajira over the same charges on June 24. He was charged under section 4 of the Control of Entry Act for illegally entering Bangladesh after a case was filed against him with Jajira Police Station on the same day.

Apart from Rupsa and Bijoy, nine more Indian citizens were arrested for the same allegations, said the district police officials.

Contacted, SM Mizanur Rahman, additional superintendent of police (Naria circle) in Shariatpur, told The Daily Star, "We are looking into the matter with utmost importance. It's very mysterious that all of them were arrested under similar circumstances."

"When we detained them, all of them were behaving abnormally," he said, adding that if new information came out during investigation, a fresh case will be filed against them and they would be shown arrested in the case.

 

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For the first time ever, Bangladesh has bagged a gold medal in the Asian Pacific Mathematics Olympiad (Apmo). The result was published on Tuesday.

Md Maruf Hasan, student of Ananda Mohan College, Mymensingh, won the gold medal for Bangladesh in this year's competition. He won silver and bronze medals in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

Besides, Nuzhat Ahmed of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College and Adnan Sadiq of Notre Dame College won a bronze each, while six members of the Bangladesh team were awarded special honours.

In this year's competition, a total of 344 students participated from 37 countries. With a total score of 96, Bangladesh ended up 21st with one gold and two bronze medals.

The Bangladesh Mathematical Olympiad (BdMO) committee announced the local edition of the mathematical olympiad in March this year. It was held at the Monem Business District building in Karwan Bazar, Dhaka.

Apmo is held annually. Each participating country has a representative in charge of organizing it locally. A central committee selects a paper with five questions to be solved in four hours, sends marking schemes and determines award winners.


A doctoral student at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) recently made substantial progress in developing a quick and inexpensive method of diagnosing cancer at its earliest stages.

Fatema Jerin Farhana, a PhD student from Buet’s chemistry department, conducted research to this end in collaboration with Australia’s Griffith University, developing a process of creating inorganic enzymes based on iron oxides with functional groups by applying the concept of green chemistry.

With this new type of inorganic enzyme, it is possible to identify the various biomarkers responsible for cancer at an early stage very quickly and at an affordable cost, thus improving the chances of formulating a cure for patients, her study concluded.

The results of her research were published in the Analyst, the Royal Society of Chemistry Journal and in the ACS Applied Nano Materials, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, in May this year.

According to the study, cancer kills a big number of individuals every year all across the world, including Bangladesh and Australia. And only by appropriately diagnosing cancer at an early stage will this number of deaths be reduced.

The research underscores the idea that this new class of inorganic enzymes will play an effective role in creating a simple and accurate method or device for the early detection of cancer at low cost, which will especially be effective in treating the expensive disease in a developing country like Bangladesh.

The main purpose of Farhana’s study was to make a simple and accurate method of diagnosing various diseases at low cost through using knowledge of chemistry, especially nano-chemistry.

Diagnostic centres usually use natural enzyme-based (ELISA) methods or devices to diagnose a variety of human diseases, including cancer, which are expensive and time-consuming. Moreover, the process of preserving natural enzymes is also very complex.

However, Farhana has demonstrated that an inorganic enzyme functions similarly to a natural enzyme in catalytic reactions. Its preservation method is straightforward, and it can accurately identify and measure a variety of cancer biomarkers.

Farhana’s earlier works primarily focused on creating various nanoparticles, organic and inorganic compounds. Later, she became involved in diagnosing expensive diseases like cancer by collaborating with Siddiqui Research Lab in 2018.

Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Farhana said these inorganic enzymes could be utilized not only to identify cancer but also any disease in the human body.

Furthermore, this novel form of inorganic enzyme can be employed for early detection of plant diseases in various crops such as rice, wheat and sugarcane, in addition to diseases of the human body, she added.

One of the supervisors of Farhana’s research team, Dr Siddiqui, said: “This new class of inorganic enzymes acts like natural enzymes in catalytic reactions. After attaching the necessary functional groups they can be identified with different biomolecules. These special classes of enzymes also have magnetic properties. Using these multifaceted factors, biomarkers of various diseases, including cancer present in human blood, urine or saliva, can be easily diagnosed. ”

Professor Firoz, the research supervisor, thanked Dr Siddiqui and his research team for their cooperation in this work and emphasized creating a multidisciplinary collaborative research culture in the country.


The Australian Journal of Asian law, a peer-reviewed journal of Melbourne University, has published a special issue, exclusively dedicated to legal aspects of Bangladesh, highlighting the country’s ‘serious weaknesses’ in enacting laws and their implementation.

Legal scholars through their research articles argued that Bangladesh’s laws are mostly poorly drafted, and public participation is often sidestepped in the lawmaking process while problems are further deepened by poor enforcement and compliance.

Critically examining the challenges and opportunities of the selected aspects of all articles concluded that Bangladesh needs to build on the existing laws by undertaking appropriate reforms to steer its laws towards a more sustainable future.

The special issue titled “Law in Bangladesh: Examining Bangladesh’s Legal Responses to the Emerging Law and Policy Issues: Successes, Limitations and Future Direction” was published online on Friday.

Mohammad Sohidul Islam, a Joint District Judge of Bangladesh Judiciary and a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, worked as the guest editor for publishing the special issue of the journal while all the articles were written by Bangladeshi legal experts who are currently staying in different countries.

A series of articles dealing with vital areas of the current laws were carefully selected for the special issue, which broadly cover specially four key themes -- constitutional discourse, environmental protection, access to justice and law and policy reform.

The special issue underscored key reforms and brought forth the issues for policy attention that include ensuring public participation and deliberation in adopting laws like constitutional amendment, transforming tort liability into the domain of public law compensation, embedding a better regulatory underpinning for sustainable groundwater irrigation, controlling noise pollution in Dhaka through the lens of the constitutional right to life’, making the environment courts functional to ensure environmental justice across the country, promoting women’s right to access to justice through the enhanced use of public interest litigation, and reforming anti-terrorism laws to tackle wide-ranging terrorist activities more effectively.

Talking to UNB, Mohammad Sohidul Islam said this is perhaps the first issue of an international, refereed law journal exclusively dedicated to legal issues in Bangladesh.

He said although Bangladesh has a vast body of laws that makes it a fertile ground for scholarly research, it remains largely underrepresented in the legal literature rendering it inaccessible to a wider audience.

“Through this special issue of the journal, Bangladesh’s important legal issues have been highlighted for drawing the attention of the local and international experts. We hope it’ll help encourage a greater attention to the vital ‘next steps’ in Bangladesh’s law reform journey and, perhaps, the energy to take those steps, too,” Sohidul added.

 

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Film Valley, one of the largest private film cities in the country, was inaugurated recently. Located in Dhamrai, Savar, this shooting location extends on three and a half acres of land. It is built in honour of showbiz legends loved by audiences in Bangladesh.

Film Valley is planned by Ismile Hossain Nayon and Nur Jaman Raja, Directors of Golpagar Entertainment, and funded by Engineer A S M Haider, Chairperson of Euro Group. It is executed under the guidance of A B M Nasimuzzaman from Golpagar Interior.

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The Nayak Raj Razzak Studio. Photos: Courtesy of Film Valley

Childhood friends Nur Jaman Raja and Ismile Hossain Nayon always dreamt of creating a film city, and their common interest in art and filmmaking only contributed positively towards this ambition. "Working together in both Golpagar Entertainment and Golpagar Interior has been quite an experience, starting from the initial days to growing up together. Today, we are finally living the dream of establishing Film Valley," shares Nur Jaman Raja. "This success has come after a lot of rejections and hard work."

The demand for safe shooting spots has become a necessity for the entertainment industry. Bearing that in mind, Film Valley offers security and safety measures for its visiting shooting teams. "I have worked on a few projects myself. Proper film cities that offer all sorts of resources and comfort for actors, crew members and the filmmakers are very few in number. Thus, I came up with this plan, and it took us around four years to establish this city," adds Ismile Hossain Nayon.

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The Kabori Studio.

Hiring shooting spots and establishing sets requires finance and time. "Here at Film valley, we provide all the support that a film production team requires. This not just avoids unnecessary expenses, but also saves a lot of time for the team," adds Nur Jaman Raja.

Film Valley looks to restore and treasure the heritage of the entertainment industry, alongside providing solutions for filmmakers who look for secured places to execute their creative productions. "As we combat the coronavirus pandemic, the audience's inclination towards media, especially the entertainment industry, has grown significantly," shares A S M Haider. "This need has given way to the emergence of video streaming platforms for South Asian audience, especially Bangla content, for Bangla speakers." Film Valley looks to arrange shoots in accordance with regulations of the government and other shooting houses.

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The Suchitra Sen Shorobor.

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The Salman Shah Studio.

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The Manna Studio.

It has five designated shooting floors and six independent studios. Four shooting floors are named after Nayak Raj Razzak, Abdullah Al Mamun, Jashim, and Humayun Faridee. The fifth floor is dedicated to renowned filmmaker Zahir Raihan. The studios are named after Salman Shah, Zafar Iqbal, Manna, Anwar Hossain, Dildar, and Kabori. In addition, Film Valley has a lakeside location called the Suchitra Sen Shorobor, the Humayun Ahmed Tennis Ground, and numerous outdoor sets.

The film city also offers uninterrupted electricity, water and gas supply, car parking, and overnight accommodation for visitors. "Designing a film city is never easy. It took a lot of team effort to finally come to this result," shares architect A B M Nasimuzzaman. "My heart fills with joy when I see months of discussion and designing physically present in front of my eyes."

 

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Milk production has been enhanced by around 100,000 tons while dairy farm largely expanded in Rajshahi district in last four years, delighting many people as fortune maker.

In 2020, around 356,000 tons of milk was produced compared to 250,000 tons in 2016, said Ismail Haque, district livestock training officer.

Dairy farming has become a blessing for people because many of them are doing business for attaining economic emancipation in the region, he said.

Rabiul Karim has become an icon in the field of dairy farming in his locality at Katakhali Shyamnagar village, around nine kilometers off the Rajshahi city, for the last few years.

He started the business with four cows around six years back leaving behind his high-salaried job in a private company. He has 32 cows in his Abrar Dairy Farm on around four bigha of land at present.

A former student of the Department of Accounting and Information Management in Rajshahi University, Karim is getting 150 litres of milk from 13 of the cows on an average daily at present.

After exploring the existing potentialities, he has become competent towards making butter from the unsold milk and selling those to the food shops and other restaurants.

Currently, his monthly income has now stood at around Tk1 lakh, while around Tk15-18 lakh yearly through selling milk and other milk-based processed foods.

He has developed high-yielding grasslands on four bighas of land to feed the cows. He provides nutritious food to the cows regularly.

Karim said: "I, myself, prepare the feeds through mixing maize, wheat and rice bran and other nutritive grains and ingredients".

Another dairy farmer Golam Rahid has started his business after purchasing a cow at a cost of Tk10,000 around a decade back. Now, he has 25 cows producing 120 litres of milk on an average every day.

Amidst arrangement of high yielding and high breeding cows, milk production has been enhanced to a great extent. He sells the milk at his farm in Assam Colony area in the city.

Rahid said dairy farming has now become expensive in the wake of price-hike of cow's feed items, medicines and other requisite inputs.

Like Rabiul Karim and Golam Rahid, many others have become successful entrepreneurs in this field contributing a lot towards ensuring milk and other milk-based processed foods to the society.

Artificial insemination of cows is gaining popularity in the region following significant achievement in the breed up-gradation method, said Ismail Haque, District Livestock Training Officer.

He said the cows are giving milk ten times more than that of the previous record due to the cross-breeding.

In both rural and urban areas, the poor and marginalized people including women have achieved tremendous successes in the sector through getting various assistances from the government.

Prof Jalal Uddin Sarder of the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Rajshahi University opined that boosting milk production and its consumption is very effective to eradicate the malnutrition that can stem Covid-19 spread.

Highlighting the enormous aspects of milk to the nation-building process, he viewed that milk consumption is also crucial for both physical and mental development of the children.

Prof Sarder mentioned that large-scale promotion of the livestock sector is very important to remove the existing protein deficiency alongside ensuring food security.

In addition to meeting the nutritional deficit especially meat and milk demand, the livestock sector has a laudable contribution to enrich the soil nutrient which is being declined gradually due to indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers and harmful pesticides.

He said most of the people suffer from malnutrition, especially lack of animal protein getting from milk, meat and egg.

He revealed that production of huge amounts of meat through the indigenous beef-cattle improvement would supply low cost meat for people and it will ultimately protect them from malnutrition.

 

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The Bangladesh government will get another year to fulfil all the conditions placed by the World Heritage Committee (WHC) of Unesco on preparing a long-term plan to save the Sundarbans.

At a World Heritage Committee meeting chaired by China, the delegates talked on the Sundarbans issue this afternoon and decided to discuss whether the mangrove forest will be listed in the endangered world heritage site list in their 45th meeting to be held in July 2022.

Before that, the government will have to submit its progress report about Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and other issues.

The current 44th meeting of the WHC is now going on at the Fuzhou city in China. The meeting started on July 16 and will continue till July 31.

"Our submission was well accepted in the meeting. Everything went well," said Mohammad Hossain, the Director General of Power Cell, a technical arm of Power Division, Ministry of Power and Energy & Mineral Resources who has been working on the issue with the Unesco.

On the progress of preparing the SEA of southwestern coastal area, he said, it was being delayed due to the pandemic.

After reviewing documents of the World Heritage Committee it was seen that the delegates had requested the government to ensure that Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment for the South West region of Bangladesh be carried out as a prerequisite for development projects within or around a World Heritage site.

The World Heritage Centre, which enlisted the Sundarbans as natural heritage in 1997, has been raising objections about the power plant since the government took the initiative of constructing it at the edge of the forest.


 
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The government has decided to form three new upazilas in as many districts, taking the total number of the country's upazilas to 495.

Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam disclosed it at a briefing after a cabinet meeting today.

The new upazilas are Dasar under Madaripur district, Eidgaon under Cox's Bazar and Madhyanagar under Sunamganj.

Besides, the name of Dakshin Sunamganj upazila has been changed to Shantiganj.

 

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The government has continued to extend the time to achieve 100% adult literacy as years went by but it made little progress towards the goal.

Adult literacy defined by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) as the ability to write a letter for communication has progressed to be 75.6% until last year, only 3.3 percentage points higher than in 2016, according to the "Sample Vital Registration System 2020" report released by the BBS last month.

There was a political pledge to eliminate adult illiteracy by 2014 and then by 2020. Now, the government in its eighth five-year plan set the target to achieve full adult literacy by 2025.


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday distributed newly-constructed flats among 300 low-income families as they were living in slums, enabling them to avail of civic amenities.

She handed over the allocation papers of the new flats in 14-storey three buildings on rental basis.

The flat distribution programme was held at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre. The prime minister joined it from her official residence Ganobahban.

The flats have all the facilities of a modern urban residence like lift, generator, solar power, wide walkways, power substations, open spaces and beautification through illumination.

The daily rent for every 672-sqf flat, having a drawing room, one kitchen and separate bathrooms, has been fixed at Tk 150, while the monthly rent at Tk 4,500.

 

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The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) has come up with a set of recommendations like mandating foreign worker hiring ratio at every tier of job, particularly at mid-level management, in different sectors to offer more job opportunities to the country's own pool of skilled workforce.

As per the existing guidelines, for every foreign worker hired, a business entity must employ five locals.


"Incredible success was achieved in the electricity and power sector as we are supplying power to 99.5 percent of our population," said State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid.

Since 2009, the country is managed to generate additional 20,293 megawatt of electricity, raising the total output to 25,235 megawatt, he said. "We're highly optimistic that remaining 0.5 percent population will get electricity by this year," he added.

Nasrul said that the government has undertaken a crash programme in 2016 in line with 'Sheikh Hasina's initiative-electricity in every house' project.

Under the project, supply of electricity will have to be ensured to every house by 2021, he said, adding that the project will be completed this year. According to the latest data of power cell, the power generation capacity of Bangladesh now stands at 25,235 MW, with power connections increasing to 4.07 crore. The number of power plants is now 146.

The government is now importing 1160 MW electricity from neighbouring India. Power and Energy experts said that Bangladesh has already been included in the list of countries in South Asia that have brought 100% people under electricity coverage.

 

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Joint forces with the armed terrorist group JSS have opened fire on the Naikhyangchhari border in Bandarban. Two people, including a law enforcement officer, were shot dead.

One armed terrorist was also reported killed in the joint forces firing. The incident took place on Wednesday (September 1) morning.

According to law enforcement and local sources, the commander of the Naikhyangchhari BGB battalion, Lt. Col. Under the leadership of Colonel Shah Abdul Aziz, 6 teams of army and BGB joint forces carried out the operation.

During this time there were several rounds of shelling by the joint forces with the armed terrorists. Two people, including a law enforcement officer, were shot dead.

The injured were rescued and taken to Chittagong for treatment by helicopter. Their names were not immediately available.

A member of the armed terrorist group was reportedly shot dead in the incident. However, an officer in charge of the 69th Region of the Army denied the matter.

The 69th Army Region said in a statement that the security forces opened fire on the armed terrorists of the main group of Jana Sanghati Samiti (JSS), a regional political organization in the hills, till 12 noon. Several members of the terrorists were shot.

The terrorists were forced to retreat in the face of an army-BGB operation. The operation at the scene continues.

Meanwhile, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) Director (Operations) Lieutenant Colonel Faizur Rahman acknowledged the shelling in the mountain forest.

Dochhari UP chairman Muhammad Habib Ullah said, “Law enforcers injured in the shootings were rescued and taken to hospital by helicopter.”

 

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Over 72 per cent of youths out of the 86 per cent who have smartphones have access to the internet.

However, only 28 per cent have recently searched for materials related to technical and vocational education and training (TVET), according to a survey by Brac.

The NGO carried out the survey on youth perceptions on skills development training and post-training employment, it said in a press release.

The survey said 65 per cent of the young participants identified Facebook as the most effective digital platform for raising public awareness.

The survey was made public at an event titled "Changing perspectives of youths regarding vocational education in Bangladesh".

KAM Morshed, senior director, Brac, said stigma was associated with skills and vocational training in the society. "We must partner with communities at large and fight together against this," he said.

Tasmiah Tabassum Rahman, current in-charge of Brac Skills Development Programme, said jobs related to technical and vocational education in Bangladesh were still considered blue collar jobs.

This is why it is very important to create awareness and tell the society about the importance of TVET and its prospects, she said.

Though there are government-run training centres in all districts, bringing a change in mindset should be the first task, said NGO Affairs Bureau Director General KM Tariqul Islam. Here the private and voluntary organisations have a role to play, he said.

"Without skills we won't be able to sustain ourselves in the fourth industrial revolution," said National Skills Development Authority Executive Chairman Dulal Krishna Saha.

Winnie Estrup Petersen, ambassador of Denmark to Bangladesh, stressed on listening to the young voices and enter into a dialogue with them under an inclusive approach.

"Stakeholders form the public-private sector and partners need to think about how to change the mindsets of young people. This can be done through adequate campaigns and ultimately the youths need to be prepared with the right skills and right mindset for the changing world," she said.

Chaired by Asif Saleh, executive director, Brac, the event was also attended by a number of high officials from government and non-governmental agencies.


DHAKA, BANGLADESH - Children in Bangladesh flooded back into classrooms on Sunday as schools reopened after 18 months, one of the world's longest coronavirus shutdowns.

The resumption came after UNICEF warned that prolonged school closures during the COVID-19 crisis were worsening inequities for millions of children across South Asia.

In the capital Dhaka, students at one school were welcomed with flowers and sweets, and told to wear masks and sanitize their hands. Some hugged each other in excitement.

"We are really excited to be back at school," 15-year-old Muntasir Ahmed told AFP as he entered the campus.

"I am hoping to physically see all of my friends and teachers, not through a laptop window today."

At the gate, school officials checked the body temperatures of students before allowing them to enter.

The school's vice principal, Dewan Tamziduzzaman, said he "didn't expect such a big number to be turning up on the first day."

Only 41% of Bangladesh's 169 million population have smartphones, according to the country's telecom operators' association, which means millions of children cannot access online classes.

Even with smartphones, students in many of Bangladesh's rural districts do not have the high-speed internet access usually required for e-learning.

'Enormous setbacks'

UNICEF warned in a report released Thursday that the pandemic has accentuated "alarming inequities" for more than 430 million children in the region.

"School closures in South Asia have forced hundreds of millions of children and their teachers to transition to remote learning in a region with low connectivity and device affordability," UNICEF's regional director, George Laryea-Adjei, said in a statement.

"As a result, children have suffered enormous setbacks in their learning journey."

In India, 80% of children aged 14-18 years said they learnt less than when they were in a physical classroom, according to UNICEF.

Among children aged between six and 13 years, 42% said they had no access to remote learning.

"Their future is at stake," Deepu Singh, a farmer in India's Jharkhand state, said last week of his children ages 9 and 10.

The pair have not been to school in a year and have no internet access at home, Singh told AFP, adding: "I do not know English. I cannot help him (my son), even if I want to."

Students in the rest of the region were similarly impacted, UNICEF reported.

In Pakistan, 23% of young children had no access to any device for remote learning.

Some towns in Nepal have been broadcasting radio lessons due to the lack of internet access.

"We are (in) a dangerous situation," Nepalese schoolteacher Rajani K.C. told AFP last week.

"If the pandemic continues and the academic sector loses more years, what kind of human resource will the country have in the future?"

 

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The research and survey vessel, "RV Meen Sandhani," has so far detected 457 species of marine fish and animals in the Bay of Bengal since 2016, said Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim in Parliament on Tuesday.

The survey ship is cruising since 2016-2017 to assess the stock of marine resources and conduct researches and surveys. It has so far conducted 31 surveying cruises, he said replying to a tabled question from Awami League MP M Abdul Latif (Chittagong-11).

“A total of 457 species of fish and animals were detected through the surveys,” said the minister.

Of these, 373 marine species are of fishes, 24 shrimps, 21 sharks and rays, 21 crabs, 5 cuttlefishes, 5 squids, 4 octopuses, 3 lobsters and 1 squilla.

The survey vessel, equipped with the latest technology of fisheries and other oceanographic research, was procured from Malaysia in 2016 after Bangladesh got a vast sea area through the disposal of longstanding disputes with the two neighbouring countries — India and Myanmar.

Besides, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Institute of Marine Research (IMR) conducted a 15-day acoustic survey cruise in the Bay of Bengal by the latest marine research vessel ‘RV Dr Fridtjof Nansen’ in August 2018.

Per capita fish consumption is 62.58 gram a day:

In reply to another question from ruling party lawmaker Shahiduzzaman Sarker (Naogaon-2), the minister said per capita fish consumption in Bangladesh is 62.58 gram a day.

He said per capita fish demand is 60 gram a day, but per capita consumption is 62.58 gram, according to the report of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. In terms of consumption against the demand, Bangladesh has attained self-sufficiency in fish production, he added.

The fish production was 4.5 million tons in 2019-2020 fiscal in the country, said Rezaul mentioning different measures taken by the current government for the development of the fisheries sector.

 

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The Bangladesh government placed a bill in the parliament on Thursday on enforcing sovereignty over the maritime boundary and relevant airspace as well as creating provisions and restrictions on the movement of local and foreign commercial and warships and vessels and extraction of marine resources in the Bay of Bengal and the adjacent deep sea.

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen initiated the bill titled The Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones (Amendment) Act, 2021, seeking a major amendment to the existing law enacted in 1974.

While exercising the innocent rights of the sea passage and over-flight, a foreign warship, including a submarine and any other underwater warship, manned or remotely controlled, may enter or pass through the territorial sea after giving prior notice to the Bangladesh government, according to the bill.

No aircraft shall enjoy the rights of innocent passage without the prior expressed consent of the Bangladesh government.

The Bangladesh government will exercise authority, under the bill, to make rules and regulations relating to innocent passage through the territorial sea in relation to the safety of navigation, preservation of the environment and prevention of infringement of customs, fiscal, immigration and sanitary laws, among others.

The Economic Zone of the old law made in 1974 is replaced by the Exclusive Economic Zone in line with the definition of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to establish absolute sovereignty over the marine boundary and its assets granting Bangladesh freedom of navigation, over-flight, freedom to construct artificial islands and other installations permitted under international laws.

Under UNCLOS-1982, all coastal countries are granted the sovereign right to a stretch of the sea extending 200 nautical miles beyond their coast, which is known as an exclusive economic zone.

Bangladesh will also have the sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the continental shelf, which is beyond 200 nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline, for the exploration and exploitation of the natural resources, construction and operation and use of artificial islands and off-shore terminals, etc.

Bangladesh’s commercial and warships and military aircrafts will enjoy complete immunity while sailing in the high seas and flying in the relevant airspace from the jurisdiction of any other foreign state.

Bangladesh will have jurisdiction over a ship scheduled to navigate into, through or from waters beyond the outer limit of the territorial sea of Bangladesh and adjacent countries.

Bangladesh will have criminal jurisdiction over a foreign ship passing through the territorial sea in connection with any crime committed on board during its passage if the consequences of the crime extend to Bangladesh.

Other countries will, however, enjoy the freedom of navigation and over-flight and other internationally lawful uses of the sea related to those except military exercise in the EEZ.

The new draft also includes a provision for the punishment for offences, including piracy, armed robbery, maritime terrorism, pollution and violators of conditions of innocent passage, illegal collection of information, in Exclusive Economic Zone, Continental Shelf and Contiguous Zone.

The provisions of video, photo, electronic records have also been included as evidence in proving the offences and incidents at sea as the witness of most of the offences are not found in the alien nature of crimes.

The bill also included provisions to install a tribunal for holding trials of crimes committed under its jurisdiction.

The bill proposed a maximum of seven years imprisonment or a monetary fine of a maximum of 110 crore taka, depending on the magnitude of the crimes committed.

The parliament sent the bill to the parliamentary standing committee on the foreign ministry for deeper scrutiny. The committee was asked to submit its report within 45 days.

 

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Some 13,881 people have entered the list of millionaires in Bangladesh over the last one year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, says Bangladesh Bank.

According to the latest central bank data, the number is 16% more than the same period of last year.

After June last year, the number of millionaire bank accounts was 86,037. However, in the current year, the number has increased to 99,918, said Bangladesh Bank.

BB data reveals that in the second quarter (April-June) this year, 5,646 millionaire accounts have been added while in the first quarter (January-March) the number was 382.

In January 2021, the number of millionaire accounts was 93,890. It increased to 94,272 after March this year.

From January to December last year, some 10,051 millionaire accounts were added despite the Covid-19 pandemic and around Tk68,000 crore was added to the existing millionaire accounts, as per BB data.

The contribution of millionaires in the total deposit of banks is also increasing as after June this year their contribution was 44.08%. According to the central bank, around Tk14 lakh 39 thousand and 763 crore was deposited in the accounts opened after June this year.

BB data revealed, 12 crore 15 lakh and 49 thousand bank accounts have been opened in the banks across the country till June this year. Around 0.08% of these accounts are owned by millionaires.

Till June 2021, the number of bank accounts with a deposit of Tk1 crore to Tk5 crore was 78,698. There were 11,013 accounts with a deposit of Tk5 crore to Tk10 crore, 3,599 accounts with Tk10 crore to Tk15 crore, 1,732 accounts with Tk15 crore to Tk20 crore and 1,185 accounts with Tk20 crore to Tk25 crore.

In 1972, there were only 5 millionaires in the country which increased to 47 in 1975. In 1980, there were 98 millionaires in the country. The number was 943 in 1990, 2,594 in 1996, 5,162 in 2001, 8,887 in 2006 and 19,163 in 2008.


The government is going to invest $2.9 billion over the next five years on mechanised and climate-smart agriculture to grow more food, achieve nutrition security and reduce the cost of farming.

The World Bank (WB) has initially agreed to lend $500 million towards implementing the government's vision in the eighth five-year plan and the global lender has drafted a concept paper for the government's Economic Relations Department (ERD).

Additional Secretary (planning) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Md Abdur Rauf, told The Business Standard, "The World Bank has shown interest in lending for the proposed project and the Department of Agricultural Extension has also started work on the Development Project Proposal (DPP)."

He also said the project will be implemented following the approval of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec), if the government considers it profitable.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, a plan of action for the 2021-25 period was prepared last year under the National Agricultural Policy. As per the government's 8th five-year plan estimates, the project is supposed to cost $2.9 billion.

The World Bank plans to present the project loan proposal to its board in March of next year. The money would be disbursed from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank subsidiary that provides low-cost concessional loans.

According to the concept paper, food imports in Bangladesh have tripled in the last 10 years due to population growth. By 2031, the country's population will increase by about another three crore. A sustainable and safe food supply has become a challenge for the country due to natural disasters and an increasing population.

A number of factors have become matters of major concern, the document says. Bangladesh faces a future where a growing population, rapid urbanisation, declining arable land and increasing risks to agricultural production due to climate change will put huge pressure on reliable food supply. Hence, the issue of increasing food production is being given top priority in the proposed project.

"This will require strong measures to increase climate resilient productivity on the one hand and increasing input use efficiency on the other," the WB document states.

The project will focus on increasing agricultural production, with the use of technology and mechanisation in uncultivated lands across the country, emphasising climate-smart agriculture in char and hilly areas. The project will also ensure quality seeds, loans, and agricultural support such as storage materials for farmers.

In addition to increasing food production, the World Bank has suggested improving the quality of life of farmers and entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector by increasing their income.

To this end, initiatives will be taken to modernise the agricultural market to reduce the cost of farming and post-harvest losses.

The World Bank has also emphasised increasing the production of high value and exportable crops to create a strong value chain in agriculture.

It proposes to increase the production of safe crops and high yielding varieties of paddy and oil crops through the implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). The money will also be spent on increasing the production of fruits and vegetables to create the availability of nutritious food.

"Rice production has become less profitable in Bangladesh due to a significant increase in labour wages and irrigation costs, whereas prices of other food commodities have been steadily fetching higher prices. Farmers make $56 per hectare from rice cultivation, while the returns can be over $300 per hectare from other crops, and over $600 from fruits and vegetable production," the WB document reports.

It has also formulated an action plan to increase the participation of the private sector in the processing of agricultural products and to attract trained youth to innovation-based agriculture.

The World Bank has further emphasised the need for soil, water, and biodiversity management to increase agricultural production. Hence, the need for quality investment in agricultural research has also been mentioned.

The project will be jointly implemented by the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC), Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC).a

 

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The country's northwestern Rajshahi region is known for its delicious mangoes.

This time Mango's bond with Rajshahi has become stronger as the Fazli variety has been recognised as a unique product of Rajshahi and been given the geographical indication (GI) tag.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.

Now the Fazli mango will be registered internationally as 'Fazli Mango of Rajshahi’.

Confirming the information, Alim Uddin, Chief Scientific Officer of Rajshahi Fruit Research Center, said that the recognition was given in response to the application of his organisation, reports UNB.

The department of patents, designs and trademarks (DPDT) published a general notice on October 6 as part of securing this certification.

If no local or foreign entities raise objections over this move in the next two months – starting from the journals’ publication – the fruit will be GI certified and internationally recognised.

Although Fazli is cultivated in nine upazilas throughout the country, Bagha and Charghat upazilas account for most of the harvest.

Fazli was renowned in the markets of neighbouring India as “Bagha Fazli” as far back as 200 years ago, CSO Alim added.

It belongs to the “Nobi Mousumi,” a variety of mangoes and can only be grown in the Rajshahi region because of its specific weather and soil requirements, he added.

The mango ripens from the second week of July and lasts until the second week of August

It takes 7 to 8 days for the fruit to ripen.

The fruit takes about five and a half months for the fruit to mature from flowering.

The skin of Fazli mango is almost green to light yellowish.

The colour of the shell is yellow.

Fazli mango is delicious and sweet to eat. The shell is thin, the kernels are long, flat and thin.

 

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Biman Bangladesh Airlines, for the first time, has replaced the landing gear of Boeing 777-300 aircraft with its own manpower and management.

The activities of replacing the landing gear was successfully completed today after Biman's skilled engineers who acquired proper technical knowledge through advanced training abroad started the work at Biman Hunger Complex on 20 October, reads a press release.

Landing gears need to be replaced and overhauled every 10 years. Of the four Boeing aircraft of Biman, the landing gear replacement of the first one has been completed.

In December this year, Biman will replace the landing gear of another Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft under its own management.

Biman had to spend a large amount of foreign currencies to have this replacement done by forign organistions.

By replacing the landing gear with its own manpower and management, Biman saved approximately $4 lakh.

Biman will save around $1.6 million once the replacement of all the four Boeing aircraft are done.

 

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After sequencing the jute genome in 2017, Bangladesh has now brought another landmark achievement in scientific research: it decoded the genomes of Ruhi, Kalbaus and freshwater dolphin, a global first.

At the same time, the country also completed sequences of the Mrigel and Catla fishes, which was however done earlier by China and India respectively.

A team led by Chittagong University Zoology Department Professor Dr Manzoorul Kibria unveiled the genome sequences of the four carps and the Gangetic freshwater dolphin after a two-year effort.

The US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has already recognised the work and Bangladesh has the patent on it. It also preserved the sequenced data which can be accessed by any researcher around the world for further research.

The information was revealed at a webinar organised by the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) in Chattogram on Tuesday.

Dr Manzoorul Kibria, also coordinator of the Halda River Research Laboratory under the University of Chittagong, and Dr AMAM Junaid Siddiqui, professor at the Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Science University, were present at the event.

Professor Junaid Siddiqui provided technical support as a genome sequence expert to the team comprised of two researchers from New Zealand and China, five students from Chittagong University, five from the Veterinary University and Premier University.

"We completed genome sequencing of Ruhi, Kalbaus and Gangetic dolphins for the first time in the world," Junaid Siddiqui told The Business Standard.

"The genome sequence of freshwater dolphins has elevated Bangladesh's position on the world stage," added the professor.

82,788 genes have been identified in this study, of which 16,609 are of the Ruhi fish, 16,597 of the Catla fish, 16,607 of Mrigal fish, 17,620 of Kalbaus fish, and 18,365 genes of the freshwater dolphin, said Prof AMAM Junaid Siddiqui.

"Halda river is the only natural pure gene bank for fishes like Ruhi in Bangladesh. The modern complete genome formatting is a very effective method in scientific research which helps us conduct the physiological research of the fishes," said Dr Manjurul Kibria who led the research.

"Various comparative studies have been done to determine the genetic differences between different carp species. However, no complete genome sequencing of wild Ruhi, Catla, Mrigal and Kalbaus had been revealed before."

"As such, the research will help us with different diseases of the fishes, their capability to respond to the diseases, inbreeding problems, and other important biological processes," said Dr Manzoorul Kibria.

The research team collected specimens from a dead dolphin, weighing 70-80 kg, and some 16-17 kg Ruhi, Catla, Mrigal and Kalbaus fishes, in 2018.

Junaid Siddiqui said, "We can now also work on finding out the reasons why freshwater dolphins die frequently. We can know whether it is a genetic problem or because of water contamination."

"We will also be able to know why Halda fishes are different from others and what are their characteristics."

He added, "Several researchers from University of Andrews and various other institutes have expressed interest in working with us on further research."

The PKSF and the Integrated Development Foundation (IDF) financially supported the research project.

PKSF Managing Director Nomita Halder said, "We responded immediately upon getting a proposal from Professor Manjurul Kibria for the project."

"We did not take it simply as a project but as our social responsibility to save the Halda river."

 
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