Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has stressed the need for digital publication of the books alongside the printed ones and their translation into different languages to reach the Bangla language, literature and culture at the global stage.
“I request all the publishers to be digital publishers alongside printer ones. We can reach quickly our Bangla language, literature and culture not only within the country, but also to the global stage,” she said.
She said this while opening the Amar Ekushey Book Fair (2024) for the record 21st time at the Bangla Academy here this afternoon.
The Prime Minister said, “This is the era of science and technology and we have to move ahead keeping pace with the present time.”
She said the new generation now prefers to read books on tab or laptop instead of printed versions.
Despite the fact, the printed versions will not be erased as many, mostly aged people, still like to read the printed versions of the books.
The Prime Minister also suggested making audio version of the books so that one can learn by hearing.
She asked the Bangla Academy to open a separate web portal to display the digital versions of their publications.
“We will march ahead if we compete with the era,” she opined.
The Prime Minister also stressed the need for translating the literary works to reach Bangla language, literature, culture and history to the global people.
“We can know about a nation or a country through its language and culture. So, translation is required to this end,” she said.
The premier said the more the Bengali literatures will be translated into different other languages the more the global people will know those.
“Everything of ours, including language, literature and culture, will reach quickly the global people if we can take measures to translate into different other languages,” she said.
The Prime Minister said Bangladeshi people, too, can know foreign literatures and cultures through translation.
“There are lots of languages across the globe. We cannot know those without translations.” she added.
Referring to her government’s Vision-2041, Sheikh Hasina said that Bangladesh would be a smart country in future by making its population, government, economy and society smart.
“If we want to build a smart society, we’ll have to enrich everything like language, literature and culture,” she said.
Noting that now the book fairs are held at the district-level, the Prime Minister said the government would take this book fair to upazila-level in phases.
Mentioning that Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered his speech in Bengali in the United Nations General Assembly in 1974, Sheikh Hasina said Bangabandhu had taken Bengali to the international stage.
Rabindranath Tagore had brought international recognition for the Bengali language while Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman took Bengali language to the international stage through his speeches, works and political, social and economic struggles, she added.
The Prime Minister later moved around the book fair by visiting different stalls.
The Bangla Academy is organizing the world’s largest annual book fair on its and Suhrawardy Udyan’s premises with the theme “Paro Boi, Garo Desh: Bangabandhur Bangladesh (Read Book, build country: Bangabandhu’s Bangladesh) this year.
It will remain open for all from 3 pm to 9 pm on work days and from 11:00 am to 9 pm on public holidays with one-hour break for lunch and prayers.
At the function, Sheikh Hasina, also the cultural affairs minister, unveiled covers of two books “Collected Works of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Volume-2” and “Praner Melay Sheikh Hasina” (Sheikh Hasina in the beloved fair) on her addresses delivered 20 times at the book fair, published by Bangla Academy.
Besides, she conferred the Bangla Academy Literary Award-2023 on 16 individuals for notable contributions to various fields of Bangla literature. The Bangla Academy Literary Award-2023 was given in 11 categories- poetry, fiction, essay/research, translation, drama, children’s literature category, Liberation War, Bangabandhu, environment/science field, biography and folklore.
The Prime Minister handed over the awards to the winners of the award.
The award recipients are: Shamim Azad (poetry), Novelists Nuruddin Jahangir and Salma Bani (jointly in fiction), Zulfikar Matin (essay/research), Saleha Chowdhury (translation), Playwrights Mrittika Chakma and Masud Pathik (jointly in drama), Tapankar Chakrabarty (children’s literature), Afroza Parvin and Asaduzzaman Asad (research on the Liberation War), Saifullah Mahmud Dulal and Md Majibur Rahman (jointly in research on Bangabandhu), ornithologist Inam Al Haque (environment/science field), Ishak Khan (biography) and Tapan Bagchi and Suman Kumar Das (jointly in folklore).
Along with cultural programmes and month-long seminars, there will be arrangements for children and teenagers which include drawing, music and recitation competitions.
One minute silence was observed to show respect to the martyrs of the Language Movement.
Bangla Academy President novelist Selina Hossain and Cultiral Affairs Secretary Khalil Ahmed, spoke at the function.
Director of Bangla Academy poet Mohammad Nurul Huda and Bangladesh Book Publishers and Sellers Association President Arif Hossain Choton, gave the welcome addresses.
A total of 937 stalls have been allocated to 635 organizations in the book fair. The authorities have allotted 173 stalls to 120 organizations on the Bangla Academy ground and 764 stalls to 515 organizations at the Suhrawardy Udyan.
A total of 37 pavilions have also been allocated this year.
Last year, a total of 901 stalls were allocated in favour of 601 organisations.
Like the previous years, the main stage of the fair will be on the Bangla Academy premises while book unwrapping and ‘Lekhak Bolchi’ stages will be set up on Suhrawardi Udyan premises.
‘Shishu Chattar’ has also been set up in Sadhu Shanga area beside the Ramna Kali Temple.
All-out security measures have been taken to ensure foolproof security of the fair with deployment of a large numbers of law enforcement personnel including police and RAB.
A watch tower and fire tender were set up to monitor the situation around the fair venue.
The fairground and its surrounding areas have been brought under the coverage of CCTV cameras and drone surveillance.