News that rolls in like waves

Market prices spiral beyond reach
File photo

With every passing day bad news is groping us like the darkness of a solar eclipse. Throughout the day it invades the news and social media with despair and dejection. Every day a new item of bad news hit us like a wave was crashing on to the shore. We embrace the new bad news by effacing the old sorrow and depression. A book of Milan Kundera is titled “Let the Old Dead Make Room for the Young Dead”.  Leave the senior departed alone, let the new dead take their place.

Bengali poet Shakti Chattopadhyay said the opposite, he asked the new dead to accommodate the old dead.

“My dear old sorrow, please come sit with near to me

Oh new sorrow, please go

Flee to a garden of happiness

Please let the old sorrow remain.”

Latest snippets of bad news:

One:  Foreign exchange reserves are falling in Bangladesh. Economist Zahid Hossain said the country’s net reserve is now under 18 billion.

Two: Inflation is rising continuously. Those who go shopping, hear the prices and sigh. One cannot even afford to buy potatoes in place of fish. It is painful to find an alternative for green chillies. Some haggle with vendors, some vent their frustrations on their fellow customer, swearing at him for jostling him with this elbow. I plead with the policymakers of the government, disguise yourselves and walk around any kitchen market for half an hour with eyes and ears open. You will feel to the anger, despair and helplessness of people have reached.

Three: On 21 September 2023 Dhaka observed incessant rain, four people were electrocuted and died. And the road came to a standstill for hours. People were in peril, shops were flooded with water, and ambulances were inundated, but people do not know to whom they should turn. There were no traffic police on the road, no rescuers, or not even any authority to instruct people which roads to avoid. Not even anybody was found the following day expressing regret for the situation.

Four: The death toll of dengue made records. Bangladesh has taken the top place in dengue death. No one seems to pay heed. No one is there to regret, as everything is 'normal'.

Five: Bangladesh has made a record in default loans. Anonymous organisations are emptying the bank by taking loans and disappearing. As if the looting of banks shall go on and on.

Six: The flow of remittance has reduced. That means the foreign currency is being laundered. Migrant workers are sending money through hundi. Meanwhile, the dollars of Bangladesh are being siphoned off abroad. Bangladesh would get dollars had it come through a legal channel. Our money launderers are taking dollars from immigrants and handing local currency to their relatives. That means these dollars are actually being laundered.

Seven: Bangladesh is the top country in Asia and fifth in the world among the countries who launder money abroad through narcotic trade. In the five years from 2017-21, 481 million dollars have been laundered from Bangladesh by bringing in yaba, heroin, synthetic drugs and phensedyl. What a great matter of pride!

Eight: Bangladesh is on top in terms of laundering money abroad. Washington-based research organisation Global Financial Integrity (GFI) reported in 2020 that 7.5337 billion dollars is laundered from Bangladesh each year. Shawkat Hossain on 10 April wrote in Prothom Alo wrote about the "grand" corruption of government officials and influentials, various types of organised crime, such as smuggling, drug and human trafficking, bank loan scams and quick embezzlement, fraud, illegal trading of money of illegally employed foreigners and laundering of legitimate income through tax evasion and violation of prevailing foreign exchange rate laws.

Nine: Dhaka has clinched the top position among the slowest cities of the world.

Ten: The level of education is gradually decreasing. The research found, the students drop out, while many don’t even know how to read and write, to do math despite finishing primary school.  The department of education and UNICEF's 'National Student Assessment 2022' also revealed that about 61 per cent of third-grade and 70 per cent of fifth-grade students are weak in math skills. Their math skills are not even good for third graders. 51 per cent of third grade and 50 per cent of fifth grade students are also weak in Bengali. Their standard is also not suitable for third grade.

I was saying that new bad news comes and we forget the old. An earthquake occurred a couple of days back and all of us became busy with that, and sighed about what we could have done regarding the earthquake. What did we do about the 10 negative news stories that I mentioned above!

  1. Russia-Ukraine war and the effect of dollar price hike also affected Sri Lanka, if they revive and repay the loan they took from Bangladesh, why can’t we? Why is our reserve only depleting?

  2. What measure is taken to prevent inflation?

  3. Will Dhaka be flooded with another rain? Did anybody sit to discuss the 21 September situation? Is any committee formed? Any measure taken to prevent the repetition of the cataclysm? Why did polythene return to the polythene-less Bangladesh? The authority may take steps at least in this matter

  4. Could the government-NGOs-civil society-political parties call for a social movement to kill mosquitoes and reduce dengue? Even if Chhatra League or scouts would take to the field in different areas, I could understand at least something is happening!

  5. Why is bank robbery in the name of default loans being allowed?

  6. Will you let the people know what has been done to increase the remittance flow?

  7. Big fish are involved in the narcotic business. Will the government take actions against them?

  8. Will you stop money laundering? Or will they nurture the vipers in their own bosoms?

  9. Mega projects are being launched to functionalise Dhaka. But is there any coordination? During the caretaker regime of 2007-08, a flyover was constructed from Bijoy Sarani Intersection to Tejgaon by demolishing the Rangs Building. Due to this, traffic congestion has increased at that intersection. Now, you have to cross that very intersection to get on the elevated expressway. During any working day, can you cross the Bijoy Sarani Intersection before 11 if you start from Manik Mia Avenue at 9? When will one think holistically before undertaking any development project in isolation

  10. We all know that investment in the education sector is the best investment. Will we admit that the overall quality of our education is deplorable? If so, do we have anything to do?

It is as if there is only one problem in the country, geting a US visa -- or not. One can live a life of peace and happiness without a US visa, and getting that visa does not ensure boundless happiness. The problem is not with the visa, the problem is not focusing on the problems after recognising them. If the people of the country are in good condition everything will be good, the election will be good, no visa policy will be required, no concealed compromise will be needed as well. Keep the people in good condition, the consequences will be good too.