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     Volume 2 Issue 23 | July 14, 2007 |


The Skilled and the Unskilled Mahfuz Anam
On Insight's First Anniversary Abak Hussain

A Lonely Journey? Rafi Hossain

Working with Star Insight: Knowing my Roots Zahidul Naim Zakaria

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Anniversary Issue

The Skilled and the Unskilled

Mahfuz Anam

We strongly felt that the existing daily newspapers were too Dhaka focused. People wanted to hear more about what was happening in the countryside. We started Insight with the idea of bringing rich cultural, historic and academic heritage of rural Bangladesh to the forefront. From the very beginning it was our focus to highlight the different districts and the people who created them. Through our focus on stories from outside Dhaka we wanted to create a new awareness about the contribution made by our district towns to the growth of Bangladesh.

Thus Insight was born to break away from the tradition of Dhaka-centric journalism, especially English journalism. We are happy to announce that our effort has been greatly appreciated by our readers and patrons, which is evidenced by the tremendous response in the rise in our circulation on the day Star Insight is published.

The first issue of Insight was published on 8th July 2006 with the goal of strictly covering the other 63 districts. Stories from outside of Dhaka are a fairly neglected part of the news. In this regard, Insight was different not only in terms of English newspapers, but also for Bangla newspapers. In most newspapers, the sections focusing on these regions are not treated with much importance it was a reasonable fear Insight would also get a very small, minor readership. However, as it turned out, the publication became quite popular. There has been a great amount of feedback that exceeded our initial expectations.

In the first year, 26 issues of this biweekly were published. Seven of the cover stories were on women, twelve were on men, and the rest were on cultural and other events and issues. In these issues, Insight highlighted the achievements of dedicated teachers, painters, musicians, craftsmen, social workers, the first woman rail-driver, farmers, veteran politicians, scientists, acid survivors and other contributors to indigenous folk art forms. Most of these people are generally unknown but nevertheless have compelling stories.

The page featuring women, “She”, gives coverage to women who have achieved some independence in their lives and have made their mark in their field. Most of these women come from underprivileged backgrounds and learn to make ends meet through struggle. The “Guru Griho” page features century old schools. A lot of distinguished people have graduated from these schools and some of them have interesting histories. “Journey Through Bangladesh” features important places in Bangladesh. Some of them are just very scenic, some are of historic interest, and some are just curiosities. The “Behind the Scene” page features the achievements of people who have not been covered much in the past i.e. artisans, activists and so on. Learners' Club is an English language-learning page, which has earned a lot of positive feedback, even from our own journalists. Rafi Hossain and Shaheen Kabir deserve special thanks for being with Insight from the very beginning. Thanks also to Abak Hussain, who took over as sub-editor later.

It's about time the rest of Bangladesh joined the competitive world. Other countries like India, by creating a high skilled labour force, have forced developed countries to outsource their jobs improving India's overall prospects. This is particularly true in the case of services, like the heavily outsourced call-centre industry. Skilled and unskilled labour is what defines a country's work force. We can no longer just stay within certain bounds, or be satisfied with Bangladeshi standards. And to be competitive, although Bengali is important, it is absolutely imperative to have knowledge of English. Insight has encouraged many who have never written English before to try their hand and they have improved markedly. This may be happening with small steps, but it is happening. This is something to be proud of.

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