International Mother Language Day
আন্তর্জাতিক মাতৃভাষা দিবস
( 17th BCS )
International Mother Language Day
International Mother Language Day is an observance held annually on 21 February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The day has been observed worldwide 2000. The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bengali, as one of the two national languages of then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, which is the capital of present-day Bangladesh. The spirit of Bangalee Nationalism emanated from the bloodstained 21st and gained tremendous momentum and subsequently, the long-cherished independence was achieved in 1971.
Mother Language Movement:
The Bengali Language Movement, also known as the Language Movement (Bhasha Andolon) was a political movement in former East Bengal, today Bangladesh, advocating the recognition of the Bengali Language as an official language of the then Dominion of Pakistan in order to allow its use in government affairs, the continuation of its use as a medium of education, its use in media, currency and stamps, and to maintain its writing in Bengali script.
The present nations of Pakistan and Bangladesh were part of undivided Indian during the British colonial rule. From the mid 19th century, the Urdu language had been promoted as the lingua franca of Indian Muslims by political and religious leaders, such as Sir Khwaja Salimullah, Sir Syed. Ahmed Khan, Nawab Viga-ul-Mulk and Abdul Haq, Urdu is an Indo-Aryan language of the Indo-Iranian branch, belonging to the Indo-European family languages.
It developed under Persian, Arabic and Turkic influence on apabhramshas in south Asia during the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire. With its Perso-Arabicscript the language was considered a vital element of the Islamic culture for Indian Muslims.
While the use of Urdu grew common with Muslims in Northern India, the Muslims of Bengal primarily used the Bengali language. Bengali is an Eastern Indo-Aryan language that arose from the Eastern Middle Indic language around 1000 CE and developed considerably during the Bengal Renaissance. Supporters of Bengali opposed Urdu even before the partition of India when delegates from Bengal rejected the idea of making Urdu the lingua Franca of Muslims. India in the 1937 Lucknow session of the Muslim League.
Early Stages of the Movement:
After the partition of India in 1947, Bengali speaking people in East Bengal, the non-contignous eastern part of the Dominion of Pakistan, made up 44 million of the newly formed Dominion of Pakistan’s 69 million people. The Dominion of Pakistan’s government, civil services, and military, however, was dominated by personnel from the western wing of the Dominion of Pakistan.
In 1947, a key resolution at a national education summit in Karachi advocated Urdu as the sole state language and its exclusive use in the media and schools. Opposition and protests immediately arose. Students from Dhaka rallied under the leadership of Abul Kashem, the secretary of Tamaddun Majlish, a Bengali Islamic Cultural Organisation.
The meeting stipulated Bengali as an official language of the Dominion of Pakistan and as a medium of education in East Bengal. A large number of Bengali students met on the University of Dhaka Campus on 8 December 1947 to formally demand that Bengali be made an official language. They promote their cause. Bengali students organised processions and rallies in Dhaka.
The linguist Muhammad Shahidullah pointed out that Urdu was not the native language of any part of Pakistan, and said, “If we have to choose a second state language, we should consider Urdu.” The writer Abul Mansur Ahmed said if Urdu became the state language, the people of East Bengal would become illiterate and ineligible for government positions.
The first Rastrobhasa Sangram Parishad as an organisation in favour of Bengali as a state language was formed towards the end of December 1947. Assemble member Dhirendranath Datta proposed legislation in the constituent Assembly of Pakistan to allow members to speak in Bengali and authorise its use for official purposes. Datta’s proposal was supported by legislators of East Bengal, as well as the people of the region. Prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan and the Muslim League denounced the proposal as an attempt to divide the Pakistani people, then the legislation was defeated.
The Student of the University of Dhaka and other colleges of the city organised a general strike on 11 March 1948 to protest the omission of the Bengali language from official use. Police attacked the processions injuring several students and leaders and arrested political and student leaders. Continuing strikes were observed the following four days.
In the height of civic unrest, the Government-General of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah arrived in Dhaka on 19 March 1948. On 21 March, at a civic reception at Racecourse Ground, he declared that “Urdu and only Urdu shall be the state language of Pakistan.” Jinnah delivered a similar speech at Curzon Hall of the University of Dhaka on 24 March.
At both meetings, Jinnah was interrupted by large segments of the audience.
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Events of 1952:
The Urdu-Bengali controversy was reignited when Jinnah’s successor, government-general Khawaja Nazimuddin, staunchly defended the ‘Urdu-only’ policy in a speech on 26 January 1952. On 30 January, the Shorbodolio Rashtrobhasha Sangram Parishad was formed in a meeting at the Bar Library Hall of the Dhaka University chaired by Maulana Bhashani. The action committee called for an all-out protest on 21 February, including strikes and rallies. As preparation for demonstrations was going on, the government imposed section 144 in Dhaka, thereby barning any gatherings of more than four people.
21 February :
At nine o’clock in the morning, students began gathering on the University of Dhaka premises in defiance of section 144. The students met around the East Bengal Legislative Assembly and blocked the Legistators’ way, asking them to present their insistence at the assembly. When a group of students sought to storm into the building, police opened fire and killed a number of students, including Abdus Salam, Rafiq Uddin Ahmed, Abdul Barkat, and Abdul Jabbar. As the news of killings spread disorder erupted across the city. Shops, offices and public transport were shut down and a general strike began
At last, on 7 May 1954, the constituent assembly resolved, with the Muslim League’s support, to grant the official status of Bengali. Bengali was recognised as the second official language of Pakistan on 29 February 1956.
Background of International Mother Language Day:
In the memory of 21 February 1952, the day is observed as ‘Shahid Dibosh’ every year and later announce International Mother Language Day.
The pioneer is Rafiqul Islam, lives in Vancouver.
9 January 1998, Rafiq wrote a letter to Mr Kofi Anan, to take steps for saving all the languages of the world from the possibility of distinction and to declare an International Mother Language Day. Rafiq proposed the date as 21 February the pretext Language Movement. 1952 killing in Dhaka on the occasion of Rafiq established “A group of Mother Language of the World” with Abdus Salam including 2 English, 1 Hindi, 1 German, 1 Cartonese, 1 Kachhi; speaking people.
A proposal was submitted to UNESCO through the then Prime Minister of Bangladesh on 9 September 1999. 17 November, the proposal was supported by 188 countries including Pakistan, not opposed by a single country.
International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999 (30C/62). On 16 May 2009 the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/61/266 called upon member states “to promote the preservation and protection of all language used by peoples of the world.”
By the same resolution, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages, to promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism.
Importance of International Mother Language Day:
It is a great tribute and glowing homage paid by the international community to the language martyrs of Bangladesh and the language movement.
UNESCO in its resolution enunciates the recognition was given bearing in mind that all moves to promote the dissemination of mother languages will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness about linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.
The new millennium 188 countries around the world initiate the observance of 21 February as the International Mother Language Day. It is believed to have generated the collective campaign towards bridging the language, culture and communication gaps.
Have they destroyed your memorial monument
Don’t your fear comrade
We are still here
A family of forty million alert and wide.
[Alauddin Al Azad’s The Monument’, translated by Kabir Chawdhury.] The genesis of the historic Language Movement that started in September 1947 with the students in the vanguard backed by intellectuals, cultural activists and patriotic elements was the first spurt of Bengali nationalistic upsurge culmination in the sanguinary events of 21 February 1952. It expanded into a movement of people’s rights and a democratic process, finally leading to the war of liberation in 1971 and the creation of an independent state of Bangladesh.
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