Who should deserve national awards?

Rezaul Hannan | Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Everyone wants to get recognition for his/her contribution in every sphere of life. The governmental and non-governmental entities in the country and abroad regularly recognise the best performer or contributor with an award, promotion, or any other ways mainly to encourage others.

The government of Bangladesh gives different awards in many sectors. Among the awards, Swadhinata Padak and Ekushey Padak are the highest civilian awards. The significance of these national awards is not comparable with others as these are given nationally commemorating the liberation war and the language movement.

These awards deserve an acceptable system of finding out the appropriate recipients. Can we describe the process of selecting recipients of the national award of the country as satisfactory?

In 2020, retired government official SM Rois Uddin Ahmed was named for the Swadhinata Padak in literature.

Many litterateurs had expressed surprise after the announcement of Rois Uddin as the winner of the highest civilian award as he was not much known in contemporary literature.

Former Bangla Academy director general Shamsuzzaman Khan had written on Facebook, "Who is he? I don't know him."

Later, Rois Uddin dropped from the Independence Award list.

It is expected that the authorities concerned would get a lesson from that incident. But this year the country witnessed a recurrence of such incidents.

A key suspect in a murder case, Amir Hamza, was named posthumously as the winner of the Swadhinata Padak in literature. He was sentenced to life term imprisonment in a case filed over killing a farmer and a minor girl in 1978.

Expectedly, the decision faced huge criticism and the government dropped Amir Hamza's name from the list of award recipients.

Now the question is how much trust does the system of choosing candidates for the awards deserve after the incidents of Rois Uddin and Amir Hamza?

As per rules, ministries, government agencies and previous winners of national awards can propose names for a national award. A recommendation from a secretary of the government is necessary to apply to those who want to get the award.

A secretarial committee shortlists proposed names after a review and forwards the list through the cabinet committee to the prime minister for final selection.

According to media reports, Amir Hamza's son Asaduzzaman is a government officer. Asaduzzaman proposed his father's name for the award with the recommendation of Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh.

Facing criticism after the announcement, TapanKanti Ghosh admitted that he had recommended Amir Hamza's name. The commerce secretary also admitted that he did not know much about Amir Hamza.

We did not find answers about the reasons behind recommending an unknown person for the highest award in the country. The reasons behind the approval of this recommendation by the upper bodies and authorities are also unknown.

It is well known that experts in a particular sector can find out the best ones in the relevant field. Media reports showed that the involvement of experts does not exist in the process.

Besides, a person having significant contributions to a field would not feel comfortable about applying for an award. But the awardee-selection process keeps the provision of applying.

This scenario shows the lack of proper respect towards the significance of the national awards and an unjust tendency among a portion of society to get a national award or to manage an award for someone at any cost.

It is needless to say that the policymakers of the country must uphold the dignity of the national awards. Besides, the countrymen should realise that the incidents of Rois Uddin and Amir Hamza proved that achieving national awards without contributions to the nation does not brighten the image of recipients in the country.


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