Bengal tigers in Bangladesh, video

This 29 November 2019 video says about itself:

Swamp Tigers: Rare footage of the royal Bengal Tiger | Free Documentary Nature

This multi-award-winning film documents the life of the most elusive of cats, the royal Bengal, or ‘swamp tigers’ of the Sundarbans. Mike Herd’s painstaking dedication resulted in a mesmerizing film, which shows rare and intimate footage of the last true lord of the jungle. Elaborate night-sight equipment shows a tigress covering a carcass with leaves and we are truly unprepared for the many revelations that follow.

European, Bangladeshi workers strike for their lives

This 30 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Amazon worker on why he’s organizing a protest against the company over coronavirus safety measures

Christian Smalls, who works at Amazon‘s facility in Staten Island, NY, discusses why he and others are staging a walkout to demand the building be closed due to what they say is the company’s mishandling of the coronavirus crisis.

Amazon warehouse workers on New York’s Staten Island plan to strike Monday to call attention to what they called a lack of protections for employees who continue to come to work amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Nearly 100 workers at the facility, known as JFK8, plan to participate in the work stoppage, planned for noon ET. The employees will walk out Monday morning and “cease all operations” until their demands are heard by site leadership, said Chris Smalls, a management assistant at JFK8 and a lead organizer of the strike.

Smalls and other workers said they’ve grown increasingly concerned about coming into work after an employee tested positive for the virus last week. …

The workers want to pressure Amazon to close the facility for cleaning and offer employees paid time off while it’s shut down. Smalls said the facility has continued to run as usual since the employee tested positive. He fears the virus will spread like “wildfire” if no extra precautions are taken. JFK8 is 855,000 square feet and has 4,500 workers.

“Since the building won’t close by itself, we’re going to have to force [Amazon’s] hand,” said Smalls, who is also a member of nonprofit advocacy groups Make the Road New York and New York Communities for Change. “We will not return until the building gets sanitized.”

By Robert Stevens, 1 April 2020:

With 30,000 dead in Europe from COVID-19: Workers strike to demand safe working conditions

1 April 2020

The worsening coronavirus crisis has taken the lives of over 30,000 people in Europe. This is accelerating the class struggle, as workers strike and protest to demand safe conditions.

With employers breaching social distancing measures and often not supplying even the most rudimentary personal protective equipment and hygiene supplies such as sanitisers and soap, strikes and protests have been mounted by Italian and Spanish auto and steel workers, Amazon workers, postal workers, bus drivers, supermarket staff and local government workers.

Bangladesh: Garment workers strike over safety amid COVID-19 crisis. By Wimal Perera, 1 April 2020. The anger of Bangladeshi factory workers is mounting because they are unable to practice “social distancing” in their plants or during transit.

Bangladeshi folk singers persecuted

This 6 February 2020 music video from Bangladesh is by singer Rita Dewan.

By Wimal Perera:

Folk singers charged for violating Bangladesh’s draconian Digital Security Act

12 February 2020

Two Bangladeshi Baul (folk) singers—Rita Dewan and Shariat Sarker—face prosecution, under the Awami League-led government’s repressive Digital Security Act (DSA), for allegedly making “derogatory comments” against religion and “hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims”.

Baul singing, which incorporates elements of Tantra, Sufism, Vaishnavism and Buddhism, originated in the Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent, including Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam.

Rita Dewan faces two accusations: one filed with the so-called Cyber Tribunal by Imrul Hasan, a member of the Dhaka Lawyers’ Association, on February 2, and another in a Dhaka court on February 3, by filmmaker Rasel Mia. The judges have directed the police to investigate these complaints.

This 2019 music video from Bangladesh is by singer Shariat Sarker.

Shariat Sarker was arrested in Mirzapur on January 11, following a protest by more than 1,000 Islamic fundamentalists and a complaint to the police by a local Muslim cleric. Sarker was denied bail, at the first hearing of his case, at the Tangail District court on January 29.

Prime Minister Sheik Hasina’s government passed its repressive DSA law in September 2018, in defiance of widespread national and international criticism. The measure is in line with its moves towards autocratic rule, in response to rising working-class opposition and slowing economic growth.

The DSA replaced the so-called Information Communication and Technology Act (ICT) and associated Cyber Tribunal, a legal body to try those accused.

Under section 57 of the ICT, police could arrest anyone accused of causing a “deterioration in law and order”, prejudicing the image of the state, or a person, or causing “any hurt to religious belief.” These offences were non-bailable and anyone found guilty could be jailed for up to 14 years.

Section 57 has been reworded and incorporated in the DSA, with the charges kept deliberately vague so they can be used against any dissenting voices, and made more punitive.

For example, anyone found guilty for “campaigning against the liberation war of the nation” or discrediting the national anthem or the national flag, can be jailed for life. Those accused of gathering information inside a state institution can be charged with “espionage”.

Dewan is alleged to have made derogatory comments against Allah during a musical competition performance with another singer. After a video recording of the song went viral on the internet, she apologized, in an interview with YouTube channel Gaan Rupali HD, on February 1.

Sarker’s alleged crime was to criticise fundamentalist Muslim clerics who oppose singing. The Baul singer, who has millions of fans, is reported to have said that the “Quran does not prohibit the practice of music.” He is also accused of declaring, during a December concert, that he opposed religion being used as a political tool.

Hundreds of people demonstrated in Mymensingh and Mirzapur after the news broke of Sarker’s arrest. The popular singer could face a ten-year prison term if found guilty.

Nikhil Das, president of the Charan Cultural Centre, a platform for folk singers, immediately demanded Sarker’s unconditional release. Sultana Kamal, a Supreme Court lawyer and rights activist, denounced the arrest as another attack on the “right to free speech” and said the government was appeasing Islamic radical elements.

The allegations against Dewan and Sarker are part of a much larger crackdown. According to Odhikar, a Bangladesh human rights group, at least 29 people were arrested for violating the DSA, including journalists and individuals who posted comments on Facebook, or even “liking” certain comments.

Internationally-acclaimed photojournalist, Shahidul Alam was arrested in August 2018 and detained for 100 days, under Section 57 of the ICT, for allegedly making “provocative” statements about student demonstrations during in an interview with Al Jazeera and Facebook. The students were demanding that the government improve road safety, after two youth were run down and killed by a bus.

Alam had told Al Jazeera that the real reasons behind the popular anger was the government’s gagging of the media and widespread “extrajudicial killings, disappearing, bribery and corruption.”

Poet Henry Sawpon was arrested last May, following claims by a Catholic priest that the writer had offended “religious sentiments”, because he criticised an Easter Sunday cultural event in a local Catholic Church. The priest opposed Sawpon’s comments, because many Catholics had been killed in the terrorist bombing attacks that day in Sri Lanka.

A prominent writer-lawyer, Imtiaz Mahmud, was also arrested in May on charges that police had filed in July 2017, under the ICT Act. Mahmud had posted a Facebook comment opposing military violence against indigenous residents in Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Human Rights Watch observed, in its 2020 World Report, that journalists in Bangladesh “face pressure to self-censor or risk arrest”. which effectively prohibited investigative journalism in the country. In 2017 alone, at least 25 journalists, several hundred bloggers and Facebook users were prosecuted.

With 28 million Facebook users in Bangladesh, the Awami League-led regime is using the DSA to censor social media, in an attempt to stop workers and youth throughout the country, like their international counterparts, using social media to organise and fight government attacks on social conditions and democratic rights.

In order to justify this surveillance, in October 2018, the government established a nine-member monitoring cell to “detect rumours” on social media.

While the Hasina government claims to stand for “secularism”, the persecution of Rita and Sarker further demonstrates how the regime rests upon and uses Islamic fundamentalist and other ultra-right groups to advance its repressive agenda.

In 2013, when four bloggers were accused of atheism and arrested, Prime Minister Hasina’s son, Sajeeb Wajed Joy and so-called ICT adviser, declared, “We don’t want to be seen as atheists.”

In 2014, a group known as “defenders of Islam” published a death list of 84 critics of Islam. Several of those named were attacked and killed. The government said nothing about the assassinations.

When Rajshahi University professor, Rezaul Karim Siddique, was killed in April 2016—one of four academics killed at the institution—Prime Minister Hasina declared that no one had the “right to write or speak against any religion.”

The state persecution of artists, intellectuals and journalists, via bogus claims of offending “religious sentiment,” is not limited to Bangladesh; it is increasing throughout South Asia.

In June 2016, famous Pakistani musician Amjad Sabri was killed by the Taliban, and last April, award-winning Sri Lankan author Shakthika Sathkumara was arrested and held in remand for four months, following bogus complaints by Buddhist extremists that he had defamed Buddhism.

The author also recommends:

Persecuted Sri Lankan writer released on bail
[13 August 2019]

Deepa Mehta calls off production of her film Water
[10 April 2001]

Bangladesh shipbreaking industry, workers killed

This 2014 video says about itself:

Where Ships Go to Die, Workers Risk Everything | National Geographic

In Bangladesh, men desperate for work perform one of the world’s most dangerous jobs. They demolish huge ships in grueling conditions, braving disease, pollution, and the threat of being crushed or stabbed by steel sliced from the hulls.

IndustriALL trade union campaign poster

From daily News Line in Britain:

‘Unceasing Fatalities’ In Bangladesh Shipbreaking Industry

10th September 2019

‘UNCEASING fatalities’ continue in the Bangladesh shipbreaking industry, as two more workers were killed and thirteen injured in yet another incident at the Ziri Subedar Shipbreaking Yard at Sitakunda on 31 August.

The tragedy occurred at around 5.45pm as a heavy metal cable collapsed on the workers who were scrapping the ship CSL Virginia.

The deceased were Aminul Islam (50) and Tushar Chakma (25), meanwhile, the injured were admitted to hospitals in the city of Chittagong.

At the time of the accident at least 55 workers were deployed in the yard.

A police case has been filed at the Sitakunda Police Station.

On 31 July 2019, three workers were killed and another six were injured in an incident on the MT ATLAS ship at Mac Corporation, which is one of the oldest shipbreaking yards in Sitakunda.

The employer sent workers to scrap the ship’s fuel tank without following appropriate safety procedures.

This led to a leakage of toxic gas which killed them.

On the same day another worker, Yousuf (45), was killed at Nazia Re-rolling mill at Gamariltol, North Shonaichori, after he was hit by a piece of iron.

On 23 July one worker, Shahidul Islam (30), died at the Kabir Steel shipbreaking yard in Sitakunda as he fell from the upper portion of a ship into an empty tank.

At least 14 workers have been killed in the shipbreaking industry so far in 2019 in Bangladesh, based on reports in the public domain.

A recent news article published by international trade unions federation IndustriALL in May 2019, provides details of accidents since January this year.

Kan Matsuzaki, IndustriALL shipbreaking director, said: ‘We strongly condemn the unceasing fatalities in the Bangladesh shipbreaking industry.

These incidents show that lack of government supervision and employers’ negligence continue to kill workers. The Bangladesh government must act quickly to implement the Bangladesh Ship Recycling Act of 2018 and ratify the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships.’

Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL South Asia Regional secretary said: ‘We clearly see that almost all of these accidents are absolutely avoidable. Laxity on the part of government and shipbreaking employers continues to kill workers. The government of Bangladesh should immediately step up the efforts to improve safety in Bangladesh shipbreaking yards.’

Over 150 shipbreaking members of IndustriALL affiliates benefited from a medical camp organised on 26 July at Shitakund, Chattogram.

The temporary clinic to provide a basic health check-up and free medical treatment to shipbreaking workers was organised by IndustriALL affiliates the Bangladesh Metal Workers’ Federation (BMF) and the Bangladesh Metal, Chemical, Garments and Tailors Workers’ Federation (BMCGTWF) as part of the IndustriALL and FNV shipbreaking workers projects.

It was observed that most of the shipbreaking workers face general health issues like body pain, fever and physical weakness, and a few workers presented with intense pain in the legs, knees and bones. Doctors provided prescriptions and advice for follow up diagnostics.

Mohammad Halim (27), a shipbreaking worker, said: ‘Doctors at this medical camp were very friendly and they carefully explained my health problem. I am very happy that in addition to some health tips I also received medicines. We hope there will be more such medical camps in coming days, which will be very useful for me and hundreds of shipbreaking workers in this area.’

General physicians, orthopaedics and skin specialists from Chattogram Medical College Hospital participated in the camp and provided treatment for the shipbreaking workers.

Kan Matsuzaki, IndustriALL shipbuilding and shipbreaking director said: ‘The health camp was organised to provide some basic medical support to shipbreaking workers in the absence of medical facilities near the yards.

‘The government and employers need to take more meaningful steps to create good health infrastructure for shipbreaking workers.’

Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL South Asia regional secretary said: ‘We commend IndustriALL Bangladesh affiliates for taking this important solidarity initiative with the shipbreaking workers by organising health camps successively for the second year. We look forward to having similar fruitful interventions in future.’

Meanwhile, 701 workers have been laid off without any prior information at SF Denim Apparels in Dhaka, Bangladesh, as they came back after the Eid holiday on 18 August.

SF Denim Apparels cited ‘work order shortage’ and announced one of the largest terminations in Bangladeshi garment factories in recent times.

At least half of the 701 workers just fired wanted to form a trade union under the leadership of IndustriALL affiliate Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation (SGSF).

According to unions, SF Denim Apparels has consistently been obstructing efforts to organise and form a union.

In response to efforts to form a union in 2018 the company fired more than a hundred workers. 38 of them launched court cases against the employer, which are still ongoing.

The practice is continuing; in early August, days before the Eid vacation, five workers involved in union organising were laid off.

Nazma Akter, IndustriALL Executive Committee member and SGSF president, said: ‘We are deeply concerned over the mass layoffs; the workers are obviously targeted over their involvement in union activities. To make matters worse, more than 30 of the terminated workers are pregnant and will now not receive any maternity benefits. We demand that SF Denim Apparels reinstate all the fired workers.’

SGSF has contacted brands that source from SF Denim, like C&A, H&M and Benetton, seeking their intervention to reinstate the terminated workers, but the union has yet to receive a response from them.

Big Indian, Bangladeshi workers’ strikes

This 7 January 2019 video from India says about itself:

2-Day Bharat Bandh As 20 Crore Workers Go On Strike Against [Central Government’]s Anti-Labour Policies

Trade unions across India are observing a Bharat bandh as over 20 crore workers go on strike today and tomorrow in protest against the [central government‘]s anti-labour policies.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

All-India strikes continue on day two

INDIA was brought to a standstill for a second day today as an estimated 200 million people nationwide took strike action against the right-wing government.

Roads were blocked across the country and public transport was shut down in a number of areas, including West Bengal, Kerala and Mumbai.

Police responded by arresting scores of protesters, having already detained Communist Party of India (Marxist) leaders in West Bengal on Tuesday, on the first day of the strike.

Ten unions affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (Citu) called the action after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government rejected their 12-point charter of demands, which included a rise in the minimum wage and measures to boost the economy.

They are angry at “irrational” proposed amendments to the country’s employment laws, warning that they threaten independent trade unions’ ability to operate.

The Citu said the government has continued its “aggressive attack with arrogance on the lives and livelihood of working people.”

Farmworkers joined the strike, as did large swathes of the public and private sectors. Marches took place across India and there was a large rally outside the parliament building in New Delhi.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) supporters participate in a rally on the second day of a two-day general strike called by various trade unions in Kolkata

From the World Socialist Web Site in India:

Mounting social anger seen in two-day strike against Indian government

By our correspondents

10 January 2019

Tens of millions of workers throughout India yesterday joined the second day of a 48-hour national protest strike against the hated pro-investor economic “reforms” of the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP)-led government.

While the capitalist media largely tried to black-out the strike, it was supported by broad sections of the working class, both in the so-called formal and informal sectors. Moreover, the strike cut across the caste and communal divisions that the ruling capitalist class has used for decades to channel social discontent along reactionary lines.

The large turnout reflects mounting working-class anger toward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s big business-backed government. During its four-and-a-half years in office, it has dramatically intensified a decades-long assault on the Indian working class, one of the largest in the world. This has included savage austerity measures, acceleration of privatisation, promotion of contract-labour, the gutting of environmental and workplace safety standards, and onerous tax increases on working people.

Chief among those taking part in the stoppage were coal miners, postal workers and dockers, as well as bank, insurance, telecommunication, transport and tea estate workers. Workers from government-owned industries were joined by those from global companies like Bosch, Toyota, Volvo, CEAT, Crompton and Samsonite.

Indicating the sharp class tensions and vicious response of the employers and governments, there were numerous reports of violent clashes, sackings and arrests of striking workers. In several states, such as West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, public sector workers defied government threats of dismissals, pay cuts and other disciplinary retaliation.

The most significant conflict erupted at the Daikin air-conditioning plant in the Neemrana industrial hub of Rajasthan, where 12 workers were arrested yesterday on trumped-up charges of rioting and attempted murder, with similar charges against some 700 unnamed workers. This was after police and security guards attacked a rally of about 2,000 strikers, using lathis (heavy iron-tipped sticks), rubber-coated pellets and tear gas shells on Tuesday.

This repression occurred less than 70 kilometres from the Maruti Suzuki car assembly plant at Manesar, in the neighbouring state of Haryana, where 13 workers have been sentenced to life imprisonment on frame-up murder charges. The 13 are the target of a company-government witch hunt for leading strikes and a plant occupation in 2011–12 against sweatshop conditions and precarious contract jobs.

According to reports, the impact of the two-day strike was substantial in key states, including Haryana and Rajasthan, as well as Maharashtra and Goa in the west, Punjab in the north, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in the south and West Bengal and Odisha in the east.

Private hospital workers and workers from the “unorganised” sector, including in the beedi and construction industries, as well as in retail and distribution, joined the strike in many states.

In Kerala, both state-owned and private buses were off the road. Public bus services were stopped in Karnataka and Haryana, where the Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt is located.

In Mumbai, India’s financial centre and second largest city, most banks and government offices were shut down and port operations were crippled. About 32,000 workers from the city’s public transport service continued an indefinite strike for the second day, demanding higher wages and better working conditions, in defiance of a government Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) order outlawing the strike. …

By joining the two-day strike, millions of workers have demonstrated their mounting hostility to the pro-market measures imposed by successive governments since 1991, when the Indian elite set out to transform the country into a cheap labour platform for global corporations.

This is the 18th national strike led by the CITU since 1991. …

India’s much-vaunted “rise” has provided gargantuan wealth to a tiny capitalist elite while condemning the vast majority of people to poverty and economic insecurity, in which any misfortune—from illness to a job loss—can push a family into the social abyss.

Whereas India counted only two billionaires in the mid-1990s, it now boasts about 130—the fourth largest concentration in the world. Meanwhile, more than 70 percent of the population struggles to survive on less than $2 per day. Modi routinely seeks to entice global investors by emphasising that wages in India are no more than a quarter those in China.

The BJP won office in 2014 by pledging to create jobs. This has proven a cruel hoax. A Center for Monitoring Indian Economy study released this week estimated the unemployment rate rose in December to 7.4 percent. If those who have disappeared from the labour force since September 2016 are counted, the true rate is almost 13 percent—that is, more than 50 million unemployed.

To pursue the great-power ambitions of the ruling class, India also has formed a “global strategic partnership” with US imperialism and dramatically increased military spending. With the fifth biggest military budget globally, India now spends two-and-a-half times more on its military than on providing health care to its 1.3 billion people.

Underscoring the government’s callous indifference to the concerns of working people, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley issued a tweet yesterday denouncing the strike. The multi-millionaire accused the “Left trade unions” of seeking “to manufacture a protest on non-existent issues.”

The two-day strike is a part of an emerging international upsurge of the working class, from the Yellow Vest protests in France against the Macron government to US teachers and autoworkers, and Sri Lankan plantation workers who are demanding a doubling of their wages.

In another outbreak of massive working class struggles in India, about 700,000 teachers and state government employees in the southern state of Tamil Nadu have been on indefinite strike since Tuesday. They walked out over a list of demands that includes reversal of retirement pension cuts, pay increases and permanency for school teachers and anganwadi (day care centres) workers: here.

Thousands of striking Bangladesh garment workers continued demonstrations for a fourth day on Wednesday in the face of increasingly violent police attacks. The workers, who are among the lowest paid garment employees in the world, have long been fighting for decent wages to compensate for price increases in food and other basic necessities. On Tuesday, Sumon Mia, a 22-year-old garment worker, was killed and more than 50 others injured when police assaulted protesting workers. Sumon, who worked in the cutting section of the Anlima Textile factory in Savar’s Kornopara area, was not involved in the demonstrations but was returning home from work: here.

Garment workers in Bangladesh are not prepared to die for fashion

GARMENT workers have flooded the streets of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, this week, clashing with police and denouncing the new wages structure introduced on 1st December last year: here.

Thousands of garment workers in the Ashulia district on the outskirts of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, protested on Monday to express their opposition to a meagre wage rise announced by a government-appointed committee the day before. Heavily armed police backed by Bangladesh Border Guard troops dispersed the workers: here.

AS MANY as 11,000 Bangladesh garment workers were sacked in the wake of the pay strikes they waged in December and January, while many have also been physically threatened, attacked, arrested on trumped-up charges and blacklisted: here.

British Conservative attack on Indian, Bangladeshi curry

This video from Ireland says about itself:

Vegan Curry | 5 Minute Dinner

14 June 2016

We’re keeping the 5 minute dinner train rolling this week with a delicious black bean curry. Curries are unlimited in their ability to be adapted to your own taste and liking.

RECIPE: here.

All the best,

Dave & Steve

After the Italian extreme right attack on eating ‘Islamic’ kebab … after the French neofascist National Front expelling its vice president for ‘treacherously’ eating African couscous … after a racist British multimillionaire landlord banning ‘coloured people’ from renting homes ‘because they eat curry’ … now, Theresa May‘s wobbly Conservative-Irish extreme right coalition government in Britain attacks Indian and Bangladeshi curry restaurants in Britain.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

What a week for a curry

Friday 6th October 2017

PETER FROST is celebrating Indian independence with just one contribution immigrants from the Indian subcontinent have made to the richness of life here in Britain

OVER the last few months I have been studying and celebrating the 70th anniversary of Indian independence and learning a lot more about that turbulent period in Britain’s shameful imperialist history.

Despite what you and I were taught at school and on various boy scout Empire Day celebrations, Indian independence wasn’t a benevolent gift from King George VI, the last Emperor of India or from Lord Mountbatten, last Viceroy of India but was in fact the result of a long-fought battle by the various peoples of the Indian subcontinent to throw off the yoke of British imperialism.

The result of Britain’s hurried and botched independence arrangements saw famine, mass migration, millions of violent deaths and three countries finally emerging from the chaos. Those countries were India and West and East Pakistan. East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971.

We still talk of Indian food eaten in Indian restaurants but in fact well over 80 per cent of those so-called Indian restaurants are owned and staffed by people from Bangladesh. Many of them came originally from the city of Sylhet in north-east Bangladesh.

Two thirds of all meals out in the UK are at least inspired by the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent and the trade is estimated to be worth £4.2 billion a year

Over 100,000 staff are employed by the more than 9,000 curry restaurants in the UK and, in fact, in London there are more restaurants serving Asian food than there are in Bombay and Delhi combined.

Now our government in its rush to appease racist, anti-immigration sentiment is making it more difficult for skilled curry chefs and other restaurant staff to come here to service the curry lovers of Britain.

The British have actually enjoyed food with a bit of bite for a long time. An English cookbook, The Forme of Cury, was published as early as the 1390s. All hot food of the time was referred to as cury. It came from the French word “cuire” which means to cook.

Over 200 years ago, in 1810, an Indian migrant opened Britain’s first curry house to cater for the fashion for spicy food. Dean Mahomed called his curry restaurant the Hindoostanee Coffee House and diners could smoke hookah pipes and recline on bamboo sofas as they tucked into spicy meat and vegetable dishes.

Although this is generally agreed to be the first dedicated curry house, many Britons already had a taste for curry. Many had brought the taste for curry home from army, diplomatic or tea planting service in what we arrogantly called British India.

A handful of British coffee houses had started to serve curries alongside their less exotic offerings.

It wasn’t only men who went to serve the Raj in India and when some of their wives and servants returned, they brought both a taste for curry as well as the skills and recipes to make them.

Some wrote out their own recipes, others may have used one of the many editions of Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, first published in 1747, which contained several recipes for curries and pilaus.

Glasse’s recipes were mild, made with coriander seeds, salt, peppercorns and lemon juice. Later, British cooks would have adopted ginger, cayenne, turmeric, cumin and fenugreek.

The chilli comes from South America, not Asia, and didn’t reach India until the 1600s with the Portuguese. Before that, Indian food was spiced with pepper and mustard seed so these old recipes for milder curries may be more authentic than we think.

Piccalilli, now a very British pickle, was an early English attempt at Indian dish. Rice based kedgeree became a popular country house breakfast dish for the well-to-do.

Curry became so popular that by 1852 a popular cookbook stated few dinners are thought complete unless there is at least one curry on the table.

The enthusiasm for all things Indian including curry cooled somewhat after 1857, when Indian soldiers rebelled against British rule.

By the beginning of the 20th century, the British diet, at least for the affluent, was dominated by red meat and vegetables, such as cabbage and potatoes.

Over the next few years a number of Indian sailors jumped ship or were dumped at major ports, including Cardiff and London. Many of these seamen were from Sylhet and opened cafes, mainly to cater for fellow Asians.

In the 1940s, they bought bombed-out chippies and cafes and sold their native curry and rice alongside fish and chips and pies. They stayed open really late to make money to catch the after-pub trade. And so the ritual of the post-pub curry was born.

After 1971, there was an influx of Bangladeshis following war in their homeland. Many entered the catering trade, particularly in London’s rundown East End and today they still dominate the curry industry.

The demand for tasty curry grew and grew. Labour’s former foreign secretary Robin Cook once even described chicken tikka masala as “a true British national dish.”

The masala sauce and indeed what Cook claimed to be Britain’s most popular curry was actually invented by a curry chef in Glasgow decades ago (though this is disputed) to satisfy customers who demanded gravy with their curry.

Today, curries and the places that sell them are moving up market and getting posher and more expensive. Some are serving many tiny taster dishes in Spanish tapas style. On my visits to India, I found the food delicious but not at all like the offerings the curry restaurants of Britain serve.

Like millions of other people of all races, colours and creeds, I’ll be celebrating Indian independence with just one of the wonderful gifts that immigrants from the subcontinent have made to our country’s culture — I’m off to have a curry.

A word about words

THERE are many suggestions about the origins of the word curry. One theory suggests the word comes from kari, Tamil for sauce.

Over 600 years ago in 1390, the English cookbook, The Forme of Cury, was published. All spicy food of the time was referred to as “cury.” It came from the French word “cuire” which means to cook.

A further suggestion is that the word derived from curdi, a yoghurt based spicy soup originating in Gujarat, Western India.

The Indian subcontinent has over 22 official languages and over 16,000 other dialects. Only around 150 of these have a sizeable speaking population.

They have made a major contribution the British tongue. Here are a few examples: atoll, avatar, bandana, bangle, bazaar, Blighty, bungalow, cashmere, catamaran, char, cheroot, cheetah, chintz, chit, chokey, chutney, cot, cummerbund, curry, dinghy, dungarees, guru, gymkhana, hullabaloo, jodhpur, jungle, juggernaut, jute, khaki, kedgeree, loot, nirvana, pariah, pashmina, polo, pukka, pundit, purdah, pyjamas, sari, shampoo, shawl, swastika, teak, thug, toddy, typhoon, veranda, yoga.

Save vultures of Bangladesh

This video says about itself:

A ‘Restaurant’ for Cambodia’s Endangered Vultures

16 June 2016

The Prey Siem Pang Lech Wildlife Sanctuary provides a safe home for vultures and other threatened Cambodian wildlife.

From BirdLife:

3 Apr 2017

One quarter of Bangladesh is safe from recently exposed vulture-killing drug

After successfully banning two drugs poisonous to vultures, Bangladesh is leading the way in Asian vulture conservation, and moving towards banning a third

By Shaun Hurrell

You may not remember how to pronounce it, but you quite possibly have heard of “diclofenac”, the vulture-killing drug which caused the most dramatic bird decline in modern history, wiping out over 99% of Asia’s vultures in the 1990s. If not, then after hearing that, you will surely not forget it. Day to day, concerned owners of livestock use non-sterroidal anti-inflammatories like diclofenac to alleviate pain in their animals. Unfortunately, once these animals die and are consumed by vultures, these drugs cause excruciating pain, kidney failure, and death to the birds.

All four of Asia’s resident vulture species have been listed as Critically Endangered since the diclofenac problem was exposed in the early 2000s (see below). Through the SAVE Partnership (Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction), BirdLife and the RSPB (BirdLife UK) have been working to ban diclofenac in Asian countries and tackling other endangered vulture conservation issues, including creating protected “Vulture Safe Zones”. However, a suite of other replacement non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been exposed that pose lethal risk to vultures, such as “ketoprofen”.

Diclofenac was successfully banned in Bangladesh in 2010, and a further drug “aceclofenac” has similarly been outlawed. “Banning aceclofenac was another important step,” says Chris Bowden, Programme Manager of SAVE, and RSPB.

“It combated what can only be described as a ‘cynical exploitation of a loophole’ by drug companies, as aceclofenac is quickly converted to deadly diclofenac in a treated animal. This has been demonstrated experimentally and published by our SAVE research team.”

However ketoprofen quickly became the main replacement in Bangladesh—but this too has been shown to cause similar kidney failure and lingering death in vultures.

Thankfully, the Bangladesh government has now also declared a ban of ketoprofen in two Vulture Safe Zones—crucial areas for these birds which span 25% of the country. This includes the Bangladesh Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) has banned manufacturers of ketoprofen from selling, distributing, storing and exhibiting the drug in the Vulture Safe Zones. BirdLife applauds the Bangladesh government’s decision as this sets a great precedent for extending the ban to the entire country.

These decisions come as a cumulative result of two years of extensive groundwork done for vulture conservation in the country, and highlighted by SAVE.

“This is a crucial step which we hope will push vets and farmers to switch to using vulture-safe alternative drugs such as ‘meloxicam’,” says Bowden. “This is also an important precedent for the other South Asian countries to follow.”

In 2014, Bangladesh was the first government worldwide to approve the declaration of Vulture Safe Zones. Then, supported by IUCN Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Forest Department and Ministry of Environment & Forest, a team was trained to take extensive measures in the huge 100 km radius area to prevent vulture deaths, involving intensive advocacy and awareness work with vets, farmers, drug suppliers and all relevant authorities.

Other developments in Bangladeshi vulture conservation include the approval of a National Vulture Conservation Action Plan for the long term conservation of vulture species, and the construction of a new rescue centre in the north of the country.

However, Europe has not yet learnt from Asian mistakes, and in 2014 we learned that diclofenac was made available on the EU market, including Spain where 80% of European vultures live. This sparked our ongoing campaign to completely ban the use of veterinary diclofenac in Europe too, which you can support.

Unless you plan on having a “sky burial” (a 3,000-year old Parsi tradition with an uncertain future owing to lack of vultures), then these drugs should be safe for us humans to use; but make sure you don’t forget the names “diclofenac”, “aceclofenac” and “ketoprofen” (and others listed below) and help us spread the use of alternatives such as “meloxicam” amongst vets, farmers, drug stores and suppliers in Asia and Europe.

More information:

Towards a ketoprofen ban in Bangladesh (SAVE website)

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) Alert:

Vulture-toxic NSAIDs:

  • Diclofenac
  • Aceclofenac
  • Ketoprofen
  • Nimesulide
  • Flunixin
  • Carprofen
  • Phenylbutazone

Meloxicam remains the only known vulture-safe NSAID.

Asia’s Critically Endangered vultures

Indian Vulture Gyps indicus

Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris

Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus

White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis

Vultures are declining world-wide, but Europe used to be a safe place. 3 years ago this changed radically when approval was given to the commercialisation of veterinary diclofenac. Today, we launch a new international campaign in Spain, Portugal and Italy that aims to ban the drug that could wipe out Europe’s vultures… just as it has already nearly done in Asia: here.

This week, the Indian Government took an important step towards preventing the extinction of Asia’s Critically Endangered vultures by upholding the ban on large vials of diclofenac, a painkiller that is fatal to vultures. The judge was on the vultures’ side throughout, preferring to call them “sanitary workers” rather than “scavenging birds”: here.

Free Bangladeshi journalist, jailed for garment industry reporting

This 2 January 2017 video is called Bangladesh garment factory workers fired over strike.

Another video, no longer on YouTube, used to say about itself:

27 December 2016

At least 1,500 workers have been sacked from Bangladesh garment factories after protests forced a week-long shutdown at dozens of sites supplying top European and American brands.

Tens of thousands of workers walked out of factories this month in the manufacturing hub of Ashulia which make clothes for top western brands such as Gap, Zara and H&M, prompting concerns over supply during the holiday season.

The protests were sparked by the sacking of 121 workers, but soon evolved into a demand for the trebling of workers’ pay from the current monthly minimum of 5,300 taka (£54).

From daily News Line in Britain:

Friday, 6 January 2017

RELEASE NAZMUL HUDA! – first journalist to report on the Rana Plaza danger

REPORTERS Without Borders (RSF) call for the immediate release of Nazmul Huda, a reporter who was arrested on 24 December 2016 because of his coverage of a strike by garment workers in Ashulia, the Dhaka suburb where Bangladesh’s biggest garment factories are located.

The police accuse Huda, who works for Bangla Daily and Ekushey TV (ETV), a privately-owned satellite TV service, of reporting false information and encouraging the strike that began in mid-December in factories that produce clothes for leading international retail chains such as Gap, Zara and H&M.

Huda’s computer and mobile phone were seized at the time of his arrest. He distinguished himself in 2013 by being the only reporter to draw attention to structural problems in the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka before it collapsed, killing hundreds of garment workers and others.

A Dhaka police officer told Agence France-Presse that Huda is also accused of ‘destabilising the government’ and of meeting secretly with seven trade union leaders, who have also been arrested. The authorities say he was arrested under section 57 of the Information, Communication & Technology Act (ICT Act), which states that deliberately publishing material in electronic form that ‘causes to deteriorate law and order, prejudice the image of the state or person, or causes to hurt religious belief’ is punishable by seven to 14 years in prison.

RSF called for the complete repeal of the ICT Act in September 2013 on the grounds that it ‘enables the government to gag netizens (citizens of the net) and to arrest and detain them without legitimate grounds’.

The amendments adopted in August 2013 ‘permit even more arbitrary behaviour by the police and judicial authorities towards news providers,’ RSF said at the time. Harun Ur Rashid, local correspondent for Deutsche Welle (DW) and former head of programming at ETV, said Huda was the only journalist to have filmed the cracks in the support pillars of the Rana Plaza, a building that housed many garment factories.

Huda’s report was broadcast shortly before the building collapsed in April 2013, with a toll of 1,138 dead and more than 2,000 injured. Rashid praised the ‘unparalleled courage’ of Huda, who reportedly received many death threats after the arrest of the Rana Plaza’s owner, and said he deserved to be recognised for his work instead of ‘being treated like this by the authorities’.

Two days before Huda’s arrest, the powerful Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association decided to close 55 factories in Ashulia on the grounds that they feared acts of vandalism.

Nazmul Huda stands accused of incorrect reporting and holding secret meetings with union leaders – a charge that has been denied by at least one of his employers. He was the first journalist to report on problems with the structure of the Rana Plaza complex, just a day before it collapsed in 2013, killing more than 1,100 people.

The collapse of the building sparked global outrage and put the spotlight on working conditions, low wages and safety standards in a garment sector that manufactured clothes for some major global brands. Garment manufacturing makes up the vast majority of Bangladesh’s exports and any interruption is likely to have an impact on the economy.

It was the sacking of 121 workers that prompted the initial walkout last month. The workers’ protest soon expanded to demand a monthly minimum wage of 16,000 taka (£165; $203). It is currently 5,300 taka (£55; $67).

But factories nevertheless resumed operations on Tuesday 27th December and that was when hundreds discovered they had lost their jobs, reports say. Union chiefs said police used a controversial law to shut down the protests. Ashulia is a vast garment production hub used by clothing companies around the world, including Western giants like Zara, Gap and H&M.

See also here.

The Bangladesh government and the country’s garment industry employers are continuing a joint assault on apparel workers who have been involved in major strikes and protests for higher wages and other demands in a Dhaka industrial area. The repression is aimed at preventing a broader eruption by workers against the living and working conditions they face: here.

Bangladesh government opens apparel factory in prison: here.

Hundreds of Bangladesh readymade garment workers demonstrated outside the national press club and other parts of Dhaka last Friday, a day after the government announced a miserable pay offer from the Minimum Wage Board (MWB). Garment workers have not had their pay increased since 2013. They are demanding minimum monthly pay rates be set at 16,000 taka ($US189.63): here.

Bangladeshi textile workers sacked for striking

This video says about itself:

2 December 2012

After the deaths of over 110 clothing factory workers in Bangladesh, factory employees are going on strike in protest at the dangerous safety conditions at big international label factories and workshops.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Bangladesh: Clothes factory staff sacked for striking

Thursday 29th December 2016

1,600 lose their livelihoods for demanding end to poverty pay

MORE than 1,600 garment workers in Bangladesh have been sacked and 1,500 face charges after walking out against poverty pay.

Clothes factories in Ashulia, a suburb of the capital Dhaka, began to reopen on Tuesday after a week-long strike by workers demanding an increase in the minimum wage from £55 a month to £165.

Most of them make clothing for export, including for well-known Western labels, but are paid a pittance.

Their action was sparked by the sacking of 121 workers, but now many more have been forced out of their jobs.

Bangladesh’s industrial police said that following the shutdown of 21 factories, bosses of a cabal of clothing firms had decided to sack 1,600 workers as an example to the rest.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association vice-president Mahmud Hasan Khan Babu claimed that the workers hadn’t been sacked yet and that bosses had just “started the process of terminating workers who created the troubles.”

But lists of sacked workers were posted on factory gates in Ashulia and the industrial zone was flooded with police: more than 1,000 industrial police, 900 regular officers, border guards and even the heavily armed rapid-action battalion.

Workers’ leader KM Mintu said that the protests “will not be solved permanently without the pay hike.”

Garment workers said that they struggled to feed their families on the £55 a month wage as the cost of rent and essentials had shot up.

“A wage hike is a must for our survival,” Nupur Khatun, who has three children and whose husband is a rickshaw-puller, told Bangladesh’s New Age newspaper.

The Bangladesh Garment Workers Union demanded the withdrawal of charges against workers’ leaders, the release of those arrested and the wage increase. Activists formed a human chain around the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association’s headquarters in Dhaka.

Journalist Nazmul Huda was placed on remand on Tuesday, having been arrested for inciting the garment workers to strike with what police called “inaccurate reports.”

Chipmunks and mice, why are they striped?

This video says about itself:

Place to take footage: Ramna Park, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Date: 03.07.2015

The palm squirrel or three-striped palm squirrel, Funambulus palmarum, is a species of rodent in the family Sciuridae found naturally in Bangladesh & India (south of the Vindhyas) and Sri Lanka. In the late 19th century, the palm squirrel was introduced into Western Australia, where it has since become a minor pest, actively targeted for eradication due to its lack of natural predators. The closely related five-striped palm squirrel, F. pennantii, is found in northern India, and its range partly overlaps with this species.

The palm squirrel is about the size of a large chipmunk, with a bushy tail slightly shorter than its body. The back is a grizzled, gray-brown color with three conspicuous white stripes which run from head to tail. The two outer stripes run from the forelegs to the hind legs only. It has a creamy-white belly and a tail covered with interspersed, long, black and white hair. The ears are small and triangular. Juvenile squirrels have significantly lighter coloration, which gets progressively darker as they age. Albinism is rare, but exists in this species.

From Science News:

Gene gives mice and chipmunks their pinstripes

Biologists identify new molecular pathway behind mammalian fur patterns

By Tina Hesman Saey

2:00pm, November 2, 2016

Chipmunks and other rodents’ light stripes are painted with a recycled brush, a new study suggests.

A protein previously known to guide facial development was repurposed at least twice during evolution to create light-colored stripes on rodents, researchers report November 2 in Nature. The protein, called ALX3, could be an important regulator of stripes in other mammals, including cats and raccoons, says Michael Levine, a developmental biologist at Princeton University who was not involved in the new study.

Some research has shown how butterflies and other insects create their often elaborate wing patterns (SN: 7/17/10, p. 28). But scientists still don’t understand the biological machinery used by mammals to generate the dots, spots, splotches and stripes that decorate their coats. Uncovering the molecular equipment may shed light on the evolutionary processes that help animals camouflage themselves and adapt to their environments.

In the new study, evolutionary developmental biologist Ricardo Mallarino of Harvard University and colleagues examined the multicolored stripes of African striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio). Two light-colored stripes, each flanked by black stripes, run down the mice’s backs. A strip of fur the same brownish color as most of the rest of the body separates the dark-light-dark striping. The patterns are created by three types of hair: Hairs with banded yellow shafts growing from a black base populate the strip in the middle, while completely black hairs from base to tip are found in the black stripes. Hairs with a black base but no pigment in the shaft make up the light stripes.

Those unpigmented hairs were mysterious, says Hopi Hoekstra, the Harvard evolutionary biologist who led the new study. Usually, white hair arises because animals have a mutation that prevents cells from making pigments, she says. But since the African striped mice carry no such mutations, it was clear that the mice must create the stripes in a different way.

In vertebrates, pigment-producing cells called melanocytes migrate around the body as the embryo develops. One way stripes could form is by melanocytes moving to create the pattern. Previous research in zebrafish indicated that stripes on the fish’s sides form that way (SN: 2/22/14, p. 9). Light stripes might result if the melanocytes don’t migrate into a strip of the mice’s skin, the researchers reasoned. Hair would grow there, but wouldn’t have any pigment. That’s the first thing Mallarino checked. He examined white stripes in the skin of striped mouse embryos a couple of days before birth. Melanocytes had no trouble infiltrating the light striped area, he found. But once in the stripe, the cells did not mature properly and so made no pigment.

To find out what might be stopping melanocytes from producing pigment, the researchers examined gene activity in the different types of stripes in the mouse embryos. In the light stripes, the gene that produces ALX3 is much more active than it is in the brown or black stripes, the researchers discovered. That result was a surprise because no one knew that ALX3 is involved in pigmentation, Hoekstra says. It was known for helping to regulate the formation of bones and cartilage in the face.

It wasn’t clear whether the high levels of ALX3 caused the light stripes or not. So Hoekstra’s team did experiments in lab mouse cells to find out how the protein might affect pigmentation. Raising levels of ALX3 in cells interfered with activity of a gene called Mitf, a master regulator of pigment production and melanocyte maturation.

It turns out that even in lab mice more of the protein is made on the belly, which tends to be light colored. Previous pigmentation research failed to turn up ALX3 because researchers were working with white mice, Hoekstra says.

Eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus), which last shared a common ancestor with African striped mice about 70 million years ago, also made more ALX3 in the light stripes on their flanks, the researchers found. The results suggest that different rodents independently recycled ALX3’s ability to make light-colored belly fur and used it to also paint light stripes on the back. Stripes may help rodents that are active during the day blend into the background and avoid the sharp eyes of predators, Hoekstra says.

Evolution tends to be thrifty, often reusing old genes for new purposes, says Nipam Patel, an evolutionary developmental biologist at the University of California, Berkeley. The new study is “a really nice illustration that evolution isn’t biased,” he says. “It takes what it gets and works with that.”

The researchers still don’t know why ALX3 gets turned up in the light stripes. Another protein may turn on its production, or rodents have found other ways to dial up ALX3 production in certain places. Researchers need to discover what turns on ALX3 to pinpoint the exact evolutionary change responsible for the striped pattern, Patel says.