Tabith Awal: Man with a vision

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From 1997 to 2001, Mr. Abdul Awal Mintoo wrote 300 letters to his eldest son Tabith Awal, advising him on everything from student politics to agriculture. It was his dearest wish that Tabith would enter public service, for he had high hopes that the youth would eventually implement the many changes the city desperately required. It is this strong sense of civic duty that he passed on to his son, which Tabith Awal has displayed throughout his life in various ways, and it is this drive for continual improvement that he is bringing to the Mayoral Office for the Dhaka North City Corporation.

Tabith Awal won his first election when he was 14 years old. He had stood for the high school student council presidency at the American International School, Dhaka. The school had accepted his nomination as a joke, for it was unheard of that a freshman would rank anywhere against the host of seniors competing. To their dismay, when the votes came in, he started pulling ahead. After a lot of head scratching, the school committee decided that it was too close to call, cancelled the results, and started a fresh election. This was his first brush with democracy, and his competitive nature continues to this day.

From 1997 to 2001, he completed his bachelors and masters from George Washington University, USA, a school renowned for producing famous political figures. There, amongst other things, he was the president of the South Asian Society, which was the representative organization for all Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi students, with an active enrollment of over 2,000 students.

On his return, this trend of public service continued, even while he was successfully contending in the business arena. In the past fifteen years he has worked extensively in the agricultural sector with his seed company, greatly improving the productivity of farmers through hybrid seed research. His crowning achievement has been overseeing the water buffalo genome sequencing, which will allow our farmers to breed cattle specifically suited to Bangladesh. This is an unheard level of scientific and technical expertise displayed by a Bangladeshi company, and has rightly put us on the map as a country capable of technological innovation.

His second passion has always been football, and it is in the sporting arena where he has really excelled. From captaining his school team to playing for Arambagh football club, he displayed the tenacity and discipline required to be a professional athlete. He was at this time also considered for the national team, but could not avail the opportunity due to his other commitments.

After retiring from playing in the premier league, he continued his dedication to the sport by becoming the player manager of the Feni football club. He masterminded the meteoric rise of the club to the pinnacle of footballing success, displaying that leadership and mentoring through sports is a legitimate path to public service, particularly in our country where the people are starved of genuine sporting achievements.

In 2012, Tabith was elected as the youngest vice president of the Bangladesh Football Federation, and the current excellent results of the national team can be attributed directly to the work he and the federation have done to promote the beloved sport.

In that year he was also elected to the council of CNG pump station owners association, which is a nationwide body with a huge membership, due to his sterling work in that sector.

In 2013, he became a director of the Dhaka Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the youngest director ever to be elected, and one of his main achievements has been to induce the youth to join. It has been his aim in every situation to promote and involve the new generation in politics and service to the country

Finally, in April 9th, 2015, following the Election Commission decision to disallow Mr. Abdul Awal Mintoo from running, he was selected by the Bangladesh National Party to be their official candidate for Dhaka City Corporation North, an endorsement by former Prime Minister and Party Leader the Honorable Begum Khaleda Zia which reaffirms the capability and potential which he has displayed throughout his life. It is also a ringing affirmation by BNP of the promise of youth and faith in a new generation of political leaders.

Tabith Awal is the eldest of three brothers. His siblings, Tafsir Awal and Tajwar Awal, are both successful business men and social workers.

He is also ably supported by his wife, Mrs Sawsan Eskander, an actuary working in Micro Insurance, with a masters in mathematics, and his two year old son, Tayvaan.

Finding the north

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Saad Z Hossain

Say one thing about Bengali people, they are resilient. They can get used to the most obnoxious things. Leaded smog is Cuban cigars to us, fish doesn’t taste right without formalin, we are impervious to fire, falling bricks, and sinking boats.

Politicians do their worst, re-enacting the same story over and over again, and the city just carries on, plodding forward towards some kind of middle-income utopia, dragging along it’s coterie of parasites, criminals, and looters. Nothing changes, until it does.

All of a sudden, in one strange mayoral election, held amidst blockades and executions, we find a complete departure from the past, a sweeping aside of the old guard, the promise of something new. Independent candidates of many hues have run before, but never before have any of the two major parties discarded their stalwarts and offered something new!

Now, all of a sudden, in Dhaka North City Corporation, we have a genuine youth candidate, Tabith Awal, born in 1979, without the baggage of our past, unfettered by age-old loyalties, able to see the city for more than his own personal piggy bank. Their candidate is a very nice gentleman, I’m sure, and the ruling party have gone with a conservative choice, but where is the promise here, where is the will to change?

Is there any hope for us if the same people keep coming back, a faceless merry-go-round of politicians mouthing agendas written years ago?

I’m not extolling Tabith Awal’s personal virtues, which I easily could, but rather, the idea that, finally, a major political party has broken ranks and nominated someone out of the traditional power structure. Elections are about representation, first and foremost. Denying people candidates of their choice is the same as denying them the right to vote altogether.

Part of the apathy of elections comes from us looking at the ballot paper and seeing candidates who are mirror images of one another, men who could switch sides of the ballot and still be the same. What is the point of voting, then, if you’re young, and worldly, and know that the game is rigged?

Now, at this moment, we have a real choice, youth to represent the youth, someone who might do something different, who might change the ossified bureaucracy, who might step out of his air conditioned bubble and try to make the city bearable for the rest of us, who might recall what it was like going to your first job interview, of trying to find a place to live on a budget, of trying to find a dead end street to play football during the world cup, of trying to breathe.

Whatever your political affiliations, here is someone who will represent the youth, because he is the youth. Tabith Awal will change the city because he is the change, his very existence on a BNP ballot represents change within the party, a change in philosophy, a throw of the dice into the unknown. And here finally is the sliver of hope that we are evolving, moving beyond the old guard, beyond the old way of doing things, that there is something better for us, and surely it’s worth reaching for, worth taking a chance on, because how else will we ever find out?


This article was first published on April 17 of 2015, on the Dhaka Tribune

Young hopes for north

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Aaqib Md Shatil

Mayfair, a young military official in the Commonwealth forces during the age of Cromwell who was promoted to colonel in his 30s, is the heroic protagonist of Mark Twain’s most popular short stories. The story is about three colonels of the Commonwealth army who were ordered to fake an attack on their enemies so that the force could retreat, as the generals in the army had deemed the battle impossible to win.

However, the three colonels defected in their style and, in a desperate bid to win the battle, actually attacked their foes, ending up with a victory for the Commonwealth army, negating the predictions made by the generals.

Though the actual story is about a totally different event and was inspired by the execution of John Poyer, the battle in that story depicts how the passion of the young can change the game with their spirit of thinking the impossible possible.

However, analysing the reality of Dhaka, many have concluded that it is impossible to revive a city recently ranked the second least livable city in the world, slightly better off than the war-torn Damascus. I assume they forgot about the youths of the city, who have the potential to change their city into a liveable one.

The political parties, however, have counted on the youth extending their support to the young leaders of the parties, so that they may choose them as the mayoral candidates in Dhaka, especially in the north.

The BNP’s candidate, Tabith Mohammed Awal, a George Washington University graduate who is now serving as the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Multimode Group, is the youngest among all the candidates who have declared their candidacy for Dhaka North City Corporation. His academic excellence has made him a very astute businessman. He has also served as the Director of National Bank Limited and is currently serving as the Vice-President of Bangladesh Football Federation.

Additionally, he is a footballer who used to play for Feni Soccer Club. Feni Soccer Club, under his active leadership, managed to finish fourth in the Bangladesh League in 2009-2010. Tabith, a veritable admirer of football, is now the Chairman of the club.

Tabith Awal has gained valuable experience throughout his career within a short period by serving in different organisations, starting from his family business to the national governing body of football. It is believed that he has the potential to become a better mayor.

Tabith Awal has pledged to create a new Dhaka for the new generation. His new Dhaka will be a safer one, a Dhaka where the water crisis will be solved, the adulteration of food will be prevented, and the traffic jams will be reduced. Moreover, he has brought some new ideas to the table, like setting up health booths, knowledge centres, 3R waste management etc.

It seems that the manifesto of Tabith has focused on the day-to-day problems of Dhaka. Tabith, who is a Masters graduate in IT, has emphasised the use of technology to solve the problems Dhaka continues to face.

On the other hand, Zonayed Saki, the chief coordinator of the Gonoshonghoti Andolon, is among those youths who are dreaming of changing the northern part of the capital. Saki, who comes from a leftist political background, has always been vocal on the problems faced by the common people in their everyday life all through his political career.

Zonayed Saki has declared he will provide special financial schemes for the purchase of bicycles with a view to encouraging the use of environment-friendly transport in the roads of the capital. In addition to solving the traffic problem, he has proposed to empower his corporation by buying new public buses if the BRTC fails to increase the number of buses it has under its wing.

Abdullah Al Kafee, the CPB-BSD backed mayoral candidate for DNCC, is another young gun who believes in bringing change in Dhaka North.

Kafee, a left-leaning politician, will provide saplings to all city schools and colleges under a forestation project to make the city “green.” He also pledges to install Wi-Fi network in popular spots throughout the city. Kafee is running the race under the slogan “A liveable Dhaka for all.”

Another candidate with the torch of young hope for the north is Mahi B Chowdhury. Mahi B Chowdhury, a former BNP-backed MP and a Bikalpa Dhara leader, is determined to build a city for the next generation if elected.

Mahi has promised to set up a disaster management department and a department to prevent air, sound, water, and soil pollution. He has said that if elected as mayor, he will install CCTVs everywhere and establish more medical college hospitals to ensure that, at the least, health services are available to mothers, children, and elderly citizens.

No doubt all these candidates are prudent and energetic enough to bring changes in the northern part of the capital and to turn it into a liveable one. But only one of them can reach that place. For him, the best way to bring change is to join hands and march arm in arm with all the candidates for a better Dhaka, the Dhaka we have all dreamt of.

This article was first published on April 19 of 2015, on the Dhaka Tribune