Risingbd Desk: Saying that her government wants the future generations to get the benefits of hard-earned independence and language, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday called for protecting and practicing the country’s rich culture, language and heritage with due honour.
“It’s the responsibility of all to save our independence, the right to (mother) language and culture and give due honour to them being imbued with the spirit of Ekushey,” she said while distributing the Ekushey Padak-2019, the second highest civilian award, at a ceremony at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) here this afternoon.
Sheikh Hasina said: “We earned independence, mother language and our rich culture and heritage through a huge struggle. So it’s our responsibility to practice and advance those and create a beautiful environment for the future generations.”
State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid chaired the function organised by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.
Acting Secretary of the ministry Dr Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal delivered the welcome address, while Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam conducted the award-giving part of the function and read out the citations of the awardees.
Cabinet members, the PM’s advisors, judges, parliament members, foreign diplomats, litterateurs, poets, academics, writers, poets, journalists, Ekushey Award laureates of previous years and high civil and military officials attended the function.
This year’s winners of the awards are: Late Prof Halima Khatun (posthumous), Advocate Golam Arif Tipu and Prof Monwara Islam for Language Movement; Subir Nandi, late Azam Khan (posthumous) and Khairul Anam Shakil for music; Lucky Inam, Suborna Mostafa and Liakat Ali Lucky for acting; Sayeda Khanam for arts; Jamal Uddin Ahmed for fine arts; Khitindra Chandra Bioshya for Liberation War; Dr Biswajit Ghosh and Dr Mahbubul Haque for research; Dr Pronab Kumar Barua for education; and Rizia Rahman, Imdadul Haque Milon, Asim Saha, Anwara Syed Haque, Mainul Ahsan Saber and Hori Shankor Joldas for language and literature.
Expressing hope that the people of Bangladesh will always move raising their head, the prime minister said the Ekushey has taught them not to bowing head.
“Ekushey has taught us how existence and mother tongue could be protected,” she said, adding that the country’s rich culture, education and heritage will have to be protected and given due honour alongside the mother language.
Congratulating this year’s Ekushey Padak recipients, Sheikh Hasina called upon the future generations to follow them to build themselves as worthy citizens of the country.
“Those who received Ekushey Padak today are eminent persons and they demonstrated their talents in their respective fields and we always remember their contributions,” she said.
“I think that the future generations will build themselves as worthy citizens of the country by following them (awardees),” she added.
Mentioning that the aim of her government is to put Bangladesh on a dignified position in the world, Sheikh Hasina said the government is working tirelessly to achieve the goal.
“We’re Bangalee nation, Bangladesh is our country and Bangla is our language. We want to build the country in such a way that it’s put on a dignified position in the world and the Bangalee nation could move keeping its head high,” she said.
The prime minister said Ekushey is a glorious milestone in the thousand year old history of the struggles of Bangalee nation. The sacrifice made by Bangalees for establishing the honor and right of mother tongue is unique in the world history, she said.
“It was Ekushey which paved the way for our ultimate independence in 1971,” she said, adding the glorious history of the Language Movement should be reached to the members of the new generation.
In the past, she said, distorted information on the history of Language Movement was presented. “I think the misgivings have largely been addressed through the two books – The Unfinished Memoirs of Bangabandhu and the Secret Documents of the Intelligence Branch on the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the Secret Documents of the Intelligence Branch on the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is being published in 14 volumes where many unknown facts on Bangabandhu’s struggle for independence will be unveiled.
“Although the most important part of our struggle for mother tongue came in 1952, its genesis can be found much earlier,” she said.
Highlighting the contributions of Bangabandhu to Language Movement, the prime minister said the sacrifices made by Bangabandhu and other activists of the Language Movement and the martyrs of 21 February did not go in vain as the Pakistan government was forced to recognise Bangla as one of the state languages.
The prime minister recalled that the Juktofront’s secured victory in the 1954 elections under the leadership of Hosein Shaheed Suhrawardy, Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Haque and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in continuation of the Language Movement.
But unfortunately, she said, the Juktofront government could not stay in power for so many days as emergency was declared in Pakistan and the cabinet was dissolved.
Sheikh Hasina said the Awami League formed the government again in 1956 and Suhrawardy was elected the prime minister at that time. She said the constitution framed at that time gave recognition to Bangla as a state language.
Bangla got the recognition of a state language and February 21 was declared as the Shaheed Dibash and public holiday when Awami League assumed office, she said.
The prime minister said money was allocated at the budget at that time for constructing Shaheed Minar and its construction started. “But the construction of the Shaheed Minar was stopped when military dictator Ayub Khan proclaimed martial law in Pakistan on October 7 in 1958 overthrowing the elected democratic government,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said whatever achievements the country so far witnessed were brought by Awami League.
After forming government in 1996, she said, Awami League started its campaign and activities for getting due international recognition of 21 February.
“Due to the efforts of the late Rafiqul Islam, Abdus Salam and other expatriate Bangladeshis, and the Awami League government of 1996-2001, on 17 November 1999, UNESCO recognised 21 February as the International Mother Language Day,” she said
She said the Amar Ekushey of Bangalees thus became a day to commemorate the mother language day of all people across the world.
The premier said her government has already set up the ‘International Mother Language Institute’ in Dhaka for researching on the genesis and development of all languages in the world and work towards their preservation and continued usage.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangabandhu established the pride and status of Bangla on the world stage by delivering his addresses to the UN in Bangla.
“Following his footsteps, I regularly deliver my speeches in Bangla at the UN General Assembly,” she said.
risingbd/Dhaka/Feb 20, 2019/NA/AI