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Saturday, November 14, 2009


People still struggle for living
Mustafizur Rahman and Tapos Kanti Das

Many of the people in the south affected by cyclone Sidr are still struggling to get back to their livelihood and homesteads even two years after the incident as the government and donors are far from keeping their words on survivors' rehabilitation.
   The homeless victims are also worried with the winter closing in as many of them are still living in makeshift houses on roads and embankments, mostly along the coasts in Khulna and Barisal, also battered later by another cyclone.
   Cyclone Sidr pounded the country's south, especially the regions of Khulna and Barisal, on November 15, 2007. Water surges whipped up by cyclone Aila, which crossed the coastline into India on May 25, 2009, also battered the region for the second time.
   'We have completed the rehabilitation of Sidr victims with the funds we have so far received. Sidr has become an old issue for us. We are now working on the rehabilitation of Aila victims,' the food secretary, Md Mokhlesur Rahman, told New Age on Saturday.
   He, however, expressed his ignorance about how much of the assistance pledged by international donor agencies and foreign countries for the rehabilitation of Sidr victims had reached the government.
   Prospects are still bleak for landless farmers, fishermen and day-labourers, who lost their family, homesteads and livelihood to the cyclone, to get back to work for lack of income generating initiatives in the worst-affected areas as many of them had quit their earlier occupation and some had left the areas for other places, including Dhaka, looking for work.
   More than 4,000 people were killed in cyclone Sidr, which affected 30 out of the 64 districts.
   Another 90 lakh people were severely affected in southern districts, including Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, Noakhali, Chandpur, Feni, Barisal, Pirojpur, Lakshmipur, Jhalakati, Bhola, Barguna, Patuakhali, Bagerhat, Satkhira and Khulna, according to official records.
   A large number of Sidr survivors in the worst-affected Sarankhola in Bagerhat still continue to suffer as they are yet to rebuild their homesteads. They are now passing their days in utter hardship.
   People of some areas in the upazila are also suffering from shortage of drinking water. They are now drinking water from the River Baleshwar.
   'I am yet to rebuild my house. A large number of people like me are yet to rebuild their houses or get help from any organisations,' said Md Alam at Rayenda in Sarankhola.
   Thirty-year-old Alam told New Age he had lost nine of his family, including his mother, uncle, aunt and cousins, to the cyclone.
   'The shelters provided by relief agencies not like the ones we owned. They are too small [15 feet long and 10 feet wide] to live for more than five people,' said Abdur Rashid of the village who is one of a few lucky men who received a place for housing in which he lives with six of the family.

Old man in the house...!

"How could Rahul Gandhi campaign for an old man?" Akhilesh Yadav, UP MLA. Now I be reading the newspaper every morning, right, and my eyes they see this headline on inside page and me think, how old this man be that Rahul he campaigns for and oh my gosh I hear it be Raj Babbar and he be only fifty seven! Fifty-seven years old and they be calling him old? And in my eye I see good ole Morarji, he be our prime minister once and he be in his eighties and nobody thought him old except maybe the opposition and since the opposition be nearly as old as he be, nobody took notice what they say. And now fifty-seven be thought of as old. And I be wondering how old this young gentleman he want his MLA's to be, not Rahul, but this Akhilesh Yadav? "How old you want your candidate to be, sir?" MLA, "The younger the better! In fact I'd like my son to stand in the next elections!"
"And how old is your son, sir?" MLA, "This be my wife, and you can see that she is…"
"Pregnant?" MLA, "Yes, yes and so in the next elections he will be five years old!" Exclaims, "Five years old!" MLA, "A little too old, isn't it? But what to do, he is due only after these elections and now he'll have to wait, though I hope Rahul doesn't think he be too old to stand!"
"Sir, MLA sahib!" MLA replies, "Yes, yes, what?"
"You don't think five years is a little too young for being an MLA?" MLA asks, "Why you think that way?"
"I was just wondering, if you don't mind sir!" MLA, "Look at me!"
"Yes sir, I am looking!" MLA, "Now look at that little boy there! What he is doing?"
"Throwing stones!" MLA, "He throw stones, I throw mike. He spins top, I spin yarns to my voters. He flies kites I fly plane to Switzerland with my cash. What difference?"
"No difference, sir!" I said and wandered away before the next stone from the little boy hit me. I reached home and switched on the idiot box in time to see slaps being given, insults heard and fists flashing. "What's happening?" I asked. "Fighting in the Assembly!"
I turned to see Rahul behind, "Look at the children fighting!" I said angrily.
The young heir to the PM's throne smiled, "Have patience Bob, now you know why I've sent old man into the House…!"

Dhaka, Nov 15- Leaders of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, including US President Barack Obama, opened the second and last day of annual talks Sunday

In Saturday's talks, the theme of free trade "resonated strongly" among leaders, the Singapore hosts said in a statement.
They "resolved to inject a strong political push" to conclude by the end of 2010 the stalled Doha round of negotiations aimed at dismantling barriers to global trade, the statement said.
"There was a sense of urgency that as negotiations moved into the end-game, strong political will is critical to break the impasse."
The APEC leaders represent more than half the global economy, and some 2.6 billion people stretching from the United States to impoverished Papua New Guinea via China and Chile.
They agreed to pursue efforts towards a massive Pacific-wide free trade area, and welcomed Obama's announcement that the United States will throw its weight behind a small trade pact seen as a nucleus for the wider agreement.
They will also declare that it is too early to end massive stimulus packages implemented to ward off a deeper economic crisis, according to a draft summit communique seen by AFP.
Obama missed Saturday's summit session but joined APEC leaders at their gala dinner in the evening, after concluding a visit to Tokyo.