Foreign cultural invasion is being perceived as a real threat in Bangladesh as its impact is now looking more obvious than before. The influences of Indian films, television and music have percolated through every layer of population and life in this country, sounding the death knell for the local culture. Not only have Bangladeshi movies, television shows and music seen a decline in popularity, their quality also has taken a nosedive.
It is now common knowledge that the Bangladeshi housewives are crazy about watching certain Indian serials. Children are also growing up on the diet of cartoons dubbed into Hindi language. Average movie buffs in this country eagerly wait for the release of Indian movies and songs, and do not have any clue about what is happening in the local entertainment industry.
The ill effects of this ongoing transformation are chipping away the importance of Bangladeshi culture. While our minds are absorbing foreign cultural elements, we are torn between western and Indian cultural dominance, the latter being more pervasive these days due to growing exposure to Indian television channels beaming movies, serials and other shows straight into our living rooms.
Social scientists are worried that the glamorous life, colorful attires and attractive settings used in these shows and movies are detaching our minds from reality. We are now more focused on style than substance, which is reflected in our social events such as weddings. It does not even occur to us that the teeming millions in the country where these programs are produced are not only not accustomed to such an opulent lifestyle but also live in abject poverty.
But what the scientists fear more is that while the distorted view of reality is taking its toll on our sensibilities, our thought process is also being deformed by promiscuity, intrigues and absurdities projected in these shows. What is pathetic about these entertainment packages is that art may not faithfully imitate life, but life is fervently imitating art. The conflict between mothers- in-law and daughters-in-law, the family feuds over property and power, and the ubiquitous presence of extramarital affairs blur the line between right and wrong.
The side effects of this moral tumult are also manifold. We are not only losing some of our values, but also do not know what our values are anymore. Our children are growing up spitting out Hindi words in their conversations. Our women are obsessed with Indian clothing and jewelry. Our men are also in a flux to adopt the personality traits glorified on television screens.
In a nutshell, the Indian television shows are giving us a twisted view of life that is bound to have its long-term effects on us, if not having those effects already. Our local film industry is in decline. The television plays are struggling. The music industry is fading. The backward linkage to these industries are creative minds, which are also vanishing. The numbers of books and newspapers published have gone up but their standards have taken a serious beating.
That, however, is not the end of the story. The falling quality of local productions and their diminishing appeal to viewers have started a new phase of unhealthy competition in which our television channels are buying foreign serials to fill airtime. If that is allowed to continue, it will eventually wipe out the last relics of our cultural life. Indian televisions from abroad and our channels at home are going to work towards the same goal of undermining our own cultural identity.
There are countries which import food and drinking water from abroad. We are heading for an absurd situation in which imported culture is going to subvert our rich traditions and shape our national aspirations.