... daniel brett ...
dan nakhoda mosque victoria memorial hall durga puja howrah bridge political graffiti second hooghly bridge taxis and buses dakshineshwar kali temple  

london and kolkata

: birthplace :

: profession :
editor, writer

: married :
sanjukta ghosh
27 July 2001

: politics :
radical centre

: religion :
brahmo samaj

: my websites :
main website
indian initiative

shabuj neer
tibetans in india
phoebe, saturn's moon

dan's young fabian campaign

: friends :
relatives :
thorn gent family
coco-loco music
jamie oliver
martyn's booksurfer

: other blogs :
rezwan of bangladesh
rifat of bangladesh
notes from france
jyotsna kamat
doctor vee
tales from the woods
dead men left
saucerful of secrets
lenin's tomb
aqua the dreamer
indian in england
anita bora
reluctantly freaky
bob piper

: links :
kamat's potpouri
al jazeera
z magazine

: site feed :

: email :

: archives :
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004

Daniel Brett weblog

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Thursday, August 26, 2004


Today Mark Thatcher, the son of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, was arrested in South Africa in relation to the alleged coup plot against President Obiang, the dictator of the oil rich state of Equatorial Guinea. The plot is alleged to have involved 70 mercenaries led by former SAS commander who are currently being held in Zimbabwe. A number of names and companies have come to the fore in the media in relation to the alleged plot. I have tried to put together the nature of the relationships between those in the spotlight in a flow chart, shown below. It can also be downloaded in a better quality pdf format by clicking here - 17kb in size.

The linkages should not imply any involvement in the alleged plot. But bear in the following facts:

TotalFinaElf, a French oil company, withdrew from Equatorial Guinea two years ago.
TotalFinaElf is a major investor in Gabon.
Gabon and Equatorial Guinea are in dispute over ownership over the oil-rich Mbagne island.
Gabon was alleged to have backed a coup attempt against Obiang in December.
France was alleged to have given indirect support to Gabon.
The EU has cut off aid relations with Equatorial Guinea.
Peter Mandelson has personal ties to Ely Calil, who is implicated in the alleged coup plot.
Peter Mandelson has recently been made European Commissioner for Trade.
Equatorial Guinea's main ally is the United States.
The US views Equatorial Guinea as key to its attempt to diversify its source away from OPEC countries.
US companies have monopolised Equatorial Guinea's oil sector since TFE's withdrawal.

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Monday, August 23, 2004


There are 36 jobs advertised on the Working for an MP website today. Sixteen of them are unpaid, four of which are advertised by the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties and the rest by "think tanks". These "jobs" are known as "internships", an idea imported from America - the source of all ideas in British politics - in which people work for nothing in the hope of earning big bucks in the future. Seven other jobs listed pay less than 20,000 per annum, which I believe is the minimum salary you can live on in London.

What kind of person would take up such demanding unpaid or low-paid work? Someone seeking a political career. What kind of person can afford to live on nothing in London? Someone with rich parents - probably middle-class and white. If political parties truly believed that society should be "a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few", as it says in the rewritten Clause Four of Labour's consitition, they should give their own employees a wage that meets their basic needs.

The W4MP website is indicative of the problems with the British political system: it is not meritocratic, it is not representative of the ordinary people and it exists to give career opportunities for a privileged few.

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Friday, August 20, 2004


It has been a year since I posted my first post to this blog - this is the 121st post. It was probably the most dangerous thing I have done since it resulted in an angry reaction from an employee of the North Korean government and a bit of hate mail from members of the Korean Friendship Association, a rump of Stalinist nerds. I didn't fancy my chances against a state that engages in kidnap, drug smuggling and illicit arms sales, so I removed the post.

The earliest post you'll find on here was posted on 25 August and related to the WTO and fair trade. Back then, the blog pages were a vile combination of yellow, orange and brown, giving the site the appearance of an incontinent Buddhist monk's underwear. There was no comment option and no identity to the blog. I wasn't a particularly enthusiastic blogger and it was a month before I posted my second article, on AIDS in Africa. But by October, I was ranting and raving about Tony Blair and the blog became an exercise in catharthis.

At the end of October, I left my job and the UK for India. I spent much of November travelling, visiting the eastern Himalayas and the arid tribal state of Jharkhand, so I stop posting for over a month. In December, I settled back at home in Kolkata. I signed up for broadband access following a visit by a 420-style Dishnet employee (the British would call him an aspiring yuppy) and was able to give an account of my travels - with pictures.

Then came my observations on the Indian elections, articles on Swaziland's famine and Tibetan sweater sellers as well as the odd moan about mosquitos, the hot weather and extra-terrestrials.

In February, I started a couple of spin-off blogs. I set up Tibetans in India, to archive news relating to Tibetan exiles living in India. Prompted by my disgust with Kolkata's hideous levels of air pollution and poor waste management, I launched Shabuj Neer to archive news on the city's environment. Despite its bland appearance, Shabuj Neer is the most popular blog I have run, with dozens of subscribers from the oil and petrochemicals industry. A couple of months later, I published a website the track the Cassini-Huygens fly-by of Saturn's moon Phoebe and used blogger to post the latest news on the mission. On the day of the fly-by, 12 June, I recorded over 130 hits.

By May, I was back in the UK, having said goodbye to the heat, noise and vibrancy of Kolkata and hello to the UK's dreary greyness and boring conservatism.

The blog still has no particular identity or cult following; it remains a place for me to vent by subjective opinions. I've had to accept that I will never be happy with the design of the blog - the funkier I make it, the long it takes to download. The introduction of a comments box has helped interactivity and, despite my fears, has not resulted in abusive flame wars. Perhaps I should update it more often, but I don't have the time or energy for daily posts. I prefer to post articles that have a bit of depth and some research, rather than accounts detailing the contents of my stomach or my adventures in facial hair.

There has been some discussion of my politics. So, to confirm where I am on the political compass: I am a libertarian centrist; in India I support the Congress party, in Britain I am a floating voter somewhere on the centre-left. I will drink a pint with anyone who is not a Conservative, Blairite or Hindutvadi. I like to think I am a tolerant person, but I have an innate dislike of Christianity.

I like: my wife, Italian food, science fiction, growing herbs, anything Arabic, occupying buildings, navratam korma, digging up bramble, listening to Nuzrat Fateh Ali Khan, wearing kurtas, the concept of real ale and - for some absurd reason that escapes me - Anne Widdecombe.

I hate: authority, early mornings, that utterly banal Loose Women programme and most daytime British television programmes, bureaucracy, Tony Blair, Conservative councillors, the Daily Mail and fashion.

I have categorised the most popular and most linked to posts on my blog, along with a couple of my personal favourites.

Indian politics

For the British, democracy is boring. For the Indians, it is cricket - examining why a population with high levels of illiteracy takes elections more seriously than the Mother of Democracies.

India shining for the few - a critique of the Indian government's India Shining campaign, which highlighted the growing inequalities under the right-wing BJP-led government.

Why not Sheila? - In which I predicted an electoral disaster for Congress (I turned out to be completely wrong, like most political pundits in India) and suggested the leadership pass to Sheila Dikshit, the Chief Minister of Delhi. In fact, Sonia Gandhi did relinquish the leadership of Congress after winning the elections and passed power to Manmohan Singh, the architect of India's economic liberalisation programme.

Laughing at Laloo, the Raja of the jungle - an examination of the life and politics of Laloo Prasad Yadav, the crime kingpin of Bihar who is now Railways Minister in the Congress-led government.


The Poverty Industry - my most-linked to post, which prompted discussions, condemnation and praise in a number of other South Asian weblogs.

Liberal white supremacy - an attack on Western perceptions of poverty in India.

India is sending Bangladesh to a watery grave - an examination of the effects of India's river-linking project on the Bangladeshi economy.

British politics

Why I am against Bloggers Against Fascism - which led to a lively discussion, including an intervention by Liberal Democrat MP Richard Allen, which continued on other blogs.

What is a greater threat: Jihadism or Islamaphobia? - arguing that Islamaphobia is a greater problem for British society than Islamic extremism, an article that was linked to by many other bloggers.

Are Muslims the new Irish? - a comparison between the British state's infamous anti-terror tactics of the 1980s and today's domestic war against Islamic extremism.

Taxing liberties: taxing fat - a critique of the government's fat tax, which was received with widespread approval.

In defence of graffiti - mixed reactions to this defence of the world's oldest form of street culture.

A crusade in Sudan? - urging an African solution - not a US/UK invasion - to the crisis in Darfur.


Crying over pink milk - a popular post on alternatives to cows milk, including why yak's milk is pink and the nutritional qualities of whale and camel milk.

The American invasion of Mars - a critique of plans to terraform the red planet.

The tyranny of txt - mobile phone texting is the enemy of free thought and decent conversation.

The Good and Bad of Britain and The Good and Bad of India - two posts written just before I left India, which gave a list of the best and worst aspects of both countries.


South Asia

Rezwan's Third World View - an award-winning blog from Bangladesh, in which Rezwan - based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Rezwan gives his thoughts for the day and an insight into life in this under-developed but culturally rich country.

Close your eyes and try to see - by Rifat, another Bangladesh-based blogger, who this week wrote an interesting article on Bangladeshi attitudes to imperialism.

Notes from France now from India - Sukanya is a Bengali who began this blog when she moved to France last November. But she has since returned to India, so Sukanya and I have never been on the same continent. She gives her slightly eccentric but always amusing take on life

Jyotsna Kamat - an academic and broadcaster specialising in history and ancient literature, who uses her blog to publish articles on anthropology which I find highly interesting.

Anita Bora - India's blogging rani.

What happened to Jivha the Tongue?


Indian in England - Indian phd student Chindu gives his hilarious observations on life in Bournemouth, from his surprise that the erstwhile conservative British will not miss an opportunity to snog in public to his theory that British imperialism is caused by boring conversation. He is studfying

Lenin's Tomb - "Lenin" is unusual as he is both highly articulate and is a member of the Socialist Worker Party(!). I don't always agree with him, but he is definitely one of my favourite bloggers.

Dead Men Left - Another clever left-wing blogging commentary.

Doctor Vee - A self-effacing Scottish Liberal Democrat who always has an eye for interesting personality quizzes and looks like he could be related to the singer Fish. No offence, I like Fish.

Councillor Bob Piper - a left-leaning Labour councillor for Sandwell and perhaps the blogging community's most favourite councillor. He must be a great optimist as he can actually see life after Blair.

Clive Soley - One of Britain's four blogging MPs. Representing Ealing Acton and Shepherds Bush, Clive is a veteran Labour MP who takes the feedback on his blog seriously, even when he receives angry tirades. He's the opposite of Tom Watson, the original blogging MP who uses his weblog as a way of vilifying Liberal Democrats and those he accuses of being Liberal Democrats. Soley's blog is more thoughtful than Watson's childish posturing, but somehow Watson receives more public attention - and awards.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2004


After interrogating them for two weeks under the Terrorism Act while preventing them from having contact with the outside world, eight British Muslims have been charged with offences under the Criminal Law Act 1977. Three of these were also charged under the Terrorism Act for possession of plans of commercial buildings in New York and extracts from handbooks which contained information on radioactive and chemical devices. One other was charged with possessing an illegal weapon, two were rearrested on suspicion of other offences unrelated to terrorism and two were freed without charge.

I find the charges highly suspicious. Was there any need for the police to hold suspects for the maximum time allowed under the Terrorism Act to establish sufficient grounds for these charges, which relate to articles found during raids on their properties? Were these men tortured? Were the charges made under political pressure to show a breakthrough in the domestic "war on terrorism" after months of attacks on poor intelligence related to Iraqi WMDs and the small number of people charged and prosecuted under the Terrorism Act?

Don't think I am a conspiracy theorist. Falsification of evidence, torture and political interference in due process were aspects of the British state's war against the IRA. Why should tactics in the war against the new terrorist enemy be any different?

Also, consider the charges. I have plenty of material relating to the Zapatista insurgency, which I used for my Masters thesis on the Mexican state of Chiapas. Could I be charged with possession of terrorist-related literature?

Ask yourself whether anybody who has downloaded articles written by those engaged in revolutionary politics - whether Islamist ideologies or Marxist - and who has a street map of Manhattan can be stitched up with the spurious charge of possessing "information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism". A combination of innocent and unrelated documents - including weapons plans, which are freely and legally available - could amount to "conspiracy to commit a public nuisance". There are plenty of right-wing gun enthusiasts who enjoy collecting information on weapons. But possessing information does not imply intent - unless the documents contain plans for terrorist attacks, which does not appear to be the case with the nine men charged today. This worries me as it can allow the state to interrogate and imprison innocent people on circumstantial evidence.

I don't pretend to know the details of the Terrorism Act and cannot presume the innocence or guilt of terrorism suspects. But I do know that some of these men's non-Muslim neighbours have gone on the record as saying that they were good people dedicated to their families' welfare. What good father or husband would use their home as a terrorist base, putting their families at danger?

I also know that none of these men are high-profile Islamic extremists, like the hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza who is facing a fast-track extradition to the US at the behest of the Bush administration. The US request is based on "evidence" gathered from a detainee at Guantanamo Bay through the use of torture and other degrading treatment.

We have opaque laws that give the police and Home Secretary unprecedented powers of arrest and detention, but none of the safeguards needed to prevent the kind of abuse of power used in the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four cases, in which false evidence and torture was used to prosecute innocent people for IRA bomb attacks.

This police operation against Muslim familymen stinks. While the government insists on suspending human rights to wage its war against members of a minority community, we all have a right to be suspicious. Unless the Terrorism Act - and similar draconian legislation - is repealed, we can never be sure of the guilt of those prosecuted. And we can never feel safe as we could be the next facing terrorism charges simply for possessing information.

Terror police accused of abuse - The Guardian
Cage Prisoners - serving the caged prisoners in Guantanamo Bay
Campaign Against Criminalising Communities

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Sunday, August 08, 2004


The way the Blair government's anti-terrorism legislation is being used against the Muslims is strikingly similar to the way Thatcher's Prevention of Terrorism Acts were used against the Irish.

Of the 7,000 Irish held under Thatcher's legislation, only a fraction were ever brought to trial. In some high-profile cases, the police forced confessions out of innocent Irish people through the use of torture. They could do this because anti-terrorism legislation allows suspects to be held for days without access to a lawyer. The legislation was used to intimidate, humiliate, harrass, alienate and terrorise Britain's Irish community.

Now anti-terrorism legislation is being directed indiscriminately at British Muslims. Of the 600 people arrested under anti-terror legislation between September 2001 and July 2004, only 90 were charged and 12 convicted. Blair's treatment of the Muslims is no different from Thatcher's treatment of the Irish: they are the enemy within and their identity alone automatically makes them suspects, even if there is no evidence of their involvement in terrorism. The police term this "racial profiling".

One of those arrested in the latest anti-terrorism raids, Babar Ahmad, was previously interrogated by police in December 2003. Ahmad was held for seven days in solitary confinement, during which time the police inflicted more than 50 life-threatening injuries and subjected him to psychological abuse. Despite taking DNA samples, searching his property and beating him to a pulp, the police found no evidence to charge him. His latest arrest is at the behest of the American government, which wants to extradite him - perhaps to face trial by the secret military courts in the Guatanamo Bay concentration camp.

Foreign Muslims living in Britain who are suspected of terrorism get far worse justice than their British brothers. Currently, thirteen foreign Muslims are currently being detained indefinitely without trial at London's notorious Belmarsh jail under anti-terrorism legislation. The government had to opt out of the European Convention on Human Rights in order to pass the detention measures.

Not content with the sweeping powers awarded to the police and the Home Secretary under the current anti-terrorist legislation, there are proposals for yet more draconian legislation. These include: the use of phone taps as evidence in court; intensive surveillance of terror suspects after release; new "civil restriction orders" - such as curfews or tagging - to limit the activities of people thought to be linked to terrorism, but not considered "serious" suspects. In effect, the government would have the legal right to snoop, intern, curfew and electronically tag the entire Muslim population, on account of them being merely suspected of involvement in terrorism.

The British population, whipped up into a frenzy of Islamophobic hysteria by the right-wing media, may not care that their Muslim compatriots are being treated in this way. But such legislation is an attack on everyone's liberties. And isn't liberty the value the war on terrorism is supposed to protect?

The fact that the police and the government want to suppress media coverage of their "anti-terrorism" activities should ring alarm bells in everyone's heads.

Stop Police Terror

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004


The Keep Britain Tidy group seems determined to transform the UK into an authoritarian, Singapore-style society. Its latest crusade is against graffiti - not just the scrawl known as tagging, but the use of graffiti-style artwork in popular culture.

"It's impossible to turn on the TV these days without seeing an advert where graffiti is being used to make a product look 'edgy'" said Sue Nelson, Assistant Chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy. "Then there are pop stars such as Christina Aguilera who fill their videos with graffiti images, to convince you they're in touch with the streets. While it might look cool from their ivory tower, in the real world, all graffiti does is add to the sense of squalor and makes people feel unsafe."

In a near-hysterical press release, Nelson condemned graffiti as "evil" (putting it on a par with the Axis of Evil) and called on the government to ban the sale of spray paints. She even railed against councils that set aside walls for graffiti artists, saying: "Graffiti is crime it's as simple as that and giving someone a wall to write on is like giving a burglar a house full of goods to practice breaking and entering."

This presupposes some malicious or greedy intent by graffiti artists, when in fact they are gaining nothing for their art and mean to harm no-one. Scott Burnham, Creative Director of Manchester's Urbis museum, rightly states that "Street artists don't aim to destroy - they aim to create." Yet, some graffiti artists have been given longer jail terms than child abusers. But the Keep Britain Tidy group's press release commends the actions of North Lanarkshire councillor, ex-cop and self-confessed vigilante David McKendrick, who was celebrated for spraying paint over the head of a teenager he accused of vandalism - an act of assault, according to the laws McKendrick was once employed to uphold. So, Keep Britain Tidy is supportive of rough justice and violent vigilantism, but finds Christina Aguilera's album covers offensive.

Graffiti can be much more than mindless doodling - although it is true that most inner-city graffiti is simply the unedifying scrawl of teenage vandals marking out gang territory. Much of what we know about life in the Roman city of Pompeii, which was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, is due to grafitti: everyday Latin, insults, magic, love declarations, humour, political slogans.

Here are some examples I have taken from the book "As the Romans Did" by Jo-Ann Shelton:

"I don't want to sell my husband."
"Let anyone who invites me to dinner prosper."
"Let him who loves, prosper. Let him who loves not, perish. And let him who forbids others to love, perish twice over."
"Lovers, like bees, lead a honey-scented life."
"Nothing lasts forever. After the sun shines brightly, it sinks into the ocean. The moon which was recently full, wanes. A strong wind often becomes a gentle breeze."
"His neighbours urge you to elect Lucius Statius Receptus duovir with judicial power. He deserves the position. Aemilius Celer, his neighbour, wrote this. If you spitefully deface this sign, may you become very ill."
"Elect Gaius Julius Polybius aedile. He supplies good bread."
"The petty thieves urge you to elect Vatia aedile."
"Let anyone who opposes the election of Quintus go sit by an ass!"
"I have a head cold."
"Albanus is a bugger."
"I screwed many girls here."
"Atimetus got me pregnant."
"I am amazed, o wall, that you have not collapsed and fallen, since you must bear the tedious stupidities of so many scrawlers."
"This is no place for idlers. On your way, loafer."

And, tell me, how bland would Kolkata be without political graffiti? It would be a far less colourful place.

Are Belfast's murals not a part of Northern Irish culture, something which can tell us about the history of the Troubles and religious sectarianism? Why is it that Peace Line Tours, a Northern Irish tour company, does so well out of taking tourists to the house-sized paintings which Keep Britain Tidy would have white-washed?

Yes, some bad grafitti can be unpleasant, but it is only a crime if it is done on property without the consent of the owner. As one graffiti artist said, "When graffiti is decriminalized it is no longer "graffiti". It is just art on a wall - which can be cool but it's not graffiti ... Illegal graffiti separates artists from the real writers, who risked it all time and time again to create it." Don't let the Blairite police state start banning its use in popular culture.

Here is my attempt at a tag, using Graffiti Creator:

Art Crimes - Writing on the Wall
Opinions of Graffiti Advocates
Northern Ireland Murals from Peace Line Tours
More Belfast Murals from Ireland's Own website

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Last weekend was spent rushing between stages with press cards in hand at the Cambridge Folk Festival. The festival always manages to challenge popular assumptions about folk: beards, sandals, stomachs, sun-burn, fingers firmly wedged in ears, meandering soul-searching ballards sung in an irritating nasal tone. The festival organisers continued to push the boundaries of folk in the fortieth festival held last weekend.

Acts such as reggae super-star Jimmy Cliff, Neil Hannon's quirky Divine Comedy, seventies rock singer and gay rights crusader Tom Robinson, gospel legends Dixie Hummingbirds, the flourescent Balkan surrealist rap
group Horace X and Latin groove sensation Amparanoia performed alongside more traditional, but no less entertaining, artists. Described as the "Jimi Hendrix of the accordion" but without the lighter fuel, Sharon Shannon delivered fast-paced Irish music with a twist of other musical influences. She teamed up with the award-winning Michael McGoldrick Band for the last act of the weekend, delivering a blistering musical assault of uilleann pipes, Indian tablas and flutes.

Other bands on stage one included political folk-rock group the Levellers, performing an acoustic set and generating the only boo of the weekend which was directed against the Iraq War rather than the band. When the mild-mannered Cambridge Folk Festival attendees start booing Tony Blair, you know he must be in trouble. My wife Sanjukta fell in love with Mark Chadwick. Beth Orton managed to raise a few laughs with her off-beat humour. She had little digs at the self-adulation of some of the festival's other musicians - namely Mariza, a Portguese diva who cared as much about her clothes as her music, leaving the stage half-way through her act to change her dress. I fell in love with Beth Orton. Meanwhile, the Oyster Ceilidh Band were creating chaos in the packed stage two tent, with a couple of thousand people flinging themselves at each other in a frenzied attempt at country dancing.

The mixture of traditional and world music styles gave the festival a WOMAD feel, but without losing its Celtic edge. The festival has also dropped its beer sponsors in favour of the BBC and the Co-op, giving it a more family-friendly feel with a diverse mixture of people co-existing peacefully, from babies and a disproportionate number of pregnant women to bleary-eyed real ale folkies, energetic teenagers and hairy men who resembled Gandalf the Grey. A friendly and relaxed atmosphere made it an easy weekend for the local police. As one volunteer at the Co-op-run creche said, "It's the only festival you could take your grandmother to - and there's a lot of grandmothers about".

The toddlers and teenagers attending this year's event may will be there in another sixty years time, celebrating the festival's one hundreth anniversary with a pipe in hand and a smile on their faces.

Jimmy Cliff singing "The Harder They Come" and the Levellers' "One Way" will remain an enduring memory for me.

Pictures of the festival from the "worth more than many sparrows" weblog
Account by Esther Polley

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The Bangladeshi flood disaster may not be a trendy issue like the conflicts in Iraq and Sudan, where journalists can film themselves standing by the starving victims of a clash of civilisations. But it is no less a disaster - and no less political.

Forty one of Bangladesh's 64 districts affected by floods and 30 million Bangladeshis have been made homeless or are stranded with at least 600 people killed. The flood waters are now receding, but the situation is likely to get worse in coming weeks with food shortages and the spread of disease. The government estimates that 20 million people will be reliant on food aid until December.

Bangladeshi blogger Rezwan says: "Now the real challenge lies in keeping the flood effected out of health hazards/ epidemics and rehabilitating them. Nearly 5,000 medical teams have spread out across Bangladesh, many in boats, to try to contain diseases as flood waters continued to recede. There have been numerous efforts all over the country to feed the flood effected people who are in makeshift shelters (usually the govt. educational institutions). In my neighborhood there are two initiatives in one lane for collecting donations in terms of flour, salt, water, plates; which are being sent to the flood victims in the affected areas. There had been some controversies, when the govt. banned collecting money by stopping vehicles in the street in the name of flood relieve. The relief goods are still not adequate for the affected in the remote areas. Out of a requirement of 90 million water purifier tablets only 2.5 million tablets were supplied by the government sources.

The costs of this flood is reported close to $7 billions in losses to agriculture, industries and infrastructure; according to preliminary estimates. This is a huge blow to a poor country like Bangladesh. Assistance would be needed from other countries in repairing and rebuilding the infrastructures."

He suggests that we should give a small donation to the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society's flood relief programme: click here to donate. You can also donate via the International Red Cross and Red Crescent website or the British Red Cross Asia Floods Appeal. A family flood survival kit costs just BDT800 (GBP7.50; EUR11.20; USD13.50; INR625).

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