Arcadia Arts Gallery opened with group show of eminent artists

Arcadia Arts Gallery, located at the heart of Banani, opened with an important group show recently. The exhibition, which began on February 16, is showcasing artworks of some of the most eminent artists of the country and beyond, such as Zainul Abedin, Quamrul Hasan, SM Sultan, Alakesh Ghosh, Ivy Zaman, Kanak Chanpa Chakma, and Kalidas Karmakar among others. The co-founders of this hub, Khan Rezaul Hoq and Arneeb Chaudhury, are distinguished art collectors.

The vision behind Arcadia is to create a bridge between artists, art enthusiasts, art critics and the masses. This gallery is built on the idea that art should be made accessible to all. Besides featuring works of established artists, Arcadia plans on curating exhibitions of young and struggling artists as well.

Their liberal outlook extends to them highlighting works of international artists as well. To that end, this exhibition features works of Indian artists such as Maqbul Fida Husain, Jogen Chowdhury, Ajit Sheel, Prabir Kumar Biswas, Taposh Das and Shahjahan.

Internationally celebrated artist Monirul Islam, who is highly appreciated in the artist community for etching out an individual style in his paintings, expressed a thorough delight in being part of this exhibition at Arcadia, and gave his best wishes to the gallery. “At times like these, in the middle of a pandemic, art is the only factor that can bring us respite,” he added.

Acclaimed artist Kanak Chanpa Chakma, popular for her stark semblance of abstract scapes meeting real ones, also congratulated the gallery. She further hoped that more dynamic works of young artists will also be featured in the walls of Arcadia.

The exhibition will be open for all till March 16, but art lovers and collectors must maintain hygiene rules and will require a prior registration to visit the gallery.

The author is a freelance journalist.


Artistes welcome Spotify with open arms

In a recent official announcement, Spotify notified that it will be opening up streaming services in more than 80 territories, including Bangladesh. Last week, the streaming juggernaut officially launched their app in Bangladesh. Since its launch in 2008, Spotify has been the world’s most popular audio streaming subscription service, with 345 million users, including 155 million subscribers, across 170 markets.

Spotify has revolutionised the way audiences consume music. From creating playlists to machine learning algorithms, it helps both listeners and artistes enjoy creating and sharing their hard work.

With it, listeners get access to a range of artistes and songs. The app can suggest songs according to the listener’s mood and preferences. It has also changed the way artistes promote and connect to their listeners as well.

 “It will be great to see a global legal streaming platform accepted by the masses. How successful it will be will ultimately depend on the listeners,” says celebrated singer and actor Tahsan Khan “Illegal music is so widespread nowadays that revenue generation is a big issue for artistes. On that note, I am very happy that a global platform like Spotify has finally launched in Bangladesh.”

“It is a very exciting time for our music industry, as Spotify is a perfect portal for artistes,” shares Zohad Reza Chowdhury, the lead vocalist of renowned band Nemesis.

The platform allows artistes to analyse their fanbase, and plan their releases accordingly. They can update their bios, share their playlists, promote their music, and control how listeners see them on the platform altogether. It helps musicians legally generate revenue from their songs, which also inspires and encourages new and upcoming artistes.

“We can directly upload songs and communicate with the audience now – a game changer in my opinion,” shares Tashfee, a talented young artiste.

 “Platforms like Spotify are now deciding to open up offices in Bangladesh — which is huge for both the artistes and the audience,” shares Elita Karim, renowned singer and journalist. “As an artiste, I can be more confident now in creating new songs and uploading them on the app.”

 “This is a positive turn, as we can finally create our music and we won’t have to worry about the royalty system. In Bangladesh, we have to depend on local companies for our royalties and revenue generation, which will change with Spotify,” shares Elita. “We can now explore how to generate revenue through a global platform, and this is very important for Bangladeshi musicians.”

Artistes will gain access to complete toolkits to see the number of people tuning in and get live updates on their new releases. They can figure out who is listening and how many people are interested. With illegal methods to access music present everywhere, Spotify gives back the power to control and legalise music.

“In every profession, it is highly important to have a proper system for revenue generation. Artistes dedicate their time and effort to create good music and it is very important to make a return out of it as well,” shares renowned composer and singer Habib Wahid. “If this app can reach the masses, it can create a huge impact for artistes and the industry to a great extent.”

“The concept of streaming is relatively new in Bangladesh; however, since Spotify is a giant platform, I hope they have enough strategies to promote the app amongst the masses,” adds Habib. “No matter how big a platform it is, the user base will define everything eventually, and Spotify will play a big role in helping songs reach listeners on a large scale.”

“Spotify has a role to play in the promotions as well. They have to go the distance in promoting music in a way that sparks the listeners’ interest,” says Zohad. “I hope that people will slowly get used to this app,” shares Tahsan Khan. “I think this will change the music industry for the better.”


In remembrance of Talat Mahmood

February 24, 2021, was noted musician Talat Mahmood’s 97th birth anniversary. He was seventeen when his first song was broadcast on All India Radio, Kolkata. He sang, Sab din ek samaan nahin tha, bun jaoon ga kya se kya main, Iska to kuch dhyan nahin tha.  He was popular for his velvety voice.

Talat Mahmood was the only singer away from Bengal who could sing Bengali songs with equal finesse. Being a Hindi singer of repute, his Bengali songs were very popular. He captivated listeners with the song, Ondho rate Jodi ghum bhenge jai, mone pore priyo, chand hoye robo akkasherr gaye, batayon khuley diyo. In 1948, his song, Tumi sundar jodi nahi hoy, tai bolo kiba jay ase, priar ki roop sei jaane, je kohono bhalobase, became popular.

In 1960, he came to the then East Pakistan to sing a string of Bengali songs for the film, “Rajdhanir Bookey”. He is known for the endearing love song, Tomakey legeche ato je bhalo chand bujhi taa jaane, composed by Robin Ghosh and written by K G Mustafa.

Talat Mahmood was born to Manzoor Mahmood in Lucknow. He passed away on May 9, 1998. 


Djokovic ties Federer’s record for most weeks as world No.1

Novak Djokovic equalled Roger Federer’s all-time record for most weeks as ATP world number one on Monday, holding the top spot for the 310th week.

Djokovic’s ninth Australian Open title last month guaranteed that he would surpass Federer’s record on March 8.

Having reached another milestone in his illustrious career, Djokovic had said he would look to adjust his calendar and make overhauling Federer and Rafa Nadal’s joint-record of 20 Grand Slam titles his top priority.

“Now, after achieving the historic number one for the longest weeks at number one, it’s going to be a relief for me because I’m going to focus all my attention on Slams mostly,” the Serb had said after his title triumph at Melbourne Park.

“When you are going for number one ranking, you kind of have to be playing the entire season and you have to be playing well, you have to play all the tournaments.

“My goals will adapt and will shift a little bit, which means that I will have to adjust also my calendar – not have to, but I will have an opportunity to do that which, as a father and a husband, I’m really looking forward to that.”

This is Djokovic’s fifth stint atop the world rankings. The 33-year-old reclaimed the top spot from Nadal in February last year and finished as the year-end number one for the sixth time – tying the record set by American great Pete Sampras.


Ibrahimovic and Mihajlovic to sing at Sanremo festival

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sinisa Mihajlovic may have earned hard man reputations in football, but Italian viewers will get the chance to see their softer side when the two friends sing a duet of 1970s hit ‘Io Vagabondo’ at the Sanremo festival.

The host of the annual music festival, Amadeus, said on Monday that AC Milan striker Ibrahimovic, 39, and Bologna coach Mihajlovic, 52, will perform the 1972 song by Italian band Nomadi on Thursday.

It was also revealed that Ibrahimovic will take part in a sketch with Amadeus and comedian Rosario Fiorello, who both support Milan’s rivals Inter.

The Swede’s participation on four nights of the festival between Tuesday and Saturday had caused controversy in Italy, given that his club have a Serie A game against Udinese on Wednesday before they visit Hellas Verona on Sunday.

Ibrahimovic had planned to continue training in the Ligurian seaside town and travel to participate in both games.

However, he sustained a muscle injury in Sunday’s 2-1 win at AS Roma that reports in Italian media say will rule him out for 10 days.


‘Felt like as if we saw each other after years’

Bangladesh ODI skipper Tamim Iqbal said that it felt like he met his teammates after years when the Bangladesh players were allowed to exit their rooms after spending the first three days in self-isolation inside hotel rooms since landing in New Zealand.  

Bangladesh team reached Christchurch last Wednesday and every member of the squad tested negative in their first two Covid tests. The players had to stay in self-isolation for the first three days and were only allowed to go outside the hotel in small groups for 30 minutes each day since then. And skipper Tamim admitted that he felt a bit ‘weird’ when they were finally allowed to get some fresh air. 

“It kind of felt weird the first time we were allowed to go outside for fresh air as we had to stay inside the room for 2-3 days. Then we were suddenly allowed to go outside and it felt really good to meet everyone. It felt as if we saw each other after years.

“We have a set group of four or five with whom we are allowed to go outside. So, there are many other teammates we have not yet met [since landing in New Zealand]. So, it’s a bit different and challenging,” said Tamim to BCB in a recorded video message today. 

The players will undergo one more Covid test tomorrow and upon returning negative results, they will be allowed to use the gym in small groups after that. 

“If we return negative Covid-19 tests tomorrow then probably we will be able to use gym from the day after. There are two gyms [in the hotel] where we can go in separate groups and use. And if everything stays normal then from the eighth day we will be allowed to practice in small groups on the field. That’s what I am looking forward to as it feels like it has been a long time [since we had practice sessions]. Hopefully, our focus will completely turn to cricket once we start practicing,” added Tamim.

Players have been provided some gym equipment by the BCB and they also have exercise bikes inside their rooms which they use for doing BCB-suggested free-hand exercises and cycling. Apart from doing the routined exercises, Tamim also explained how he has been spending time during the ongoing 14-day mandatory quarantine. 

“Luckily, we have cycle [for gym] inside the room and we have been given a number of gym equipment like bands by the BCB and we can do free-hand exercise and do cycling inside the room. Apart from that, I am actually passing time by watching Netflix, Amazon Prime and by sleeping as we are not allowed to exit our rooms and meet others,” said the left-handed opener. 


10 banks faced capital shortfall of Tk 28,949cr in 2020

Ten banks have faced a capital shortfall of Tk 28,949 crore last year because of their high ratio of defaulted loans.

The 10 banks are Agrani, Basic, Janata, Rupali, Sonali, Bangladesh Krishi, Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan, Bangladesh Commerce, ICB Islamic and Padma.

The banks had earlier suffered a wide range of financial scams that eroded their capital base substantially.

Among the lenders, Bangladesh Krishi Bank faced the highest amount of capital shortfall, which stood at Tk 10,819 crore at the end of last year, data from the central bank showed.

As of December last year, the average capital adequacy ratio (CAR), which determines the adequacy of a bank’s capital in keeping with their risk exposure, stood at 11.64 per cent, down from 11.94 per cent three months earlier.

This means the overall capital base worsened in the final quarter of last year.


IDLC Finance Ltd CEO and MD Arif Khan resigns to start own venture

Arif Khan, managing director and chief executive officer of IDLC Finance, resigned today from his position to ‘start his personal business.’

Khan joined the leading non-bank financial institution five years ago and steered the growth of IDLC and brought down non-performing loans at a time when financial sector was riddled with loan scandals.

Currently at least 10 NBFIs are unable to repay depositors money despite the maturity of their funds as scammers siphoned off a large amount of money from the institutions in recent years.

IDLC’s non-performing loans stood below three percent, which much lower than the ratio of default loans in the NBFI sector.

The ratio of default loans stood at 13.29 percent of the outstanding loans in the NBFI sector.

Khan said he has no rift with the IDLC board rather he wants to do something on his own.

“I am not enjoying what I am doing now. I want to start by own business,” Khan told The Daily Star over phone.

He said that IDLC now stands at a strong financial base and its board is one of the best among all banks and NBFIs.

Before joining the IDLC as MD and CEO, Khan served as commissioner of Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC).

Prior to this, he served IDLC Finance for 15 years and held key positions including the role of Deputy Managing Director, according to the IDLC.

He began his career in 1991 as a Probationary Officer in AB Bank Ltd.

Khan graduated in Finance and Banking from the Dhaka University, and had his MBA from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA). He is a member of the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Bangladesh (ICMAB).


One in four people will have hearing problems by 2050: WHO

One in four of the world’s population will suffer from hearing problems by 2050, the World Health Organization warned Tuesday, calling for extra investment in prevention and treatment.

The first-ever global report on hearing said that the causes of many of the problems — such as infections, diseases, birth defects, noise exposure and lifestyle choices — could be prevented. The report proposed a package of measures, which it calculated would cost $1.33 per person per year.

Against that, it set the figure of nearly a trillion US dollars lost every year because the issue was not being properly addressed.

“Failure to act will be costly in terms of the health and well-being of those affected, and the financial losses arising from their exclusion from communication, education and employment,” said the report.

One in five people worldwide have hearing problems currently, it said.

But the report warned: “The number of people with hearing loss may increase more than 1.5-fold during the next three decades” to 2.5 billion people — up from 1.6 billion in 2019.

Of the 2.5 billion, 700 million would in 2050 have a serious enough condition to require some kind of treatment, it added — up from 430 million in 2019.

Much of the expected rise is due to demographic and population trends, it added.


A major contributor to hearing problems is a lack of access to care, which is particularly striking in low-income countries where there are far fewer professionals available to treat them.

Since nearly 80 percent of people with hearing loss live in such countries, most are not getting the help they need.

Even in richer countries with better facilities, access to care is often uneven, said the report.

And a lack of accurate information and the stigma surrounding ear disease and hearing loss also prevents people getting the care they need.

“Even among health-care providers, knowledge relevant to prevention, early identification and management of hearing loss and ear diseases is commonly lacking,” it noted.

The report proposed a package of measures, including public health initiatives from reducing noise in public spaces to increasing vaccinations for diseases such as meningitis that can cause hearing loss.

It also recommended systematic screening to identify the problem at key points in people’s lives.

Among children, it said, hearing loss could be prevented in 60 percent of cases.

“An estimated one trillion US dollars is lost each year due to our collective failure to adequately address hearing loss,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in the report.

“While the financial burden is enormous, what cannot be quantified is the distress caused by the loss of communication, education and social interaction that accompanies unaddressed hearing loss.”


Russian scientists say Sputnik V performs well against Covid-19 mutations

A Russian trial testing the effectiveness of revaccination with the Sputnik V shot to protect against new mutations of the coronavirus is producing strong results, researchers said on Saturday.

Last month President Vladimir Putin ordered a review by March 15 of Russian-produced vaccines for their effectiveness against new variants spreading in different parts of the world.

“(A) recent study carried out by the Gamaleya Centre in Russia showed that revaccination with Sputnik V vaccine is working very well against new coronavirus mutations, including the UK and South African strains of coronavirus,” said Denis Logunov, a deputy director of the centre, which developed the Sputnik V shot.

Results of the trial are expected to be published soon, but this was the first indication of how the tests are going. No further details were available yet.

So-called viral vector shots – such as Sputnik V and a shot developed by AstraZeneca – use harmless modified viruses as vehicles, or vectors, to carry genetic information that helps the body build immunity against future infections.

The revaccination used the same Sputnik V shot, based upon the same adenovirus vectors. The trial indicated this did not impact effectiveness, Logunov said in a statement to Reuters.

Some scientists have raised the possible risk that the body also develops immunity to the vector itself, recognising it as an intruder and trying to destroy it.

But developers of Sputnik V disagreed this would pose long-term problems.

“We believe that vector-based vaccines are actually better for future revaccinations than vaccines based on other platforms,” Logunov said.

He said that the researchers found that antibodies specific to the vectors used by the shot – which could generate an anti-vector reaction and undermine the work of the shot itself – waned “as early as 56 days after vaccination”.

This conclusion was based on a trial of a vaccine against Ebola developed earlier by the Gamaleya Institute using the same approach as for the Sputnik V shot.

Vector immunity is not a new issue but has come under renewed scrutiny as companies including Johnson & Johnson anticipate regular Covid-19 vaccinations, like annual influenza shots, may be needed to combat new variants of the coronavirus.