Bangladesh mission observes Mujibnagar Day

Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi observed the historic Mujibnagar Day on April 17, in a befitting manner. On this day in 1971, the first government of independent Bangladesh was sworn in at Baidyanathtala (Mujibngar) in now-Meherpur district naming Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the president, Syed Nazrul Islam as vice-president and Tajuddin Ahmed as the Prime Minister. Syed Nazrul was made acting president in the absence of Bangabandhu who was arrested and jailed in a West Pakistan prison.

The significance of the role provisional government of Bangladesh played in leading the nine-month War of Liberation and mobilising international opinion and support was discussed at a meeting held at the mission. High Commissioner Syed Muazzem Ali, a freedom fighter diplomat, presided over the discussion meeting. “The liberation war stands out as the most glorious chapter in the history of our independence struggle against Pakistan,” said the envoy.

“This has been our pride and I feel proud to be associated with this unforgettable part of our history,” he said. He paid tributes to Bangabandhu – the greatest Bengali of all times, the four national leaders, Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Capt Mansur Ali and AHM Kamruzzaman. The discussion was also addressed by Brig Gen A K Mohammad Ziaur Rahman, Defence Adviser, Selim Jahangir, Minister (Consular), Jamal Uddin Ahmed, counsellor and Zakir Ahmed, first secretary. The Mujibnagar Day messages of President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina were read out respectively by Dr A K M Atiqul Haque, counsellor (commerce) and Shahed bin Aziz, first secretary. A special prayer was offered for the progress and development of the country.



Bangladesh pick uncapped Abu Jayed for World Cup

Bangladesh have named uncapped right-arm pacer Abu Jayed in their 15-man squad for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019.

Jayed has played five Tests since making his debut in July 2018, but is yet to earn an ODI cap. Javed’s ability to swing the ball should make him handy, as he showed during the Tests in New Zealand, should the conditions in England provide enough assistance.

Jayed’s inclusion comes at the expense of fast bowler Taskin Ahmed, who had missed the New Zealand tour with an ankle injury. Ahmed also doesn’t feature in the 17-member squad that has been announced for the tri-series against Ireland and West Indies that takes place before the World Cup.

“Taskin played his last ODI in October 2017 and it was a long break for him. When we thought about him again for the New Zealand series he sustained an injury once again. According to the reports we have, he is not fit. He represented (his domestic team) in one match but his fitness is still not up to the mark,” said Minhajul Abedin, the Bangladesh chief selector. On Jayed’s surprise selection, he said: “He can swing the ball and we felt that can add value to our bowling attack.”

The other big inclusion was that of Mosaddek Hossain. The middle-order batsman last played for Bangladesh in the 2018 Asia Cup. However, his poor performances in the tournament led to him getting dropped for the subsequent ODI series against Zimbabwe, although Steve Rhodes, the head coach, had said at the time that Hossain continued to figure prominently in Bangladesh’s plans for the World Cup.

Hossain will provide the back-up all-rounder option, with Mahmudullah still recovering from a shoulder injury that was aggravated during the New Zealand tour. “Mossadek did well in (recent) domestic tournaments,” said Abedin. “We want an all-rounder who can bowl off-spin. Mahmudullah has a shoulder injury, so he may not bowl over there (in the World Cup). As a back-up spin all-rounder, we included Mossadek.”

Although the squad features plenty of young players, Bangladesh will welcome the return of their core, with Shakib Al Hasan joining fellow senior players Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, captain Mashrafe Mortaza and Mahmudullah.

Shakib had been through injury troubles that had kept him out of the ODI and Test series against New Zealand. He now returns to the squad as Mortaza’s deputy.

The rest of the squad is filled with young blood. Liton Das, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mustafizur Rahman, Soumya Sarkar and Jayed are all aged 25 or younger.

In addition to the 15 travelling for the World Cup, Bangladesh have also picked uncapped players Nayeem Hasan and Yasir Ali for the tri-series in Ireland. Hasan made his Test debut late last year, but like Jayed, is uncapped at the ODI level. He was in the squad for the one-day internationals against New Zealand, but didn’t get a game. Ali, on the other hand, hasn’t played international cricket yet.

Carrying a Culture’s Expectations: Work-Life Balance for Women in Bangladesh

The United States marked April 2 as Equal Pay Day, which “symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.”

In the past decade, Bangladesh has made strides in narrowing the gender pay gap, lifting the status of women, and ensuring easier and greater access for women to participate in the workplace. As a society, however, it still lags in terms of empowering women and balancing gender workloads.

Regardless of women’s participation in the professional workplace, societal norms are that the woman will be responsible for household work. This cultural expectation, coupled with Bangladesh’s dominant religious views, makes work-life balance for career women in Bangladesh even more difficult than their counterparts in Western societies.

Progress has been made

Over the past decade, government policies have pushed the country toward attaining and maintaining steady progress in gender equality. As a result, Bangladesh has been ranked No. 1 for gender equality among South Asian countries for two consecutive years in the Gender Gap Index.

The index, prepared by the World Economic Forum, considers education, economic participation, health and political empowerment to measure gender equality.

According to a 2018 report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), at 2.2% the gender wage gap in Bangladesh is the lowest in the world, where the average gender pay gap is 21.2%.

According to a report published in the Dhaka Tribune on July 12, 2018, the number of working women in Bangladesh was 18.6 million in 2016-17, a marked increase from 16.2 million in 2010.

According to The Global Gender Gap Report, Bangladesh was ranked 48th among 144 countries in wage equity in 2018. Other South Asian countries ranked much lower, including Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Bhutan and Pakistan, which were ranked 100, 105, 108, 122 and 148 positions, respectively.

Cultural expectations

A study by Action Aid Bangladesh, called “Incorporation of Women’s Economic Empowerment and Unpaid Care Work into regional polices: South Asia,” released in December 2017, found that a woman in a typical Bangladesh household spends on average six hours a day doing unpaid work in the household, including cooking, cleaning, caring for children and elders, while men spend just over an hour on such activities.

Farah Kabir, country director for Action Aid Bangladesh, told the Dhaka Tribune that if men and women equally shared household work, women would be able to earn more because they would be able to work more hours or put in more effort at paying jobs.

While women have seen access to employment opportunities, education and health care grow, some say additional action is needed for on-the-job training, options for elder care and improvements in mass transportation. Because of the religious and cultural taboo in the country, many women do not drive, even though they are legally able to drive. Many women end up relying on mass transportation, where availability is limited.

Debate renewed

Many impediments remain that affect women’s work-life balance: The Bangladeshi culture expects women to cook, clean and look after their children, even if they have full-time jobs. The discussion around women’s unpaid household work were renewed by a speech made by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that went viral on social media nearly two years ago.

Envoy: Bangladesh set to see more Japanese entrepreneurs

Japanese Ambassador in Dhaka Hiroyasu Izumi has said the Special Economic Zone for Japanese investors in Bangladesh—and the One Stop Service Act—are likely to attract more Japanese companies; especially in the fields of: food, commodity products, light industry, and ICT.

“Since the year 2008, the investment from Japan to Bangladesh has been expanding and the trend is getting stronger, especially after 2011,” he told UNB in an interview.

This trend, Ambassador Izumi said, is likely to continue for the coming years; considering the competitive labour force and the size of the market of Bangladesh with its large, young population.

He, however, said the investment climate and doing business in Bangladesh “are not very favourable” for foreign companies.

The time-consuming process of applying to launch businesses and registration, as well as a lack of sufficient infrastructure, an intricate process of applying for work visas, and a complicated tax system— including retroactive taxation—could be named as the main bottlenecks to start businesses in Bangladesh, he said.

In particular, Ambassador Izumi said, the insufficiencies in logistics and taxation systems, such as “too-heavy tariffs,” need to be addressed.

“They are not only the hindrances for FDI from Japan but also cause drawbacks to the growth of the local economy in Bangladesh,” he said.

Analysing the current situation of the foreign companies, and listening to their requests, are essential to make the overall investment environment more attractive, said Ambassador Izumi.

Responding to a question, the Japanese envoy said that surrounded on all sides by the sea, Japan is also deeply rooted in the blue economy and has a long history of using marine resources.

“I, therefore, believe Japan and Bangladesh can exchange knowledge and expertise in blue economy and marine resources,” he said.

A conference was co-organised in March by the Ministry of Fisheries & Livestock and Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the envoy said adding, “‘Bangladesh Blue Economy Dialogue on Fisheries and Marine Culture’” was quite suggestive and meaningful.”

“We would like to consider future cooperation in the field of blue economy with the government of Bangladesh,” said the Ambassador.

When asked about Bangladesh’s exports to Japan, he said in Japan they are seeing more and more clothes manufactured in Bangladesh, but Japanese people are not very aware that they are made in Bangladesh.

“To further encourage exports from Bangladesh to Japan, I believe it is very important for Bangladesh’s companies to conduct thorough market research in Japan, especially focusing on the quality-oriented tendency of the Japanese consumers,” said the Japanese envoy.

Other potential exports from Bangladesh to Japan, he thinks, could be medicine, leather goods or agricultural (marine) products.

“For any product, however, creating additional value that attracts Japanese consumer is the key to expand and boost exports to Japan from Bangladesh,” said the Ambassador.

To do so, he suggested having more opportunities to introduce Bangladeshi products in Japan, such as organising trade fairs or exhibitions, to make them familiar to Japanese consumers.

Responding to a question on people-to-people contact, he said friendship between Japan and Bangladesh started immediately after the independence of Bangladesh. “Since then, the two nations have always been very close friends.”

For example, the Ambassador said, Japan has provided scholarships for more than 4,000 Bangladeshi students over decades.

Last year, more than 120 students received this scholarship and went to Japan from Bangladesh. Also in the field of business, there are currently more than 260 Japanese companies operating their businesses in Bangladesh, and interaction through business is also growing rapidly.

Dhaka, Tokyo plan big for 2022

The year 2022 will mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Japan.

“The coming years will be very important for our two countries. Toward this anniversary, we are working hard to enhance our bilateral relations even further,” said the Japanese Ambassador.

In celebration of this anniversary, Bangladesh and Japan are expecting to see more and more interaction between the two countries, including cultural and people-to-people exchanges in the years to come.

The Ambassador said several cooperation projects were launched with the successful mutual visits by the two Prime Ministers— Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe—in 2014.

“Apart from bridges, we are working on other projects like the Dhaka International Airport Terminal, Dhaka Metro lines, and Matarbari port and power plant, and all these projects are going well as planned with high quality. It is my tremendous joy to celebrate this anniversary with the people of Bangladesh based on this ever-growing relationship,” he said.

Since his arrival in 2017, Ambassador Izumi said he has been witnessing an increasing number of visits both at ministerial and other levels. “I expect our bilateral relationship to grow even closer and stronger in the years to come.”

He said Japan has been the single biggest bilateral development partner for Bangladesh and the amount of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Bangladesh from Japan last year marked $1.8 billion.

“This figure was a record, the largest-ever Japanese ODA support to Bangladesh for one year. I am pleased to inform you that Bangladesh is now the second-largest recipient of Japan’s ODA in the world,” he said.

US issues another travel advisory for Bangladesh within 7 days

The USA has issued yet another travel advisory, within seven days of the previous alert, warning its nationals to exercise increased caution while travelling across Bangladesh.

The travel advisory warned US citizens to employ extreme level of caution in Dhaka and Southeast Bangladesh, including the Chittagong Hill Tracts, due to “crime, terrorism, and kidnapping.”

Earlier on April 4, the embassy had issued a travel alert “in light of calls for revenge in the wake of” the March 15 terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand where five Bangladeshis were among 40 Muslims was killed during prayers.

The US move drew stark criticism from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who requested the Americans to share any related information they had with Bangladesh.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal had also said issuing security alerts across different countries has become a US “practice.”

“We have not received any information on security threats to foreign nationals in our country,” the minister had said. “There are no threats. I do not know why the US has issued a security alert.”

US travel advisory

The US travel advisory warned: “Violent crime, such as armed robbery, assault, and rape, is widespread. Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Bangladesh.

“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, restaurants, places of worship, and local government facilities. There is a possibility of terrorist attacks in urban areas despite the heavy police presence,” the advisory said

The US government has also directed its personnel stationed in Bangladesh to live, work, and travel under strict security guidelines.

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UAE-Bangladesh business relations set to receive impetus

In light of a recent meeting in Dhaka between a three-member delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Salman F Raman, the private sector industry and investment advisor to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the business relations between Bangladesh and UAE are expected to pick up pace.
The UAE delegation expressed their interest in setting up businesses in Bangladesh and stated that they would be more than willing to guide and assist Bangladeshi businessmen who are looking forward to set up business or even explore investment opportunities in the UAE. The delegation was headed by Waleid Bin Abdulkareim, CEO of OnTime Group, along with Yasmine Khan, an LLM-international litigation and arbitration expert as a member.
Abdulkareim discussed the idea of introducing a business center for potential investors and entrepreneurs based in UAE with Salman F Rahman. This comes after the fact that OnTime Group recently bagged the permission of UAE government for the same. If successfully executed, the hub will prove to be a source of information to assist the investors and business associated individuals via direct coordination with the UAE Embassy in Bangladesh’s capital.
Salman F Rahman further helped the UAE delegation in discussing the plans regarding the hub acting as a source of assistance for Bangladeshi businessmen interested in UAE-centric investments. While appreciating the CEO’s efforts, Rahman ensured the delegation that he extends his complete support towards any measure that improves the access to investment and ease of doing business in Bangladesh.
Such endeavors will play a motivating role for other countries to observe the improving international relations along with the rising economy of Bangladesh. With sectors like textiles, pharmaceuticals, ceramics, energy, power, etc, there are substantial opportunities that await proper utilization in Bangladesh.


Premier foreign player participation to enhance Bangladesh Premier League

The Bangladesh Premier League is all set to begin from January 5 and people from across the globe are expected to tune in. This comes after the seven teams participating in the tournament have displayed the weight of their wallets and roped in some mammoths of international cricket.
Reigning champions Rangpur Riders will feature Chris Gayle (West Indies), AB de Villiers (South Africa), and Alex hales (England). Other names include Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik from Pakistan with West Indians Sunil Narine, Carlos Brathwaite, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Sheldon Cottrell, and Evin Lewis.
Talking about the long list of players, Australian players David Warner and Steve Smith will mark their return on the pitch after one year, following the ball tampering scandal. While the former will play for Sylhet Sixers, latter will feature in Comilla Victorians. The two teams will play against each other on Sunday. This edition of BPL also features the return of Bangladesh’s Mohammad Ashraful after a five-year suspension.
David Warner said, “You look at the names in some of the other teams. They are not just here to watch me. I am just excited to be here and be a part of it. At the moment, the BPL is starting against the BBL, at home. After this you have the Pakistan Super League and Indian Premier League. Most players tell me that this is definitely up there with the best.”
The past editions of BPL have showcased a level of competition from its Australian counterpart, The Big Bash League (BBL), and 2019 is no different. Afghan superstar Rashid Khan, New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum, and England’s Josh Butler have elected play BBL instead of BPL. However, Warner’s dressing room will feature AB de Villiers and Sandeep Lamichhane, a Nepalese spinner. Both cricketers have preferred to play the Bangladeshi league.
Reiterating the money involved, salary limit for foreign players is fixed at $200,000. However, most of them have negotiated non draft individual deals, which has no limit. Though winning prize money is $240,000, commercial avenues are expected to yield good returns to every team.
The tournament starts on January 5, 2019 and will have 42 matches in total. Top four teams will qualify for the semis and the final game of this year’s BPL will be held on February 8, 2019. The dates will allow Australian players to return home, if needed for next series practice.

Final result of 11th parliamentary elections from Dhaka-1 constituency

Salman F Rahman was spontaneously elected in the 11th parliamentary elections yesterday from Dhaka-1 constituency. He polled 3,04,797 votes from 178 centres while his nearest rival Salma Islam garnered just 38,017 votes from this constituency. Salman F Rahman and Salma Islam are widely considered the main candidates in the election from this constituency. Salma Islam has since withdrawn herself from the election. Salman F Rahman contested the election with the Awami League (AL) symbol of the ‘nouka’ (or ‘boat’), while Salma Islam contested on the ‘motor vehicle’ symbol. After the election, Salman F Rahman said: “The election was fair and neutral in every centre of the country. In Dohar-Nawabganj, the situation was the same.”

Before the election, 23 people were arrested from the area under this constituency for allegedly distributing money to influence voters and instigate violence. Salman F Rahman is a top businessperson who owns the Beximco Group. Salma Islam, a presidium member of the Jatiya Party (JP), is the wife of another top businessman, Nurul Islam Babul of Jamuna Group.

As a local voter of the area said, “Salman F Rahman is a man who can change the fate of the people of Dohar-Nawabganj. We believe he will pay special attention to the people of his constituency.” It is the first berth in Parliament for Salman F Rahman, the private sector adviser to AL chief and outgoing prime minister Sheikh Hasina.


Bangladesh ups its fashion game with fashion show

Bangladesh is globally renowned for its Ready Made Garment (RMG) sector. Not just the fashion and style, the industry contributes nearly 80% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In December, a fashion show on the 1st floor of Jamuna Future Park celebrated the opening of Rise’s fourth store. Rise is a famous Bangladeshi brand that deals in apparels.
The one-hour event was divided into two parts. While the first featured models wearing traditional inspired long skirts and Punjabi outfits, models in casual wears like denim and t-shirts stole the second half of the show.
Faheem Mosharraf, the 33-year old Chief Executive of Rise said, “ We take streetwear inspirations [from] all over, adding Bangladeshi traditions, Bangladeshi culture, Bangladeshi nationalism, and we integrate [them] into fashion.” Rise sells T-shirts that invigorate the nationalistic spirit among the youth on a level similar to that of their elders. The casuals feature English slogans like “Unity,” “Equality,” “Home is Dhaka” and “Dhaka made me.”
Faheem’s desire to minimize, and remove, the dependency on foreign labels excited him to contribute in every department- materials, design, production, and retail. Bangladeshi apparel sector registered 18.6% rise and corresponding earnings worth $14.18 billion in the July-November period of 2018. With his contributions, it will not be an understatement to say that Faheem Mosharraf is the quintessential example of the industry’s growth

US ambassador Earl R Miller wants to see more economic engagement with Bangladesh

The US ambassador to Bangladesh, Earl R Miller, has said that the USA will prioritize economic engagement as Bangladesh is now a major market with more than 170 million people. He quotes, “I hope to see more American companies engaging in Bangladesh and more Bangladeshi companies engaging in the United States.”
Ambassador Miller made this statement in front of several reporters at a regular luncheon meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham). The event was moderated by AmCham president Nurul Islam.
The ambassador to Bangladesh pointed out the success of US companies and US businesses in Bangladesh. He said, “We can do so much better. So, I look to work with the people of Bangladesh and the government of Bangladesh to bring in more trade delegations, more trade missions and more CEOs.”
He further added, “I’m very encouraged by the first meeting I had with the quality of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh with the quality of the American companies those already here. I want to double this number and triple this number.” Ambassador closed his statement with an enthusiastic ‘Joy Bangla’.
The United States of America has become a primary export destination for the South Asian country. Their two-way trade is valued at more than $7.47 billion per annum. The US envoy expressed his proudness on this arrangement. Currently, the trade is tipped more on Bangladesh’s side, as $6 billion were made last year in favor of Bangladesh.
The trade is predicted to boost even more in the future, keeping in mind that the US exports to Bangladesh were fueled by 100 percent year-on-year increases. The ambassador will remove unnecessary red tape and burdensome procedures that bring about corruption and hinder the trade between the US and Bangladesh.
Ambassador Earl R Miller acknowledged Bangladesh’s long strides in the international market. However, he raised the issue of scarce labor rights, which when resolved, will bring Bangladesh closer to economic prosperity.