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Friday, March 24, 2006

Reversal of roles in Anton Chekhov's Heartache

(This post is not about Bangla literature but I think the readers will enjoy it. It is written by Biplob Kishore Deb)
Antony Chekov was one of the greatest short story writers in Russian literature. He had the gift of presenting an ordinary event in a very extraordinary way. Heartache is perhaps such kind of a story in which Chekhov has presented a very ordinary story from everyday life in a very powerful way. While doing it he has used reversal of role among human and animal and this way readers can practically rethink about an ordinary event in the life of an ordinary man.

After the death of the son of Iona Potapov, he broke down emotionally from grief. However, life is tough for poor people and he had to keep on working as a cabby to earn his livelihood. While carrying people in his horse carriage, he tried to tell the passengers about his sorrow. His passengers were from middle class or rich families and they just got annoyed with him for this. They were more concerned to reach their destination in time. Iona's heart only became heavier as he could not share his sorrows and at the end he decided to tell the story of his grief to his horse who was voiceless but attentive listener. Thus at the end the horse turned out to be an animal with humanity while the human beings with animal instincts.

When a person acts badly then others call that he is bad like a beast. Calling a human being as 'bitch' or 'pig' can ignite terrible passion in the persons as they would feel that they had been humiliated by comparing with animals. We like to think humans as superior to animals because animals only eat, sleep, kill and give birth. On the other hand, we have our civilization, kindness, knowledge and humanity. In the story ‘Heartache’Chekhov has depicted the dark side of humanity and he has shown that the dark side of humanity is even worse than animal behavior and aracteristics. The passengers could easily see that something was wrong with Iona but they simply did not care because they were too much consumed with their own interest just as the animals are busy with eating, sleeping and giving birth to new children. These passengers of Iona are only concerned with their own benefit and did not care about Iona's misery because it contained no benefit for them. If Iona was a prince or rich businessman or high government official, they would all have got sympathized or at least would pretend to be sad that a father had lost his only son. Even these people would have pretended to be sad if the dog of a prince had died. Since, Iona was a poor man his son's life did not have any value to the passengers.

Chekhov's story takes place in Russia but it has a universal appeal. Even in our own time and in our own city Dhaka, we can find similar examples all around us all the time. Many times, we get on a rickshaw and the rickshaw puller tells us a tragic story about his son being sick or sister needing to get married. Most of the times, we either try to avoid getting sympathetic as it could cost us money or assume that the man is telling a fake tragic story just to get some extra money by falsehood. Hardly any of us show any sympathy to such a rickshaw puller let alone actually lend a helping hand. The worst brutality that can be found among us is that many of us always make fun of these poor people by telling that they are cheating us with fabricated stories. It is really funny that we forget the fact that more than 50% of our people live below the poverty line and cannot even get enough to eat three times. Thus if we just think of our society then we can find whether Chekhov's
short story “Heartache” has a universal appeal or not. If only we had a powerful story teller like Chekhov, then our animal side would become apparent in our literature.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Upendra Kishore Ray Chowdhury: Famous Children Writer of Bangla literature

Children’s literature is a very important field in the world of literature. Almost in all languages there are stories and poems written or unwritten composed for children. Many famous writers in the world wrote stories for children. Recently, J.K Rowling, the author of Harry Potter has earned name and fame around the world.
In Bengali literature children’s literature is not very old. The first book for children in Bengali was Nitikatha, published by the Calcutta school-book society in 1818. Varna Parichay by Ishwar Chandra Vidya Sagar was my first book. He also wrote Bodhodaya, Kathamala, Charitavali and Akhyanmanjari. Other writers Akshay Kumar Datta (Charupath), Madanmohan Tarkalankar (Shishushiksa) wrote for children as well as for adult audience. Noble laureate Rabindranath Tagore had great contributions in children’s literature. Among contemporary writers Humayun Ahmed, Zafar Iqbal, Imdadul Huq Milan are popular among teenagers.
Upendra Kishore Rai Chowdhury is a towering figure in children’s literature of Bengal. He was the first person who only wrote for children. A painter, musician, writer, and printer Upendra Kishore was a multi faceted genius.
UpendraKishore was born in the village Masua, of Mymensingh district and studied in Mymenshingh Zila School. He established a printing press U Ray & Sons in Calcutta on hundred Garpar Street. His famous works are: Chotoder Ramayan (1894-1895), Sekaler Katha (1903), Chotoder Mahabharat (1909), and Mahabharater Galpa (1909).
The first book of Upendra Kishore I read was “TunTunir Golpo” (A Tailor Bird’s Tale). It was a small book with yellow cover. My father used to read it to me in the bed before going to sleep. In that book my favorite story was ‘Tuntuni are Rajar Kotha’ (The story of the Tailor bird and the King). The central character, a tailor bird (Tuntuni), made her nest near the house of a king. One day king’s men put coins in the sun. At dusk they forgetfully left a coin. The tailor bird saw that coin and took it to his nest. When the king’s men heard about it they took it from her nest. This made the tailor bird very sad and she said,

(Translation: The king is very greedy. He took my money away.)
On hearing this, the king told his men to return the coin. This time the tailor bird said,
(Translation: The king got afraid and returned my money.)
The king after hearing this became very angry and orders his men to catch the bird. The men caught the bird and brought her in front of the king. The king handed the bird to her queens and ordered them to kill it and then cook it for him. The queens were very curious to see the bird and suddenly the tailor bird sleeps out of their hands. So the queens caught a frog and cooked it for king. At first the king thought he had eaten the tailor bird but then the tailor bird started twitting.

(Translation: Hey! Hey! The king has eaten a fried frog)
The king ordered his soldiers to cut down the noses of the queens.
This time the king decided to swallow her alive. So again his man caught the bird and brought it to him. The king swallowed the bird with water but could not keep her for long. He vomited the tailor bird. When the tailor bird was escaping one of the king’s soldiers tried to hit her with the sword but failed to do and instead cut the kings nose. The next day the tailor bird leaves the nest and left the king’s penny. It was actually a fairy tale but very funny. The story was written in simple and easy Bangla language understandable and entertaining to the children.
The first story of the book was ‘Tuntuni ar Beral er Goppo’ (Story of the tailor Bird and cat). A cat (Hulo) wanted to kill the tailor bird and her nestlings but at last he failed in his attempt.
As I have said, Upendra Kishore was not only a talented story writer but also a musician and a major figure in printing. He experimented with halftone pictures in nineteenth century. He made diaphragm, ray-screen adjuster and was the inventor of diotype and ray-print process. He built a printing press U. Ray and Sons in his house at hundred Garpar road, Calcutta. It was also very famous.
Now, any writing on the life of Upendra Kishore will be incomplete without Sandesh. It was the most popular children’s magazine of that time. Sandesh is the name of a kind of sweet made from milk posset, very popular in both East and West Bengal. Sandesh also refers to message or news. Upendra Kishore published this monthly magazine from his press. No wonder, the naming was successful. During that time there were not many magazines for children and teenagers. I did not have the chance to read the real Sandesh. Later, Upendra Kishore’s grandson, SatyaJit Ray, a renowned film maker of the Indian subcontinent wrote about Sandesh in his autobiography which I read. In that book I came across few short poems by Sukumar Ray, Satyajit’s father, famous for his idiotic verse published in the monthly Sandesh.

Other short stories of Upendra Kishore that I read are Othoi Joler Rajpuri, Paka folar, Paji Peter, ChotoVai, Fulpori, Vala are Bura, Tarpor,Kujo are Voot, Banor Rajputra, Lal Suto are Nil suto, Jola are Saat Voot, Satmar Palowan, Ghaghasur, Gupi Gayeen Bagha bayeen*,Finge are kukro and many other stories in “Bonoful Series” by Nirmal Book Agency. One important thing is that these are all actually falls into the category of fairy tales. In this regard, Upendra Kishore can be referred as the Hans Christian of Bengali literature.
The story books of Upendra Kishore are my all time favorite. In my teenage I read the books so many times but I never got bored. The books have become a part of my life.

* Gupi Gayeen Bagha Bayin is written by Upendra and later it was made into a popular movie by his grand son and famous film maker Satyjit ray.
(This article has been written by S M Mehdi Hasan)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Sweet (Rosogolla): By Syed Mujtaba Ali (a short story)

(Here is the translation of a Bangla short story written by Syed Mujtaba Ali a very popular writer in Bangla literature. There has been an article about SYed Mujtaba Ali (http://write-translate.blogspot.com/2006/03/syed-mujtaba-ali.html).
The translation of the short story has been done by biplob Kishore Deb, a university student in Dhaka, Bangladesh.)


One of my friends often goes to Europe-America. He goes so often that whenever I meet him, there is no way to say whether he is going to or coming from abroad.

Jhanduda is a businessman. He has got down from a ship in the port of Venice in Italy. After giving honest replies to all the questions of custom house, Jhanduda wrote at the end “a tin of vacuum packed sweet Price ten taka".

Jhanduda’s luggage is full of so many labels of different hotels that any custom agent can understand that this person lives a nomadic life- from hotel to hotel. But today’s custom agent started checking everything carefully like a boy of class one who reads a book making some spelling mistake. His appearance is ugly too- very thin and sickly, a broken cheeked person.

The custom officer asked, “what is in that tin?”

: Sweets

: Open it

: How is it possible? I am carrying it to London. It will be utterly spoilt if I open it. The custom agent looked at Jhanduda furiously that apparently meant an order to Jhanduda to open the tin - even a king can not enforce such an order through beating five hundred drums.

Jhanduda requested him with a sorrowful eye, "brother I am carrying this tin for my friend’s daughter in London, if I open, it will be wasted".

But this time, the custom agent looked at Jhanduda in such a way as if I heard the sound of beating of thousand drums.

Mighty Jhanduda told him miserably, with the eyes of an ant, "then you please send the tin to London through the postal service, I will receive it there".

But surprisingly, the custom agent did not agree even to this idea. We all tried to make the butcher understand that Jhanduda’s proposal was very reasonable and legitimate. The custom agent did not bother it as if he did not understand any language of the world.

Jhanduda became angry. He mumbled himself, "well, I will open it. But you can not go without tasting it".
After that, he told the agent in English, “but you have to taste it yourself.”

The evil person had brought out a tin cutter. Before start cutting Jhanduda again made him remember “you have to taste it yourself, I am telling you again.”

The custom agent gave a dry laugh as if his lips had became dry from winter cold.

Jhanduda finally cut the tin.
What did come out? sweets. Without caring for spoon, Jhanduda first distributed sweets among the Bengalis, then Indians and all French, German Italians, Spanish.

The whole custom house then, started tasting sweets. The whole environment was juicy. From armed police to liveried servant of custom house- all were eating sweet.

On the other hand, Jhanduda, pushing his pot-bally to the counter, and requested the custom agent, “Please taste a sweet.” A juicy sweet was in his hand.

The custom agent slightly took his neck back and became some afraid. But Jhanduda is an obstinate person. He came forward to the agent and told him again, “Please look, everybody is eating. Please taste what a good thing it is.”

The custom agent took his neck back again. The man is a stone-hearted. Even he did not care for a formal expression “sorry”.

Suddenly without any notice, Jhandua grasped his shirt’s collar with the grip of his left hand and with the right hand he flattened a sweet on the custom agent’s nose and told him in a loud voice, “You will not eat!! You have to eat. Idiot, you are joking with me. I tried to make you understand that the sweets will be spoilt but you did not care.”

By this time, the whole environment of the custom house turned into a tumultuous state and it is not unusual because it is an illegal activity. Most of the time, the guilty person is sent to the prison.

We five or six persons tried to get Jhanduda out from the counter. He was repeatedly shouting, “You do not eat, oh! My sweet heart (used in a sarcastic sense), you do not eat.” The custom agent was calling police in a faint voice. But no police was there. What a magic, everybody including armed guard, soldier, messenger, captain, servant were completely invisible.

By this time, after a hard struggle, we were able to take Jhanduda out from the counter. Seeing the custom agent wiping the flattened sweets from his face, Jhanduda shouted “do not wipe, it will give the testimony in the court.”

One from the crowed uggested Jhanduda to flee before police came.

Jhanduda replied, “no, he is calling, let his officer come.”

Within three minutes, forcing his way through a crowed, the officer came. Jhanduda requested the officer, “before starting the investigation please taste a sweet” and then Jhanduda himself took a sweet and distributed among us for the second time. The officer took one and closed his eyes for two and a half minute. Keeping his eyes closed, the officer extended his hand for another piece of sweet- hen again and again.

Then tin became empty.

The custom agent told his complain to the officer.

The officer said, "It was very good that you opened the tin, otherwise how could we taste it?" Looking at us the officer said, "Why are you standing here? Go and bring more sweets". When we were leaving the room we apparently heard that the officer was telling the agent, “You are really a stupid. You forced him to open the tin but did not taste the juicy sweet.”

I started singing,

Hi juicy circle, how juicy you are,
Italians forgot their duties and surrendered to you.

Notes:
1. Rosogolla is perhaps the most popular local sweet in Bangladesh.
2. Taka is the name of currency in Bangladesh

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Condition of English in Bangladesh: Second language or Foreign language

(This article has been written by S M Mehdi Hasan)

Mother tongue or first language is perhaps the most favorite thing for any person. The question of language has resulted into many conflicts and discontentment. The prime example of such discontentment is the Language Movement of 1952 in Bangladesh. On the other hand we can not live in isolation. We have to be in contact with the speakers of other languages. Bangladesh is considered to be a monolingual country in which more than 98% of the population is speakers of Bangla language. However, there are more than ten languages in such a small country like Bangladesh. Monipuri, Urdu, Chakma, Santali, Garo, Rakhain, Tipra- are just some of the other languages present in Bangladesh. The interesting thing is that Urdu is a Indo-European language but written in Arabic script, Santali belongs to the Mono-Khemar language family while Chakma belongs to the Chinese-Barmese language group. So, although Bangladesh is often portrayed as a country of linguistic unity based on Bangla language in reality it has notable linguistic diversity. To communicate with the speakers of other languages we either need to know their language or communicate in a Lingua-Franca that is comprehensible to both of us.

Today, the world has become a global village. Thanks to the advancement of communication system and technology. Every country is dependent on others for trade and commerce, education, politics etc. As a result, we have to constantly communicate with other countries and speakers of other languages. Third world countries like Bangladesh have to depend on foreign aid because they are not self-sufficient. As a result, many foreigners come to Bangladesh. A third factor is the factor of religion. The sacred language of the Muslims is Arabic, Sanskrit for Hindus, Pali for the Buddhists and Latin for the Christians. All these factors remind us the necessity for learning other language(s) in addition to our mother tongue. According to this reality many countries of the world have adopted a European language as second language which is often used in education, law court, economic activities and government works. These languages have most of the time official status in the constitution of those countries. Many of the cases the countries have adopted the language of their past colonial rulers as the second language. Sometimes these languages are also called official language. In many African countries we can see this picture. On the other hand, some European languages have become very important in the world for literary and economic purposes. For example, German and French are considered to be important languages of the world because both of them have influential literature and economic aspects associated with them. For example, many people in our country are interested to learn French because it may help them to get UN jobs and jobs in Multinational companies. Another attractive motivation for learning French in Bangladesh is that it may help us to immigrate to Canada as skill in French language gives a person some extra points in the point system of Canadian immigration.

The title of my research is "Status of English in Bangladesh: Second language or foreign language?" I have selected this topic because from sociolinguistic point of view the status of English is a very interesting one. On the one hand English language is dominantly present in every side of our national life while on the other hand in our constitution it is clearly declared that the language of the country is Bangla. In fact, nothing is said about the status of English language in our constitution. On one hand, economic activities in the private companies are carried out in English while there is a government law (Bangla procholon ain1987) that government offices must use Bangla in their official works. So from the government point of view Bangla is the national- official language of Bangladesh and English is the most important foreign language. But in reality English is the second language of the country and in many places English is more important than Bangla in Bangladesh.

Second language:

A second language is any language other than the first, or native, language learned; it is typically used because of geographical or social reasons. The term is to be distinguished from foreign language; linguist Eric Lenneberg uses second language in his critical period hypothesis to mean a language consciously learned or used by its speaker after puberty. In most cases, people never achieve the same level of fluency and comprehension in their second languages as in their first language.

Historically in Europe, the most widely used second language (or lingua franca) was Latin. It was used by the Church; by the Law (as it still is today); in Medicine (starting much later); Horticulture and biological classification of plants, animals, fruits, nuts, etc.

Latin was used so much across Europe that it was called the vulgar (or common tongue); this is why the Latin version of the Bible is called the Vulgate.

Nowadays, English is considered the world's most widespread second language; it is used in areas as diverse as the internet, television and radio, and international aviation.

The success of English throughout the world stems from two major causes: the far reaching influence of the British Empire, and the 20th century (and continuing) dominance of the United States in the fields of business and entertainment.

French was for a time the lingua franca (the origin of term) in Europe. In history, both England and France were ruled by a single crown - the language used by the royal court was French (English was considered "the peasant's language"). Afterwards, as was the case with English, the French empire spread its language through colonization. French continues to be one of the world's most widely spoken languages. (Source: Wikipedia)

If we look at the definition of second language then we can easily say that English is the second language of Bangladesh. It is widely used in many parts of our national life. Many people watch English television channels and also use Internet. The students have to study it for twelve years and those who want to join civil service by attending BCS exam also have to sit for English examination. The only thing that is missing from the above definition is the fact that except for formal occasions no one speaks in English in Bangladesh. It is not the language used in home among family members and among friends in informal conversation.

Foreign language:

A foreign language is a language not spoken by the indigenous people of a certain place: for example, English is a foreign language in Japan. It is also a language not spoken in the native country of the person referred to, i.e. an English speaker living in Japan can say that Japanese is a foreign language to him or her.

Some children learn more than one language from birth or from a very young age: they are bilingual. These children can be said to have two mother tongues: neither language is foreign to that child, even if one language is a foreign language for the vast majority of people in the child's birth country. For example, a child learning English from her English mother in Japan can speak both English and Japanese, but neither is a foreign language to her. (Source- Wikipedia)

From the above definition, it is seen that foreign language refers to a language that is not native to a person. From this point of view English can be considered as a foreign language in Bangladesh since it is not native in our country. Hardly any Bangladeshi person speaks in English although many of them use it in education and business.

Official language:

An official language is something that is given a unique status in the countries, states, and other territories. It is typically the language used in a nation's legislative bodies, though the law in many nations requires that government documents be produced in other languages as well.

Officially recognized minority languages are often mistaken for official languages. However, a language officially recognized by a state, taught in schools, and used in official communication is not necessarily an official language. For example, Ladin and Sardinian in Italy and Mirandese in Portugal are only officially recognized minority languages, not official languages in the strict sense.

Half of the countries in the world have official languages. Some have only one official language, such as Albania, France, or Lithuania, despite the fact that in all these countries there are other native languages spoken as well. Some have more than one official language, such as Afghanistan, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Eritrea, Finland, India, Paraguay, South Africa, and Switzerland.

In some countries, such as Iraq, Italy, Russia and Spain, there is an official language for the country, but other languages are co-official in some important regions. Some countries, such as Australia, Sweden, Tuvalu, and the United States have no official languages.

The official languages of some former colonies, typically French or English, are not the national languages or the most widely spoken language.

In contrast, as a consequence of nationalism, Irish is the "national language" of the Republic of Ireland and its first official language, although it is spoken by only a small fraction of its people. English, which is spoken by the majority, is described only as the second official language (Constitution of Ireland, Article 8).

In some countries, the issue of which language is to be used in what context is a major political issue.(Source-Wikipedia)

From the above definition, it is seen that the notion of official language is complicated. According to our constitution English can not be termed as the official language of Bangladesh since it has no status in our constitution. The only language that is mentioned in our constitution is Bangla. But English is allowed in our parliament and many government events. For example, when there is a government event in which some foreigners attend then in many cases the speakers use English language. Many important government documents are written both in Bangla and English. The parliament proceedings are kept into these two languages. When a government body organizes a fair then often the souvenir is published in English.

Constitution:

About the language of the country the Bangladeshi constitution clearly states:

"The state language.

The state language of the Republic is [Bangla]."

(Source: http://www.pmo.gov.bd/constitution/consti2.htm#3.)

In the constitution nothing is mentioned about the status of English. English is not mentioned as a second language or official language. So if we take the status of English in our constitution then we cannot claim that English is a Second language or Official Language in Bangladesh.

English in Law court in Bangladesh:

After Independence the government took the initiative to implement Bangla language in law court. As a result, now the lower courts carry out their activities in Bangla but English is yet very influential in High Court and Supreme Court. If a lawyer wants to practice in Supreme court then he must have a good command over English language. Many of the judges still give their verdicts in English language. It seems that this trend of using English will remain for the forcible future.

English in Education sector in Bangladesh:

Formal and institutionalized education system started in Bangladesh during the British rule. At that time Bangladesh was part of British India. There was a debate about the medium of education. Raja Rammohan Roy argued that the medium should be English rather than Sanskrit or Persian. During the British period the medium of education was largely in English. Calcutta University took an initiative in 1935 to introduce Bangla as a medium of education along with English. In Bangladesh the use of Bangla in college level started in the 1960s. Now students can answer in the examinations in Bangla or English. In the college level and university level after 1971 the government tried to patronize Bangla and implement it by replacing English in the education sector but this did not came into reality because of some basic problems. The first problem is that there were not enough books of any field in Bangla language. This problem is more acute in science and technology. For example, there are almost no books in Bangla about computer technology that can be used as a reference book in the University level.

Actually there are three kinds of education systems in our country- Bangla medium, English medium, and Madrasa system. Bangla medium schools can be divided into two sections- government schools, and kindergarten schools. In the kindergarten schools more emphasis is given on English language than government schools. Some of the famous kindergarten schools of Dhaka are Vikarounnesa, Holycross, Willes Little Flower, and so on. Although these schools belong to Bangla medium the students have to study 3-4 English books like: Radiant Way, Active English, Desk Work, Fundamental English, Brighter Grammar, and so on. On the other hand in the government schools there is mainly one English book (English for Today) which is published by Bangladesh Text Book Board. The English medium schools do not follow Bangladeshi education system and are under the supervision of British Council. The medium of instruction in these schools is English and many of the students of English medium are even very weak in Bangla language. There are two kinds of Madrassas - Dakhil and Kawmi. The Kawmi Madrassas are not recognized by the government and do not receive any assistance from the government. In this Madrassas emphasis is given on learning Arabic, Persian, and Urdu while Bangla and English are neglected. On the other hand in Dakhil Madrassas emphasis is mainly given on Arabic and Bangla and English are not so much neglected.

So we can clearly see that the difference in education system in Bangladesh is solely based on the difference in the medium of education. Although Bangla is the National-Official language of Bangladesh it is the English medium education institutes who get more money. The rise of private universities has only increased the status and importance of English language in Bangladesh. There are now more than 50 private Universities in Bangladesh and the medium of education in all of them is English. These universities charge 2 lakh to 5 lakh taka for Bachelor course. If the medium of education was in Bangla then hardly any student or parents would get interested to pay such huge money for the education in private universities.

From the above discussion it is clear that in our general education system English has equal if not more importance than Bangla. In our education system English is really the Second language as all the students have to study it as a compulsory subject for twelve years.

English and Administration:

During the language movement the people of Bangladesh were afraid that if Urdu was established as the State Language of Pakistan then all the government activities will be carried out in Urdu and our people will suffer. As a result of the language movement, the Pakistani Regime kept on carrying out government activities in English language. After Bangladesh became independent the government of Awami League decided to replace English with Bangla in administrative works but after the death of Sheikh Mujib this process came to a halt and English continued to remain as the dominant language. It was during the rule of Ershad Bangla Procholon Aeen of 1987 was created and implemented. From that time English started to lose its significance in administration. However, it has to be mentioned that all the international communication of Bangladesh government is carried out through English.

English in Economic activities:

The economy of Bangladesh is dependent on foreign aids and export of some common items like ready made garments, jute, tea, fish etc and also we import a lot of things. Bangladesh is not self sufficient economically. Trading is more popular than production. Trading requires constant communication with foreign companies. Many of the companies who are involved in trading have to use English in dealing with foreigners. Suppose, a company is doing trading with China which is not an English speaking country. Then the company has to contact the Chinese company in English. If we look at the advertisements of the private sector jobs then we can easily notice that most of the job advertisements are posted in English. Even most of the private sector job advertisements that are posted in Bengali newspapers are posted in English. Almost all the private jobs state that the applicants must have good proficiency in English language. Almost all the public limited companies publish their annual reports in English. Some of these companies produce a Bangla version of their annual report but the emphasis is always on English. So it is clear that English is the dominant language in our economic activities.

Comparison of English with Arabic, Sanskrit, and Pali in Bangladesh:

Arabic, Sanskrit and Pali are the religious languages of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists respectively. Even the uneducated people try to learn these languages as they are considered to be holy. If we compare the learning of English with these languages then we can see that English is given more importance. For example, the tuition fee of a English coaching center is much higher than that of an Arabic coaching centre. English private tutors get 4-5 times more money than Arabic private tutors (Huzur). So although Arabic has religious sentiment attached to it English is considered to be more important as it has economic benefit.

Comparison of English foreign languages like French, German, and Farsi:

French and German have become very popular for economic reasons in our country. Learning these languages help us to increase our possibility to get a UN job. Learning French is also helpful for getting immigration to Canada. Also there are good facilities to learn these languages in Dhaka University, Alliance Francaise, and Goethe Institute. Recently, the English Institute of North South University has introduced French course. On the other hand during the Muslim reign Farsi was the language of the Royal administration and law court in Bangladesh. At present, a student can attend Farsi course for one semester by just paying tk. 250 in Iran Cultural Center but there are not many students who are interested to learn Farsi, French, and German. On the other hand, hundreds of students each year appear for TOEFL and IELTS exams in English language.

From the above picture it is clear that the status of English is much higher than foreign languages like German, French, and Farsi. We can not deny the reality that if a person is good at English then he can earn money in any part of Bangladesh but if a person is good at French, German, or Farsi he has hardly any scope to earn money by using his skills in these languages.

Recommendations:

From the discussion so far there is no doubt that English is the second language of Bangladesh but this reality is not reflected in our constitution. Officially Bangladesh is not known as an ESL country to the outside world. So Bangladesh should be declared as an ESL country by the government without any delay. We learn English not because we like Shakespeare or Dickens. We learn English from out of every day necessity. If Bangladesh is declared as an ESL country and English language is given a clear status in the constitution then it will not only reflect the reality but also it will help us internationally. Now Bangladesh is desperately trying to attract foreign investors. Before any company comes to Bangladesh for exploring the investment opportunities one of the key areas they would look for is the availability of pool of English graduates and they also expect that the normal workers will have basic understanding of English language. If we become an ESL country then these foreign companies while searching about Bangladesh will get assured about the strong presence of English language in this country.

The same picture is there about educational sector. Many Bangladeshi students want to go to developed countries like USA, UK , Canada, and Australia for higher education. If Bangladesh is declared as an ESL country then these students will be benefited because then the Universities of those countries will get the idea that English has special significance in Bangladesh.

So I recommend to the government of Bangladesh that English should be declared as the second language of the country by amending the constitution.

Conclusion:

Bangladesh is the only country in the world whose people sacrificed their lives for the language. Now the historical language movement of 1952 is acknowledged internationally as the International Mother Language Day. It is true that our people are emotional about their language, Bangla. However, it is equally true that now our people have become desperate about getting skilled in English language. As a result, there are more than fifty private universities now in Bangladesh. If North South Offered BBA and Computer Science courses in Bangla medium then they would not get even 10% of the number of students they have now. It is now good time that we finish the great contradiction about the language issue and declare Bangladesh as an ESL country for our own benefit.

Bibliography

1. Dr. Musa, Monsur. BHASHACINTA PROSONGO O PORIDHI. Dhaka:Bangla

Academy, 2002.

2. Dr. Musa, Monsur. BANGLADESHER RASHTRABHASHA. Dhaka:Bangla

Academy, 2002.

3. Dr. Musa, Monsur. BHASHA PORIKOLPONAR SHOMAJ

BHASHATATTA. Dhaka:Bangla Academy, 1996.

4. Dr. Musa, Monsur. BANGLA PARIBHASHA: ITIHAS O SAMASYA. Dhaka:Bangla

Academy, 2002.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Condition of English in Bangladesh Second language/Foreign language

Mother tongue or first language is perhaps the most favorite thing for any person. The question of language has resulted into many conflicts and discontentment. The prime example of such discontentment is the Language Movement of 1952 in Bangladesh. On the other hand we can not live in isolation. We have to be in contact with the speakers of other languages. Bangladesh is considered to be a monolingual country in which more than 98% of the population is speakers of Bangla language. However, there are more than ten languages in such a small country like Bangladesh. Monipuri, Urdu, Chakma, Santali, Garo, Rakhain, Tipra- are just some of the other languages present in Bangladesh. The interesting thing is that Urdu is a Indo-European language but written in Arabic script, Santali belongs to the Mono-Khemar language family while Chakma belongs to the Chinese-Barmese language group. So, although Bangladesh is often portrayed as a country of linguistic unity based on Bangla language in reality it has notable linguistic diversity. To communicate with the speakers of other languages we either need to know their language or communicate in a Lingua-Franca that is comprehensible to both of us.

Today, the world has become a global village. Thanks to the advancement of communication system and technology. Every country is dependent on others for trade and commerce, education, politics etc. As a result, we have to constantly communicate with other countries and speakers of other languages. Third world countries like Bangladesh have to depend on foreign aid because they are not self-sufficient. As a result, many foreigners come to Bangladesh. A third factor is the factor of religion. The sacred language of the Muslims is Arabic, Sanskrit for Hindus, Pali for the Buddhists and Latin for the Christians. All these factors remind us the necessity for learning other language(s) in addition to our mother tongue. According to this reality many countries of the world have adopted a European language as second language which is often used in education, law court, economic activities and government works. These languages have most of the time official status in the constitution of those countries. Many of the cases the countries have adopted the language of their past colonial rulers as the second language. Sometimes these languages are also called official language. In many African countries we can see this picture. On the other hand, some European languages have become very important in the world for literary and economic purposes. For example, German and French are considered to be important languages of the world because both of them have influential literature and economic aspects associated with them. For example, many people in our country are interested to learn French because it may help them to get UN jobs and jobs in Multinational companies. Another attractive motivation for learning French in Bangladesh is that it may help us to immigrate to Canada as skill in French language gives a person some extra points in the point system of Canadian immigration.

The title of my research is "Status of English in Bangladesh: Second language or foreign language?" I have selected this topic because from sociolinguistic point of view the status of English is a very interesting one. On the one hand English language is dominantly present in every side of our national life while on the other hand in our constitution it is clearly declared that the language of the country is Bangla. In fact, nothing is said about the status of English language in our constitution. On one hand, economic activities in the private companies are carried out in English while there is a government law (Bangla procholon ain1987) that government offices must use Bangla in their official works. So from the government point of view Bangla is the national- official language of Bangladesh and English is the most important foreign language. But in reality English is the second language of the country and in many places English is more important than Bangla in Bangladesh.

Second language:

A second language is any language other than the first, or native, language learned; it is typically used because of geographical or social reasons. The term is to be distinguished from foreign language; linguist Eric Lenneberg uses second language in his critical period hypothesis to mean a language consciously learned or used by its speaker after puberty. In most cases, people never achieve the same level of fluency and comprehension in their second languages as in their first language.

Historically in Europe, the most widely used second language (or lingua franca) was Latin. It was used by the Church; by the Law (as it still is today); in Medicine (starting much later); Horticulture and biological classification of plants, animals, fruits, nuts, etc.

Latin was used so much across Europe that it was called the vulgar (or common tongue); this is why the Latin version of the Bible is called the Vulgate.

Nowadays, English is considered the world's most widespread second language; it is used in areas as diverse as the internet, television and radio, and international aviation.

The success of English throughout the world stems from two major causes: the far reaching influence of the British Empire, and the 20th century (and continuing) dominance of the United States in the fields of business and entertainment.

French was for a time the lingua franca (the origin of term) in Europe. In history, both England and France were ruled by a single crown - the language used by the royal court was French (English was considered "the peasant's language"). Afterwards, as was the case with English, the French empire spread its language through colonization. French continues to be one of the world's most widely spoken languages. (Source: Wikipedia)

If we look at the definition of second language then we can easily say that English is the second language of Bangladesh. It is widely used in many parts of our national life. Many people watch English television channels and also use Internet. The students have to study it for twelve years and those who want to join civil service by attending BCS exam also have to sit for English examination. The only thing that is missing from the above definition is the fact that except for formal occasions no one speaks in English in Bangladesh. It is not the language used in home among family members and among friends in informal conversation.

Foreign language:

A foreign language is a language not spoken by the indigenous people of a certain place: for example, English is a foreign language in Japan. It is also a language not spoken in the native country of the person referred to, i.e. an English speaker living in Japan can say that Japanese is a foreign language to him or her.

Some children learn more than one language from birth or from a very young age: they are bilingual. These children can be said to have two mother tongues: neither language is foreign to that child, even if one language is a foreign language for the vast majority of people in the child's birth country. For example, a child learning English from her English mother in Japan can speak both English and Japanese, but neither is a foreign language to her. (Source- Wikipedia)

From the above definition, it is seen that foreign language refers to a language that is not native to a person. From this point of view English can be considered as a foreign language in Bangladesh since it is not native in our country. Hardly any Bangladeshi person speaks in English although many of them use it in education and business.

Official language:

An official language is something that is given a unique status in the countries, states, and other territories. It is typically the language used in a nation's legislative bodies, though the law in many nations requires that government documents be produced in other languages as well.

Officially recognized minority languages are often mistaken for official languages. However, a language officially recognized by a state, taught in schools, and used in official communication is not necessarily an official language. For example, Ladin and Sardinian in Italy and Mirandese in Portugal are only officially recognized minority languages, not official languages in the strict sense.

Half of the countries in the world have official languages. Some have only one official language, such as Albania, France, or Lithuania, despite the fact that in all these countries there are other native languages spoken as well. Some have more than one official language, such as Afghanistan, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Eritrea, Finland, India, Paraguay, South Africa, and Switzerland.

In some countries, such as Iraq, Italy, Russia and Spain, there is an official language for the country, but other languages are co-official in some important regions. Some countries, such as Australia, Sweden, Tuvalu, and the United States have no official languages.

The official languages of some former colonies, typically French or English, are not the national languages or the most widely spoken language.

In contrast, as a consequence of nationalism, Irish is the "national language" of the Republic of Ireland and its first official language, although it is spoken by only a small fraction of its people. English, which is spoken by the majority, is described only as the second official language (Constitution of Ireland, Article 8).

In some countries, the issue of which language is to be used in what context is a major political issue.(Source-Wikipedia)

From the above definition, it is seen that the notion of official language is complicated. According to our constitution English can not be termed as the official language of Bangladesh since it has no status in our constitution. The only language that is mentioned in our constitution is Bangla. But English is allowed in our parliament and many government events. For example, when there is a government event in which some foreigners attend then in many cases the speakers use English language. Many important government documents are written both in Bangla and English. The parliament proceedings are kept into these two languages. When a government body organizes a fair then often the souvenir is published in English.
(S M Mehdi Hasan wrote this article for his English course 1 year ago.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Syed Mujtaba Ali

Syed Mujtaba Ali is mainly known for his humorous writing in Bengali. I came to know about Mujtaba Ali when I was in class VI. I first came across his travelogue ‘Nil Noder Deshe’ in my Bangla text book. It was really a beautiful writing. The way he described Egypt felt to me like he was actually painting pictures with his words. Then in class nine I read ‘Rashogolla’. Still now, when I imagine Jhanduda, a big angry man grabs the collar of that thin custom agent and staffs roshogolla in his mouth and yelling ‘O Poran! Khabini’ I feel like laughing.
Recently, I read his novel Abishashya (Unbelievable) and a short story “Nonajol” (Salty Water). In the short story the central character is Samiruddin a simple village man who goes to USA to earn money and change his luck and the central character of the novel is O’ Rally, a government officer, who worked in a small village of the then East-Bengal Assam and fell in love with its people. Mujtaba Ali has presented a portrait of East and West through these two characters in a very beautiful manner.
‘Nonajol’ was published in the monthly Desh magazine. The story starts with a beautiful description of the steamer that goes from Goalanda to Chandpur. During one of his journeys on this launch he saw a boatswain and tries to talk with him. He found out that the person knew his father very well and he lives in a village near by the author’s. The two people grew close and started to talk. The author reads him a story titled ‘Rupdorshi’ from a monthly magazine where a young writer talks about the sufferings of the people working in ships. After hearing the story the boatswain said to him that what the story said was true. He then started talking about Samiruddin his close friend. They lived in Dhalychara village. Both of them got work into an ocean going ship from Khidirpur dockyard. In the ship they worked in the boiler room which was grueling and dangerous. They put coal in the boiler. In side the room it was very hot and working for a long time there used to make people sick. Very often they became unconscious because they sweat and with the sweat body lost salt. Then they were brought up and put under cold water and treated by feeding salt and sometimes they suddenly became insane. This madness is known as amuck. Samiruddin amidst of all these hardships managed to stay fit. He was determined to get into USA and earn money. When their ship reached New York he escaped from the ship. At night he came out of the ship swam half a mile to the shore and then went into the city. Since then for the next seven years he worked very hard and managed to make twenty thousand dollar. He used to send money regularly to his younger brother in the village. He never wrote to any one and nobody in his village knew where he was. His brother wasted that money after girls, drinking and gambling. After ten years when he returned home he found out that his old house was there still standing and there was no change. Later, he came to know from other people that his brother wasted all that money. It was a big shock for him. He left the village the next moment. In the launch he met with his old friend, the boatswain (the story teller). Seeing Samiruddin he was very excited but Samiruddin was calm and quiet. He showed no sign of excitement. The boatswain took him to his cabin and gave him food but Samiruddin was not interested in eating. He was like a lifeless person. After few minutes he told his friend his story. In the end he said ‘All this time I was living in a dream’.
After that Samiruddin again returned to USA and spend the next ten year and this time he made around thirty thousand taka. On his way home he died in the ship and this time again all that money fell into his brother’s hand and again he did what he did before. The story was presented in a monologue but the speaker who was telling the story said it with such an emotion that would make the reader feel very sad after finishing the story.
The background of the novel ‘Abishsashya’ was set in British India before the first World War. O’ Rallie an Irishman, was sent to a small town named Madhuganj of the then East Bengal. Compared to big cities the town did not have electricity or big streets but it was a great place for living. All the daily necessities were very cheap and the Madhuganj School was very famous in East Bengal and Assam. The school was run by the missionaries. However, the most wonderful thing about Madhuganj was its natural landscape. It was surrounded with small hills and through these hills flowed a river. So overall it was a picturesque place and the people were very simple and serene and very friendly. O Rallie, a police superintendent was then only twenty one and ‘fresh from Christian home.’ He instantly fell in love with the place. What the people of Madhuganj found most surprising was that O’ Rallie started to play football with the local youngsters. In those days this was very unusual because O’ Rallie was a ‘Gora’ (White race and superior race). This also bothered other local English people but later they also accepted O’ Rally. After few months O’ Rallie goes to London and gets married. His wife Mable was a very beautiful woman. Rallie and Mabel came to Madhuganj and they liked the place very much. Here the gives a twist. After marriage there was a sudden change in O’ Rallies behavior. He does not go out and talk to the people that much and neither his wife Mable. After few years Mable gives birth to her first child. When Patrick was four years old he became seriously ill. After Patrick had come around Mable decides to leave for London. She wanted her son to grow up in a better environment. O’ Rallie did not say anything. He started making all arrangements. Then on the day they were supposed to leave no body saw them. After that no body knew what had actually happened to Mable and Patrick. In the meantime, O’ Rallie was transferred to Cox Bazar and a new superintendent Sommerset Dean took his place. Dean lived in O’ Rallies quarter. On his first night he saw three human figures walking through the veranda vanished in side the garden. At first, Dean became very nervous. Then eventually he comes to know about the disappearance of O’ Rallies wife and kid. Then one day he followed those human figures and discovered three dead body buried under the lichie tree in the garden. After this incident the inspector general called O’ Rallie and asked him what happened. Then O’ Rallie showed him a letter written by him to his subordinate and colleage Shom (a Hindu person). In this letter he describes that what actually happened. After coming to Madhuganj O’ Rallie came to know that he was impotent and this turned his life upside down. Mable was very beautiful, O’ Rallie loved Mable very much but could not fulfill her physical needs which haunted him. Then one day he found out that Mable was making love with the native house keeper Jay Surya and Mable’s son Patrick was a result of that. This made him very angry and restless and when Mable wanted to go to London he decides to kill her. On the before their departure O’ Rallie poisoned his servant, his wife and Patrick and buried them under the tree.
Now both the short story and the novel contains monologue. In the short story we hear the boatswain describing his friend Samiruddin’s cruel fate. In the novel we see at the end O’ Rallie writes letter to his colleague Shom who also knew about this murder but did not tell anyone. In those letters O’ Rallie describes his feeling about India and Indian people their religion, culture. O’ Rallie was an Irishman and his people also struggled against the English oppression and he found out that Indian people were same who were struggling for their freedom. O Rallie, knew the pains of an oppressed nation and this is what brought him close to the Indian people. In the novel we see when Shom addressed him as ‘Sir’ he was very angry and told him not to address him as Sir in future. On the other hand in the monologue of the boatswain, we see what the poor people of Bengal (the easterners) think about the west. To them it is a land of opportunity and money where people’s luck changes. Both these writings are a deep insight into human psychology. Both protagonists go far away from their homes to change their luck and bring peace and prosperity in their lives but none of them gets it. In one way or other the become victims of their poor fate. The writer reveals a common characteristics of all human beings no matter which country, race, or religion the person belongs to whether a poor Muslim farmer of a small village of Eastern Bengal or a young Irish man every body wants peace and happiness in their lives. If there is no stability in life then no matter what religion the person belongs to will not bring any peace.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Revenge (A Short Story)

"Fool! Fool!"
Hearing it Ripon suddenly got shocked in the middle of the alley. These words were uttered towards him by a boy with Sabu and Sabu burst into laughter hearing it. Ripon did not know the name of the boy but he knew that the boy was a teenage thug in the neighborhood. This is not Ripon's neighborhood and Protesting means he would get beaten up only. Instead he continued walking to towards Mizan's home. Sabu's friend continued shouting, "Fool! Donkey! Why don't you come to us? Why are you running away? Are you scared?"
At that time, Ripon saw Mizan coming towards him. Mizan went towards Sabu and his friend and requested to act politely. They did not say anything to Mizan as he was a boy of the neighborhood but continued abusing Liton, "Hey donkey! Who is your dad?"
Ripon felt scared and angry. On the one hand, he was scared that Sabu and his friend could attack him while on the other hand; he wanted to hit them with his hand and leg and then run away. However, this is not a logical option as he has to go to school everyday along this road. So, he started talking to Mizan and ignored Sabu and his friend. Riton and Mizan soon came to the sports field of the neighborhood and talked about the matter.
"I think Ripon that Sabu has become jealous because of Nafisa teacher's scolding Sabu."
"What that has to do with me?"
"Because Nafisa teacher likes you and she has said many times to us in the past that why we cannot learn to be gentle and good like you."
"But today she did not say it when she was scolding Sabu".
"You are right but you know Sabu- he is a little bit spoilt."
Ripon did not say anything after that and he did not like the complacent tone of Mizan either. He thought, "After all, Mizan is a 14 year old child and so it is natural from him to think like that."
It is a problem of Ripon that he always considers boys of his own age to be a child. He is 14 too but all the time he is reading newspapers and books and knows about the world much more than other boys of his age. Nafisa teacher likes him for it and in the class often talks with him about international politics. She really admires the interest of this boy who is in just class nine.
That day Nafisa teacher was extremely annoyed with Sabu in the class as he did not submit his home work and even did not learn his lessons. She scolded Sabu first and then asked him to bring his parents the next day. For Sabu it was nothing as he was to get scolded by teachers regularly but that day he was annoyed. He felt that the teacher had no right to act rudely with him. Since he could not get angry with her teacher, he got angry with the teacher's pet, Ripon. He felt that Ripon was the source of all problems in the class. He thought, "Why the hell Ripon studies so much! Why he can't be like us! He comes from a poor family and he should be respectful to me."
In the past, Sabu acted very rudely with Ripon and he could get away with it because he was a rich bad boy who had enough money to buy out some bad boys in the school. However, one time, Nafisa Miss saw it and she took Sabu to the Head Master. Sabu's father has very good relationship with the Head Master and that is why although Sabu is a very weak student he got the scope to study in Flower Buds School, one of the best schools in Dhaka City. However, the Head Master had no choice but to talk tough with Sabu that time and he threatened him that if he repeated this kind of bad behavior he would be suspended from the school. After that day, Sabu had to be very careful about insulting Ripon and for Ripon this was a welcome relief.
The next day, Sabu told all of his friends about the humiliation of Ripon. Although many of them enjoyed it, they were afraid of the fact that Ripon could complain to Nafisa Teacher. Ripon wanted to but he felt that it was not very honorable. He was angry with Sabu but more than that he was annoyed from Mizan for not taking the bad behavior of Sabu seriously. To Mizan it was just fun, "Come on Ripon. Don’t take this matter so seriously. Sabu is just a hot headed boy. He is not serious."
Ripon hit back, "How would you feel if Sabu targeted you instead of me?"
Mizan said lightly, "I would make fun with him in return."
"You see Mizan, this is the main problem. I am not a funny person."
"Oh! Come on. Nothing has happened that you should get so much excited."
Ripon touched that it was useless to continue talking to Mizan about this matter. Although they are very close friend, Mizan is just a child- he knows it very well and although he was very angry with Mizan he realized that it was not a good idea to get into trouble with more people.

Revenge (Short Story)

"Fool! Fool!"
Hearing it Ripon suddenly got shocked in the middle of the alley. These words were uttered towards him by a boy with Sabu and Sabu burst into laughter hearing it. Ripon did not know the name of the boy but he knew that the boy was a teenage thug in the neighborhood. This is not Ripon's neighborhood and Protesting means he would get beaten up only. Instead he continued walking to towards Mizan's home. Sabu's friend continued shouting, "Fool! Donkey! Why don't you come to us? Why are you running away? Are you scared?"
At that time, Ripon saw Mizan coming towards him. Mizan went towards Sabu and his friend and requested to act politely. They did not say anything to Mizan as he was a boy of the neighborhood but continued abusing Liton, "Hey donkey! Who is your dad?"
Ripon felt scared and angry. On the one hand, he was scared that Sabu and his friend could attack him while on the other hand; he wanted to hit them with his hand and leg and then run away. However, this is not a logical option as he has to go to school everyday along this road. So, he started talking to Mizan and ignored Sabu and his friend. Riton and Mizan soon came to the sports field of the neighborhood and talked about the matter.
"I think Ripon that Sabu has become jealous because of Nafisa teacher's scolding Sabu."
"What that has to do with me?"
"Because Nafisa teacher likes you and she has said many times to us in the past that why we cannot learn to be gentle and good like you."
"But today she did not say it when she was scolding Sabu".
"You are right but you know Sabu- he is a little bit spoilt."
Ripon did not say anything after that and he did not like the complacent tone of Mizan either. He thought, "After all, Mizan is a 14 year old child and so it is natural from him to think like that."
It is a problem of Ripon that he always considers boys of his own age to be a child. He is 14 too but all the time he is reading newspapers and books and knows about the world much more than other boys of his age. Nafisa teacher likes him for it and in the class often talks with him about international politics. She really admires the interest of this boy who is in just class nine.

(I can see in my sitemeter that I have now some consistent visitors everyday and that is why I am posting a part of my new short story. Actually, I have started to write it from today and have not finsihed it yet. However, since I have some visitors everyday, I want them to get something fresh to read daily and for this reason, instead of waiting for a week to finish the story I am going to post it part by part.)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sharat Chandra Chatterjee (1876-1938): The most popular Bengali novelist (2)

(In the last post I discussed briefly about Sarat Chandra Chatterjee. Today, I like to post the second part of the article.)
Why Sarat Chandra Chatterjee is so popular? It is not very difficult to answer this question. Among Bengali novelists, he could first depict social issues and everyday life that touch the ordinary people. His heroes are not exactly demigods. They come from middle class background. His heroines are not raving beauty too. They are very ordinary people like the boy or the girl next door. Of course, they have something extraordinary in them or else the readers would not become engrossed with the novels of Sarat Chandra Chatterjee. All his characters possess inner strength to an admirable level. That is why they are attractive. In the novels, they do not try to achieve something great- rather their achievements are limited to the aspirations of ordinary life. Their tragedies are like that too.
In his attempt to draw attention of the readers to the social problems, Sarat Chandra Chatterjee can be easily compared with Charles Dickens. Sarat Chandra spoke defiantly against the caste system among Hindus and abuse and discrimination against women in most of his novels and short stories. He called for having a humanistic approach towards marriage and family life. He faced bitter criticism from the Orthodox Hindus for this but he never stopped writing what he believed.
(More discussions will follow about this great writer in the coming days too.)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sharat Chandra Chatterjee (1876-1938): The most popular Bengali novelist

Today, I like to write about Sharat Chandra, the most famous novelist in Bangla (Bengali) literature. Actually, if I am not wrong then Sharat Chandra is perhaps the most famous novelist of South Asia. His novels have been translated into many major languages of South Asia and in India his novels especially Devdas has been made into movies in some languages. It seems that Bollywood loves Sharat Chandra and Devdas as there have been 3 movies in Bollywood based on this novel.
Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay had to struggle a lot in his early life because of the death of his parents. Fortunately, after finishing his studies in school he could go to college for two years. After that his life was full of struggle for a long time. At that time many Bengalis went to Rangoon (now Yangoon) capital of Burma (Myanmar) which was a part of British Empire. Sarat Chandra worked in the government service as an ordinary clerk for some time. He was a gifted writer and he kept his habit of writing all through his life. He wrote some short and long stories that became famous but it was in novel that he showed his skills best. His novels earned him fame and fortunate- both. At that time, no writer could think of having a decent life style by writing alone. Sarat Chandra first successfully broke this barrier as his novels became commercially successful. He was perhaps the first writer in Bangla literature to be accepted by people from every class of the society. His depiction of Bengali society is unmatched by any writer before or after him. His female characters are still considered to be the role model for women in Bengali society.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

6 Strategies that will help you to make a Balance between your Career and Marriage (Off topic)

(I feel that this topic is not relevant with the main theme of my blog and I wrote this for another website. However, since I have some decent visitors to my blog, I think that it can be intersting to the readers.)

The art of making a balance between career and spouse is a problem that almost everyone faces in every country. Often, this problem torments a couple to the extreme point of getting divorce. In this article I am going to mention some strategies that may help you to make a balance between your career and your spouse. I know it will be very difficult to follow and implement all of them. Still, the more you will try the better result you will get. After all, it is very important to shine in both the fields- in the office and home.

Accept it as a Serious Problem
This is perhaps the major mistake that most people do. They do not try to discover the problem in the first place and even after their husband or wife draws their attention, they just ignore it. Two reasons are commonly behind such ignoring. Firstly, they may grudge in their heart or openly that whatever they are trying hard in their office it is only for their future and couple life. The second reason is related to the blame game. They may feel that if they accept the accusation of their spouse about neglecting couple life they will accept guilt and they will lose their honor. Refusing to accept it as a problem will only deepen the crisis further. Instead of pacifying the pain of the spouse it will only increase. So, whenever your husband or wife complains about it, the first thing you should do is to accept it as a problem even if you feel that you are 100% right. The worst thing you can do to endanger your marriage is to take this problem casually as it would only increase the grievance of your partner.

Talk about the problem
In the second step, try to talk about the problem. This can surely go a long way to pacify the tension in home because then your spouse will feel that you are giving importance to him/her. Try to explain your condition in office. At the same time, listen to his/her complains very carefully. It is a reality that not everyone is a good communicator. If you feel that you and your spouse are not very good in talking about a problem then you can go to a marriage counselor. However, it is very important to remember that you must be attentive and sincere to listen to what your spouse says.

Try to Find a Middle Ground
Finding a middle ground is very difficult but not impossible. Try to think of the ways that can help both of you to come to a satisfactory compromise. If possible talk to your office and get more time for your home. Weekends can be the best resource for this matter. If you have any habit of going to stadium or hanging out with your friends then leave them and try to give uninterrupted and undivided attention to your spouse in the weekends.

Do not try to buy out your spouse
Many men do this silly mistake of trying to buy out their wives with expensive gifts. A new car or a diamond necklace is always welcomed by 99% women but can never be an alternative to the love and attention of their husband. If you can really please your wife by giving expensive gifts instead of your love and dedication, you are perhaps among the unluckiest men in the world.

Do not get addicted to your career and money
There is a clear distinction between dedication and addiction to your career. Dedication in this case means doing your work honestly and sincerely. Addiction means focusing on the career totally at the expense of everything else. Money is perhaps the most important thing in life but all problems arise when we make it as the only important thing. Think of your first days with your spouse after marriage. Think of the things that can make your spouse happy and try to act that way.

Never Take Marriage as a Habit
We are always so eager to train ourselves in a way that we can adjust to the changing scenario and condition in our office. Every year, we are joining a seminar or participating in a new training course so that we can become more skilled workers. Why should you not do the same thing for your marriage? Like office, marriage needs everyday effort. When you are late in office everyone gets annoyed from you no matter what excuse you come up with for your delay. The same way, your spouse will get hurt if you neglect him/her. Like attending a seminar, every year take your spouse to a new place and have a time like your honeymoon. A marriage dies when the husband and the wife take it as a habit and take each other for granted.

There is no point in excelling in career at the expense of marriage. Following the above mentioned 6 strategies will help any person to make a balance between career and marriage. However, only reading is not enough- there must be a determined resolve to act.

Potentials for Bangladeshi writers in the western market

My 2 early posts have been about the challenges and limitations Bangladeshi writers have to face when they try to enter into the international freelance writing industry. Today, I like to present the other side of the coin. I want to discuss the potentials of Bangladeshi writers in the international market. Until now online writing and writing in the western market has been largely an unexplored territory for Bangladeshi writers. Indian writers have shown remarkable success and like outsourcing of IT related services, writing outsourcing to India is gradually becoming a serious issue in America. There are a lot of potentials for Bangladeshi writers and here I am mentioning some of them.

Down to earth rate
In today's free market economy, down to earth rate is perhaps the main strength of writers from Bangladesh. US$ 10 for a 1000 word article is not a bad bargain for a writer living in Bangladesh. Also, the good thing with the online market is that it has works every day. With the ever falling price of our currency Taka against US Dollar, Bangladeshi writers will receive more money day by day when they would convert US dollar Bangladeshi currency. The price factor is really an important thing to exploit for Bangladeshi writers. Personally, I am against of exploiting cheap labor but there is no other way for us to make our mark in the US market.

A lot of free time for online research
Just for an income of US $10, a writer in Bangladesh can dedicate his one working day for doing research in net and write an article. So, the Bangladeshi writers should target for the cheap markets initially. No American writer would think of dedicating a whole working day of 8 hours just for 10 dollar. In fact, it is far lower than the lowest rate of wage in USA. In USA the average hourly rate of a technical writer is more than 50 dollar. Some technical writers charge even more than $80 for one hour.

Strength of grammar and spelling
Thanks to the special emphasis given on English language in the educational system of Bangladesh, many graduates of the country can boast of significantly good skill of English language.

To make the best use of our potentials, Bangladeshi writers must be serious about developing their own standard. In the next post, I will discuss about what Bangladeshi writers should do to be successful in the international writing markets.