Kazi Nazrul Islam (24 May 1899 – 29 August 1976)

Mohammad Omar Farooq’s translation in the Daily Star:

The power thrones of today represent devil’s affair,
the power-hungry monsters are busy playing there.
Don’t be afraid, O human soul! Don’t break down in tears!
The drunkard of the underworld won’t prevail much longer here.
With injustice and wrongs black-stained is his throne,
his sword is rusted with the curse of those oppressed.
Painting the sky dark-yellow, approaches the monsoon storm in full power,
the greedy ones are beguiled thinking, this is a beautiful twilight hour.
The fire they have spread around the world, now in its flame in turn,
like blazing fire, everywhere, these wretcheds will burn.

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Before The Storm by hr_raahat

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Tonmoy Das, 8, returns home from school. The local high school has already lost its playing field to the river and is itself at risk of being swallowed in days to come.

Arom Baria, near Ishurdi, Bangladesh, January 2014

Sarker Protick

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Dharamanarayan Dasgupta, 1986

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Frames from Sylhet. ( February 2013 )

Hope to go back to this city one day.

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Maiden, Jamini Roy, Bengali painter


Your Clothes Are Making Indian Cotton Farmers Commit Suicide

In the same month that 125 Bangladeshi fabric workers died in a factory fire, a film aiming to expose the tragedy of unrestricted globalized fashion called Dirty White Gold reached its Sponsume target of £18,000(about $27,000). The film begins by examining the hundreds of thousands of Indian cotton farmers who, saddled with economic hopelessness, have taken their own lives. It’s a jolly little piece. 

A Center for Human Rights and Global Justice report describes the root of the problem: At the turn of the millennium, Indian farmers who had been given access to a wider range of products after India’s market liberalization started buying genetically modified Bollgard Bt cotton seeds from the Gates Foundation-backedMonsanto corporation. The seeds were able to resist and kill the common American Bollworm cotton pest, making them an instant hit, with 85 percent of cotton grown in India being Monsanto-controlled Bt cotton by 2009.

However, the seeds were expensive, and spiralling prices (coupled with planting restrictions from the multinationals selling the seeds) led to farmers approaching money lenders for hefty loans that eventually turned into unmanageable debt. Almost 300,000 cotton workers have committed suicide to date, some of them by drinking the same insecticides they were sold by multinationals. And those suicides also bring up wider questions about the ethics of the fashion industry as a whole, in that this cotton is used in the clothes that end up absolutely everywhere. 

India’s embrace of the free market opened the floodgates for international money and, perhaps predictably, the corporatization of agriculture vanquished the need for the small-to-medium scale farmers who used to own and control the productive process. For roughly 100 rupees per day (about $1.80), these people are now contracted to spread toxic insecticides and fertilizers, often with little or no protective clothing. I called up the director ofDirty White Gold, London-based journalist Leah Borromeo, to see if the situation could possibly get any more depressing. 

Leah Borromeo interviewing Hanuman, an indebted cotton farmer

VICE: Hi, Leah. How far along into the film are you at the moment?
Leah Borromeo: Some days I feel like I’m a quarter of the way done, and other days I feel like I’m only an eighth of the way done. It’s going to be out in 2014, toward the end of summer. I’ve got a deadline, so I’m trying to get everything done by then, but I can’t rush nature—quite literally, in this case.

What made you want to work on this topic in particular?
I was doing it as a straightforward magazine article, but I ended up bringing a camera with me and found so many stories within that surface story. Then I found there was a real, genuine chance to express globalization, capitalism, consumerism, and all the wider political and social arguments through the medium of this story.

Yeah, you could look at it as a single issue, but obviously the problem is vast, and arguably a consequence of global capitalism.
It embodies absolutely everything. Fashion is the one piece of art that people tend to consume either consciously or unconsciously. The two best foils for relating to consumerism are through food or fashion. Food is quite a niche thing, because not everybody eats meat, but everybody—for the most part—seems to wear clothes.


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Sylheti Nagari

The original script of the Sylheti language is now considered almost extinct, and the Sylheti spoken language has been reduced to the status of “dialect”. Although known to have a rich history of literature, during the Liberation War of 1971, all printing presses that printed any literature in this language were destroyed and this writing system stopped being used. After the Bangladeshi people fought so hard for their country’s independence against the Pakistani rule, and the right to have Bengali as their official mother tongue, it was decided upon victory that the country of Bangladesh would be united under one language: Bengali. This led to the Sylheti language slowly being used less and less, and is now considered “a non standard form of Bengali”. Perhaps in a few hundred years, with barely any written literature to keep the language alive, and children all being taught “standard” Bengali as part of school curriculum,  the spoken Sylheti language will join it’s written script counterpart and die out. I certainly hope not, I think the Sylheti language is beautiful. 

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Remembering the past: Bangladeshi fighters for Palestine of the 1980s

By Yaza al-Saadi, Al-Akhbar

A photograph and a grave. These are two relics of a time, now mostly forgotten, of when thousands of Bangladeshis came to Lebanon in the 1980s as volunteers and fighters for the Palestinian cause. They were no less important in the struggle for Palestinian liberation than others, and their stories deserve to be remembered.

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A never issued Bangladeshi stamp from 1980 depicting a Palestinian freedom fighter


A never issued Bangladeshi stamp from 1980 depicting a Palestinian freedom fighter


Sarker Protick’s Of River and Lost Lands

It’s called Ishurdi. It means ‘where God stays,’” Sarker Protick says as he tells me about the district in Bangladesh where he’s been photographing his latest project Of River and Lost Lands.

Protick, a lover of rivers and an admirer of “good old American road trip-style photography,” began wandering the length of the Padma river, starting in the north and traveling from district to district towards his home in Dhaka. But when he arrived in Ishurdi district, his plans changed. Something about its landscape haunted him. “In previous places that I had been the land wasn’t that high from the river. Here [in Ishurdi] it was very high, and at the edge of the river the land ended suddenly. It felt like it wasn’t finished properly. That particular area was almost deserted. It all seemed strange, not quite right.”

(Continue Reading)

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The Shiva Temple at Puthia
Puthia Temple Complex of Bangladesh - wikipedia

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Monsoon in Dhaka, Bangladesh. 

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