Faridpur lights up with 2,000 solar lanterns

Hazarbighar Char Island in Faridpur lit up with 2,000 solar lanterns under the Zayed Sustainability Prize’s “Guiding Light” global campaign. According to the press release issued by the Prize, Zayed Sustainability Prize logo was revealed by the 20 x 20 meter light installation post sunset.
Approximately 1,847 people consisting of students, fisherman, shopkeepers, vulnerable women and children, and local community health center workers will receive the lanterns. It primarily targets the families that have minimal or deprived of the on-grid power access.
The Zayed Sustainability Prize is the UAE’s global award that appreciates creative and inspiring solutions for sustainability. The award was introduced after the humanitarian legacy of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, UAE’s founding father. While Guiding Light campaign began in Bahrain on December 5, the next day was followed with an event in Bolivia.
Barua, a globally renowned businessman with a veteran’s experience in sustainable solutions, won the inaugural prize. Barua’s ultimate objective is to transform Bangladesh into a solar nation. In addition, he has been an international advocate for solar technology implementation as an attempt to bring a positive change in the lives of people that live in off-grid areas. As of now, 66 winners have received the prize.
The campaign will end with a final event in Abu Dhabi on January 9, 2019.


Renowned Bangladeshi swimmer Kshitindra Baisya calls retirement

Kshitindra Baisya, a 67-year old swimmer has announced his retirement as he hopes inspire younger generations with the mystical and relaxing aura of the country’s waters. He told AFP, “I didn’t have much idea about the beauty of this country until I swam dozens of its rivers.” Born in 1952, eh is not just an open water swimmer, but also the member of the 24-hour club.
He taught himself swimming at the age of 18 and once he started, there was no looking back. What started out as a rejuvenating activity transformed into passion and motivated him to swim long stretches within four years. At the age of 22, he completed an open water swim in Jagannath Hall Pond at Dhaka University that lasted for 93 hours and 11 minutes.
Though he had registered a 108 hour 5 minute swim in the aforementioned pond in 1976, he received recognition in 1978 when he swam 74 km of India’s Bhagirathi River. Despite of multiple records in pool, he prefers to swim in channels that connect to the Bay of Bengal, nearly 700. His winning mantra includes yoga, regular basic exercises, diets filled with bananas and dates and his special swimming technique of breaststroke with head above water.
Apart from numerous such milestones to his name, there was one swim that he had not conquered: he Bhugai, Kangsha and Maghra rivers in Bangladesh’s north. Previously, in 2017 and November 2018, he had tried to complete the swim marathon, but couldn’t. However, on September 5, he completed the 185km stretch in 61 hours without any break.
Fighting sleep, fatigue, and polluted water, Baisya swam for two successive days and nights. He said, “It was a difficult task as the water was almost stagnant due to a lack of monsoon rains. On top of that, parts of these rivers were polluted, with garbage floating around.” As he accomplished one of the most memorable feats of his life, he knew it was time to retire.
Currently, he has shifted his focus on teaching swimming to young kids. Considering the fact that more than 150 million people live by the sea, it is imperative to stay ready for any possible threat. On a note of determination, passion, and love for the country’s waters, he said, “I truly hope young swimmers will be motivated by watching what I do at this age.”

Bangladesh-Bhutan to sign SOP for trade promotion

In an attempt to strengthen bilateral trade and daily commercial movement of vehicles, Bangladesh is going to sign a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) with Bhutan. Sources in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that the opinion of multiple ministries and their divisions was taken into consideration before finalizing on the SOP.
As reported by The Independent, a senior official said that the Royal Government of Bhutan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a draft SOP to its Bangladeshi counterpart for approval. He said, “After receiving the draft SOP, the ministry of foreign affairs sent it to different ministries and divisions for seeking their opinion.”
The official added, “The draft SOP would be signed as per the memorandum of understanding on use of inland waterways for transportation of bilateral trade and transit cargoes between Bangladesh and Bhutan that was signed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Thimphu last year.”
The transportation routes mentioned in the draft SOP include three distinctive ones: Mongla-Kawkhali-Barishal-Chandpur-Mawa, Aricha-Sirajganj-Chilmari-Daikhawa, and Chattogram-Chandpur-Mawa-Aricha-Sirajganj-Chilmari-Saikhawa. The document also includes a possible use of water, rail and road transport, subject to convenience. In order to divide the route load, sea ports like Narayanganj Port etc., will also be used.
According to the SOP, Bangladesh will decide on the fees and charges associated with the use of river port facilities and coastal ports aligned with domestic and international laws. This comes after the draft SOP’s primary objective of enhancing cross country commerce and trade, ensuring efficiency, credibility, accuracy, and transparency.
Samdrup Jongkhar, Gelegphug, Sarpang, Phuentshoking and Samtse in Bhutan and Monglahat, Noonkhawa, Daikhwa, Nakugaon, Haluaghat, Banglabandha, Burimari, Tamabil, Narayanganj, Gobrakurakoraitoli, Mongla seaport and Chattoagram seaport in Bangladesh will be the respective entry and exit points for cargo vessel’s crew members, as mentioned in the draft SOP.
The draft further emphasized that all the crew members on cargo vessels need to carry certain documents for hassle free entry in the contracting countries. This includes an authority reviewed permit with the individual’s photograph, passport/visa or employment certificate, and identity cards issued by concerned authorities of Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Bangladesh clinches ODI series victory

Bangladesh decimated Windies in the final match of the 3-match ODI series to register a 2-1 victory. Though Shai Hope managed to score another century, the lack of support from the rest of the lads eventually cost them the series.
Asked to bat first by Bangladesh, the West Indies in-form batsmen Shai Hope kept fighting from his end with a six and nine boundaries. However, his partners on the other end fell like dominoes. Mehidy Hasan was successful in dismissing Hemraj early, eliminating an opening stand. Darren Bravo tried to support Hope as he took the fight to Bangladesh, only to be bowled by Hasan in a short span. Windies were hoping to turn it around with a partnership between Hope and Samuels before a beautiful delivery by Saifuddin claimed latter’s wicket.

Continuing a decisive bowling spell, Hasan dismissed Shimron Hetmyer and Rovman Powell in quick succession, thereby dismissing half of Windies batting line-up within the 100-run mark. Shakib reduced the opposition to 143 for 7 by removing all-rounders Chase and Allen for eight runs and six runs respectively.
Hope went on to complete his century with Keemo Paul’s support and ended up putting 198 runs in 50 overs, an extremely reasonable total considering the team’s contributions.
Bangladesh entered to bat with the opening pair of Tamim Iqbal and Liton Das. They put up a decent start of 45 runs before Paul dismissed Das for 23 runs. Then arrived Soumya Sarkar. The presence of two in-form, experienced batsmen spoiled the party for Windies.
Iqbal took the back seat while Sarkar went all guns blazing and punished almost every opposition bowler. Iqbal’s understanding helped Sarkar play his natural game and consequently, he smashed five sixes to Windies spinners. The left-handed duo completed their individual half centuries.
Keemo Paul managed to knock over Sarkar, but the damage was already done. Tamim’s 81 not out and Mushfiqur Rahim’s 16 runs helped Bangladesh win with 69 balls and eight wickets to spare. While Hasan won the Man of the Match for his 4 for 29 runs, Hope became the Man of the Series.
Banlgadesh has now beaten Windies 2-0 in Tests and 2-1 in ODI’s. The losing side is expected to give the hosts, a run for their money in the three-match T20 series beginning from December 17.

Audio leak grills BNP leader on his alleged ISI connection

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader and retired army Major Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain is facing sedition charges as an audio leak has surfaced, featuring his alleged ties with Pakistan’s ISI. The audio leak suggests that the BNP leader is planning to sabotage the 2018 General elections, which are set be help on December 30.
The leak is available on YouTube, and is being scrutinized by the common people and the authorities for authenticity. Major Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain says that the leak is fake, but Mohammad Ali Sumon, the chairman of Daudkandi Upazila Parishad, has filed a case against the BNP leader.
In the case, Mohammad Ali Sumon alleges that Mosharraf Hossain is in contact with Mehmood, a Dubai-based ISI operative. Ali has urged the police to take necessary actions and find out more about Hossain’s Pakistani connection.
The police, however, will need approval from the home ministry to proceed. Daudkandi police chief Alamgir Hossain said that they are preparing to send the case to top brass.
Mosharraf Hossain will be contesting the 2018 elections as a BNP candidate for the seats of Comilla-1 and 2. Mohammad Ali Sumon, on the other hand, is the son of Subid Ali Bhuiyan, the Awami League candidate from Comilla-1.
Awami League leaders have long been complaining that the leaders from BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami were ‘hatching a plot’ with the Pakistan intelligence agency. Now they have found the audio clip as evidence.
In the audio, ‘Mosharraf Hossain’ is purportedly saying, “You know we’re really in crisis. I have several cases. And with excuse of one case my passport is seized. I cannot go out of the country. This is my position.”
In another part of the audio file, the man thought to be Mosharraf Hossain is saying, “I am still what you think. But practical connection or communication is impossible for me. To come out, I know that would be fruitful.” He adds, “What I want to mean is I will meet your man here so you can get the message. But now what I like to request you that from your side if you can cooperate with China, that will be useful before the election.”
Television channels are featuring this news round the clock as BNP is thought to be a nationalist party that values the country’s independence fiercely. The shocking revelation will immensely affect BNP in the upcoming elections.

World Bank approves development operation for Bangladesh job sector

On Thursday, The World Bank approved a $250 million development policy operation in an attempt to help the Bangladeshi government increase the number, quality, and pay scale of jobs. This comes after the disproportionate nature of the country’s economic growth and corresponding employment generation.
Qimiao Fan, Director of World Bank Country for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal said, “Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in accelerating growth and reducing poverty, but the rate of job creation has not kept up with economic growth. Creating more and better jobs is a prerequisite for the country to achieve its vision of upper-middle income status.”
According to The World Bank, the objective of Programmatic Jobs Development Policy Credit is to help Bangladesh establish a stronger policy and institutional structure. This would act instrumental in overcoming the predominant hurdles and consequently, generate better quality jobs for youth and women.
“This will require the economy to create jobs for the 2.2 million youths entering the labor force each year, while attracting more women into the labor market. This program supports reforms to stimulate trade and private sector investment, strengthen social protection for workers and help the vulnerable population access jobs,” added Fan.
The program is expected to target multiple age groups of employment sector in an individual manner. For instance, enhancement of childcare services would promote the essence of participation from mothers while simultaneously encouraging other women. Similarly, skill development and work protection will be the primary targets of the program. The expected ways to achieve this include improvements in labor law, ease of doing business, pensions, and trade facilities.
Thomas Farole, World Bank Lead Economist and Task Team Leader commented, ““This program seeks to increase investments in labor-intensive activities, improve the quality of jobs, strengthen resilience to shocks, and ensure that women, youth, and migrants access job opportunities.”
According to the World Bank, Bangladesh’s IDA program is the largest with $12.2 billion. The credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) has to be paid within 30 years, including a half-decade grace.

58 online Bangladeshi news portals shut down temporarily by telecom regulators

Over 58 sites were temporarily shut down by Bangladesh’s telecoms regulator on Monday. These sites included several popular online news portals that had been covering the upcoming elections. The regulators cited security reasons as they had to scrutinize dozens of websites for behavior that can harm the impending elections.
The International Internet Gateway (IIG) operators were asked by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to block 58 sites which include sites like Priyo, Poriborton, and shibir. Mohammad Zakir Hossain Khan, the BTRC Media and Communication wing Senior Assistant Director explained, that as an authority over the Bangladeshi cyberspace, they unblocked the websites around 5 pm.
International Internet Gateway President Sarwar Alam Shikder explicates, “When an issue is raised to us by the commission which is related to law and order of the country, we are bound to comply.” The sites in question were reportedly not listed with the information ministry, which is also why their content was being scrutinized.
Abdul Malek, an official from the ministry said, “It is the responsibility of this ministry to bring all news portals under a system so that they can run smoothly.” The authorities, however, failed to alert the websites that were being temporarily shut down.
Priyo editor Zakaria Swapan reveals that they did not receive any communication or a simple warning suggesting the short-term closure. He denied that the website had been spreading fake propaganda news. Mohammad Nowsher Ali, the editor of risingbd(dot)com recounts the same incident where their portal was shut down without a formal notice.
Special care is being taken for the 2018 General Elections, where Kamal Hossain from the Jatiya Oikya Front will be pitted against Sheikh Hasina from the Bangladesh Awami League. Sajeeb Wazed Joy, the son of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who also happens to be an advisor in her cabinet, predicts that the Awami League will win up to 220 seats.

Japan’s investment prospect in Bangladesh

On Tuesday, Bangladesh ambassador to Japan Rabab Fatima spoke about the investment and business opportunities in Bangladesh. She highlighted the future prospects to investors and businesspersons of Nagoya while addressing a seminar held at Nagoya Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI). Nagoya, apart from being the fourth largest city of the country, is the automobile hub of Japan.
The seminar was organized by the Bangladesh embassy in Tokyo with the objective of increasing awareness among the entrepreneurs of Nagoya regarding the ease of doing business environment of Bangladesh. The event registered more than 80 business representatives of Nagoya as it was organized in collaboration with Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), Nagoya Chamber of Commerce, and Nagoya City Office.
Ambassador Fatima highlighted the overall as well as individual growth of Bangladeshi sectors in the last decade and thanked Japan for its support towards the development of Bangladesh. She also shed light on the role and contribution of women in the industrial development along with other factors as the country’s efforts to achieve Vision 2021 and to become a developed country by 2041. Takashi Kawamura, Mayor of Nagoya City welcomed the participants and guests at the seminar supported by Japan-Bangladesh Committee for Commercial and Economic Co-operation (JBCCEC), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).
Talking about Japan’s involvement in the event, Masumi Okamoto, the representative of JICA explained the company’s projects in Bangladesh and described the current economic conditions. While Tsutomu Hashimoto of Sumitomo Corporation described the company’s business experience in Bangladesh, senior vice president of Bangladesh Honda Pvt Ltd (BHL), Kazuya Hashi elaborated the company’s expansion process in the country. Furthermore, the opportunities, risks, and facilities associated with doing business in Banlgadesh were explained with the help of a presentation given by the representative of JETRO, Dhaka, Taiki Koga.
A short documentary on Bangladesh’s economic advancement was screened during the fifth development and investment seminar organized by the Bangladesh embassy in this year.