Inside Outside: Narrative Interview
“SCB holds an interest in the culture
of the Bangladeshi people, and in bringing
out all of its positive sides”
Bitopi Das Chowdhury
Bitopi Das Chowdhury is the Head of Corporate Affairs at Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), Bangladesh. SCB has patronized the Daily Star's Celebrating Life Competitions since 2008. I had the privilege to discuss her thoughts and the bank's stance towards the yearly contests which have become a platform for budding and established film makers, photographers and lyricists of Bangladesh
Thoughts and views of the Bangladeshi people are extremely important for SCB, says Bitopi. She adds, “These views are shaped in a person through their culture and heritage. Thus, it is more than evident that SCB holds an interest in the culture of the Bangladeshi people, and in bringing out all of its positive sides.” But promoting culture is never easy. The people and community have to step forward to make the experience and journey successful. SCB as an organization is dependent on the people and the community for success. And after all, being the oldest bank in the country 105 years now the welfare of the
people have become part of the bank's priorities. The Celebrating Life competition is one way in which SCB, in cooperation with the Daily Star, brings out the positive sides of the Bangladeshi culture and heritage of the people. The competition not only shows the rich background of the country, but also spreads a message of diversity which otherwise remains unexplored by the masses. In a way, SCB is bringing the country's own culture to the doorsteps of countrymen, which makes most people scratch their heads saying, “I didn't know this interesting aspect of my own identity”.
Swarnamay Chakrabarty and his troop performing classical music
Bitopi says that SCB is interested in broadening horizons through developing initiatives differently in different parts of the world. The bank operates in 70 different countries. The same initiation taken in every country would defeat the purpose of broadening horizons. Also, each initiation has to be different in the sense that they have to be in sync with the country. It has to be relevant as to how people will relate with the initiative given the circumstances persistent in the given environment. She portrayed this with an example saying that the bank holds an event in Sri Lanka celebrating writers. It's called the Literary Sri Lankan Bookers Prize. Only literary works by Sri Lankans authors are eligible for the prize. This initiation provides the platform for upcoming writers in the country to compete against one another, to be ready to take on the world in later times. This is more on a local level, but SCB has other projects under its belt that is international. Yet, even these localized events provide platforms of promotion, differently for each country, towards one goal: to make people aware of the imagination, creativity and latent abilities of people.
Coming back to Celebrating Life itself, Bitopi said that the most important part of the initiative is the people and the communities that take part. Without their participation and support, the competition wouldn't be what it is today. Furthermore, it would have no impact. The success of SCB and the Daily Star in retrospect of the competition is purely a reflection of success of the people participating in it every year. The success is celebrated with the growing number of participants every year, which goes to show that people in general are definitely interested in the message of the competition itself in portraying and spreading Bangladesh's heritage and culture.
Bitopi Das Chowdhury personally feels extremely rewarded to be affiliated with Celebrating Life. And the feeling heightens every time she witnesses the reactions of the winners. And it keeps adding to the alleviating sense as the competition has brought so much success to the celebration of life itself, such the Honorable President of the country himself does not refuse to be the Chief Guest at the award giving ceremonies.
Bhaswar Bandapadhay's recitation and Fahmida Nabi joined in chorus
by Bitopi Das, Rafi Hossain and Mr. Bahar
The current scene of the arts and culture strikes Bitopi as quite vibrant. She looks upon it as multi dimensioned as people are constantly bringing in new aspects. And all of that is just the tip of the iceberg that is our rich tradition. The people affiliated in the actual media scene are becoming part of Celebrating Life, and that is the real success. The competition itself is just a gateway to make our own mark in other cultures. Our rich and positive heritage needs to be brought out to the rest of the world.
The initiative taken up SCB and the Daily Star has given people all over the country to exercise their identities, and rediscover the real beauty of our people and community. But that's the narrower point of view. The Celebrating Life Competition provides the exposure needed to leave that mark with the rest of the world. And that's the bigger picture.
(R) thedailystar.net 2009