Eternal ekushey February today. Nation pays homage to those who had made supreme sacrifices for the cause of their mother tongue---Bangla--- on this day 69 years back. It will also recall with gratitude the contributionsof many others who were at the forefront of the language movement, a unique event in the annals of the human history. Bangalees irrespective of their nationalities take great pride in this momentous happening in which some valiant people had built resistance and shed blood in the streets of Dhaka for the sake of their mother tongue.
The international recognition of the language movement brought great joy and satisfaction for the people of this part of the world. The General Conference of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in November 1999 proclaimed February 21 as the International Mother Language Day to help promote multilingualism and multiculturalism. Since then, the observance of this day inspires peoples globally to preserve and enrich their respective mother languages and cultures. The event has also been a catalyst for mobilising national and international efforts to preserve languages spoken by many smaller ethnic groups and tribes and promote cultural diversity.
The basic aim of the language movement was to establish Bangla as the state language of erstwhile Pakistan. It, however, turned out to be a major source of inspiration for the people taking part in several political programmes in the following years. Notable among those were the education movement in 1962, the six-point movement in 1966 and mass-uprising in 1969. All those combined later culminated into an ultimate struggle for national independence---the war of liberation.
There is no denying the observance of the Ekushey has gained significant pace in recent years. The crowd attending the book fairs, processions, rallies and cultural programmes, organised in observance of the day, has grown far bigger. This represents the people's intense love for their mother tongue, no doubt. But they will show true respect to the language martyrs only if they are sincere in upholding the democratic values and establishing the cultural and linguistic freedom. The country has several ethnic groups. The government must make efforts to preserve their languages and cultural diversities.
Language is not a static thing. It needs constant improvement and enrichment through necessary research. So, relevant people and organisations must not forget their duties and responsibilities. Having love and affection for the mother tongue is something inherent. But learning other languages, particularly the international ones, including English, is also important. Otherwise, it would be difficult to gather knowledge, make useful communication with foreigners, and carry forward international trade and economic activities.
This year the observance of the Language Martyrs Day is not like that of the previous years because of the pandemic. Yet there will be a display of genuine love and respect for the martyrs. Events usually organised every year on this day otherwise have a demonstrative value. But the observance of this great occasion will carry a meaning only if all concerned uphold the values and principles that had been so dear to the language martyrs.