Happiness in Bangladesh:
Real, Reel or Unreal?
Promiti Prova Chowdhury
Photo credit: Bayezid Islam Polin
Have you ever wondered what can be the possible factors to make a nation happy? I repeat, 'happy' not 'developed'! One may say, it is simple; it is when a nation is able to fulfill all its basic needs, it is likely to be a happy nation! One wonders what really is the magic that put Bangladesh right at the top on the list of the happiest nations of the world in the survey carried out by London School of Economics. Yes, I am talking about the “Gross National Happiness” (GNH), the concept put forward by the Centre for Bhutan Studies, as an alternative to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that was the theme of the Curriculum Integration Programme of the Media Studies and Journalism Department (MSJ) of University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) for the Fall semester 2010.
Masks prepared by students of Media Studies and Journalism Department.
The MSJ Department of ULAB launched an exhibition entitled “Happiness in Bangladesh: Real, Reel or Unreal?” on December 22 at the Russian Centre for Science and Culture, Dhanmondi, Dhaka. The exhibition featured music video, short films, digital cartoons, advocacy posters, plaster masks, scripts, scrapbooks, photo stories, advertising materials, research findings on “Portrayal of Happiness in Bangladeshi Media” and “Happiness of ULAB students”, premier of a documentary aptly titled 'Shukhpur' (City of Happiness) all broadly revolving around the theme of happiness in Bangladesh.
The programme started with the melody of flute played by Sifat, a student of BBA. Imtiaz A. Chowdhury, Lecturer of MSJ, ULAB was the host for the evening. Pro vice Chancellor, Prof. Imran Rahman addressed the audience, expressing his satisfaction and joy for the nation's achievement as well as the students' active participation. He said that 'this is active learning, which is the core value of ULAB'. He also stated that always we are talking aboutour problems.
Activities at the exhibition that kept the crowd entertained.
Especially the Dhaka city dwellers are beset with problems. But in spite of all these state of affairs, we proved to be the happiest nation in the world. He believes that it is because of our lesser demands and undiminishing spirit.
Ten students from the ten courses came up one by one. They shared their experiences of organising the event. After that an award giving session began, which was arranged for winners of a debate competition that took place on the same theme at ULAB. Prof. Imran Rahman and Ameenah Ahmed, Member, Board of Trustees, ULAB officially inaugurated the exhibition.
The exhibition started with the presentations of the students from the 'Advertising' course. Their aim was to uphold Bangladesh as the happiest nation of the world by promoting its tourism sector. They came up with four radio commercials and one television commercial. Some excellent catch phrases echoed in the hall. The premiere of 'Shukhpur' a 30 minutes documentary prepared by the students from 'Video
Communication' course on the people of Rajshahi was shown. In the documentary, Rajshahi was portrayed to be the happiest city of the world.
Right behind this auditorium a colourful exhibition also took place. Besides lotteries another fun segment was arranged. Letters were given out to those who participated. These were not ordinary letters, these were letters from Bangladesh herself! For example, 'Dear friend, I might not be wealthy, but my inspiration of prosperity lies in the very
heart of my people. For, they find happiness in the minutest rewards of life. A little drop of rain can brighten up their sorrows. So here I am inviting you to visit me soon. Love, Bangladesh, a little piece of heaven on earth.' Jamdani sarees, kites, bangles, a pillar with indicators of the different districts of Bangladesh, photos of natural beauty of Bangladesh and hand-made dolls hanging here and there made the exhibition indescribably charming.
Digital cartoons prepared by students of the course 'Multimedia Production' and print ads of 'Advertising' portrayed many attractive aspects of Bangladeshi tourism but the one that caught everyone's attention was one of robots entering Bangladesh and going out in
the form of human beings! There were 22 plaster masks from the course 'Visual Communication'. Each mask had its right side portraying 'happiness' and left side portraying 'unhappiness'.All these masks were made by the students themselves and they used symbols and colours or their choice to portray happiness and unhappiness in a connotative way.
There were some research findings of the course 'Research methodologies' which portrayed a survey carried out by students of ULAB. The statistics showed how many ULABians find happiness in materialism and how many find it in non-materialism and whether the male students are more materialistic than their female counterpart.
The exhibition will continue in the ULAB campus till January 21, 2011 and is open for all. We hope to see you there!
(The writer is a student of University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh.)