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Bangladesh: The State-Language and the State

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21st-Oct-2019       
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Prof. Abul Quasem Fazlul Huq :
The whole of the history of mankind shows that man's language is inseparable from his life. Human life is impossible without language. In course of evolution and development of man, language is found to have appeared as an abstract component. It can be observed that where quality of human life is rich, language is also rich. Life and language flourish together and supplement each other. Language allows progress in knowledge, in Science and Technology and in Art and Literature and vis-a-vis gets flourished through these. No nation can develop without emphasising on its language and its intensive and extensive use of language in every sphere of life.
In the use of language, people use thinking. Thinking and language together allows creation, shaping and innovation in Art, Literature, Science and overall Culture. Which comes first language or thinking?- poses a debate as these are also never separable. In reality, every action of a human being is directed by both language and thinking. Of course some actions like, reflex behaviour, extremely intense emotional behaviour are at times claimed to be acted without thinking. However, that is a different way of explaining through different lenses. In the context of national economic and political development also, their relation with the language is inseparable. Without developing and flourishing its own language, no nation can become economically and even socio-culturally self-dependent and sustainable.
Human life and society is ever evolving, so are the languages. The developed nations formulate plans and policies for the development and flourishment of their languages. The imperialist nations always do so to keep the weak nations or soft states dependent on them. As we collect data and critically analyse history of mankind and languages, the understanding on wholistic development finds the deepest root. With such realizations, the importance of languages, their evolution and inseparable relationships with every dimension of human life and development claims far more emphasis on languages compared to the extent considered presently.
Human beings do not born with the abilities of using languages, language is not an innate capacity. Language is learnt. The evolution process of becoming human is continuous. Human beings had to face the adversities of the nature and had to confront the conflicts among themselves. Through all these, the present day human kind has evolved. These all had been possible for the strong individual and social will, skilful critical and strategic thinking abilities along with hard working ability. Thinking is language while language is thinking.
Language is the creation of human beings. The ancient people felt the need of communicating. Through their physical ability, and interaction with the environment and among each other, they started creating language. Overtime, in the course of development, languages are developed and flourished by mankind. Language is not just the use of the physical vocal system but is the reflection of the existence of mankind and civilization. The capacity of think ability, possessing will and working hard all created the ground for the flourishment of different languages and this followed the aspiration of the mankind to improve the context and environment for its own and also for the whole world's betterment.
In Bangladesh, our Bengali language is continuously flourishing and being preserved and evolving through Art and Cultural practices. Many of the languages, especially of different small ethnic groups in the world are not such. Those are in the process of decadence and extinction. The small ethnic groups of Bangladesh also have own different languages which are around forty five in total. Our citizens of the small ethnic groups along with their own languages learn Bengali. They might be called bilingual. They adhere to Bengali as the way to flourish and pursue further. The attempt of Bangladesh with the initiatives of UNESCO to preserve all these languages is not feasible or realistic. The small ethnic groups rather accept the State Language for their own path of living, developing and flourishing. This is the way of their development. The small ethnic groups all over the world must accept the State Language for their own development to merge to the mainstream. This scope should be expedited through all the nations of the world. The policy of keeping them marginalized in the name of small ethnic groups is unacceptable.
The main spirit of our State Language Movement is quite different from the aim and objective of the International Mother Language Day of UNESCO. The founding of Bengali as the State Language is being hindered by the campaign of the international Mother Language Day. For the preservation of the endangered languages, the development of the State Language, Bengali, must not remain stopped. We should advance for prosperity with the spirit of the State Language Movement. The small ethnic groups are not separate from the state. They belong to the nation in a state. The reality is such that they cannot create independent states themselves. 
The State Language is not only for official use but also be used for creation of knowledge in Sciences and all other branches along with Art and Literature. As the State Language develops, the culture and civilization of the nation flourishes. We have to recognise the importance of Bengali language and the State Language Movement of the Bengalis. It teaches us that if Bengali as the State Language of Bangladesh does not exist, the State itself will not exist. The country will remain, people will remain, the rivers and agricultural fields will remain, plants and animals will remain, but the State will not exist. We must understand that a country and a State is not the same. We will be completely deviated from our heritage if we do not build up Bangladesh as a State.
We must ask ourselves, why we fought against British rule, why did we participate in the State Language Movement, the Six-point Movement, the uprising of 1969 and the Liberation War of 1971.
The national character that has been expressed through the political and intellectual activities since 1972 in Bangladesh have been condemned from within and outside of Bangladesh. It is urgent to improve our national character and the nature of politics.
We should observe the 21st February as the State Language Day of Bangladesh. With the observance of the Day, the students and teachers of all the educational institutions will raise the spirit of nationalism and will contribute to creating the Nation and the state


- Progressive thinker, former Professor,
Dhaka University

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