Bangalees' ability to receive tremendous: Amartya Sen
On the eve of the 60th anniversary of Language Martyrs' Day, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen sees Bangla civilisation's ability to be receptive to different sources as tremendous.
“And if it stops being receptive, there is a possibility of doors being shut,” he said at a seminar at Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban of University of Dhaka yesterday.
The seminar was organised as part of the World Bengali Conference, hosted by Bengali International, a London-based organisation. Eminent economist Rehman Sobhan chaired the programme.
Amartya Sen, presenting a paper, “Different Dimensions of Bangla Civilisation”, said he still takes delight speaking in Bangla and Bangalees not speaking in their mother tongue incur their own losses.
“I still love to speak in Bangla. It is part of my life,” he said.
Amarty Sen said, “We not only want to get rid of the trap of economic poverty but also want to expand all spheres of Bangla civilisation.”
On Bangla civilisation's receptiveness, he said, “The Bangla language did not hesitate to borrow words from different sources like Sangskrit, Pali, French, Arabic, English and other indigenous languages.
“We have reasons to focus on some points on the heritage of the Banglaee's way of thinking it is still important today. One of these qualities is Bangalee civilisation's ability to be receptive and be able to adapt.”
Bangalees should recognise that different strands of Bangla civilisation came from various sources. “It is also necessary to respect our receptiveness and ability to adapt.”
One should accept that receptiveness helps civilisations and cultures flourish. But anything, before being absorbed, should be carefully examined to see if it comes to the good of Bangla civilisation, he said.
Amartya Sen also pointed out the tendency of Bangalees to raise questions. “If we have deviated from those qualities which were once very much recognised, we should try to regain that wealth.”
At present there may be reasons for one to feel at a distance from the history of Bengal's economic prosperity. But a collective quest for social, political and literary development must go on alongside the endeavour for economic expansion, he said.
Citing instances from history, he said Adam Smith, the eminent economist of the 18th century, counted Bangladesh as one of the richest countries of that era. The Portuguese, Dutch, French, British, Danes and many other European peoples were very eager to engage in production and trade with Bangladesh.
But the influence of poverty weighs heavy in the way we think in the present day. But this fact of deprivation is not the biggest truth in Bangalee history, he said.
Amartya Sen said ancient Bangladesh is now divided owing to different political reasons and historical incidents.
“But the foundation of unity among Bangalees is not mainly political. The strength of unity based on literature, poetry, music and thought process is no less than the political factor.
“Added to this are deeper discussions on our social consciousness. But the base of that nearness is not only rooted in politics,” he added.