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BANGLADESH


  
  



Key Economic Data 
 
  2004 2003 2002 Ranking(2004)
GDP
Millions of US $ 56,844 51,900 45,500 54
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 440 400 390 175
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Bangladesh


Update No: 019 - (25/07/07)

SHEIKH HASINA JAILED
The military-led joint forces arrested former Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after a case of extortion was filed against her by businessman Azam J. Chowdhury, managing director of private Eastcoast Trading Limited on June 13. Chowdhury allegedly claims that Hasina and a former minister were guilty of extortion to the amount of Taka 3 crore during her stay in power (1996-2001). On the other hand, Hasina had been fairly vocal about public rights and was vehemently critical of the military's recent activities. Hasina believes that the military's role has been nothing short of a conspiracy to derail the democratic functioning of the nation. Hasina has denied all allegations and claimed her innocence in the case. According to a lawyer appearing for Hasina in the court, she believed that all this was government maneuver to prevent her from contesting the general elections expected to be held between October and December 2008. Those who support Hasina believe that she is being attacked by vested interests who want to alienate her from the party. Some reports in various newspapers in Bnagladesh suggest that the military appears to be marginalizing the country's main political parties which could result in serious damage to the democratic fabric of Bangladesh. One such method adopted by the military has been that of encouraging internal dissension. For instance, a group of senior leaders of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by its secretary general Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, has already unveiled a reform plan that will exclude party Chief Begum Khaleda Zia, who has served two terms as prime minister, from positions of power. Therefore critics are claiming that in the garb of reforming political parties, the military is intent on excluding these top women leaders from politics. 

THE MEDIA REACTS
Sheikh Hasina's arrest has generated severe criticism from the media of the country's military-backed government stating that this could lead to widespread agitation within the country. The arrest invited strong condemnation from various newspapers. The Daily Star, Bangladesh's top English-language daily, termed Hasina's detention a "wrong and unacceptable decision." It further quoted "politics enters a heightened state of tension and confrontation with the arrest... the government must now explain, to the satisfaction of the public, why the Awami League chief needed to be detained." Another daily newspaper, the New Age, said "the assertions of certain advisers to the military-driven interim government... had given rise to the apprehension that the incumbents were still intent on arbitrarily forcing the two top political leaders (Khaleda and Hasina) out of politics. The arrest of Hasina... has proved that the apprehension was neither far-fetched nor misplaced. Regrettably, the interim government does not seem to have much regard for public perception or apprehension."

CHANGES WITHIN ARMY'S TOP BRASS 
Just as the country has been engaged with Sheikh Hasina's arrest and many have pointed fingers at the military for forcing change and subverting democracy, it is interesting to see a reshuffle take place within the military's top brass. The Bangladesh Army witnessed a reshuffle with the installation of a new Chief of General Staff (CGS) and transfer of several other senior officers. Major General, Sina Ibne Zamaly, was made the new CGS to replace Major General Iqbal Karim Bhuiyan who would now head the prestigious Staff College as its commandant, military sources are saying. The commandant of the college Major General Abdul Mubeen has been transferred to southeastern Chittagong to command the 24th Infantry Division. Director General of Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies Major General Md Sharif Uddin has been sent into retirement, newspaper reports said. The Army was called out to assist the government after the proclamation of state of emergency on January 11 when the country also witnessed the reconstitution of the interim government with installation of the new interim cabinet of Chief Adviser, Fakhruddin Ahmed, amid heightened political tension and protracted conflicts between rival parties (source: Hindu)

BANGLADESH-SRI LANKA
In what appears to be a sign of growing friendship, Bangladesh presented Sri Lanka on Wednesday with a few strands of hair that belonged to Lord Buddha, the founder of the Buddhist religion. Ajit Ranjan Barua, chairman of the Bangladesh Buddhist Association, said a Tibetan monk brought the hair to Chittagong in 1930. The relic, called Kesho Dhatu, was preserved in a glass box at the monastery, about 135 miles southeast of the capital, Dhaka. The barely visible strands of hair can be viewed by devotees only once a year, during a festival commemorating Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death. In the past, parts of the relic have been given to Buddhist monasteries in Japan, Thailand and Sri Lanka. A pagoda-shaped metal urn containing the hair was given to a Sri Lankan delegation by custodians of an ancient Buddhist monastery. Foreign Affairs adviser Iftekhar A. Chowdhury said that it was a true honor to present this relic, which is believed to improve bilateral relations and strengthen inter-cultural bonds between Muslims and Buddhists. Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama accepted the sacred relic with gratitude stating that the relic will be kept at a monastery in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, for Buddhist pilgrims to pay homage. In return for the relic, Sri Lanka presented a stone slab imprinted with Buddha's footprint and a statue to Chittagong Buddhist Monastery. 

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

BANGLADESH UNVEILS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
Based on a Government of India's Press Information Bureau Report, the Indian Minister of State for Commerce Shri Jairam Ramesh is visiting Dhaka on July 22, and will be present at the inauguration of the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce & Industry by Dr. Iajuddin Ahmed, President of Bangladesh. This Chamber is being launched by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industry and the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry to provide a high-level platform for forging economic partnerships between the two countries. During the visit, Shri Jairam Ramesh is expected to meet with influential members of the business community and think-tanks. Issues pertaining to trade and investment relations between the two countries will be high on the agenda but besides that, the trade balance issue is also likely to figure in the discussions. India's exports to Bangladesh during Apr 2006-Feb 2007, were $ 1.5 billion and imports from Bangladesh were $ 205 million. Bangladesh has expressed concern at this deficit and has also been pointing out what it feels are unfair non-tariff barriers to its exports to India. Shri Ramesh is also expected to take up proposals submitted by India for improving connectivity and access.

BANGLADESH TELECOMMUNICATIONS SECTOR
Bangladesh's mobile subscriber base has risen over 7 percent to 27.72 million at the end of June, according to statistics released by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). Bangladesh's mobile phone tele-density has also increased to 19.83 percent. Grameen phone, which is Bangladesh's leading mobile phone company, showed the number of subscribers up at 13.97 million from 13.24 million in May. Telecom Malaysia's Aktel posted subscribers down at 5.05 million from 5.55 million in May. Orascom-owned Sheba Telecom's subscriber numbers rose to 6.04 million from 5.53 million in May. SingTel's joint venture CDMA operator Pacific Bangladesh Telecom (PBTL) saw its subscribers rise to 1.30 million from 1.27 million in May, and state-owned TeleTalk subscribers numbers rose to 0.89 million from 0.87 million.

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