Home away from home for Bengali expatriates in the US

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Kolkata, Feb 9 (UNI) With the globalisation wave changing the face of the world and largescale immigration becoming the order of the day, expatriates have found novel ways and means to remain rooted to their soil of origin.

The Bengali immigrant population in the US has been successful in discovering their own distinct voice and identity in the great cultural melting pot of the most powerful nation, within the motley cavalcade of divergent cultures, languages, interests and the mad rush of survival in an increasingly competitive world.

With a view to forging new bonds among the Bengali settlers throughout the US as well as reach out to their brethren back home in India and Bangladesh, the Bengali section of the Voice of America (VOA) radio was established in 1958.

Speaking on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee year of the VOA Bengali section here today, VOA Bangla Service Chief Iqbal Bahar Choudhury said, ''Our Bangla radio service was instituted on January one, 1958, telecasting various world news, current events, cultural programmes, science and technology as well as human interest stories. With a veteran news staff working round the clock, VOA Bangla provides listeners with relevant news in a new and contemporary format, morning and evening, on short and medium wave and FM.'' He claimed that the radio service was hugely popular among as many as 24 crore Bangladeshi citizens, besides the Bengali-speaking population in the US.

''We also telecast interviews, which feature conversations with eminent Bangla intellectuals, and Hello Washington, the popular call-in show, which enables listeners to interact with experts and VOA Bangla broadcasters on a variety of contemporay issues,'' Mr Choudhury added.

Besides, the broadcasting service also had its own internet portal as well as specific time-slots on national television, through which it endeavoured to organise various welfare programmes, including blood donation and polio awareness camps, for their cousins on the other side of the planet.

US Consul General in Kolkata Henry V.Jardine, who was also present on the occasion, enthralled the audience with a speech in Bengali, talking about the deep cultural bonds shared between the Americans and Bengalis on both sides of the border.


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