At a time when people were complaining that the winter had probably forgotten the tract in this part of the world to visit, particularly when a large part of the United States of America was writhing under tons of snow, they could not be blamed. Who knew a great shock and surprise was awaiting them just in the corner! Dhaka, the capital is hotter than most other parts of the land because of the presence of thousands of automobiles, concrete jungles and rush of people. But the capital started to feel the chill as the mercury dropped to 9º Celsius.
Yet this was no news. The news was that the country's lowest ever temperature in more than 50 years was recorded on Monday at 2.6º Celsius in Tetulia, Panchagarh district. All the northern districts were shivering under the severe cold waves sweeping across the region. Contrast this development with the news carried in newspapers a few weeks ago that traders in warm clothes were facing the prospect of incurring losses because there were few customers of their ware. The spate of wintry chill is likely to make all the difference in the situation. And who doesn't know that traders here are highly adept in making the most of the situation. In fact, a Bangla proverb was fashioned on their predatory instinct and its follow-up. The proverb is, " It's the month Poush for some but ruination for others".
As many as 12 deaths were reported on that day. More life will be taken by the cold waves. The collective response to emergency of such nature is fast drying up. It was quite evident during the floods in the northern region this year. Private initiatives were so limited that those for the first time represented a paradigm shift in mentality for humanitarian relief works. With global and local temperature rising, people are now least prepared for the coldest winter in several decades. How this can impact life in the affected areas is anybody's guess.
No organisation has made its appearance in public in support of the cold-stricken people in the country's north. The Rohingya people have drawn the attention of the international community. Following this, the nation has also not been caring enough for the people in the north. First, their sufferings were overlooked when they were smarting under the impact of floods and now again under a severe cold spell. It is unfair to forget the fellow countrymen and women when they are facing the hostilities of Nature.
Well-off people in the city have quite a few unused warm clothes to spare. But they would not go to the northern region for distribution of those among the affected. Some organisation or groups of volunteers have to take the initiative for collection of such disposable warm garments from residents of Dhaka. After all, their move will not be suspect because in today's Bangladesh the second-hand warm clothes are no more in demand. So there is no chance that people will be reluctant to hand over such clothes to volunteers and organisations willing to distribute those among the cold wave-hit people in the country's north.
The spirit of youth is best suited to this task. But today's facebook generation seems to be less interested in such humanitarian programmes. Sure enough, youths in rural areas are unlikely to be addicted to social sites like their counterparts in the capital. But then they cannot organise voluntary groups to collect clothes from residents of the capital. It is the youths with mental bend for social works in the city who will have to lead the way.
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