Sunday, February 5, 2012

Child sacrifice to gods still in vogue in India


It is a strange story to believe that some Indians still continue to sacrifice children to their gods to achieve their blessings for better prospects in life! It indeed appears unbelievable and nerve-shaking too to hear such things do happen even at the beginning of 21 century. In fact, it did happen in the Indian province of Chhattisgarh where a seven-year old girl named Lalita Tati was murdered by two Indians and her liver was offered to their gods, believing it would bring them better harvest.

According to media reports, the body of the murdered girl Lalita was found in October last, one week after her parents reported her missing to the police. However, the outside world came to know about this in the first week of January. Perhaps interested quarters somehow managed to keep it from being published in the media.

Deeply superstitious
The media reports also pointed out that in 2010, two children were sacrificed in the same Indian province Chhattisgarh where Lalita was killed in the name of religion in October 2011. The report further says that in 2010, the mutilated body of a factory worker was found in a temple in West Bengal which is also one of the progressive provinces in India. It shows that the illiterate and poorer section of the Indians are still groping in the black hole of superstition and wrong interpretation of religion, as taught by the interested religious leaders. In fact, some Indians, because of their simplicity and deep religious belief, have been following the centuries-old tradition that had been coming down from generations without any serious efforts to free them from their wrong notion. So it does not make any difference whether such crimes are committed in Chhattisgarh, or West Bengal. As a foreign news agency notes what still happen in the “deeply religious and superstition India”, when, “human sacrifices occasionally makes headlines” and usually occurs in poor areas where “some people sever, practitioners of black magic.”

So abduction of children or stealing of new-born babies, to offer them as ‘sacrifice’ to the gods by the Hindus in India is not a new thing. It is a tradition being followed by them as part of socio-religious life. It is said that the Indians of ancient days never heard of or engaged in ‘secularism’ that gives a new light of life, leaving religion to teach and spread other noble lessons for people to follow, abandoning the wrong teachings in the name of religion.

Akbar’s legacy
It may be recalled here that the Indians came to know what ‘secularism’ is and how it separates the ancient religious life, when Mughal Emperor, Akbar the Great, introduction ‘secularism’ as part of administration and political life, by appointing highly qualified Hindu personalities in his army and civil administration. That is why Akbar the Great is known as the father of secularism in India. But Emperor Akbar was not able to free the Indians from following their tradition of ‘child sacrifice’ to gods. Even during the British rule of India over two centuries, the system continued unobstructed, although a number of social reforms were introduced during this period. Perhaps the British rulers kept away, giving the people full freedom of following the prevailing socio-religious practice. However, a great Indian personality, basically a Bengali, Michael Madhusudhan Dutta, took bold steps to stop the burning of the widows alive along with the dead bodies of their husbands during cremation. Also he strongly advocated the remarriage of the widows, instead of forcing them to live a widow’s life for ever.

The Bangladesh scene
Now let us come to Bangladesh as we are in closest neighbourhood of India where we have seen how brutal killings continue of children for sacrifice to their gods for better prospects in life. The Hindu citizens of Bangladesh seem to be far advanced then their counterparts in India. In Bangladesh, they are seldom found or caught in the killing of children as ‘sacrifice’ to their gods for receiving blessings. But the brutal crime – if not for killing but for financial gains – of abduction of children and stealing of new-born babies from hospital beds, seemingly has changed hands and purposes as the crime is going from bad to worse. Nobody knows when it would end unless the government takes firm actions to end such crimes.

According to a latest media report, the police had arrested a number of child abductors in different districts, rescuing three abducted child in Mymensingh and Gazipur districts. The police also arrested a female member of the gang and rescued a child from her possession. According to police report, the abductors seem to be running their ‘business’ of selling children in a planned way. The woman abductor arrested in Mymensingh introduced herself as a school teacher and later abducted a seven year old girl, named Afrin Iqbal, when she was playing with other children near her house. The police report further says that the child abductors go to different villages and abduct children in guise of ‘development workers’ of some insurance companies. The police department now knows all about the ‘operation’ of these criminals, they are now expected to launch their ‘operation’ to arrest these criminals for proper punishment. Otherwise, this ‘crime’ of child-lifting would spread like another phase of ‘corruption.’

Capital punishment
It is reported that most of the abducted children and stolen new-born babies are sold at high prices to those who have no children. But there is no guarantee that these children would not be smuggled across the border for higher prices? However, the people will wait to see how the government tackles this growing crime and what punishment is awarded to the criminals who had already been arrested to show to other criminals to refrain from such heinous crimes. The government should, therefore, award heavy punishment, preferably capital punishment to these criminals, instead of a mere ‘white-wash’ in the name of trial. Let us hope for the best.
BY :  A M M Shahabuddin.

IF DELHI DOESN’T STOP TIPAIMUKH PROJECT Dhaka can wage international legal war

“Guided by the principles of equity, fairness and no harm to either party both the Governments agree to conclude water sharing Treaties/ Agreements with regard to other common rivers”.

[Article IX of the 1996 Thirty-year Ganges Water Sharing Treaty]

By ignoring all bilateral agreements and international laws and conventions on the customary International Law of Trans-boundary Rivers and Lakes, India has decided unilaterally to construct Tipaimukh Dam for “so-called hydro-electricity” on the Barak River in its north-eastern Manipur state; without considering the adverse effect the dam would cause upon the environment and biodiversity of the lower riparian Bangladesh.

By taking this decision unilaterally, India has also violated her international obligation under the express provisions of the 1996 thirty-year Ganges Water Sharing Treaty signed by the heads of state of Bangladesh and India valid until 2026. India is under an international obligation to respect the provisions of this Treaty in the light of the 1969 Vienna Convention on The Law of Treaties, as it was signed by the heads of state of Bangladesh and India.

Question arises: Can Bangladesh refrain India from constructing the proposed Tipaimukh Dam on the Trans-boundary River Barak? In my opinion, if India wishes to construct the proposed the Tipaimukh Dam unilaterally in breach of the principles of equity, fairness and no harm policy to Bangladesh, then Bangladesh would be entitled to wage an international legal war against India before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to refrain India from constructing such a dam on the Barak River.

Therefore in this article an attempt would be made to clarify the possible adverse impact this dam would create upon the environment and bio-diversity of the lower riparian Bangladesh. It will also discuss the international legal rights and remedies available to Bangladesh under international law to wage an international legal war against India for justice.

India has decided to construct the proposed dam on the trans-boundary Barak River which flows between India and Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, it enters through Amalshid of Sylhet and becomes divided at Amalshid into two branches and flows as the Surma River (right branch) and the Kushiara River (left branch). Both become united in Habiganj district and flow down as the Kalni River. The Kalni River joins with Ghorautra River near Bajitpur of Kishoreganj district to become the Meghna River. It then flows to the Padma River near Chandpur district and falls into the Bay of Bengal, constituting a big estuary in Bangladesh. This estuary is the spawning place of Hilsa and other fishes as well as marine lives. The estuary is a part and parcel of ecology of Bangladesh which cannot be measured in terms of money.

Indian PM’s statement
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 8th September 2011 at a Dhaka University conference gave assurance, “I wish to make a public statement and make it clear that India will not take steps that will adversely affect Bangladesh”. Nevertheless Indian government betrayed Bangladesh by signing an agreement on 22nd October 2011 forming a joint venture to construct the Dam on the Barak River in Manipur to produce 1,500-MW Tipaimukh hydroelectric project keeping Bangladesh in the dark.

The history reveals that India never kept her promise before erecting any Dams on the common rivers. Before constructing the Farakka Dam, India did not provide any information regarding the Farakka Dam to the newly independent Bangladesh and constructed the Dam despite receiving strong protests against the Dam from Bangladesh. India initiated bilateral talks with Bangladesh and signed a bi-lateral agreement only after the completion of the project when the newly independent Bangladesh government took India before the International Court of Justice.

Experts opined that the proposed Tipaimukh Dam would be “a dangerous death trap” for Bangladesh as over three crore people of the country and its biodiversity would face serious negative impacts as a consequence of the dam. Many water experts in Bangladesh expressed that the construction of the dam on the Barak River is likely to dry up the flow of the Surma and the Kushiyara, source of the Meghna river and would bring negative ecological and environmental changes in vast areas of Bangladesh. This would ultimately destroy the big estuary of Bangladesh ­ the spawning place of our national fish Hilsa and other fishes.

Research study
In a research paper titled “Hydrological Impact Study of Tipaimukh Dam of India on Bangladesh”, published by the Institute of Water Modelling, Bangladesh in 2005, it was revealed that the erection of this dam would bring disaster for Bangladesh and “...cause long and short term effects of multiple dimensions —- eco-hydrological, morphological, geological, biodiversity and environmental, climatic change and desertification, socio-economical, and finally political...”.

The research paper further expressed that if India is allowed to erect the Tipaimukh dam, the average annual monsoon inflow from the Barak River at Amalshid to the Surma-Kushiyara River system would be reduced by around 10 per cent for the month of June, 23 per cent for July, 16 per cent for August and 15 per cent for September. Water level would fall by more than a metre on average during the month of July at Amalshid station on the Kushiyara River, while this would be around 0.25 metre, 0.15 metre and 0.1 metre at Fenchuganj, Sherpur and Markuli stations respectively. On the other hand, at Kanairghat and Sylhet station on the Surma River, average water level would drop by 0.75 metre and 0.25 metre respectively in the same month. Moreover, flows in July, August and September would be reduced by as much as 27 per cent, 16 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.”

It is also mentionable that the proposed Tipaimukh Dam would be constructed by India at a place on the Barak River which is highly earthquake-prone. “...If an earthquake of magnitude 7 or above on Richter Scale jolts the region...” Mr Akbar Ali Khan opined that, “ would damage the dam causing the risks of flood in Sylhet region of Bangladesh”.

In the past, many dams were damaged by earthquakes. Due to an earthquake in 1925, the Sheffield Dam at Santa Barbara in the USA collapsed. In 2008, Japingo dam in China caved in due to an earthquake. The most serious threat to this dam arises from the possibility of overtopping of water from reservoir caused by unusually excessive rainfall during the flood season (“The Proposed Tipaimukh Dam: Search for Eternal and Perpetual Interests of India and Bangladesh”, Akbar Ali Khan, in The Journal of Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, June 2010).

There are many examples how construction of dams on rivers has affected adversely the environment in the long run. Aswan Dam in Egypt (completed in 1970) has developed major agricultural and environmental problems. The increased use of artificial fertilisers in farmland below the dam has caused chemical pollution which the traditional river silt did not.  Irrigation control has also caused some farmland to be damaged by water logging and increased salinity, a problem complicated by the reduced flow of the river, which allows salt water to encroach further into the delta.

In China, Three Gorges Dam on Yangtze River (fully commissioned in 2009 after 16 years of work, according to plan) is the world’s biggest hydro-power project and some environmental experts say that the Three Gorges Dam is “a model for disaster” and around the world, large dams are causing social and environmental devastations while better alternatives are being ignored.

The discussion reveals that the construction of the proposed Tipaimukh Dam on Barak River would be a “dangerous death trap” for Bangladesh. If India fails to cooperate with Bangladesh to resolve the dispute regarding the Tipaimukh Dam peacefully, in that case, Bangladesh should take this matter before the International Court of Justice without any hesitation.

International Law
Under International Law, India has no right to divert unilaterally the flow of the trans-boundary Barak River by constructing the proposed Dam at Manipur State. In accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of International Watercourses 1997, India is under obligation to provide data and information on the condition of the watercourse, exchange information and consult with Bangladesh, if necessary negotiate on the possible effect of the planned Tipaimukh Dam on the condition of the water of trans-boundary river Barak (Article ­ 11).

Bangladesh has signed and ratified this Convention and therefore can bring India before the International Court opposing projects like Tipaimukh to be built unilaterally by India. The 1997 convention emphasises comprehensive cooperation for equitable utilisation of the watercourses, no-harm to any watercourse stares and adequate protection of international watercourses.

In addition, India is also under international obligation to give adequate notice to Bangladesh regarding the proposed dam which would have significant adverse impact on Bangladesh. This Notice must provide sufficient technical information to enable Bangladesh to determine whether her interest will be adversely affected. Prior notification is an international obligation regardless of whether there is a special agreement between India and Bangladesh. India has not yet given any notice to Bangladesh with sufficient technical information regarding the proposed Tipaimukh Dam to enable Bangladesh to determine whether her interest will be adversely affected. By signing an agreement on 22nd September 2011 without giving any notification to Bangladesh to construct the Tipaimukh Dam on the Barak River, India has clearly violated the provisions of international law.

In accordance with the provisions of the 1996 thirty-year Ganges Water Sharing Treaty India is under an international obligation to be guided by the principles of equity, fairness and no harm to Bangladesh before the construction of any dam on the trans-boundary Barak River. India has failed to fulfil her commitment under this treaty by failing to share information with Bangladesh regarding the proposed Tipaimukh Dam.

Article 38 of Statute
Under customary international law, Bangladesh has a legal right to forward this matter before the International Court of Justice if India continues to refuse to settle this dispute peacefully and amicably through bi-lateral agreement. In settling this dispute, under Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, the court is empowered to consider the 1996 thirty-year Ganges Water Sharing Treaty treaty for assessing the validity of the proposed construction of Tipaimukh or any other structure on shared rivers between Bangladesh and India.

The International Court of Justice would be entitled to consider the provisions of international conventions, whether general or particular, establishing rules expressly recognized by the contesting states; international custom, as evidence of a general practice accepted as law; the general principles of law recognised by civilised nations; and subject to the provisions of Article 59, judicial decisions and the teachings of the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations, as subsidiary means for the determination of rules of law with a view to settle the dispute between Bangladesh & India regarding the proposed Tipaimukh Dam.

Bangladesh can also apply for an order from the International Court of Justice against India for cessation of the wrongful conduct of India, guarantee by Indian Government for non-repetition of wrongful act, satisfaction, restitution and compensation from the Indian Government.

We should not forget the outcome of bitter experience of the impacts of Farakka barrage. Before erecting this barrage, India gave us a false hope that it would be beneficial for Bangladesh. In reality, over the past 40 years we have experienced how adversely Farakka barrage has affected every aspect of our environment, economy and people of Bangladesh.

If India sticks to its plan of constructing a Barrage at Fulertol or elsewhere to divert the water stored in the Tipaimukh, the impact would be more disastrous than that of the Farakka Barrage. At the national and international levels, Bangladesh should not hesitate to exercise her legal rights freely and independently to express her views to protect her national interest. Bangladesh’s foreign policy should not be subservient to India which would only give India an opportunity to construct the dam unilaterally.  Bangladesh always supports very strongly to resolve any dispute including Tipaimukh Dam with India peacefully. However, Bangladesh cannot ignore her legal rights and cannot allow India to contrast the proposed Tipaimukh Dam unilaterally which would become another “model of disaster” and a “permanent death trap” for Bangladesh.

If India fails to cooperate with Bangladesh to resolve this dispute peacefully, then both the ruling party and the party in opposition should stand on the same platform for the sake of national interest to form a strong uniform consensus to compel India to refrain from erecting the Tipaimukh Dam.  If this diplomatic approach fails, then as a last resort, Bangladesh should not hesitate to wage an international legal war against India and bring her before the International Court of Justice to ensure that she must respect the principles of equity, fairness and the policy of no-harm to Bangladesh before constructing the proposed Tipaimukh Dam on the Barak River.
BY : Barrister M. A. Muid Khan.

Behind Bangladesh’s Failed Coup Plot: A History of Violence

The Bangladeshi military announced Jan. 19 it had foiled a coup plot to unseat the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Sheik Hasina. An army spokesman pinned the “heinous conspiracy” on mid-ranking officers “with extreme religious views” and a network of shadowy interests overseas. Details remain sketchy, but at least two retired military officers have been arrested, over a dozen others have been implicated in the plot, while one prominent officer has gone fugitive. Another supposed conspirator is allegedly in Hong Kong. It’s likely the military’s investigation will yield details of more culprits and suspects in the coming days.

Bangladesh is no stranger to military meddling, having endured three coups and numerous army mutinies in its 40 years of independence, as well as long spells of military rule. The Hasina government came into power in 2009 following a two-year interruption of the country’s tumultuous (some would say dysfunctional) democracy by a caretaker military regime. The year before, I met the country’s then army chief, General Moeen Uddin Ahmed, and wrote a somewhat wary piece of his role in shepherding Bangladesh’s politics along. Soft-spoken and humble, he decried the kleptocratic habits of both Hasina’s Awami League (AL) and the rival Bangladesh National Party (BNP). Still, South Asia — and in particular, the two countries that used to comprise West and East Pakistan — has a long history of military men thinking they know what’s best for their people. I wrote then:

Shying away from democratic commitments, Moeen is far more eager to talk about building effective leadership in Bangladesh and educating its vast, illiterate masses — as he himself puts it — “so that they don’t keep on cutting off their own feet.” Such a tone is fitting for a man who styles himself the redeemer of his country. “You can judge the people of a nation by the type of leaders they select,” he concludes. Most Bangladeshis are wondering when they’ll really get that chance.

Yet, they did get that chance and Moeen’s military presided over an election that international observers hailed as free and fair. True to his word, he had already quietly stepped down from his post even before Hasina and her colleagues were sworn into office. The Bangladesh military as an institution and much of its top brass seems more firmly committed to constitutional politics than, say, their better-known counterparts in Pakistan.

With the emphatic electoral success of the Awami League — a secular, center-left party that once was the standard bearer of Bangladesh’s freedom struggle — it was hoped the country had finally turned the corner on a legacy of discord and bloodshed.

The latest news does not turn the historical page back to a grimmer chapter. But it ought to raise concern. Just months after Hasina came to power, a mutiny by border-security soldiers in an encampment in Dhaka led to over 70 officers being killed. Some 800 military personnel still face trial for their involvement in the uprising, and the crisis frayed ties between the civilian administration and elements of the military establishment.

Moreover, during the Hasina government’s three years of rule, the bickering and enmity between her party and the more Islamist-friendly BNP — one of the most heated, zero-sum rivalries in world politics — remains as it always was. Opposition figures and critics accuse the government of suppressing dissent and unfairly clamping down on Islamists, long at odds with the AL. A landmark war-crimes tribunal investigating the atrocities that accompanied Bangladesh’s 1971 struggle against West Pakistani occupation rounded up a number of Hasina’s chief foes in the country’s most visible Islamist party, the Jamaat-e-Islami.

Not surprisingly, some reports now implicate the global jihadist group Hizb ut-Tahrir in the coup plot, a sign perhaps of not only the knives hovering behind the government’s back, but also a convenient bat with which Hasina and her allies can beat down more religious opponents. AL officials hailed the military’s apprehension of the conspirators as a victory for the entire country. Says Syed Ashraful Islam, AL general secretary:

Those involved in the plot will be identified and brought to justice. They will not have a place in Bangladesh. We might have differences in opinions, but there is no difference in opinions in the case of democracy. So it is the duty of all to protect the democratic system. It is not the government alone, but all are responsible to protect the democracy as there is no future of Bangladesh without it.

As the investigation continues — and (our understanding of) the plot thickens — we’ll get a better sense of what sort of challenge the conspirators truly posed for the country’s democracy. For many Bangladeshis, not least the current Prime Minister, memories of earlier putsches are all too fresh. In 1975, mutinying soldiers burst into the house of Hasina’s father — then Bangladesh’s first ever Prime Minister — Sheik Mujibur Rahman and gunned him and other family members down in the thin dawn light. Tourists can still visit the residence, inspect the bullet holes in the walls and see the ochre stain preserved beneath a pane of glass marking where Rahman died. It’s a legacy that, sadly for Bangladesh, exists far beyond a sentimental museum.

The Rise and Fall of One of the World's Worst-Performing Stock Markets

Nobody in Hafizur Rahman's family asked too many questions when the money they sent home to Bangladesh doubled or even tripled within two to three months. "He was like a prince," says Mirza Golam Sabur of his brother-in-law. So when Sabur was told last May that his 55-year-old brother-in-law died suddenly of a heart attack, he was shocked. Shocking, too, was the discovery that the tens of thousands of dollars sent to Rahman by relatives in Europe and North America was largely gone. The funds that they planned to use to buy retirement homes for relatives in the southern port city of Khulna had disappeared in Bangladesh's volatile stock market.

Woeful tales like the Rahmans' are multiplying across Bangladesh as the country's benchmark stock index, which has dropped 55% since early 2011, continues to fall. Although Bangladesh has seen booms and busts before during its stock exchange's 58-year history, the steep losses suffered over the past 12 months by millions of small investors threaten to bring fresh economic and political turmoil to a long-suffering nation that seemed, at last, to be gaining ground.

Between 2006 and '11 Bangladesh's booming garment industry fueled average economic growth of 6.3%. In 2005, Goldman Sachs included Bangladesh among the "Next 11" rapidly emerging economies to succeed Brazil, Russia, India and China. J.P. Morgan followed suit in 2007, including Bangladesh in its "Frontier Five" 
markets. Today, though, the market's dramatic rise — and swift fall — seems like a cautionary tale for emerging-market investors oblivious to the perils of hasty banking deregulation and rapid capital inflows.

So what went wrong? The country's growth spurt was fueled by the garment industry, where some 2.5 million workers toiled for about $40 a month, a third of wages in southern China. Low costs helped Bangladesh become a hub for global apparel makers, including H&M and Li & Fung. In 1993, the value of Bangladesh's garment exports was under $2 billion, according to Stockholm-based Brummer & Partners, a large private-equity-and-hedge-fund company that invests in Bangladesh. By 2011, garment exports had risen sixfold to $17.9 billion.

Polo shirts and blue jeans were paired with another fast-growing export from Bangladesh: Bangladeshis. Some 5 million Bangladeshis work abroad, many as construction workers, mariners and restaurant owners in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Great Britain, and the $12 billion they sent home last year swelled Bangladesh's $100 billion economy with cash. Coupled with the earnings from garment exports, that cash flooded into more than three dozen banks across the country, many of which were newly licensed, small and unprofessionally managed. As inflation crept up and more banks entered the marketplace, the pressure to generate higher returns for depositors mounted. That, in turn, turned banks into stock-market players. The central bank allowed banks to invest a tenth of their total liabilities in the market. "This was considerably less restrictive than the international norm," says Ifty Islam, managing partner at Dhaka-based investment firm AT Capital.

As banks poured money into stocks, the market rocketed skyward. In 2010, the benchmark index of the Dhaka Stock Exchange climbed over 90%. Such heady gains fed a hunger for investing among small-time players, even among those who knew little about the stocks they were trading. According to AT Capital's Islam, retail brokerage accounts in Bangladesh jumped sevenfold from roughly half a million in 2007 to 3.5 million by 2010. "Many people didn't have any investment knowledge," says Sabur. "But the market was so bullish everyone was buying."

Unsurprisingly, the bubble soon burst. By the end of 2010, inflation had climbed past 11%, pushing up the price of staples. Alarmed, the central bank began tightening, in part by proposing stricter limits on banks investing in the market. That became the trigger of a punishing one-year-old market decline that's wiped out all the gains of 2010 and is now threatening to widen into a more serious economic and political crisis. As Europe's demand for garments slows and fewer Bangladeshis find work abroad, the country has begun to run a current account deficit. That is eroding the value of the Bangladeshi taka, which has dropped by roughly a fifth against the dollar over the past two years and is accelerating the market's slide. "It's going to get worse before it gets better," predicts Arjuna Mahendran, the Singapore-based head of investment strategy for HSBC Private Bank.

Worryingly, high food prices are stoking public anger against the government Sheikh Hasina. Over the past year, groups of disgruntled investors have been regularly gathering outside the stock exchange's Dhaka headquarters to burn tires and protest, venting their frustration with a regime they feel has not taken adequate steps to curb market speculation and protect small investors. Last April, a committee led by Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled, a respected former banker, submitted an official report to the government that alleged extensive market manipulation prior to the initial Jan. 2011 crash, ratcheting up tensions ahead of a general election to be called by mid-2013.

Decades of steady economic progress won't be necessarily unraveled by a market rout alone. Kiron Bose, chief investment officer of Brummer & Partners' Bangladesh-focused private equity fund, emphasizes that the stock market has not traditionally been a major source of capital for Bangladesh. Analysts say the country's larger banks are solvent enough to continue lending to companies and individuals, albeit at double-digit interest rates. "I still believe in the country's long-term story," echoes AT Capital's Islam, who points out, for example, to a report by the consulting firm McKinsey that says if Bangladesh can upgrade its road and ports and Chinese manufacturing rages continue to rise, the country's garment exports could further double to surpass $40 billion over the next decade. Even so, to small investors like Sabur's late brother-in-law, hitching his fortunes to a roller-coaster market was a devastating ordeal.