Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Photo Meditation of the Month (March, 2010): THE SUNRISE

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Sunrise over some houses in Toronto
Photo (November 9, 2009) © Jerome D'Costa

The Sunrise

The sunrise brings light to the darkened world. It provides hope for another day. It gives life to the beings and organisms in this world. The sunrise is a good news for us all.

The sunrise gives direction to our daily life -- what to do in the morning, what in the afternoon and what at night. It keeps on the life-cycle going.

The feast of Easter (Jesus Christ's resurrection from death) is coming soon. It's like the sunrise in the life of Christians. It there weren't the death and resurrection of Jesus, there wouldn't be Christianity. Christianity starts with the resurrection of Christ. As every creature looks up to the sunrise for life and guidance, so the Christians look up to the resurrection for their direction. The sunrise and the resurrection are the similes.


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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Poem of the Month (March, 2010): WRITING


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'Writer's block' is a jargon used by writers. It is the situation of a writer, who, for some reasons, lose his or her ability to write -- that is, no writing is produced. There may be physical (health condition, busy schedule and so on) or psychological reasons for it. Writer's block can range from temporary to long-time. Accomplished writers may also suffer from this condition. Many writers can get over this situation and start writing again. There are few writers who can't get over their writer's block; they completely stop producing any more writing.

In the late 80's, I was facing a kind of 'writer's block' for a time due to busy schedules. At the time, after much coaxing from the editor, I produced the above poem in Bangla (Bengali) and it was published in Doel, a collection of mini-poems, in Dhaka. I provide below the English translation of it.

Writing

I want to write.
I will write.
I will definitely write.

But I can't write.
I just cannot write.
I cannot write at all.




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Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Quotation of the Week (March 28 - April 3, 2010)

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Brick chips in Mirpur, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Some slum-dwelling women and children chip
bricks for construction companies and make a living.

Photo (May 3, 1994) © Jerome D'Costa

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Some Muslims Attack Christians Over a Piece of Church Land in Bangladesh

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A mob of about 500 agitated Muslims physically attacked Catholics of Boldipukur Parish over a piece of land and left 50 aborginal Santal Catholics injured, 10 of them seriously, report CathNewsAsia and Asianews.

On March 20, Saturday, the pre-planned attack came when workers were constructing a wall on the Church compound adjacent to a Muslim high school. Aboriginal onlookers who gathered near the construction site became victims of this attack. Father Leo Desai, the parish priest, said that the attackers used sticks, bricks and knives. Father Silas Kujur, the assistant parish priest, who approached the site, was also injured.

For the last seven years, the land in question, although owned by the church, was claimed by the Muslim high school managing committee. Recently, the court gave a verdict in favour of the church. This enraged the Muslims, who, during Friday prayer gathering on March 19, agitated and gave slogans against Christians. The next day's attack followed this agitation.

Father Leo Desai, with help from a lawer sent by Bishop Moses Costa, CSC, of Dinajpur, filed complaints against the attackers. The police, though initially lethargic in preventing the attack, sprang into action later and looking for 17 Muslims who fled from their village.

Christ the Saviour Catholic Church in Boldipukur of Rangpur District, erected in 1951, has a Catholic population of over 3,500 -- most of whom are aboriginals.

It is noteworthy that another church land dispute with local mosque at Luxmibazar, Dhaka, resulted in Muslim mob attack on the Catholic church and school and two Protestant churches on April 28, 1998. The court in that case also had given verdict in favour of the church. Bookmark and Share

Muktijuddho (Bangladesh War of Independence) Posters Are Still Appreciated

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These and other posters were used during the nine-month long muktijuddho (Bangladesh War of Liberation) in 1971. The above posters are: First Row (left) -- Shoda Jagroto Banglar Mukti Bahini (The ever-vigilant freedom fighters of Bengal). The picture shows a male freedom fighter holding his firearm with determination; (right) -- "...Ebarer shongram shadhinotar shongram, rokto jokhon diecchi aaro rokto debo" ("...the struggle this time is for the independence; we have already shed some blood, we shall shed more blood in future"). The picture depicts Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who had told those fiery words during his historic speech on March 7, 1971 in Dhaka. Second Row (left) -- A courageous female freedom fighter holding her firearm and the writing says: Banglar maera meyera shokolei muktijuddha (Mothers and daughters of Bengal are all freedom fighters); (right) -- Banglar Hindu, Banglar Christan, Banglar Bouddho, Banglar Mussalman -- Amra shobai Bangali (Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims of Bengal -- We are all Bangalis (Bengalees). Third Row: A demon represents the evil forces of the then West Pakistan and the writing "Annihilate these demons" gives a clarion call to fight and exterminate those forces. This demon poster, done after the facial features of General Yahya Khan -- who had unleashed military forces on the Bangalis and people of other ethnic groups in East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) -- was drawn by renowned Bangali artist Qamrul Hassan.

Posters courtesy: http://maqtamin.wordpress.com/

Posters are used for a cause. That's why posters can be seen everywhere. They have been proven to be an effective medium to carry on the message.

Posters inform, educate and increase knowledge base of people. Posters can entertain people. These can awaken, inspire and motivate people, too. They can help mobilize public opinion.

Posters can also appeal to the emotions of people. They can work as an effective propaganda tool, too.

Posters can remind people of their responsibility and duty. Posters can call for making a greater sacrifice for a cause.

Posters also tell a story of a time -- that's what is history.

Posters played an important role during the Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971. They performed all the above-mentioned functions. That's why their role is still appreciated in the independent Bangladesh.

We, on this 39th anniversary of Bangladesh's independence, salute the creators of these posters. Although we don't know all the creators of the above and other posters in 1971, they have been a great service to the nation. May God bless them.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Today is the Independence Day of Bangladesh

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Jatiyo Smriti Shoudha (National Martyrs' Memorial) at Savar
near Dhaka memorializes the war dead of 1971.
It's the symbol of independence of Bangladesh.

Photo (Savar: November 19, 1986) © Jerome D'Costa

Today is the 39th anniversary of the independence of Bangladesh. On this day, Bangladeshis, within the country and without, fondly remember the independence of Bangladesh in 1971. They also pay their highest tribute to the three million dead and 200,000 girls and women who were raped by the West Pakistani armymen and their collaborators. They also salute the freedom fighters and millions of people who made immeasurable sacrifices in bringing about the most awaited independence.

In the last several decades, Bangladesh has come a long way as an independent country. Yet, much more also needs to be done to make Bangladesh a truly free, independent and secular country where there will reside the spirit of unity, solidarity and equality of all irrespective of their social status and political and religious beliefs. Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

US Healthcare Bill Passed, Shabash (Bravo) President Barack Obama!

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President Barack Obama has accomplished what other Democratic Presidents could not do in the last several decades. He got the legislation passed in the Congress on March 21 ensuring semi-universal healthcare for 95% of the Americans. President Obama signed this $938 billion healthcare bill on March 23.

Ultimately, the bill got passed in spite of bitter battle with the Republican politicians and their supporters who opposed the bill on these grounds: a) This new healthcare bill will increase the national debt and place the government in almost total control of healthcare system instead of the present private healthcare system. b) The legislation will increase taxes businesses and rich people. c) Taxpayers' money would be used for abortions.

One important feature of the bill is: About 95% of the Americans will have affordable medical insurance to meet their medical costs. Presently, only those, who can afford, have medical insurance with only private insurance companies. As a result, about 32 million Americans were deprived of their medical insurance due to their inability to pay for high insurance premiums.

This bill will benefit the lowest section of the society most. President Obama will go down in history as one of the great Presidents of the USA.

All the Republicans in the Congress opposed this bill en masse and they vowed to challenge this bill in the court of law.




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Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Quotation of the Week (March 21 - 27, 2010)

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Independence Day fireworks in Eugene, Oregon, USA
Photo (July 4, 1977) © Jerome D'Costa



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Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Photo Essay on the Lawachara National Park in Bangladesh

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The Lawachara (pronounced LAWA-CCHORA) National Park is one of several national parks in Bangladesh. It is eight kilometres (about five miles) east of Srimongal Town in the district of Moulavibazar. Its distance from Sylhet City is 60 kilometres (about 38 miles) to the south.

Established in 1996 with the US AID funding, this national park, with an area of 13 square kilometres ( five square miles), has about 160 plant species. It has hardwood trees --among them, chapalish, garjan, jarul, rokton and shejun or lohakat (teak) -- are noteworthy), bushes, creepers, and more than one-and-a-half dozen species of orchids.

Among 30 wild animal species, there are barking deer, capped langur (hanuman) -- a big monkey with large tail, dark brown deer (sambar), Himalayan black bear (also called sloth bear), Hoolock gibbon (ulluk) -- another type of monkey, Indian (or Himalayan) giant squirrel, jackal, leopard, macaque (a type of monkey in three species -- Assamese, pig-tailed, and rhesus), masked civet (a cat-like nocturnal animal), Phayre's leaf monkey, slow loris (a different type of monkey), tiger, wild cat (fishing cat as well as leopard cat), wild dog, wild boar, and yellow-throated marten (a kind of carnivorous weasel). So far, 246 species of birds have been found in this park. There are also a few types of reptiles and amphibian animals.

In the immediate neighborhood of this park live Bangalis and ethnic people of Khasia, Monipuri and Tipra. Encroachment on the park forest for habitation and firewood is an ongoing problem.

The Lawachara National Park can be reached in three ways: by plane (Dhaka to Sylhet), train (Dhaka to Srimongal) and bus (Dhaka to Srimongal). Different accommodations are available in Sylhet and Srimongal. The best time to visit the park is from the beginning of November to the end of March.

Ujjal Peter D'Costa had visited the Lawachara National Park in 2008. His photo essay below gives a glimpse of this park -- the one-hour trails or paths, different types of trees and plants, rail line, lake and people living in the neighbourhood.



















Photos (Lawachara National Park, Bangladesh: July, 2008) © Ujjal Peter D'Costa

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Extrajudicial Killings Are a Blot on Bangladesh

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The government terms it "crossfire killing" or "encounter killing," but opponents and human rights activists call it "extrajudicial killing." Whatever the name, the bottom line is: some Bangladeshis are getting killed in the hands of law-enforcing agency personnel without facing formal charges and judicial procedures. This process and this act is wrong and unlawful from any vantage point. This on-the-spot justice is against any law -- whether it is internal law of Bangladesh or international law and practices. This is gross violation of human rights.

March is the month when Bangladesh observes it annual Independence Day (March 26). This is the month that specially reminds us of all the injustices , atrocities, extrajudicial arrests and executions occurred in the then East Pakistan (which later became independent Bangladesh) under the auspices of the ruling elite of Pakistan between 1947 and 1971.

The country became independent to have all the rights restored to its people, but things did not turn out exactly as they should have been. The newly-independent Bangladesh took the easy way out to deal with some members of the opposition, criminal elements, and internal terrorists by resorting to extrajudicial killings. Under last several governments it has become a norm.

If the law-enforcement agencies are allowed to resort to such type of killing -- which is lawlessness -- how can others be expected to follow the law? Lawlessness breeds more lawlessness, injustice gives rise to further injustice. There's every likelihood of vendetta in these actions. Many times, innocent people may become victims to such actions.

Extrajudicial killings happen under a dictatorship, but Bangladesh is not a country of dictatorship. Yet, in reality, generations of law-enforcement agency people, politicians and young people are growing up knowing that extrajudicial measures can be taken when faced with bitter opposition and law-and-order situation. They will be the ones who will always try to take the easy way out in solving problems without resorting to national and international laws and practices. This practice can never bring peace and stability in a country.

We sincerely hope that in the 39th year of its independence, Bangladesh will reflect on its past policies and actions and give prominence to its citizens' human rights at the cost of difficulties. Respect for each person and each person's rights is the basis of freedom and independence. We hope that the govenment of Bangladesh will erase this blot from the face of of this beautiful country.

Extrajudicial Killings: Some Facts, Analyses and Opinions

To have an idea of the situation, following blogs and websites may be visited:

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Photo Essay on St. Patrick's Day Parade in Toronto -- 2

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Here's more photo-coverage of St. Patrick's Day Parade in Toronto:

Photo © Jerome D'Costa

Photo © Jerome D'Costa

Photo © Jerome D'Costa

Photo © Jerome D'Costa

Photo by Shouvik Mikhail D'Costa

Photo by Shouvik Mikhail D'Costa

Photo by Shouvik Mikhail D'Costa

Photo by Shouvik Mikhail D'Costa

Photo © Jerome D'Costa

Photo by Shouvik Mikhail D'Costa

Photo © Jerome D'Costa

Photo © Jerome D'Costa

Photo © Jerome D'Costa

Photo © Jerome D'Costa

Photo © Jerome D'Costa

(The End)
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Photo Essay on St. Patrick's Day Parade in Toronto -- 1

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The downtown Toronto today was awash with the green and thousands of people converged there in festive mood. It was the 23rd annual St. Patrick's Day parade, an important festivity of the people of Irish origin. St. Patrick's Parade Society organizes this event honouring St. Patrick, a Catholic saint who is also the patron of Ireland. Although St. Patrick's Day officially falls on March 17, his feast day in the Catholic calendar, the parade is held on the previous Sunday.

Mississauga (a township of Toronto) Mayor Hazel McCallion, who herself is of Irish origin, was the Grand Marshall of this year's parade. Mr. Declan Kelly, the ambassador of Ireland to Canada, was also present in the parade.

More than a dozen colorfully decorated floats, marching bands and dancing troupes took part in the parade. People of Irish origin as well as non-Irish ethnic groups enthusiastically participated in these festivities. Thousands of onlookers on both sides of the parade cheered them.

Irish-owned pubs and taverns were flowing with green beer and other alcoholic drinks. The Irish has a world-wide name for their drinking habits!

The Irish and their descendants in various parts of the world are fiercely proud of St. Patrick (around 387 - 493 AD), who converted pagan Ireland to Christianity. Although originally an Englishman from England, St. Patrick is considered an Irish because of his dedication in bringing the good news of Christ to the "uncivilized" Irish people. One interesting legend is still prevalent today that Ireland still does not have any snake on its soil because St. Patrick drove them away from there!

Why do the Irish and their descendants proudly use green colour during their festivities? This colour comes from the shamrock -- an Irish word for a kind of clover leaf -- with three leaflets. St. Patrick is famously known to have used shamrock while explaining the mystery of the Holy Trinity -- God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The flag of Ireland has three colours -- green (signifying the Catholics), orange (the Protestants) and white (the unity between the Catholics and Protestants).

Now let's have a look at various aspects of St. Patrick's Day parade in Toronto.


Photo (Toronto: March 14, 2010) © Jerome D'Costa

Photo © Jerome D'Costa

Photo by Mary D'Costa

Photo by Mary D'Costa

Photo by Mary D'Costa

Photo by Mary D'Costa

Photo © Jerome D'Costa

Photo © Jerome D'Costa

Photo © Jerome D'Costa

Photo by Mary D'Costa

Photo by Mary D'Costa

Photo © Jerome D'Costa

Photo © Jerome D'Costa

(To be continued)
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