Photo: Barta24.com

Photo: Barta24.com

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Every one, right from the Prime Minister to Higher courts is in agony over adulteration issue of consumer goods. 52 types of consumer goods have been included in this adulteration list as prepared by Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institutions (BSTI). BSTI of the government has prepared the list after testing those in its laboratory. But surprisingly the black listed goods are still being sold in the markets freely without any hindrance.

It is to be mentioned here that there is no headache at the retailer and purchaser levels. It will take time to reach the message of this adulterated food goods.

Even there is no awareness campaign among the masses. Because the media which could create awareness they are keeping their mouth shut. Because the producers of these adulterated food goods are patronizing them through giving ads to these media outlets.  

These media outlets generally give coverage about the drives carried against these goods by the government agencies either in a very poor way or hushes the whole news so that the producing companies are not offended. Both the print and electronic media are following  same style. Indirectly these media are giving a ’clean cheat’ to these offenders. They are crating a sort of misunderstanding among the consumers.

On several issues some print media are found very much interested to play the role of  distributing ‘knowledge’ but they are also silent over this important burning issue. They are making no loud or high sound on this issue.

This is earnest appeal to the concerned authorities that while carrying small drives you also carry drives to the factories of these adulterated food goods. Their activities must be stopped by hitting the source.

Japan, China and Asian Peace

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez
Japan, China and Asian Peace

Japan, China and Asian Peace

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Japan and China, two important countries in Asia, are also influential in regional and international politics. These two countries can play a leading role in peace and development in Asia. Although their pasts are conflicting, their peaceful alliance is essential to world reality. Especially for Asia-Pacific peace, it is essential that the two countries come together.

Considering the important position of two countries, researchers have worked on the positive aspects of the friendly role of Japan and China. As they look to the past and the present, some researchers have raised hopes for the future. Ezra Feivel Vogel was an one of them.

Ezra Feivel Vogel, (Born: July 11, 1930, Delaware, Ohio, United States, Died: December 20, 2020, Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States) was an American sociologist who wrote prolifically on modern Japan, China, and Korea, and worked both in academia and the public sphere. He was Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and the author of a masterpiece titled China and Japan: Facing History, published in 2019 just before his death.

According to Ezra Feivel Voge, China and Japan have cultural and political connections that stretch back fifteen hundred years. But today their relationship is strained. China’s military buildup deeply worries Japan, while Japan’s brutal occupation of China in World War II remains an open wound. In recent years less than ten percent of each population had positive feelings toward the other, and both countries insist that the other side must deal openly with its history before relations can improve.

From the sixth century, when the Japanese adopted core elements of Chinese civilization, to the late twentieth century, when China looked to Japan for a path to capitalism, Ezra Vogel’s book examined key turning points in Sino–Japanese history. Throughout much of their past, the two countries maintained deep cultural ties, but China, with its great civilization and resources, had the upper hand. Japan’s success in modernizing in the nineteenth century and its victory in the 1895 Sino–Japanese War changed the dynamic, putting Japan in the dominant position. The bitter legacy of World War II has made cooperation difficult, despite efforts to promote trade and, more recently, tourism.

Vogel underscored the need for Japan to offer a thorough apology for the war, but he also urged China to recognize Japan as a potential vital partner in the region. He argued that for the sake of a stable world order, these two Asian giants must reset their relationship, starting with their common interests in environmental protection, disaster relief, global economic development, and scientific research.

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh and Associate Editor, www.barta24.com.

Our victory: our pride

Syed Iftekhar
photo: Barta24.com

photo: Barta24.com

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In the 21st century, technology is a crucial factor for economic development. Bangladesh is not left behind, the current time the region is part of the global community. The country embarked on a long way since the declaration of independence in 1971.

Nowadays, Bangladesh turns 50 years. Digital Bangladesh is developing swiftly with this momentum that will lead the territory into achieving its future goals. Meanwhile, the region has commenced the journey towards Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's 'Sonar Bangla' through this massive triumph.

Here and now, Bangladesh is making an impressive leap on the Earth as our situation has dramatically improved. The world leaders have even noticed our successful transformation. Consequently, Bangladesh has ranked the fastest-growing economies in the world. From 1971 to 2021, Bangladesh ameliorated enormously; our food safety has significantly improved, poverty is also declining.

On the other hand, the private sector has expanded at an astonishing rate. Although there are still some sectors Bangladesh needs to address. We need to do major works more efficiently at present to secure an ample future. In this case, the present government is striving. As conscious citizens of this country, we have individual responsibility too.

However, as a firm citizen, I also have a gigantic dream. A dream for a better life, prosperous life. It is not just a conception. This would happen soon. I am immensely hopeful because without hope this country could not be created. Further, we could not overcome several obstacles as well as challenges. Nonetheless, the rigorous reality is hopes are not well enough. We must make a noteworthy endeavor to turn them into reality, thus, we can go far.


Corona: wound of infection, loss of death, period of panic  

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Associate Editor, Barta24.com, Dhaka
ছবি: সংগৃহীত

ছবি: সংগৃহীত

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Corona opened its poisonous claws in Wuhan, China in December 2019. On January 11, 2020, after several days of suppression, China announced the death of the first person in Corona. On January 13, it was heard that Corona's attack had also started in Thailand.

The world's leading corona-infected country, the United States, died on February 29. On March 11, Corona was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The death toll from corona in the United States at the beginning of March was less than fifty. Even then people were coming and going freely from Europe and some parts of Asia. Meanwhile, the students got spring break. The joyous parties began with unbounded pleasure. There were lots of mixing. As a result, the corona spread at a great speed.

In Peru in April that fifty was five thousand. And then it touched about twenty-five thousand. The highest number of deaths was in New York. Most of the victims are black people who have been given food. Assistance has been provided for the unemployed and homeless. The 2 trillion 'Corona Virus Aid Package' had been passed, bringing some financial relief to the common man and small and large businesses. The vaccine has already arrived. The pace of the ongoing preventive war against the pandemic had largely shifted to the people.

As of Tuesday (October 12), Johns Hopkins University reports that 238,346,847 people have been infected with corona worldwide and 4,859,112 have died. According to Bangladesh IEDCR sources, 15,63,501 people were infected and 27,713 died. The number is expected to rise further in December, two years after the outbreak of the Corona pandemic.

Jonathan Quick, an American physician, is a man involved in reading about the pandemic, its remedies and various projects. His book (co-authored by Brownwin Fryer), The End of Epidemics: The Looming Threat to Humanity and How to Stop It, was published in 2019. "We are all afraid to die," he wrote. Overwhelmed by the fear of the pandemic, we want to put the blame on someone else. Whenever there is a threat, it is the ‘they’ who do not think we are exactly ‘us’. When the Spanish flu broke out in 1918, the Americans blamed the Huns (Germans). The blame for AIDS fell on homosexuals. It is believed that the reason for this curse is that they are different. The most contagious thing that attacks the political leaders, the merchants, the common people beyond the real disease is panic. Panicked people exaggerate themselves in the news, raising their concerns. Panic is actually a precautionary measure that alerts us to potential dangers, as in the case of an animal. Whenever we let it overwhelm our reasoning, it gets more and more confusing. "

Not everyone is the same. In The Psychology of Pandemics: Preparing for the Next Global Outbreak of Infectious Disease (published: 2019), psychologist Steven Taylor writes differently: "Many people can cope with trauma. It doesn't have a lasting impression. But it is certain that many people will be terrified of the next pandemic, some of which will have a very high level of it. Psychological trauma or psychological 'footprint' will be more than traumatic trauma. "

What happened in Ebola as well as in West Africa during 2014-15 did not match the level of panic that arose with the number of pandemics. The United States was also alarmed, although the chances of infection were very low or negligible.

Corona will one day be cut off, as many pandemics of the past have been removed. But the wounds of the victim, the loss of death, the fear of terror will not cut through people's lives and minds very easily. People's lives and livelihoods will undoubtedly change into a clear division between 'before corona' and 'after corona'. This can be said in the light of the various types of research that is constantly being done around the world on the effects and effects of the Corona pandemic. These issues are becoming clear in the research. This includes accounts of financial gains and losses due to corona, various health issues, as well as mental issues. Researchers also say that the world's average life expectancy has dropped dramatically due to global Covid.

So much thought and research about Corona is not being unreasonable. Because the death toll from the coronavirus has already surpassed the death toll from various global pandemics in the past. Millions of people are suffering from the next reaction after being infected. Not only that, this is for the first time since World War II that the average life expectancy has dropped dramatically.

This important information was found in a study by Oxford University. The average life expectancy of men in the United States, the world's top affected country by corona, has dropped by almost two years, researchers say. In addition, the average life expectancy of Covid has decreased in European countries and several countries in South America.

Oxford conducted the survey in a total of 29 countries. University researchers from 22 countries have found evidence in support of this claim to reduce life expectancy. The survey was conducted in a comparative trial with 2019. The study found that corona outbreaks have led to a worrying decline in life expectancy in 2020.

Meanwhile, the whole world has been fighting with Corona for almost 2 years. Corona has a strong presence in South Asia as well as in Europe and America. From time to time new waves of viruses and new species of viruses are spreading all over the world. But hopefully, over the last two years, many people have developed antibodies in their bodies fighting corona. That antibody is making people stronger in the fight against corona. Vaccines are playing a special collaborative role in the ongoing war against Corona.

The coronavirus, the most widespread and deadly global pandemic in the history of the world and human civilization in the twenty-first century, has changed the nature of society and civic life. The nature of human society has changed. Just as the desolate streets cried out when all the people were suddenly under house arrest, so did the many warnings come to life. Market places, crowded tourist spots often seem haunted by the movement of a few people. Many cities have become alive or half-alive. Countless people have lost their jobs or been forced to change their profession. The footsteps of the financial crisis have been heard in many countries.

Corona has forced the world to learn a lot. It has changed the way of life and daily life. In Europe, instead of shaking hands, boys now greet each other on foot. The practice of greeting women with cheeks will probably come to an end. Social interactions, chats, hustle and bustle, travel, transportation, etc. have also undergone extensive transformation and control.

Corona will one day leave the world, but many socially conventional behaviors may be completely forgotten. Masks and sanitizers will be the main items of daily use. Many people will suffer from corona. Many families will be saddened by the loss of relatives. Lower and middle class people will breathe a sigh of relief. Most importantly, the stagnant captive years in Corona will never be found again. The average life expectancy of a person who has been reduced in Corona may not increase again very easily. In fact, the life of the earth and human beings will be clearly divided and differentiated under the headings of 'before Corona' and 'after Corona', the remnants of which will remain in the wake of Corona's wounds, death, terror.


Julius Lipner: Portrait of Generosity

Mohibul Aziz
Julius Lipner

Julius Lipner

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As ridiculous as it may sound, it is true that I first saw Julius Lipner in the basement room of Cambridge University Clare Hall. That room was not for anyone to live in. There was a telephone stand in that room. There was no mobile then. We used coins and cards to talk to relatives and friends from that telephone stand and Cambridge University had its own network. At low cost we could talk to friends inside the university.

That day was Saturday, the first day of the weekend. My wife and I were talking to my parents in the country. It would take a long time to talk to many people.

Suddenly I noticed a gentleman standing a little behind us. I thought he might use the telephone. Fair, tall, white, he looked like a European. So I said softly to my wife, someone is probably waiting in the queue, let's finish. But then I was so surprised that I wouldn't be so surprised if it started to rain that winter morning.

The man who seemed to be European in my eyes started saying in pure Bengali, that is, in our mother tongue, in a smiling voice: No problem, I will start when you are finished. Then my wife and I said to him, please, now your turn, we're done. He told us to wait a while.

He took exactly one minute. He told someone to come to the department on Monday then put down the phone and looked at us and said, Hello! This time he did the greeting in English. But again he said in Bengali, did you come from Bangladesh? In response to his question we said, yes. Then we climbed the stairs. Turning left was the lobby of Clare Hall's cafe.

The lobby was empty because of the holidays. The gentleman said, I am Julius Lipner, Fellow of the College and Student-Secretary. He said he heard that a married couple from Bangladesh had come to the Keyneside House. He was happy to be with us. My wife and I were also very happy to talk to him.

That was the beginning. Then gradually I got a chance to know more about him. Since we were in college-accommodation, we would meet him from time to time. The atmosphere inside Clare Hall was very homely. It was as if we were living in a house. To the right of the college's porters' room was Julius Lipner's room. A little further on, there was a small gallery in Clare Hall. In fact, it was like a narrow passage. But the conscious authorities at Clare Hall turned it into a small painting gallery. They used the walls on both sides to hang the paintings. I enjoyed paintings of different countries and continents of the world in this small gallery in Clare Hall.

We would talk to Julius Lipner, perhaps in the lobby, or in the courtyard. Thus one day he became ‘Lipnerda’ to us meaning brother Lipner (Liper+Dada). I saw that he was very close not only to us but also to the Indian, Bengalis of Cambridge.

Christmas was an occasion to rejoice in the cold winter. At that time, all the foreign students who were European or Canadian or American would go home. But we Asians in particular stayed in college. A few days after Christmas and Boxing Day, Julius Lipner invited us to his home. It’s been the memories of a long time ago. I remember, Shamita and Debashish from West Bengal were with us at Lipner's house on that post-Christmas occasion. Clare Hall Fellow Sugata was also present. Maybe there was Abhijit Mukherjee of Physics and his wife Sima too.

We were introduced to Anindita Lipner, the wife of Julius Lipner. Seeing Anindita Baudi, a pure Bengali woman wearing sari, it seemed that she was the woman next door to us. Lipnerda, however, had earlier said that his wife was Bengali. Lipner himself is of Czech descent but was born and raised in Kolkata. He studied in Pune and Jadavpur and received his PhD in 1974 from King's College London. He joined the University of Birmingham in the same year and moved to Cambridge the following year. Since then he has been a teacher at Cambridge University. He is Professor of Hinduism and the Comparative Study of Religion.

At first glance, Divinity Religion Hinduism seemed to suggest that Julius Lipner would be a conservative, somewhat reserved type of person. But talking to him and Anindita Baudi and hearing the story of their family, those ideas disappeared from me. In fact, I actually saw Lipnerda as a person of a completely different nature.

On the contrary, knowing that I am a man of literature, he joined me in discussing literature. I saw that he read all the classical books of Bengali literature. He read many important and great works of world literature. I was talking to him about the three famous Banerjees of Bengali literature. He said that his favorite novelist was Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay. I am also an avid reader of Bibhuti. I asked Lipner about Manik Bandopadhyay. Manik's novels in particular were like an explosion in Bengali literature at one time. Lipnerda also endorsed that the novels 'Ahimsa', 'Padmanadir Majhi', 'Putulnacher Itikatha' are always memorable. He also told me that in the same year that Hemingway's novel 'Old Man and the Sea' won the Nobel in 1949, Manik's 'Padmanadir Majhi', translated by Hirendranath Dutt, also gained fame.

But Lipner liked Bibhuti's novels because of their strange serenity and a deep sense of life. I then remembered the American novelist David Thoreau. One such peaceful deep life is found in his novel Walden. Lipnerda said he was working on a translation and introduction to Bibhuti's novel 'Pather Panchali', which was to be published by Heinemann, a British publishing house.

We talked a lot more about literature and other topics that evening. As we were talking, I could see the books written by him on his bookshelf. Lipner was originally a scholar of Vedas, Upanishads, nineteenth century Bengal, but his knowledge of literature and society was no less. I picked up his book, 'The Face of Truth', published in 1986. Its subject is the analysis of Ramanuja's philosophy in the light of Vedic theology. The title of his book, published in the joint authority in 1989, is also excellent: Hindu Ethics: Purity, Abortion and Euthanasia.

Interestingly, he was also working on Bankimchandra's novel 'Anandamath' which was also expected to be published in the future. Since Bankimchandra is also one of my favorite novelists, I said, the language, prose and character construction of Bankim's novels are of extraordinary level. Moreover, in his novels he did not preach, but what he did was an expression of his fascination with ancient India. His grief is because it was later lost. He expressed his displeasure against Muslim and British colonialism because of his original grievances. Lipnerda agreed with me. I told him that Bankim's ability to make my Bengali language stand at that time was undoubtedly commendable. Moreover, Bankim showed that it is possible to create excellent novels in a language of peasants and ordinary people, keeping in view the structure of Sir Walter Scott's novel. That is no less important.

Apart from fish, the favorite food of Bengalis, Anindita Baudi cooked meat, vegetables and many other dishes for dinner that night. The dessert was rice-pudding. I also tasted one or two pieces of Lipnerda's favorite thin mint chocolate. Our conversation ended at midnight. Anindita Baudi said to Lipnerda, you rest I am giving them a lift. Cooking all day, then having dinner with us and doing all the chores: after doing so much, giving us a lift to Clare Hall again, Baudi's sincerity was truly incomparable. In the middle of the night and in the cold, under the huge English sky, we were returning home speaking our Bengali language. That experience was unique.

Even after that I talked to Julius Lipner many times in the lobby of Clare Hall or in the courtyard adjacent to the college. Donald Anthony Low, president of Clare Hall, was a great man. I also remember his wife Bell. When seen, she would say in a loving voice: how are you dear? Bell was once a nurse in her career. Seeing her reminded me of 'Florence Nightingale'. Florence may have had such a loving voice.

Some days I met Donald and Lipner together in the lobby. They are like that, if they had time, they would not forget to speak sincerely. Donald Low's presidency ended in 1994. We foreign students said goodbye to him. Julius Lipner was also there. Donald was actually Australian by birth. However, due to his expertise in Commonwealth history and Indian history, the Indian context would come up whenever I sat down to talk to him.

Donald Low's successor was Jillian Beer. Jillian's subject is English literature. Her husband, John Beer, is also a well-known critic of English literature. Jillian's book, 'Darwin's Plot', was published in 1973. In addition, her book on Virginia Woolf was published in 1996. I also met Jillian Beer in the lobby of Clare Hall. One of his favorite writers was the British novelist Doris Lessing. Jillian later presided over the Booker Prize in 1997 when Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize. Julius Lipner also had a good relationship with Jillian Beer. At Christmas 1995, Jillian hosted a Christmas party in honor of the foreign students who did not go home. We had a wonderful time with both John and Jillian.

I remember an incident in 1993. It was May and quite a nice summer in England. That month, the famous Nigerian novelist Chinua Achibi came to give ‘Tanner and Ashby Lecture’ at Clare Hall. His theme was 'Education of a British Protected Child'. Led by President Donald Low, many of us gathered in the auditorium of Robinson College for that evening's event. Clare Hall did not have a large hall of its own, so they rented either the auditorium of Trinity or the auditorium of Robinson College. Robinson College was on Herschel Road, across the street. Chinua introduced the speech with a lot of fun. He was saying: One day I wanted to be admitted to Trinity College in Cambridge University but could not. Today I came to Cambridge as a speaker. There was a burst of laughter in the audience. Chinua was beautifully talking about his own experience on the one hand and Nigerian life developed under the British on the other. With that came the Nigerian civil war. He was talking about how the country was torn apart by the tug of war between the three tribes. These three tribes are: Gikuyu, Euroba and Hoxafulani. Julius Lipner was sitting next to me in the audience.

Chinua also spoke about the language and sense of life in his novels. His first novel, 'Things Fall Apart', was published in 1958 from Heinemann, England. He also gave some details of that memory. He said that the language of his novel cannot be called pure English. Again, the life inside his novel is also Nigerian. So this is the third thing in the combination of British and Nigerian. We met for a tea party after the ceremony. I talked with Chinua for about an hour and a half later. Other writings on that subject will surely be written. Lipnerda thanked Chinua for his excellent speech

In that brief conversation, the story of Indian novelist R K Narayan came up. In response to Julius Lipner's remarks, Chinua said that he personally liked both Narayan and his novels. Interestingly, in his shoulder bag was a novel written by Narayan, 'Malgudi Days' and a book of essays written by him, 'My Dateless Diary'. Two days later, he would have to go to Channel Four to talk about R K Narayan's novels. Lipnerda and I both were amused to know that. I myself am a fan of Narayan, especially a few days ago I read the book 'Waiting for Mahatma' written by Narayan in the Cambridge Library.

Dr. Dilip Chakraborty was another friend of ours in Cambridge. He is a teacher in the department of Archeology in Cambridge Univerity. I used to call him Dilipada too. When the Department of Archeology was opened at Jahangirnagar University, he was the founding visiting professor there. His student was Sufi Mustafizur Rahman who is memorable for ‘Wari-Bateshwar’. An entire book can be written about Dilip Chakraborty, his wife Sima and their daughter Nayana. Lipnerda was also mentioned when I was talking to Dilipada. In particular, we knew that although religion and divinity were his subjects, in fact, a lot of knowledge was gathered in his character. In a real sense, such people are rare in today's world.

Julius Lipner is currently an Emeritus Professor at Cambridge University. But I am sure that in spite of such a high position, no sense of ego will arise in him. He will say in a humble voice just like before, you must have come from Bangladesh!

September 2021

Dr. Mohibul Aziz, Dean and Professor, Chittagong University.