Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 9, Tuesday July 29, 2003







Creating public awareness

It's pleasing to see that some large organizations in Bangladesh are trying to use their public exposure to promote social and environmental responsibility. Whereas most companies use advertisements to promote their products, and channel their profits into their own endeavors, a few are being more unselfish.

Have those large billboards ever caught your eye? I don't mean the ordinary ones, which promote electrical gadgets, housing projects, clothes, cigarettes, audio cassettes and every other possible product and service to appeal to consumers. The billboards I'm thinking of belong to an organization that is making known its name and logo in a total different way. These advertisements stand high over some of the major streets of Dhaka, on structures of steel and concrete, and on the bodies of over-bridges. Instead of highlighting the quality of their banking services, the billboards of Dutch-Bangla Bank Ltd. hold up messages that aim to create public awareness.

These billboards raise issues such as the safe use of cell phones, obedience of traffic rules, and much more. One such billboard asks motorists not to talk over mobile phones while driving. There are still others which suggest that passers-by mind traffic rules to prevent congestion and fatal accidents. The issues that they raise are indeed praiseworthy.

If more of such large signs and slogans are built at various points of our capital, then it can be expected that many people will become aware of the harms related to these social issues. Yet another such billboard advises people to use pollution free and environment friendly vehicles. Written in both English and Bangla, these social messages often go above our heads; some of us pay little or no attention to these advertisements. But on the other hand, these large billboards in the middle of the roads do succeed in reminding many of us of our faulty conduct and stimulate us to act conscientiously.

During the last World Cup cricket, those of you who watched BTV must have noticed that particular advertisement against acid violence. While some of the companies were busy promoting their biscuits (through a rather bizarre ad), different accessories, household items and scores of other essential and non-essential products, this particular bank was raising social issues to create awareness among the general masses. A laudable effort indeed!

A few weeks back Standard Chartered-Grindlays Bank inaugurated a smart passenger shed in front of the Gulshan-2 municipal market. Those of you who have seen the shed must admit that it's stylish, and absolutely different from those we see at every corner of the capital, provided by our transport companies. There is a rising need for more such high quality passenger sheds; maybe other companies should come forward. But logically it's the responsibility of the transport companies
to build clean and quality sheds for their bus riders.

Every Tk.1 received from the sale of Senora, a female hygiene product marketed by Square Toiletries Ltd. is donated for the help of acid victims - an example of another laudable effort.

There are some more examples. Those of you who have purchased Banshundhara Facial Tissue must have noticed the few lines printed on the body of every box. It is written that if someone buys this tissue box then Shandhani will receive Tk.1. This money will to go to Shandhani, which will contribute towards restoring the eyesight of those unfortunate people who can't behold the splendor of this earth. Who wouldn't want to be a part of these noble campaigns? Many of us would love to work towards helping these star-crossed people to rebuild their lives, to stand by their sides.

Even though British-American Tobacco is involved in the business of a controversial product, they too are devoting their time and money to shaping public awareness. They have undertaken promotional campaigns that aim at the young generation and encourage them to avoid smoking. They are asking people to build a green Bangladesh and as an effort they have distributed young plants to people for free in Plant and Planter's Nursery, Dhaka Cantonment Railway Station from the 17th to 19th July.

All these efforts give us a feeling that we too, as consumers, are contributing to good causes. However, many of the leading companies of the country are doing practically nothing for the needy populace. A few lakhs from their total profit wouldn't harm their organization. As a matter of fact, such social services would heighten their popularity and prominence among their valuable clients. Companies often forget that such public services can create a unique charisma for their products, services and ideas among the consumers, motivating them to purchase a particular brand of goods or service because they know that this specific trademark works towards attaining some grand goal.

By Wara Karim


The shadow gap-premier show

The premier show of "The Shadow Gap" created by the architect Enamul Karim, was held on the 22nd of this month at the auditorium of the Gulshan club. It is based on his first work in the United Kingdom, WE, a theme restaurant. The show was sponsored by Aqua Paints which happens to be one of the leading paint companies of this country and it was presented by Kirti. The director of WE is Mr Abdul Mojid.

The show started at 8.00 pm and the scheduled time had to be delayed since the architect had to wait for his important guests and colleagues before he could actually start the show. Among the many guests who were present were architect Uttam, Zahirul Huq and many more. After an introduction of what WE was about, Director of Aqua paints Sajedur Siraj said a few words praising the young architect's work. He was followed by Saiful Huq, who did part of the translation for the film and created its subtitles. He was the one who gave Enamul the moral support and the encouragement to pursue his dream. It was actually very interesting to know that Enamul Karim was not only a talented architect but was also involved in fields such as writing, organization, directing, photography and many more.
It was a 26 minute film and when it started it took all the guests through a wonderful journey of creativity. The show started with these words:
Imagine ... The Egg, Like Earth,
Steady On Its North-south Pole,
Rotating From West To East.
In The Oblivion Of Separation,
The Kusum Inside Unfolds Its Mystery..

Yesterday's Little "kusum"
Blossoms Into A Woman,
Her Boundless Affection
Gives Life To The Katha
For The Child Of Tomorrow.
Time Passes, Stitches Run,
The Softness Of This Eternal Love Spreads
Creating The Essence Of We.

As the film rolled, it firstly pictured the scene of the restaurant when it was still in the making. Foreign engineers meticulously doing their work. Wood being carved, the sound of drills and even the set of lights around the place. The documentary also featured the poor old carpenter who had major contribution in all the woodwork that was used in decorating the walls. When the man was interviewed he said that he was actually very happy to be able to send his work outside Bangladesh at this age of his. The woods have pictures of tigers, deer and elephants wonderfully crafted. Even the different positions of hands that are done when performing classical dance were wonderfully sculptured. The walls of this place had Bangla sentences written and which were very subtly done. Even the kathas that were used for decorating the walls spoke an unusual language.

Katha is a Bengali word for a lightweight, hand stitched rural quilt made from old sarees by the village matriarchs. It is an intimate link to human emotion and this is a theme, which runs within WE, The Restaurant.

Katha bonds affection; the bonding brings togetherness. In WE, The Restaurant, the Katha sings the wordless song of this togetherness, composed by the experience shared by people from the West and East and, the different skills intertwined within the bricks, wood, glass and colours, encompassing the physical dexterity of the restaurant. Thus WE, The Restaurant express the essence of togetherness forming a bond and creating a dialogue between the two cultures of the West and East.

"All the Indian and the Bengali restaurants that are in London were very stereotyped. They had the usual red carpets, same decorations and are actually garish," said one of the British engineers of WE.

But WE, an exclusive addition to the dining experience within Hampshire, tell the story of togetherness, a blend between people, ideas and craftsmanship of the West and East. An endeavor like this is full of excitement and surprises, of new experiences, expectations and promises, of challenges and creativity.

The togetherness gives WE the strength and the confidence to continue and ultimately portray to the whole world their affection, warmness and hospitality. This is a place that should be visited if one goes to London because the show really charmed the audience by the great piece of work done by the artist.

Editing was done by Shamim Azhar and extraordinary classical music was conceived by Fuad Naser Babu for the shadow gap.

By Sarah Zermin Huq





















































home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2003 The Daily Star