The Bangalees have a unique record of sacrificing lives for the love of their mother tongue. Immortalised as language movement of 1952, the occasion's spirit still runs deep in the stream of Bangalee consciousness. It was a protest against attempts at making Urdu the only official language in Pakistan although the Bangla-speaking people were the majority in that country. No wonder, the conspiracy to subdue the language -- and through it - the Bangalees in erstwhile East Pakistan did not succeed. Bangla has become the leading language in this part of the world and Ekushey has remained the fountainhead of all the subsequent movements including the liberation movement and war that have earned for the people a sovereign country of their own. In a robust reflection of homage to the rare sacrifice of the language martyrs in 1952, the Unesco declared Ekushey the International Mother Language Day. Thereby the day has been eternalised by urging respect for all languages, especially those in the throes of extinction. What a thoughtful internationalisation of a cultural event of transcending significance!
The unflagging spirit of Ekushey February is so overwhelming that the tragic deaths get elevated to martyrdom and mourning turns into a sombre celebration all across the length and breadth of this land. Paying homage to the language martyrs is of course an obligation and an urge of soul the posterity feel. At the same time the flame that used to burn so bright in the soul of the martyrs still beckons all to rise up to any challenging occasion when one's love for the country is put to the maximum test.
The sacrifice of Ekushey has taught the nation to be brave and advance its cause come what may. Quite rightly, the country's achievements on the economic front are spectacular but there remains a challenge in the social sector in terms of building an egalitarian society based on distributive justice. Had the enthusiasm for books as demonstrated during the month of February been concentrated in acquiring knowledge dipped in literature, philosophy on a higher plane and science and technology of the latest kind, many of the distractions and deviations as noticed among the young generations could perhaps be avoided.
Some of the intellectual space and scholarly creation have shrunk for people's preoccupation with financial pursuits and consumerism. The love for knowledge, fine art, aestheticism and moral principles is eroding because such abstract issues do not appeal to people busy webbing a cocoon of materialistic comfort zone. Once again there is a need for reviving the true spirit of Ekushey instead of celebrating the occasion rather ritualistically. In this context, the constitutional issue of utilising Bangla in all spheres of national life - be it education, administrative communication and judiciary - remains to a large extent an unfulfilled agenda. And that is at present a key concern which awaits addressing squarely in order to advance the use of Bangla progressively to reach a point of equilibrium through a repayment of debts to the language martyrs.
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