Showing posts from January, 2013

What’s Next from Obama?

President Obama has started his second term in office. He is a good orator and did not disappoint his admirers who either came to the capital city or turned on the TV or radio to listen to his second inaugural speech. His last four years were able to stabilize the economy of the USA and put it on a firmer ground than he found when President Bush had vacated the White House.
In his speech, Mr. Obama reminded the nation of the enduring strength of the U.S. Constitution: “We affirm the promise of our democracy.  We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names.  What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of H…

Land-grabbing Nightmares – Will these ever end?

Last month, I was in Bangladesh visiting Dhaka and Chittagong. Dhaka, the capital city with a population in excess of twelve million, is now one of the megacities of our time. Chittagong, with the major infrastructure projects being undertaken for the city, including adeep sea port, the second largest city is fast becoming a regional transit hub for regional neighbors like India, China, Bhutan and Nepal. Like many parts of south-east Asia, there are visible signs of material progress everywhere. High rise buildings now dot most parts of these cities, and roads are jammed with foreign cars, mostly imported from Japan. Traffic jams on major arteries of these cities are regular features costing millions of lost hours every day. It took me more than three hours to reach Paribagh from the Dhaka airport, a trip which should not have taken more than an hour. Some flyovers and inter-district roadways are currently being constructed to alleviate the chronic problems faced by most commuters. …

Gitmo – America’s legal black hole - Turns 11

Friday, January 11 was the 11th anniversary of the opening of the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba in which hundreds of Muslims, mostly unrelated to any terrorist activities, continue to be holed up without any rights. The prison symbolizes what is wrong with America’s so-called war on terror and its total disregard for human rights of those prisoners who are subjected to the worst forms of torture, coercion and abuse known to mankind in the 21st century.

What is of particular concern is the fact that many of these prisoners are not even charged on anything. Is not 11 years too long a period to charge them or let them go free? But President Obama who had taught constitutional law at the prestigious Chicago University for 12 years had no moral qualms in denying these prisoners such fundamental rights. In an ongoing legal black hole, these prisoners are being used as guinea pigs for medical and psychological experimentation. If Hitler and his Nazi war criminals were alive, they surely wo…

Gitmo turns 11 on Friday, Jan. 11

"Friday January 11 is the 11th anniversary of the opening of the Bush administration’s “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an ongoing legal black hole, and an experimental prison for holding Muslim men and boys without rights, and subjecting them to torture and other forms of coercion and abuse, and medical and psychological experimentation," writes Andy Worthington, an investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert. 

You can read his articles by clicking here.

The Rohingya question - Part 6

So, what is ethnicity? Can the minority Rohingya qualify as an ethnic group?
Questions on Ethnicity
Ethnicity has been a debated topic and there is no single definition or theory of how ethnic groups are formed. According to John Hutchinson and Anthony Smith, the term “ethnicity” is relatively new - first appearing in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1953, but its English origins are connected to the term “ethnic,” which has been in use since the middle ages. The true origins of “ethnic” have been traced back to Greece and the term ethnos, which was used in reference to band, tribe, race, a people, or a swarm. Thus, it often refers to shared heritage, culture, group history, language and beliefs. An ethnic group or ethnicity is a population of human beings whose members identify with each other, on the basis of a real or a presumed common identity – whether that be in relation to language, culture, religion, group history or heritage.
According to Timothy Baumann, “The underlying trut…

The Rohingya Question - Part 5

As we have noted elsewhere there are other records, including British, which mention the name Rohingya. Consider, for instance, the account of the English surgeon to Embassy of Ava, Dr. Francis Buchanan (1762-1829 CE), who visited Burma decades before the British occupied the territory. He published his major work “A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire” in 1799, in the fifth volume of Asiatic Researches, which provides one of the first major Western surveys of the languages of Burma. What is more important is that his article provides important data on the ethno-cultural identities and identifications of the various population groups in the first half of Bodawpaya’s reign (1782-1819). He wrote, “I shall now add three dialects, spoken in the Burma Empire, but evidently derived from the language of the Hindu nation. The first is that spoken by the Mohammedans, who have long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan. …