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Hasina opens month-long Ekushey Book Fair-2010..

We’re keen to preserve languages of all: PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurates the month-long Amar Ekushey Boi Mela 2010 on Bangla Academy premises on Monday, February 1, 2010

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has said that combination of education and culture is of utmost importance for flourishing humanism and enhancing human spirit and books can play the pivotal role to this end.

"People become real human being by reading books on wide range of subjects and the coordination of education and culture can be seen in such real people. Book Fair can have a special contribution in this regard as books are not meant only as inputs for education, they are also the powerful tools for development of cultural spirit," she said while inaugurating the month-long Immortal Ekushey Book Fair on the premises of Bangla Academy in the city yesterday.

The prime minister said that her government had already attached special priority on the education sector and a huge amount of money has been allocated for the education sector.
She also announced at the inaugural function that the International Mother Language Institute might be inaugurated in the month of the historic Language Movement.

"We want to preserve the mother languages of the small ethnic entities (groups). Taking this into consideration our previous government took initiative to establish the International Mother Language Institute and its work started in 1996. Former secretary general of the United Nations Kofi Annan was present at the foundation laying ceremony of the institute," she said regretting that the previous BNP-Jamaat alliance government stalled the project, like other institutions.

"They might be ignorant of the dignity of the immortal Ekushey and the international mother languages. After assumption of power this time, we have restarted work on the institute," the prime minister said hoping that the International Mother Language Institute  would be able to collect the latest picture of the language situation round the world and build an information and data centre of different languages which are on the verge of extinction while the institute could conduct research on the languages of small tribes or groups and regional languages as well.

Terming the Ekushey book fair as a reunion of writers and publishers where close relationship and friendship is created, Hasina urged the publishers to publish books of new and young writers along with eminent writers to encourage and evaluate them to write worthy books.
Narrating in details the turbulent days of the historic language movement of 1952, the prime minister said although Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a leader then of the All Party Students Action Council, was shifted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital from Faridpur jail on February 16 for observing fast unto death, he instructed from the jail to break section 144 on February 21.
She added that scores of people, predominantly students, including Rafique, Jabber, Salam and Barquat made supreme sacrifices in police firing on the streets of Dhaka for establishing mother tongue Bangla as the state language of the then Pakistan on February 21 in 1952.
Hasina said that after assumption of office in 1956, the Awami League government was the first to announce February 21 as the Shaheed Dibash or the Martyrs Day and declared the day as the public holiday and allocated fund for the construction of the Central Shaheed Minar at the spot of police firing on the day in 1952 paying deep homage to the martyrs of the historic Language Movement.

She said since then, the February 21 is being observed as the Martyrs Day.
Hasina said her illustrious father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman established dignity of the mother tongue Bangla as an international language by delivering his address in Bangla in the United Nations in 1974 for the first time in the history of the nation. Following that and with the cooperation of two expatriate Bangladeshis residing in Canada, incidentally by the name of Rafique and Salam, the United Nations gave recognition to Ekushey as the International Mother Language Day which is being observed every year in 189 countries across the globe.

The prime minister said that her government had taken efforts to establish Bangla as the official language of the United Nations along with six other languages and that she had delivered her address at the General Assembly of the UN in September in Bangla like her father.

Appreciating Bangla Academy's role in various national movements including the struggle for autonomy, the Language Movement and the war of liberation, she said that her government had allocated Taka 50 lakh apart from its annual budgetary allocation for training of the young writers.

Hasina said her government had enhanced the amount of fund for construction of the academy's new building hoping that it would not be a building of bricks and concrete only rather it would be a centre of excellence for research on language and literature, translation, publication and other works that would fulfil the nation's expectations.

"We will extend all possible support to the academy for the purpose," the prime minister assured.

In reminiscence of her visiting Bangla Academy during her student life, Hasina said, "I would turn up on its premises several times, read many rare books, bought books and had gossips also with friends on its campus. But, I am not free and at liberty now like in the past and that is the cause of my sorrow."

Chaired by chairman of Bangla Academy National Professor Kabir Chowdhury, the inaugural ceremony was also addressed by information minister Abul Kalam Azad, state minister for cultural affairs Advocate Promode Mankin, director general of the academy Shamsuzzaman Khan and on behalf of the book publishers Mohiuddin Ahmed.

At the outset of the function, one-minute silence was observed paying deep homage to the martyrs of the Language Movement while artistes of Rabirashmi rendered the national anthem and the immortal song of Ekushey----"Amar Bhaier Raktey Rangano Ekushey February, Ami Kii Bhulitey Pari".

Later, the prime minister went round different stalls of the book fair including the stalls of the academy, the Liberation War Museum, Agami Prokashani, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Memorial Museum.

Sheikh Hasina also inaugurated the Language Movement Museum at Bardwan House on the premises of the academy on the occasion.

>>Source: The Independent
Tuesday 2 February 2010


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