Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday reiterated her call for extensive and quality translation of classical and popular books of Bengali literature into other languages to reach out to world readers.
“I always put emphasis on translation of Bengali literary works into other languages and vice versa so that we can taste the treasure of literature of other languages,” she told the inaugural function of the month-long Ekushey Granthamela (book fair) on the Bangla Academy premises.
She stressed the need for publishing more books on children's literature.
Hasina said her government was giving incentives for creative publications. Last year, Bangladesh became associated with world famous Frankfurt Book Fair which helped the country gain experience about international standard publications, she added.
She welcomed the president and the general secretary of International Publishers Association (IPA) to this year's fair.
The PM handed over Bangla Academy Literary Award-2015 to 10 recipients and unveiled the covers of two Braille publications.
Greeting the Bangla Academy Literary Award recipients, she said her government has taken long-term initiatives for advancement of education, literature and culture.
Bengali people achieved everything by making sacrifices, Hasina said. “Ekushey February is a great inspiration for us. With much expectation, we wait for the book fair all year long. The martyrs of the Language Movement have created the expectation in us.”
“Ekushey February inspires us, teaches us the language of protest, supplies strength of struggle for realising any lawful demand and shows us the road to victory,” she added.
She said the people of Bangladesh established their right to speak in mother language by sacrificing their lives, which is unprecedented in world history. “Bangladesh was born as an independent country as its people could be united for the cause of their mother language.”
The PM recalled the role of Bangabandhu and others in mobilising public support for the Language Movement. After assuming office in 1956, the then Awami League government had declared Ekushey February as "Shaheed Dibash" and gave Bangla the status of an official language.
She thanked Bangla Academy for arranging a discussion on Bangabandhu's historic six-point demand during the book fair.
Recalling her memories of studying in Bangla Academy library during her student life, Hasina said: “I feel well when I come to this premises.”
The Ekushey Book Fair not only inspires local people, but also creates enthusiasm among the expatriates and foreign nationals living in Bangladesh, she noted adding that the fair has now become one of the largest book fairs in the world in terms of duration.
The UNESCO's recognition of Ekushey February as the International Mother Language Day has enhanced Bangladesh's dignity on the world stage, said the premier.
About preservation of endangered languages, the PM said her previous government (1996-2001) had taken an initiative for construction of International Mother Language Institute. But the project became stagnant when the BNP-Jamaat assumed office in 2001.
The then AL government revived the project in 2009. The UNESCO has recognised it as a second category institute which is now engaged in research and preservation of languages, she mentioned.
Hasina congratulated all the fellows of Bangla Academy on the occasion of its 60th founding anniversary this year.
Prof Emeritus Dr Anisuzzaman was in the chair while Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor was present as special guest.
Director General of Bangla Academy Shamsuzzaman Khan, British educationist and poet Joe Winter, IPA President Richard Charkin, Czech writer and researcher Robert Martin also spoke, among others.
Speaker of Jatiya Sangsad Shirin Sharmin Choudhury, cabinet members, eminent writers, researchers, poets, publishers and fellows of Bangla Academy were present.
Later, the PM visited different stalls of the book fair.