August 07, 2008

Various stuff

Unfortunately, as many of you have figured out, my internet access is very limited at the moment and my time to blog is very limited indeed. So posts like this will unfortunately be the norm rather than the exception, about items that are of interest to me, but that I don’t have time to deal with at length.

Whither Central Bank Independence?

If a democratic polity hinges on an independent judiciary, then a free, prosperous economy hinges on an independent Central Bank, one that is supposed to look after the economy as a whole and not after the government’s fiscal interest.

Among bloggers, I think Saif@Addafication (whose lack of posts is a far greater loss to the Bangladeshi blogosphere than my current sojourn, but that’s another story) was the only one to have noticed it and asked us to keep an eye on it. Taking a cue from that post, I did try my best. Basically the Central Bank kept telling the commercial banks that their spread (difference between lending and deposit rates) were too high. Now that is basically the equivalent of the Potato-Eaters going around telling rice merchants that they are making too much profit.

Theoretically spreads/profits reflect the level of risk associated with any venture, and yes, in the real world that is not always the case. But while 99% of the population is dependent on the rice trade, how many are affected by the “spread”? Obviously there was something else at work here. Some of my friends mentioned that the big borrowers had gotten to Bangladesh Bank so they could refinance the loans they had taken out for bad investments.

Then the budget was announced and another angle came out. The government was going to be a big borrower this coming fiscal year. So why not pressure them to get the spread down and free up tax-money to spend towards other, worthier causes (say for instance, higher wages for civil servants? Trust me: the savings aren’t coming back to the people’s pockets through tax cuts or rebates!). Central Bank independence? There is none and with good reason. Only a capitalist pig, IMF-driven, seditious, unpatriotic and possibly yaba-smokin’ Indian Agent like me could want it.

Waiting for the Star (with pre-emptive apologies from the tone-deaf)

Just a small note to readers that it has been a month and a half since we were privileged to engage in this space, Mr. Zafar Sobhan, the Assistant Editor of the Daily Star in charge of the Op-Ed page and Forum. Mr. Sobhan had suggested that I or some other reader should pen a piece refuting the lick-spittle propaganda piece by one Abdul “we-are-wallowing-in-press-freedom-you-ingrates” Hannan. To which my suggestion was that they should either get a professional journalist to do it or re-publish Rahnuma Ahmed’s op-ed on the matter. Which may or may not have been fair, but I’ll leave that up to my readers to decide. I will just mention that in the month and a half since, they have failed to do either. In that month and a half the op-ed page carried a piece on the prospects of World Government (honestly, I’m laughing out loud as I write this, even though I know this isn’t funny… but World Government?) In that month and a half, the irrelevant coverage of the US elections continued on the Op-Ed page instead of the International Page where it belongs. Truly the Daily Star and I, a BANGLADESHI citizen, share different priorities at this point.


Transit, gas blocks, terrorism. Those are some pretty heavy issues to talk about with an allegedly interim government. India’s jaundiced views of BNP and their lack of diplomatic engagement with a democratically elected (if noxious, but that’s OUR call to make) BNP government are well known. With that in mind, India’s willingness to engage with an undemocratic government over some of the key issues in our bilateral relations really sends all the right signals to Bangladeshis. Lets just say that I, for one, will be a bit less patient when I hear my Indian friends or their politicians drone on about their lofty democratic ideals vis a vis their Evil Twin. It was never Gandhi’s India. Now it seems that it is not even Nehru’s India anymore. This is the post-Emergency, “Emerging Markets” India. USA-lite the South Asian version. Not good for us. Not good for friendly relations in the long term. On a side note, the most important issue – water – doesn’t seem to be on the agenda according to the reports I’ve seen.
(Since I started writing this, there have been more killings of Bangladeshis by the Indian Border Security Force. A separate post on that is forthcoming. Yes, within the week!)

Nizami gets bail

How does he do it? How does Jamaat do it? What magical powers do they have in an independent Bangladesh that they didn’t have in occupied Bangladesh in 1971? How do they manage to walk between the raindrops when it’s pouring like an unforgiving আষাঢ় day?
And how do the Utterly, Unquestioningly Patriotic Sector live with this outcome? Jyoti bhai tells me that Jamaat expressed disappointment at its own lack of following inside the Patriots’ Club. If so, then why are we seeing this? Are the hands of Most Disciplined Force tied?

Honestly, some answers would be good. My philosophy has always been to follow the money/arms trail. Who funds Jamaat? Not from the powerless inside, but from the powerful outside. Maybe that’s where we should be looking for answers.

I would like to end by mentioning a small, unnoticed punch to the nose of all anti-Hindu bigots out there. Alok Kapali’s century may have gone in vain, but it proves once again – if further proof were needed – where the loyalties of Hindu Bangladeshis lie. If only bigots relied on proof…


Anonymous said...

"Who funds Jamaat? Not from the powerless inside, but from the powerful outside. Maybe that’s where we should be looking for answers."

Islami bank-- the largest FI in BD

Ibne- Sina


I don't even know how many other JI affiliated outfits there are in the profit sector. They are all 'transparent' 'tax-paying' 'socially responsible' business ventures led/funded/governed by JI. I've always liked to believe that the start up capital came from our friends in Saudi (and not India's evil twin).

What're your thoughts?!!

Oh and good to see you rambling again!!!

Rezwan said...

Good post Asif and Fariha, you are spot on.

Anonymous said...

Jamaat is the one and only democratic, qualified, modern political party for Bangladesh

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