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Bangladesh-US security dialogue scheduled for September 11

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Dhaka: The fourth round of the Bangladesh and US security dialogue will be held on September 11 in Washington, stated the foreign ministry on Monday.

Regional cooperation, traditional and non-traditional security, counter-terrorism, military-to-military engagement, disaster management, cyber security and peacekeeping will feature in this annual dialogue, reported bdnews2.

The Bangladesh delegation comprising of officials from the home ministry, defence ministry, and members of the armed forces will be led byforeign ministry secretary,MizanurRahman.

Principal deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Todd Chapman will lead the US side.

The dialogue started in 2012 in Dhaka.

(WIth inputs from IANS)

 

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India will soon ask Malaysia to extradite Preacher Zakir Naik

India will soon approach Malaysia with a request to extradite hardline Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.

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India will Request Malayasia to extradite Zakir Naik
India will Request Malayasia to extradite Zakir Naik. wikimedia commons
  • India will seek the Malaysian government’s help in extraditing televangelist Zakir Naik who faces charges of money laundering and inciting hatred through his sermons broadcast on Peace TV, the foreign ministry said Friday.

Zakir Naik obtained permanent residency in Malaysia 

Officials will approach their Malaysian counterparts with the extradition request sometime within the next two weeks, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told a weekly news briefing in New Delhi.

“Any formal request seeking the assistance of a foreign government in cases of extradition requires a completion of the internal legal process involving consultation with other ministries involved in the case,” Kumar said.

“At this stage, we are nearing the completion of this process and as soon as this process is complete we will be making an official request to the Malaysian government in this matter,” Kumar said. “It could be a couple of days or a couple of weeks. But it would be soon and the nature of our request would also be clear.”

Naik fled India a month before terrorist carried out a massacre at a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in July 2016. This week, Malaysia’s deputy prime minister said the Islamic preacher legally obtained permanent residency in the country, and that Malaysian authorities would arrest him only if he broke local laws or was found to be involved in terrorist activities.

Naik’s speeches allegedly inspired some of the militants who carried out the siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery café in Dhaka, where 29 people, including 20 hostages and five gunmen, were killed.

In November 2016, the Indian government banned Naik’s Mumbai-based NGO Islamic Research Foundation, which partly funded the Peace TV channel that is banned in India, Bangladesh and several other countries.

Kumar said because the Indian government had knowledge of Naik’s whereabouts, the legal procedures would be tailored to requirements between the two countries in their extradition treaty.

Advocate challenges charges

“Naik is being hounded because he hails from a minority community. The charges that the investigating agencies are trying to frame are all stale and are hardly incriminating,” advocate S. Hariharan told BenarNews in a phone interview from Delhi.

“The charges lack veracity and would not stand scrutiny in the court of law. We will be challenging the extradition and deportation.”

Last week, the Indian government filed a 61-page charge sheet against Naik alleging he was involved in a criminal conspiracy by lauding terrorist organizations. In April, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him in an alleged case of money laundering through his NGO and a shell company.

In Malaysia meanwhile, the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) has urged the government to ignore any request from India to extradite Zakir Naik, Reuters reported.

“For Muslim individuals, even when they won by using arguments and not weapons, like Dr. Zakir Naik, they are considered terrorists because their arguments cannot be countered,” PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang wrote last week in an opinion piece published in Harakah Daily.(BenarNews)

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Indian Fashion Industry Must Embrace Safety, Says Suki Dusanj-Lenz at Lakme Fashion Week

 India must first stop using chemicals that are banned in the rest of the world

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Indian fashion industry
Sabyasachi Mukherjee's show at Lakme Fashion Week 2011 on day 1. Wikimedia
  • The country’s coordinator for Fashion Revolution India stressed upon the global movement that desires greater transparency, sustainability, and ethics in the fashion industry
  • The movement followed the death of 1,138 workers in Dhaka while making garments in the Rana Plaza factory
  • The aim of Fashion Revolution was to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution so that what the world embraces what’s safe, clean and fair 

Mumbai, August 20, 2017: The Indian fashion industry needs to embrace the highest safety standards, says Suki Dusanj-Lenz, country coordinator for Fashion Revolution India.

For this, India must first stop using chemicals that are banned in the rest of the world, she said, talking about a global movement that desires greater transparency, sustainability, and ethics in the fashion industry.

The movement followed the death of 1,138 workers in Dhaka while making garments in the Rana Plaza factory, which collapsed after a structural failure in the building on April 24, 2013. The workers were making garments for the international market.

“The sad thing is the staff was complaining about the building but nobody listened,” she said.

Dusanj-Lenz is an advocate for gender equality, sustainability and champions the need for a fair and transparent fashion industry. She spoke to IANS on the sidelines of Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Winter/Festive 2017.

“Carry Somers and Orsola De Castro came together and founded the Fashion Revolution, which has spread to 100 countries. We are working towards a safer, fairer, cleaner fashion industry.”

Dusanj-Lenz is also Executive Director at the Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director at MARD, a people powered initiative campaigning against discrimination.

Also Read: Eco-friendly Fashion: Should India Contribute on this Booming Global Market?

The aim of Fashion Revolution was to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to radically change the way clothes were sourced, produced and purchased so that what the world wears was made in a safe, clean and fair way.

“We want to empower every spectrum of the supply chain to transform the industry into a more sustainable one.”

Would she like to share about the sustainability issues of the Indian fashion industry?

“There are layers of complexities in the fashion industry but one thing for sure is that India must look to international standards for the safety of the staff?

“There are chemicals that are banned in other parts of the world, yet India still uses them.

“Are our lives any less than those of another country? In Kanpur, the leather making industry is astonishingly hazardous to the staff. Have you watched that movie ‘Erin Brockovich’? Remember that chemical that was banned in the US that is the subject of that movie. Well, the Indian industry still uses it and our staff is exposed to the dangers of such chemicals,” she added.

“Let’s not have the people that make our garments or shoes pay the price for our fashion,” she added.

Talking about sustainable fashion in Indian fashion industry, Dusanj-Lenz said: “On the upside, India also has some incredibly sustainable brands and a massive recyclability culture which we must celebrate and encourage. Sustainable Fashion Day at the LFW brought many of them together.”

She said around 80 per cent of the garment makers in India were women.

“It’s important that we hear their voice and work to campaign for them and not against them. Fashion Revolution wants to educate the consumer about the damage throw away fashion has on our environment.

“We want to inform people about the dark side of polyester and viscose both in a landfill and the chemical process… There is always a price to pay for cheap fashion. Someone somewhere is paying for it,” she added. (IANS)

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Migrant’s Journey from Rural Bangladesh Shows Sacrifices and Dangers of Slum Life

A 2014 census found that nearly 60 percent of slums in the north and south of Dhaka are built on private land

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FILE - A view of Korail slum, one of Bangladesh's largest slums in Gulshan area, Dhaka, Bangladesh. VOA

Dhaka, November 16, 2016: For much of his early life on Bhola, an island in south-central Bangladesh, Mohammed Abul Kalam battled poverty and a hostile river that twice engulfed his homestead.

Now, as a resident of a “bastee,” or private slum on the western edge of the capital, Dhaka, he faces new challenges: the trade-offs he has made on the family’s health, education and security in exchange for being near a source of work.

“I came here because I found no other way,” Kalam said, sitting on the floor of his tin shack.

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The story of how he swapped rural farming for survival in one of Dhaka’s burgeoning slums on privately-owned land reflects the precarious situation of up to half a million Bangladeshis estimated to migrate to the capital each year.

Kalam’s journey began when the Meghna River wiped out his home for the second time, sending the family deep into debt after he borrowed $765 from moneylenders to build a new house.

His neighbors told him, “Go to Dhaka”, suggesting that in order to pay to marry off two teenage daughters, he would have to leave his home in Madras, on Bhola, home to more than two million people, a third of whom live below the poverty line.

With empty pockets, he and his family set off on the 18-hour trip by river to the capital, where he was taken on by a garment washing factory to carry clothes in a role that was a far cry from his old life paddy farming in his village.

Earning just $76 a month, Kalam struggled to make ends meet and, four months into the job, he left to take up other work demolishing buildings with a hammer and a shovel, he said.

This paid a little over $6 a day but the work was irregular and eventually he had no alternative but to find work for his two eldest daughters with a garment producer in Mirpur district.

There, his teenage daughters cut sewing threads and checked clothes for alterations for $51 a month – less than the industry minimum wage of $68.

Rural exodus

Kalam and his family are not alone. According to the World Bank, each year up to half a million rural migrants stream into Dhaka for work, swelling the ranks of the urban poor.

Experts say more than three-quarters of new arrivals end up living in a bastee – owned by private landlords who provide some services – as squatter settlements on public land have disappeared amid demolitions and evictions by authorities.

Since Bangladesh declared independence in 1971, the city’s population has quadrupled to around 20 million. By 2050, it is projected to reach more than 35 million.

Three years on, life for Kalam and his family is far from comfortable. He and his wife sleep on the concrete floor of their one-room shack to leave space for four children who share a bed. The family shares a toilet with 10 households and risk fire by cooking with an electric stove as they have no gas.

Even a brief burst of rain sends water into the bastee, which is spread out over five acres of low-lying land.

“[My] sorrows have a beginning but no end. I have lost everything, but the greatest loss is my daughters’ education,” said Kalam, reflecting on his life in the city.

Private slums

The family rents their room for $32 a month and the landlord takes care of some services, including electricity and water – important in a city where slum-dwellers on public land often have to pay “mastaans”, powerful local figures, for utilities.

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Experts say the failure to re-house inhabitants evicted from homes in public settlements that have been demolished partly accounts for the boom in privately-owned slums.

“Slums are being cleared, but slum dwellers stay behind – they are not leaving Dhaka,” Khondker Rebaca Sun-Yat, executive director at advocacy group the Coalition for the Urban Poor (CUP), told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

A 2014 census found that nearly 60 percent of slums in the north and south of Dhaka are built on private land, but urban experts and rights groups estimate the figure at 80-90 percent.

Sun-Yat blamed centralized development that focuses services and industries in urban areas for the rise in private slums.

“Cities have sources of income. You build infrastructure in cities; how can you expect rural people not to come to cities?” she said. “If rural areas had income sources and mills and factories, people wouldn’t have come to Dhaka,” she said.

Nevertheless, she warned that cities would “become paralyzed” if slum-dwellers returned to their place of origin.

The development of Dhaka reflects a wider rise in the numbers of urban poor and what economists call the “non-monetary” conditions of poverty, such as overcrowding, vulnerability, poor security and poor sanitation, experts say.

In comparison to rural poverty, urban poverty is surging.

The number of urban poor in Bangladesh rose to 8 million from 6 million between 1991 and 2010, the latest period for which data is available. In contrast, the number of rural poor went down in the same period, to 46 million from 55 million.

Nine in 10 slum-dwellers in Dhaka were born outside the capital, while one-fifth are poor, according to initial results of a 2016 urban slum survey conducted by the World Bank.

Tenure in privately-owned slums is no more secure than in public squatter settlements, according to Salma A. Shafi, treasurer of the Centre for Urban Studies, a think tank in Dhaka.

“The tenants (in private slums) have no security as rents are raised according to the owner-developers’ whims,” she said.

“Without any contractual agreement or legal support, tenants have no power.”

‘Sub-human conditions’

Mosharraf Hossain, Minister of Housing and Public Works, is among those who believe migration to urban areas of Bangladesh is now “unnecessary” as wages have risen in rural areas.

He said the city was not in a position to absorb more rural migrants given the poor state of its sewerage network, which covers just two-fifths of the city’s population.

“It’s better not to have slums,” Hossain told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at his ministerial office in central Dhaka. “Slum people are living in sub-human conditions, near the rail lines. This is unnecessary.”

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The government was piloting a low-cost housing project in Mirpur, which would be scaled up if successful, he said.

Kalam said he was prepared to move to another private slum nearby – even for more rent – if he had to, but he did not want to leave Mirpur, where he and his daughters earn their living.

“I never expected my daughters to support me,” he said. “Instead, I dreamed they would continue their education.” (VOA)