February is a month of inspiration for the Bengali nation, especially for the younger generation. Because those who led the language movement were the young men of Bengal. On that day, young people like Rafiq, Salam, Barkat, Safiur and Jabbar shed their blood to maintain the dignity of mother tongue Bengali. The sad alphabet was unchained in their blood, we got back the mother tongue developed Bengali nationality. Where this mother tongue is the pride of the youth, today the Bengali language is the most neglected among them.
Our 21st February has now made place beyond our borders and has become a pride for the whole world. UNESCO has recognized 21st February as International Mother Language Day to honor sacrifices made by the youth of our nation for the mother tongue. No nation has had to sacrifice life for its mother tongue as we have done. We are proud of our language. The first Nobel Prize to Asia came through poems and songs written by Rabindranath Tagore written in our language. National anthem of not only Bangladesh but also of India was written in our language. Three hundred million people of the world speak this language, and it is the 6th most spoken language and second in the sub-continent.
But sadly the country does not appear to have progressed well. We are yet to surpass our achievements on science and technology of the colonial days. Keeping in mind the hopes and aspirations of the common masses, with which they fought against a well-equipped army and achieved independence, we must take effective steps to walk on the path of progress. One thousandth part of the landmass of the world belongs to Bangladesh and 24 thousandths part of the population of the world, and the country is feeding this huge a population, giving shelter and healthcare in absence of any significant natural wealth
Every year 21st February comes with its own glory and grief that touches every Bengali speaking person especially Bangladeshis as the magic seed was sown six decades ago on this very day to give birth to a new nation, today's Bangladesh. And now, for more than a decade, the whole world celebrates 'Amor Ekushey' with us in the name of International Mother Language Day. That alone should give us a lot of sense of pride to have the recognition of our identity. We have achieved the credit of creating awareness worldwide about the importance of maintaining and nurturing language and cultural diversity. In this new world, more humane world, that striving for more equality among people from every corner.
It is established that we are many but we are one, we are human being no matter what language or what cultural background an individual possess. So it is important more than ever before, people value their own cultural heritage which is best borne by their local language, in the era of globalization.
Ekushey is all about Bangla, the right to speak the mother tongue, the right to express oneself in the most comfortable way, the right to practice humanity in its own right. Once Bangla showed the way to stand the ground that is followed by the other nations ever since United Nations declared 21st February as the International Mother Language Day. Its not only celebrated by the expatriate Bangladeshis around the world beyond the mother land but everybody else irrespective of what language the speak plays a role to cherish their own language and cultural diversity.
Most of all it gives people around the world a sense of dignity to be proud of their identity. Long gone are the remembrances days for the shrine of grief that turned into glory to which the inspirational names like Salam, Barkat, Rafique will be enshrined entwining the centre of human rights outside the circle of the country boundary Bangladesh to the whole world.
And that is a big thing and that is why we need a wider perspective to make us a better leader. It is about time we emphasize the importance of learning and teaching Bengali properly here and abroad. Outside the fence of Bangladesh Bengali is the 5th most spoken language in England and the 7th most spoken language in the world and that should give enough reason to enhance the education of this glorious language that attracted the literary Nobel Prize, has a vast wealth of literature and culture and most of all the unique language that was powerful enough to create a sovereign country. A much smaller language (by the number of people speaking), say, Dutch is being taught around the world by far more importance than Bengali.
Why are we failing? We actually fell into a vicious circle of language barrier and economic importance. To make Bengali important we need to earn the economic importance worldwide and almost equally to make our economy important we need to promote Bengali language and culture more than ever before in the wake of globalization. To be more worker-friendly all the foreign companies depend on our labor need to know some Bengali rather than making the poor skilled laborers learn the foreign language which does not enhance their skill in any way.
Same argument can be put forward for many issues to realize that English is important which does not mean Bengali is unimportant. With thousands years of rich culture and literature we could lead the world in some ways while other countries are doing in other ways. But with great sorrow today we observe a big chunk of our own youngsters has no knowledge or interest in either Ekushey or Bengali just because English can ensure the life prosperity let alone the people from other nations. Our history is inseparable from Ekushey and to understand that the young generation must teach Bengali in proper manner without that they wouldn't know their own background.
Knowing own heritage is important as the world is becoming more and more culturally diverse. In the workplace or the surrounding if someone needs to deal with people from different cultural background they need to know their own culture to be aware how people can be different but work together towards a unique goal. In order to bring the Bengali nation out of the decline of language, the youth must come forward. There can be no substitute for creating awareness among all to preserve the history and culture of the Bengali language. In the spirit of Ekushey, our new generation must be inspired by the glory of the language movement. Although we have been able to snatch the mother tongue.
We have not yet been able to give it full dignity. Language must be protected from political aggression. Otherwise, one day the people of East Bengal will have to fight for their lives and snatch the language. The only expectation in the language month is to enrich the Bengali language in the world with due respect to the mother tongue. Therefore, our new generation should respect the mother tongue Bengali and speak and use Bengali properly with respect. The young generation should always be vigilant so that we do not lose the Bengali language in the rush of English language.
The young generation must be shown by setting an example of love for the Bengali language. We have to spread Bengali, the mother tongue acquired in our blood, through pride and arrogance at all levels. The youth should pay more attention to the practice of Bengali language and present the mother tongue to the nation as the pride of the youth at this time. The Bengali language, for which a bunch of young people gave their blood, must be made to stand on the world stage anew. So for everyone in Bangladesh or abroad Bengali remains as important as the mother neither something we cannot forget, nor we should.
The writer is a columnist.
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