Media Freedom in Bangladesh: Did it ever exist?

Free media is a key towards any kind of journalism including development journalism. Freedom of the press is a requirement for strong and democratic institutions, which has been recognized since the late 1990s when Bangladesh was going through an evolution from military regime to a civilian rule. At the same time, the press also needs a favourable environment to be able to operate and trail democratic objectives. Lately, there has been absence of “democratic political culture” which at the same time make the political institutions in Bangladesh insubstantial (Ahmed, 2009). A research done by Ahmed on press regulation in Bangladesh reveals that government itself recognizes the inadequacies in laws and regulations relevant to press but it is not keen to bring reforms in those laws and regulations.

Even institutes for creation of journalists in Bangladesh are widely patronized by the government. The Press Institute of Bangladesh (PIB) is an institute that provides training to emerging journalists and is set up by the government. The National Institute of Mass Communication is a similar institute set up by the government, but for television and radio. There is also non-government organizations, like The Bangladesh Centre for Development Journalism and Communication and Mass-line Media Centre, which are supposed to represent as civil society in terms of developing a free media, but their activity is not that visible.

Most of the laws and regulations related to the media tend to be obstructing freedom of press. In terms of achieving democratic goals and representing different perspective of various social communities, media is confronting several problems like threat of persecution due to restrictive laws and even death threats from political goon. Ahmad, through his research, points out that existing laws and regulations relevant to media allows government to put a boundary around the ability of the press in terms of inspecting the government’s action, which eventually hinders the growth of democratic practice among institutes. The study also reveals that ministers in Bangladesh can choose not to provide any sort of information concerning the public to the press under the “oath of secrecy” in Bangladeshi constitutions (Ahmed, 2009). This indicates to the fact that the constitution itself is not protective towards freedom of the press. While legal experts and media scholars are well-aware of these facts and are quite skeptic towards press regulating laws and constitutional provisions, most of the journalists interviewed in Ahmed’s study had very vague knowledge on media laws and regulations.Even when this paper is being written, parliament of Bangladesh passed Digital Security Bill 2018 even if having opposition from the opposition political parties, owners of media houses, and journalists. According to them, it is against the freedom of speech and media and restricts independent journalism.


This new Digital Security Bill amends some of the previous laws and acts allowing the home ministry to arrest anyone they suspect of committing a crime. Also according to Section 31 under this law, “… a person may face up to three years in jail or a fine of Tk 500 thousand in fine or both if he or she is found to have deliberately published or broadcast something on a website or in electronic form which can spread hatred and create enmity among different groups and communities, and can cause deterioration in law and order” (Hasan, 2018). This means, anyone can be convicted for writing almost anything in any medium which brings the level of media freedom to zero.

Once again, this step by the government has been heavily criticized. Opposition lawmakers and even some members of the parliament who are not from the ruling party have opposed the bill through submitting written statement on withdrawal of this law (Hasan, 2018). International organizations for journalists like Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has also criticized this law and sent out written statement to the President of Bangladesh for not signing the bill (The Daily Prothom Alo, 2018). In spite of having national and international pressure, there is a possibility that government, like always, will stay unnerved regarding this issue and pass this Digital Security Bill.

As of now, according to the Freedom House, Bangladesh’s Freedom of the Press total score is 62 out of 100 which makes the press freedom status not free (“Bangladesh”, 2017). With activation of this Digital Security Bill, this score is expected to get lower.

Another crucial requirement for having a free press is to have a safe environment for the journalists where they feel free to investigate and write about issues concerning the public. This can be achieved through rule of law in favour of the journalist which is nonexistent in Bangladesh. According to Committee to Protect Journalists, between 1992 and 2018, 30 journalists and media workers have been killed in Bangladesh (“Explore CPJ’s database of attacks on the press”, 2018). Majority of the journalist and media workers were murdered. Their database only includes popular cases that has been reported widely in media. Their database does not include bloggers. At least 10 bloggers have been killed from 2013 to 2016, mostly by Islamists who were offended by the bloggers’ write up against Islam (Petersmann, 2018). Below is another chart by UNESCO depicting the number of recorded killings of journalists per year.


To establish and increase the practice of development journalism, Bangladesh needs to ensure a free media first where journalists and media workers are not threatened for doing their job. Currently, freedom of press in Bangladesh is facing the most perilous time due to adverse political situation, lack of democratic system, strict press regulations and laws. Development journalism is a very delicate, yet a powerful concept, capable to bring positive changes unless goals other than development are pursued. The current political culture in Bangladesh needs to be understanding and lenient towards free media and democracy for proper implication and practice of development journalism that favours the larger interest of the nation.

This is an excerpt from a paper written for a seminar two years ago along with a classmate, Nigar Akbarli. The original title of the paper is “Development Journalism and Its Implications in Bangladesh” where the above excerpt is a part of my contribution. Coincidentally, during that time, the Digital Security Act was on the table, waiting to be approved. I always wanted to publish this excerpt in my blog, but never did. I thought now would be a relatable time. Adding a follow up below for some updated figures.

Follow up 2020:

Two years after the activation of this Digital Security Bill, the Freedom House Score for Bangladesh has come down to 39, while last year it was 41. (You can find some interesting figures and scores in the Bangladesh page of Freedom House.)

Zyma Islam, from the Daily Star, mentions in her article about data obtained by Bangladesh Peace Observatory which reveals that just from March 2020, 142 people have been arrested or kept under official custody so far “for reporting, spreading “misinformed” news, or their social media activity”. While the data is only comprised of the reported cases in the media, the actual number of persecution is much higher; for example, prosecution or penalisation under the Digital Security Act in workplaces. So far, 55 academics have come forward protesting against the Act with their statement in media which says, “maintaining etiquette in cyberspaces can only be done through community management, not through the use of any illogical, malicious criminal law” (Islam, 2020). Following the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a peak in the number of persecution under this Act, more to scare health professionals so that they figuratively cover their mouth in front of media and not spill any information hindering the government’s stance in tackling in the pandemic. Feel free to give Zyma’s article a read for a better insight on this.

Bangladesh is a demo…what?


Ahmed, A 2009, Media, Politics and the Emergence of Democracy in Bangladesh [Ebook] (pp. 50-69). Canadian Journal of Media Studies. Retrieved from

Bangladesh 2017. Retrieved from press/2017/bangladesh

Explore CPJ’s database of attacks on the press 2018, Retrieved from =Confirmed&motiveUnconfirmed%5B%5D=Unconfirmed&type%5B%5D=Journalist &type%5B%5D=Media%20Worker&cc_fips%5B%5D=BG&start_year=1992&end_ye ar=2018&group_by=location

Hasan, R 2018, Digital Security Bill passed. The Daily Star. Retrieved from bill-2018-amid-concerns-journalists-1636114

Islam, Z., 2020. Health Sector: When Critiquing Courts Danger. [online] The Daily Star. Available at: <; [Accessed 22 June 2020].

Petersmann, Sandra. (2018). Bangladesh blogger: the wrath of a father demanding justice for his son’s murder. Deutsche Welle. Retrieved from



An Honest Wg-Gesucht Ad from a Desperate Wg-Seeker’s Perspective


All the positive adjectives that can describe a home, like beautiful, bright, peaceful, decorated, feels like that little home where you spent your childhood with your parents. Like seriously, this is the best place to live in Munich!

Room size

Some digit with m2 , you have no idea how large or small is that. But seriously, as long as it fits a bed, you are sold!


Some outrageous amount, you barely earn that much! Oh, that’s also cold, as cold as your ex’s heart. Warm includes utility, miscellaneous costs. There might be other costs which is not included here! And looking at the amount of deposit, you are considering selling one of your kidneys already. I mean you don’t need two kidneys any ways.



Flatshare details

Room size, how many people live here,

total size of the apartment,

how many females, how many males,

range of age,

smoking allowed or not allowed,

students or workers

Seriously. YOU.COULD.NOT.CARE.LESS. As long as the flat mates are not cannibals/aliens from Area 51/most wanted criminals/serial killers, you are good with it.

Speaking these languages

You only recognize the flag of Germany and the United Kingdom. Mentioning English gives you hope (if dein Deutsch ist nicht so gut), but only seeing the German flag means no chances of getting it with your schlecht Deutsch. Also, there might be a hidden message here: you better be German. Sometimes, people feel shy to specifically mention it.

Searching for

Any gender, or some specific gender with a range of age. you do fit into it, but you wished there were more specifications mentioned as you know they will choose someone who seems more familiar in terms of their culture, race, age, and in some cases gender.

Further details

You don’t bother as long as You can see the Wireless Internet Access icon.


These are information written in paragraphs, information that are already mentioned above. You normally skip them to hit the “send message” button, because it’s a freaking rat race! You don’t want to be late by reading all these details.


After hitting the “send message” button, a quick look at the google map to see how much exactly you will have to walk to reach the closest u-bahn/s-bahn/tram/bus station. Also, to see how far this place is from your work and how is the connection between this place and your work. You don’t really care how many supermarkets, bakeries, cafes, bars, apothekes there are around the house.

Flatshare type

Introduction to your potential future flat mates. Sounds super nice and fun, with cool hobbies. Damn! You should have sounded cooler in your generic message! Grabbing a wine at the end of the day? Sounds amazing! Cooking or grilling together in the weekend? Best life ever! Cleanliness? Sorted! You have already started to dream of the best wg-life with this people! But hold on, they get to choose, not you! Come back to reality!


Oh great, more costs added. Some expensive home appliance they just bought that you didn’t really need in your life. Some superficial maintenance cost? Okay. Oh, there is also an existing equipment fee which they forgot to mention above. You don’t really need a 40 inch flatscreen TV, but do you have any other option? NO!

If you are interested (as if you have any other choice), please send an e-mail with information about you, what you like to do in free time, what you study, a motivation letter mentioning how you see yourself in 5 year living in this wg, how this wg will change you as a person, what values you can bring in here,  if possible a CV, Schufa certificate (no idea what that is), salary statement, maybe some reference letter from your previous flatmate, recommendation letter from your previous landlord. Please also attach a photo of you so that you can be judged by your looks and your skin color. Please give as much details as possible, but also don’t write a 1000 word essay, they probably won’t read it anyway. Chances are high that you won’t even get any reply, let alone an appointment, but you have to show some effort if you are really desperate.

You think you didn’t get the house because of your language skill, country of origin, religion, race, or gender? Of course not, you stupid! It’s just the “gut-feeling” (not the German gut). Good luck with your search, keep sending messages and keep praying to whatever you believe in so that you find a shelter in this dream city where everyone is sleep-walking.



28 July 2019

Munich, Germany

All Characters are Fictional

They are mediocre students

Living in foreign land

From middle income families

They are smart

Just not smart enough for scholarships

But they too wish for studying abroad

So, they work at factories

At restaurants

At bars

If they are lucky enough,

They get a chair to sit

They work hard,

So that they can afford a decent life

So that they get permission to stay

So that they can pay back their debt back at home

Their dads’ not rich, remember?


They study hard

Because they also need to make sure they are completing enough credits

And a good grade maybe?

They are there for education, remember?


They pay their bills

Do their laundries

Cook their own food

Do grocery shopping

Also make sure they had the time to talk to their families

Sometimes, they go to bed without food

Because they are more tired than hungry


They have straight faces, sometimes a happy one

Deep inside they are scared

Scared of failing

Scared of losing their job

Scared of unknowingly breaking a rule

They have traded a lot

Just for a better education

Better opportunities

Better future

For themselves

For their family back at home


You don’t see their struggles often

You only see what they let you see

Happy pictures

Pictures of food they made

Or a piece of cake they bought themselves as a treat

Picture of that pair of shoes they waited for so long to buy from a sale

Their travel photos, for which they worked extra hours


They are strong!


They laugh out loud!

They count their blessings

They dream of better days

with eyes wide open


People call them lucky,

But the clock is constantly ticking!





Munich, Germany

My Corporeal Patronus

Remember that day when you climbed over the locked gate of the maternity and fought with the hospital staff so that I could come to this world safe and sound? I was 0 years old.

My first school! You bought all the textbooks, showing and introducing them to me, you seemed more excited than me. This is probably the earliest memory I have with you. What was my age? 4-5?

My dope pappa, in one of the family trips to Sylhet, before I was even born.

You brought all the old magazines from your office for me to read. No matter they made any sense to me or not. Imagine a 9-year-old reading Newsweek!

My most favourite memory: you taking me to book-shopping after my exams were over! Oh and also going to school on your vespa. I used to stand on the front, between you and the steering, when I was little. It felt like I myself was driving the vespa, but I grew big and had to take the backseat later on.

2003: You made me bunk my final exams for a trip to Kolkata, because the dates of the exam were conflicting with our trip plan. That was an epic trip!

2005 (June to be precise): I was in class 9 and flunked in physics. The assistant headmaster of that “prestigious” school called you for a meeting and suggested you appoint school teachers as private tutors. Otherwise, my future is dark. You came back home and ordered me not to go back to that corrupted school ever again. Rather you sent me to an unknown school in the neighbourhood. Rest is a history.

2007: We were hopping from one “good” college to the other in the scorching heat of June, trying to figure out which one would be a bit cheaper because we were on a tight budget. I remember you had jokingly said, “I would go on top of some overbridge with a plate, but you have to go to a good college.”

2010: Maa was hospitalized. You took me to a cyber café nearby to that hospital so that I can complete the application to get into a bachelor’s programme I knew so little about. That little push made all the differences!

In a tiny hotel room of Chittagong, you placing your hand on top of my head asking me softly if I am really willing to study in this university away from all of you, even after all the failed attempts in public universities. “We will take a U-turn to Dhaka, I don’t care about the admission fee I have already paid”. This made me laugh but also made me belief that I will never feel trapped for my decisions.

2011: You selling your car and buying a cheaper one, so that you can buy me a laptop. I didn’t ask for it, but you realized that I needed one somehow.

2016: You encouraging me to quit a job and buy a camera with all the savings. You knew I wanted to buy a camera real bad and also realized I might spend all the savings since I had just quit from a job. I was jobless for the next 8 months, you never asked me to settle for anything less or do anything that doesn’t fit my interest.

Photo taken on that same camera he encouraged me to buy, on one of our road trips

2017: When I was new in this foreign land, having self-doubt, you suggested me to roam around Europe a little bit and get back to Bangladesh again if it feels too hard. Again, assuring me that I am never trapped, and I always have a safe space to return to even if I fail.

And the countless road trips, long drives and picnics. They were nothing fancy but taught me how little it takes to lead a happy life.

You trusting me that I can take care of myself. Rather than getting me what I want, you worked hard to make me capable of getting it by myself. Rather than telling me what is good and bad, you made me conscientious so that I can decide for myself. You taught me that nothing is more important than inner peace and a healthy mind.

I wanted to thank you for all these but right now I am more thankful to maa for marrying you and making you my papa. Life would’ve been way too different if she had married anyone else but you! You and maa, together, are one hip pair of parents in the town, beyond all craze and usual coolness.

Happy Father’s Day

16 June 2019

Munich, Germany.


Letter to Mahnoor, My Niece

Dear Mahnoor,

Day before yesterday (17 November 2017) I got to know about your existence. Your didun told me that it’s a girl! It brought smile on my face in the midst of all the sufferings I am currently going through. Perhaps I would have celebrated if I were with my near and dear ones. I always knew you would come, sooner or later. Sad part is, I won’t be there to hold you in my arms or see you in person, or stay beside your mum when you will be born.

I am your khama (your khala and mama both), Mahnoor. Your mum’s sister. Your mum took care of me when I was little. More or less, she has some role to play in shaping my life. Trust me, I can already feel your presence in my life and how that presence going to change me as a person. I felt the same way, when your brother was born. When your mum was expecting Mahir, I thought it would be you. You were named back in those days, even when you didn’t exist at all. This doesn’t mean, I will love you more than Mahir. My love for you two would be same.Mahnoor Mehjabeen Samira

I don’t know how much I can influence your upbringing. Your parents have the most right on you. But always remember, you and only you have the full right on your life. This is an amazing world. It has many things to offer. I will say, try everything, to gain experience and knowledge, but before trying, make sure you have the intellect to measure what is right for you and what is wrong. Never do anything that would make you feel ashamed in front of your parents. People will try to make the list of “Never Do” long, but trust me, a lot of thing in that list doesn’t count. It’s all about what you prioritize and how good are you at handling certain things. Just have fun! But stay in focus.

People say, “Fortune favors the brave”, but I say, “Fortune favors those who know what they want in life”. What do you want in life? The earlier you figure this out, the better. I am not asking you to figure out things by the age of ten! Take your time, explore yourself, get as much exposure as you can. These will keep your perspective straight. When you are sure what you want, stand for it, spend every moment pursuing for it. Be what you want, but be the best version of you. Your parents will approve of it when they will see you shine. They will take pride on you, even if they don’t approve of it in the beginning. Trust me, your parents want the best for you, they want you to be happy. They might not know how, but they do. It is you who will assure them that you are choosing the best option and that you are happy.

Our society is more judgmental towards girls than they are towards boys. You will see your brother is allowed to do a lot of stuff that you are not allowed. Don’t let that bring your spirits down. People know you are capable of making magic, they are just too scared to see that. I will say, reach that level of awesomeness where this people’s voice will not reach your ear anymore. I am saying again, stay focused and everything will fall into place.

A lot of time you might feel unsure of what you are doing with your life. We all have been there at some point. It’s normal. Trust your intuition and stay focused. In case you are still confused, your khama is always there to listen to you. I might not give you the best advice, but if you are able to explain your plans to me, you are probably on the right track. I will always understand you, without any question or judgement.

I just have one advice for you: Read as much as you can, read anything and everything! Read novels, biographies, newspaper, magazines, blogs, fairytales, sci-fi, erotica even! The more you read, the more broaden your mind will be. Just follow this one and only advice from khama, please!

My Mahnoor! I can’t tell you what a wonderful human being you will be when you grow up! And I am so excited about that!

With all the love in the world,

Your khama ❤

19 November, 2017

Obernzell, Germany.

(She is born today at 8 am German time and 1 pm BD time. Posting it on this occasion. She shares birthday with Virginia Woolf, so she better follow my advice!)

New Year Resolutions on Sustainable Development Goals

When the end of another year is nearing, we tend to take various New Year resolutions, some are realistic while some are wishful thinking. Why not take some resolutions that would bring some positive changes in our lifestyle and also address the Sustainable Development Goals.

On 1 January 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at a historic UN Summit — officially came into force.  Over the next fifteen years, with these new Goals that universally apply to all, countries will mobilise efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

Now, it’s not just the development organisations and practitioners, who are responsible for achieving these goals. We, the VSO National Alumni Association, want to spread the message to the mass that each and every individual can contribute in addressing and achieving these goals from their personal level; just by bringing some positive changes in their lifestyle. Each of these resolutions indirectly addresses one of the targets under each goal. This new year, let’s take an SDG resolution because we care about ourselves and our community.

No Poverty
“I will buy less and give more”, Jesika Marilyn Gomes, MBA, Finance and Banking.

While 836 million people are leaving in extreme poverty around the world, some of us spend extravagantly on unnecessary items; things that we want to possess, but not really need. By deciding to give more instead, be it monetary donations, people who are in a vulnerable situation might get access to economic resources and other forms of essential properties.

Zero Hunger
“I will not waste food”, Steffi Jui Mitra, MS, Food & Nutrition

In today’s world, we already produce enough food waste to feed 3 billion human beings. The UN estimates that in just 20 years, the earth’s population will need at least 50 per cent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 per cent more water. Consumers have the power to change the entire system. And it would take just one simple personal step: stop wasting food.

Good Health &amp; Well-being
“I will follow traffic rules”, Zaman Manir, MA, English.

According to World Health Statistics of 2008, the status report of the road traffic injuries indicated that it may become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030, overtaking complications of diabetes and HIV/AIDS. The fatalities on the road have emerged as a major public health concern because of the deaths, disabilities and hospitalisations that have raised socio-economic concerns across the world. This goal’s one of the targets is to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020.

Quality Education
“I will read more books”, Safeyn Mridul, MBA, Dhaka University

While this goal focuses more in improving the quality of education and making sure more people are literate, we can address this from a personal level through improving our own knowledge. Everything we read fills our head with new bits of information, and we never know when it might come in handy. It could even aid in our career, as those who are well-read, well-spoken, and knowledgeable on a variety of topics tend to get promotions more quickly (and more often) than those with smaller vocabularies and lack of awareness of literature, scientific breakthroughs, and global events. This also addresses the target of ensuring all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity by 2030.

Gender Equality
“I will help my mother in household chores; value her unpaid care”, Nowrin Sultana, Research Assistant, VSO Bangladesh.

Around the world, women spend two to ten times more time on unpaid care work than men, which also is a missing link in analysing gender gap. One of the many targets under this goal is to recognise and value unpaid care of domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and, above all, the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate. From our personal level, this simple act can definitely help in achieving the target.

Clean Water &amp; Sanitation
“I will take short showers to save water”, Amir Hossain Munna, BBA, Accounting

By 2030, this goal targets to increase water-use efficiency across all sectors halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally. In an average home, showers are typically the third largest water use after toilets and clothes washers. More than 80 percent of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers or sea without any pollution removal. This one behavioural change from personal level can contribute to the target.

Affordable &amp; Clean Energy
“I will turn off the electric bulb when there’s daylight”, Golam Rabby, BBA, ULAB

About 2.6 billion people in the developing world are facing difficulties in accessing electricity full time. Many more suffer from supply that is of poor quality. On the contrary, much of the world has become completely reliant on electricity. Unfortunately, many people overuse or waste electricity, resulting in negative impacts both on the environment and the pocketbook. Saving energy through simple measures, such as turning off lights in unused rooms or when there is daylight can provide us and the environment with a wide range of benefits.

Decent Work &amp; Economic Growth
“I will ensure a good working environment for my domestic help”, Chandni Tahzin Mabin, Project Support Coordinator, VSO Bangladesh

One of the many targets of this goal is to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking. A lot of time, it’s the vulnerable and naïve people who fall victim to it. Now think of a situation where our domestic help is receiving a good working environment and a good pay. This dissuades them from being lured into human trafficking for a good pay and also allows them to continue to work and educate their kids for a better future in some cases.

Industry, Innovation, &amp; Infrastructure
“I will buy products that are made locally and are of good quality”, Kachi Chakma, MGDS, Jahangirnagar University.

Least developed countries have immense potential for industrialisation in food and beverages (agro-industry), and textiles and garments, with good prospects for sustained employment generation and higher productivity and this goal’s one of the targets is to create that space. By purchasing products locally, consumers are supporting local businesses. Often smaller local businesses suffer when larger, big-box stores enter an area. In some cases, these businesses are forced to go out of business if they are unable to compete with these larger stores. As a result, this takes money away from the local community, causes more vacancies in buildings, and reduces available options for consumers. 

Reduce Inequality
“I will give away my gently used clothes, books and furniture that I don’t use anymore”, Farah Moriam, BA, Politics, Philosophy, & Economics, Asian University for Women (Author)

Of course, there is more complicated and direct way to address this goal, but from a personal level, we can contribute to it as well. Just when we are overwhelmed with stuff cluttered in our household, little do we realise that there is more life to our stuff, and it is just as likely that someone else needs it more than we do. We have got old textbooks, calculator, cellphone, warm clothes, and other stuff that might be considered as essential items for others that would help them excel in life.

Sustainable Cities &amp; Communities
“I will not litter and always use a trash bin”, Kazi Rizvan, MGDS, Jahangirnagar University

Littering the environment has a negative impact on our planet and damages areas where we live, work, and play. Some of these sources directly relate to what we do. If we become a little conscious and wait until we get a trash bin to dump our waste, we can contribute in providing universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces (which also happens to be one of the targets).

Responsible Consumption & Production
“I will avoid plastic bags and carry my own reusable bag”, Homaed Ishaque Moon, MA, Media Studies & Journalism, ULAB, Freelancer.

We use over 3 trillion plastic bags every year worldwide and only 1% are recycled. Chemicals that those plastic bags contain enter the soil and our drinking water, which can be very harmful to all animals including humans. To address the target of having an environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle and minimise their adverse impacts on human health and the environment by 2020, this tiny act can be the first step.

Climate Action
“I will be conscious about maintaining e-waste”, Nasir Uddin Ahmed, MA, English

The open burning of e-waste releases toxic metals, such as lead, into the environment, creating air, soil, and water pollution. This adds to the already flourishing curse of Global Warming which is really dangerous for every soul on this planet.

Life Below Water
“I will not pollute water-bodies”, Joseph Mahtab, Co-Founder, Nijera Gori Shopno

As much as 40 per cent of the world oceans are heavily affected by human activities, including pollution, depleted fisheries, and loss of coastal habitats. To prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution by 2025, joint effort needs to be made from all level.

Life on Land
“I will eat more vegetables than meat”, Mj Badsha, MBA, UODA

World meat production has quadrupled in the last 50 years. The livestock population now outnumbers people more than three to one. Studies have long shown that vegetables require less land and energy to produce. Reducing the land area used for agricultural purposes is a major way of contributing to biodiversity conservation.

Peace, Justice, &amp; Strong Institutions
“I will not pay bribe at any level (and won’t take as well)”, Ariful Hasan Sabuj, MGDS, Jahangirnagar University.

Corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion cost some US $1.26 trillion for developing countries per year; this amount of money could be used to lift those who are living on less than $1.25 a day above $1.25 for at least six years. This goal’s one of the main targets is to substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms.

Partnerships for the Goals
“I will learn more about Sustainable Development Goals and aware others about it”, Mohammad Mamun Husain, MSc, Geography & Environment, Jahangirnagar University.

Global partnership from an individual level is not quite possible, but partnership at any level begins with knowledge sharing. 30 percent of the world’s youth are digital natives, active online for at least five years, but more four billion people do not use the Internet, and 90 percent of them are from the developing world. We should consider ourselves lucky for having the access and while doing so, we can know more about Sustainable Development Goals and share our knowledge with others.

What could be YOUR SDG Resolution?

5 Things I Would’ve done as a Prime Minister of Bangladesh for a Day!

Recently, I was asked to submit a write-up on this topic “What will I do if I were made the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for a day?” for a job application. So I became “Super-creative” and submitted a listicle (I have nothing to loose) instead. Later I thought, this could be a good post for my blog.

One day is quite a short span of time to get anything done in Bangladesh, but the scenario is superficial anyway. Below is a list:

1. Free lunch for everyone!


Starting from something light-hearted: why not treat all the government employees with free lunch? This will make them remember the day for quite a long time. Actually, let’s mark that day as “Farah Day” when free lunch will be served in all the government offices every year (unless the “oppositions” cancel it being envious)! No hard feeling for the privet sector; it’s just logistically easy.

2. Initiate emergency helpline number


Like the USA has 911, Bangladesh surely needs such an emergency helpline number which will be toll-free. This number will connect the caller to an answering point that will send emergency responder to the spot. The number will be used only for emergency purpose and any misuse of the number can be considered as a crime. And just think of the all the employment opportunities we can create through this!

3. Make streets clean again.


Okay, I know it’s the job of the city corporation, but each time I see someone throwing some trash out the car window, I cringe a little. DCC has placed trash bin along the footpath which is great, but those who are commuting somewhere via car/bus/CNG/Rickshaw, almost never wait until they get down and find some trash bin. Therefore, I will enforce a law that no one can throw anything on the road while riding a vehicle. Those who will not abide by the rule will be fined 500 taka. Buses will be instructed to place trash-bins inside the bus.

4. Bio-Degradable revolution!


Some of my friends and I have this brainchild aka social business plan of Bio-Degradable Bin Liners (BDBL). We made this plan during our senior year. Even if we graduated and got busy into other stuff, we still have this plan at the back of our mind and I think this would be a perfect time to bring that plan into reality. I will form a committee involving my friends, some scientists, consultants, and myself who will be taking the plan forward, especially work on the prototype development. Government will be taking care of the funding of course. If things work out, Bangladesh will never see a plastic bag in the long term. (Let’s face it; even if the Government banned plastic bags long time ago, it’s still there in some other form).

5. Change the Electoral System


This is serious and next to impossible I guess. Right now the electoral system is First Past the Post (FPTP) where a candidate gaining the highest number of votes from a particular constituency wins a seat in the parliament. Number of votes that goes to other parties does not count. I would change the electoral system to Proportional Representation (PR) where distribution of seats in the parliament depends on the number of votes each party achieves. For example, a particular political party obtained 20% of vote in an election, so this electoral system will allow the party to hold 20% of seats in the parliament. If we really want democracy in the country then PR should be the electoral system that ensures strong opposition to the ruling party as there is a variety of political parties seen in the parliament, eventually making the ruling party accountable. Read the full argument here.

Quite a busy day, eh?

What would YOU have done?

10 Things I have Done Since my Graduation

Soon it’s going to be one year that I have graduated. So I pressed the rewind button, recalled everything I have been through, and came up with this list. I might look a bit lost, but hey, that’s not that bad.

  1. Haven’t settled down for anything

1.long-term commitment is a no-no

Isn’t it too early to commit for anything right now? I worked 3 months for the Foreign Ministry, 4 months for Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO), 3 months for a startup and somewhere in between, 2 months were spent chilling, travelling a bit, and contemplating what I want to do next. I could have extended my tenure at VSO or continued my full time job at the startup, but who knows, I might be missing something out there which is more worthwhile! Or maybe I need a bit of more time to decide where I actually want to “settle down”.

  1. Tossed job offers


I had one rule to follow in terms getting into a job (and basically anything): I am gonna get out of the restaurant if I don’t like the menu. I understand I might not get exactly what I want from a job, but it has to have at least some scopes that interest me, make me wanna try out. A corporate job with a good salary and possible increment that eventually will turn me into a slave with no weekend and late night office hours for at least 3 years doesn’t trickle my taste bud.  Rather, I loved receiving a nominal allowance, staying in a remote village, and actually doing something for the people out there. I worked on weekend there as well, but that didn’t feel like slavery to me. Weird, isn’t it?

  1. Traveled around Bangladesh


Nothing posh. Traveled to some new places and some old. I went to the Northwest region of Bangladesh for the first time and stayed there for three months at a stretch with the local people. I won’t brag that I could come out of my comfort zone there because the home I stayed in was quite decent. I didn’t have to use a make shift toilet with no ceiling. I went to Chittagong back to my friends twice for a weekend and got to see some new places; like a river with knee-deep water, a tiny village by the river, an island with only one family living there, protecting a waterfall, and a restaurant serving tribal food. In between there 4 road trips to my hometown with family and with colleagues for project purpose.

  1. Met new people


Another perk of not settling down for anything is meeting new people in each station. I met people from every sphere of life; from a serious foreign diplomat to a talkative school girl from the village; from a courteous British feminist guy to a friendly shopkeeper at a small town who would offer me tea each time I visited his shop! Each of the people I met taught me something new and that’s why I will never be able to forget them. Or might bump into them at some point of my life, who knows?

  1. Worked for development: Myself and others


I had the experience of being part of a development project. A brand new project, with a brand new team, at a location that has never accommodated an intervention of any kind! The number of people we reached through the project work is countless and we could see the outcome even after our tenure ended. The time spent at the project area taught me about disparity and simplicity. The amount we spend to get a burger in the city could feed a family in the village for a week! It’s not a lot of effort to ensure basic needs to these people; it just needs equal distribution of resources. I was fortunate to be able to do the least for them.

  1. Learned to let go


Okay, not talking about boyfriends here. I lost 4 elderly family members and I had to cope with the idea that we don’t have the luxury of keeping our favorite people with us forever. Likewise, I learned not to get emotionally attached with people real soon because it will hurt real bad when they leave. I loved my nephew even before he was born; I even imagined myself dancing with him in his birthday party! Since the day he was born, I had to take him in my arms at least once. Staring at his face while he’s asleep had become my favorite pastime. Suddenly, one day his parents had to take him away from me and I couldn’t even say him goodbye. And that’s okay.

  1. Adopted healthy(-ish) habits


It’s not like I used to lead an unhealthy life, but I made some little changes that might pay off in the long run. I’ve stopped drinking fizzy beverages, and have started to drink green tea with no sugar, twice a day. Even if at times I fall weak under peer pressure, most of the time I just think of all the money I can save by carrying lunch from home to office! I drink a mug full of hot water with lemon twice a day for detoxification. No, I am not looking forward to writing a success story of losing a massive amount of weight. The internal organs in my body have always been nice to me and this is my way to give them back.

  1. Pursued my hobby


My hobbies changed like seasons but one thing that could never change is photography. I felt the happiest when I had a camera in my hand. Each time I took a photo with someone else’s camera, I promised myself to get one for myself some day. I saved as much as I could. I had to look away from that sexy pair of shoes or that cool backpack on the online store just to keep my promise. And finally I could buy one, even better than the ones I used to borrow from others!

  1. Made travel plans for the year ahead


After “investing” in my interest, my account balance is in the negative scale as I had to borrow a bit of money from my parents. But, making plans costs nothing. I made dozens of travel plans with friends and family; Bhutan, Kolkata, Assam, Mumbai, Goa, and what not. I have no clue how these trips are going to get financed, but what’s wrong with planning? 😀

  1. Haven’t figured life out


And finally, I still don’t know what exactly I want to do with my life. A full time job? Short term or long term? Which sector? I have a strong feeling towards development sector? So should I opt for an INGO or a national NGO? How about a donor agency? I sure want to pursue Master’s at some point, but I don’t know what kinda program I want to get into. 1 year long or 2 year long? Which course? Home or abroad? There are so many questions I need to answer before choosing one particular way!

I just have one fear: ending up doing something that will turn out to be a burden on me later on. After all, I need to adjust the seat and other settings first before taking off, isn’t it?

A Big Dipper Phase of Life That is Worth Living

Just four weeks ago, I was stuck in the traffic of Dhaka, commuting to my work. Life was stuck in a routine, a boring one. Get up at 6 am, slip into jeans and tops, drape a scarf around the neck, have breakfast while mom packs the same thing for lunch, hop into the car, finally reach office after a sweaty battle with Dhaka traffic, and coming back home after similar struggle. Hardship doubles up when it rains. I used to be the happiest on Thursday nights. Not like I planned a lot of stuff for the weekend, stuff that could balance my weekday struggle. The thought of sleeping a bit longer in the morning and not having to go outside of home energized me a lot. I avoided going out as much as possible. Surprisingly, my parents hate to see me at home doing nothing, even if it’s weekend. They would offer me to go take a walk outside, but my one despising look was enough make them realize how much I hate the idea. Catching up with friends didn’t count and was something I was always up for because that was the only time I could be ME, only time I could rant about anything and everything, only time I could find some solace, altruistically.

I was an intern at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka for three months. It’s not as impressive as it sounds like. Ministry never had interns before; fortunately or unfortunately, I and one of classmates were the first interns (read guinea pigs). We didn’t even have a desk to work on. We just found ourselves a place in the corner of the library. So, the internship went more like a pilot project, an opportunity to make the pitch smoother for the future interns, our juniors at the university who can thank us later. At least in one case, I was lucky because this classmate-turned-to-co-worker is one of my dearest friends. She was the best person to help me out whenever we were asked difficult questions like, “What you want to do next?” or “Why are you here?”; someone with whom I had done multiple group assignments where I always tended to be a free-rider.

We were aliens. Till the end of the internship, we had to explain to the security guard at the entrance why we want to go in. Till the end of the internship, we explained at least one person a day about our position, our motive, our job description, and why we chose to intern here at the ministry rather than going for some other sector that would make a proper utilization of us. Nobody cared or even noticed if we bunked office or left earlier. For three months, we left no stone unturned in search of opportunity to work and receive exposure as much as possible. We met some extra-ordinary personalities who have been contributing with their brainpower in terms of forming foreign policies and building up foreign relations for the country. We looked for opportunities to work where the future interns can be engaged in.

Well, we also undertook assignments that we can boast about; for example, writing up statements for Bangladesh on international issues for the UN General Assembly, researching and reporting on opportunities of some proposed and existing diplomatic missions abroad, and developing resources helpful for day to day operation of the ministry.

Sudden change of backdrop.

Within one week, I am in a van, travelling to a remote village of the Northwest of Bangladesh, a place where I have never been to, with colleagues whom I met just a couple of days ago. I was going there for a field visit because within 2 weeks I was going to shift there with 18 volunteers and my UK counterpart for three months on a development project. In the meantime, I loaded my suitcase with clothes that are “village-friendly”. No more jeans and tops. My office is at ten minutes walking distance, an abandoned room with a tinned roof, broken windows, and doors with completely nothing in it, not even a chair and a table. The only market in the village only becomes alive in the evening for couple of hours where only men come and socialize. Mode of transportation would be 3 wheeler rickshaw van and only needed if I need to get out of the village for some reason. Traffic? Well, the van driver has to slow down or brake if only there’s a queue of ducks crossing the road or a livestock relaxing on it like he owns it.

I and my counterpart chaired a meeting with the people we will be working with in the village. Here, we, especially my UK counterpart were alien too. We were asked questions that are similar to the questions asked in the ministry. This time, it was easier to answer because the answer involved them, their well being. We were there to work with the youth of the village, mobilize them, make them aware and vocal about their rights, and train them for life skills, skills that would earn them livelihood. At the same time, we will be involving the local government and make them more responsive towards the community. They accepted us at once, without any further question or doubt. They said they’ll be waiting for the time when we finally shift there and get started with the project work.

We came back with hearts full of hope. We met our volunteers, shared all the information received during the field visit. Together we travelled for 14 hours to get to the community, dealing with all kind of hardship together, starting from flat tire to slow service of lunch at a highway restaurant. We got welcomed at our village by heavy rain almost at the middle of the night, yet all of us found our way to different host homes. “Tomorrow is a new day,” said my counterpart.

It had been just 2 weeks I know him. He is not a person to be judged at first sight. The only thought that crossed my mind when I first saw him is, “Whoa! That’s a tall one!” Within two weeks I realized I wouldn’t have gotten a better counterpart. He’s the kind of person who would have a definite direction and purpose before setting out for somewhere. He’s one of the few gentle men I have met in my life with all the British-like manners poured in. You know, adding sorry, thank you, please at the end of each sentence, holding up doors, always let the ladies go first and so on. He’s very focused and passionate about the project (so am I!). He’s a good listener which is much needed for making the leadership role more balanced. Most importantly, he has his share of humor when it’s needed, which is a big relief for me. Altogether, we have built a strong working relationship. We did a great job in terms of team building. Everyone seemed super excited to know their roommates and counterparts. We were so excited to get started with the project. Team Northwest was on!

Then everything got blurred.

On the night of our very first day in the community we got to know that my counterpart has to leave for the UK to resolve a menial visa issue, immediately. After a long day of orientation, me and my counterpart sat together to reflect back to what we did for the day and what needs to be done. That’s when I got a call from the Project Manager and was conveyed this news. He said not to be frustrated, but I know how hard it is to have a straight face. I am not fancied by the line “The show must go on”. I and my counterpart realized we have no control over this issue. So we decided to do what’s best for the project: I stick to the planned activities while my counterpart flies back to the UK to resolve his visa issue and help with the project work as much as possible from long distance.IMG_5801

So here I am, in a remote village of Northwest Bangladesh, with 18 people of around my age from two different parts of the world, standing in one leg like a flamingo, eager to put the first step towards the project, eagerly waiting for the return of the other Team Leader with fingers crossed. I and my team ARE a little frustrated, but we are not hopeless. We are still working together on building the pillars of the project. It’s a full moon tonight. All my team members came together to embrace the moonlight and suddenly I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful team!

All these changes took place within four weeks, just four weeks. I love my life!

28 September 2015

5 (or maybe 4) things I’ll do When I’ve Only 24 Hours Left to Live


A few days ago, I saw an article online which was about thing someone would do if he/she gets to know that they have only 24 hours left to live. There are actually a lot of articles as such if you just google it. When I went through one of them, it made me think what I would do if I were in that very unlikely situation. So, I came up with this list as I couldn’t decide on one single thing to do. Surprisingly, while creating the list, the thought of death didn’t scare me at all. On the other hand, I felt the sheer happiness of carrying out all these things listed below.

1. Spend all my money eating at places I always wanted to but never could.


2. Write letters/e-mails to the near and dear ones, write about my feelings for them, appreciating what they did for me, and apologizing if I have ever hurt them.


3. A night out with my friends, drink and party hard.


4. Give away all my belongings.


5. I would love to experience one more thing which requires a partner, but for the lack of a partner, I’ll give up that wish. 😉


So, what about your list? 😀