Nation this week

Thursday, January 11th, 2018


Stranger things

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court accepted the gazette notification on the disciplinary rules for lower court judges. Earlier on December 11, the government had issued a gazette notification on the disciplinary rules of the lower court judges preserving the president’s authority above all over them.

But on January 3, a five-member Appellate Division bench, led by acting Chief Justice Abdul Wahhab Miah, granted the disciplinary rules citing that the government issued the gazette “giving primacy to the opinions of the apex court at every stage.” Ex-Chief Justice S.K. Sinha, before his controversial departure without seeing out his tenure, was known to have favoured greater authority for the Supreme Court in the matter. These days though, it is hardly discernible as to who is looking out for the interests of the Supreme Court, indeed the entire judiciary, and who is not.


Shuffling her deck

Entering the last year of two consecutive terms at the country’s helm, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reorganized her cabinet as an exercise in putting her alliance leaders on notice. Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud, Rashed Khan Menon, Hasanul Haq Inu, have all seen their portfolios lose some shine, in some way or another, at least enough to get a message. Inu, whose rather unguarded comments in recent times on the coalition’s strength, will now have a state minister breathing down his neck at the Information Ministry – none other than Tarana Halim, who herself was shifted from Post, Telecom & ICT. One may recall Tarana’s bold promise, repeated a number of times, to launch the ‘Bangabandhu satellite’ on December 16 this year. That came and went with nothing in the sky to look up for, except the flags of Victory Day.

Anwar Hossain Monju and Anisul Islam Mahmud saw a straight swap in their portfolios, so that now you have Monju to fight for water, and Anisul Islam Mahmud for Sundarban. The new faces in the weekly cabinet meeting will be Keramat Ali, as state minister for TVET and madrasah education, renowned software engineer Mostafa Jabbar as the first full minister of the Post, Telecom & ICT Division, and Shahjahan Kamal, who takes over at Civil Aviation & Tourism from Workers Party boss Menon, bumped to Social Welfare.


Dearer and dearer Dhaka

According to the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), the cost of living for Dhaka residents has risen 71 percent over the period 2009–2016. This survey is based on a calculation of cost increases of 114 foodstuffs and 14 utility services (but does not include cost of education, health and daily travel).

CAB also tells us the rent value of a two-room concrete house/apartment used to be Tk 10,800 in 2009 but this had now risen to an average of Tk 19,700 in the year 2016 (a rise of 82.4 percent in less than a decade). The cost of per unit of electricity has risen nearly 93 percent, water bill has gone up by 56 percent and cost of public transport, on a per kilometre basis, has gone up by 45 percent. When we look at food inflation, prices have actually risen several times each year over this period. CAB also chart the meteoric rise in the price of rice in recent months,specifically coarse rice that has seen its price slapped on. And consider how the price is seen to have added Tk 12/kg (from Tk 23 to Tk 35) over the entire period from 2009-16, and yet in September wasted no time jumping Tk 11/kg  no time diye.


It was 2.6 °C in Tetulia

The lowest ever temperature recorded in Bangladesh, 2.6 degrees Celsius, was recorderd in Tetulia, as a severe cold wave in the northern districts peaked on January 8. Sources at the Bangladesh Meteorological Department’s Tetulia branch informed reporters that the lowest ever temperature was recorded at 8:38AM, just around the time things start getting busy on a weekday. BMD recorded Dhaka’s temperature at 9.5 degrees Celsius on the same day, which itself was the lowest in many years in the capital.

The cold wave swept over Rajshahi, Pabna, Dinajpur and Kushtia regions, and looked to be on its last legs as Dhaka Courier went to press this week. By then however, besides reducing normal day-to-day life to a crawl, it had also claimed 12 lives up north,  mostly children and the elderly.

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