Bangladesh bans Japanese cartoon to halt Hindi invasion

DHAKA - Bangladesh has banned the Japanese manga cartoon Doraemon from its TV screens over fears that youngsters who are hooked on the Hindi-dubbed version are struggling to learn their native Bengali.

Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu told parliament on Thursday that television channels which have been screening Doraemon had been sent official notifications ordering them to take the series off air.

"The government doesn't want children's educational atmosphere to be hampered by Doraemon," the minister said.

The ban comes after several local dailies called for a ban on the cartoon, worried that Doraemon addicts were speaking Hindi to each other instead of Bengali.

Shahriar Alam, a ruling party lawmaker, had last week demanded that television stations should only be allowed to air foreign cartoons if they are dubbed in Bengali.

Created by manga artist Fujiko F. Fujio, Doraemon revolves around a robotic cat who travels back in time from the 22nd century to aid a pre-teen boy, Nobita.

Tokyo's foreign ministry appointed Doraemon as its first "anime ambassador" in 2008 in an effort to deepen foreign interest in Japanese culture.

Bangladesh is particularly sensitive about the cultural influence of its giant neighbour India with millions of households preferring to watch Hindi-language television beamed in via satellite.

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