A star-studded NRB conference

E-Bangladesh

E-Bangladesh

E-Bangladesh is a News/Headlines service and a group blog aimed at bringing the news and analysis from Bangladesh to its readers.

[J @ Shada Kalo, USA.]

A truly impressive conference is going to be held in Dhaka on December 27-29, 2007. Impressive, because this will showcase, for the first time, the achievement and advice of expatriate Bangladeshis. The chief guest for the opening ceremony is Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, chief adviser to the caretaker government. The closing ceremony is even more impressive, and we quote:

Chief Guest:

Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed
Honorable Chief Adviser
Non-Party Caretaker Government
People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Special Guests:

Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, Honorable Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Chair of the Session)
General Moeen U Ahmed, Chief of Army Staff, Bangladesh Army

Thanks for sticking the “non-party” adjective in our eyes.

The sessions are absolutely crawling with advisers, secretaries and ex-advisers:

  • CS Karim, Adviser, Ministry of Agriculture.
  • Mohammad Anwarul Iqbal, Adviser, Ministry of LGRD and Cooperatives.
  • Major General Abdul Matin (Retired), Adviser, Ministry of Communication.
  • Dr. Akbar Ali Khan, ex-Adviser, Caretaker Government.
  • Major General Dr. ASM Motiur Rahman (Retired), Adviser, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • Adviser, Ministry of Information, Law [Mainul Hosein not mentioned by name].
  • Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Tapan Chowdhury, Adviser, Ministry of Energy.
  • Geeteara Safiya Choudhury, Adviser, Ministry of Industry.
  • AKM Zafarullah Khan, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • Dr. Abdul Aziz, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture.
  • Safar Raj Hossain, Secretary, Ministry of LGRD.
  • ASM Rashidul Hai, Secretary, Ministy of Housing and Public Works.
  • Tauhid Hossain, Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Dr. Fazlul Karim Khan, Secretary, Ministry of Powers.
  • Md. Mohsin, Secretary, Ministry of Power Energy and Mineral Resources Division.
  • Dr. Md. Nurul Amin, Secretary, Ministry of Industry.
  • Md. Firoz Ahmed, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce.
  • Dr. Mohammad Ayub Miah, Secretary, Ministry of Flood, Disaster Management.
  • Md. Aminul Islam Bhuiyan, Secretary, ERD.
  • Md. Abdul Matin Chowdhury, Secretary, Ministry of Labor and Manpower.
  • Dr. Mohammad Mahbubur Rahman, Secretary, Ministry of Communication.
  • Md. Momtajul Islam, Secretary, Ministry of Education.
  • M Musharaj Hossain Bhuiyan, Secretary, Ministry of Primary Education.
  • Abdul Karim, Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Mohammad Tarque, Secretary, Ministry of Finance.
  • And to round out the civilians, we also see Lieutenant General Masud Uddin Chowdhury, Principle Staff Officer, Armed Forces Division on a panel on flood management, and Major General Aminul Karim, Military Secretary to the President, on a panel discussing national leadership.

    Here is a curious entry for seminar 18 on second day:

    Domestic Securities Imperatives & Investment Environment in Bangladesh

    Presented by Mr. ATM Amin, Ph.D, Counter Terrorism Bureau, Bangladesh

    Dr. Amin has another impressive designation: he is a brigadier general in the Bangladesh Army, and he is the director of the counter-terrorism bureau of DGFI. We find it interesting that his rank and employment was obfuscated.

    Dr. Kamal Hossain [will deliver the vote of thanks], Fazle Hasan Abed [will deliver the welcome speech] and many other well-known “resident”-Bangladeshis round out some truly outstanding non-resident speakers. To be honest, some papers to be presented at this conference are good enough for me to want to pay to attend.

    Which brings up a question — who is paying for all this? Booking Sheraton for three days of conferences costs big money. My experience is a bit dated, but in 1991 I was planning a trade show for my then employer, and the price-tag was about 3 lakh taka for three days rent for the ballroom. This conference will take over most of the hotel. How much will that cost, and what is the source of that money?

    So our digging started with the website scholarsbangladesh.com, the force behind the NRB 2007 conference. The domain has been registered by Mahbub E Chowdury:

    Chowdury, Mahbub E rchowdry@aol.com
    660 Bassar Road
    Pouzhaeepsie, New York 12603
    United States
    (718) 323-3766

    There is no such place as Pouzhaeepsie, New York. ZIP code 12603 is for Poughkeepsie, NY. Fine — pronouncing that name is not easy so this is not a big deal. The phone number belongs to one Abbas Uddin in Jamaica, NY. But wait — there is no such road as Bassar road in Poughkeepsie either. There is a Vassar road, as one phone-call to the city-hall confirmed. The current resident at 660 Vassar is a Mr. Richmond. So Mr. Chowdury used false information in registering his domain. It seems completely unnecessary, but there it is.

    NRBs in New York, where Mr. Chowdury used to live (and was known as Shamim Chowdury), are surprised that this virtual unknown is organizing such a big conference in Bangladesh, and some newspapers have also asked this question. For some reason, Amader Shomoy has also taken a swipe at Mr. and Mrs. Chowdury. We absolutely disagree, since past performance is not a reliable indicator of the future. If Mr. and Mrs. Chowdury are doing this on their own initiative, we wish them all the best. But the thrust of this story is the star-, or rather, government-studded guest-list. How did Mr. Chowdury get not one, two or three, but 9 advisers and so many secretaries to come to his shindig?

    Why is Bangladesh’s ambassador to the United States, and consul generals at various consulates in the USA, taking an active role in promoting this conference? In the linked letter, we find that the minister of economic affairs at the embassy in DC is prepared to answer our questions on this. We can’t just accept this as the officials doing their job — Bangladesh’s diplomatic corps doesn’t have a very good reputation when it comes to helping Bangladeshis.

    Then the next piece of the jigsaw puzzle fits. A friend of ShadaKalo, a prominent academic, was invited to the conference. This gentleman is a vocal critic of the army and the CTG’s treatment of politicians and the lack of democratic processes. As a result, he was reluctant to attend. When the organizers heard about his reluctance, he received personal assurances from an adviser in the CTG, that his safety while in Bangladesh will be assured. Our friend knows the adviser personally so it makes sense that the assurances would come from him, but the surprising part of this is how quickly the response came back. This indicates, at the very least, a direct connection between the organizers and the “Non-Party Caretaker Government.”

    Buried in the Amader Shomoy story is another nugget: Mr. Chowdury has claimed in a TV talk show that the government is assisting it in fund-raising. In that case, can we say Mr. Chowdury is engaging in government-sanctioned chada-baji [extortion]? Amader Shomoy also went as far as to ask why then Coco’s mother Khaleda Zia could not help Coco raise money through chada-baji?

    Hmm. New Yorkers are scratching their heads wondering how Mr. Chowdury managed to land so many big fishes. While we don’t yet have all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, we have enough to see an outline. Who is standing behind Mr. Chowdury is not yet clear, but we understand this is not a case of the tail wagging the dog — as a matter of fact, it is the exact opposite.

    At the very least, this is government patronage of a private citizen’s efforts. Or it could be the launch of a new party platform for a political aspirant like General Moeen? Watch this space as we fill in the gaps in the next few weeks.


    J @ Shada Kalo [http://shadakalo.blogspot.com] writes using a pseudonym and is best known for exposing government, military, corporate foul plays through whistle-blowing investigative reports.

    [Read posts by J @ Shada Kalo]

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    E-Bangladesh is a News/Headlines service and a group blog aimed at bringing the news and analysis from Bangladesh to its readers.


    417 Responses to “A star-studded NRB conference”

    1. Zafa

      Hmm… Good question. Who is sponsoring the conference of this magnitude? But I have a different question. Why is it called an NRB conference where only the highly intellectual and academic types mostly residing in US are invited as presenters? Why is there absolutely no representation of the millions of NRBs in middle-east and far-east who are sending millions of their hard earned dollars and increasing the Forex index for Bangladesh treasury every single month?!

    2. Journey to Infinitive

      Excellent post! I think Zafa has pointed out a very much valid issue. Who are those NRBs? Are they representative of the common/regular/majority NRBs? It is Just shame to see some of them are giving wrong informations as well in public records.

    3. Tack Boss!

      Good news… good news! The author asked why Mainul Hosein not mentioned by name? S/he did not answer. But I have the information. Yes, before this conference, Mainul is going to resign or will be forced to leave his advisory post from this so called “Non-party care taker government.” I just got this news from Dhaka today from inner circle. Dr. Nurunnabi from USA is going to receive a medal from that conference. If it is true, then I will die hard, believe me. Thanks Shada Kalo for a good informative article. Thanks to the editor too!

    4. Muhamad

      Falling of chair laughing my head off. So, that’s who’s been keeping the welfare of Sonar Bangla tiptop and shipshape. Bloody expats! What have they been doing for the last 36 years?! Don’t tell me, let me guess, they were getting ready for this.

    5. Dr. Muhammad J A Shiddiky

      Thanks E-Bangladesh for posting such a nice article.

      I agree with Zafa. Who are sponsoring this conference? Who are these NRB?

      I know many brilliant Bangladeshi around the world. Many of them are working as professors, scientist, and researchers around the world. Not only the intellectual and academic types, many of us have a good communication with common/general/majority workers working for our motherland. I also know many Bangladeshi brilliants are doing good researches in US, Japanese, and Korean Universities. Many of them are rewarded many times with the university highest authorities and government of these countries for their excellent contributions in science and arts. I can give many examples like Professor Abul Hussam, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, George Mason University, who was selected as a Global Environment Hero and awarded with Grainger Challenge Award 2007.

      Personally I know many people who are very intelligent and always trying to do something better for Bangladesh and its people. I am staying in a foreign country from many years. I asked many of my Bangladeshi colleagues about NRB conference. Like me, most of them heard of scholarsbangladesh.com and M E Chowdhuary Shameem from a recent article of Amader Samoy (December 7).

      Like many others, I have a question: Who is that Chowdhury? Why he called it NRB conference. Most of the workers/majority NRB even do not know him! Then, how he has the right to use the label NRB or scholarsbangladesh? These questions should not arise now. And we can ignore easily this Chowdhury and his activities… but the question is why the present caretaker government is assisting it in fund-raising? Why so many big peoples including Chief of the government and chief of the army are participating in this conference?

    6. sudhir mitra

      Yes, this cannot be called an NRB conference on any account. NRBs are the biggest foreign exchange earners of BD, but the people organizing this conference comprise a nano-scale component of that vast community, and hence their contribution to our economy is also proportioal, however, well-paid they individually may be.
      Let us call it Choudhury Conference or Scholars Conference or whatever.
      If they really wanted to help, instead of asking money from the government, they should give it away from their own pockets — to the SIDR victims. Even the Khatib of Baitul Mukarram has asked people to go thrifty on Kurbani and donate to the devastated people. A gala evening at Sheraton at this time looks obscene.

    7. Rumi

      I feel uncomfortable speaking about ( AKA badmouthing) this effort. Cause, that will put me in the same league with the American suburb living, die hard Moen supporting, everything of Bangladesh hating, “mediocre” Bangladesh origin professionals who are speaking out against the conference only because they were left out as one of the presenters. I am pretty sure, once invited, some of these same professionals would have been jumping up and down in support of this forum.

      But, whatever people think of my/our intention, question loom. In my almost one decade stay in USA, how come I never heard of this Shameem Chowdhury or scholarsbangladesh? What is their track record?

      And more importantly, the ” Khaja Baba Kebla Kaba” style picture of “Shameem, the scholar” in the forum leaflet is a big turn off. Its like putting a big garlanded photo of Asif Saleh in all Drishtipat program flyers or having E-Bangladesh editors photo at the center of e-Bangladesh website.

    8. Mash

      I am miffed that Mr. Chowdhury got the spelling of Poughkeepsie and Vassar wrong 🙁

      Anyway, here’s some more info about Mr. Chowdhury:

      He is listed as the CEO of prothom-alojobs.com [http://www.prothom-alojobs.com/target_28/home_page/about_us.php]. There is a little introductory comment there from Matiur Rahman. The COO is listed as Dilara Afroz Khan, also of ScholarsBangladesh fame.

      Interestingly the domain of prothom-alojobs.com is registered to, you guessed it, ScholarsBangladesh [http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/results.jsp?domain=prothom-alojobs.com]. The address given in the registration (created December 2005) is also Poughkeepsie (spelled correctly this time), but a different street:

      SCHOLARSBANGLADESH
      26 Mandalay Dr.
      Poughkeepsie, New York 12603
      United States

      Mr. Chowdhury and Ms. Khan are also shown as Managing Director and Chairman of Mars Solutions, a web design company [http://www.mars.com.bd/management.php]. It lists three clients on its web site. They are, unsurprisingly, ScholarsBangladesh, prothom-alojobs.com, and Foster Consultants Ltd [http://www.fc-bd.com], a immigration consulting firm located in Banani. The management team for Foster is not listed on the web site.

    9. Tokai

      Mash, you rock. This explains it all. So this is military backed Prothom Alo doing it under the cover of Scholars Bangladesh. That explains the guest list. This also explains the resistance from Naimul Islam Khan. He and Moti are old foes.

    10. Moti

      The question then is: What is the relationship between Moti and this Shamim guy?

    11. ShadaKalo

      Thanks Mash — excellent research as always. Mr. Motiur Rahman, ever since he realized the error of his leftist ways, have been advocating a constitutional role for the army in the political process. It is well-known that he has friends in the army and DGFI.

      Tokai: I am not sure it is army + Motiur Rahman using Mr. Chowdury as a front-man. It is possible Mr. Chowdury used Motiur Rahman to make friends in high places, and is now connected directly to the source. Note the conspicuous absence of any mention on this conference in P-Alo. Methinks someone is miffed at being cut out as the middleman. Naimul Islam Khan — he is just miffed.

    12. Javed Rashid

      This Shameem Chowdhury used to live in New York . He used to work in IBM assembly line,where several others Bangladeshis work. He never studied engineering in Bangladesh or anywhere in the world. Although he introduced himself as an “engineer” during a recent TV talk show.

    13. stranger

      You could ask to Abdul G Chowdhury about Mr M E S Chowdhury & Ms Rupa Chowdhury, ’cause he always vocal about them in his column. A G Chowdhury wrote more than once that they are playing a vital role to promote Bengali Culture in abraod! Motiur Rahman was editor of Ekota and Shamim & Rupa was organizer of Bangladesh Student Union. Here is a proverb, ‘Chore chore mastuto bhai….’ So nothing to wondering, they are doing their old job unitedly…

    14. Badal khan

      “Siddi Babar Uplobddi”
      “Doyal Baba Kola Khaba Khet Bunia Kha”— swatch video—————–www.youtube .com

      Thats only comment i can make about this conference in bangladesh.
      Lets make fews simple questions:
      1. Under the name of so called organization how many scholers are appreciated by them?

      2.Who is this Samim Chowdhury????? could somebody from USA deliver the information???

      3. If you look carefully the guest list all the “‘ sho-shil” meaning “Valo napit” is their. Why did General Moeen is there????

      4. Where is all the Expatriate live in Abroad????Do they send any remitence in Bangladesh or Shamim Chowdhury alone?????

      5. Is Mr Shamim Chow. is another member of Jago Bangladesh.????

      6.Bangladesh is today because of all the TOSAMUDKARY for their own benifits only.Is Shamim TUSAMUDKARY??????

      7.Shamim has no right to use the name of world expatrite.?????

      8. He should live in Bangladesh and join KORESHI or SADEK SIDDIQUE.

      9.Hello USA teach Shamim somethings or politics.

      An appeal to all the Expatriat all over the world please do something about this stupidity.

      5.NBR are political —- govt. service holder and corupted so they have to follow their father’s instruction.

      If we write commente here is not enough please send it to all the media in Bangladesh and we should do that immidiately.

    15. fug

      there are always going to be people you dont agree with doing stuff under the flag of bangladesh. Is it obligatory to knock their efforts or does one cliquey group have a monopoly on the space?

      remember most scholars arent particularly partisan and from the outside, now looks like a time when the muppets are listening more, and they dont care too much what political stripe you are (unless you are firing a gun at them).

      the list of attendees looks very long, i reckon half of those people wont turn up simply bacause they are busy with their jobs. besides there are a lot of conferences and round tables in nice hotels in developing countries. This isnt an exception and to come up with ‘they should be building homes in the cyclone zone’ is out of proportion.

      getting a whole bunch of shochibs to agree to something is not particulalry difficult if you know who is who. the CmTG is reaching out to unusual suspects all over the place, its in their interests as they find themselves responsible for a complicated country.

      whether you want to sink it(the conference) or benefit from it or improve it is a function of your character. I hope they public transcripts at least.

    16. Dr. M Badruddoja, MD, FRCS, FRACS

      It is just bolt from the blue when I got an invitation to attend the first conference of NRB through e-mail from the representative of NRB conference in Dhaka. I wonder who is Mr. ME Chowdhury and Mrs. Dilara Khan. I personally know the almost 80% speakers from USA. The representative of NRB is a speaker. When I glanced the program then it was obvious to me that he made this conference as a personal club and he kept it secret to himself and his club member and he choose his club members as the speakers as the most talented Bangladeshis living in USA.

      Let me assure the readers there more talented people in USA than the 10 speakers from USA. Unfortunately almost 80% of speakers are not the well wishers of the nation. One group of speakers condemned the current administration and asked for unconditional apology to the nation and this article was published in News from Bangladesh. Another group of speaker is talking about Sono filter. But nation should know, Sono filter is nothing but the graveyard of 150 million people of Bangladesh. The Sono filter will cause enormous number of untreatable skin, lung and liver cancer within 10 years. So this conference is a call for destruction of the nation and most of the speakers are unpatriotic.

      Lastly I feel Mr. ME Chowdhury has great influence on the caretaker government and that is why he is able to arrange the inaugural ceremony where all the officials and unofficial dignitaries will attend. I wonder who is paying the bill? Is nation paying the the bill to entertain the unpatriotic expatriates of Bangladesh?

    17. Pratap

      Can any blogger dig a bit about the claim in a previous comment that M E Chowdhury Shameem was working in the assembly line of IBM? In TV interviews people have been given the impression that he quit his job as CIO/CFO/Senior VP/Director of IBM to help motherland Bangladesh? A phone call to human resource of IBM may be helpful.

    18. Abdul Awal

      Well, it seems we are so conscious about this first NRB conference. There could be many questions “Who is this guy?” “Why only from US?” “Who is supporting?” “Why others are not invited?” etc. Beside these, other conscious NRBs should come around, try to get involved, or organize some other efforts like this. At least we can hope for better Bangladesh like this. I can see some highly known people commenting in this site are also invited there. Can they raise the issues in the conference or take some initiative about how to involve more NRBs from other countries in the world to build better Bangladesh?

    19. Akash

      Don’t just blame the general. For every general on the throne, there is a spineless quisling who has provided civilian legitimacy: Shah Azizur Rahman, Justice Sattar, Maudud Ahmed, Fakhruddin Ahmed, Mainul Hosein… The political history of Bangladesh is one of direct and indirect military meddling with the direct support of a compliant, power-drunk bureaucratic establishment raising some urgent cries of one sort or another: “desh gelo,” democracy in danger, economy in tatters, etc. This cycle needs to be stopped if Bangladesh is to find a decent polity.

    20. Jagoruk Manush

      Hello Dr. Badruddoja, MD, FRCS, FRACS

      Thank you, Dr. Badruddoja for surfacing with your comment on NRB conference. Today, chilly wind is gusting through my city, one of the North American cities of working class. On a similar wintry evening, a year ago, in this city I had the opportunity to spend some time with you. That short rewarding encounter introduced me to an amazingly progressive, humour-loving, age defying, liberal democrat who clings deep in his heart values of 71. That was you. A Bangalee, who in his adolescence, walked through 1971 as a rag tag foot soldier and following three decades or more who has learnt to loose everything that he earned in 1971, that is me. Truly, that meeting set off a fire work of hope and celebration in my mundane winter sky. About couple of months ago, beginning of last fall, I received a call from a friend of my orbit. After the call, I felt an untimely winter chill was gusting through my ribs.

    21. Jakey Patwari, MD, CCI

      Why there are no NRB speakers? Why all of the speakers are from Bangladesh Government? Please change the name from “NRB conference” to something else.

    22. Kauser

      NRB? A hidden political agenda by current CTG. The worst government ever in Bangladesh history. How and in which respect CA became the chief guest for NRB conference. How a clown can continue to rule Bangladesh in the coming year? So we have to face some other “fatal actions” by current CTG.

    23. Sohel

      Bangladesh should open an embassy in West Africa. They like us and we should expand our business base there, period. If you want to know a little more, please check http://banhqspcoy.blogspot.com where I wrote about the basic situation in Ivory Coast. If you are not well acquainted with French language, there are about 18 other countries there. Time is now!

    24. Engr Khondkar Abdus Saleque( Sufi)

      What this high profile heavy weight NRB conference contributed? Could it bring any change to poor governance of underperforming Bangladeshi energy , education, health , industrail sectors? Perfomance of many of heavy weights mentioned here are now appearing to be controversial> Yes many NRBs professionals and acdemicians can help Bangladesh in manyways if given opportunities. But there must be proper scouting and identification of specific areas. NRBs who do not have any ground ideas of Bangladeshi realities must not be of much help. Prime Ministers of can set up a cell to identify specific NRBs in specific areas with required scouting through Foreign missions. Areas like IT, Energy , Education & Reasearch , Human Resource Development,Health & Medicare, Investment can be ares where integration of NRBs can be explored.From my recent endeavour for NRB conference for coal mining strategy it appears that Government is really interested to hear from NRB.

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