Tahmeed Rahman Taseen
Student, The University of Ontario
Institute of Technology (UOIT) ,
Language is thought to be the dress of thought. The method of human expression, the expressions that drives the world. Without language, we are nothing. And when it’s your Mother Language, there’s no better way or any other way around that language for you to speak in. It’s the language you learn to communicate with since you were born, your first means of communication! And how would that very thought be when you feel like that very devoted feeling of communication is being snatched away from you? That very distinctive right of you speaking in your mother-tongue is being taken away from you? Yes, it’s not as horrible as it sounds while you’re reading this, rather, it’s much, much more horrendous and dreadful than you can even imagine in your worst nightmares. Being forced to go away from the natural phenomenon to speak the language you were born and raised with? Being forced to read and write in an alien language right after you are born? HORRIBLE.
It was that spine-chilling feeling, a nightmare experience the people of East Pakistan had to go through from the year 1948. A year after Pakistan was created, it had two parts, namely – East and West Pakistan. In 1947, the government of Pakistan declared that Urdu and Urdu be the sole national language of the entire nation despite majority of the people in East Pakistan were Bangla speaking. And the rebel started ever since but took to the streets in one fine Thursday morning of 1952. When the students of The University of Dhaka along with mass people outlawed against the government laws used to keep them silent and from protesting their basic human rights. The day of 21st February wasn’t only an eventful day in the history of Pakistan and Bangladesh, but it was going to be a day which was going to change the course of global history.
When students are considered to be at their smartest and their powerful youth during their time in the University, changing the world with their actions and innovations, some university students from East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) did change the world in The 21st of February, 1956, but it wasn’t in the usual way. The way they changed the world was by giving up their own life, by sacrificing their own lives for a cause to mother-tongue, for the cause of a language. YES, language. BANGLADESH, became the only country in the world to spill blood for the cause of speaking in their own mother-tongue.
The world started observing this day, The 21st of February as The International Mother Language Day from the year 2000 after it was declared by The UNESCO the year before as the International Mother Language Day. International Mother Language Day (IMLD) is now a worldwide annual observance held on 21st February to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and promote multilingualism. And it was the idea of Bangladesh and our initiative as a country which led to this global recognition on the day of the anniversary for the day we fought for the recognition for The Sweetest Language on earth, Bangla.
“Bangla” is our pride, Bangla is a privilege, Bangla is blood. The language voted and declared as the ‘Sweetest Language in the World’ by UNESCO is our mother-tongue. How privileged are we? INEXPLICABLE.
But as we cruise more and more through this generation of ever-evolving youth, Bangla has seemed to lose its aura for them. It’s like that introverted kid in the school with braces, where seemingly anything related to him or within his perimeter is thought to make you “Uncool” and “an act of shame”. You go talk to him, you suck. You go sit beside him, you are ‘uncool’.
So, you speak in Bangla, you are Uncool.
YOU. ARE. NOT.
you are one of the very privileged population in the world who has a tongue for
speaking the sweetest language on earth, you speak in the language for which
people sacrificed their lives.
This practice of non-Bangla speaking Bengalis widens to a new horizon when you see the Bengali immigrant scene. When the different races are establishing themselves and succeeding in the first world countries keeping their values intact and moving forward with their culture at home, we Bengalis are moving forward with a mixture of neither our culture nor theirs’. It’s a mix in-between which doesn’t give us any identity. Neither are we Bengalis nor are we Americans or citizens of other countries.
THAT’S, A. SHAME.
And this also to be concurred that much of why they don’t value or don’t know how to speak or anything about their sweet mother-tongue and its rich history is the fault of their parents. Not having a cultural or practicing environment in the family.
you an insight on a very interesting anecdote, the very first initiative for
making 21st February a global event, The International Mother Language Day, was
taken by two Bangladeshi Immigrants living in Canada – Rafiqul Islam and Abdus
It was the year 1998 when these two name-twin immigrants sharing the same name as our language martyrs, Rafiq and Salam decided to send an application to the then UN Secretary General Kofi Anan. It was then informed by The UN that they cannot take a personal letter or application into consideration and that it has to come ‘officially’ from The State Government. Right after getting the message, the Government of The People’s Republic of Bangladesh get into action without any delay. By the order of the then Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina (current Prime Minister too), The Bangladesh Ambassador to The United Nations, The Bangladeshi Diplomat at UNESCO and The Bangladesh Ambassador to France was assigned to take immediate steps to put this forward in the general assembly of The UNESCO and validate this day as The International Mother Language Day.
Paris, 17th November 1999. Session of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
21st February was declared as The International Mother Language Day by UNESCO and later, formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000.
By the unending unified efforts led by The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, 21st February became a global day for observance. An Outstanding tribute to The Language Martyrs. This just followed all the good things ever to come for Bangla. 2008 was declared as ‘The Year of International Languages’, 2012 as Mother-tongue instruction and inclusive education, 2013 as Books for mother-tongue education and it went on and on and here we are in the year 2019, it is the ‘International Year of Indigenous Languages’. Adding up to that, Bangla was declared as the ‘Sweetest Language on Earth’ and probably one of the greatest feat was when it was declared as one of the official languages of Sierra Leone in 2002 for the great contribution of The Bangladesh Defence Forces in establishing peace in the country.
Bangla is not only the official language and the mother-tongue of the people of Bangladesh, but it is also the second highest spoken language in India.
What Bangla gave us is unmatched, unparallel and ineffable. It gave us an identity, it was the initial driving force which led us to our sweet victory over Pakistan in 1971 and gave birth to this incredible nation, known as Bangladesh.
Although various steps were taken by the government and non-government organizations to preserve this beautiful language (like – Bangla Academy, International Mother Language Institute, Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi (in India) etc). But is it enough? Are we doing enough to preserve and practice this beautiful sweet language? The language for which we sacrificed lives is now in the state of ignorance by the generation of the same people. When English is taking over in almost every aspect of our lives, Bangla is just slipping down the corridor. English is the preferred language in almost all offices, Government or Non-Government. The verdicts from the highest judicial scene in Bangladesh, The Supreme Court are also being published in English.
Yes, it’s true that there’s no alternative to English for us as a nation or as an individual to progress, develop and compete shoulder to shoulder in this ever-transforming competitive world. Without English, probably its one tough job to survive moderately in this present world. But disfiguring Bangla with English, making fusions with the two languages or just prioritizing English over Bangla is just destroying this sweet language of ours. Not only English, but the influence of Indian Culture is ravaging our society and language in multifarious ways. Cultural mix and cultural diversity are always encouraging but if that means we are to forget our own roots, then in no way is that ever a good thing, or something encouraging. And that’s exactly what’s happening in modern Bangladeshi Societies.
“Going forward with our culture and values”
Should be, Our Motto.
China is a leading example in that. Probably the second “Big” country in the world now, expected to take over as the ‘World Police’, surpassing USA; they gave us the world a phenomenal example showing that, you can develop and come to such a global state but not by sacrificing your own culture or values. Fewer than 10 percent of the population speak English in China, yet, they are deemed to take over the world reigns in the near future.
So, if not them, Why not us? Their people
didn’t sacrifice for language, their language isn’t the sweetest in the world,
it’s ours, it’s us. Yet, they show us how it is to be done right. Every
language, every culture should be their own sense of pride, no culture, no
nation is to be belittled and this is why, we should be proud to wear our
Bangladeshi skins, speak in the sweetest language on earth.
Bangladesh has given us a lot. Bangla has given
us a lot. Bangla is our identity. Bangla is our pride. Bangla gave us reasons
to be proud of and earned us enormous respect from all over the world. Two
brave young lads from Canada showed us that love for your motherland, love our
mother-tongue, love for your culture is unconditional. If they can be living
their values living in a foreign land, why not we better it?
Its us, our duty to raise the upcoming generation with the proper Bangladeshi culture and values and a generation which is language conscious and knows what it means to us to be so lucky to be born with the tongue to speak Bangla. Otherwise all these lives sacrificed, all these demonstrations and protests, all these blood, were for nothing.