Bangla at UNGA: A legacy continued from father to daughter
September 25 is a glorious day in the history of the Bengali nation and Bangla language as Bangabandhu addressed the UN General Assembly in Bangla for the first time on the day in 1974.
Terming the day as significant, Prime Minister's ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy on Saturday shared a video of Bangabandhu's UNGA speech, on his verified Facebook page.
When Bangabandhu delivered his UNGA speech on September 25, 1974 in Bangla, it marked the culmination of a process that had started on February 21, 1952.
The Language Movement for Bangla had snowballed into a movement for an independent Bangladesh under Bangabandhu's leadership. So, his UNGA speech not only announced the birth of a new nation but one based on linguistic and cultural identity rather than religion.
On September 17, just one week ago, Bangladesh became a member of the United Nations, Sajeeb Wazed said.
It was the first time that the use of Bangla started in any official meeting of the international body, he said.
Columnist Ajoy Dasgupta said that Bangladesh is a classic case of continuity of legacy from father to daughter, despite the massacre of much of the Sheikh Mujib family in 1975 and the dozens of assassination attempts against Bangabandhu's daughter, now the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
Dasgupta, an Ekushey Padak awardee, says the military rulers who had taken over and ruled Bangladesh for the next 15 years legitimized the pro-Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami, introduced constitutional amendments that undermined the country's secular democratic polity, and finally declared Islam as the state religion of Bangladesh.
He said some parties like BNP and its ally, Jamaat-e-Islami, have tried to restore the "Pakistan military-fundamentalist model of radical Islam" but failed.
The world is all praise for Bangladesh's amazing economic turnaround and social inclusion, for its battle against climate change and gender empowerment -- all rooted in Bangladesh's unique Bengali culture and the language, Dasgupta mentioned.
This September, as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina again addressed the UNGA in Bangla, two women diplomats flanked her to chair the session and translate -- a reminder of the Bengali roots of this fast modernising nation from the "basket case" it was labelled as in the 1970s, 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," Bangabandhu reminded the UNGA.
Twenty-five years later, his daughter Sheikh Hasina moved the UNESCO, in 1999, to secure recognition for February 21 as International Mother Language Day.
Bangabandhu secured global recognition for Bangla, currently the sixth most spoken language in the world.
His daughter carried it further and got institutionalised recognition of Bangla, the only language to have produced a Nobel laureate in literature in South Asia.