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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Victory for Red and Green!

I am not sure if you have come across the Shada Kalo boutique at Rifles Square and also in Banani No. 11 Road in Dhaka. I don't know if they have branches elsewhere but they were first of its kind to try produce fashion clothes, accessories, materials as long as they were either white (shada) or black (kalo). Pretty innovative nonetheless and we can discuss about their business strategy next time. But their idea has been the inspiration to me to see outlets around Bangladesh producing, promoting and selling merchandize only based on the two colors very close to our heart--red and green--The main two colors of the national flag of Bangladesh.

Pretty much like the month of Ramadan, when you see an uprise in the number of 'seasonal practitioners', the month of December also sees an inundation of nationalism. Ofcourse this is good but why limit this great sense of belonging and pride to one month only and why limit this expression of solidarity to the flag only and why limit the selling of national flags to the hands of floating traders only in busy traffic intersections in cities? The idea is to have more than one outlets across cities and district towns who would sell more than flags, it could be banners, stickers, mugs, pen drives, t-shirts, ear-rings, desk flags, key rings, coat pins, bag pins, simple pens, card holders, head bandanas, wrist bands, umbrellas, dining sets, cushion covers and perhaps many more....only and only as long as they are either red or green or both.

Please note that accessorising patriotism is a topic we have discussed before where this act of doing business works towards promoting sense of nationalism (atleast in December and in March perhaps) and can even be great source of basic education as well which could be provided right at the points of purchase. For example, how many of us or of the younger generation know who designed the flag of Bangladesh? So an element of nationalistic education could be embedded in any product which uses national events as a hook and can serve as learning tools not only for us but for foreigners too. For example, couple of months ago, I asked Shabana apa to get me some tiny Bangladeshi flag coatpins (yes, like Obamama and Bush) from Amecon Ltd. in Chairman Bari in Mohakhali, Dhaka, as she was travelling from Dhaka to London. I had been donning them since to work from time to time and to external events where my national identity could be 'worn' as an ornament. Many has since asked me which country's flag that was (!) and what does it signify, so the job of the Bangla brand ambassador is a full time one here.

No doubt bits and pieces of patriotic merchandizing already exist in the form of wrist bands, t-shirts, mugs etc. But have a look here what the opportunities are and how we can help spread it not only in December but all the year round! Ofcourse true progess as a nation will not be achieved by wearing red and green lungis or gamchhas or grameen check only, we need to unite, do, act and work harder for that. But there is certainly no harm in showing off our true blood colors, which is not red...its red and green, especially on the eve of the great victory day! Just to remember that 'victory' these days is achieved and need to be sustained not anymore at war fronts but in business boardrooms, TV and computer screens in urban and rural households and more importantly in the mindspace of consumers, citizens etc.

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