June 17, 2012

Bangladesh: Is a Cartoon Teaching Kids to Speak Foreign Language and Lie?

This post has been written by Pantha Rahman Reza in Bangla and has been translated for Global Voices Online by Rezwan

A cartoon show aired on the Disney Channel India has stirred debates in Bangladesh. The name of the Japanese anime (dubbed in Hindi) is Doraemon. It is claimed that this cartoon is forcing children to learn to speak the Hindi language of neighboring India and prompting them to tell lies. Many Bangladeshi children watch this cartoon, which is broadcast continuously and repeatedly.
If you read the story of a frustrated mother in The blog of a Mom [bn] you will understand how crazy are they for Doraemon:
My five year old son doesn't eat meals without watching Doraemon. He won't do homework or sleep timely if I don't let him watch.
Another mother sent a letter to the Daily Prothom Alo [bn]:
My eight year old son says he can't solve homeworks from school alone. He needs a robot like Doraemon who will accompany him and solve all his problems.
This cat robot is called Doraemon.
This cat robot is called Doraemon. Image from Wikimedia. CC BY-SA

‘Doraemon’ is a Japanese cartoon show derived from a popular Manga series which later became an anime series. The ear-less cat robot Doraemon travels back in time from the 22nd century to aid a schoolboy, Nobita Nobi. The story starts from here.

Nobita is a very lazy boy and brings nothing but misfortune. Doraemon tries to help him using 22nd century gadgets. Nobita misuses the gadgets and gets into deeper trouble than before.
Doraemon stories are entertaining but it can be debated how much of them can be used for education purpose. Because many of the tips Doraemon gives to Nobita include cheating and telling lies.

Doraemon is broadcast in the region dubbed in Hindi via satellite. Due to prolonged exposure to this cartoon, many children have learnt to speak Hindi sentences. They even use Hindi when talking to their family members instead of their mother tongue Bangla. And this has created a long debate.

Many are claiming that these kids are learning to skip their study and cheat like the main character Nobita. This debate is spreading from mainstream media to individual living rooms. Many are demanding that the airing of Disney Channel should be stopped.

Kanak Barman [bn] at Somewhereinblog tells:
The biggest casualty of the Doraemon cartoon are the little kids, Who cannot even talk in Bangla fluently but are picking up Hindi nicely. This has threatened to that extent that if the airing of the channel is not stopped now then there will be more Hindi speakers than Bangla in this age group. So this channel should be blocked in Bangladesh as soon as possible.
On the other hand Shahriar Shafique [bn] at BlogBDNews24.com blames the lack of popular children program in Bangla language televisions for this situation:
There are more than 20 channels in Bangladesh but they don't have sufficient and quality childrens programs. As far I remember there are three good shows like Sisimpur, Meena, and Moner Kotha which are aired in BTV a few times a week. Desh TV also airs Meena cartoon and some other channels dubs Tom & Jerry cartoon shows. These few shows are popular but aired for shorter periods. The rest of the time of the day other programs like soap operas, news, talk shows, food shows and talent competitions are aired; which brings little value to the kids. Incomprehensible talk shows, kitechen matters or love-romance-tragedies do not attract the kids.
Blogger Fahmidul Haque [bn] does not think that Doraemon will threatened the Bangla language:
The Bangla language has an inherent force which protects itself from aggression of foreign language. When satellite TVs came in the early nineties people thought that the language and culture of this country will be ruined. But the local language and culture adjusted to the changes. Many Bangla language channels emerged. So we don't hear much about the most spoken term “alien culture” now. If Doraemon really is creating problems, the easiest solution is to buy the rights of the series and broadcast it after dubbing in Bangla.


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