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Bangladesh

Bangladeshis in Europe are invisible workers in the public space. Many of them are forced to remain invisible because they lack “legal papers.” Yet, they are very much part of the urban public spaces of Vienna, Rome, or Athens as street-hawkers, in the service industries, or on farms.

 

In Bangladesh, the temperatures are on the rise. The climate we find ourselves in is getting hotter by the day, with spring now a long-forgotten thing of the past, jumping straight into the unbearable summer.

 

The government has allowed fast-growing conglomerate S Alam Group to install a coal-based power plant in the coastal Gondamara Boroghona area of Chittagong’s Banshkhali, which is a locality of over 7,000 households and comprises arable land and salt and shrimp farms.

 

Mature countries should be ready to interrogate their own history, and accept there are diverse interpretations of how they came to be. This is particularly the case where one nation has broken away from another.

 

First there was the historian David Irving. Now there is the journalist David Bergman.

 

During the 1971 Liberation War, around 300,000 Bangladeshi women were raped, tortured, and murdered by the Pakistani occupation army with the support of Bihari and Razakar militias.

 

“It was my uncle who sold me to a trafficker who brought me to India,” Hamida Akhtar from Satkhira, Bangladesh, said when we were sitting in a softly lit room in a government-run shelter home in Liluah in Howrah district of West Bengal.

 

In 2002, the Adamjee Jute Mill was closed down. The largest jute mill in the world, the nation’s pride, finally shut its doors. As the humming of the looms went silent and the workers packed their bags, Bangladeshis had conflicting emotions.

 

Dear Bangladesh, I am losing grip over my own beliefs. Please give me a reason to once again believe in you and believe in the freedom that our freedom fighters granted us all those years ago.

 
I can’t help but wonder whether my children, 10 years from now, will still get to write that -- with the huge possibility that the largest mangrove forest will not exist then. Are we really okay with the Sundarbans ceasing to exist? At what point do we stop being indifferent?  
 


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Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
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