Reuters blog archive
from Ian Bremmer:
In Bangladesh, the search for survivors has become an effort to recover the dead. After a garment factory building collapsed in the Dhaka suburb of Savar last week, residents and rescue workers spent days digging through the rubble hoping to save the lives of people caught in yet another Bangladeshi industrial accident. At least 390 people are thought to have died.
This type of accident is all too common in Bangladesh. In November, more than 100 people died in a garment factory fire when workers could not easily escape the building. In 2006, 84 people were killed in a blaze because fire exits were locked.
This is what happens when a $20 billion industry accounts for 3.2 million jobs and 80 percent of a country’s exports. It needs the industry too much, especially when those jobs have helped push female participation in the workplace from 26.1 percent in 2002-03 to a still-insufficient 36 percent in 2010. The globalized economy demands that Bangladesh provide cheap goods, and cheap goods are easier to manufacture when there aren’t strict rules to follow — or at least when they’re not enforced.
It also helps when those rules are set by the same people who own the factory buildings. A sector that is too big to fail can repel government-induced regulation. Mohammed Sohel Rana, who owned the building that collapsed, was escorted to court yesterday in body armor and a helmet. But the factory wasn’t his only project — he was also a local leader of the ruling party’s youth wing. This is partly why it’s so hard for developing countries to bite the hand that feeds: It would require the powerful to bite themselves.
from The Great Debate:
On Wednesday, while a Bangladeshi survivor of last November’s Tazreen fire that killed 113 people was talking to a Seattle audience about the need for corporations to be held liable for safety violations, it happened again. That day, a factory housing dozens of garment manufacturers in Bangladesh collapsed outside of Dhaka. Since then the death toll has skyrocketed to more than 300 workers, with hundreds more still trapped in the rubble.
Could it be that the so-called convenience of economic globalization is collapsing, too?
from Global Investing:
Fund managers searching for yield are increasing exposure to frontier markets (FM) as a diversification from emerging markets (EM), as the latter have been offering negative relative returns since January, according to MSCI data.
Barings Asset Management said on Monday it plans to launch a frontier markets fund in coming weeks, with a projected 70 percent exposure to frontier markets such as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Sri Lanka and Ukraine.
from Global Investing:
By Alice Baghdjian
Uzbekistan, Bangladesh and Vietnam found themselves cheered and chided this week.
The Corruption Perceptions Index, compiled by Berlin-based watchdog Transparency International, measured the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 176 countries and all three found their way into the bottom half of the study.
from Photographers Blog:
By Andrew Biraj
“Hashi cannot be sad ever. Sadness is a part of our lives, so we don’t bother with sadness. My parents will not be able to identify me anymore. There is a huge difference between my present appearance and the malnourished look of my childhood. I am healthier than before and fit to serve a lot of customers in a day.”
- Hashi (which means happiness), a seventeen-year-old sex worker at Kandapara brothel in Tangail
It was a quieter evening than in hectic Dhaka. The gentle breeze of spring surrounded the cold atmosphere of the small town of Tangail, a town in the north east of Bangladesh. A small walk through a calm neighborhood took me to a place which looked similar to any of the country's slums.
from Expert Zone:
(The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not represent those of Reuters)
When Bangladesh’s neighbours woke up to the news of another aborted coup last month, the fragility of its democracy was vividly evident. In 1971, erstwhile East Pakistan had emerged as an independent, secular, democratic nation -- Bangladesh. The transition had cost between 300,000 to 5 million Bangladeshi lives, by various estimates. Bangladeshi radicals had collaborated with the Pakistani army to enact a genocide that barely found adequate coverage in the West’s humanitarian reporting.
from India Insight:
The military leader of a rebel group seeking independence for India's isolated north-eastern state of Assam earns millions of dollars each year from investments in Bangladesh, a Bangladeshi intelligence report seen by a local news agency revealed.
Police in Bangladesh Sunday fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse Islamist activists trying to enforce a nationwide strike over the removal of a Muslim phrase in the constitution, and witnesses said around 50 people were injured. The clashes erupted when thousands of bludgeon-carrying Islamists cut off a stretch of highway leading to the capital's eastern suburbs with barricades. The protesters also damaged several cargo trucks before the police crackdown, and some 100 people were detained.
from Russell Boyce:
First, congratulations to Pakistan Chief photographer Adrees Latif and Bangladesh based photographer Andrew Biraj for their competition awards this week. Adrees is the winner of the photojournalism category of the ICP Infinity Awards 2011 for his pictures shoot during the floods in Pakistan last year. Andrew won third prize in the singles category of daily life in the World Press Photo Awards for his picture of an overcrowded train in Bangladesh.
Marooned flood victims looking to escape grab the side bars of a hovering Army helicopter which arrived to distribute food supplies in the Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan's Punjab province August 7, 2010. Pakistanis desperate to get out of flooded villages threw themselves at helicopters on Saturday as more heavy rain was expected to intensify both suffering and anger with the government. The disaster killed more than 1,600 people and disrupted the lives of 12 million. REUTERS/Adrees Latif