Page 1

Made in Bangladesh 6

Cyberbullying 16

Tagore meets Einstein 20

FRIDAY MARCH 14 2014 vol 1 Issu e 46

Made in Bangladesh.

Meet Sadaf. Sadaf Siddiqi is the chairperson of SAFE, a local non-profit trust that provides emergency relief, and one of the organisations working on the ground after Rana Plaza collapsed. SAFE also provides health and safety awareness and training for the garments industry. She is also runs a garments factory. ‘We are responsible for the well-being of the people who work for us. We feel the weight of that responsibility, and take it very seriously.’ Since 1992, Sadaf has been involved with Naripokkho, a women’s activist group. They formed Doorbar – a network of 550 women-led organisations throughout all 64 districts of Bangladesh – to fight violence against women and ensure the establishment of women’s rights. Sadaf is also passionate about the arts. Through Jatrik and Shadhona, she promotes Bangladeshi culture and heritage, and arranges events such as the World Music

Festival and the annual Hay Festival in Dhaka. She is a poet and a writer. She has collected narratives from Bangladeshi workers and activists, which have been performed for the stage. Sadaf grew up in the UK, and came to Bangladesh when she was 16 years old. She did her HSC at a Bangla medium college. At that point, Bangla was a language she could read but didn’t yet speak fluently. ‘It was huge culture shock. I learned very fast.’ Her father decided to come back and do something for the country, so he left Cambridge to start a research centre at Chittagong University. His passionate drive was contagious. ‘Something shifted in me in those two years of college. I knew I had to come back.’ After university in the UK, she did just that. Sadaf was photographed in a Jamdani sari, made by artisans following a centuries-old Bangladeshi style of handloom textile-weaving.


1

CONTENTS EDITOR’S NOTE A Weekly Pro ductio n o f

DhakaTribune Vo lume 1, Issu e 46 M ARC H 14, 2 0 14 Editor Zafar Sobhan Weekend Tribune Team Rohini Alamgir Esha Aurora Rumana Habib Faisal Mahmud Shah Nahian Syeda Samira Sadeque James Saville Adil Sakhawat Sumaiya Shams Farhana Urmee Art Direction/Photography Syed Latif Hossain Cartoon Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy Rio Shuvo Contributors Tasnuva Amin Nova Elizabeth Bass Promiti Prova Chowdhury Hasibul Islam Chanchal Kamal Tausif Sanzum Dina Sobhan Design Mohammad Mahbub Alam Alamgir Hossain

Meet the real ‘Made in Bangladesh’

“U

ndressing the American Apparel ad” dissects the controversy surrounding the retailer’s newest stunt. We debate whether we are overreacting to it? And Elizabeth Bass shares the philosophy behind a company with a much better claim to the ‘made in Bangladesh’ moniker. It’s also Startup Week, and we’re celebrating our burgeoning homegrown enterprises with a collection of stories, like “Dhaka MOOC Exchange” and “Co-working,” about fostering the ongoing development of local entrepreneurship and technology. Meanwhile, “Cyber-bullying” looks at the dark side of the internet. Finally, even Einstein meets the real Bangladesh. In honour of his birthday today, we revisit his stunning conversations with Tagore, and remember his collaboration with Satyendra Nath Bose on our Top 10 important Bangladeshi scientists. With our cover, and this issue, we celebrate what ‘made in

2 3 4 5

Standpoint A journey into life and lifestyle Undressing the American Apparel ad Bangabandhu: The man behind a nation Crowning the confident

10 Post-Riposte

The American Apparel ad

11 Top 10

Cover photo Sadaf Saaz Siddiqi by Syed Latif Hossain

Say What?

9 Interview

Production Masum Billah

Email: weekend@dhakatribune.com Web: www.dhakatribune.com

16 Feature Cyber-bullying

8 In Review

Circulation Wahid Murad

Letters to the Editor

6 Cover

Colour Specialist Shekhar Mondal Kazi Syras Al Mahmood

Advertising Shahidan Khurshed

This Week

20 Thought Plot

When Einstein met Tagore

Bengali innovators

12 Photo Story Mosaic in Green

18 Out and About

Startup Weekend

19 Culture Vulture

Partha Pratim Majumder

22 Tough Love 23 WT Leisure 24 Business Dhaka mooc 25 Business Young entrepreneurs 26 Business Co-working 27 The Way Dhaka Was

Ramna Gate

28 Last Word W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, M ARC H 1 4, 20 1 4


2

THIS WEEK

March 7-13

According to a study published in nature Medicine, the likelihood of a person developing Alzheimer’s disease within the next two to three years can be easily detected by doing a blood test. The test detects the concentration of 10 chemicals associated with Alzheimer’s disease and the result is 96 percent accurate. The Verge

Bangladesh had its first ever bone marrow transplant procedure on a 52 year old cancer patient. The operation was carried out at the BMT unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital-2. The patient had been suffering from multiple myeloma since 2009. The treatment was given free of cost. Professor Dr MA Khan, head of hematology department and programme director of the BMT unit said to reporters that the treatment has been successful so far. However, he mentioned that the possibilities of postprocedure risks cannot be dismissed. Dhaka Tribune Maoist rebels killed 16 policemen in the state of Chhattisgarh in India. The police officers were guarding workers who were building a road in Sukma district. Alteast 26 officers were wounded in the attack. The police force have pushed the rebels back to their forest strongholds and the violence level has fallen. However, hit-and-run attacks are still common BBC

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, M ARC H 14 , 2014

The videos on YouTube are a big business for the YouTube stars that get almost thousands of views daily. A report published by Business Insider ranked 20 of the biggest stars on YouTube according to their earnings from ads. Each of them earn a minimum of $US1 million annually. With 3.69 billion total views PewDiePie earns $825,000-$8.47 million annually topping the list.


to the editor

3

LETTERS

Great theme!

I loved how you made an entire issue for women! I especially liked reading The Help and Always A Fighter. You should really do more issues like this one. Shumaila Khan Dhanmondi, Dhaka

Back to the pavilion? What happened to the magazine? Why have you guys gone back to the old designs? Please bring back the new look! It was exciting and made me want to read it. Soheli Khan Gulshan, Dhaka

Not much variety I understand that you guys tried to follow a theme for the Women’s Day issue. The problem is, you went a little overboard. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against having an issue dedicated to women. I just think there should have been more variety. I only got halfway through the magazine and got bored. Shahriar Azam Uttara, Dhaka

Great call

I loved Tausif Sanzum’s article on domestic workers. I agree with him too – these women are the true face of feminism. Great work Tausif. Abdullah Zubayer Mohammadpur, Dhaka

A heart-melting story

Adil Sakhawat’s monologue about how fatherhood changed his entire life brought tears in my eyes. I absolutely loved reading it, and it reminded me how precious my own children are to me. The joy of fatherhood really is indescribable. Abdur Rajjak Tangail, Dhaka

LETTER

of the week

Send us your feedback at: weekend@dhakatribune.com W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, M ARC H 1 4, 20 1 4


SAY WHAT?

4

A tribute to the passengers and crew onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is seen inside a Buddhist temple in Kuala Lumpur March 12, 2014. Malaysia’s military has traced what could have been the jetliner missing for almost five days to an area south of the Thai holiday island of Phuket, hundreds of miles from its last known position, the country’s air force chief said on Wednesday

“If you are single, you could just fade away. If you are separated or divorced, you may struggle all your life so many women stay in a bad marriage and suffer. And in some families the prospect of being widowed does not bear thinking about.”

REUTERS

Rupa Jha, BBC Hindi commenting on the marital life of Indian women

Disney has cut around 700 jobs from Disney Interactive -- the digital media division that deals with video games and online entertainment. Wired.co.uk

“With hindsight, I know Adam would have killed me in a heartbeat, if he’d had the chance,” Peter Lanza, father of Adam Lanza talks to New Yorker magazine. Adam shot his mother before fatally shooting 20 children, six staff members and himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

A gunman shot dead Swedish journalist Nils Horner outside a restaurant in a brazen attack in one Kabul’s most heavily guarded districts on March 11, 2014, police and embassy sources said, underscoring growing insecurity threatening next month’s elections. The Swedish Embassy identified the victim as Nils Horner, 51, who worked for Swedish Radio and had dual British-Swedish nationality. Horner had been waiting outside a Lebanese restaurant with his driver and translator when two men in Western clothes approached and one shot him at point-blank range in the back of the head, said Zubir, a guard at the restaurant who uses only one name. Picture taken August 15, 2002 RUETERS W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, M ARC H 14 , 2014

HMS Vanguard, Britain’s oldest nuclear-armed submarine will get a new core following safety concerns over radioactivity found in the cooling water of a test reactor. Wired.co.uk

A suicide bomber driving a car filled with explosives killed 34 people and wounded another 121 at a police checkpoint in the southern Iraqi city of Hilla. CNN


Standpoint

5

Elizabeth Bass

A journey into life and lifestyle

Elizabeth Bass is one of the members of the creative team at Made in Bangladesh

Think you’re patriotic? Think again, unless you’re only buying what’s Made in Bangladesh Having evolved from the idea that class shouldn’t matter, Ajo and Made in Bangladesh are both products of an idea that spans across cultures and mandates one to lose themselves in their identity as global citizens while being centred by the gravity of being a Bangali

Photos: Courtesy

I

f you think about it, we come from a culture of food. We celebrate with food, grieve with it, mull ideas over it and deliver all news with food in our hands or on our laps. Yet over the years, we’ve stopped showing up at our friends’ places with sweets in our hands because reality is such that we give little thought to social gatherings anymore. Where once we would shower the house we visited with doii and mishti, we now shower the guests with well-worded verses of discussion. Where has all the gratitude gone? Through globalization, we as a people have changed. Where once we would bring happiness into people’s lives with gifts, which were decadent and sweet in nature, we now stop short of crass rudeness and a lack

Where once we would bring happiness into people’s lives with gifts, which were decadent and sweet in nature, we now stop short of crass rudeness and a lack of respect for those who want to entertain us by showing up empty handed, and sometimes not even showing up at all

of respect for those who want to entertain us by showing up empty handed, and sometimes not even showing up at all. Our bodies present, but minds elsewhere. Why are we not extending the ceremony of being alive anymore? Why not offer people a gift they can take, representative of who they are and where they come from and share that happiness with those around? Our cosmopolitan life has mandated that we divide our attention and time into a million things a day, but what would happen if you were reminded that you have to have a heart that’s open enough to give, in order to receive? In order to commemorate the life we have right now, we give. And we need to give more of what we believe in. In a rapidly-expanding economy such as Bangladesh’s, it’s not often that a business starts just to tell a story and remind us of what we believe in. But that’s what Made In Bangladesh, a crafts store tucked into a corner of the bustling Dhanmondi, is here to do. They sell lifestyle products such as phone covers, iPad covers, totes, notebooks, bags which are unisex. What started as recently as August 2013, already made it to the Dhaka Crafts Fair earlier this year. There’s also Ajo Café. Nestled in the heart of Dhanmondi, Ajo was designed as a place to entertain those of us who believe in alternatives, in independence, in being able to afford a top-

notch lifestyle at a non-heartattack-inducing price. And there’s a story behind this location. Ajo – meaning the unborn, the undefined, the ethereal, is a space that offers more than just a sweeping polarized classification of either “cafe” or “restaurant.” Having evolved from the idea that class shouldn’t matter, Ajo and “Made in Bangladesh” are both products of an idea that spans across cultures and mandates one to lose themselves in their identity as global citizens while being centred by the gravity of being a Bangali. Both the space and the products utilise a keen sense of aesthetics which merge available resources and knowledge. Where Ajo caters to behavior, to eating (a perishable act with a short shelf-life), Made in Bangladesh caters to the extension of a perishable idea – to extend a certain amount of ceremony into life. Our life is getting more complicated but our means of dealing with this complication is getting simpler. A phone, which is also a camera, a reminder, an alarm, a GPS tracker is always at our fingertips, which makes it important for us to create goods which are sustainable and ‘keepable,’ if you will. We are focused on saving, to prolong the longevity of a thing with which we create a bond. Made in Bangladesh uses recycled materials is an effort to extend our consciousness. Made in Bangladesh aims to

transform the name of a deceased icon of identification into one that stands on par with “Joy Bangla!” Each product is home grown and carries inside it women’s empowerment, pride, patriotism, self realisation, identity and vulnerability that comes with being a people who had to fight so hard to gain independence. Each product carries inside it the wants, dreams, sadness, happiness and discombobulating of a people. “Made in Bangladesh” is made with love, with affection and with sheer dexterity. Only 16 crore people will understand the sentiment of being a global citizen and a Bangali. That’s to say, there’s so many of us that we should be taking on worlds and waging a lifestyle war. One that is emotional and deciphered through action. You see, at the end of the day, as Bangalis, we are who we are – we are not copies of other lands or countries, of other forefathers or other cultures. Then why should everything we carry be made elsewhere? n

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, M ARC H 1 4, 20 1 4


6 Rumana Habib grew up in northern California, but is thrilled to now be living in Bangladesh. She’s also a playwright and avid cinephile

COVER

MADE IN BANGLADESH

Undressing the American Apparel ad Rumana Habib canvasses opinions on the retailer’s latest stunt

I

s it a protest about labour practices? Are they mocking Rana Plaza? Are they shaming and defaming the name of our country? Is it another statement about “liberation from oppressive Islam?” A slap in the face for feminism? It dropped just days before International Women’s Day, triggering a maelstrom of controversy online and off. At every Women’s Day event in Dhaka that I went to that day, people were asking in lowered voices: “Did you see the American Apparel ad?” American Apparel has yet to comment, reportedly stating that they “want the ad to speak for itself.” What message is the company trying to send, if any? Is it just a marketing ploy saying: “Buy our overpriced t-shirts?” The company’s infamous CEO, provocateur DovCharney, has been a vocal supporter of the Bangladesh garment industry in the past. What do our responses to the (purposely?) ambiguous advertisement say about us? The reactions have ranged from indifference to applause to outrage. And what about the model, Bangladeshi-born Maks who “unreservedly embraced this photo shoot,” but who, as per one Facebook commentor, may henceforth be known as “the Bengali girl who got her tits out for American Apparel.”

Meet Maks

The small print below thetopless photo has a short biographyofthevoluptuous model. Maks moved to California from Dhaka at the age of four, and “continued following her parent’s religious traditions and sustained W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, M ARC H 14 , 2014

her Islamic faith throughout her childhood. Upon entering high school, Maks began to feel the need to forge her own identity and ultimately distanced herself from Islamic traditions.” In an interview with the Daily Mail stated thatthe 22-year-old Maks declined to comment about the reaction of her “conservative Muslim parents,” but maintained that she was “fully comfortable with the photo shoot.” She told them: “All women should feel strong and powerful no matter what their background or what they were taught they had to be. We should all be able to freely express ourselves no matter where we come from.”

Fatwa watch

“She and American Apparel will be sporting their shiny new fatwas by summer.” Malina Mohiuddin said, “I don’t know what disgusts me more. American Apparel’s oversimplification of Islam by pitting it against freedom in explaining this model’s motivations, their regular protectionist campaigns against Bangladeshi imports, their CEO’s multiple sexual harassment lawsuits, or the unimaginative design of most of their clothes,” While not overtly stated, Maks’ photo is a clear rejection of the values of her Islamic upbringing. Some religious leaning people considered the ad a middle finger to Islam. And others have nail-bitingly wondered what the backlash will be from Islamic clerics.

Body positive In the picture, you may have noticed that Maks is also sporting quite a pair… of jean, and um, well… “They’re making the phrase ‘Made in Bangladesh’ sexy,” My very dismayed female colleague noted that those who have applauded Maks for boldly embracing her freedom of expression have mostly been men admiring Maks’ figure.But women have also applauded the move. Nahareen Rahim, an art historian, said: “I do love things related to the body from an art perspective. I also appreciate the image because its making visible the invisible. I love that it’s a perfect set of tits. Having seen the made in Bangladesh tag

The text at the bottom of this controversial ad reads: Meet Maks. She is a merchandiser who has been with American Apparel since 2010. Born in Dhaka, the capitol of Bangladesh, Maks vividly remembers attending mosque as a child alongside her conservative Muslim parents. At age four, her family made a life-changing move to Marina Del Rey, California. Although she suddenly found herself a world away from Dhaka, she continued following her parent’s religious traditions and sustained her Islamic faith throughout her childhood. Upon entering high school, Maks began to feel the need to forge her own identity and ultimately distanced herself from Islamic traditions. A woman continuously in search of new creative outlets, Maks unreservedly embraced this photo shoot. She has found some elements of Southern California culture to be immediately appealing, but is striving to explore what lies beyond the city’s superficial pleasures. She doesn’t feel the need to identify herself as an American or a Bengali and is not content to fit her life into anyone else’s conventional narrative. That’s what makes her essential to the mosaic that is Los Angeles, and unequivocally, a distinct figure in the ever-expanding American Apparel family. Maks was photographed in the High Waist Jean, a garment manufactured by 23 skilled American workers in Downtown Los Angeles, all of whom are paid a fair wage and have access to basic benefits such as healthcare.


7

on clothing since I was a kid and feeling ambiguous about it, I can fully stand by this association. As someone on the wilder side of the Bengali/Muslim spectrum, I’m relieved.” Joe Allchin says: “I find it worrying that breasts are controversial in a world/country with so many real problems... How are a pair of tits controversial compared to sweat shop labour?”

On Rana Plaza: Bleeding heart or opportunist?

The most serious accusation levelled against the ad is that it is exploiting the Rana Plaza tragedy. For us, “made in Bangladesh” is a matter of pride, something to brag about when we spot it on a designer shirt at a fancy store. But in America, “made in Bangladesh” is indelibly associated with last April’s Rana Plaza tragedy, where 1,127 garment factory workers died after the collapse of a poorly constructed building. But Charney is the same man who said: “People in Bangladesh are vulnerable, and someone has to speak for them… it’s a shame, it’s an embarrassment… I believe they deserve something better than they’re getting.” He made the statement a month after the Rana Plaza disaster, in a one hour interview with Vice’s magazine’s

Bangladeshi-American writer Reihan Salam. In it, he points the finger straight at his competitors, insisting that the problem is the “relentless pursuit of low costs in my industry,” and cutthroat delivery timelines. “Sweatshop free” is literally the company’s tagline. He proudly proclaims that he pays Californian minimum wage, although as we noted in our editorial on Wednesday, is not a living wage. Of course, it is in the interest of his company’s bottom line to equate a Bangladeshi garment worker’s earning with “slave wages” in the mind of a guilt-prone consumer, who may not realise that the garment industry provides one of the best paying jobs in Bangladesh for undereducated workers.

Unseamly

“There are few things as insidious as masking being a perv behind a smokescreen of faux feminism and religious freedom,” another commentor stated. In the US, American Apparel’s hypersexual ads, which supposedly feature their “fair wage” paid employees, has been stirring controversy in the US for more than a few years. Scrolling through their gallery of older advertisements, prominently showcased on their website, would make many Americans

blush. And it must be mentioned that Charney has been sued many, many times for sexual harassment. Earlier this week, his cousin Oren Safdiestaged a play inspired by Churney called “Unseamly.” Here is how the play describes itself on its website. “A young woman seeks legal advice to initiate charges of sexual harassment against her former boss, Ira Slatsky, the CEO of an international clothing company known for its risqué billboards. Female sexuality confronts male corporate power. Who is telling the truth? Who is manipulating whom? How far should/can a young woman go to take down a predator? n

People in Bangladesh are vulnerable, and someone has to speak for them… it’s a shame, it’s an embarrassment… I believe they deserve something better than they’re getting

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, M ARC H 1 4, 20 1 4


8

In Review

The unfinished memoir

Bangabandhu: The man behind a nation Faisal Mahmud is good at memorising seemingly unnecessary information and finds that journalism actually appreciates, if not nurtures, that sort of futile flair

Faisal Mahmud reviews the autobiography of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

D

espite being an autobiography, ‘The Unfinished Memoirs’ portrays the early life of a nation more than that of a man. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s memoir was written during his incarceration of 19671969, a result of the infamous Agartala conspiracy case initiated by the Pakistani government; after his assassination in 1975 the manuscript lay unfinished. While in prison, Mujib gave the four notebooks containing the manuscript to Sheikh Fazlul Haq Moni. But after both men were killed, the notebooks were lost, and remained so until they were eventually found by Mujib’s daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, nearly three decades after his death. With the help of her younger sister Sheikh Rehana, Hasina had the brittle and fraying pages meticulously transcribed and then translated from Bangla into English. In the solitude of his prison cell, Mujib wrote about the political turmoil that had gripped the Indian subcontinent since partition up until the liberation of Bangladesh. Mujib’s memoir establishes some vital facts about the history of the subcontinent, including that the birth of Bangladesh was more the result of the Muslim League’s failure than any other factor. He portrays the independence movement as materialising in the context of constant let-downs by the Muslim League’s leadership, who were totally disconnected from the people of East Pakistan. On a more personal note, the reader learns that Mujib’s philosophy was shaped by his political guru Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, a man who believed in western-style democratic values. Up until Suhrawardy’s death in late 1963, Mujib remained stubbornly devoted to him. We also learn that Mujib was an avid reader, devouring literature, philosophy, and political memoirs from writers as diverse as Bertrand Russell, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi.

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, M ARC H 14 , 2014

In the book Mujib details his childhood and recalls his days as a student activist campaigning for the creation of Pakistan in the early 1940’s. The writings describe how although democracy was functional in Pakistan its liberal attributes were missing, and how this caused sociopolitical tension. Mujib’s dissatisfaction with the Muslim League started at an early stage of his political career when Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the then prime minister of Pakistan, declared at the Legislative Assembly that the people of East Pakistan must accept Urdu as their state language. The Young Mujib came out against this declaration and became

a fervent activist of the language movement. An ardent supporter of the Muslim League he left the party and joined the newly formed Awami Muslim League under the leadership of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, evolving into a secularist who argued that Pakistan needed to reinvent itself by respecting the politics of its various regions. His journey towards political ascendency had begun. He feuded constantly with the government who repeatedly placed him under arrest for advocating regional autonomy for the federal units of Pakistan, especially its Bengali eastern wing. The military regime tried to silence his voice by throwing him

in jail repeatedly. However he never abandoned the political struggle and because of his sacrifice and tenacity the Awami League emerged as the majority party and, in time, became the leading voice for independence. The book, whilst not giving much insight into Sheikh Mujib’s personal convictions, allows us to understand those the conditions that led to partition and the creation of Bangladesh. It becomes evident from his reminiscences that while the birth of Bangladesh is attributed to the ‘cultural isolation’ of East Bengal, the real reasons were more political. n


Interview

9

Maksuda Akhter Prioty: Ms Ireland

Crowning the confident

A model, a mother and now Ms Ireland 2014: Bangladeshi-born Prioty, who secured the title in January, tells the Dhaka Tribune of her challenges and stories, and reminds mothers to keep pursuing their dreams up, and could not even afford a new dress for the finale. “I could only hire a hairdresser on the last day and even that I chose over having a babysitter. I requested one of my friends to babysit my children.” Being the only Asian in the contest was no challenge at all, says Prioty. “I was confident I would be within the last three finalists, but wasn’t sure if they would award someone of an Asian origin the crown. But they are very open-minded and had a very positive attitude.”

For a thousand new worlds

“S

elf-confidence is the key. Once you have established your confidence and made your space, no one can stop you.” These words would seem natural from someone who won a contest such as Ms Ireland. But the other identities of Maksuda Akhter Prioty, Ms Ireland 2014, actually speak of her struggles and how confidence can truly vary from context. Prioty, who won the contest in January of this year, was no ordinary beauty pageant contestant. Originally from Bangladesh, she is now a single mother of two, and a student in Dublin. She is the only woman of Asian origin to have won such a contest in Ireland.

A walk uphill

For a single mother, being a minority, and without a job, winning the Ms Ireland contest was not easy for Prioty. “I had to make a lot of adjustments. There were trips I had to make, and it was difficult because I don’t have a lot of relatives here. So I had to hire a babysitter every time I left,” she told the Dhaka Tribune in a phone interview. Prioty, who is originally from Bangladesh, has been living in Dublin for 13 years. She left after completing her school in Dhaka, and finished her education there. Although she had a career in the stock market, she is currently attending flight school. But this polar variation wasn’t enough

Photos: Courtesy

in her career path. After enrolling in flight school, which is on the other end of the spectrum from stock market, Prioty approached yet another absolutely different career path. “Life here gets monotonous, and I wanted to try something new. I wanted a new rhythm. So I applied for the contest,” she said. Having been interested in beauty pageants from an early age, Prioty was unable to pursue a career in this field because of her academic and work commitments. However, she has been involved in a few modelling assignments both here in Dhaka and in Dublin. Although Prioty faced no challenge in being the only Asian contestant among the 700 shortlisted participants, it was a walk uphill for her as the contest required the contestants to pay for all the expenses. “Starting from grooming sessions to photoshoots to food and lodging expenses – we had to cover it by ourselves. Many Irish women were able to manage sponsors, but, being an Asian here who knows few people, I couldn’t do that,” she said. “It was particularly difficult for me as I am also a student at the moment.” “This is why my pride for having won the contest is a lot stronger. It truly feels like I own this title,” she said. With a limited budget, and huge expenditure on travelling and babysitters, Prioty did her own make-

Prioty is already on her way to a few other contests. She is a finalist for Top Model UK, the result of which is supposed to be released sometime in April. She is also participating in Ms Galaxy International contest in the USA, and plans to continue with flight school. Having curbed the various challenges that shaped her journey, Prioty says she has a message not for the youngsters but the mothers of our society. “The best part of my contest was when they announced me as the winner, they described me as ‘Mother of two…’ I want to remind married or single mothers – the world isn’t over for you. We can

create a new world from wherever, whenever. Having children does not hinder any possibilities.” Although she is living as a single mother in Dublin and has won a prestigious recognition for her modelling career, it may not have been as easy in Bangladesh where being a single mother can still be a matter of social stigma. But Prioty believes we can brave that storm as well. “This world’s nature is to oppress weakness. Not only in Bangladesh – but everywhere. If we don’t stand up and establish our space with confidence and self-esteem, then this system will continue. We must believe in ourselves – amra ekai eksho (we are all one-man armies).If I could do it here, all by myself, it should be easier to do it in my homeland – not more difficult.” n

Syeda Samira Sadeque is the human version of a turtle - small, (mostly) confused and slow. Not quite bothered about winning the race. She loves coffee, cupcakes, different kinds of socks, and ranting about everything that’s wrong with the world

I want to remind married or single mothers – the world isn’t over for you. We can create a new world from wherever, whenever. Having children does not hinder any possibilities

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, M ARC H 1 4, 20 1 4


10

POST-RIPOSTE

MADE in Bangladesh

Are we overreacting to the American Apparel ad?

Syeda Samira Sadeque

W

hat I find offensive is the use of a nude model – something not very common or accepted in Bangladeshi culture – to make a statement about Bangladesh. AA’s anti-sweatshop stance, a woman’s freedom to pose nude, and AA’s need for attention can all be respected. But why attach a country’s label to it? Many argue that the advertisement is not even made for Bangladeshis. But when a Bangladeshi sees it that not something that concerns them. What concerns them is the offending

nature of a nude Bangladeshi woman as a symbol of their country to the outside world. More importantly, the model has distanced herself from her religious and cultural identity – so it’s all the more confusing for the viewer. Had she gone on to pose nude as a Bangladeshi, I would respect her and consider her stance on women’s liberation. But she’s posing nude, not as a Bangladeshi, with an identity confusing to the viewer, about Bangladesh. Of course we’re furious. n

A parody for western eyes James Saville

What is the connection between AA’s clothes and Bangladesh? Nothing. This is precisely the message of the ad: “Unlike other brands (eg rivals like Gap and H&M) we don’t exploit Bangladeshi workers to create our products.” Hence, the only thing “made in Bangladesh” (parody alert) is the model’s body. The nudity may very well be offensive to Bangladeshi culture. So what? This is about American culture, where sex sells and American-made is best. That’s what’s being glorified, and indeed marketed. Remember who the ad is for; AA has no interest in targeting conservative citizens of a foreign country where they have no stores or workers. Obviously, this is a convenient excuse to use a pretty naked lady. AA could have simply have shown a fully clothed model and the tagline “Not Made in Bangladesh,” but anyone in advertising who thinks that would have been a good idea probably shouldn’t be in advertising. n W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, M ARC H 14 , 2014

Cartoons: Rio Shuvo/Dhaka Tribune


TOP 10

11

Bengali INnoVators

The mega minds

Shah Nahian sheds light on the scientific minds that were made in Bengal, voted for by our

readers. To take part in the next poll, please visit our page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ WeekendTrib

Shah Nahian is a staff writer at Dhaka tribune with a passion for music and art. When he’s not being forced to work, he spends his time daydreaming and hanging out with friends

8

1

Satyendra Nath Bose

Satyendra Nath Bose

The boson particle is named for him. Best known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s, Satyendra Nath Bose was a BengaliIndian physicist specialising in mathematical physics. He had provided the foundation for Bose–Einstein statistics and the theory of the Bose–Einstein condensate. He was also a member of the Royal Society, and was awarded India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India in 1954.

2

Dr Jagadish Chandra Bose

Having completed his higher education from England, Dr JC Bose taught physics at Presidency College in Kolkata after coming back to the country. In 1894, he started his research on radio-waves to make wireless communication equipment. He invented the “ironmercury-iron coherer with telephone detector,” and is the first person to have used a semiconductor junction to catch the radio waves. Dr JC Bose was the first renowned Bengali scientist to have made a significant contribution in the invention of radio and microwave optics. Although he was often

Fazlur Khan

regarded as the real inventor of the radio, the title never became official due to the communication gap and his lack of seriousness about patents.

3

Fazlur Khan

An icon of both architecture and structural engineering, Fazlur Khan is considered to be the father of tubular designs for high-rises. He was one of the architects of the 108-story, 1,451-ft tall Willis Tower in Chicago – which was the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1973. The Bangladeshi-American structural engineer and architect was the first to initiate the structural systems that form the basis of tall building constructions today. Often regarded as the “Einstein of structural engineering” and “the greatest structural engineer of the 20th century,” he now has an award named after him at the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, called the “Fazlur Khan Lifetime Achievement Medal.”

4

Dr Maqsudul Alam

5

Muhammad Qudrat-I-Khuda

Dr Maqsudul Alam is a Bangladeshi-American scientist and a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He decoded the genome sequencing of papaya in the USA, rubber plant in Malaysia and jute and fungus in Bangladesh. He is also a member of the advisory board at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology.

Bangladeshi scientist, educationist and writer, Muhammad Qudrat-I-Khuda and

his associates patented 18 specific inventions that included the manufacturing of Partex from jutestick, malt vinegar from the juice of sugarcane and molasses, Rayon from jute and jute-sticks, and paper from jute. He also successfully extracted biochemical elements from local trees and plants for medicinal purposes and played an important role in popularising Bangla for scientific practices.

6

Dr Azam Ali

7

Jawed Karim

8

Salman Khan

Dr Azam Ali is the inventor of a bio-based wound dressing that cures severe wounds more effectively and 40% faster than any other medicine currently available. The scientist has expressed the hope that the product has bright prospects in Bangladesh due to our country’s availability of natural raw materials. Talks are on with a local pharmaceutical company concerning the launch of the product in Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi-German internet entrepreneur is best known for being the co-founder of the world’s most popular video sharing website, YouTube. He worked at PayPal while attending university, where he met Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. The three later founded YouTube in 2005 with Karim uploading the first ever video on the site, titled “Me at the zoo.” A graduate of MIT and Harvard Business School, Salman Khan is the

Dr Jagadish Chandra Bose

founder of the Khan Academy, a free education platform and a non-profit organisation. Mainly focusing on mathematics and science subjects, Khan has produced over 4,800 video lessons. In 2012, Time magazine named Salman Khan in its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world while Forbes featuredhim on its cover with the story “$1 Trillion Opportunity.”

9

Amar Bose

Amar bose was a BengaliAmerican electrical and sound engineer. He served as a professor at MIT for 45 years and was also the founder and chairman of Bose Corporation. In 2007, he was listed in Forbes 400 as the 271st richest man in the world, with a net worth of $1.8bn. In 2011, he donated a majority of the company to MIT in the form of non-voting shares to sustain and advance MIT’s education and research mission.

10

Jamal Nazrul Islam

Jamal Nazrul Islam was a Bangladeshi mathematical physicist and cosmologist. His research areas include applied mathematics, theoretical physics, mathematical physics, the theory of gravitation, general relativity, mathematical cosmology and quantum field theory. Professor Islam worked at the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy (later amalgamated to the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge), California Institute of Technology, University of Washington, King’s College London, City University London and University of Chittagong throughout his career. n W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, M ARC H 1 4, 20 1 4


12

PHOTO STORY THIS LAND FROM THE AIR

Mosaic in Green A photo story by

Syed ZAKIR Hossain

Jessore from the air

With concrete creeping in everywhere, we can’t see as much of the river or the green as we could years ago – at least, not when we have our feet on the ground. However, it’s still the green that dominates the landscape that we see when we spread our wings. Zakir Hossain brings back these aerial images from up above.

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, M ARC H 14 , 2014


13

Shandha River, Shawrupkathi, Barisal

A ‘char’ in Padma River, Rajshahi

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, M ARC H 1 4, 20 1 4


14

PHOTO STORY

Hardinge Bridge, Ishwardi

A small river in Jessore W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, M ARC H 14 , 2014

THIS LAND FROM THE AIR


15

Brick fields in Barisal

Faridpur W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, M ARC H 1 4, 20 1 4


16

Feature

CYber-Bullying

Promiti Prova Chowdhury is passionate about music, yoga, food and public speaking. Though she keeps stumbling and goes around in circles, she often ends up with something productive

Who has the time to bully me over internet?

Syed Latif Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Promiti Prova Chowdhury explores causes, methods, consequences and possible solutions of cyber-bullying

Case 1 I am a teacher at a school. As a global citizen, I use social media. As far as my concern for cyber-bullying, I used to think. “Who would have the time to do something like that?” On May 2, 2013, a senior teacher messaged me on Facebook asking me to report a certain “fake account.” I did not click the link she sent, but just replied to her saying I would. The same night, she contaacted me again, saying she was sorry for “what had happened to me.” I wondered why, so I clicked on the link she had sent only to see my name come up. When I looked at the profile picture, I saw my face – with skin visible below. At first I did not even have the courage to scroll down. But as soon as I did, I realized the picture was of a naked body. Someone had pasted my face on a nude body using Photoshop. That night I could not sleep. I did not share it with anyone other than my best friend. W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, M ARC H 14 , 2014

Case 2 The next day, I reported the page. And before that account could be closed, another account of the same nature mushroomed up from nowhere! Someone started sending friend requests to people who knew me. This time I told my mother. My mother understood my situation and initially told me to report it to the police. But then we realized we did not have any idea who was running the fake account, and it would be embarrassing to explain such a thing to the police. After reporting it on Facebook, the accounts were closed down, but I am still recovering. I have deactivated my account because I feel that if I log in, that account with the nude picture might flash up in front of my eyes again. The person who did it, however, could not be traced. It could be a friend, an old stalker, a colleague … who knows.

I am a student at Jahangirnagar University. I got an internet connection for my PC in 2006. I started chatting with people in different countries using the Yahoo chat room. Initially, it was fun until one day something happened. Someone offered to have a video chat with me. I was skeptical because this was the first day I was talking to him. He wrote: “Okay first you see me, then you show yourself.” He asked me to turn on my webcam and I accepted, but instead of seeing him what I saw was his genitals. He was showing it through webcam and then he asked me how I liked it. I was embarrassed and turned off the camera immediately. Now my question is, when women’s body parts are disclosed it is a shame for women. But here, the guy himself was displaying his genitals with no shame. I was the one who was embarrassed. What kind of mentality is this?


17

The cases mentioned above are two of the many stories shared at an open discussion on cyber-bullying at the Goethe Institute Dhaka on March 7. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, students, development practitioners, researchers, social media experts, gathered there to share their experiences and discuss solutions to the problem. According to a definition by Merriam Webster dictionary, cyber bullying is “the electronic posting of mean-spirited messages about a person often done anonymously.” The vicious tactics include spreading hate-speech over blogs and social networks, and creating fake accounts to mock people.

Why do such incidents take place? Naivety and ignorance. The vicious cycle continues because of our lack of knowledge. We do not know who to report to, and how to respond. So take the following action to avoid cyber-bullying and to recover if you have already experienced it: • Immediately take a screenshot of the page where you have been attacked. Keep a log of the date and time, and the name of your browser. Share it with RAB or file a general diary at your nearest police station. • Do not share your password with anyone, not even with parents or best friends. This is not a way to show your trust in anyone. • Contact the Bangladesh Computer Security Incident Response Team (BD-CSIRT) at +880 2 7162277 ext-444. • Do not put up cell phone numbers on random sites. • Some development organisations are already raising awareness of this issue in schools. You can share your experience with your teacher, who can provide good counseling. • Report and continue reporting fake profiles or any group putting up a smear campaign. Sometimes the number of abusive accounts is more than five lakhs. In those cases it is hard to report because in order to take an account down, the number of complaints has to outweigh the number of fans. So if necessary save a screenshot and take legal action. n

Where is the line between public and private spaces? With the rise of social media sites such as Facebook, we have put our personal information, interests, relationships, and ideologies on the world’s biggest server, and it is open to billions. Through likes, dislikes, emoticons and comments, we share our lives. This distinction between public and private spaces has become blurry. And Beckerbullying occurs when a person or a group takes the advantage of this blurriness. In ignoring this heinous activity, we forget that words can be deadly. Is this phenomenon really confined to a particular age group or sex? No. It can happen to anyone, anytime. “Not all aggression is bullying However, bullying is always aggression,” said Sharat Chowdhury, a moderator of somewherein blog. “The blogosphere started developing in this country in 2005.

There were two forces behind it: One was the ability to blog in your own language, and the other was the desire to become part of a community. Eventually other tools of media started connecting people. They now share cell phone numbers on the blog, meet in person, throw get-togethers, start group chats. So eventually they move from online to offline – and vice versa.” Things are fine up to a point. But what if this group does not like someone? Or a particular ideology? They can gang up against that person and start reviling him using abusive language, putting up derogatory photos and videos to harass the person. Here starts the bullying which can leave a longterm negative mark on someone’s psyche,” said Sharat, adding that many often misuse the advantage of that blogs provide to some people of choosing to remain anonymous.

Do we have any privacy in the virtual space? The talk highlighted the fact that cyber-bullying does not only come from people we know. With pages such as “ORNA—oi cheri tor orna koi” and “bibhinno bisshobiddaloy er bibaho joggo patro o patri,” anyone can be bullied anytime without being notified. On these websites, pictures of random people are used by downloading pictures from their profiles, or by taking random shots from the streets, gardens or holiday spots. Some people who post their cell phone numbers on sites or blogs find them used by bullies.

Courtesy

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, M ARC H 1 4, 20 1 4


18 Farhana Urmee is a forgetful journalist who is very serious about taking her notes, because without those she is of no work

Out AND about Startup Weekend Dhaka 2014

Sowing your ideas

Farhana Urmee tells the story behind Startup Dhaka, of their way forward and their current projects

S

tartup Weekend is a global campaign that brings together the fresh ideas of young potential entrepreneurs, to empower them and giving them a platform for their ideas to be executed. Startup Weekend Dhaka is a part of the campaign that started last year, with a successful launching of new ideas. Startup platforms for countries like ours are proving to be a stage for new performers with immense potential. Using ideas and innovation from our youth, instead of just adopting foreign ideas, means we can tailor-make more appropriate and beneficial solutions in many sectors The annual event will run March 13-15 at the HubDhaka office in Mirpur. After a registration process, selected participants will be invited to take part in the event. HubDhaka is a platform for startup entrepreneurs to work and share ideas with others in a professional environment.

What is Startup Weekend Dhaka?

We all have great ideas. Every once in a while, an idea can trigger enormous success in businesses and ventures. As in the 100 countries participating in Startup Weekend around the world, the event in Dhaka is platform to support new

local entrepreneurs. The non-profit organisation operates through sponsorship. The funds raised from ticket sales for their events go towards the three-day event itself. Surplus funds are banked for followup events, or to help support a feasible startup. The service they provide is entirely voluntary, and no member of the organising team is paid.

Behind the scenes

The curator and licensee of the Startup Weekend Dhaka is Sajid Islam. He is a startup junkie, who realised that lots of great ideas were floating around in Bangladesh, just looking for a platform to turn them into reality. That is what inspired the idea of bringing to Startup Weekend to Dhaka. He went over to the Startup Weekend office in Seattle, and applied for a license. The first ever Startup Weekend Dhaka was in 2013.

What is the benefit?

“The idea of Startup Weekend is to create a catalyst-like effect in the nation. Startup Weekend brings together people from different backgrounds -- people with ideas, people with visions,” Sajid said. “Startup Weekend Dhaka aims to help these thinkers make their dreams a reality.” The primary goal of Startup Weekend Dhaka is to teach the

participants four core skill that are necessary when kick-starting a new venture: leadership, public speaking, recruiting and management. Dugdugi.com.bd was the most notable and successful startup formed at last year Startup Weekend Dhaka. The website lists albums and singles by many popular Bangladeshi bands and solo artist, and allows music lovers from all over the world to stream to their favourite music for free. Their idea was not only to make Bangladeshi music more available to a global network, but also to help stop piracy within the music industry in Bangladesh.

Core Ideology

“People who come to Startup Weekend come in with the thought: ‘I really want to learn,’” says Sajid. He describes Startup Weekend as an “immersion project” following the core ideology that it is about providing people with a platform that allows them “to dip their toes into the water to see if it is for [them] or not.”

The basic model

Anyone with ideas can come and join. All they need is to be a part of Startup Weekend. The platform will facilitate a participant not only to pitch new ideas, but also allow feedback from fellow participants. Through a popular vote, ideas are sorted into a top ten list. The top ten ideas are then worked out in business model creation, coding, designing and market validation. There are also presentations by potential entrepreneurs for local entrepreneurial leaders that would allow a more practical and professional assessment of ideas.

What’s in it for you? Photos: Courtesy

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, M ARC H 14 , 2014

Outside of learning management

and leadership skills, the programme has three top prizes. Each winner will get a 16-week mentorship programme, after the completion of which, they will get additional benefits. First prize is Tk50,000 seed funding and access and workspace at HubDhaka for six month, worth Tk60,000. Second prize is Tk25,000 seed funding and the three months’ access to HubDhaka. Third prize is Tk15,000 seed funding and two months’ access to HubDhaka.

Helping out this year

Sponsors: EMK Center, FFC, HubDhaka, the US State Department and Inflection Ventures. Judges: Tanveer Ali (investor), Nash Islam (entrepreneur), Pankaj Jain (investor/venture capitalist), Fayaz Taher (serial entrepreneur) and Iraj Islam (co-founder, Newscred). Event Partners: Shetu, G&R ad network, and GBG Dhaka Coaches: Mirza Salman Hossain Beg (Marketing and Sales), Muhammed Nazimuddaula Milon (Digital Media), Sheikh Shuvo (Regional Operation Manager), Minhaz Anwar (Bangladesh Startup Cup), Bijon Islam (Cofounder, LightCastle BD), Mustafiz Khan (Founder, Startup Dhaka), Samira Himika (Entrepreneur), Fayaz Taher (Senior entrepreneur), Nazmul Ahmed Najm (Founder, Ennovision), Riyad Hossain (Founder, Magnito Digital), Razin Mustafiz (Product Manager, Newscred), Alyssa Ransburry (Operations/ Team Dynamics), and Rafu Mustafa (Marketing and Sales).

Missing Out?

To sign up for the next Startup Weekend Dhaka, or to get more information about startups in Bangladesh, visit their website at http://dhaka.startupweekend.org or email sajid@hubdhaka.com. n


19

Culture Vulture Partha Pratim Majumder

Talking with

a mime maestro

Faisal Mahmud is good at memorising seemingly unnecessary information and finds that journalism actually appreciates, if not nurtures, that sort of futile flair

Partha Pratim Majumder became famous by being silent. The mime maestro is surprisingly pugnacious speaker offstage, but he says even more when not talking at all. “Though language is normally the primary mode of expression, for a mime artist it’s body movement … If I can’t say more with my body movements then I am not a mime artist at all.”

I met Partha during his recent visit to Dhaka. He was staying at a friend’s place in Dhanmondi. I went to talk with him about the techniques of mime. Instead of giving me a verbal reply, he suddenly leapt to his feet and gave an impromptu performance by walking in place. Then he drank an imaginary glass of water, sniffed an imaginary flower and mimed being stuck in a glass box. “Do you think you can do it?” I said no. He said: “I can sing a song without a sound. It’s not a technique that you can learn easily. It takes years of practice.” I wanted to talk more about mime but he insisted on talking about food. “Did you know that I am a good cook?” I told him I didn’t. “Most people don’t know this, but I can cook really well, especially French, Italian and Bangali food.” He attributes this to 32 years of living in Paris, the world’s unofficial food capital. “I am thinking of introducing authentic French cuisine to Bangladesh,” he said. As far as I know, there is no French

restaurant in Dhaka. I can cook crepe (a very thin pancake) really well, and I believe it would suit the taste buds of Dhakaites.” His favourite food however, is Bangali comfort food. “In Paris, when I invite guests to our house, I usually cook a lot of dishes. But after the guests leave, my wife and I have our dinner of boiled rice, boiled potato and gawa ghee” While opening a French restaurant in Dhaka is a recent dream of Majumder’s, opening a mime academy in Dhaka has been his lifelong ambition. “The mime academy will not only teach the students the art of mime, but also educate people how to move their body.” He believes lessons on body movements are useful for everyone. “Breaking the body geometrically is not just an art; it’s a science as well. You need to know the method to practice it properly.” “I teach body movement classes to top management people in French universities, like how to sit or approach others during a business conversation, or how to comport your body during a presentation.” Partha believes an international - standard mime academy could be a good place to teach people such an important but overlooked skill. “I really hope I can collect enough funding to implement my dream of

establishing a mime academy.” Partha says there has been a boom in the mime art industry in the West ever since the silent movie The Artist won the Oscar for best movie in 2012. “I had been working with Michel Hazanavicius, the Oscar winning director of The Artist, since 1996. He had offered me the opportunity to work on that movie. I refused, as I was on a European tour with one of my dramas.” When I suggest he could have gotten an Oscar, he replies: “Awards aren’t something that I crave.” Perhaps that’s because Partha has already had many awards and honours conferred on him, including Europe’s highest honour for theatre, the Molière Award given by L’Association Professionnelle et Artistique du Théâtre in 2009, and the highest honour of Bangladesh, the Ekushey Padak in 2010. In 2011 he was also made a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters), one of the highest French cultural honours. Partha said he asked the French cultural minister: “Why are you giving me this award? There are lots of artists in your country who haven’t got this award.” The French minister replied that Marcel Marceau, the great French mime artist, had termed Partha, “the bridge between East and West,”

Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

at a UNESCO program in 1986, and that the French government were acknowledging him as such. “The minister said their government doesn’t just give the award to those who are good at what they do, rather they give the award to those who have brought their roots along with them, giving something original and fresh to the audience, thus adding some new dimension to their culture.” “I was honoured that I could bring my roots along with me, and the French people have recognised that.” Though he has been living in France for a long time, he never believed that he would stay there permanently. “When I first came here in 1981 under a Shilpakala Academy scholarship to study the art of mime with Etienne Decroux, I never thought I could bear the first year, as it was really cold!” Though he survived and thrived, Partha said nothing could replace one’s homeland. “When I visit Bangladesh, I usually go out on a drive to the rural areas. On my way, I stop my car and smell the air. I try to get the fragrance of the paddy fields, even the decomposing jute and cow dung. All the precious perfume of Paris couldn’t replace that.”n

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, M ARC H 1 4, 20 1 4


20 Sohara Mehroze Shachi is an ardent music, aerial arts, debating, drawing and writing enthusiast - who happens to be a political science major and a development worker

Thought Plot

Tagore And Einstein

When Einstein met Tagore

In honour of Einstein’s birthday today, Sohara Mehroze Shachi unearths a conversation between two of the greatest minds of East and West

In July 1930, two of the world’s greatest minds – Rabindranath Tagore and Albert Einstein – met for the first time at Einstein’s Berlin abode to have one of the most riveting conversations of all time, exploring the dichotomy between religion and science. In almost all arenas including cultural backgrounds and occupations, the two intellectual heavyweights were diametrically different. But their mutual love for music, inquisitiveness, and passion for the truth united them, and resulted in their stimulating philosophical discourse. Fortunately, Dimitri Marianoff and Amiya Chakravarty were present during their meetings, and recorded the conversations. Marianoff, the husband of Einstein’s stepdaughter, promptly published the story in August 1930. The conversation was transcribed courtesy of David Gosling’s Science and the Indian Tradition: When Einstein met Tagore, and the January 1931 issue of Modern Review.

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, M ARC H 14 , 2014


21

An excerpt from the historic conversation: TAGORE: You have been busy, hunting down with mathematics, the two ancient entities, time and space, while I have been lecturing in this country on the eternal world of man, the universe of reality. EINSTEIN: Do you believe in the divine isolated from the world? TAGORE: Not isolated. The infinite personality of man comprehends the universe. There cannot be anything that cannot be subsumed by the human personality, and this proves that the truth of the universe is human truth.

EINSTEIN: Truth, then, or beauty, is not independent of man? TAGORE: No, I do not say so. EINSTEIN: If there were no human beings any more, the Apollo Belvedere no longer would be beautiful? TAGORE: No! EINSTEIN: I agree with this conception of beauty, but not with regard to truth. TAGORE: Why not? Truth is realized through men.

TAGORE: Truth, which is one with the universal being, must be essentially human; otherwise, whatever we individuals realize as true, never can be called truth. At least, the truth which is described as scientific and which only can be reached through the process of logic—in other words, by an organ of thought which is human. According to the Indian philosophy there is Brahman, the absolute truth, which cannot be conceived by the isolation of the individual mind or described by words, but can be realized only by merging the individual in its infinity. But such a truth cannot belong to science. The nature of truth, which we are

TAGORE: When our universe is in harmony with man, the eternal, we know it as truth, we feel it as beauty. EINSTEIN: This is a purely human conception of the universe.

EINSTEIN: This is a realization of the human entity. TAGORE: Yes, one eternal entity. We have to realize it through our emotions and activities. We realize the supreme man, who has no individual limitations, through our limitations. Science is concerned with that which is not confined to individuals; it is the impersonal human world of truths. Religion realizes these truths and links them up with our deeper needs. Our individual consciousness of truth gains universal significance. Religion applies values to truth, and we know truth as good through its own harmony with it.

EINSTEIN: We do things with our mind, even in our everyday life, for which we are not responsible. The mind acknowledges realities outside of it, independent of it. For instance, nobody may be in this house, yet that table remains where it is. TAGORE: Yes, it remains outside the individual mind, but not the universal mind. The table is that which is perceptible by some kind of consciousness we possess. EINSTEIN: If nobody were in the house the table would exist all the same, but this is already illegitimate from your point of view, because we cannot explain what it means, that the table is there, independently of us. Our natural point of view in regard to the existence of truth apart from humanity cannot be explained or proved, but it is a belief which nobody can lack—not even primitive beings. We attribute to truth a superhuman objectivity. It is indispensable for us—this reality which is independent of our existence and our experience and our mind—though we cannot say what it means.

EINSTEIN: There are two different conceptions about the nature of the universe: The world as a unity dependent on humanity, and the world as a reality independent of the human factor.

TAGORE: The world is a human world – the scientific view of it is also that of the scientific man. Therefore, the world apart from us does not exist; it is a relative world, depending for its reality upon our consciousness. There is some standard of reason and enjoyment which gives it truth, the standard of the eternal man whose experiences are made possible through our experiences.

TAGORE: What we call truth lies in the rational harmony between the subjective and objective aspects of reality, both of which belong to the superpersonal man.

TAGORE: In any case, if there be any truth absolutely unrelated to humanity, then for us it is absolutely non-existing. EINSTEIN: I cannot prove my conception is right, but that is my religion. TAGORE: Beauty is in the ideal of perfect harmony, which is in the universal being; truth is the perfect comprehension of the universal mind. We individuals approach it through our own mistakes and blunders, through our accumulated experience, through our illumined consciousness. How otherwise can we know truth? EINSTEIN: I cannot prove, but I believe in the Pythagorean argument, that the truth is independent of human beings. It is the problem of the logic of continuity.

discussing, is an appearance; that is to say, what appears to be true to the human mind, and therefore is human, and may be called maya, or illusion. EINSTEIN: It is no illusion of the individual, but of the species. TAGORE: The species also belongs to a unity, to humanity. Therefore the entire human mind realizes truth; the Indian and the European mind meet in a common realization. EINSTEIN: The word species is used in German for all human beings; as a matter of fact, even the apes and the frogs would belong to it. The problem is whether truth is independent of our consciousness.

EINSTEIN: Then I am religious than you are!

more

TAGORE: My religion is in the reconciliation of the superpersonal man, the universal spirit, in my own individual being. In spite of their differences in ideology, Einstein consistently expressed his appreciation for his illustrious guest. And Tagore later wrote in his memoirs about his host: “There was nothing stiff about him – there was no intellectual aloofness. He seemed to me a man who valued human relationships and he showed toward me a real interest and understanding.’’ n

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, M ARC H 1 4, 20 1 4


22

TOUGH LOVE

Dina Sobhan is a freelance writer and cautions readers not to take her “advice” here too seriously! Got a problem? Write to Dina at weekend@ dhakatribune.com

1

DINA SOBHAN

I am a man in early 60s, about to retire from my job. All my life I have wanted to travel – go to different places and see the world. But my mother’s insistence on seeing me “settle down” forced me to compromise and get married. I accepted my fate and, all these years, worked hard to be a good husband and father. But now my children – two sons – are both settled, with good jobs and their own families. Now that I don’t have any responsibilities and soon won’t have a job, I finally have the time and resources to spend on myself. I want to leave everything here and start travelling. I feel like I owe it to myself. Do you think I am being irrational?

I recently started working at a multi-national company as a management trainee. This is a dream-come-true for me – or it was until I met my team members. To be fair, they are friendly enough, and most of the time they will stop to hear and answer my questions. But I never feel welcome. At first, I thought it was just me thinking that way as I was in a completely new environment. But lately, I’ve noticed that my team members – all of them – hang out a lot both in and outside the office, and not once have they invited me. It’s as if they don’t want me on the team. This is bothering me a lot. How do I deal with this situation?

Do I think it’s rational, at the ripe old age of 60+, to abandon your wife and the life you two have cultivated over these last many years and just take off to ‘see the world’? Do I feel that it’s callous of you to feel nothing for her after years of her slaving over a hot stove to cook bhat, dal and illish mach for you even though she hates fish? Do I think it incredulous that you have not grown to feel an iota of love and compassion for the woman who also

had to conceivably forego her dreams and ‘compromise’ by settling down with a complete stranger, which she nonetheless did willingly and without complaint? Have you never travelled and “seen the world” with your family, or was it all just a long drudgery waiting to end so you could finally be free? It’s heart-warming that you feel you owe it to yourself. What does your long-suffering spouse feel is owed to her? n

2

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, M ARC H 14 , 2014

Syed Rashad ImamTanmoy/Dhaka Tribune

Wow, it’s just like high-school all over again, and you’re still the geeky loser that no one wants to hang out with. Sorry kid, you’re just going to have to eat lunch all by yourself in the break room while sneaking peeks at the cool table. I mean, really?? First of all, don’t you have any friends of your own? I presume you must be in your 20s and made it through college and such to

arrive at this prestigious position as trainee. And, presumably, you made at least one friend along the way to play dungeons and dragons and hang out with on dateless Saturday nights. If not, well, don’t lose hope. You’re still new and it takes a while to be accepted into the club. Just play it cool, do your job well, and don’t make yourself seem too available. There’s

nothing more off-putting than the stench of desperation. Eventually, once you prove yourself worthy, they might let you buy them drinks at the local dive where there’s a lesser chance of being spotted by anybody who matters. n


WT | LEISURE

23 Solution and clues for last week’s Sudoku

Sudoku

DID YOU KNOW? Want to know how much it costs to make every episode of the Game Thrones? According to E! Online, it is an average of $6m. According to Forbes, Snapchat is one of the top startupd which made a lot of money in 2013 - $60m, to be precise. According to Forbes, out of 1,645 billionaires, only 172 are women as of February 2014. The net worth of the richest woman in the world, Christy Walton is $36.7bn, which is almost half of the $67bn earned by the richest man on earth, Bill Gates.

Crossword

Across

1 Keep an eye on timepiece (5) 5 A quiet tree (3) 6 Finally the long way up hot country (5) 8 Month for pair around fifty (5) 10 Bolt can be found in here, like Brazil? (3) 11 Joint the Spanish used for violins (5)

Down

1 Break sounds like opposite of strong start (7) 2 Attempt score in rugby (3) 3 Laugh at end of bowler, for example (3) 4 Put everything into performance without depth (7) 7 Half keep up with youngster (3) 8 This clue was all-consuming (3) 9 Acrobat holds mug (3)

Solution and clues for last week’s crossword

Across

1 Tuneful mixture of cod and lime (7) 4 Writer of tales of tea and a strange cure (7) 6 Country is French on Italian acres, initially (7) 7 Weapon no US TV legend returns (7)

Down

1 Scottish monarch arranges match bet (7) 2 Minimum rent has a small inclusion (5) 3 Ruin act about drapery (7) 5 River visit after swindle (5)

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, M ARC H 1 4, 20 1 4


24 Syeda Samira Sadeque is the human version of a turtle - small, (mostly) confused and slow. Not quite bothered about winning the race. She loves coffee, cupcakes, different kinds of socks, and ranting about everything that’s wrong with the world

business

dhaka mooc

Answering the world Syeda Samira Sadeque meets with Dhaka MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) Exchange, a Facebook group that promotes education through research, interaction and free online courses

“T

he world is a monologue, and in order to fix the world, we need dialogue,” he says, squinting at the sun as we settle down for our conversation at Chhobir Haat. It’s a March afternoon, and the heat is just beginning to settle in. Amid the hawkers’ calls, and the busy tea-stalls, I sit down with Cal Jahan for a quick chat about Dhaka MOOC Exchange. Jahan launched Dhaka MOOC Exchange in October of last year, with two other partners. “At MOOC, we don’t believe in the concept of titles that differentiate one another. There is no ‘founder’ or ‘president.’ There are just the active members: three of us who watch over the programme.” Jahan and his team have built up an approachable, user-friendly, grassroots system that focuses on the quality of their service. “Education in Bangladesh is a big business. And it’s not even high-quality education,” says Jahan who was educated in the US. Yasser Aziz, another of the three active members who helped set-up Dhaka MOOC Exchange, says: “From my little knowledge and experience, I can say that the low-quality of teaching and the prevalence of session jams are huge issues for university students; they need to be solved. Solutions include increasing the accessibility of high quality educational resources through ubiquitous technologies, and doing so at a little or no cost.” Jahan adds: “I believe in free education. MOOC makes it possible. If all of us had access to that, imagine where we would be.”

The journey

Although started only last year, the idea for Bangladeshi MOOC has been on the horizon for a while. Jahan decided to move to Bangladesh a few years back to work in this sector. He had worked in different companies before beginning this project with two others who he met through TedxDhaka, another educational project he had started. “When I was 30, I discovered my passion: education. I was a really curious child who always wanted to learn, but the process of institutional learning really devalues and discourages people like me, even though I may have something to contribute.” Jahan says he began to think: “What if we all did things that we’re passionate about? The world would turn wonderful overnight.” So, in his quest to provide free education for all, and give everyone a platform to realise their passions, Jahan started the Dhaka MOOC Exchange. One of the initial participants has left, and a new member has joined, keeping the number of “actives” at three.

Challenges

Despite the success so far, Dhaka MOOC Exchange has had a few challenges, like a high dropout rate, and a lack of infrastructure. Students’ absence and poor time management are a particular issue. It appears that young people are having a difficult time juggling their MOOC activity alongside their conventional education.

The benefits

Despite this, they had had their very first session at Robindro Shorobor in October, and since then many have benefited from the resource. “Working with MOOC Exchange has helped me learn skills I couldn’t imagine to have learned locally, mainly due to my restricted routine,” says Aziz, who is now a 1st year engineering student at Ahsanullah University. “For example, I learned programming with an introductory computer science course I did during my A-Levels. It was possible because I could take the classes at night and during weekends, and that didn’t affect my day-time classes.” He continues: “One of the innovative features of the Dhaka MOOC Exchange is that we believe in open leadership. In open leadership, everyone in the community is both a follower and a leader. Different people will lead different projects, whatever they are best at, and the rest will follow. There is no such thing as ‘supreme leader’ or ‘forever follower.’” In Jahan’s mind the purpose of all this is clear: “Our focus should be that our next generation should be richer, more famous than us.”

Their launch campaign was called Disr^4upt because they wanted to “do something disruptive to the educational ecosystem.” Their emphasis is on four areas: a) Autodidactism: To make everyone self-learners. b) Education 2.0: To encourage students to learn, think, and do – your education does not end at school, take it beyond that; read outside your textbooks, travel etc. c) r4: Added to the traditional list of three R’s (Reading, writing, and arithmetic) is “programming literacy,” an essential skill for the future. d) The power of free: You can show the world your potential for free. People will recognise it and those who profit from education will disappear from the market. At MOOC, the exchange of knowledge takes place through presentations and community discussions. These focus on coding workshops, through Google Hangouts, personal tutorials, and a range of other 2-3 days crash courses.

Upcoming events Their next Mooc event is on Saturday March 15 at at the EMK Center. It will host two presentations: 1) A Brief History of the English Language: This session will discuss the history of English language from an angle you would least expect it to. Did you know English was once considered a “language of the illiterate”? Though it has now become one of the most spoken languages in the world, and an intersection point for various cultures, its rise to prominence is connected to why we, despite taking years of English classes at school, still don't know how to speak it. This 20 minutes session will explore a 1,000 year history of the English language.

Photos: Courtesy

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, M ARC H 14 , 2014

MOOCs Philosophy

2) Learn to Play Blackjack (21) Like a Pro: Attend this session to learn some strategies that can make you win! n


business

25

YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS

Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition 2014 Hasibul Islam writes about Bangladesh’s award winning team

“T

he desire to win a global competition and make a difference arose when we saw all our seniors and friends bringing in so much acclam for the country and the institution every year,’’ said Sabira Mehrin, one of the team members of “Bhitti.” Aiman Absar, Parashar Saha and Sabira Mehrin, from the 21st batch of BBA students at IBA brought home glory as runners up in the Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC) 2014. Undergraduate students from around the world participated in GSEC with their social business plans to create solutions for some of the world’s most challenging issues including poverty, health and development. The semi-finalist students from around the globe were invited by the committee to visit University of Washington, Seattle to present their ideas to mentors and win prizes. The yearly competition is sponsored by a number of notable benefactors such as Microsoft, NCIIA, and Seattle Rotary. Last year, Project ‘Lifechair’ from IBA, brought home the Global Health Prize from GSEC 2013. The team consisted of four 3rd year BBA students. This year, team ‘Bhitti’ brought home the runners-up prize, worth US$10,000, becoming the youngest team in the history of GSEC to obtain the accolade.

The big IDEA The idea of Bhitti focuses on utilising sugarcane bagasse (fiber) to make affordable, durable and environment friendly housing material for the rural population of Bangladesh. Bagasse is the fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract their juice. Bhitti focuses on three aspects: • Unemployed population • Polluted construction industry • Waste disposal from sugar mills

Courtesy

From left: Aiman Absar, Sabira Mehrin, Parashar Saha

Bhitti combats all these problems by themselves. Their current plan is to employ local people from Dinajpur to make these products, they will first be trained by experts. The process would be labour intensive and would consume less energy. Since the bagasse is also burnt for power, the ash produced can be mixed with clay and other components which can, in turn through a chemical process, be used to manufacture bricks. This way, instead of being burnt, the bricks will be dried in the sun. Fortunately, there won’t be any deforestation or emission of harmful toxins in this process. With a zero carbon footprint adding value to it, the working conditions would also prove to be healthy for the workers. And the prime raw material is sugarcane bagasse which is an agricultural by-product mostly considered to be waste. So, Bhitti is actually turning this waste into something useful by recognising its

unique properties which make it an alternative to fly ash.

Unique usefulness

Today, Bhitti is giving homeless people, and those whose houses are frequently damaged due to natural calamities, an alternative option to build a sustainable and cheap house. It is also creating more employment opportunities and putting a previously known waste material to good use. Bangladesh’s youth is fast growing and fast rising. We can safely hope for similar breakthrough ideas in the future courtesy of the country’s youth who are eager to help combat social problems. n

Last year, Project ‘Lifechair’ from IBA brought home the Global Health Prize from GSEC 2013. The team consisted of four 3rd year BBA students. This year, team ‘Bhitti’ brought home the runners-up prize, worth US$10,000, becoming the youngest team in the history of GSEC to obtain the accolade

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, M ARC H 1 4, 20 1 4


26 Tasnuva Amin Nova lives each day to gather enough courage to start her own business someday. Until then she wants to keep writing about the big, bright things around that inspire her

business

Co-working

The future of the workplace Tasnuva Amin Nova writes about sharing workspace, a new concept in Bangladesh

There are so many aspiring entrepreneurs with startup ideas who need a platform where they can share and/ or exchange thoughts. Sharing a workplace can be an excellent way to achieve that

B

ijon Islam, co-founder of the business analyst firm LightCastle Partners, has acquired a new office space for his startup by co-financing the set up of The Wave, a recently launched business incubator, and shares this space with three other startups that the incubator hosts. “Each of us has a dedicated space for operating, but we share common facilities such as the event space, conference room and kitchen. We split the rent and common costs among ourselves,” says Bijon. Adding further about his new workstation, he says: “We needed an office space since we are expanding, and The Wave is the right place for people like me who find rigid corporate offices discomforting. Working in an open space with like-minded people seems very

“By working together, we also generate client referrals and can offer complete solution suites to our customers. Work becomes more fun and scope of innovation widens.” W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, M ARC H 14 , 2014

Photos: Courtesy

rewarding to me. I really value the cross-pollination of ideas that takes place while working with other businesses. “By working together, we also generate client referrals and can offer complete solution suites to our customers. Work becomes more fun and the scope of innovation widens.” Since moving into The Wave premises, Bijon has been looking forward to learning from others, building synergies and achieveing higher growth. Mentorship and other assistance provided to startups who share the same workspace provided by incubators make co-working more promising. Offices like The Wave are popularly known as co-working spaces. These free-style workplaces have grown in number around the world over the last decade. This part of Asia is catching up as people here are taking more interest in freelancing and startups coupled with technological advancements. This stipulates the need for establishing more independent workstations. In Dhaka, there is only a handful of places – approximately three – where you can expect to rent work desks for a day, week or a month for official use while availing the benefit of working with others. After BizCube, the first independent workstation dedicated

to nurture new startups and develop a startup ecosystem, shut down within few months of its operation last year, Minhaz Anwar, its founder, analysed the causes behind its fall: “My experience tells me that we Bangladeshis are not very comfortable with the idea of an open workspace, especially entrepreneurs. We are too protective of our ideas because we fear that they will get stolen. As a result, we do not share much. “Then the market reality fails us. Under the market rate, if renting a desk costs Tk500 per day and your company has a team of four requiring that many tables each day you operate, for three days of operation a week, your rental cost will exceed the prevailing market price of any ordinary rental accommodation that is available in the market. “Cost is the largest barrier for startups as they tend to be very fragile. Unless the government subsidises the rental rates, growth of co-working spaces under private initiative will be slow paced.” However, Minhaz believes that if incubators have separate revenue models which do not rely solely on the rental income from startups to cover operational costs, then coworking places will thrive. He adds: “2014 is an interesting

year for co-working in Bangladesh, as awareness about incubation programme is increasing in our society but only those who can accommodate the market reality will survive.” From previous co-working experience, Saddam Azad, cofounder of the online Bangla music portal Dugdugi.com.bd, says: “Coworking thrives where serious entrepreneurs are constantly looking for some space to bootstrap their ideas from. At present, more than co-working spaces, we need colearning spaces where young people are given specialist training on small business development.” Some entrepreneurs have also raised concerns about working in such workplaces, saying that the co-working environment lacks privacy. But as long as there are private arrangements for individual companies to deal with their confidential matters, it should be fine. n


THE WAY DHAKA WAS

27

Ramna Gate

Ramna Gate, 1901

When I was growing up, I used to play in Ramna Park. We used to enter the park through this gate. It was like walking through a historical monument – as a child, I would feel proud of being part of such an illustrious heritage. Even though I did not really know the of its history, I knew it was old and part of an era long before me. Now when I see it, I feel nostalgic. Dhaka was a sparse city back then. There weren’t many people and it was very safe. Looking at it now, I have floods of memories and I wish we preserved our history better. Bangladesh Old Photo Archive

Aroma Dutta Ramna, Dhaka

Today

Chanchal Kamal

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, M ARC H 1 4, 20 1 4


28

Last Word Esha Aurora

Esha Aurora is a staff writer at Dhaka tribune where she excels at breathing, sleeping, eating and the occasional opinion making

The new face of journalism The world of the Yanukovych leaks and changes to the landscape of news business

There is no way of escaping the facts revealed by the Yanukovych Leaks; Ukraine stands at the fork of a road today. It can go either way – the fight to keep the country together wages on a global stage

B

eing a journalist has always been a dangerous profession. There are daily reports from around the world of murder, intimidation and abduction. Countries like Mexico and Syria are one of the worst places in the world to be a journalist. But what happens when reporting the news is not just done by a select few, but everyone? The Internet has revolutionised mass media. The World Wide Web is a great equaliser. All opinions, big or small, can be expressed and transmitted throughout the world in a matter of seconds. The new buzzword in journalism is “new media” or, to be more precise, social media. We have seen it used throughout the Arab uprising as an instant source of information. The problem arises when everything that is being posted on these websites cannot be verified. There have been times when news outlets would broadcast a story, only to be informed that it was

This is a seriously sinister element of these revelations. What is even more frightening is that fact that the freedom of information, whether imposed or by self-censorship, has left the mass media at the helms of state control W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, M ARC H 14 , 2014

AFP

misinformation. Anyone who uses the Internet is aware of this phenomenon. There is, however, this very recent upsurge in things such as WikiLeaks and Yanukovychleaks.org. Such whistle-blowing websites only function is to reveal secret documents. There is no opinion left behind. It lets the Internet and the rest of the world form an opinion. Following the very basic principle of journalism if you will. The crisis in Ukraine is in such a fluid state that it makes it very hard to analyse - much less predict - how it will ultimately evolve. Amid this chaos that first began on November 30 last year, when deposed president Viktor Yanukovych backed away from an EU trade deal, protests began to take place at Independence Square, which lasted for months. Yanukovych finally fled Ukraine on February 22 this year. Now, here is the clincher. In a bid to get rid of all the secret documents he kept at his home, but not having sufficient time to do so, these documents were promptly dumped into a nearby lake. When the public broke into his home, journalists followed and found some of these documents floating up to the surface of the lake. Some special divers volunteered to fish them out and, within days, they had their hands on a vast amount of the regime’s documents. They created what is known as

the Yanukovych Leaks. You can find all of the salvaged documents there - either scanned or photographed. There is a disconcerting amount of information about state-sponsored crime, corruption, intimidation, and wiretapping. Take the case of Tetyana Chornovol, an investigative reporter who was abducted, beaten and left on the roadside on a freezing night in late December 2013. Investigators attributed the attack to a “road rage” dispute at that time. Not to mention, they found a huge blacklist of journalists. Or the fact that they found papers pertaining to a budget for monitoring mass media. This is a seriously sinister element of these revelations. What is even more frightening is that restrictions on the freedom of information, whether imposed or by self-censorship, have left the mass media under state control. This is not a problem the Internet faces. The Yanukovych leakers could have easily picked a side. They chose not to principally attach a moral judgement to their finds. This is interesting, given the high level of tension in Ukraine right now. Instead, we find ourselves having to judge the good from the bad, whatever our own perspective might be. One cannot entirely disregard the role of traditional media here, because the leaks were picked up by news outlets all over the world and given to us from their own standpoint. But

the face of journalism has changed. Everyone can be a journalist with a click of a button or a hashtag. There is so much information flying out these days that it’s hard not to be confused by it. All kinds of views permeate the global debate. There is no way of escaping the facts revealed by the Yanukovych Leaks; Ukraine stands at the fork of a road today. It can go either way – the fight to keep the country together is being waged on a global stage. Some people seem deeply affected by the corruption while others seem to focus on ethnic divisions. While the Western powers squabble with Russia about the state of Ukraine, the world watches on in fear that is deeply reminiscent of the cold war days. The news today would not be the same without the joint efforts of citizens and journalists. Even when that news is sometimes unverified, or it comes in the shape of a grainy image, the power of social media is undeniable. What is even more undeniable is the fact that we are now able to - for the first time in history - have the ability to shape the perspective of the story. It is not the one that the state wants you to hear or the one that is imposed by selfcensorship. It is the voice of the people whose stories are what journalism is all about. n


Weekend Tribune Vol 1 Issue 46  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you