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Valentines warm up sales...

Love is in the air today, but Cupid means business for many. Money is spinning around from the sales of flowers, foods, chocolates, cards and other gift items. It is Valentine's Day.

The celebration gained popularity only in the last few years and is perhaps one of the most celebrated days after religious festivals such as Eid and Christmas.

Local companies including five-star hotels, restaurants, flower shops, card and gift shops, telecom operators, radio stations, bakeries, boutiques, lingerie stores, beauty salons and printing houses are taking care of the courting couples.

MA Awal, sales director of Sonargaon Hotel, said the hotel has already offered Valentine's Day specials, including food promotion and live band show for guests.

“The number of clients at our hotel is increasing every year. This year we have also received good response from our clients for accommodation and dinner reservations and we anticipate more on the day,” he said.
“Sales will almost double on the day. Along with reservation, we get many guests who come to eat out.”

All the five-star hotels are preparing to earn well around Tk 15-20 crore in combined additional revenue on the day, Awal said. “It's not only the upper echelon of the society, people from middle and upper middle-income groups are also in the queue.”
Radisson Water Garden Hotel offers an array of services for couples: candlelit dinners, duo spa dates and welcome drinks.

In recent years most urban couples are moving from traditional gift giving towards dining out, which helps the local restaurants gain brisk sales on the day.

Diners including Pizza Hut, KFC, Bella Italia, Nando's, Coffee World, Flambe, Casablanca and Spaghetti Jazz are ready to pull in the Valentine crowds.

Candies and chocolates remain a must-buy. Rabeya Sulatna, executive of Almas Super Shop, said the sales of chocolate are high.

“All types of chocolate brands -- local or imported -- are generating good sales,” she said.
Chocolate sales centring Valentine's Day generally account for around 15 percent of the total yearly chocolate sales, she said. She refused to disclose the sales figure.

Brands like Cadbury, Aero, Snickers, Maltesers, Twix, Mars, Ferrero Rocher, Meiji Almond, Black Chocolate, Safari and Toffee Crisp are popular, she said.

Greetings card is the oldest agent. Archies Gallery and Hallmark are the two gift outlets that have seen continued growth in sales over the years.

“Although the sales of greetings card are gradually declining, many people still opt for those,” said Monalisa Mita, executive of Archies Gallery at Baridhara, adding that at least 20 percent of the total card revenue comes from Valentine's Day sales.

Last year, the card business bagged around Tk 30 crore, said industry insiders.
Flower shops are also ready. Ferns n Petals, a florist that imports flowers from India and Thailand, has received around 2,500 advance orders for the day.

High-end florists apart, vendors at Shahbagh, Katabon and in the vicinity of the High Court are upbeat on sales.

Around 100 street flower vendors in the areas expect a rise in sales, as the Bangla month of Falgun that brings in spring started yesterday.

“Another contributing factor is the ongoing Ekushey Book Fair, which would increase flower sales,” said Shamsul Ali, a vendor at Shahbagh.

Ali said he sold flowers and bouquets worth Tk 25,000 on the Valentine's Day last year. He expects the figure to rise this year.

Also, most boutiques have launched new collections to celebrate the day and for spring.
Aarong, Kay Kraft, Bibiana, Onnomela, Nipun, Sadakalo and Deshal have come up their collection of saris and other trendy outfits and home décor items.

They are offering attractive discounts on several items. The boutiques are expecting brisk sales.

Beauty salons are also busy these days. Kaya Skin Clinic, a newly launched salon, has offered gift items including skin care products for the clients.

Source: The Daily Star

Boshonto Utshab at Dhaka University: Ushering in spring..

With the theme "Esho Mili Praner Utshabey," members of Jatiyo Bashonto Udjapon Parishad ushered in Pahela Falgun (the first day of spring in the Bengali calendar) with an elaborate cultural programme at Bakultala, Faculty of Fine Arts (FFA) premises yesterday.

Women, as well as adolescent and little girls wearing red, yellow, orange or saffron sari, and men in panjabi started arriving at Bakultala early morning. Though the city has not witnessed much crimson Shimul or Palash yet, marigold and roses were there to compensate. Here and there, students of FFA were painting bright designs on cheeks of children and eager revellers. 

As the crowd grew larger, the mood turned merrier. Inspired by initiatives of iconic figures such as poet Shamsur Rahman, and Tagore exponent Wahidul Haque, Jatiyo Bashonto Utshab Parishad started celebrating Pahela Falgun in the city a decade ago. The celebration is open to all, uniting people from all sections of the society.

The daylong programme was divided into two segments. The first segment of the programme began at 6:45am with a classical dance over one of Priyanka Gope's classical records.

Spring was welcomed with a number of solo and choral renditions of Rabindra Sangeet and other songs by the artistes of Chhayanat, Swarsaptak, Dhrubotan, Surtirtha and other organisations. Noted Tagore artiste Mita Haque performed two solos amongst others. Bhaswar Banerjee, Shimul Mustafa and Kakoli recited poems at the event.

Nritya Nandan, Nritym, BAFA, Shadhona, Dhrupad Kala Kendra, Spondon, Nataraj, Chhayanaut were the leading dance troupes to perform on the occasion. Monipuri raas dance captivated the hearts of many.

The convener of the festival, eminent media personality Aly Zaker and others spoke on the occasion.

The first half of the programme ended with a vibrant rally brought out from the FFA premises with a Tagore number "Rangiye Diye Jao" by the artistes of Chhayanaut. The programme resumed in the afternoon. 

As part of the festival, Jatiyo Bashonto Utshab Parishad organised a programme at Rabindra Sarobar as well on the same day.
Banglalink sponsored the programme.

Source: The Daily Star

Pahela Falgun: City dances to Falgun beat..

The city put on a colourfully festive look yesterday celebrating Pahela Falgun, the first day of spring.

Socio-cultural organisations and educational institutions held a wide range of programmes to mark the day.

Jatiya Bashanto Utshav Udjapan Parishad organised programmes in two phases. The first phase began with recitation of Bangla poems and instrumental music at 7:15am at Bakultala of the Institute of Fine Arts.

Noted singer Priyanka Gop presented classical songs. The parishad then brought out a procession from the institution that ended around 10:00am.

In the second phase, a cultural programme sponsored by a mobile phone operating company was held around 3:30pm at Bakultala. The programme was broadcast live by different television channels.

The programme organisers and artistes started off the cultural functions after voicing their demand for the trial of war criminals.

Thousands of visitors thronged Dhaka University campus in celebration of the day and enjoyed various events including chorus songs, folk dance, folk music, dance of indigenous people, recitation of poems, drama, etc. and procession.

Girls in Bashonti (yellow) sharees with floral ornaments, and boys in colourful panjabis were seen on the campus participating in various events in jovial mood.
Many bands performed concerts at different points of the campus.

As the programme intensified, the queue at the entrance of Fine Arts institute grew longer and TSC compound became more and more crowded.
Security at the entrance was stepped up to manage the gathering.

The huge crowd caused severe tailbacks in the areas adjacent to the university campus.
Another cultural programme organised by the parishad was held at Robindra Sharobor of the city's Dhanmondi in the morning.

Working-class people also joined the celebration. Women and children of this underprivileged section were found selling bangles, flower garlands, etc. Students of the institute were seen painting motifs on visitors' cheeks and hands.
Different private universities and colleges also arranged programmes marking the day. 

Source: The Daily Star

Pohela Falgun: Welcome Boshonto..

This year once again we are going to celebrate the first day of spring Pohela Falgun. Spring or Boshonto consists of two months Falgun and Choitra. We celebrate the first day of Falgun to welcome Boshonto, the season of flowers and all the vibrant colours.

The advent of Falgun wipes away the dry and chilling elements of winter with a subtle touch of warmness. But how much do we know about Pohela Falgun apart from this that the girls roam around the DU campus wrapping themselves up in striking colours and that it is a great day for the love birds?

According to the history of Mughal period Emperor Akbar started the Bengali year in 1585 AD with the intention of collecting revenue by following the solar year. At that time nowroz or the first day of the Bengali year was celebrated with great enthusiasm. Emperor Akbar who was secular in nature abolished all Muslim festivals and introduced fourteen new festivals for the new Bengali year.

The names of the months were not like the present form at that time. It is not known exactly when they became Boiskakh, Jaishthya etc. but all these names were derived from the names of the stars.

The name Falgun came from the star Falguni. The reason behind the naming after starts is that in the Vedic Age (1500 BC) the rishis (ancient Indian scholars) had an obsession with astrology and the stars. Though they use to follow the solar year the mention of Falguni (spring) full moon in Vedic Literature suggests that lunar months were also calculated. Probably the traditional inclination of the rishis to the moon and stars led to the naming of the months after stars.

The significance of Pohela Falgun is very singular in our national life. The way we celebrate Pohela Boishakh and Pohela Falgun in Bangladesh these days started to flourish after the arousal of Bengali Nationalism in 1950s and 1960s.

After the Language Movement people of East Pakistan started to celebrate festivals which were related to the Bengali culture silently defying the anti-Bengali attitude of the then Pakistan Government.
Cultural bodies and general people started celebrating these events with Tagore songs which was banned in 1960s. So celebrating Pohela Falgun was not for having fun only at that time. It was a display of our nationalism.

In the pre-independence period these days worked as a way to flaunt Bengali Nationalism. Unfortunately fundamentalist elements are still in full swing in our country to spoil our national spirit. So it is time again that we start celebrating Pohela Falgun with a renewed enthusiasm with which it was celebrated in the pre-independence period.

The days Pohela Falgun and Boishakh are our two efforts at warding off fundamentalist and anti- nationalistic forces.

These two days are parts of our National Heritage and National History like the Independence Day, the Victory Day and the Language Martyrs Day.

These are meant not for fashion conscious people and love birds only. These days were and are a way to protest fundamentalism, a way to defy racist bans and to protect our national pride and glory.

Brief Description>>

Falgun (Bengali: ফাল্গুন) is the eleventh month in the বঙ্গাব্দ Bangla Calendar and the Bikram Sambat. The first of Falgun is known as “Pohela Falgun” and usually falls on the 13th February of the Gregorian Calendar.

“Pohela Falgun” symbolizes the festival of color, coherence of heart and a refreshing start of life. Nature, that seemed decayed recently, suddenly appears with full of infancy. Nature becomes colorful as flowers like Shimul, Polash, Mango, Rose, Marigolds blossom. Melody of birds or mild touch of the sunshine – everything will make you feel that springtime is the nature’s festival. The day will inspire you to fall in love, to be romantic.

On the occasion, girls are dressed in bashonti (yellow or orange) coloured saree and flowers in hair while boys wear colorful pajama and panjabi to welcome the arrival of spring.

The center point of this festivity is “Bakul-tola” of the Institute of Fine Arts (Commonly known as Charukola) of Dhaka University. The jingle of the celebration is "Esho mili praner utshabe" (Come, let us celebrate life together). Jatiya Boshonto Utshab Udjapan Parishad arranges the main celebration program of the day for over a decade. The celebration usually begins at around 7am in the morning. Thousands of young men and women gather in the morning and celebrate the day with signing songs, reciting poems and dancing. At around 10:00am a rally starts from Bokul-tola, it revolves round the TSC and later ends at Charukola.

The entire Dhaka University Campus and the Ekeushy Boi-mela becomes the best place to hang out with friends, family members and beloved ones.

Truly, Pahela Falgun brings colour and hope in the minds of people irrespective of age and life and living. Celebrate the day.

Source: The Daily Star

Valentine’s Day or Boshonto Utshab..?

Spring, otherwise known as the 'season of love', is here. What makes it even more exciting is that Valentine's Day and Boshonto Utshob dovetail in the month of February.

The comparison stops there. While Boshonto Utshab is an integral part of our culture and heritage, Valentine's Day is a concept imported from the West, resulting in what can only be termed a cultural collision. 

Consequently there are both positive and negative viewpoints about February 14. This phenomenon is especially true for our noted media personalities. 

The Daily Star talked to some of the media veterans about the debate surrounding Valentine's Day.

Ferdous Waheed says, "If I go back in time, there are a lot of memories. But now, at this age, all those memories may sound like crazy stories. At the age of 25 to 35, there is a lot of enthusiasm for such a day, but now all that keenness is gone."

In sharp contrast, Abul Hayat who recently celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary, stopped by on his way home to pick up 40 roses for his lovely wife... "I do not believe that love needs a particular day. I love my wife everyday."

What does Aly Zaker have to say about it? "Love is one of the greatest feelings, it's not only for a day but for all the 365 days. I do not think that it should be for 'fun' as is wrongly portrayed. That's not love. 

There is a western mindset working; our values are somewhat dominated and controlled by them. You can say that the days like Father's Day, Children's Day and Lovers' Day (Valentine's Day) are just a mechanism to boost sales in the market. But that shouldn't be the case. I can't imagine loving my life-partner only one day of the year; my love for her is eternal."

What do the young stars have to say about this?

Actress/model Probha says, “I used to feel strongly about Valentine's Day, say when I was doing my HSC in 2006. The uncanny thing is that at that time, there was mostly a strike on this particular day. So in that way, although I wanted to, I could never really have that much fun. 

However, just the day before, on Pohela Falgun, I had loads of fun. I have this strong feeling that this year is going to be horrible! With no friends to hang out with and maybe I will be busy shooting the entire day.”

Singer Nancy says, "I do not think it's a part of our culture; may be enthusiastic teenagers observe it in a big way. 

However, they don't celebrate love. Girls don make-up and fancy clothes and young men go out to stare at them -- this is not true love. 

For me everyday is for love and other emotions." On this occasion when everyone is considering where to go and spend some special moments with their loved ones, all is not well for some celebrities.

Actress Farah Ruma says, "Although I celebrate every year, this year, my father is unwell and is in hospital. I just hope for the prayers of my fans on this Valentine's Day for my father whom I love the most.”

And then we have rock star, Ayub Bachchu, taking a pro-Valentine's Day stand. "Valentine's Days is for lovers. They observe this day to cherish their loved ones." Bachchu and his band LRB will be performing in Kolkata today, sharing some special moments with his fans in the West Bengal city.

Dancer Shamim Ara Nipa says, "It feels good to have a celebration, but it should be treated differently to express love. However, through a celebration, people can find a new way to express themselves. Love is omnipotent."

In the words of RJ Kebria, "Love is for all times. It's in the form of many feelings and emotions. Even spending a troublesome time with your favourite person can be described as a moment of love." And what about spring and Boshonto Utshob? Almost everyone is excited; there is no debate on this score.

Ayub Bachchu: "Boshonto is not just a season, its a state of mind. Nature wears a new face, and people put on new clothes and embellishments. It's the magic of spring that prevails in nature and in the hearts of Bangladeshis.

Dancer Tamanna Rahman points out that Boshonto Utshab is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in Bengal. Tamanna is unequivocal about the irrelevance of Valentine's Day for her. As she asserts, "Like many others of my generation, I had no exposure to this celebration in my childhood and teens.

Though this generation celebrates the day in a big way, I somehow cannot relate it to our culture.”

Source: Daily Star

Mountain biking takes off - in Bangladesh..

A new sport has emerged in a country which has a reputation for being one of the flattest in the world - mountain biking in Bangladesh.
The activity is growing in popularity in the south-eastern Chittagong Hill Tracts, a predominantly tribal area bordering Burma.

This is no weekend jaunt through pleasant forestry. Riders have to cope with intense humidity, thick jungle, the danger of malaria and poisonous snakes.

But at least it's safer than riding a bike in one of the country's big cities, where it's generally accepted that cyclists have a short life expectancy.

'Numerous obstacles'
"Bangladesh may only have a few hills where mountain biking is possible," says enthusiast Salman Saeed, "but it is a sport that is really taking off.
"For some time now, younger people in particular have been trying their hand at adventure sports. Recently a group of young boys attempted for the first time to scale the highest peak of

Bangladesh - called Saka Haphlong at 1,063m (3,490ft) - with their mountain bikes.
Mountain biking in the Chittagong Hill Tracts
It is not always easy-going in the hill tracts
"And despite numerous obstacles, they succeeded. The most difficult part of the trip was the fact that the bicycles they used were weak and needed to be repaired throughout the trip."

The sport is proving to be most popular in Bandarban, part of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, where riders receive local support when crossing various parts of the River Sangu from the local tribal community.

"The roads in the hill tracts are mostly used by locals on foot, and occasionally by trucks carrying logs from the forest," explained Mr Saeed.

"Riding a bicycle is not a common scenario for these local tribal people. When passing through these small villages the kids thought that some alien riders had entered their territory!"

Heavily militarised
The cyclists are frequently invited into the houses of local people for meals where they are encouraged to explain how their bikes work.

All this would have been inconceivable even five years ago, when the Chittagong Hill Tracts remained heavily militarised despite the signing of the peace treaty in 1997.

The treaty brought an end to a 20-year insurgency waged by tribal people who were unhappy about the influx of Bengali settlers to what they saw as their ancestral homelands.
In a sign of lowering of tension in the area, last July the government withdrew three battalions of troops from the region.

Although there have been signs of unrest bubbling beneath the surface, the hill tracts have mostly remained peaceful with no kidnappings of tourists and government officials that plagued the area 10 years ago.

Now cyclists like Mr Saeed are hoping to take their sport to other parts of rural Bangladesh.
 "This is a new sport in a very crowded country where road safety is far from exemplary," said Mr Saeed.

"So the future of the sport in Bangladesh remains very much unwritten. But there is no adventure without difficulties!

"Because large parts of the hill tracts are yet to be explored we have formed a community of young cycling enthusiasts called Kewkradong Bangladesh.

"The name is taken from the local Bowm language - in gratitude towards the help and hospitality we have received from the ethnic communities."

Source: BBC News

Politics: Bangladesh SC declares illegal amendment allowing religion in politics..

Bangladesh’s Supreme Court on Tuesday declared as illegal a Constitutional amendment that had allowed religion-based political parities to flourish in the country, paving the way for the government to ban such groups.
The Supreme Court’s order came on two writ petitions challenging an earlier High Court verdict that had declared the 1979 Fifth Amendment to the Constitution as illegal.
A six-member bench of the apex court’s Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Md Tafazzul Islam upheld the High Court verdict after six days of hearing on the two leave-to-appeal petitions filed by opposition BNP Secretary General Khondker Delwar Hossain and three lawyers from its key ally Jamaat-e-Islami.
The amendment declared illegal had also legitimised the governments that came to power following the coup of August 15, 1975 in which Bangladesh’s founder president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of his family members was killed.
The then deputy army chief general Ziaur Rahman had subsequently emerged as the strongman of Bangladesh and ascended to presidency, floating the BNP as a political party.
His regime had also scrapped an earlier Constitutional ban on religion-based politics through the Fifth Amendment.
The August 2005 High Court judgement had also rendered illegal the regimes of Khandaker Moshtaque Ahmed, Abu Sadaat Mohammad Sayem along side that of Ziaur Rahman between August 15, 1975 and April 9, 1979.
Law Minister Shafique Ahmed had recently said the government was awaiting the apex court verdict to take a decision on banning religion-based political parties.
The Fifth Amendment was carried out during late president Ziaur Rahman’s BNP government in 1979 that had allowed the religion-based political parties and added the Arabic ‘Bismillah-ar-Rahman-ar-Rahim’ or in the name of God, the most merciful, benevolent in the preamble of the Constitution.
Ahmed, however, said the words ‘Bismillahir-ar-Rahman-ar Rahim’ would remain intact in the preamble.
The original Constitution of 1972 had embodied four fundamental principles of nationalism, socialism, democracy, and secularism.

>>Source: The Hindu February 2, 2010

Economics: Bangladesh seeks $7 bln foreign investment for power..

Bangladesh is seeking $7 billion of foreign investment to boost its electricity generation, a shortage of which has slowed the country's economic development, a government adviser said on Thursday.

"We invited foreign investors during a four-day road show in Singapore and New York as we need huge direct foreign investment to spur our economy," said Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, energy and power adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The two-day show in Singapore was held from Jan. 25, followed by another in New York from Jan. 28.

"About 25 globally reputed companies like Morgan Stanley (MS.N), Siemens (SIEGn.DE), AES Corp (AES.N), ConocoPhillips (COP.N), Caterpillar (CAT.N) and HSBC (HSBA.L) participated in the road show and showed keenness to invest in Bangladesh," Tawfiq told a news conference.

Bangladesh also held a similar show last month in London.

Due to technical constraints and shortfalls of natural gas supply, Bangladesh can produce only around a maximum of 3,700 MW of electricity while peak hour demand reaches more than 5,500 MW, officials said.

Electricity demand has been growing by 7.50 percent annually since 1990.
Around 40 percent of Bangladesh's 150 million population has access to electricity, one of the lowest levels in the world.

"Augmenting electricity generation is a key priority of the present government and we are committed to generate 5,000 MW by 2011, and 7,000 MW by 2013 and that will require an investment of $7 billion," Tawfiq told reporters.

The government will float a pre-qualification international tender this month to set up four natural gas or diesel fired power plants with total capacity of 800 MW, he said.

He said another pre-qualification international tender would be floated in July this year for four coal-fired plants.

Tawfiq said foreign experts would visit Bangladesh in March to discuss liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports.

"We feel that it would not be difficult as the private sector investors both at home and abroad, along with our development partners including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, expressed desire to play a major role in this, while the government will play the role of the catalyst," he said.

Bangladesh also plans to import up to 1,200 MW of electricity from India by the middle of 2012.

Source: Reuters

11th SA Games 2010: Trio shoot 4th gold for host..

From Left to Right: Shovon Chowdhury, Asif Hossain Khan and Abdullah Hel Baki cheer after winning the gold medal in 10-metre air rifle group shooting event.

Ace shooter Asif Hossain Khan led Bangladesh to win the gold medal of the men’s 10 Meter Air Rifle team event taking Bangladesh’s gold tally to four at the National Shooting complex in Dhaka on Wednesday 03 February 2010.

However Asif finished second in the individual event scoring 694.4 while Imran Hasan Khan of India shot 697.3 to grab the gold medal. Shovon Chowdhury bagged the bronze scoring 690.3.Asif led the roster till the eighth shot of the individual event but faltered in the ninth totaling 6.5 that took the gold away from him.

Asif shot the highest 596 in the team event while his teammates Abdullah Hel Baki scored 591 and Shovon Chowdhury totaled 588 to compile 1775 that presented Bangladesh the expected gold medal of the event. Before the start of the games Bangladesh team management aspired to win the gold medals of both the mens and womens 10 M Air Rifle title and the shooters provided the country the opportunity to celebrate the success in consecutive days. Bangladesh womens team won the gold on Tuesday.

Indian team comprising Imran Hasan Khan, Satyender Singh and Dhirender Singh Jamwal totaled 1764 with scores of 594, 588 and 582 respectively to win the Silver. Tikaram Shrestha with the score of 578, Chanas Rai totaling 574 and Krishna Bahadur Ghorasaeni shot 567 to sum up 1719 that provided the bronze medal to Nepal.

Asif however was repenting for losing the individual gold. ‘I apologize to the country for failing to win the individual gold, I was always confident of finishing at the top but a sudden loss of concentration made all the difference’ said Asif.

Asif looked forward to achieve the feat. ‘What I can say that it is a new beginning for me and I pledge to train hard for the future glory, I will try my best to lift the national flag in the future meets’ said Asif.

Shovon Chowdhury the 17 year old sensation also was ecstatic with the feat. ‘It is great motivation for me now I can look forward to win more in the upcoming days’ said Shovon.

Abdullah Hel Baki was also relishing the moment. ‘Winning the gold in the own yard have a feelings that is unmatched, we dedicate the feat to our family and to our countrymen’ said Baki.

Source: The Daily Star, February 3, 2010

11th SA Games 2010: Golden girls shoot to glory..

The golden girls of Bangladesh (L-R) Sadia Sultana, Sharmin Akhter Ratna and Tripti Datta are over the moon after winning the women's 10m air rifle team event gold at the National Shooting Range yesterday

Sharmin Akhter Ratna scripted history for Bangladesh in shooting when she won both the individual and team event gold in the women's 10m air rifle competitions of the 11th South Asian Games at the Gulshan Shooting Range yesterday.
The expectation was that the three Bangladeshi young prospects Ratna, Syeda Sadia Sultana and Tripti Datta would do something special in the regional showpiece event, but what the trio has done in battle of nerve, accuracy and unbridled emotion was beyond anybody's guess.
It was a day for Ratna, who transformed her years of training into near-perfection when it mattered most. The 21-year-old from Magura shattered the Games record by scoring 499.4 out of 509. The previous best was India's Radhika Varalle's 498.1 in Colombo 2006.
After scoring 398 in her first ten shots, Ratna went into the shoot-off as favourite and from there on she didn't look behind to complete a magnificent double that no other shooter of the country has achieved before in any international meet.
Sadia took the silver with an aggregate of 498.3 points, but Tripti, who score of 396 earned Bangladesh the team event gold, missed the individual bronze by a whisker.
India's Mampi Das with a total of 496.9 points, 0.1 more than Tripti, took the individual bronze in an exciting battle that kept everybody on the edge of their seats.
Mampi (394), Sruti Tushar Bhatepatil (391), Tejaswini Manojrao (390), won the silver in the team event while Nazis Khan (386), Nosheen Maqsood Ali (382) and Naheda Naqvi (379) took the bronze for Pakistan.
Ratna is very popular for her carefree approach and there was no shortage of confidence when she was talking with the reporters after her dazzling effort, which helped the hosts to make a bright start in the shooting event on the opening day.
"I always love to dream something big. I achieved my best score today and so far it's best achievement in my career also and I think self-confidence was the key behind my success apart from my coach's contributions. Now my target is to hunt gold in a bigger international stage like Olympics," said a delighted Ratna, whose efforts stunned everybody after the way she improved her previous best.
"India had the favourites tag but we had the confidence and it was just a matter for us to prove ourselves in the field. And we did exactly that today. That's it," said Ratna referring to their brilliant team effort, which almost outclassed their Indian challengers.
"Magura is known to people because of Shakib (Al Hasan) but from now on it will be known because of me also," said the smiling Ratna.
The battle of two Bangladeshi shooters Ratna and Sadia was the most exciting part in the day's event as the latter pushed the champion shooter hard but finally lost as Ratna bounced back strongly in the last two shots to win by a small margin.
"I'm really happy with the outcome because it's my best effort. It's really great that we won the team and individual gold medal in the event. My father inspired me to take up this sport when I was only 10 years old and you know it's my first big event and I got the silver," said a delighted Sadia, who hails from Chittagong.
"I think the most important thing in shooting is how much you concentrate on your game. I always do meditation and you may be surprised to learn that I don't even use mobile phone," she added.
The lady from Mymen singh, Tripti, however was in a gloomy mood as she could not accept the fact that she lost the individual bronze to the Indian shooter.
"It's not because I lost the bronze rather I'm disappointed as I could not show my best in the shoot-off which is my favourite. Still, I am delighted with our team and individual efforts," said Tripti.
When the women's team were over the moon, the men's team members were nowhere in the 25m Standard Pistol event at the same venue where India stole the show, led by Vivek Singh, who also won the doubles in the event.
Vivek (570), along with Harpreet Singh (550), Chandra shekhar Kumar Chowdhury (555), first led India to aggregate a grand total of 1675 to clinch the gold where Maqbool Hussain Tabbasum (538), Muhammad Younas (547), Mustaqeem Shah (556) aggregated 1641 to secure the silver for Pakistan and Sri Lanka's NGN Pedige (524), TDS Femando (551) and SE Mudiyanselage (511) finished with 1586 to bag the bronze.
Vivek clinched the individual gold with 570 while Mustaqeem (556) won the silver for Pakistan and Chandrashekhar finished with 555 to confirm the bronze also for India.

Source: The Daily Star/February 3, 2010

Cricket: Poor Bangladesh start makes tour a hard sell..

New Zealand v Bangladesh, Twenty20, Hamilton

New Zealand 79 for 0 (McCullum 56*) beat Bangladesh 78 (Vettori 3-6, Nathan McCullum 2-15) by 10 wickets..

Brendon McCullum admires his handiwork as New Zealand cruised to victory last night. McCullum belted 56 off 27 balls to see his side home.

Deep down, New Zealand officials would have been hoping for a decent contest to start Bangladesh's tour.
Their generosity of thought would not have extended to a loss for the hosts but at least something remotely competitive to spark interest for the remaining four matches.
It was a balmy night, and a good crowd in with a chirpy Bangladeshi contingent, so the backdrop was spot on.
Unfortunately based on last night's Twenty20 international at Seddon Park, it's going to be a hard sell.
Having won the toss, the tourists were rolled for just 78, their lowest total in 14 internationals of this format and sixth poorest by anyone.
New Zealand went through their paces competently enough.
They fielded impressively - a tough diving effort by Daryl Tuffey at fine leg the only blemish - and kept up their standards even as the shape of the contest was becoming clearly defined.
The runs were knocked off in 8.2 overs, Brendon McCullum belting 56 off 27 balls, new cap Peter Ingram 20 in 23 balls for a 10-wicket win.
To make a bad night worse, Bangladesh's fielding was inept.
Two straightforward catches were grassed and New Zealand benefited by four overthrows which went past three backup fielders.
Put it all down to a nightmare start. They are better than this.
Ingram got his first international runs with a clipped four off his legs, struck one thunderous drive through the covers and a dismissive pull through mid wicket.
McCullum stepped on the accelerator after, for him, a measured start, and hurried the ending along.
The run of the game bore some resemblance to the third ODI at Queenstown on New Year's Eve, 2007. After bouncing Bangladesh for 93, McCullum smeared an unbeaten 80 off 28 balls, the target being reach in just six overs.
There were less pyrotechnics last night, but the result was no less emphatic.
Search for excuses if you like - their first game, finding their feet and so on - but some of the batting was hopeless.
They managed only eight fours and two sixes in the innings, three of which came from opener Tamim Iqbal in the second over, bowled by Tim Southee.

Cricket: Familiar faces in tourist ranks..

Jamie Siddons and Shakib Al Hasan address the media

Bangladesh's 15-man squad which arrives in Auckland today is loaded with familiar names in terms of their last couple of series against New Zealand.
They are captained by left-arm spinner and gritty batsman Shakib al Hasan, who at one point last year was No 1 on the world ODI allrounder rankings.
Hasan took over the captaincy when first choice, senior fast bowler Mashrafe Mortaza, was ruled out by injury last July.
Mortaza, now over knee surgery, asked not to be considered for the captaincy of this tour, and will not play the one-off test in Hamilton, only the one-day component of the tour.
There are no newcomers in the group, and several players who were in New Zealand late in 2008. They include openers Tamim Iqbal and Junaid Siddique, the lefthand duo who both made their test debut at University Oval in Dunedin, and marked the occasion with half centuries.
However Siddique is only coming for the test.
Shahriar Nafees, at one point tipped as Bangladesh's most promising batsman, has been left behind, his place going to a former Indian Cricket League colleague, Aftab Ahmed.
Left arm spinner Abdur Razzak has been recalled from the squad which lost their two-test series at home to India over the last fortnight.

Wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim, who hit a century in the first test loss to India, is back, as is senior batsman Mohammad Ashraful, a perennially frustrating figure and still only 25, who has failed to fulfil his potential since making his debut nine years ago.
Mortaza and Shahadat Hossain will be the pace bowling spearheads as Bangladesh chase a first test win over New Zealand in nine attempts and look to better an ODI record of one win in 14 matches.
The teams will meet for the first time in a Twenty20 international to start the tour in Hamilton next Wednesday.

Bangladesh squad: Shakib Al Hasan (c), Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique, Mohammad Ashraful, Raqibul Hasan, Mahmudullah, Aftab Ahmed, Naeem Islam, Shahadat Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Abdur Razzak, Nazmul Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Mashrafe Mortaza.

Source: nzherald.co.nz

Cricket: Maturity boosts visitors' morale...

Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons expects captain and allrounder Shakib al Hasan (pictured) to do well.

Two years ago Bangladesh had a whiff of the babes in the cricket woods about them during their New Zealand tour.
Not any more, according to their Australian coach Jamie Siddons, who is expecting them to be far more assertive this time around, starting with the solitary Twenty20 international at Hamilton tomorrow night.
In 2007-08, Bangladesh had moments to savour, but not enough and were outplayed 3-0 in the ODI series and comfortably in both tests.
Much of the personnel remain the same, but there has been development and it's paying dividends, Siddons said.
Now there are several top quality players and the self-belief is on the rise.
"The aim is to try and produce some world-class cricketers and back then I didn't think we had anyone who could walk out and succeed," Siddons said yesterday.
"Now there's three or four guys who every time they go out expect to do well."
He cited captain and allrounder Shakib al Hasan, 20-year-old left-hand opener Tamim Iqbal, 21-year-old wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim - straight off his maiden test hundred against India last month - and talented but frustratingly inconsistent Mohammad Ashraful as players who can stand tall in top company.
Throw in lively young seamer Shahadat Hossain, who created a favourable impression on that last tour, and things are looking up for the least experienced of the nine test nations.
Tamim's 151 against India at Dhaka a few days ago - averaging 58 over the two tests - spoke eloquently of his promise. He marked his test debut at University Oval in Dunedin with two half centuries in 2008 and has stepped up from there.
There was a suspicion that part of Bangladesh's problem in pursuing improvement was that they felt weighed down by the number of substantial defeats. They were becoming accustomed to losing and didn't feel the hurt that should have accompanied repeatedly coming second.
Siddons has a slightly different perspective.
"It was more that when you're getting beaten all the time it's hard to believe in yourselves. It wasn't that they weren't caring, but they didn't believe they could do any better. That was the hard part.
"This team is nothing like that. This team expects to win and perform and I expect them to play well in this series."

Source: nzherald.co.nz
Date: Tuesday Feb 2, 2010
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