|A Man in the Moon?
The reason is embedded in a traumatic series of events for Bangladesh 42 years ago, which affected me deeply. I'd finished a series of theses on the origins of Pakistan, the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, and India-Pakistan relations up to what was then the present day.
At that time, the subcontinent erupted in what was called civil war in Pakistan, ending with India's involvement and the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971. Bangladesh was born, and not a moment too soon. During the war, Bengalis of what was former East Pakistan were subjected by the Pakistan army to killing, brutality and horror on a massive scale.
But there were some Bengalis who sided with the occupying troops, for reasons I won't go into here. They gave up intellectuals to the enemy simply because they were potential leaders.
The Hindus of Bangladesh (10% of the population) were a special target, but no Bengali in the former East Pakistan was safe.
Amazingly, some of these traitors were able to escape punishment until very recently – again, for reasons I won't go into except to say they were protected by right-wing politicians and political Islamists of the worst type – those who have acquired more power now than ever before, even though Bengali Islam was never of the extreme type. In fact, Bangladeshi Islam is typically what I'll call 'liberal' [to put it simplistically] until the comparatively recent influence of Saudi orthodoxy [another story].
A sense of over-arching Bengali identity has typically blunted religious difference, but the survivors from the traumas of 1969 to 1971 have long memories – with good reason. Torture, murder, rape and plunder don't disappear in people's minds. They've also witnessed revisionist attempts at an enforcement of strict orthodoxy of a sort alien to old Bengal, and thus to put the traitors into the category of true Muslims. Little wonder the Jamaati are loathed by so many, Muslim and Hindu alike.
So this is not a tale of Hindu-Muslim differences in Bangladesh. Muslim Bengalis suffered terribly, too, at the hands of West Pakistani military thugs. Nor is it to make fools of village folk, because we all have our self-delusions, and the Jamaat has done its mischief amongst them, convincing some that murderers are martyrs. They never were, nor are, nor ever will be heroes.
I visited Bangladesh for the first time of many trips soon after 1971, and saw the legacy of the horror and the destruction caused by the war. There was no doubt what my Ph D topic would be. No, not about the war, but how, in those first years of freedom, an exploited province in a former state that never should have been created was going to become a new nation.
Now I'll allow him to tell his story!
|Delwar Hossain Sayeedi
by Dipen Bhattacharya
You ask how is it possible that in the year of 2013, people could be fooled to see a convicted killer’s face on the moon. But that’s what the Jamaat propaganda has accomplished. In the early hours of Sunday morning, in many parts of Bangladesh, Jamaat activists announced, using loudspeakers, that the image of Sayedee could be seen on the moon. The idea is so preposterous that, even in medieval times, this would not get any traction. But in twenty-first century Bangladesh, it did.
We laughed at the outrageous idea and made fun of the ridiculous photoshop-ed image of Sayedee posted in the Jamaati site Basherkella. Unfortunately, the atrocious call was sufficient to get people out of their houses and infused them with enough Jihadi energy for an early morning rampage. Villagers marched to attack a police station. As a consequence, in Bogra, several people were killed. Sad indeed.
How is this possible? This defies all logic, even Jamaati logic. What does the future hold for a country where thousands can be tricked into believing something so absurd? The Daily Star reports several people called the newspaper to determine the veracity of the sighting. Are the people in Bangladesh so gullible? What is the state of education in the country?
Before I became aware of the Bogra mayhem, I was doing a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation for the amount of energy to create a visible image on the moon. It is necessary to project this energy (light) on the moon so that it would be visible from the earth. The numbers are astronomical, because to put an image on the moon that would be visible from here, you have to match the solar flux at the moon.
The total solar power received over the face of the moon is about 10^16 watts (ten thousand terawatt). That’s 16 zeroes after one. One terawatt is 1,000 gigawatt or 1,000 billion watts. The moon has an albedo of about 0.12, that means about 12% of the solar light is reflected off the lunar surface and on the 2nd March evening about 75% of the moon was illuminated. All this means, on that fateful night, the total lunar power was about 10^15 watts (one thousand terawatt).
Now, how are you going to project a picture of Sayedee on the moon? Let’s use a LCD or multimedia projector. How much energy does the bulb need? About 10^16 watts (ten thousand terawatt).
We are going to assume that the projector beam can be approximated with a very narrow pencil beam so that, as it arrives at the moon, it spreads out just enough to cover the entire moon. The moon has a radius of about 1737 km. We are not going to take into account any light absorption within our atmosphere. We are also assuming there is no other energy loss during transmission.
This means we would need an LCD projector of 10^16 watts. Remember, the moon has to reflect this light to make it visible for us.
What is the total power output of the entire world? 2,300 gigawatt or 2.3 terawatt. That is 2300 x 10^9 or 2.3 x 10^12 watts. Hence, even if we pumped the entire world energy generated per second to our projector, it would have fallen short of the needed wattage or energy by a factor of 5000. (The 5000 number will be much higher if we had taken into account the atmospheric extinction and the directional albedo of the moon.)
So even the energy generated by the entire world will not be capable of reproducing a speck of Sayedee’s red beard on the moon.
Of course, 2.3 x 10^12 watts of power will instantly vaporize the projector, computer, the operators and the entire installation.
But when people believe in divine intervention, all these calculations are beside the point.
|Wikipedia's Man on the Moon
To me, the Southern Hemisphere moon has always presented a much happier visage than the Northern one, because it is 'upside-down' by the Northern standards.
Many thanks, Dipen.
|My Southern Hemisphere Man in the Moon
|Dipen Bhattacharya and Denis Wright, California 1996.