First, fast, furious...Bangladeshi business blog

We provide
--social media strategies for Bangladeshi businesses worldwide
--public speaking on Bangladeshi businesses and social media
--paid product/service/website reviews of Bangladeshi companies

Interested to place an advertisement for your business?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Don't drive the hujur away

I spent a considerable amount of my early teen days to cook up compelling and innovative stories to keep Lokman Hujur at bay. Awful I thought were those days when Hujur used to show up in lazy, hot, humid afternoons to teach me the Quran and how to pray properly. Lokman Hujur had a legacy of giving 'sohi koran shikkha' to many of my cousins, uncles etc. who, along with me, had spent some quality time in mugging up basic excerpts (suraas) to manage day to day prayer requirements. I also remember during my 16th birthday, my late Nanabhai presented me a blue-cover 'Shohoj Arbi Shikkha' (Easy Arabic Learning) language learning book fresh from New Market. He was my inspiration and mentor to ignite my interest in foreign languages. However, perhaps with one exception that of Arabic. Everytime Lokman Hujur and even Nanabhai used to portray and preach to me Arabic as the language to achieve divine guidance and licence to salvation, my teenage mind used to rebel relentlessly. After all, Hujurs and people who are good in Arabic are stereotyped of belonging to certain school of thoughts, doctrine and even their appearances and activities are also labelled unfortunately not in the intended way always.

I wish Lokman Hujur had made me realize early on that Arabic would turn out to be the 5th most widely spoken language of the world. I wish Nanabhai would have convinced me early on that learning Arabic as a foreign language might have some earthly benefits associated with it too, say a job at UN or somewhere in Dubai...may be my tender mind would have given in to the mere greed of earthly ambitions. Perhaps the desire to attain residential permit of Jannatul Ferdous with my Arabic language skills were too confusing for a teenager to comprehend. So I kept on ignoring their calls, I denied the urge to learn only to read a language like a parrot and understand nothing at all. I didn't see any glamour or element of coolness in learning it, unlike French, which is so well-branded. They arrange parties, they talk about art and culture and they are so happening. But Arabic? Why waste time dosto...molla hobi naki?? That was the thought.

So I look at the top 10 most widely spoken languages of the world now and wonder where does our comparative advantage lie as a nation. If we agree that manpower is single most best natural resource, then what exactly is their skill that sets them apart from the global competition? They are cheap labor perhaps, but does cheap mean good and all round quality too? Why not language? Mandarin, Hindi, English, Spanish, Arabic, Bangla, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, German, that order. Think how many do you speak or understand? Even if you leave Mandarin aside for a while, doesn't it seem that we are pretty much familiar with all top 5 languages other than Spanish? Hindi...due to our neighbourly 'love' and culture vulturization, English is self-explanatory, Arabic due to our Hujurs and Nanabhais and finally Bangla is our mother-tongue and pride. So we are in a pretty good position to attain some sort of language dominance over others it seems.

Having an edge in foreign languages would give our semi-skilled, skilled, export-ready manpower great advantages and preferences in the global market. Alliance Francaise, Goethe Institut, even the reputed foreign language school in Dhaka university, never catered specifically to the need of the manpower market. Its only in the last 5 years that a number of schools have mushroomed around Dhaka city who claim (atleast) that they give certification courses in languages which are spoken in countries where Bangladeshi manpower is exported more often such as Malay for Malaysia, Korean for South Korea etc. No wonder our fellow countrymen learn it the hard way when they actually reach the foreign shores to chase their dollar (or riyal) dreams. With ornamental Bangladeshi diplomatic missions, absence of any legal cover and sub-standard living and working conditions, they also somehow 'manage and adjust' to all learning requirements, learning the host language is a small peanut in the ocean of miseries for them.

Its important to think and look again at what we already possess, rather than nag about things we are never supposed to have, as a nation. If manpower is our strength, proper foreign language training at home will be a small step in equipping them better to settle down in foreign territories. A change of perception at our language expertise and workforce, especially the young, is vital now.

In fine, I am sure that Arabic has its spiritual values and (heavenly) benefits of learning, but for those who oppose the idea for any such notions, the counter-argument (earthly benefit) is atleast worth pondering and considering. So learn any language that is spoken in the target country of business, it opens doors. By the way, please focus on Mandarin too, as I have heard it helps to give useful hints during bargaining with Chinese counterparts, also useful when they swear or say something silly, assuming that we know nothing at all what the ching-chung-chang they are talking about.

No comments: