Nothing is more glorified, adored and held in reverence in Bangladesh than 1971 in all its manifestations. This includes the history of 1971 which is the foundation for all of the above mentioned. Yet no part of 1971 has been such a space for controversy as its history. It has generally produced more heat and enmity than factual history would be expected to.
Not history but politics
The rest of Bangladesh is not keen to follow party lines in history. Many are starting to lose interest in this endless fight in the name of historical accuracy. The result is the rise of several generations who are ignorant of its own past. What they learn are party political lines and in the process they have less and less interest in history.
Where is the conflict?
The conflict is not in facts but interpretations of the same. The result is the overwhelming of historical facts by political party positions. But it’s also true that this conflict is based on two issues only. It shouldn’t hamper learning of history on all the rest of it.
Apart from that laws exist to prevent discussion so there is no need to discuss these issues. Barring them, almost everything can be done for learning, familiarizing and informing people about 1971 history without any kind of political problems and conflict as political constructs are more interested in politics not history.
History in AV
Bangladesh has moved towards a post-book dominant knowledge serving society where a print order of 300 to 500 per average book shows that books are repository of foundational knowledge source and provider of info but not a distributor of the same. It has very low reach and print orders have been declining rapidly over the years. That is a reality check that must be accepted.
But demand for knowledge has exploded and so has digital device access. At no time before was the client base so great but information at low ebb leaving most demands unmet.
Books feed tiny segments of the middle class, mostly older or conservative anti-AV. In a youth dominating market, books are a weak presence and limited impact product. So while we may mourn the death of books, we should accept that the shift to AV media is necessary if we want to reach the majority and the mainstream. Books should be there but no longer as a primary player.
Current technology & history
Not only are young people the majority, they also consume an overwhelming majority of air time. Youth also have built several networks built around social media, far greater than books or book clubs can ever reach. Books play an important role which is fundamental in gathering facts from various sources and preserving them but not beyond that.
However, digital media can also do it. In fact, they can do it better in many cases as they are not limited by having to publish and hope it will reach a small number of buyers. In case of digital media, any stuff can be immediately uploaded thus freeing all the production process including costs. And the reach of digital media is beyond compare.
That is why a shift from books based initiatives to distribute facts has to shift to a digital media based one. That is the only way forward now given today’s reality.
A dedicated 1971 history channel can do three things. A. Turn existing information into consumable media products that are youth friendly B. Collect information through its support networks. C. Preserve existing information through a digitized archive that can’t be damaged or destroyed.
Plan and cost
A web based TV site can distribute information through 2 streams a. New content. B. Archival content. It can also have a section based on content from elsewhere. Audience can pay a nominal monthly subscription charge and income will come from advertisements or sponsors who will support as a matter of social responsibility.
The TV site will be based on contents produced by contributor producers -75% - and self- commissioned products making up the rest. Contributor producers will be expected to work free but if money is found, there can be costs reimbursement +. Young, idealist people with high energy and commitment who are willing to learn and let others learn before they enter the serious job market would be the best people for this project.
The outlet itself will have an advisory board and several part-time workers who will be paid an honorarium subject to getting funds or income.
This initiative is a short term 2 year project. Once the model is established, others can take it forward including commercial operators. The main objective is to show it can be done and that it’s possible to reach young people with the history of 1971 led by the young people themselves.