How many deaths? People of Bangladesh have gone crazy. They quarrel with each other and fight themselves to ascend the 'hot seat' for the purpose of controlling TV channels. If you are in a family of women majority, you will definitely have to give up your expectation to watch a sports or news channel in the evening. Instead, you have to put your eyes on channels like Star Jalsha, Star Plus, Z Bangla and the like if you are a tenacious type in watching television. Our women watch serials, weep for the characters' sufferings and predict the next episode. How insane our mothers and sisters are!
During Eid-ul Fitr this year, incidents equally shocking and disgracing have happened before our eyes. We have lost some teen lives. A wife has divorced her husband. These are bad effects of satellite TV channels. This we studied in our childhood then seemed unbelievable. The thousand year old Bengali culture has got a great jerk. These personal deaths symbolise the cultural death. The family breakup symbolises the evidence of the decay of Bengali culture and tradition.
I will not blame our women folk for this reason. We have as many as 28 TV channels for entertainment. But most often the programmes they telecast either lack quality or are telecast in between commercial ads. It seems we are watching ads and programmes are being telecast to get a commercial break although it was meant to be the opposite. Who wants to get bored watching programmes full of ads? Besides, if three dramas are made for each TV channel, 28 channels need 84 dramas. Unfortunately, we doubt whether there are enough directors, artists available in the country. Thus the programmes are lacking quality and people are finding for alternatives.
The whole country has been badly affected by some Indian channels as has been mentioned above. The country gets absorbed in watching drama serials of these channels from evening to late at night. This serious addiction has finally resulted in some deaths and breaking of family. A wife in Khulna has chosen the latter in two situations- family or 'Pakhi' (A dress worn by the central character in a drama serial namely 'Bojhe Na She Bojhe Na' aired on Star Jalsha). Girls from Chapai Nawabganj, Chuadanga, Gaibandha, Manikganj and Naogaon have preferred death to not owning 'Pakhi' dress in this Eid. A girl of class ten from Savar committed suicide to protest her father's prohibition from watching drama serial 'Bojhe Na She Bojhe Na' (No one understands). Yes, they (the departed) did not understand and we do not either. The government has made its stance clear that it has no plan right now to stop these channels. And we have made our stance clear that we will keep watching these, whatever happens. But my question is who will take the responsibility of these deaths? And it is very well known to us that all incidents will be tried to make isolated ones. But are they really isolated? Do not they have any connection with these TV serials?
Perhaps it is hardly known to the government that the children do not sit for their studies in the evening. Even they try to find time in the morning to watch the last night's episode that they missed anyhow. What are our children and women learning from these serials? Malevolence, adversity, extra marital affairs, moral depletion and dress up like those characters in the serials!
We are neglecting our culture and getting injected with Indian culture by following the way of behaviour, fashion, dressing etc that are telecast in those serials. Even we are learning their language in a bad way. I am not against learning another language, but it is unsuitable if we learn a language following such TV serials as a language is the representation of the respective culture. Every culture is ingressive and our one is not any exception. The practice of vitiated elements of a culture will surely enter into our one. Gradually, our culture will lose its identification and we will lose confidence and self respect. Who does not know that if a nation loses its confidence and self respect, it can never stand upright with sovereignty? It is none but we who are letting distorted practices of other culture getting inside our one in an unconscious or subconscious mind.
The number of divorces and other anomies has increased in the country. The extreme and malpractice of debased elements of Indian culture by some group has bred some responsive group in our society. Have we ever thought that why religious extremism has emanated suddenly in this country of communal harmony? When one group of people practises extremism, the other group of people turn to be reactive in protest to the former one. Extremism breeds extremism. And for this reason, unrestricted infiltration of foreign culture is mostly responsible.
The economy of Bangladesh is, therefore, experiencing a massive loss too. Huge amount electricity is wasted per annum behind these TV channels. Thousands of crores of taka are spent every year, which ensure a big stumble for our economy. Indian products are capturing our market by replacing and displacing our local products.
These Indian TV channels are telecast in Bangladesh while their sponsors need not pay any extra charges. As a result, publicity of their products is being widened free of cost through these channels! For example, a local soap of Bangladesh for its Tk 35 retailing price is paying 10 per cent or Tk 3.5 charges on billboards, TV channels and retail marketing for business promotion. And from this expense for ads, it is earning 3 output or mileage point out of 10. If it is able to make a 100 unit of sale in a month, it can spend (3.5x100) Tk 350. On the other hand, an Indian product is earning 8 mileage points out of which 5 is for getting publicity without cost through these channels in other country like ours. And if it manages to sell 1000 units in a month, it can pay (3.5x1000) Tk 3,500- ten times more than the local product.
As it is getting publicity more than the local one it can spend more. Thus for spending more on ads, the Indian product is getting 2 more points. Therefore, the mileage points of the Indian product ultimately become (3+5+2) 10 while the local one ensures 3. This ratio will further increase in future till the Indian products get more chances for advertisements.
The government's decision of increasing the downloading fees of these mentioned channels instead of stopping their telecast will help preventing neither cable operators from downloading these channels nor our spectators from watching them. As a result, the number of incidents like deaths and breakups will not take a pause let alone putting a full stop. Our sisters and daughters will commit suicide again and again for another 'Pakhi' dress during upcoming Eids or Pujas. Poor husbands will lament for not having economic solvency to buy their wives 'Pakhi' dress and thus their relationships will break up. There is no scope of denial of a permanent solution to this great social, cultural and economic problem right away.
The writer is Sub-Editor of The Daily Observer