The question is, why are such steps taken in February only on an ad hoc basis when there is a specific act passed in this regard way back in 1987 which has created scope to take action on a regular basis? After more than 25 years of passing the act, the High Court also had to take a step. It directed the government in February 2014 to take action to ensure Bangla is used across the country in all signboards, billboards, banners, vehicle number plates, and names of government offices and stop the use of mixed language in media and stop airing English language advertisement. After so many years of independence, the issue has been recurring in every February as the authorities, to be specific politicians elected in those positions who act as policymakers, take steps to remind us of the act regarding the use of Bangla language in all spheres of life.

Laws cannot change this practice. According to him, people’s awareness is more important than any law or court order. At this point of time a cultural revolution is necessary in Bangladesh

Speaking to a local newspaper, Abu Saleh Md. Nur-e-Sayed, chief revenue officer of Rajshahi City Corporation, said after the deadline given to the businesses ends, they would begin taking action against those who did not follow the order. Speaking to this writer on 19 February, the RCC chief revenue officer said they were busy in preparing files for the action. “The files will be sent to the office of the mayor for orders. Action will be taken after that.” In the meantime, 21 February will come and go, and understandably every initiative will come to a halt, only to be taken up all over again by the authorities next February.

This is not an exclusive example of the ad hoc policies the authorities take up in this country. Anyone can come up with a few examples at any given time, I guess. I will limit myself in mentioning just another case – the passage of the Road Transport Act in 2018. The government passed the act at the wake of school students’ countrywide movement when two students lost their lives under the wheels of a bus on airport road in the capital city due to reckless driving. And, as usually, the act is yet to be implemented. Why do policymakers take steps on such ad hoc basis?

Speaking to this writer, Soumitra Sekhar Dey, professor of Bangla department at Dhaka University, said, “We actually can’t say what the reason is, but from their steps regarding Bangla, apparently their steps are mere formalities and lack sincerity. It is not that all of them are not sincere, but their steps lack motivation.”

When a person with original ideas is thrown into that cog, ideas will get defeated by the process. This is one of the reasons creative people always put emphasis on education in mother tongue. But no ad hoc method can ensure this

Noted public intellectual of the country, Serajul Islam Choudhury, also put emphasis on the lack of sincerity. He said laws cannot change this practice. According to him, people’s awareness is more important than any law or court order. At this point of time a cultural revolution is necessary in Bangladesh. But he lamented the overall “deterioration in the cultural sphere”.

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In itself, writing a banner or signboard in Bangla instead of English is not anything big. But this could be a way to express one’s love for the language. A child could pick up this love and nurture it by writing and translating a book in Bangla which could be helpful for another generation to imbibe original ideas in the time it would spend to learn another language to read a book written on the issue in another language.

It may seem that I am speaking against learning a foreign language. Not at all. What I am trying to say is when a person is learning a language out of interest, this is something quite different from when a person is being forced to learn a different language just to pass the exams and compete in the job market. When a person with original ideas is thrown into that cog, ideas will get defeated by the process. This is one of the reasons creative people always put emphasis on education in mother tongue. But no ad hoc method can ensure this.

There is a difference between a politician-cum-policymaker and a leader. Will our politicians and authorities think of this or, giving up the intention to be a leader, resort to such ad hoc systems out of their "farsightedness" to regurgitate their 'value' in the next year? Will we follow the ad hoc methods or try to be visionary leaders? Let us ponder on this point this International Mother Language Day.

* Shameem Reza works at Prothom Alo

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