Nava Thakuria in Guawahati
He came to Assam in the time of Rongali Bihu to accept an international award in memory of Bhupen-da from Asom Sahitya Sabha (ASS). Acclaimed Sri Lankan filmmaker Prasanna Vithanage, while receiving the third Biswaratna Dr Bhupen Hazarika International Solidarity Award on 10 April 2017 in Guwahati echoed the gesture with the greetings of spring festival celebrated in his island nation on the same occasion.
The award, launched in 2013 by Assam’s highest literary forum ASS with supports from Numaligarh Refinery Limited to commemorate Bhupen-da as an international icon, was first offered to Bangladeshi scholar and dance exponent Lubna Marium and the second award was conferred on eminent Malayalam filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan. Presented biannually, the award carries a trophy, a citation, cash price and other traditional gift items.
Trendsetting Sinhalese director
In his acceptance speech, the fifty plus film director echoed similar concerns of regional film makers in India for their survival. Prasanna, whose movies have been screened in various international film festivals, however pointed out that there are still sizable serious film-goers in his country who support alternate film making. But he agreed that Bollywood movies enjoy important market shares in Sri Lanka.
He also paid tributes to Indian film makers namely Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Guru Dutt, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Jahnu Barua etc along with Bhupen Hazarika. According to Prasanna, the simplicity conveyed with creative ardors by the filmmakers inspired him to try his hands with the art of filmmaking. He specially mentioned Jahnu’s award winning Assamese movie ‘Halodhiya Choraye Baodhan Khay’ (The Catastrophe) that influenced his creative journey to a great extent.
Born at Panadura, an outskirt locality of Colombo in 1962, Prasanna started working on theatres and soon emerged as a sensitive visual translator of inner conflicts carried by ordinary people along with their journey for individual freedom. He has received applauses from international audience for ‘Sisila Gini Gani’ (Ice of Fire), ‘Anantha Rathriya’ (The Dark Night of Soul), ‘Akasa Kusum’ (Flowers of the Sky), ‘Pura Handa Kaluwara’ (The Death on a Full Moon Day), Ira Madiyama’ (August Sun), Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka’ (With You, Without You), ‘Usawiya Nihandai’ (Silence in the Courts) etc. The feature film titled ‘With You, Without You’ is the third part of a war trilogy after ‘The Death on a Full Moon Day’ and ‘August Sun’, deals with the human cost of Colombo’s three decade long war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Alternate media’s better future
For some time, it was even banned from public screenings in Sri Lanka. Next day, Prasanna attended in an interactive session titled Guest of the Month at Guwahati Press Club with the local scribes. He had bared his hearts to the participants expressing his concern to the crisis of small time film makers based in different parts of the globe, but also conveyed optimism over digital screening of quality films for the benefit of film appreciators.
The Sinhalese director stated that the present scenario of Sri Lankan film industry is bleak, but the new technology can be used for its sustained growth. He argued that the screening of regional movies (inclusive of Sinhalese films) with multiple sub-titles through various alternate media outlets would help the industry to survive for a better future.
Talking about the strong presence of female characters in his movies, the visionary director revealed that his mother’s influence made him do so. Prasanna termed his mother as a strong individual and admitted that her influence remains a real strength for him in all the time of crisis. For him a mother is always an unparalleled symbol of love, affection, care and simplicity.
Prasanna also made an interesting revelation that unlike Indians, who are diverged but united in oneness, the Lankans are yet to nurture the spirit of nationalism. He admitted that the Lankan society remains ethnically divided even after the end of Tamil uprising turned into terrorism in northern part of the country.
He also pointed out that unlike India, there was no such freedom movement against the British colonial rule in Sri Lanka, where millions of patriotic people sacrificed for their independence. As the British authority was forced to leave India, the Lankan people got the benefit of circumstance and subsequently the island nation emerged as a sovereign country.
The author is a Northeast India based journalist and Secretary of
Guwahati Press Club
|Indian scavengers look for coins and other valuable items from among the offerings of devotees in the Ganges at Varanasi on April 5, 2009. More than 400 million people live along the Ganges River. An estimated 2,000,000 persons ritually bathe daily in the river, which is considered holy by Hindus. In the Hindu religion it is said to flow from the lotus feet of Vishnu (for Vaisnava devotees) or the hair of Shiva (for Saivites). While the Ganges may be considered holy, there are some problems associated with the ecology. It is filled with chemical wastes, sewage and even the remains of human and animal corpses which carry major health risks by either direct bathing in the water (e.g.: Bilharziasis infection), or by drinking (the Fecal-oral route). AFP PHOTO/Prakash SINGH
Forbes has recently made a report on five dirtiest cities in Asia, based on local media articles and non-governmental organization data, topping it off with Dhaka.
Dhaka is joined by Indonesia’s Kalimantan, India’s Mumbai, New Delhi and China’s Xingtai.
Dhaka is ranked first based on lack of access to safe water, according to a 2011 UNICEF finding, alongside “spotty storm drainage, coarse air pollution and other elements” reported by IRIN.
Kalimantan’s cropland fires on the western side create hazardously hazy air. Use of mercury among small-scale miners to extract gold has led to wide-reaching air pollution. Some of the 43,000 people who depend on gold mining also smelt at home, trapping toxic air indoors.
India’s Mumbai is affected by poor garbage disposal, sometimes-undrinkable tap water, air pollution, construction dust, industrial emissions etcetera.
New Delhi, on the other hand, suffers from public urination, off-the-chart air pollution, cropland burning and festival fireworks, which adds to the pollution density.
Xingtai, 400km from Beijing, suffers from high particulate matter in the air. Its coal production is also to blame.
Sir Frank Peters
CONGRATULATIONS and deafening enthusiastic applause are due to Bashundhara Group Managing Director Sayem Sobhan Anvir for not only bringing glory to Bangladesh in the shape of India’s most prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Excellence Award, but for being the first Bangladeshi to do so.
The Dadasaheb PhalkeAward was introduced in 1969 by the Indian government and named in honour of Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, popularly known as Dadasaheb Phalke, who is considered the father of Indian cinema.
The awards set out to recognise the contribution of film personalities towards the development of the Indian Cinema industry and for the first time in its history, on the 148th birth anniversary of Dadasaheb Phalke, one of its coveted prestigious trophies went to a Bangladeshi.
Sayem Sobhan Anvir’s significant win is not too unlike Musa Ibrahim’s historic achievement when he became the first Bangladeshi to scale Mount Everest, a formidable conquest by any yardstick.
Winning awards at home always carries great pride for the individual; winning one in a foreign country brings prestige, pride and joy beyond comparison, not only to the individual, but the nation collectively. And it’s great that the nation is not solely dependent on its cricket team!
The eminent Managing Director was given the award for his contribution to the development of mass media, social service and sports in Bangladesh. The glory of which, no doubt, will be shared deservedly among the individuals at the Daily Sun, Bangladesh Pratidin and Kaler Kantho, the online news portal Banglanews24.com, Radio Capital FM radio station and TV channel News 24.
I couldn’t agree more with Prof Al Masud Hasanuzzaman of the government and politics department at Jahangirnagar University when he said the award was given in an individual capacity, but it glorifies the image of the whole nation. Winning any award is always a matter of pride, but it is more prestigious when a man is given an award by a foreign country,” he said.
All reputable awards can be encouraging and inspire others to achieve goals way beyond their own expectations and dreams that illuminate and enkindle greatness from the depth of their innermost recesses, which benefits the individual and society at large. The Olympic Games offer countless examples.
With a respected rock solid foundation like the East West Media Group to stand on, perhaps Sayem Sobhan Anvir will consider introducing his own awards for the greater benefit of Bangladesh, especially its youth.
Meanwhile, he deserves the congratulations and the unreserved applause of the Bangladesh media and the nation.
Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, humanitarian, a royal Goodwill Ambassador, and a loyal foreign friend of Bangladesh.
Belarus Thursday expressed its interest to set up a joint commission on trade (JCT) and economy to further boost the economic relations with Bangladesh, Agencies report.
Visiting Belarusian Minister of Industry Vitaly Vovk expressed the interest when he paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official Ganabhaban residence here this evening.
After the meeting, PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters. In this connection, the prime minister said: “Yes we can sit and explore the possibilities of enhancing economic cooperation.”
She said that Bangladesh wants to increase trade and investment with Belarus in the days to come. The Belarusian minister also offered training to Bangladeshi labourers on how to use agriculture machinery as well as engineers.
He informed the prime minister that Belarus is setting up a service center here on joint venture with the LGRD ministry on heavy machinery. “Apart from providing services, Belarus would assemble such machinery through the centre,” Vitaly Vovk said.
The Belarusian minister expressed satisfaction over the existing bilateral ties between the two countries and hoped that the relations would be further strengthened in the years to come.
Referring to the setting up of countrywide some 100 economic zones, Sheikh Hasina said that adequate facilities are being provided there. Mentioning that Bangladesh is an agro-based country, she said, “We’ve to adopt mechanical agriculture.”
While talking about development of education sector, the premier informed the Belarus minister that her government is giving highest priority to education.
Putting emphasis on strengthening connectivity with the neighbours, Sheikh Hasina said that the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) initiative is being materialized to enhance connectivity in the region for further development of the people.
The prime minister said that Bangladesh is ready to welcome the move from Belarus to impart training to Bangladeshi labourers and engineers alongside setting up factory in Bangladesh.
She also recalled that as part of the then Soviet Union, Belarus extended support to Bangladesh during its War of Liberation in 1971.
Senior PMO Secretary Suraiya Begum and Local Government Division Secretary Abdul Malek were present on the occasion.
The head of the United Nations stood in front of a room full of global leaders Tuesday and made a plaintive plea: “On average, a child under the age of 5 dies of preventable causes in Yemen every 10 minutes,” António Guterres said. “This means 50 children in Yemen will die during today’s conference, and all of those deaths could have been prevented.”
Whether his last claim is true is certainly up for debate, but what Guterres is asking for would most certainly help: $2.1 billion in funding to combat deepening hunger and disease across Yemen.
After two years of civil war, Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, is facing collapse. Its currency, agriculture, infrastructure, health care and even the most basic social cohesion have been destroyed by the war, and about 7 million people are on the brink of starvation, while two-thirds of the population relies on humanitarian aid to survive.
“We are witnessing the starving and the crippling of an entire generation,” Guterres said. “We must act now to save lives.”
A half-million children are so severely malnourished that they are likely to die if they do not receive urgent care, said the U.N. children’s agency and the World Food Program.
The fundraising conference in Geneva has already raised $1.1 billion, raising hopes that by the end of this year the U.N.’s goal could be reached. A broader call for $4.4 billion to address food crises in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria is still unfulfilled.
In an irony, Saudi Arabia has made the biggest public funding pledge, promising $150 million for Yemen. Much of the physical destruction in the country has been wrought by a Saudi-led air campaign — backed by the United States and others — that human rights activists say has indiscriminately targeted civilians. Kuwait, Germany and the United States have pledged lesser sums.
The war in Yemen has pitted the Saudi-backed government against a northern Yemeni rebel group known as the Houthis. The Saudis lead a Sunni-Arab military coalition that regards the Houthis, a Shiite group, as a proxy force for Iran. The Houthis control the capital, Sanaa, as well as much of Yemen’s western coast, including the pivotal port of Hodeida. Yemen imports 90 percent of its food, and 70 percent of that comes through Hodeida, which the Saudi navy is blockading, letting only a trickle through. Reports have swirled recently about an impending assault on the city, Yemen’s fourth-largest, by Saudi forces. About 100,000 internally displaced people live there. The Saudis claim that the port serves as an entry point for weapons supplies to Houthis, but aid agencies have voiced scepticism at the claim, given the blockade and the fact that the United Nations inspects each arriving ship.
The trigger for famine in Yemen could be an assault on Hodeida. If even the severely restricted flow of food is disrupted and fighting limits access to aid agencies, those living day-to-day will be without any other option.
“We are concerned about facilities in Yemen because at this stage we can’t afford to even lose one bridge or one road network, let alone lose a major facility like the Hodeida port,” Muhannad Hadi, regional director for the World Food Program, told Reuters.