Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday called upon Bangla Academy and local administration to take measures for increasing cultural and literary activities at the district level and expanding tenure of the Amar Ekushey Book Fair till March 17, the birthday of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
“Cultural and literary practices, including cultural programmes and discussions on literature, were held at the district and upazila levels which have decreased nowadays. We have to reintroduce the practices and increase our cultural programmes to further strengthen our existence,” she said, BSS reports.
While opening virtually the Amar Ekushey Book Fair-2022 in the city as the chief guest from her official Ganabhaban residence this afternoon, she said that the Bangla Academy could take initiatives to increase cultural and literary activities at the district level.
The Prime Minister continued that many talented poets, artistes, litterateurs and cultural activists would come to the light from different regions of Bangladesh if the practices could be increased.
“Increased cultural and literary practices will help blossom talents alongside meeting up the psychological demand,” she said.
The Prime Minister opined that the increased cultural practices would keep the young generation away from wrongdoings and increase their interest in Bangladesh, Bengali Language, Bengali literature and Bengali culture.
The Prime Minister said that the Shilpakala Academy has been arranging the cultural programmes up to the upazila level, she said that Bangla Academy and the local administration should take measures to increase cultural and literary practices at the district level.
Sheikh Hasina said the duration of the fair should be extended till March 17, the birthday of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, as the demand to this end from the publishers has come across.
“ As this time we have started the fair in delay, February 15, I think we can continue it for a full month,” she said.
The Premier said that she alone could not take the decision, urging the Bangla Academy, organizers of the book fair, to consider how much they can do in this regard.
The fair, a yearly event of booklovers and publishers, began today on the Bangla Academy premises and at adjoining Suhrawardy Udyan with the theme of the fair-2022 is “Birth Centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Golden Jubilee of Country’s Independence.”
Sheikh Hasina also distributed the Bangla Academy Sahitya Puroshkar-2021 (Bangla Academy Literature Award) at the opening ceremony.
On behalf of the Prime Minister, State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid handed over the awards to the recipients and spoke at the function as special guest.
Cultural Affairs Secretary Md Abul Mansur spoke on the occasion with Bangla Academy President writer Selina Hossain in the chair.
Bangla Academy Director General poet Mohammad Nurul Huda delivered the welcome speech while Bangladesh Publisher and Book-Sellers Association President Md Arif Hossain Chhoton, also spoke.
The award recipients for 2021 are — Asad Mannan, Bimal Guha (Poetry); Jharna Rahman, Bishwajit Chowdhury (Literature); Aminur Rahman, Rafik-um-Munir Chowhdhury (Translation); Sadhana Ahmed (Drama); Rafikur Rashid (Children’s Literature); Panna Kaiser (Liberation War-related research); Harun-ur-Rashid (Bangabandhu related research); Shubhagata Chowdhury (Science Fiction/Environmental Science); Sufia Khatun, Haider Akbar Khan Rano (Autobiography/Travelogue); Aminur Rahman Sultan (Folklore) and Hosenuddin Hossain (Essay/Research).
Each awardee received a cheque amounting to TK three lakh and a crest.
Bangla Academy Sahitya Puroshkar is given by the Bangla Academy in recognition of advancement and overall contribution to the field of Bengali language and literature.
At the outset of the programme, the country’s national anthem and the historic fair introductory song—Amar Bhaiyer Rakte Rangano— were played.
A one-minute silence was also observed in respect to the Language Movement martyrs.
The book fair will remain open for all from 2 pm to 9 pm on working days and 11:00 am to 9 pm on public holidays with a one-hour intermission for lunch and offering prayers till February 28.
Alongside all the necessary health precautions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are strict security arrangements in and around the fair venue to prevent any unpleasant incident.
The Prime Minister said the annual Ekushey Book Bair has turned into a grand gathering of all that included book lovers.
“It (Ekushey Boi Mela) is not only a book festival, but it also has become a gathering of all and turned into a festival of souls,” she said referring to her frequent visits to the fair when she was a student.
Sheikh Hasina said she even visited the book fair when she was in opposition, adding that her movement has been limited on the plea of security after she has become the Prime Minister.
“I am becoming more confined after the Coronavirus outbreak,” she continued.
The Prime Minister asked all to follow the health protocol strictly while visiting the book fair and take vaccines that included the booster dose to get protected from the lethal virus.
She said her government wants to see more publications on digital media alongside the print ones aimed at spreading Bangla literature across the world despite the fact that reading printed books is more interesting than digital ones.
Sheikh Hasina said that there are different Bangla apps and fronts in Bangladesh while an effort is on to develop a single Bangla front so that one can easily understand the digital contents.
The Prime Minister mentioned that she is also in favour of knowing other languages alongside Bangla, saying that more importance should be given to the mother language.
She stressed the need for translating more books in own and other languages aimed at spreading Bangla literature at the world stage alongside knowing literature of foreign languages which help rich literary knowledge.
Sheikh Hasina came down heavily on some noted personalities without mentioning their names referring to their remarks that what Bangabandhu did for establishing Bangla as the mother tongue despite the fact that Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman led the Language Movement.
Referring to various incidents mentioned in the Oshomapto Atmojiboni (Unfinished Memoirs) and secret documents of the Pakistani intelligence branch on Father of the Nation, she said that one can know the real history of the Language Movement and Liberation after reading the books.
The Prime Minister said her government had taken initiatives to establish International Mother Language in Bangladesh to preserve all the mother languages across the globe after coming to power in 1996.
But unfortunately, she said the BNP government had stopped the project after coming to power in 2001, adding that her government had established the institute after assuming office for the second time in 2009.
She said of the 40 books, published on Bangabandhu on the occasion of his birth centenary, some of the books were edited by her, adding that such initiatives are required to go on.
The Prime Minister reiterated her vow to build a developed and prosperous Bangladesh free from hunger and poverty as envisioned by the Father of the Nation confronting all the odds.