- Published on Wednesday, 01 February 2017 11:21
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called upon the students to read books more to earn knowledge and know the world, saying that the practice of literature could prevent them from stepping into the wrong path.
"The practice of education and literature could salvage our students and children from the wrong path and I believe that as much the practice of education and literature would be made, they would come back to the right track to that extent," she said.
In this connection, the premier observed that reading books becomes a habit if this practice begins from the childhood.
The premier said this while inaugurating the month-long "Ekushey Grantha Mela" (Book Fair) on the Bangla Academy premises here this afternoon.
Through the same function, the premier opened a four-day International Literature Conference 2017 and handed over prizes among the winners of 'Bangla Academy Sahitya Puroshkar 2016'.
Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor presided over the function, while Director General of Bangla Academy Shamsuzzaman Khan delivered the welcome address.
Cultural Affairs Secretary Begum Aktari Mamtaz and Bangla Academy Fellow and publisher Mafidul Haque spoke on the occasion.
Professor Dong You Chen, a Chinese researcher and translator on Rabindranath Tagore's works, Austrian Menfred Kebo, Luz Maria Lopez from Puerto Rica, German writer Tobaias Burghardt and Indian essayist Chinmoy Guha joined the inaugural function as guests of honour.
Speaker of Jatiya Sangsad Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, cabinet members, PM's advisers, noted writers, researchers, poets and publishers and fellows of Bangla Academy joined the function.
At the outset of the function, a minute's silence was observed as a mark of profound respect to the memory of the Language Movement martyrs.
"Nirbachita Prabandha", authored by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, "Ocean of Sorrow", a translation of noted Bengali novelist Mir Mosharraf Hossain's famous novel "Bishad Sindhu" and "Hundred Poems From Bangladesh", published from Germany, a compilation of Bangladeshi poems published in Swedish language were handed over to the prime minister at the function.
The prime minister said the people can get pleasure if they read books regularly. Knowledge could be earned by reading books, while this habit could keep the people busy being away from many things, she said.
In this connection, Sheikh Hasina said there was a practice of reading books in their house, which still exists.
"In our childhood, we used to get Taka 10 for buying books and with this money, we bought Roopkotha, Dasyu Bahram ... later we read novels gradually and it was turned into an addiction," she said.
The premier said her grandchildren have a habit of reading books like their parents. "We have built a bookshelf for them in our home and told them to read books sitting in front of the shelf," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the current era is a 'digital era' where everything is available in the grip. Books could be read from kindle and iPod and connection could be kept with library very easily and there is no need for moving with a sack of books, she said.
The premier said when her son and daughter used to come home, they carried suitcases filled half with books. "We kept these books in our library when they went abroad again after leaving these books."
"But now it is painful to see then come home with a machine and say that it is linked to an entire library. My daughter-in-law showed a kindle and said that all books are available which I want," she said.
The prime minister said she at that time told her daughter-in-law that "you earlier came with books. But you would go abroad again with the kindle."
Sheikh Hasina, however, said she doesn't have much time to read in this way by getting membership of a library.
The prime minister said reading books by turning over pages gives her different pleasure -- it's the reality.
Sheikh Hasina said Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela got the recognition as the biggest book fair in the world in terms of duration. "This book fair is not only a centre of buying and selling of books now, simultaneously it's a name of traditional get-together and festival for the Bangalees," she said.
The prime minister said the Bangalees living in different corners of the world come home every year on the occasion of the book fair. The foreign nationals visit the fair to witness Bangalees' love for books, she said.
The prime minister lamented that she cannot visit the fair as she did in the past. "What will I do when my hands are filled with responsibilities ... when everybody comes to fair, my mind remains here."
The premier said she wants more publication of books and more beautiful books. "I want our language to be spread worldwide and world people practise it and know Bangalees that how much they are literature-loving ... through this our culture and thought would flourish further," she said.
Sheikh Hasina recalled the role of Bangabandhu and others in mobilizing the people for Language Movement, saying Awami League government coming to power in 1956 declared Ekushey February as "Shaheed Dibash" and construction of Shaheed Minar officially along with giving Bangla the status of official.
The premier said the government has expanded the Ekushey book fair up to historic Suhrawardhy Udyan. "I hope that Ekushey book fair would illuminate our realm of the mind like the tower of light of independence at Suhrawardhy Udyan," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman established the glory and dignity of Bangla language in the international arena by delivering his speech in the United Nations in Bangla.
"After getting the responsibility for running the country, I have also been delivering speech in the UN General Assembly in Bangla regularly and with efforts of all, we could realize the recognition of our beloved language Bangla as an official language of the UN Insha Allah," she said.
The prime minister said the Awami League after coming to power in 1996 after long 21 years implemented massive development programmes for the country and the people. Like that the party took Bangladesh to a different height on the world stage, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangalees' Ekush has been turned into a symbol of realizing rights of the mother tongue-loving people across the globe.
Due to efforts of Canada expatriates late Rafiqul Islam and Abdus Salam and sincere efforts of the Awami League government, she said, the UNESCO on November 17 in 1999 recognized 21st February as the International Mother Language Day.
In this connection, the premier recalled with deep gratitude late Rafiqul Islam and former education minister ASHK Sadique who were involved in the declaration of the International Mother Language Day.
She said Bangla Academy, the beacon house of Bangalee entity and intellectual excellence, was founded on December 3 in 1955 as the result of the Language Movement and the No. 16 point of the 21-point of the then Jukto Front government.
The premier said International Mother Language Day has brought us responsibility as well as glory. "We have established the International Mother Language Institute for protecting, flourishing and practising of all communities of the world."
The prime minister reiterated her determination to build a hunger and poverty-free Sonar Bangla as dreamt by Bangabandhu. "Bangladesh would be a developed and peaceful country in South Asia where there would be no place of militancy and terrorism," she said.
Sheikh Hasina congratulated eminent writers who were awarded Bangla Academy Sahitya Puroshkar 2016 for their contributions to different fields of literature.
Seven personalities got the Bangla Academy Sahitya Puroshkar for 2016 for their outstanding contributions to their respective field of literature.
The recipients are Abu Hasan Shariar (poetry), Shahaduzzaman (literature), Morshed Shafiul Hasan (essay and research) Dr Niaz Zaman (translation), Dr MA Hasan (literature on Liberation War), Noor Jahan Bose (autobiography/ memories/traveling) and Rashed Rouf (juvenile literature).
Each winner of the Bangla Academy Sahitya Puroshkar received Taka 1 lakh cash, a crest and a certificate from the prime minister.
Photo: Saiful Islam Kallol