Middle East crisis to impact South Asia: Analysts, The Daily Star, October 13, 201113 October, 2011
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The Arab spring, evolving situations in Iraq and developments in Afghanistan have implications for the South Asian countries, said former Foreign Secretary Farooq Sobhan yesterday.
Sobhan, now president of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI), said a lot of happenings and developments are taking place across the Middle Eastern region, Egypt and Libya, and it may continue.
"We have keen interest in the Arab spring," he said while speaking at a discussion on Middle East: Economic Condition and Development, at the BEI office, where former Professor of Ankara University Turkkaya Ataov shared his analysis on Arab uprising.
Turkish Ambassador in Bangladesh Vakur Erkul, who was also present, said Turkey sits astride the peninsula joining two continents of Asia and Europe.
"We have one foot on the east and the other on the west," he said, adding that the country gets affected by the ramifications of the happenings developments surrounding it.
He said his country is ready to help the Middle Eastern countries to establish democracy and democratic processes.
Prof Ataov said events of global significance are taking place in the Arab world, Horn of Africa and North Africa.
"People have begun to challenge established old orders in the world as a whole," said Ataov who authored almost 130 books.
The professor said the world economic crisis, rise in costs of basic foods and fall in remittances accelerated the uprising in Egypt, people of which toppled the country's long standing ruler Hosni Mubarak in 18 days.
"It was a popular revolt. It was for democratic reform, social justice and redistribution of wealth," he said, referring to the long time deprivation and impoverishment of the Egyptian during the Mubarak regime.
Citing protests in Greece and Spain, Ataov said the happenings in Egypt also inspired movements in other parts of the world. "People demand better life," he said.
He also warned that all kinds of fundamentalisms are on the rise. He said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not have any constitution as it follows the Quran. But what about human rights, he questioned.
Turkey ready to help M-E in establishing democracy, The Financial Express, October 13, 201113 October, 2011
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Turkish ambassador in Dhaka M Vakur Erkul said Wednesday that his country is ready to help some Middle East (ME) countries struggling to establish democracy.
"Democracy is not for any particular region or people of the globe. We (Turkey) respect the Middle East countries' people's struggle for establishing democracy. Turkey is ready to support the democratic process in the region," he told the media at a roundtable discussion in the capital.
Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) organised the roundtable on "Middle East: Economic Condition and Development" at the conference room of its office at Gulshan in the capital. President of BEI presided Farooq Sobhan presided over the roundtable.
Prof Turkkaya Ataov from Turkey as guest speaker in the roundtable said the evolving political situation in the Middle East and some other African countries is a challenge to the world.
"He (Mubarak) has established a ruthless state in Egypt that gave a momentum to Arab spring to some countries in Middle East (ME). During the rule of Mubarak, mass arrests were made and torture meted out to the anti-government protesters," he said.
He said Mubarak had endorsed Israel's attack on Gaza strip in 2008-09. The Egyptian revolution actually started in 2006 that finally led to the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak.
He said that what is happening in Egypt is important in the region (Middle East). It was popular revolution. Now the people of Egypt are demanding democracy, reforms and social justice.
He discussed the evolving situation in Yemen, Syria, Libya and Somalia.
"Gaddafi was also a dictator- but he did some good things for the people," he said.
He, however, said the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) cannot violate the Charter of the United Nations.
Prof Turkkaya Ataov strongly opposed all forms of fundamentalism.
"Christian fundamentalism is also one of the arms of new colonialism," he said adding that all kinds of fundamentalism are bad and all Muslims or Christians are not fundamentalists.
Farooq Sobhan said that the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Turkey are moving on the right path. The economic cooperation between the two countries is very important.
Prof Anwar Hossain, Editor of the Daily Sun, Chief Information Commissioner Mohammad Zamir and educationist Prof Selina Mohsin and vice-president of BEI M Humayun Kabir, among others, were present.
Article on Importance of Financial Literacy written by Mr. Farooq Sobhan, President, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, The Financial Express, October 11, 2011 11 October, 2011
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The importance of financial literacy is paramount in the age of the global financial crisis. Familiarity with the idea of saving and investing, and knowledge concerning shares, mutual funds, stock exchanges, and various forms of deposits can help a person face life's financial inconveniences more strongly than ever before. Sound financial literacy can not only help people at a personal level, but it will also benefit the nation as a whole resulting in a more efficient and flexible economy.
In order to achieve this dream, the general population -- especially the young people (i.e. students), should be educated at the secondary level about making strong financial decisions even before they actually are in a position to make them. However, this alone is not enough, as it needs to be complimented by a process which educates the teachers regarding the financial system and how one can benefit from a good understanding of it.
Bangladesh, among the many developing nations, has proved itself a strong competitor in the race towards globalisation. The country's economy has been mostly resilient to global turmoil, and the subprime crisis has left little impact on Bangladeshi markets as it was not too deeply involved with the world economy. Nevertheless, the capital market here is getting more and more integrated with the rest of the world, and it won't be long before another financial shock deeply hampers the performance of the country's economy. The formal Bangladeshi education system is composed of three mediums, English, Bengali and Arabic (Madrassa), where the scope of financial literacy is limited.
The education level of the country is still not in line with international benchmark; moreover, the number of students who drop out of school before completion of their secondary level studies is also relatively high compared to the region. Therefore, there is a dire need to implement a system whereby the young people of the country can learn more about the benefits of using their money more wisely.
One of the problems that Bangladesh faces comes in the form of the teachers at the secondary level not being educated enough themselves on the subject of educating youths about personal finances. Thus, before financial literacy among students can be considered, it is imperative that the teachers know more about the goals and challenges of enlightening the young people regarding the challenges they would face as they make multifaceted financial decisions.
The Commonwealth Finance Ministers meeting in Colombo in the year 2006, called upon the Secretariat to pursue work in the area of financial inclusion. This issue is relevant to most of the Commonwealth jurisdictions; the Secretariat's work focuses on small states and poor vulnerable economies. The overall objective of these initiatives is to foster economic growth. Such programmes aim to bring banking services to the "unbanked" and to develop financial literacy courses for improving the ability of individuals to act more astutely and make more informed financial decisions.
In 2007, the Commonwealth Secretariat successfully completed a programme in which the focus was to train the teenagers on how to manage their money. The Secretariat's financial literacy programme kicked off in the Caribbean, and over the last three years this project has educated young people about the benefits of using money more effectively. Since 2007 around 1,200 students in this region have benefitted from this project. More recently, the Secretariat has focused more closely on 'Train-Trainers' initiative which have reached trainers in 21 commonwealth countries throughout the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific.
Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) has extensive experience in working on issues relating to private sector development and in acting as a catalyst for bringing about policy reforms in Bangladesh. BEI through its ten years of research and advocacy experience has many success stories to its name. This includes donor mapping on skills development initiatives, business confidence survey, investment climate assessment, media diversification and liberalization, trade and investment, research on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), civil services training programme (CSTP), corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, advocacy programme for the introduction of a Tax Ombudsman, introduction of guidelines on corporate governance by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) among others, where BEI's role was key in bringing about various policy reforms in Bangladesh.
In working on these issues, BEI has also established meaningful relationship with key opinion leaders and policy makers in the government and has established strong ties with elites in the private sector. As such BEI is in a unique position to implement this project and can play an important role in achieving the vision of Commonwealth Secretariat on Financial Literacy.
The objective of the project is to train high school teachers (English, Bengali and Arabic (Madrassa) medium) on issues related to savings, investment and protection against risk and to demonstrate how financial products can assist in doing so. The teachers would be then encouraged to disseminate the acquired knowledge to their students. This will be achieved by organizing 'Train the Trainers' workshops for teachers from the above mentioned three categories of schools with an overall objective to enable students to use financial information and resources in a more confident manner.
The writer is Mr. Farooq Sobhan, President, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, Dhaka. Mr. Sobhan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
BEI launches publication on state of terrorism, The Independent, 27 September 201127 September, 2011
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DHAKA, SEP 26:
Terrorism is a transnational crime and civic education is needed to counter it alongside raising awareness and sensitisation activities, experts said at a programme to release the publication ‘State of Terrorism in Bangladesh’ on Monday. Held at the conference room of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute in Gulshan, BEI president Farooq Sobhan chaired the programme.
Addressing as chief guest, Denmark’s ambassador to Bangladesh Dhaka Svend Olling said only the government’s initiatives at policy and operational levels are not enough to effectively counter radicalisation and terrorism but civil society, moderate religious groups and general public need to be actively involved alongside the government. He said the international community is supportive of government initiatives to strengthen law enforcement in Bangladesh and once it is implemented, the capacity of state machineries will be enhanced substantially in effectively combating terrorism.
An official of the National Security Intelligence said that the banned Islamist outfit Hizb-ut Tahrir Bangladesh is quite active in the country and the number of its members is increasing since it is the only outfit running with an ideology.
“Publications of HuT are very rich and we must read those publications to make counter-publications to effectively oppose the outfit,” he said. “Otherwise, the outfit will remain the most threatening point of concern for us as it is difficult to counter them operationally.”
He, however, said activities of Islamist militants are under control while the present government is also giving due emphasis on the need to counter terrorism.
Presenting the publication report, Faiz Sobhan said 81.6 percent of the 440 respondents said that terrorism was a threat to national security, while 33.4 percent indicated that Bangladesh is still a safe country.
About root causes of terrorism in Bangladesh, 68 percent identified wrong interpretation of Islam while 21.5 percent identified lack of democracy as the primary reason why militant outfits draw support in Bangladesh.
Madrasa edn has no direct link with militancy: Study, Daily Sun, 26 September 201126 September, 2011
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Madrasa education has no direct link with the rise of Islamist militant groups in Bangladesh but its age-old curriculum needs to be modernised, says a research report.
Another strategy paper on public information on intelligence agencies has suggested engagement of community people in preventing terrorist attacks and criminal activities, and thereby ending the culture of excessive secrecy and mistrust.
Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) on Sunday published the two strategy papers under “People Peace Building Programme” financed by Australia. We cannot link madrasa with militancy. There is no institutional connection [that those educated from there are all militants],” Humayun Kabir, senior research director of BEI, told the launching ceremony of the reports.
Presenting his paper, Kabir pointed out that some madrasa graduates took part in militant activities and Afghan War as did the secular educated people.
He also emphasised investment in improving infrastructure of rural madrasas alongside improving education.
Prof Golam Hossain of Government and Politics of Jahangirnagar University said there should be a serious study on madrasa education and its curriculum should be put in place as they were during its glorious days.
He ruled out the possibility of creating militants through madrasa education.
Editor of daily sun Prof. Dr Syed Anwar Husain termed the typical madrasa education “unconstitutional” in the light of article 17 which speaks of unitary education. “Either you delete the article or we make a unified education,” he said describing the madrasa education as nothing but general education that teaches people all aspects of education.
He expressed his conviction that madrasa teachers are not qualified enough to teach Islamic education.
Prof. Husain also appreciated the strategy paper on “Public Information: The Role of Intelligence Agencies” and said the government must look into suggestion that information must be shared with the people.
In the paper, Shahab Enam Khan, a teacher of International Relations at Jahangirnagar University, said intelligence sharing should not be seen as impediment to national security and there is a need to abolish the organisational politics of inter-agency non-cooperation.
BEI president Farooq Sobhan said there is a gap between intelligence agencies and general public. “Intelligence agencies alone cannot combat terrorism without the help of people,” he added.
Addressing as chief guest, Australian High Commissioner in Dhaka Dr Justin Lee lauded the role of government of Bangladesh in addressing terrorism and said Australia is pleased to cooperate with Bangladesh in this regard.