Government records? Who cares… throw them away
Where do you think important government records should ideally be stored? In a safe? Or should we say a "digitised safe", going by the country's favourite motto? Well, as per the law of the country, they should be stored in the National Archives if they are more than 25 years old. Believe it or not, there was actually a time when the authorities didn't prefer to store them at all.
Nine years ago, around 40 kilos worth of important government documents were recovered from a waste paper shop at Anandabazar, adjacent to Shahidullah Hall of Dhaka University. How important were these papers, you ask? An example is a document dating back to 1992, from the then Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank to the finance ministry about the formation of the bank's investigation cell.
According to the shop owner, certain vendors brought him government documents every month for sale. Unfortunately, the government authorities had to buy back all the documents at BDT 16 per kg. You don't need a financial expert to describe this deal as “not a very good one”.
An invitation for a cup of tea at the Supreme Court
The following happened to officials of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) seven years ago this month after they published the results of a household survey.
On January 13, weeks after TIB published a survey which described the judiciary as the “most corrupt” service sector of the country, they were asked to attend a tea party at the Supreme Court.
This was perhaps the only time when a journalist not covering the entertainment beat—no offence to any one—was compelled to inform the readers of the entire guest list of a “tea” party on the front page of the newspaper. The next day, TIB officials revealed that the court had in fact taken their findings quite seriously. However, nothing else was heard about the survey after that.
A market crash that few can forget
Were you a part of the crowd that blindly poured money into Bangladesh's stock market between 2008 to 2010? If the answer's yes, then you probably have the date January 10, 2011 etched in your mind. The share trading that day stopped after just 50 minutes. Between December 2010 and January 2011, the DGEN index fell from 8,500 by 1,800 points, a total 21 percent decline.
There were protests on the roads; people had lost money to the tune of lakhs and the chaos, albeit for a brief period, even led to a slight fall in the stock exchange in Mumbai.
Looking back, many analysts described the abnormal increase in the number of points in the share market as manipulated, meaning there were certain players who had bought plenty of shares beforehand in a bid to increase the overall price of the market. Once the price went up, they sold their shares and left, leaving the rest of the people in jeopardy. Several analysts blamed the security exchange commission for overlooking the supposed malpractices in the share market.
According to experts, the middle class, who never really invested in the share market in the past, did so during that period because of the increasing price and the hype. They, however, were the biggest losers. Most of them didn't really know when to stop buying.
Want to be a millionaire? Sell vegetables
There's no doubt that vegetables are good for your health. But Sana Ullah, who was arrested six years ago this month, took that phrase to another level. For 14 years, Sana deceived the police and sold Phensedyl. According to a report published in The Daily Star, he and his wife reportedly sold 10,000 bottles of the banned drug every week in the capital. Both he and his wife posed as vegetable vendors. They would often cover the drugs with fried fish, tomatoes and other vegetables. Other times, these bottles would be stored inside fruits. Since these food products were perishable, officials never really checked them thoroughly at the border or in the capital. As a result, their business flourished. Prior to his arrest, Sana owned a four-storey building, a number of flats in the capital and two microbuses. Moral of the story? Never underestimate a man who knows his vegetables!
Dhaka's first and last bus map
Let's face it: maps and Dhaka don't go together. Even Google maps, which recently started displaying the amount of time that you would need to go from one place to another, often ends up showing incorrect data. However, for some reason, a group of American researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Bangladeshi start-up Kewkradong, decided to challenge that idea four years ago this month. They sent volunteers with smart phones around the capital and collected data from them after each stop. While they were successful in making the map, it didn't get enough support thereafter and the project was binned two years later. But hey, who needs maps when you have the universal mama on the roads to guide you through every route. These foreigners I tell you…
The world's number one all-rounder
Shakib Al Hasan wasn't the only Bangladeshi cricketer to top the ICC rankings list. In January 2015, Salma Khatun, the former Bangladesh women's national captain, topped the all-rounder's rankings in the T20 format. She was also rated the world's best bowler in the format. Things, however, went haywire from there on. She was removed from captaincy and eventually, lost her place in the side two years on. Despite the sad ending, Salma's elevation to the top—albeit for a brief period—goes to show the potential that the country's women cricketers, who rarely get the chance to play international cricket, have.
When a European Court voted in favour of Bangladeshi fruit pickers
After being shot and injured on a strawberry farm in Greece, 30 Bangladeshis filed a case with the European Court of Human Rights in Brussels in January, 2016. While they had filed a case in Greece, the accused were acquitted. The European Court in Brussels, however, voted in favour of the Bangladeshis a year later and the owners of the farm were asked to compensate each and every one of the victims. The farm owner, who had stopped paying the farmers their wages, threatened to shoot them if they didn't stop protesting.