Archive for bangladesh

Bangladesh Turns 40

Posted in Life with tags , , , , , , on December 16, 2011 by Saquib

Remembering the millions who scarified their lives for us, for this day, and for this nation. We remain proud and grateful for the freedom you brought us — we will, despite our tough times, continue to love and fight for this country. Here’s 160 million people celebrating this day in all its glory, from every corner of the world. Let’s talk about our pride, our history, and share the joys of victory — because this was the day when we proved there’s absolutely no possibility of bringing down an entire nation united for a cause by any military or force, regardless of how powerful they seem.

Yes, 16th December has many meanings in our calendar: some remember what sacrifices can bring, while some remember the glory of our Liberation War; some talk about the unity of people that shaped the birth of a nation, while some acknowledge the debt we owe to millions of martyrs. But it’s not just history of a country, it’s identity of who we are and what we stand for. It took 3 million lives and hardships of countless others to achieve the glory that we will remain forever proud of — because on this day, the world witnessed the roar of exceptional men and women of a nation, united for sovereignty, winning against unmatched supremacy. While today we turn only 40, we remain respectful of our past, proud of how far we have come, and resolute on continuing to stand together for our nation.

Is “going green” more of a gimmick?

Posted in Business, Tech with tags , , , , , , on April 21, 2011 by Saquib

The words ‘green’, ‘eco’, and ‘environment’ are becoming prevalent everyday, but it’s interesting how they actually work in developing countries. CSR is the new buzz, and everyone wants his or her share of acting cool. As a consumer, and a speculator, I’d cut the talk and see the action. Does sustainable business practices really matter in Bangladesh? The answer is ‘no’ for most companies here.

Just today I was at the HSBC’s Banani (RD#11) ATM booth. This is the new booth that they made on the ground floor, right beside the entrance. What I saw? They have two split air-conditioners in that tiny half-a-toilet sized ATM booth. Yet they ask you not to print the balance receipt in that same booth to save the environment.  And just how long do you presume those air-conditioners operate?

Check out the booth yourself to see just how much people here mean about things they talk about. I thought by telling us they care about ‘green’, they are talking about the environment and not the notes. I’ve failed to blend in and adjust to the fake CSR based marketing efforts that offices here make. The CSR should have more focus on all divisions of an organization’s structure, rather than just marketing. Leadership and integrity are the two things most people tend to forget in third world countries. I know folks outside HSBC Bangladesh have little awareness of such practices, and I think you can’t manage every small thing from there.

Green maybe in, but first, we got to make our souls clean.

25 minutes with a Rhodes Scholar, an impact for a lifetime

Posted in Life with tags , , , , , , , on October 25, 2010 by Saquib

I had the opportunity to be in a meeting for one our prospective projects that can have heavy implementation of biometrics solution with a database involving huge nationwide records. What I experienced at the meeting was possibly one of the most memorable experiences of my lifetime. Our key contact was a former Rhodes Scholar, Professor Gowher Rizvi, currently the advisor and special representative for the Prime Minster.

The level of kindness, moral force, devotion, and fellowship shown by possibly the most successful human being I will ever meet in person, made me see just how incredible a man can be. Let me brief you, the word “high caliber” or “superbly accomplished” falls well short in explaining the kind of person he is. Not only does he hold the most prestigious scholarship in the world, Gowher Rizvi is an internationally renowned political scientist and been the director of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. It would take multiple pages for me to sum-up his accomplishments, but you must read an overview of his career from this page.

I’ve met people in high positions, people with far less credibility and capacity, who always have this esteem that you can feel when you are around them. But Professor Rizvi is a different kind of being. He wants to know about your problems, he discusses without complexity, he is intelligent and fun, and he has the capacity to assist. I was overwhelmed by this man, and my brain sort of overloaded with the task of learning everything it could. I don’t know if I was even talking smoothly, I had to make sure it was somewhat impressive enough for him. But I think I made very little sense, as I was just literally blown away. On top of all that, he shows great respect for slumdogs like me, and his modesty will simply make you “wow” at him. It feels incredible to see someone has gone this far. And you might not even believe if I tell you that he actually walked us to the elevator all on his own, even when we tried our best to make him understand he just didn’t have to.

I guess the small fraction of my life’s time spend with this man will have one of the biggest impacts for the rest of my life. And it’s people like these who make you find a whole new level to benchmark success in its purest form. I see how human behavior and personality can be so important in determining a person’s ultimate success. I only realize now that I should have taken a picture with him, but my brain could barely function at that stage, so my fellow readers have to deal with the googled image for now. He did mention we could knock him whenever we face further issues, so maybe next time.

I’m truly grateful for such a day.

We still have heroes here

Posted in Life with tags , , on September 14, 2010 by Saquib

I had to work just the night before Eid, at the last day of Ramadan. My broadcast was just after Maghreb, when you break your fast. My colleagues and I were all stunned to know that we weren’t given a go ahead with the official announcement of Eid. After the 30th Ramadan, the Eid becomes obvious and doesn’t need confirmation of moon sighting. But that wasn’t enough for the management who were still waiting for confirmation from the Islamic Foundation. After a while it wasn’t even funny, when media all over Bangladesh made it official, the most reached out media of the nation was sitting for a confirmation that had no real value. We did air the announcement, about 50 minutes late.

Pissed, as usual, at how government organizations work here, I was on my way home, thinking how people here make everyday living so hard, their lack of belief in values, and the obvious part of the personality that’s missing from everyone around us: morale.

A driver of a CNG powered scooter right beside my car was screaming at me. I was least bothered to argue or even know what was he complaining about. Why does everyone here have a mindset to simply hate everyone else? As I reached the next signal, another driver was yelling at me. I wasn’t speeding, braked smoothly, and didn’t even change lanes. Anyways, Eid was coming and I was just not in the mood for any of the bullshit.

While I hit the gas at green light, something struck me. If it isn’t anything related to driving, what if they were trying to tell me something else, something about my car. I pulled off, stepped out, and started checking for what could have gone wrong. One of the wheel-caps of my car was missing. I realized how I over reacted and didn’t even bother listening to what they had to say – generalizing everything like a complete moron.

But that was just one part of the story. The CNG powered scooter came by and stopped ahead, this time the he was waving at me. I walked ahead, and he was screaming about my wheel-cap. When I came close, he got out and handed me over my wheel-cap. He picked up where I lost it, followed me, just to make sure I get it.

I was awe-struck, staring at this guy, didn’t know what to tell him. So I just thanked him and coming back home, all I could think of was the fact that existence of respectable people isn’t so hopeless after all.

Although most days we’re just pissed on everyone around us, there are some incredibly worthy individuals who live here till this day – people in all tiers of lives – who don’t deserve to be generalized. While the number of bad guys would always be more than noble ones in any given geographic parameter, the impact of good deeds by our everyday heroes simply outweigh all the bad things around us.

This note is just to remind me, there’s still people here who makes a difference, there’s still a cause to fight for.

Beware of cheap, so-called, “Blu-Ray” movies in Dhaka

Posted in Life, Tech with tags , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2009 by Saquib

So you’ve been thinking what could be sweeter than getting Blu-Ray movies for 800 Taka? Well, think again.

What stores selling here are NOT Blu-Ray movies. Apparently Blu-Ray exact copies are still impossible, and even when stores are telling you these are “pirated” Blu-Ray movies, they themselves have very little idea what it is. The packaing is an exact copy of Blu-Ray movies, but nothing else is. These are just basic DVD9 discs that have some down converted video recorded in them. At best the resolution may get 720p – which is not Full HD. Besides these are not Blur-Ray discs either. A technology called AVCHD (used in High-Def personal cameras for video authoring) is being used to record DVD9 discs the down-sampled version. Because of the reduction in resolution, file sizes are smaller and can be burned to regular DVDs instead of the more costly Blu-Ray discs. So yes, it does not replace the Blu-Ray experience, especially for your Full HD based system. Rather spend on best quality DVD movies and up-scaling DVD player to save the cost and get something decent (not like AVCHD though). If HD is the thing you’re into, it doesn’t kill to buy 1 genuine Blu-Ray movie a month and keep a good collection for your A/V system.You are just being fooled buying DVD discs packaged in Blu-Ray boxes.

When it comes to the world of High Definition, every detail counts.

Recap: The ever so blissful Web 2.0

Posted in Life, Linux / Mac, Tech, Windows with tags , , on April 11, 2009 by Saquib

Internet had been an indirect platform for most of the people. An average user simply wouldn’t write html or make massive websites but use applications and services that are made by professionals to share information. The major part that had been missing was the feature of getting the view of another person who might actually have the same taste, views and questions. With this new revolutionary model, called “Web 2.0”, the end users finally got to the front in terms of publishing, sharing, and getting involved on the Internet.

Web 2.0 gives a user more than the chance of getting information; it provides everyone the opportunity to be the provider of information easily; which is also updated fast. The trend allows a better model for the information stream, which just works! Imagine a store telling you they sell the best meat in town; and now compare this to another buyer (just like you) telling you that that store actually does sell the best meat in town. Not only does this add more value, but you probably would have never believed the store if it wasn’t for the second opinion. This also reduces chances of false claims. Knowing that a store’s quality will be commented by another buyer, they would be less likely to sell things that give them bad reputation. Apart from making the content on the Internet more acceptable, this sort of technology also brought millions of new users to the World Wide Web. It also makes the Internet harness collective intelligence, the simple formula is experience that gets better as more people use them. As people become more familiar with benefits of such user generated content, it will become more widespread, increasing the quality of information.

The entire lifestyle of people has been changing based on Web 2.0. Countless number of social networking sites have popped up fueled by this revolution. It’s inevitable, unbelievable, unexpected, yet just perfectly fine. Our social lives are moving towards the electronic revolution, changing how things work. From making new friends to keeping up with friends from junior high, updating thousands of people about what we are up to everyday, joining groups who share the exact same views as we do, or showing off our new toys – everything in our personal life is now public; but the most interesting part is, this is all by our choice. Privacy to personal information has always been a key concern, but people themselves chose to put it there because it brings us exposure – something that everyone craves for. Web 2.0 is the spark that really makes anybody and everybody a celebrity on the Internet. The Internet social life have merged so vividly with us that it’s almost as essential as anything else. People would go online before tooth brushing to find out how their friends are doing thousands of miles away. In fact, now it seems alright not to look good while you are running to a store nearby, but to make sure you look the finest online – the effect is of such immense proportions that it has become a part of our identity.

Tim O’Reilly, one of the founders of Web 2.0 says “Many people concluded that the web was overhyped, when in fact bubbles and consequent shakeouts appear to be a common feature of all technological revolutions”. People need to have something new, something that really makes Internet different form everything else. Web 2.0 gives us the chance to address such limits by making everyone a publisher. It has made Internet, the biggest publishing platform ever made, and I doubt that’s about to change anytime soon. We don’t need to write codes or use sophisticated tools to make websites; content generated by anyone can easily go up on the Internet. Blogs have given us the power to have our online journal, where we put our thoughts and share with anyone we want to. We don’t need to have certification, or permission to express our views on politics, economics, and finance or even review products and make comments. Web 2.0 brings democracy to the world; everyone has the right to convey. Artists are no longer bound to have galleries, photography is not limited to exhibitions, writers do not always necessitate publishers – Web 2.0 is the place to express. This has increased the imaginative potential of millions of people around the world, who always wanted a platform for publishing. Kids with hidden talents who never got to express, or someone who was too shy to make an opinion public now has the power to do so. The technology has so much potential that even advertisement for US Presidential Elections, or opinion of VP of a company is also coming to these platforms. If compared to NEWS, such information on Web 2.0 might lack the polished feel, but is determined to give the true picture. Information available on Web 2.0 platform is not controlled by big companies or politicians, making it a better reflection of the proper story. Web sites like Wikipedia made the encyclopedia obsolete. Millions of articles on just about anything got published by the users for the users, making it the most fascinating encyclopedia ever made.

Videos, photos, write-ups, music or any other media can now be published by the end user. This also makes us discover things exactly of our own interest. The process has become so integrated with the way of life that many of us are actually posting without even using a computer. GPRS, EDGE, and new 3G networks brings more power to Web 2.0. Some sites support the ability to post articles, photos, and videos directly from the mobile phones; making the content on Internet rich, updated, and more practical. The technology has even grown to such standards that people are actually broadcasting live from their camera phones to their websites.

Another focus of Web 2.0 is bringing applications online. E-mail services on the Internet has made our lives easier, we don’t need to download everything all the time, and can always work with emails from anywhere. The photo and video sharing websites have started to give us such features too. The idea is to make information hardware independent. Such applications typically require little or no disk space, upgrade automatically with new features, and provide cross-platform compatibility. Imagine having programs like Microsoft Word being an Internet application. We can browse into the site, open the word processing program and work with it. Our files and information can be on the Internet, letting us open, edit or share our files practically from anywhere around the world. We will not be tied to our computers because of the need for access to basic desktop software. The value of Information simply becomes higher when it is more accessible, and that’s exactly what Web 2.0 wants.

Web 2.0 makes information itself the actual capacity of the Internet, not the software. This lets people discover that they can help themselves to solve problems and get information, Internet is only a platform. This in proper sense is not a technology that is different from the earlier version of Internet, rather a trend of how things work on the World Wide Web. It brings innovative approaches that offer new ways of building, deploying and using IT applications. The society of the digital natives as well as the digital immigrants is empowered by the value of Web 2.0. For countries like ours, the barrier still lies within the overall Internet speed of an average user. The digital immigrants still find it hard to see the needs of the digital natives. We need to make sure that more of us can connect and keep up with the global information highway by adding more bandwidth. The Web 2.0 enhancement is not just for making new possibilities but driven by the fact that it actually provides superior end user experience. It is a platform that is fueled by the users themselves, a technology that is here to stay and only grow bigger.

This post is a re-published version of my original article published in Financial Express BD in 2008.

Yes, We have created a new benchmark.

Posted in Life with tags , , , , , on March 2, 2009 by Saquib

He was temporarily posted to the BDR head quarters for one month period. Like many other officers, he was able to escape from the brushfire that initiated the killings at Pilkhana. But that’s just part of the story. He called the DGFI and the Army Head Quarters several times from his cell phone that day, saying he was still alive, hiding himself in an deserted building – he mentioned he has a wife who is three months pregnant, and he wanted to live for them, he wanted to be rescued. Hours turned into days, no one came to help.

Three days later his body was recovered. It had only one gun shot on his foot. He was buried alive. The eyes of the dead body were sticking out, as he had been suffocated to death. The body’s identity was nearly impossible to recognize, so it was taken to the hospital. His wife, who’s a doctor, confirmed it was the dead body of her husband. She broke down in tears as knowing her husband’s horrific death. The pregnant wife questioned if god made her go to med school so that one day she could identify her own husband’s dead body.

This is the story of one of those many bright army officers who were awfully murdered in this incident. We did nothing as they died a painful death – no one came to help them; in fact, there were people who initially questioned the integrity of the army officers.

In about twenty five years of my life, I have never felt as ashamed for being part of a nation. I am grieved, awfully disgusted, and speechless. Did we really live to see such a day come?  We today, have created a new benchmark for being such horrible human beings. I don’t know how to convey my feelings through words – I pray for their departed souls and I pray for their families.

Image Source: BBC