November 12, 2011 admin

International Mother Tongue day

By Harbir Singh Bhanwer

Mother tongue is the language one learns to speak from his or her own mother in childhood. This is the language spoken by all people irrespective of caste, creed or religion in ones region. The Mother Language plays an important role in shaping the personality  , character and culture of the people. Because of such importance of the Mother Tongue,  International Mother Language is being observed on 21st February every year allover world.

 Bangladesh has given the world International Language Day as emblem of freedom to be honoured by all nations of the world. The UNESCO General Conference took decisiom on November 17, 1999 when unanimously adopted a resolution tabled by Bangladesh and co-sponsored by 28 other countries. The initiative, however , came from a multilingual group based in Canada known as  Mother Language Lovers of the world. The UNESCO advised the group for submitting the initiative as an proposal of a member country. Subsequently the group contacted the Bangladesh government and the  initiative  was submitted as an official  proposal .The people of Bangladesh love their Mother  Language  is evident that during my sojourn in that country in September 2005, Medium of instruction is Bangla upto Graduation level, Majority of newspapers and periodicals are also being published in Bangla. I have neither seen a single word of Urdu except the names of the Mosques nor any newspaper or magazine in Urdu. English is second language in that country. The background of the Day is as under:-


Partition of the country took place in August 1947 on communal basis. An Islamic country with the name of Pakistan came into existence. Pakistan was spread in two different parts of the Indian sub-continent, East Pakistan  comprising East Bengal  in the East and West Pakistan consisting of West Punjab, Sindh , Blochistan and Frontier Province in the West. Besides medium of studies in the Educational institutions, Urdu was made Official Language of Pakistan  The people of East Pakistan, the Bengalis, opposed it and demanded Bengali language as medium of studies in the educational institutions as well as Official Language status in that part of the country , which was turned down by the Pakistan government dominated by the West Pakistani politicians and bureaucrats. Ultimately, an agitation was launched for fulfillment of this demand. The Pakistani  authorities resorted to repressive measures to curb this agitation. The police opened fire on the peaceful agitators on February 21, 1952 in which many people were killed. The agitation was suppressed for some times, but it could not be cowed down for ever. The simmering discontentment had been surfacing in the form of a powerful movement in fifties and sixties and subsequently burst into a full-scale armed war in December 1971, when they got freedom from the clutches of Pakistan. India played a pivotal role in the attainment of their freedom by extending all possible help including military assistance. Nearly 93 thousand Pakistani army personnel surrendered before General Jagjit Singh Aurora at Dhaka on December 17, 1971,when Bangladesh, a new nation emerged on the world map.

The Language Movement of 1952 played a decisive role in shaping the distinct identity of Bangladesh. In an article Mr Iftekhar Hussain, Director General, Bangladesh Archives  wrote , “ Those who sacrificed their lives for the dignity of our language demonstrated that a self-respecting nation could never bow down to the pressure that the colonial masters exerted ignoring the mother language of the majority people. The Language movement created the intellectual platform to be used as the springboard for all progressive movements in the fifties and sixties. It was the sources of inspiration to the people to raise against   the might of a repressive regime that cared less for the sentiments of the people. It heralded the beginning of the war to gain it nationhood.

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