Bangabandhu Introduced Bengali Language Globally


Hiren Pandit: The Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, played a vital role in the language movement. His struggle for the Bengali language started in 1948; as a young leader, Bangabandhu physically took part in various protests demanding Bangla as the state language of Pakistan. Bangabandhu played a key role as a young activist during the language movement from 1948 to 1952. After the language movement, he did not give up his fight for Bangla, which resulted in the inclusion of the Bengali language in Bangladesh’s first constitution. If we look at history, we can see that young Mujib was admitted to the law department of Dhaka University in 1948. Then he founded The East Pakistan Muslim Students League on 4 January, which raised 10-point demands, including, among others, the market to make Bengali a state language of Pakistan.: Bangabandhu spontaneously protested on 23 February 1948, when Prime Minister of Pakistan Khawaja Nazimuddin declared at the Legislative Assembly: ‘The people of East Pakistan must accept Urdu as their state language.’ In 1952, the Language Movement catalyzed the assertion of Bengali national identity in then Pakistan and became an indication to Bengali nationalist movements, including the emergence of self-rule consciousness in the 1954 general election, the student movement in 1962, the 6-point movement, mass uprising in 1969 and finally the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. The supreme sacrifice of the martyrs of the language movement on 21 February 1952 led to raising people’s awareness about self-dignity as a nation. It led to the establishment of a nation-state on the globe. The 21 of February has been such a momentous incident that it has been immortalized by global recognition as the International Mother Language Day. We as a nation feel proud today that Bangladesh, Bangla, and the supreme sacrifice of our language movement are being pronounced, much-admired, gratefully remembered, and honored worldwide.
Bangladesh is the only country in the world whose people have had to shed blood for the right to speak their language. We are the brave nation that has defeated a well-trained, well-equipped Pakistan army. In 1947, the British government granted independence to Pakistan on August 14, and the people of East Bengal joined Pakistan, hoping for economic prosperity. However, the Pakistani ruling class continued to exploit the people of East Bengal culturally, politically, and economically. Urdu, the language of only 8% of Pakistanis, was declared the state language of Pakistan, whereas Bengali, the language of more than 56% of the population, was neglected. The people of East Bengal strongly protested against this decision.
Although two separate independent states, Pakistan and India, were born from the British in 1947 based on the two-nation theory, the Bengalis were a completely different ethnicity. East Bengal became a meeting place of non-communal consciousness. On that day, people from all walks of life, from students to people, formed mass resistance, irrespective of religion and caste. The day was March 21, 1948. On the racecourse ground in Dhaka, Jinnah dealt a severe blow to Bengali nationalism. He said Urdu, and not any other language, would be the state language of Pakistan. The same announcement was made again at the conference of Dhaka University on 24 March. “Urdu and only Urdu shall be the state language of Pakistan,” he said. The students present at the time started protesting.
Through the language movement, the first rebellious attitude against the rule and exploitation of Pakistan grew in the hearts of the Bengalis. It can be said that the language movement was the beginning of the realization of all our rights. Through the language movement, the people of Bengal began to be aware of their demands. The language movement instilled morale and confidence in the people’s minds, awakening the spirit of nationalism. The education movement of 1962, the six-point movement of that year, the mass uprising of 1969, the election of 1970, and the independence struggle of 1971 created the spirit and strength of language consciousness in every field.
Father of the Nation of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the first Bangalee who made history by delivering the first Bangla speech, for the first time in its history, at the 29th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 25, 1974. The speech of Bangabandhu is a historic one, especially for two reasons. Firstly, it was delivered in Bengali. Secondly, it ushered in fresh ideas and policies to build a brave new world free of economic inequalities, social injustice, military aggression, and threats of nuclear war. In his remarkable speech, he said, “Only those countries who have earned freedom after long years of struggles and sacrifices have strong will and strength of mind; remember, President, my Bengalis can endure sufferings but will not die. In the challenge to survive, the will of my people is my greatest strength.”
In his speech, he said, “We will not move towards a world filled with hunger, poverty, unemployment, fear of starvation, fear of being destroyed by nuclear war; we will look to a world where humanity is capable of great success in the era of astounding advances in science and technology. This future will be free from the threat of nuclear war. By the equitable distribution of all the resources and technical knowledge of the world, the door to such welfare will be opened where every person will have the minimum guarantee of a happy and respectable life.”
The language movement of 1952 is an unforgettable chapter in the history of 24 years of movement and struggle of Bengalis for independence. Such examples of establishing the national status of the mother tongue through bloodbath struggle are rare in the world. Not only in the history of Bangladesh, but the recognition of 21st February as ‘International Mother Language Day’ by UNESCO and the observance of the day with due dignity in 193 member countries of the United Nations since 2000 also made the language movement a glorious chapter in world history.
Bangabandhu made arrangements for his language to gain international recognition by giving a speech in Bengali at the United Nations. Speaking in Bengali, Bangabandhu not only introduced the Bengali language to the world community but also conveyed the message of establishing the status of the mother tongue in return for the self-sacrifice of Bengalis through their characteristics and language-based nationalist movement. But how sustainable is the language that has so much movement and so much self-sacrifice to establish its status today? In Bangladesh and many countries, the number of people forgetting their mother tongue is increasing. Many educated youth in our country find Bengali more complex than English. Due to the aggression of the English language, the language of many countries is now in crisis.
1947 the country was divided by capitalizing on a religion based on the two-nation theory. At that time, the people of East Pakistan were the victims of thousands of discriminations in West Pakistan. The most glorious chapter in the accumulation of anger and self-respect of the people of East Pakistan began with the excellent language movement. The United States Movement for Realizing the Rights of Mother Tongue later became an independence movement.
The nation always pays homage to Rafiq, Shafiq, Salam, Jabbar, Barkat, and all those martyred on this Language Day. February is the language month among Bengali speakers not only in Bangladesh but all over the world. There was a movement before—the movement of people fighting for language. After the success of this movement, that is, after recognizing Bangla as the state language, this movement ended. This event is held all over the world. When Bengali is the state language of an independent country, it should be made the language of science and technical education like English, French, etc. Only research is needed to teach science at the university level in Bengal.
In this age of modern technology, the Bengali language should also be the language of modern technology. Otherwise, Bangladesh will fall behind in the era of progress in world civilization. The Bengali language has to move forward. Only the 21st of February can give that impetus to the Bengali language to move forward. To preserve the language, linguists, as well as the state and technologists, must be active. The country must move forward using technology in its mother tongue. Our positive side is that the technology-minded government is in power. Some government initiatives based on expert knowledge should be taken to make Bengali language education, practice, and language sustainable using technology.
We must work to increase the use of the Bengali language in the digital world. Using software and tools under the Bengali Language Enrichment Project of the Department of Information and Communication Technology will create opportunities for the globalization of the Bengali language in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Reading and translating into Bengali will be easier and better on digital devices.
Countries at the forefront of IT innovation and application use their mother tongue in technology. China can be a great example before us. The Chinese characters are very complex, but they don’t stop there. Thanks to technology, China’s Internet users have long surpassed 500 million. However, despite the practice of the Bengali language in technology in our country, there is a lack of good content in Bengali. Therefore, considering the country’s more than 16 crore mobile phones, more than 13 crore internet users, and more than five crore social media users, good content and mobile applications will be created in the mother tongue. Doing so will not only ensure an increase in economic activities and people-to-people contacts, as well as the acquisition of knowledge and access to information and services but also help perpetuate the mother tongue among Bengalis.
Culture works the human soul. We have created our culture center centered on the 21st of February. We are proud of our victory through the language movement. The primary demand in the language movement was to preserve the mother tongue, Bengali. But that was not the only purpose. Otherwise, the movement would not have survived even after the victory in the mother tongue movement. It can be said that gaining independence was also the main objective. Bengali has always been the language of the people of this country. However, the language of the rulers before 1971 was always different. English was about two hundred years before forty-seven. Before that, the people of this country were ruled by people of Sanskrit, Persian, or one of the European languages. If we had failed to achieve the final victory of the language movement from the forty-seventh to the twenty-first of February, then perhaps foreigners or people of different languages would have ruled.

We celebrate the 21st of February with a passion for the Bengali language. But our year-round activities do not reflect that emotion. I could have made this day special by introducing the Bengali language to all levels of state and society. According to Article 3 of the first part of the constitution, Bengali will be the state language of the republic. According to him, the ‘Bengali language Introduction Act, 1986’ has been introduced. According to Section 3 (1) of this Act, ‘after the introduction of this Act, documents and correspondence, quizzes and other legal functions in all areas of Bangladesh, including government offices, courts, semi-government, autonomous bodies, except communication with foreign countries. Of course, it has to be written in Bengali. ”Since the enactment of this law, all the laws of the National Assembly have been enacted in Bengali. According to this law, there are instructions for writing in Bengali all over Bangladesh. But in reality, it is not happening. The Bengali language is almost neglected in offices, courts, education, business, and commerce.
Language martyrs also do not get the status they deserve; in other words, we cannot give them it. February is the day we sit down. There are also court and government orders to introduce the Bengali language. But it is not being fully implemented. Therefore, the government and the general public must come forward to come to the same platform. If we can do all this, celebrating International Mother Language Day will be successful and meaningful. Through many sacrifices, we have been able to keep our mother tongue, Bengali, alive in exchange for a sea of blood. I have been able to resist the eye-rolling of the West towards the unity of Bengalis. Our moral duty is to protect this achievement that has been achieved in return for so much sacrifice. Bengali spelling and Bengali pronunciation need to be presented correctly. In this case, We will always keep the latest dictionary prepared by Bangla Academy aside. We will be more careful in pronunciation.
Bengali is a rich, melodious, and simple language. One can be proud of the abundance of words in the Bengali language that express emotions and thoughts of the mind. Such incidents of self-sacrifice for the mother tongue are rare in the history of the world. With so much self-sacrifice and struggle, the language that has been given the right to speak nationally, we greatly despise.
The social media trolls or some entertaining videos on YouTube contain a mixture of perverted words as well as obscene, dirty, and vulgar words and insults. It is sad but true; many are interested in these ugly trolls or videos. In some cases, its popularity is enviable. The use of obscene words along with impure distorted Bengali spelling in writing status on social media, especially Facebook, is going on in a horrible form. Many are consciously using obscene and vulgar words to entertain their friends. The situation is such that expressing their feelings is incomplete without obscene words!
Thought or language also works behind the creation of literature, music, art, etc. Thought or language works in the sense of all human activities. The power of thought drives the labor force. Thoughts and language are identical. We need to realize that the existence and development of Bengali as a state language is essential for the existence and development of Bangladesh as a state. If the Bengali language does not survive as the state language, Bangladesh as a state will not last long. There will be land, soil, people, plants, animals, birds, rivers, sky, and air, But the state will not exist.
The use of the Bengali language through digital should be increased. Everything that needs to be done for him has to be done. We have to work consciously for the overall national development. We have to launch a propaganda movement to introduce Bengali to all levels of the judiciary. Those who are inside the judiciary can play a leading role in this. Everyone can play the role of collaborator. The use of Bengali in higher education and research should continue to increase. It is necessary to create a new consciousness in favor of Bangladesh and the Bengali language among the students and teachers in schools, colleges, and universities.
Two Asian countries have the largest populations in the world. The language of higher education and research of one of them is the mother tongue, and the language of higher education and research of the other is English. The mother tongue that the country is moving forward with has left America behind in research. Also, China’s per capita income is five times higher than that of the country advancing in higher education and research through English. However, as a nation of students, the country is ahead in higher education and research through English. Higher education and research in South Asian countries are done in English. The power behind the speed of transmission in research in mathematics and the mother tongue is the medium of expertise in mathematics.
At the time of Bangabandhu, the country’s population was seven and a half crores. At present, it is about 16 crores. At that time, the literacy rate was 20 percent. At present, it stands at 63 percent. The most significant achievement is women’s education. At the higher secondary level, it is now more than 50 percent. The country has entered the digital age. It is essential to take the initiative to ensure the application of Bangla words in naming products, services, buildings, institutions, or anything else at the private and individual levels. It is seen that many people do not speak pure Bengali or use many foreign words in one-minute words, which negatively affects people. The Ministry of Education must consider teaching English and Bengali in schools equally important. At the same time, they have to be introduced to the unconventional Bengali words from the children’s class. The stories that are in the textbook for them can be done through the presence of such words. Not only that, but they also need to be made more accessible to the Bengali language, tradition, and history so that they do not become indifferent to the Bengali language in their personal and professional lives. Along with the theoretical examination in the Bengali language, the practical examination should be arranged in every class in the school. With this, the attendance of students in schools on national days, including Ekushey February, and participation in competitions and discussions on language and our history on the days may be made compulsory.
At the primary and secondary levels, a system of education is provided through Bangla for the general public only. Many new plans need to be adopted politically and socially to implement the promise of the language movement. Strengthening political commitment and cultural activities is essential to establish secularism and nationalist ideology. The question of developing national consciousness is involved in such activities. Similarly, political will and determination are required to establish the Bengali language in educational activities and the socio-cultural arena. But we must keep pace with the present world, or else we will fall behind, and the fear of isolation will remain, but of course, the mother tongue will prevail. Everyone has to work on this.
Even today, we are relentlessly trying to make its proper manifestation in the state and society in the democratic consciousness, which is at the heart of the events that created the chapters that changed the course of the nation, like the language movement and liberation war. As a result, UNESCO recognized February 21 as International Mother Language Day in 1999, and since 2000, February 21 has been celebrated as International Mother Language Day every year in 193 countries. This is a big step in the process of globalization of Bengal.
The International Mother Tongue Institute has been established, but it cannot be said that there has been no progress in introducing Bengali. But it may not be as it should have been. To build a benevolent state and establish good governance and justice, ensuring one-sided education to eliminate inequality is essential. In the month of language, we should not confine these issues to only informality and discussion. At the same time, we must remember that we should not forget the promises of 1952 and 1971. If we want to build our desired Bangladesh, we must move forward with those chapters’ consciousness.
Hiren Pandit is an essayist, researcher, and columnist based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He can be reached at hiren.bnnrc@gmail.com

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