A Gift From God

When Abraham implored God in 14:40, he did not ask for wealth or health; the gift he implored for was: “Please God, make me one who observes the contact prayers (Salat).” The religious duties instituted by God are in fact a great gift from Him. They constitute the nourishment required for the growth and development of our Souls. Without such nourishment, we cannot survive the immense energy associated with God’s physical presence on the Day of Judgment. Belief in God does not by itself guarantee our redemption; we must also nourish our souls (6:158, 10:90-92). Additionally, 15:99 states that observing the religious duties instituted by God is our means of attaining certainty: “Worship your Lord in order to attain certainty.”

The Contact Prayers (Salat)

The five daily contact prayers are the main meals for the soul. While a soul may attain some growth and development by leading a righteous life, and without observing the contact prayers, this would be like surviving on snacks without regular meals.

We learn from 2:37 that we can establish contact with God by uttering the specific Arabic words given to us by God. Sura 1, The Key, is a mathematically composed combination of sounds that unlocks the door between us and God:

The Dawn Prayer must be observed during two hours before sunrise (11:114, 24:58).
The Noon Prayer is due when the sun declines from its highest point at noon (17:78).
The Afternoon Prayer can be observed during the 3-4 hours preceding sunset (2:238).
The Sunset Prayer becomes due after sunset (11:114).
The Night Prayer can be observed after the twilight disappears from the sky (24:58).
* The Friday noon congregational prayer is an obligatory duty upon every Submitting man and woman (62:9). Failure to observe the Friday Prayer is a gross offense.
Each contact prayer is valid if observed anytime during the period it becomes due until the next prayer becomes due. Once missed, a given contact prayer is a missed opportunity that cannot be made up; one can only repent and ask forgiveness. The five prayers consist of 2, 4, 4, 3, and 4 units (Rak’ahs), respectively.

UN envoy commends disaster preparedness initiatives in Bangladesh

The UN envoy responsible for disaster risk reduction today commended Bangladesh for issuing a policy directive requiring that risk assessment be integrated into all development projects, as the country expands its cyclone preparedness to include earthquake readiness.

“I am heartened to hear that the same dedication which the country has devoted to protecting the population from cyclones is now being applied to earthquake risk,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, who is on a three-day visit to Bangladesh, coinciding with its National Disaster Preparedness Day today, and ahead of the start of the country’s cyclone season on 1 April.

“We only need look to recent tragic events in Haiti, Japan and Turkey to understand the reality of this risk,” said Ms. Wahlström, who also heads the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). “More than a third of the population, over 40 million people, live in seismic zones. UNISDR supports the full implementation of the Bangladesh National Building Code as an important first step towards minimizing casualties.

Bangladesh is considered to be particularly vulnerable to a rise in sea levels and intense cyclones; and is ranked, by the Asian Development Bank, as the Asian country most vulnerable to climate change.

While in the capital, Dhaka, Ms. Wahlström was briefed by the Minister of Food and Disaster Management, Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, who told her that his country only has 3,000 cyclone shelters, but requires 5,000. He also noted that the country’s series of embankments for protection against rising sea levels are inadequate, with many of them in need of replacement or strengthening due to their age.

Speaking at an event to mark the country’s National Disaster Preparedness Day, Ms. Wahlström said Bangladesh is the “epitome of resilience,” as evidenced by its successful efforts to reduce mortality from cyclones over the last 40 years.

“Your country is often cited as an early example of a successful national effort to prepare for the worst-case scenario through planning, effective early warning, social mobilisation and putting in place the shelters necessary to save lives,” she said.

Ms. Wahlström will meet Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday. They are expected to discuss how Bangladesh can further promote climate change adaptation policies and disaster risk reduction programmes.

Conversion to Christ in Bangladesh: marriages, social dissatisfaction and the search for God

Changing from one religion to another is a complex process where often material and spiritual interests are confused. Islam is the state religion, but the constitution guarantees freedom of religion and the conversions are generally accepted. Legal pressures for Muslims who convert to Christianity. Among the tribal at least 10 years of catechumenate, to ensure genuine conversion.
Marriage, social dissatisfaction and the search for God: religious conversion in Bangladesh is divided according to these three fundamental issues in a climate of general tolerance. Although the vast majority of the population is Muslim (89.5%) and Islam is considered a state religion, the Constitution does not recognize Sharia law and guarantees full freedom of worship. However, despite being one of the more open Muslim countries, the social and cultural domination of the Islamic religion is such as to make Bangladesh a society full of contradictions, where conversions see the material interests of various kinds confused with a genuine spirituality.

The transition from one religion to another takes place in every direction, even if the main trend is from Islam to Christianity and not vice versa. When the reason is a marriage, it is not uncommon to see cases of Muslim girls marrying Christian, Buddhists or Hindus without converting. By itself, that Islam is opposed to a woman contracting marriage with a young man from other religions, but the legislation provides for mixed marriages. In these cases, problems arise in situations of conflict, since the rights of different religions apply to the field of marriage. In general, Islam prevails.

Conversion can also stem from a strong dissatisfaction with the original religious group, which results in varying degrees of tension. Feeling cut off from their religious communities, can lead a person to search for a different identity, sometimes simply to vindicate – a real or perceived – mistreatment.

Sometimes there is in fact an interest that stems from “something” that is within the other religion, and this can take many forms: passing from Christianity (or Buddhism, or Hinduism), to Islam it is often the quest for greater social recognition. Having an Arabic name, in many cases it may make things easier, and a person is not very fervent in their faith they choose to convert. We know for example that the senior army officers must be Muslims. Those who pass to Christianity, however, often hope to receive support from NGOs and charities.

In the case of the tribals (Adivasi), the issue of conversion is different. Generally, it is very rare that a member of these communities turn to Islam. Instead there is a great attention to Christianity – Protestant and Catholic – and Buddhism. The tribals are now an ethnic minority and only count for 2% (against 98% of the majority Bengali) and they feel their cultural identity and traditional begin to crumble. Being part of the Islamic world would not bring them any great benefits, so they seek a foothold in those communities which, although relative, have their own strengths and specificities. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for them to turn to Christianity to receive aid, for their children’s education, or care for their sick. Other times, the children are the ones who invite their parents to move closer to prayer, after studying in one of the many Christian institutions.

The tribals convert in a group and usually are entire families. For them, the catechumenate is very long and cautious, it has no fixed rules and is based on general guidelines of the Church and the experience of individual missionaries. In some cases, the path can even last 10 years. A Catholic priest told AsiaNews: “There must be a real transformation of life. When someone expresses his desire to become a Christian, I may ask for a whole year for prayer, neither he nor I can make any formal commitment. If they attend, if they learn to pray, then we can begin the journey of formal catechumenate. When formation takes place slowly, it is very rare that converts go back on their choice. And it is wonderful to hear the reasons they give each other on why it is a beautiful thing to be Christian. ”

In the past, especially with the Protestant churches, “hasty” conversions have caused problems worse than those that pushed the tribals to conversion, creating individuals, alone and disconnected from society. The problems and the greatest pressure, in fact, are not so much from the Bengalis – who generally ignore them – but from their own communities. When a family or a group decides to become Christian, it is experienced as a betrayal of their own culture and the converts meet with real discrimination: they are excluded from the meetings of the village government, forbidden to take water from the communal well, given no help when in difficulty.

From a legal standpoint, the conversion process is very simple: the law provides that convert goes to a notary presenting a written signed document, in which it states they have changed their religion for personal reasons, suffered no pressure , of their own free will. For any Christian, Buddhist or Hindu who wishes to become a Muslim, the procedure is almost a formality. In contrast, for a Muslim is not unusual to encounter pressure from the notary, who sometimes even refuses (illegally) to register the deed.

In all this, there is the position of the Church and the Catholic community, which is very prudent and even, sometimes, severe. Besides the understandable dissatisfaction if a young person decides to convert to Islam, those who choose to marry a Muslim without leaving Christianity experience great hardness. The church even provides the opportunity to receive a waiver from the practice of worship under certain conditions (which must be accepted by her husband), but the majority of the local clergy refuse to concede this.

The Church is ultimately cautious to accept conversions from Islam because of two main risks: the social pressure experienced by these people, who face obstacles of every kind, not least physical violence, creating a sort of limbo, where the converts find it difficult to fit into the new community (who looks at them with suspicion) and the rejection of the original one. The result, especially when it comes to “hasty” conversions, is of having unconvinced waverers rather than people born again in Christ.

While there is no official data, it is estimated that every year thousands of people in Bangladesh are converting to Catholicism.

Bangladesh signs deal with US firm to build, launch its first satellite into space by 2015

Bangladesh will launch its first satellite into space by 2015 in a landmark move towards opening a new era in communication and broadcasting and creating new businesses.


Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission yesterday signed a Tk 82.5 crore consultancy deal with a US firm, Space Partnership International (SPI). The firm will design the satellite, named Bangabandhu, officials said.


The satellite will reduce reliance on foreign satellites for cable channels and improve telecom services to the remote areas of the country.


An American firm will help Bangladesh design and launch the South Asian country’s first satellite.

Officials say Space Partnership International signed a $10 million consultancy deal with the state-run Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission in Dhaka on Thursday.
SPI Managing Director Bruce D. Kraselsky says his Maryland-based company will design the satellite and hire a company to build and launch it. He says Bangladesh wants to launch the satellite by 2015.

Bangladesh says the satellite would improve its telecommunications services, collect meteorological data for disaster warnings and map natural resources.

Bangladesh says the satellite may cost $150 million. It spends $11 million a year renting foreign satellites.

About SPI

Space Partnership International (SPI) takes a fresh new multi-disciplinary, integrated approach to solving complex business and engineering challenges, managing enterprise risk, creating a competitive edge for clients in the space & telecom industries.

Formed in 2009, we bring together a complete range of management, business, financial, technical, legal, risk management and insurance skills, along with years of experience working with just about every type of commercial and governmental client in the space and telecom industries.

Our technical capabilities are complemented by our strategic partner, RKF Engineering, which is a global leader in satellite telecom systems and engineering solutions.

Rather than looking at complex matters from a single disciplinary view-point, for example, having lawyers look at a problem in isolation and without the benefit of engineering or financial perspectives, our approach is to examine these matters from all relevant disciplines at the same time, and to synthesize the results, in order to ensure that we get to the root of the matter and arrive at the best possible solution.

Bangladesh Ruling Party Fails In Resolving Electricity Crisis

At least two intelligence agencies in Bangladesh have warned the ruling party of sudden spark of mass revolt by the civilians following limitless sufferings caused by extreme shortage of electricity, which not only is jeopardizing public life, but also is destroying country’s economic backbone. “One or multiple mass revolt may break out at any time in the country during the month of June-September, as there is no sign of any improvement in the existing severe power crisis”, the report said.

It said the opposition parties may now pick up the power crisis issue at the top of their anti-government agenda, which will help them in getting huge support from the masses, who already are totally frustrated and annoyed on the ruling party. Meanwhile, seeing the power crisis continuing to increase, the energy advisor of the Prime Minister, Dr. Tawfiq Elahi Chowdhury has visibly gone into isolation from the media, as he too is now nervous thinking the ultimate consequences of his failures, which may cause any political setback in the country. Meanwhile, Bangladesh Nationalist Party is reportedly taking series of movement plans on the issue of power crisis to press the ruling party into corner. The opposition will also make countrywide appeal to the people to raise voice against the failure of the ruling party in addressing the power crisis as well as limitless looting of public wealth in the name of Quick Rental Power Plant(QRPP). Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) may sponsor several Writ Petitions in the apex judiciary in the country by various people from different walks of life, demanding court’s order in releasing White Paper on the existing situation prevailing in the power sector. Political analysts feel, if BNP top-brasses will ultimately give green signal to such movement strategies, it will surely put the ruling party into serious political challenges.

The urban Bangladesh now faces almost 10-12 hours load shedding every day while the situation in the rural areas are even worst, where in most cases, the length of load-shedding range between 18-20 hours. Though the current government led by Bangladesh Awami League made specific pledges to the nation of greatly resolving the power shortage maximum by 2012, in reality the situation is getting worst from bad. Power crisis has already affected country’s production sector, while severe environmental pollution is continuing due to use of generators at domestic, commercial and industrial establishments. Diesel-run generators not only create unbearable noise, it also releases hazardous smokes or gas, which is extremely vulnerable to human health.

Bangladesh Awami League led government signed dozens of contracts with various private companies for getting quick rental power plants in the country, which were expected to contribute in prompt resolving the existing power shortage. As of August 2011, establishment and timely commencing production of the major segments of the power plant, contracted to be established on “Quick Rental” basis in Bangladesh were failing gradually, thus not only causing huge amount of financial loss to national exchequer but also increased sufferings of the citizen of the country. Up to April, 2011 all the 14 Quick Rental Power Plant (QRPP) projects, which were undertaken by the ruling Bangladesh Awami League government on a fast-track basis to generate electricity to meet the current acute power crisis in the country, have miserably failed to commence production. According to contract, these projects were scheduled to start production latest by April 2011.

The policy of letting private companies establish QRPP was greatly criticized by experts in the country. Many said, this was a mere money-making project of some of the influential figures in the government and the ruling party. Awami League government adopted a Crash Program in October 2009 to set up power generation plants in next five years having total capacity of 7,000 MW. So far, the government has signed contracts for 33 power plants in the public and private sectors. Among those, most are costly quick rental and rental power plants. The private sector sponsors were supposed to install these plants from which the government would purchase electricity at a very exorbitant rate of between TK 9.75 (US$ 0.13) and TK 22 (US$0.29) per unit.

Power Development Board (PDB) said, the rental, quick rental and peaking plants were undertaken on a fast-track basis to address the nagging power crisis. The QRPP projects were supposed to add about 1,000 MW of electricity to the national grid. These QRPP projects are Meghnaghat 100 MW, Khulna 115 MW, Meghnaghat 100 MW, Ghorasal 78.5 MW, Ashuganj 80 MW (gas-generated), Keraniganj 100 MW, Ashuganj 53 MW, Noapara 40 MW, Amnura 50 MW (Chapainawabganj district), Juldha 100 MW, Siddhirganj 100 MW and Katakhali 50 MW.

Energy ministry sources in Bangladesh claimed that, QRPP were considered to be quickest method of meeting the growing demands of electricity in the country, and end consumers will pay the same or a bit less for their electricity.

Opposing the idea of QRPP, experts said that mostly second-hand equipments and machinery are used in such plants, which will be less efficient and the tariff will ultimately rise. They argue that the government would be better off spending money on upgrading the existing power stations. It was also told by the experts that almost eighty percent of the QRPP in Bangladesh were drawing bills from the government without supplying any electricity to the national grid or were making false bills showing fake production capacity. Another source said, almost all the QRPPs in Bangladesh are not producing even 5 percent of their contracted electricity, while they are continuing to receive bills for the total volume of contracted electricity by establishing a syndicate of looters with the help of few extremely influential figures in the government as well as the ministry and the departments concerned. Since the current government came in power and started giving contracts to QRPPs, a few million hundred dollars have been regularly looted every month from the national exchequer, while the government is engaged in exorbitant increase in price of electricity as well as fuel. The situation is like, as if the ruling party is snatching money from the people with the promise of improving the power crisis, while in reality major segment of such money is not only looted in free-style, but also smuggled out of the country.

Bangladesh’s energy infrastructure is quite small, insufficient and poorly managed. The per capita energy consumption in Bangladesh is one of the lowest (136 kWH) in the world. Non-commercial energy sources, such as wood, animal wastes, and crop residues, are estimated to account for over half of the country’s energy consumption. Bangladesh has small reserves of oil and coal, but very large natural gas resources. Commercial energy consumption is mostly natural gas (around 66 percent), followed by oil, hydropower and coal.

Electricity is the major source of power for country’s most of the economic activities. Bangladesh’s installed electric generation capacity was 4.7 GW in 2009; only three-fourth of which is considered to be ‘available’. Only 40 percent of the population has access to electricity with a per capita availability of 136 kWh per annum. Problems in the Bangladesh’s electric power sector include corruption in administration, high system losses, and delays in completion of new plants, low plant efficiencies, erratic power supply, electricity theft, blackouts, and shortages of funds for power plant maintenance. Overall, the country’s generation plants have been unable to meet system demand over the past decade.

In generating and distributing electricity, the failure to adequately manage the load leads to extensive load shedding which results in severe disruption in the industrial production and other economic activities. A recent survey reveals that power outages result in a loss of industrial output worth US$1 billion a year which reduces the GDP growth by about half a percentage point in Bangladesh. A major hurdle in efficiently delivering power is caused by the inefficient distribution system. It is estimated that the total transmission and distribution losses in Bangladesh amount to one-third of the total generation, the value of which is equal to US$ 247 million per year. Bangladesh has 15 MW solar energy capacities through rural households and 1.9 MW wind power in Kutubdia and Feni. Bangladesh has planned to produce 5 percent of total power generation by 2015 & 10 percent by 2020 from renewable energy sources like air, waste and solar energy.

The Ministry of Power and Energy has been mobilizing TK. 40,000 crore (US$ 5.88 billion) to generate 5,000 MW of electricity to reduce load shedding into a tolerable level within next three years during the term of the present government, which came in power in January 2009. Under this plan, Power Development Board (PDB) was supposed to generate 500MW gas-generated electricity between July-December 2009. The PDB was also supposed to hire furnace-oil based 1000MW electricity from private sector during January-June 2010. According to this plan, the government was also supposed to install furnace-oil based 800MW power plant. But so far, most of such five-year plans have miserably failed.

Meanwhile the government decided to establish a 1000MW Nuclear based power plant with Russian technical assistance at Rooppur. Bangladesh government already has signed a framework agreement with Russia in this regard. Commenting on possible risk of radiation leaking from the damaged nuclear plant as it happened in Japan, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “those power plants were constructed 40 years back, whereas present security systems at the nuclear power plants have improved significantly.”

Bangladesh government aspires to complete the first 1000MW nuclear based power station at Rooppur by 2015 while another plant is planned to be established at the same site with same production capacity by 2018.

Ministry sources indicate that, Russians though have signed contract with the Bangladesh government for the establishment of nuclear based power station, it has not yet submitted the details on how Bangladesh would dispose off the nuclear waste that would be released from the plant.

Experts have already issued warning of potential hazards; much ahead of Bangladesh concluded the deal with Russia, without properly evaluating the risk hazards. Sources within the energy ministry, on condition of anonymity told Times of Assam that, decisions related to power plants are being exclusively dictated and finalized by Prime Minister’s advisor Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi, who, according to energy experts, greatly lacks in proper knowledge and experience on such nuclear power plants. Moreover, there are serious allegation of manipulation and corruption by Dr. Tawfiq in finalizing power plant deals. Many opine that, he is solely responsible for the current failures of establishment of QRPP by private and public companies.

Meanwhile, a local company named Quantum Power Limited (an enterprise of OTOBI Limited) was already fined TK 200 crore (US$ 25 million) for their failure in commencing production of a 105MW plant at Bheramara district in Bangladesh. Quantum Power Limited got this contract against QEPP project. The authorities concerned though have collected an amount of TK. 6.4 million (US$ 90,000) only as penalty money out of the total amount of TK 200 crore (US$ 25 million), while, OTOBI is actively pursing with various important figures in the government including the energy advisor in averting payment of the remaining amount of penalty.

QRPP projects have already come totally messed up as the policymakers in the energy ministry, instead of looking into national interest were busier in making evil cash. A large number of projects were also illegally awarded to a company owned by two of the influential and controversial ministers in the government.

Even 20 months after a major gas-fired power plant in Ghorashal went out of order due to negligence of its technicians; the Power Development Board (PDB) could not select a contractor to repair it due to a slow bidding process and change of decisions. The damage of the 210 megawatt plant in July 2010 worsened the country’s load shedding situation. As it remains out of order, the government is spending extra money to buy similar amount of power from rental power plants, said a well-placed PDB official. While the lowest purchase price of power from rental plants is TK 4.8 per kilowatt hour, the same amount of power from Ghorashal plant, built by Russian company Technopromexport, costs less than TK 3. This means the government is counting heavy replacement cost. Some insiders at Energy Ministry seeking anonymity said the 210-megawatt power station at Ghorashal is kept shut-down by the syndicate of looters, who are taking undue advantage of this situation and continuing to visibly rob-off the nation.

Bangladesh readies law for N-plants

The cabinet of Bangladesh Govt yesterday approved a draft law with a provision for realising compensation from the operator of the country’s first-ever nuclear power plant at Rooppur in Pabna for any damage due to accident.

According to the draftThe Russian operator will be responsible if there is an accident or damage to a proposed atomic power plant according to the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Control Act, 2012, which finally approved by the cabinet which was led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday.
At the same time, the operator will also be accountable for theft, loss or abandonment of nuclear materials, the act says.
The five-member Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority and a 14-member advisory committee will be formed as per the act for the country’s first-ever nuclear power plant to be set up at Rooppur in Pabna district with assistance of the Russian Federation.
State minister for Science and Information and Communication Technology Yeafesh Osman, told newsmen that the Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority will control all types of radiation in the country.
“We will form the authority after the passage of the Act by the parliament,” he said adding, “We are hoping that the Act will be placed before members of parliament during its next session for its approval.”
The state minister said the Russian Nuclear Control Authority would assist the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority with technological know-how and training of engineers. “We hope the construction work will start during the term of the grand alliance government,” he said.
“We’ll need at least 400 engineers to build the atomic power plant. We have asked Dhaka University (DU) and the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) to introduce subjects pertaining to nuclear energy,” the minister said.
He said the government has completed a feasibility study of the project’s possible impact on environment and river water, and the type of foundation work required.
Taking lessons from the recent nuclear debacle at Fukushima in Japan, all possible security and safety measures will be incorporated while building the nuclear plant, he said.
The minister said the authorities of the State Atomic Energy Corp of Russia (Rosatom) will provide fuel for the entire life-span of the power plant, and take the spent fuel away for safe storage. The power extracted from one gram of uranium is equal to the power derived from three tonnes of coal or 2.6 tonnes of fossil fuel.
Definition, goals and activities of the authority, determination of compensation, security and safety of the power plants as well as safety measures against radiation and management of nuclear waste have been incoporated in the proposed law. There are ten articles in the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Control Act.
Meanwhile the cabinet also approved a proposal for re-fixing the implementation date of National Wage Scale for workers of the state-owned mills and factories.
Under the new scale, the basic salary of a worker would be minimum 4,150 taka, while the maximum salary is 5,600 taka with 50% house rent and other allowances.
The new basic salary of the workers will be effective from July 2009, while the other marginal benefits from July 2010. The arrears will be paid in four equal installments from September 2012 to December 2013.
A proposal for observing the 3rd April as the National Film Day from this year was also endorsed by the cabinet.
The cabinet was apprised of the participation of a Bangladesh delegation led by the health and family welfare minister in the 20th executive committee meeting of the ‘Partners in Population and Development’ (PPD) held in Nairobi, Kenya in February this year.

New fungus-resistant wheat variety introduced in Bangladesh

A variety of wheat resistant to a deadly fungus has been introduced into Bangladesh, a traditional rice-growing region.

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) said it introduced the wheat variety in Bangladesh in March that is tolerant to the Ug99 strain of stem-rust fungus.

The new wheat variety, named Francolin, has “good” resistance to all varieties of Ug99, according to CIMMYT. The grain also produces yields that are about 10 percent higher than the most commonly grown wheat variety in Bangladesh, Mexico-based CIMMYT wrote in an online report on March 23.

“The danger posed by the Ug99 strain of the disease stem rust to global wheat production is well recognized, and Bangladesh is no exception,” CIMMYT wrote.

CIMMYT said it’s working with the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute on the new wheat variety. The introduction of Francolin was helped in part by a USAID seed-multiplication program, according to the research center.

India, Bangladesh extend set of rules for trade …

India and Bangladesh on Thursday agreed to renew the bilateral trade agreement, which expires on March 31, for three years and agreed to further liberalise two-way flow of goods and investments.

“We have come to an agreement that the trade treaty which was due to expire on March 31 will be extended for a period of three years,” Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar said a joint press briefing with his Bangladeshi counterpart Ghulam Hussain.

The existing trade agreement between the two countries came into force on April 1, 2009.

Hussain said some changes may be made in the trade agreement so that “these are capable of responding to the needs of the trade…year old agreement and protocols need to be addressed afresh.”

The Bangladesh side expressed concern over uninterrupted export of cotton by India.

“It was decided that a contractual agreement between the Cotton Corporation of India and its counterpart Organisation in Bangladesh needs to be worked out,” a joint statement said adding Bangladesh side emphasised that they would require uninterrupted export of at least 15 lakh bales every year.

Both sides would hold further discussions before end of May on this matter.

Bangladesh assured India that it will favourably consider India’s request for substantial reduction of sensitive list before the next meeting of the SAFTA Committee of Experts scheduled in May.

On the issue of India’s concern on imposition of supplementary duty over 60 per cent on import of plastics, Bangladesh agreed to examine this issue and revert expeditiously.

Khullar said India-Bangladesh relationship “is at its peak and it is a very vital and strategic partnership. We must carefully nurture this relationship”.

He said “we have a clear plan of action of what has been done and what is to be done and we will deliver on time” as far as boosting bilateral trade is concerned”.

Hussain said free flow of goods between Bangladesh and India would definitely help elimination of poverty in the two countries.

Bangladesh has withdrawn ban on export of aromatic rice

The Ministry of Food and Disaster Management official who preferred to be unnamed said that the government’s Food Planning and Monitoring Committee on Tuesday made the decision as the country had huge stock of rice after bumper summer rice production.

Bangladesh’s total foodgrain production in the 2010-11 (July 2010-June 2011) was 34.5 million tons against the target of 35.7 million tons, showed the Agriculture ministry data.

The ministry said bumper rice production is expected unless the country faces any natural calamities during the ongoing Boro ( winter paddy) season which pertains to rice cultivation in waterlogged low-lying or medium lands with irrigation during November to May.

Bangladesh farmers have cultivated Boro seedlings on about 5 million hectares of land.

The country’s Department of Agriculture Extension has set the target of foodgrain production for 2011-12 (July 2011-June 2012) at 35.78 million tons.

Bangladesh imposed ban on aromatic rice export in May, 2009. The country usually exports aromatic rice to some Middle Eastern Asian and European countries where there are millions of non- resident Bangladeshis.

Bangladesh is rising global economy: Dy HC

Bangladeshi Deputy High Commissioner Ruhul Alam Siddique has stated that his country was cited as one of the world’s eleven rising economies: “We are the number two manufacturer of the ready-made garments in the world and coming up fast in ceramics, shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, leather products, information technology, software and fresh organic agricultural products etc”. He was speaking at a reception hosted here to celebrate the People’s Republic of Bangladesh’s 41st independence and national day here.

Addressing the chief guest Nisar Ahmad Khuhro Acting Governor Sindh, Federal and Provincial ministers, members of the diplomatic corps, other ladies and gentlemen in the audience, Ruhul Alam recalled that the Banglees had achieved independence through nine-month-long bloody armed struggle and supreme sacrifices of millions. He paid deep homage to the martyrs who laid down their lives in the War of Liberation in 1971 and prayed for the salvation of those departed souls.

The Bangladeshi diplomat told that his nation had traveled a long way since Independence and was moving ahead to reach the targets envisaged in the Vision 2021: “We are now on a forward march to reach the main objective of our independence i.e. building the hunger-free, peaceful, middle-income, digital information Golden Bangladesh”.

Ruhul Alam held that his country was a role model for fighting poor quality and extremism, empowering of women, disaster management, coping with challenges posed by the global warming and climate change: “Bangladesh has achieved remarkable success and acknowledgment in the social sector. The winning of the UN MDG award for achieving targeted reduction in infant mortality and the South-South Award for the use of modern technology in the development of women & child health by our Honorable Prime Minister bears testimony in this regard”.

Speaking about Pak-Bangla bilateral relations Deputy High Commissioner maintained that it was strongly bonded by common historical background, cultural traditions, values and aspirations. He recalled the prompt assistance extended by Bangladesh during 2010-11 floods here in the form of 54 truck-load of life-saving medicines, health kits, water purification tablets, 120,000 blankets, over nine thousand tents, huge quantity of tea and sugar worth US $ two million.

Bangladesh had also sent a 40-member medical team of doctors, nurses, paramedics specialized in disaster relief who provided healthcare services for over a month in Sindh’s remote areas. Ruhul Alam citing a number of instances also noted that at the quarterfinal of last year’s Cricket World Cup in Dhaka, support of the Bangladeshi crowd for Pakistan vs. West Indies manifested the warmth and sentiments of Bangladeshis towards their Pakistani brothers.

The Bangladeshi government has decided to observe Earth Hour 2012

The Bangladeshi government has decided to observe Earth Hour 2012 and it will urge the people not to use power during that time, an official said Thursday.

‘We’ve decided to observe Earth Hour and ask the people not to use power during that hour,’ Xinhua quoted Towfiq-E-Elahi Chowdhury, Bangladeshi prime minister’s energy advisor as saying at a press briefing.

Earth Hour 2012 will be held March 31, 2012 from 8.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. at the participating country’s local time.

The Bangladesh government could save about 400 tonnes of liquid fuel and 1.6 million units of electricity if all people in the country observe Earth Hour, said the country’s Power Development Board Chairman ASM Alamgir.

The country’s Power Secretary Abul Kalam Azad said they have started to campaign for it and hope that it would be observed across Bangladesh.

Earth Hour is a worldwide event that is organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and is held on the last Saturday of March annually, encouraging households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour to raise awareness about the need to take action on climate change.

The concept of Earth Hour was conceived by the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature and the Sydney Morning Herald in 2007, when 2.2 million residents of Sydney participated by turning off all non-essential lights.

‘Next 15 years opportune time for Bangladesh’

The next 15 years would be a great opportunity for Bangladesh, says HSBC Bangladesh chief executive Andrew Tilke.

“Coming changes and acceleration in global trade present great opportunity for Bangladesh,” he told a press conference organised on Wednesday to launch the nomination process for the third phase of HSBC Export Excellence Awards-2011.

Referring to a HSBC research, Andrew said global trade would grow by 86 percent to reach $53.8 trillion by 2026.

“This acceleration will help Bangladesh increase its trade with already developed markets,” he said.

According to the study, titled ‘HSBC Global Connections’, China will overtake the USA as the world’s largest trading nation by 2016 and India will become the 10th largest trading country by 2026.

Andrew said: “Bangladesh is very close to a future economic power house of the world.”

Quoting the study report, he said: “Environmental and competitiveness pressures require businesses to locate closer to the markets in which they wish to trade.”

HSBC Export Excellence Awards-2011 nomination will close on April 30. Exporters from Bangladesh can vie for the awards.

Details and other relevant information can be found on the HSBC’s Bangladesh website.

The multinational bank introduced the awards in 2010 to recognise best exporters from Bangladesh in five categories each year.

The categories are: Exporter of the Year – RMG and Textile – Group A (annual export turnover $ 50 million or more), Exporter of the Year-RMG and Textile – Group B (annual export turnover less than 50 million), Exporter of the Year – EPZ Enterprise, Exporter of the Year – Traditional and Emerging Sectors, and Exporter of the Year – SMEs.