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Key Economic Data 
  2004 2003 2002 Ranking(2004)
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: 054 - (28/07/10)
Leaders of Islamic Parties Face New Charges
A special tribunal in Bangladesh issued arrest warrants against four senior leaders of the country’s largest Islamic party on as part of a planned trial over alleged crimes against humanity during the nation’s 1971 independence war. Suspects include Jamaat-e-Islami party chief Matiur Rahman Nizami and his senior party colleagues Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, Abdul Quader Mollah and Muhammad Kamaruzzaman. The tribunal was set up by the government in March to prosecute those who had allegedly worked together with the Pakistani army in killings and other war crimes. The tribunal consists of three-members under the leadership of Justice Nizamul Huq sanctioned the orders and urged for arrest warrants against the culprits on charges of genocide, murder, rape, torture, looting and arson related to 1971 war. The government described these acts as crimes against humanity. Chief Prosecutor Golam Arif Tipu told the court that it was imperative to detain the accused because they could find a way to receive bail, get released from custody and flee the country. Most of the accused are part of the Jamaat-e-Islami, which was opposed to the battle for independence and supported Pakistan.

Court Bans the Role of Religion in Politics
Bangladesh’s Supreme Court has re-issued a ban on Islamic political parties, releasing a 184-page verdict where it jettisoned a large part of the 1979 Fifth Amendment that had included provisions allowing religious political parties to flourish and legalized military rule. The need to strike out such a harmful provision was made in order to maintain secularism as a cornerstone of the Bangladeshi constitution. Even though in the post-independence period, secularism was an important part of the Bangladeshi constitution, after the 1975 coup, the army-led government amended the constitution’s guiding principle to “faith in Allah” in 1979. Also, religious parties which were banned in the original 1971 constitution were made legal through the 1979 amendments. However, according to this recent verdict, the court had removed the “faith in Allah” clause. The verdict is being hailed as a landmark judgment as it places a major check on the rise of military dictatorships and thwarts the intervention of religion in politics.

India-Bangladesh Energy Agreement
Indi and Bangladesh have landmark electricity transmission deal under which Bangladesh will be able to import energy from India by 2011. India will export up to 500 megawatts under the 35-year deal signed by the state-run power companies of both nations. The head of Bangladesh’s Power Development Board, Alamgir Kabir, hails this as a “landmark deal” that “will help ensure energy security for the country and ease the acute power crisis.” Bangladesh has long suffered severe power outages because of demands from its fast-growing economy. The power shortfall is especially acute in the hot summer months from April to October. As a result of years of underinvestment, Bangladesh’ s power plants generate around 4,000 megawatts of electricity a day, while the demand totals 6,000 megawatts. The scenario can be rather grim since just 40 percent of Bangladesh’s 146 million people have power and power shortages during peak times can force some factories to stop production. While India also suffers from a similar problem of electricity shortage, the situation is less dire.

Corporal Punishment Banned in Schools
In a major step, Bangladesh’s High Court has ordered schools to stop using corporal punishment on students; a practice that is quite widespread according to UNICEF which led to the suicide of a 10-year-old boy. A dozen cases of corporal punishment were reported in the media over the past year. The court stated that such punishments violate human rights. Last year, the U.N. Children’s Fund said 91 per cent of children in Bangladesh’s schools are subject to physical punishment, including twisting ears or skin, pulling hair, slapping or forced kneeling. Earlier this month, local media reported that a 10-year-old boy committed suicide after he had been beaten by a teacher in a school in northern Bangladesh.

Policemen Killed
This month, three policemen were killed in an attack by suspected left-wing extremists in the district of Pabna, in western Bangladesh. These extremists are wanted for murder, drug trafficking, abduction and extortion. Such attacks claimed the lives of 70 people last year. Additional police forces have been sent into the area to search for the attackers but they seemed to have fled the area.

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