Vol. 5 Num 105 Tue. September 07, 2004  

Friend and philosopher of farmers
Shykh Seraj's exemplary endeavour

A year or so ago in an interview with The Daily Star, Shykh Seraj expressed his desire to resume his popular BTV programme Mati O Manush that dealt with agricultural issues. The dream came true shortly: Channel-i, where Seraj is the Director of News, started airing a similar programme from February this year.

Although with the shifting of the programme from BTV to Channel-i, the name of the programme has changed a little to Hridoye Mati O Manush, the entire programme--its look, making and style--has remained the same. Seraj is seen in similar half sleeve shirts as he used to wear some eight years ago when he hosted the show for BTV; a Red Leaf ball-point still pokes out of his pocket; and he still wears those frames for his spectacles. 'I have tried to keep my appearance the same willingly so that I don't appear before the farmers and the audience as a completely different person,' says Seraj. 'Already my age and physique have changed to a considerable degree --I didn't want my audience to get any more surprises.'

However, the focus of the programme has changed a lot. While the BTV- shows concentrated more on the motivational aspects, Hridoye Mati O Manush deals with the consequential issues of those motivations. 'Once my target-audience were mostly the rural farmers and I used to motivate them regarding how they could improve on their agricultural activities. At present, my audiences are not just the farmers, it now includes the traders and investors too. And I have shifted my emphasis on to the marketing issues, organisational problems, the farmers' rights for their due, and agricultural activities taking place around the world,' explains Seraj.

To make the countrymen aware of agricultural development at the international level, Seraj has already made a few episodes of Hridoye Mati O Manush in foreign countries like the Philippines and Thailand. In Thailand, he has focused on the orchid industry that earns the country a huge amount of foreign exchange. 'I'm also presenting the scenario of orchid culture in our country in this episode to be aired shortly,' he informs.

In October Channel-i is going to celebrate its anniversary. 'But this year's celebration will be on a smaller scale as the day falls on the Shab-e-Barat [a religious occasion],' says Seraj. However, a few special programmes will be aired.

Today Shykh Seraj turns 50. The Culture Desk of The Daily Star extends warm greetings to him on this occasion.

Shykh Seraj at a location of Hridoye Mati O Manush in Parkona village of Sirajganj