DHAKA Â - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today urged all to practice and use Bangla language in a proper manner and uphold the country's culture and heritage to brighten further its image abroad alongside spearheading the campaign for development.
"We've protected the dignity of our mother language in exchange for blood and got its international recognition, which is a great pride for us," she said while inaugurating a four-day programme orgainsed by International Mother Language Institute (IMLI) coinciding with the Ekushey February.
The premier added: "So the people shouldn't forget practice of this
language . . . as Bengalis, we've to uphold our culture, heritage and other national glories."
Sheikh Hasina said Ekushey February is observed across the globe in a befitting manner as a mark of honour to the mother language of the people of all languages of the world and "now the people of all languages of the world know Bangladesh and also know the unforgettable sacrifice of the Bengalis".
"Ekush taught us not to bow down our head and that teaching eventually enabled us to earn our Independence," the premier said.
She recalled that the very first attack was made on Bengali culture, language and literature as part of Pakistani rulers' orchestrated conspiracy to destroy "our nation but the result (of the plot) is that we achieved independence and got the dignity of the Bangalee nation and a state".
Education minister Nurul Islam Nahid chaired the function, addressed, among others, by state minister for Madrasa and Technical Education Division of the education ministry Kazi Keramat Ali and Head and UNESCO's representative in Dhaka B Kaldun.
Secretary of National Coexistence Dialogue and Official Languages of Sri Lanka WMPG Wickramasinghe presented the keynote paper on the theme of the day - 'Linguistic diversity and multilingualism count for sustainable development'.
Cabinet members, premier's advisors, parliament members, litterateurs, academics, writers, poets, journalists, Ekushey Award winners and high civil and military officials were present at the function while secretary of education ministry's secondary and higher secondary division Sohrab Hossain delivered the welcome address and IMLI director general Dr Jinat Imtiaz Ali gave the vote of thanks.
At the outset of the function, a minute's silence was observed as a mark of profound respect to the memories of language heroes, who laid down their lives for the cause of mother language.
Sheikh Hasina reiterated her determination to build Bangladesh as a hunger and poverty free country as dreamt by Bangabandhu and said that Bangladesh will be elevated to a developing country from least developed country very soon.
She said Bangladesh by now fulfilled all conditions to becoming a
developing country taking "our dignity one step forward".
The prime minister said the very word "lower" in any term did not befit a country which earned its independence in exchange for blood and "we must build Bangladesh as a middle income country by 2021 and a developed one by 2041 Insha Allah".
She said Bangladesh could upgrade its status as a developing country as most countries of the region did.
The prime minister recalled that Bangabandhu initiated the Language Movement when he was a student of the Law Department of Dhaka University.
She said the Father of the Nation had constituted Bhasha Sangram Parishad comprising Tamaddun Majlish, Student League and other student bodies.
The prime minister said in 1956, the Awami League formed government and Hussein Shahid Suhrawardhy became prime minister. "In that year Pakistan's first constitution was framed where Bangla got the dignity of a state language alongside Urdu," she said.
"Bangla would not have got the dignity of a state language had the Awami League not formed the government," she said.
The premier said the then Awami government declared 21 February as a holiday and took a project for construction of Shaheed Minar, allocated money and started its work."But the scheme was not implemented at that time due to the declaration of martial law by General Ayub Khan," she said.
She said Bangabandhu took the Bangla language to the international arena by giving speech in Bangla for the first time at the United Nations. "Following his footprint I've also been giving speech in Bangla at the UN General Assembly regularly," she said.
The prime minister said the country's language, culture and heritage got a new lease of life when her party Bangladesh Awami League formed government in 1996 with a huge mandate of the people after long 21 years.
"After assuming office in that year, we worked relentlessly to add excellence to our rich Bangla language," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the United Nations declared immoral Ekushey February as the International Mother Language Day on November 17 in 1999.
She said Canada expatriates Rafiqul Islam and Abdus Salam as well as some other mother language-lovers took initiatives at its beginning. "I myself and my government at that time took necessary measures and became successful."
Sheikh Hasina said the country couldn't achieve desired progress due to imposition of martial law like by Ayub Khan after the assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975. "Like Ayub Khan, General Zia became simultaneously the army chief and the president at that time," she said.
The prime minister said the power was confined to cantonment after 1975. "That's why Bangladesh couldn't advance to that extent that it should made," she said.
Highlighting her government's efforts for development of Bangalee culture and Bangla language, Sheikh Hasina said she laid the foundation stone of the International Mother Language Institute on March 15 in 2001 to protect the dignity of the endangered languages.
"We started the work of the institute but after coming to power, the BNP-Jamaat government stopped it," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the work on the institute resumed when the Awami League government came to power again in 2009.
"We enacted the International Mother Language Institute Act in 2010 and opened a Language Museum at the institute," she said.