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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: 025 - (30/01/08)

SUPPRESSION OF FREE SPEECH 
Bangladesh’s army-backed emergency government has banned two popular live political talk shows. These shows were primarily political shows that were hosted by political and civilian leaders and took questions from viewers and journalists on political, economic, social and cultural issues. ETV, another television network was banned from operating by a court order issued during the previous Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led government in 2002. However, ETV came back into operation last year after foregoing its terrestrial rights. The ban was the first on the media since last August, when the government briefly stopped all live private television talk shows as part of a crackdown on student unrest. The unrest began at Dhaka University where students demanded the army withdraw from the campus. It spread across main cities of the country, leaving at least one dead and dozens injured. Not only is free speech becoming a hard commodity to find in Bangladesh but even in other sectors, one notices grave problems with the rights and liberties of individuals. 

IMPINGEMENT OF LABOR RIGHTS
One such area is labor rights. Recently, Mr Hasan, a Bangladeshi national, was detained in Dhaka by the Bangladesh intelligence service and is currently being held for interrogation. It appears that the government plans to bring a number of criminal charges against him under Bangladesh’s Emergency Powers Rules, including incitement to riot and/or destruction of property and sedition. Media reports claim that the detention of Mr. Hasan is part of a wave of state sponsored harassment and impingement of labour rights organisations in Bangladesh. The government has also issued charges against the leaders of several leading labor unions, including the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union Federation and the National Garment Workers Federation, among others. Many of these labor right activists have been forced to go into hiding. Bangladesh’s garment industry in recent years has been marked by frequent episodes of strikes and riots mainly arising from low wages, unfair hours and suppression of trade unions. But things seemed to have taken a turn for the worse with labor right activists such as Hasan being unfairly questioned and imprisoned without the due process of law. The very right to protest is being stymied in Bangladesh which is a dangerous sign for a country that is trying to form a stronger democracy. 

BIRD FLU EPIDEMIC IN BANGLADESH
A virulent strain of avian flu has hit Bangladesh, known as H5NI. It is not clear where the bird flu has originated from. The neighboring state of West Bengal in India has also recently reported several cases of bird flu but no cases among humans. While Bangladesh believes that the source of the bird flu is India, the latter is claiming that this strain of bird flu has come from Bangladesh! Whatever be the origin, chickens numbering thousands are being culled in Bangladesh and even in the east Indian state of West Bengal. 

Newspaper reports in Bangladesh suggest that 3, 26,844 chickens in about 93 poultry farms in 29 districts and six metropolitan areas have been slaughtered by the country’s Livestock Department. The areas worst hit by the avian flu outbreak are located in Bangladesh's southwest districts, bordering India. To prevent the spread of avian flu, the government has banned the import of all birds, eggs, feed, or related products from India. Law enforcement agencies are also on high alert along the border to prevent poultry being brought in from India. In West Bengal, India, of the 19 districts in the state, 13 have been affected after South-24 Parganas and West Midnapore were added to the list. 

INDIA-BANGLADESH BORDER AGREEMENT 
Bangladesh and India have arrived at a consensus on different long-standing issues in a three-day border conference which was held in Bangladesh’s Bogra district, northwest of Dhaka. The meeting took place at the Deputy Director General level, between Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), paramilitary force in Bangladesh, and Indian Border Security Force (BSF) BDR Deputy Director General Brigadier General MA Bari reported that Bangladesh has handed over a list of 1,626 alleged “terrorists” who have taken shelter in India. And, Bari’s contemporary on the Indian side, RA Tewari said that India would soon hand over a list of the names of 1,000 Indians, allegedly hiding in Bangladesh, to the Bangladesh government. Both sides seem to be in agreement that the capture of these terrorists (if that is what they are), would improve the safety and security of their borders. The conference has also decided to set up an exchange program or study tour between the two countries for promoting good relations. The groups from each country will have around 25 students. Also, the Deputy Director Generals from both countries dealt with other border issues which included the smuggling of drugs, information exchange and firing without provocation in border areas. A second high-level meeting between the two border forces will be held at Shilong in India in mid-February.

CENTRAL BANK PLACES A LIMIT ON INVESTMENT IN BONDS
The Bangladesh Bank, the country’s central bank, has issued a guideline imposing a cap on investment in bond and debentures issued by private companies. The commercial banks will be allowed to invest a maximum 10 percent of their individual total capital in bond and debentures, according to the new guidelines. “We have asked the banks to invest a maximum 10 per cent of their total capital in the company’s bond and debentures that may help bring dynamism in the secondary bond market” a bank senior official told AHN in Dhaka. The bond and debentures will be approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). At least four financial institutions and one commercial bank have already issued bonds to raise capital for expansion of their businesses.  

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