Today is the 21 February, our Language Martyrs' Day. It is also International Mother Language Day. This day reminds the people all around the world of their rights to their mother tongue and recognition of its dignity. It carries emotional significance for Banglaees because our youth sacrificed their lives on streets in Dhaka on this day in 1952. They had pressed home the demand to establish the rights of the mother language Bangla. Today we remember the language martyrs including Salam, Rafique, Barkat, Jabbar, Shafiur and all others with deep respect and love.
This year, Shaheed Dibash, the language martyr's day, is being commemorated amid the COVID-19 pandemic. So the regular events on the occasion cannot be held. Reasonably, the events to pay tribute to the language martyrs have been restricted at Shaheed Minar. The month-long book fair of February organised by Bangla Academy has been postponed and is to open on 18 March.
We express our love for our mother tongue when 21 February arrives, but our activities throughout the year don’t reflect this emotion. Our pride in the Bangla language would be enhanced if this language was introduced at all levels of state and society. But this didn’t happen in reality. Bangla language is neglected in many important sectors including education as well as trade and commerce. The use of Bangla doesn't appear on invitation cards of social functions or even in the shop receipts.
Why this negligence? Globalisation is a reason. But many nations included in globalisation, continue to complete domestic and foreign communication with the the use and dignity of their mother tongues.
People speaking Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi continue to achieve the excellence of their mother tongues in Asia despite the international influence of several colonial languages including English. What's the problem with us? Why does English seem to be more dignified than Bangla to our educated people?
Why do the rich families from literature, art and cultural sectors think that English medium educational institutions are better for their children?
Such introspection is not only for the month of February. However, on this month when we recall the contribution of the language martyrs, these questions come to our minds. We have to give Bangla a holistic position in all actions including education, management, everywhere. This will call for an adequate terminology structure. Initiative is necessary to formulate a mega plan and implement it to introduce Bangla language at all levels.
We have to think about why we couldn’t progress much in this regard even five-long decades since the country's independence. Paying tribute to the language martyrs is only possible by introducing Bangla language in all spheres. People speaking other languages in Bangladesh have to take initiative to develop their mother tongues. This is the message of International Mother Language Day.