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A mother's reaction: The stupidity of Pakistan trying to ban Doraemon

SHRIYA MOHAN | Updated on: 8 August 2016, 3:26 IST

You don't need to be a foreign affairs expert to know that Pakistan has serious problems. But, if you were to go by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's (PTI) thinking, the biggest problem is the children's cartoon Doraemon.

PTIs cartoonish outrage

On Wednesday, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) submitted a resolution in the Punjab Assembly calling for a ban on Doraemon, a children's cartoon which is telecast in over 25 countries across the world.

The cartoon, a Japanese anime made in 1969 by the duo of Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motoo Abiko, was first brought to India in 2005. It was dubbed in Hindi and broadcast on Hungama TV in February for the first time. It was telecast in Pakistan almost simultaneously. 11 years later, the cartoon, which has developed a dedicated following with children and their parents alike, has drawn the PTI's ire.

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The PTI resolution urges the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to ban cartoon channels in general, and Doraemon in particular. Submitted by PTI lawmaker Malik Taimoor, the resolution also suggests limiting the hours that cartoon channels are broadcast.

"Foreign culture and Indian language are having a great impact on young children who are impressionable," said PTI's office bearer Mian Mehmood to Dawn. Khan believes that the use of Hindi in Doraemon is polluting the Urdu of Pakistan's children.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) submitted a resolution in the Punjab Assembly calling for a ban on Doraemon

The PTI resolution urges the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to ban cartoon channels in general, and Doraemon in particular. Submitted by PTI lawmaker Malik Taimoor, the resolution also suggests limiting the hours that cartoon channels are broadcast.

"Foreign culture and Indian language are having a great impact on young children who are impressionable," said PTI's office bearer Mian Mehmood to Dawn. Khan believes that the use of Hindi in Doraemon is polluting the Urdu of Pakistan's children.

So how dangerous is Doraemon?

I discovered Doraemon when my daughter was born two years ago. I had always seen the character - a chubby blue robotic cat - floating up as balloons, sitting on shelves of toy stores, or decorated with blue icing on birthday cakes, not to mention flickering on TVs in every middle class Indian parent's home. Doraemon was pretty much everywhere. And therefore it never triggered my curiosity to know more about him.

Until one day, I did.

In one of the first episodes I ever watched, Nobita, a lazy Japanese boy of below par intelligence, asks his friend Doraemon, to make him a genius. Doraemon dissuades him, but finally relents to using his magical powers.

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The new Nobita is quieter, calmer and walks purposefully into the outside world. At school, he arrives at a complicated mathematical theorem that befuddles the teachers. His principal says the school has nothing more to teach him.

Doraemon shows Nobita learns his flawed, imperfect self is actually special in an irreplaceable way.

Wherever he goes there's a red carpet rolled out and people bow down to his greatness. He wants to go play cricket with his friends but his friends shy away. After all, wouldn't it be disrespectful to field a ball to such a great intellectual?

Finally, Nobita is bored of all the fuss. He just wants to be an ordinary boy. He misses his friends. He misses being silly around them. Being superior to all, he realises, is not that great after all. In truth it is lonely and rather boring. Being his flawed, imperfect self is actually special in an irreplaceable way.

The wisdom of Doraemon

The stories are imaginative, but the lessons Doraemon teaches are simple and numerous. It teaches that there is no shortcut to success. No gadget can substitute for hard work. It holds community-based thoughtfulness being the holding power of a group above an individual's leadership or manipulation. And through it all, Doraemon reinforces in children the virtue of obeying one's parents .

Move over traditional epics, the Doraemon generation learns moral philosophy from a kind, wise robotic cat from the future.

In fact, if Doraemon was told about PTI wanting to ban it, he would, in all likelihood, pull out a magic device to go into the future and show us what the world would look like devoid of Doraemon.

Kids would probably substitute their Doraemon time with Pokemon, as is already happening. There are already some serious Pokemon addicts who have learnt to live every moment of waking life through their phones.

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Doraemon's dark future might have therapy homes, de-addiction centres and human beings with serious social disorders incapable of managing normal conversation without looking at their phones. Our hands might morph, developing an L shaped "texting thumb" to enable faster texting and gaming.

Cars, public transport and all technology such as computers, microwaves and washing machines would become faster and more automatic, requiring less human intervention so you don't have to take your eyes off your phone screen even for a second.

After it all, Doraemon would simply have smiled and asked PTI's Imran Khan which is the larger threat to Islam's culture?

It's ironic that, in today's technology obsessed world, a lesson to value the little things in life comes from a robotic cat from the future. Dub it in classical Urdu if you like but banning that advice would be foolish.

First published: 8 August 2016, 3:26 IST
 
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