Strenthening India–Bangladesh Relations

Maj Gen (retd) Dr. P K Chakravorty


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Current Perspective: Two plus two INDO-US Ministerial dialogues

The two plus two talks between India and US were held successfully on 10 November at Sushma Swaraj Bhavan, New Delhi. The US delegation was led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin. The Indian side was External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The talks were substantive and the agenda covered strategic partnership, elevating defence ties and moving forward on space, technology, future logistics and people to people contacts. They also exchanged perspectives on Indo-Pacific, South Asia, West Asia and the Ukraine conflict. It is pertinent to note that after the dialogue there was Press Conference on afternoon of November 10. During the event it was clarified that India had made the view on Bangladesh very clear. India had no place to comment on the policies of any third country. Election of Bangladesh is their internal matter. The people of that country will decide their own future. India remains a committed friend to Bangladesh.

Reality Check

It is almost 52 years and the country is developing at a steady pace. The current Government is in the post since 2009 and mentions India as a trusted friend and hoped that the relations will deepen further.They stood by India and stopped operations of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) from Bangladesh. Anup Chetia, a top leader of the militant group ULFA who had fled India about 28 years ago was handed over to India in November 2015. They deported Chetia unconditionally. The back bone of the ULFA movement was broken leading to diminishing insurgency in Assam. The Assam Government has expressed the hope that the ongoing discussions with the pro-talk’s faction of the ULFA will lead to a peace agreement shortly.

The biggest issue which has been resolved pertains to the exchange of border enclaves. These are pockets of land embedded entirely in the foreign territory of its neighbour, making it difficult for the country to exercise administrative control for about seventy years. In some cases, issues were complicated with existence of counter enclaves, where in the enclave of Bangladesh was trapped into India. The 2015 Land Boundary Agreement served an important role in the exchange of 111 enclaves (17160.63 acres) from India to Bangladesh and reciprocally the latter transferred 51 enclaves (7110.02 acres) to India. Further the choice of citizenship was offered by states to enclave residents. The Land Boundary Agreement also demarcated the boundary between India and Bangladesh in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya.

The next aspect is the resolution of the Maritime Dispute with India. A United Nations (UN) tribunal gave a ruling in favour of Bangladesh regarding the maritime dispute. The decision was taken by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based at The Hague in Netherlands. The conflict was largely over delimitation of the territorial sea. India wanted the determination of the boundary on equidistance method which means a nation’s maritime boundaries should conform to a median line equidistant from the shores of neighbouring nation states, Bangladesh was pressing for a solution that could be reached by keeping in focus all relevant circumstances. It is creditable that both countries have accepted the verdict. As per the award, Bangladesh has been given four-fifth of the total disputed area of 25,602 sq Km in the Bay of Bengal.

Economically, the country is progressing smoothly. This is creditable considering that Pakistan and Sri Lanka are facing stiff economic challenges. GDP of Bangladesh is US $ 420.52 billion. In the last decade it is a country which has developed considerably and is on the higher growth trajectory with a per capita income of $ 2,687 in June 2022.The country is expected to grow by 5.3% in the Financial Year 2023. Like all countries the country is impacted by the slow global growth following the war in Ukraine. The Government is doing its best to control inflation and has embarked on reform programs as precautionary measures.It would be interesting to mention the construction of the Padma Bridge as a great economic feat undertaken by Bangladesh.

Padma Bridge

Bangladesh is a riverine country and Sheikh Hasina with the help of all organs of the Government including security agencies completed the crucial Padma Bridge. It is way back in 1971 that the first feasibility report of the bridge was done to link Faridpur with Dacca. In order to construct this road, it was essential to construct a bridge over the River Padma. Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, the first President of Bangladesh announced the construction but due to his assassination the same could not be implemented. The World Bank initially agreed to fund the project but later withdrew due to corruption. Ultimately the current Government took a courageous decision to fund the project. The Engineering Support and Safety team was provided by the Bangladesh Army in consonance with other agencies.

It is to the credit of the Prime Minister who with the complete backing of the Bangladesh Army and all Government undertook the project. A visit to the project is an engineering marvel that would ensure higher economic growth. The steel truss bridge carries a four-lane highway on the upper level and a single-track railway line. It connects Kolkata to Dacca both by road and rail. Soon it would be possible to reach from Kolkata to Dacca in five hours. At the point of the bridge, it connects Louhajang Upazila of Munshiganj and Faridpur. The bridge consists of 41 sections, each 150.12m long and 22 m wide with a total length of 6.15 Km. it is the longest bridge in Bangladesh. It is the deepest bridge in the world, with piles installed as deep as 127 m. The construction of the bridge was considered to be especially challenging due to the width and depth of the Padma River.

The bridge is to boost the GDP of Bangladesh by as much as 1.23 percent. Bangladesh will receive benefits worth more than $ 10 billion which is three and half times more than the construction cost. Population density and wages in the southern districts connected by the Padma Bridge to Dhaka City will increase significantly and the bridge will help to lessen the impact of sea level rise in the region. This will possibly witness a greater influx of population to the Northern regions gradually. Ultimately the bridge will bring Kolkata and Dacca closer which would further intensify relations.


The economy of Bangladesh is a major developing market economy. As the second largest economy in South Asia, Bangladesh economy is the 37th largest in the World in nominal terms and 25th largest by purchasing power parity. The country is a member of South Asian Free Trade Area and the World Trade Organisation. Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing economies in the World. Modern Bangladesh embarked on economic reforms in the late 1970s which promoted free markets and foreign direct investment. GDP of Bangladesh is about $ 420.52 billion. The per capita income is $ 2740 and the Services sector occupies about 53.4 %. The country has exports of $ 52 billion. Garments form the major part of exports and it is interesting to note that neither cotton nor the machines for these garments is indigenous.

It is imported and the country produces world class garments. The main export partners are United States 15%, Germany 14%, United Kingdom 8 %, Spain 7% and France 7%. The country imports amount to $85 billion- figures of 2021. 31% of the imports are from China, 15 % from India and 5% from Singapore. The imports are mainly refined petroleum, cotton, natural gas, scrap iron and wheat. As per the Asian Development Bank, (ADB) GDP growth in 2022 despite COVID was 7.1%. Currently growth is dampened by the economic slowdown and special operations launched by Russia in Ukraine. ADB is responding to Bangladesh’s need for greater climate resilience, quality education, improved infrastructure and skills development to realise the country’s goal of becoming an upper middle-income country by 2031.

Armed Forces

Armed Forces of Bangladesh consists of three uniformed military services. They are the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Navy and the Bangladesh Air Force. They are responsible to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bangladesh by protecting land, maritime, air space and national cohesion against threats which may be internal or external. They also play a role in disaster management and maintaining peace in Chittagong hill tracks. They play a key role in nation building activities. Currently members of the Armed Forces are deployed in nine counties as peace keepers under the United Nations. It is indeed creditable that Bangladesh is the country that provides the largest peacekeepers to the United Nations.

Military Diplomacy: India-Bangladesh

India borders Bangladesh on three sides and was the first country to accord diplomatic recognition to the country. Relations are extremely close in all dimensions ranging from trade, transport, culture, connectivity and people to people contacts. However, there is a need to intensify relations in the area of Military Diplomacy. After all Bangladesh was created as a result of joint cooperation of the Indian Armed Forces (referred a Mitra Bahini) and Mukti Bahini.

Strategic relations exist between the two-Armed Forces. Currently there is reasonable interaction at the top level, what is needed is enhanced cooperation at the middle and junior level. Some of these could be :-

• Understanding Bangladesh’s strategic need and this could be primarily handling Rohingya refugees coming from Myanmar. The Indian Armed Forces could interact, advise and also learn how to solve the problem.

• Bulk of Bangladesh equipment is of Chinese origin. Closer interaction would lead to India understanding Bangladesh’s need and India could assist them with equipment which they need. We have sold our BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missiles to Philippines, Pinaka Multiple Launch Rocket System to Armenia and very recently gifted a Missile Corvette to Vietnam. It would be a win-win situation for both countries.

• Joint exercising of troops from the Army, Navy and Air Force of both countries with a greater frequency.

• Marching contingents taking part in Republic Day parade and Victory Day (Bijoy Dibosh) celebrations in Bangladesh.

• Logistics Agreement to be signed for easy replenishment of Armed Forces of both countries. Military personnel of Bangladesh to be provided medical treatment in our Military Hospitals.

• Posting of instructors in training establishments.

• Disaster Management particularly Maritime Search and Rescue cooperation and joint exercises should be undertaken by the Navies of two countries.

• Training of specialists like pilots and submariners are skills which Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy possess and the same could be used to optimise skills of Bangladeshi pilots and submariners.

All these aspects mentioned above would intensify military cooperation between two friendly neighbours. Military diplomacy enables two countries to enhance cohesiveness between their Armed Forces and cooperation between the two countries. Strategic cooperation would automatically lead to better understanding and resolution of problems.

Way Forward

Bangladesh is a dear friend of India. Their principal language is Bengali which is spoken by people in India in the state of West Bengal and Tripura. Culturally they have deep links with our country. Over the years we have militarily become closer to each other and currently there is a need to step up this relationship to the next level. We can sit down and solve problems of water sharing and connectivity. It is amazing that the High Commission of India in Dhaka issues 15,000 visas in one day. Maybe we need a better system. The diesel pipe line from India is working well. Power connectivity from Arunachal must be routed through Bangladesh and we must use the deep-sea port of Matarbari near Cox’s Bazar for our goods of the Eastern region. This would further enhance the global trade.

Elections are due in January 2024. The current Government is a great friend of India. They should be allowed to conduct the next elections in a free and fair manner with no interference. People are sensible and will not vote for radical elements. The opposition possibly supports radical ideas and is pro-China. People of Bangladesh love India and they would elect a good Government left to themselves. This will assist in development of both countries and permit peace to prevail in this region. 

Major General (Retired) Dr. PK Chakraborty is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Land Warfare Studies, Delhi. He is an analyst of geopolitics and military affairs. Dr. Chakraborty also associated with projects and articles of the Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi.


February 21 is self-identification day

Tofael Ahmed


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The masses of the people of independent Bangladesh reverently remember the martyrs of the great language movement on Amar Ekush Martyr's Day every year. The language movement of 1952 is mixed with the holy blood of the martyrs and the glory of the Bengali national liberation struggle. On February 11, 1952, the students of Bengal sacrificed themselves and established the right to their mother tongue.

Bloody Immortal Ekushey February sits on the glorious seat of International Mother Language Day today through the flood of blood. February 11 has revealed the horizon in the light of the never-extinguishing flame of the struggle for the dignity of the mother tongue of every nation of the world, independence, freedom and the struggle to live like a human being, not only Bengali. February 11 has taught the people of this country the mantra of self-sacrifice, which has made Bengalis great. As a nation, we are inspired to establish the right of self-determination and have adopted a non-communal spirit combined with a language-based Bengali nationalist ideology. The spirit of great freedom has come along the path of the great language movement. This year, the 72nd anniversary of the great language movement is being celebrated around the world including Bangladesh.

In fact, the language movement to protect the rights of the mother tongue was started on March 11, 1948 under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wrote in the book 'Unfinished Autobiography', "We saw that there is a big conspiracy going on to exclude Bengali and make Urdu the national language. East Pakistan Muslim Chhatra League and Tammaddun Majlish protested and demanded that both Bengali and Urdu should be made state languages. We held a meeting and started the protest. At this time the East Pakistan Muslim Chhatra League and the Tammaddun Majlish jointly convened an all-party meeting and formed a 'Rashtra Bhasha Sangram Parishad'.

In the meeting March 11, 1948 was declared as 'Bangla Language Demand' day. District by district we went out.” (Pages-91, 92). On March 11, 1948, the students of Bengal held their first protest program demanding one of the national languages. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib and Mr. Shamsul Haque were among those who were imprisoned on the streets for the demand of mother tongue. The leaders were imprisoned for five days from March 11 to 15. Reminiscing about his five-day imprisonment, Bangabandhu wrote, “The Muslim girls' school is outside the walls. During the five days we were in jail, at ten o'clock in the morning the girls would go up to the roof of the school and start chanting, and finish at four o'clock. The little girls were not tired at all. "We want Bangla as the national language," "I want the release of the imprisoned brothers," "Police brutality will not continue" - various slogans. At this time, I said to Shamsul Haque Sahib, Haque Sahib, look, our sisters have come out. And you can't do it without making Bengali the state language. Haque Sahib told me, 'You are right, Mujib'." (Pages 93, 94). Bangabandhu had incredible confidence in the people of Bengal! Who knew then that, along the path of March 11, 1948, in the spirit of February 21, 1952, 1969 and 1971, the independent and sovereign People's Republic of Bangladesh would be born! But the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib knew! Because he was a visionary leader, setting goals and setting programs. The day Pakistan was established, he realized that this Pakistan was not for Bengalis; One day the fate of Bengal will be controlled by Bengalis. And so, step by step, he prepared the entire nation for the final struggle.

21 February ’52. Students gathered at Amtala, adjacent to Dhaka University's Kala Bhavan, demanding Bengali as the national language. Preparations to break section 144 imposed by Nurul Amin government. According to the decision of the student body, 10 people will march and break section 144. Students protested and broke section 144. Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Shafiq, Jabbar and many others were martyred when the police force of the government opened fire. The streets were stained with my brother's blood. Bangabandhu was imprisoned then. In jail, he went on hunger strike expressing solidarity with the demand of Bengali as the national language. In the book 'Unfinished Autobiography', he also wrote, 'No nation can tolerate insulting mother tongue. Although fifty-six percent of the people of Pakistan are Bengali speakers, Bengalis do not want to make only Bengali the national language. They want Urdu to be made the state language along with Bengali, no objection to that. But this generosity of Bengalis is taken by many as a weakness.' (page-198). The movement of February 21, 1952 spread in the villages of the country. There were processions from village to village. There was massive and spontaneous participation of school students in that procession. I was a third grader then. I remember the slogans of that time, 'Shaheed memory is immortal', 'I want the national language Bangla', 'My language is your language, Bengali language is Bengali language'.

February 21, 1969 played an important role in our national life. The 1969 mass movement erupted on February 21. On that day, 10 people were killed and 30 injured in police firing in Khulna. The movement which we started on 17th February 1969 with the demand of 11 points took full form. On February 15, Sergeant Zahurul Haque and on February 18, the people of Bengal erupted in protests after the death of Dr. Shamsujjoha. To quell the angry people, the government promulgated the Curfew Act. We broke the curfew and marched on the streets. The spirit of the language movement of '52 found fulfillment in the breaking tide of the mass movement of '69. At our call, the residents of Dhaka city broke all the precedents of the past 17 years with unprecedented vibrancy to pay heartfelt tribute to the holy memory of the immortal martyrs of the great language movement and to teach Bengali language throughout the administration.

The emphasis of the establishment raises the demand. I was able to unite the entire nation on the basis of 11 points with the aim of establishing a beautiful, pure, torture-free and exploitation-free social system. February 12 of that day delivered a new message of freedom and independence to the homes of Bengal. The day was Friday.

Through the mass movement of 1969, February 11 was the first official holiday in memory of the martyrs. On February 1st of that day, our program began with hoisting of the black flag, placing wreaths at the tombs of martyrs at Azimpur Cemetery, Prabhat Feri, praying for the souls of martyrs and placing wreaths at the central Shaheed Minar. On the occasion of Shaheed Day, an oath ceremony was conducted at the foot of Shaheed Minar under the initiative of Chhatra Sangram Parishad. Identifying February 1st of 1969 as an integral part of the great language movement, the leaders of the Central Chhatra Sangram Parishad said, "The struggle of February 1st language movement today has merged with the struggle to establish the democratic rights of the people by overthrowing the dictatorial regime. Today, the popular 11-point struggle of the student-community workers and peasants is thus following the tradition of the great language movement. The struggle of February 1, 1952 was not only a struggle for the Bengali language.

This struggle was the day for the establishment of democratic rights and the independence of Bengali speakers in the whole country. Shaheed Asad, Matiur, Maqbul, Rustam, Alamgir, Anwara, Sergeant Zahurul Haque, the 39 heroes of the 11-point movement, including Dr. Shamsujjoha, are the worthy successors of Shahid Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Shafiq, Jabbar of the language movement of Bir Shahid ’52. A public meeting of Central Chhatra Sangram Parishad was held at Paltan Maidan at 3 pm. It's not a public meeting; it's like a sea of people. The size of the Paltan Maidan that day seemed less than the public gathering. People poured in from all directions. The leaders of Chhatra Sangram Parishad announced an extreme letter to the government from the meeting and said in unison, "Before next March 3, all the rights of the countrymen will be established, the resignation of the Ayub government, the withdrawal of the state vs. Sheikh Mujib case, the full implementation of the 11-point demand, within 24 hours all the prisoners including our beloved leader Sheikh Mujib." Unconditional freedom, all restrictions on freedom of press and speech must be withdrawn.' A day of self-affirmation, a day of giving and taking self-identity. 17 years ago this day was only the day of struggle to establish mother tongue as the state language.

Today in 1969, this day has become the day of people's overall liberation struggle. I would like to warn the controversies and those who raised them about the recent debates that have been started by the self-interested circles about Bengali language, Rabindra Sangeet, etc., that the nature of those who have not learned to speak Bengali language even after living in Bangladesh, has been revealed today. People of this class are unscrupulous. There will be no room for dishonesty in Bengal and if they try to use the political hammer in an eternal manner with the all-out struggle for independence, we must abandon the old practice of self-defense and go forward on every attack. Expressing a stern warning on the tragic death of Shaheed Sergeant Zahurul Haque, one of the prisoners in the State vs. Sheikh Mujib case, if the prisoner in this case gets even a scratch on anyone else, the fire will ignite across the country. And I am saying to the leaders, no one should use Sheikh Mujib's popularity as their political tool. After announcing the letter of extremism to the dictator, in a radio address to the countrymen in the evening, Ayub Khan surrendered and announced that he will not contest the next election and this decision is final and irreversible. On February 22, Bangabandhu was forced to release all the political prisoners including Sheikh Mujib and on the 23rd, the beloved leader was conferred with the title of 'Bangabandhu' in the presence of 10 lakh people on behalf of the Bengali nation at the Race Course Maidan (present-day Suhrawardy Udyan).

Then the blood stream of ’52 and ’69 came down the path of February 21, ’71. We won the historic elections of 1970. General Yahya Khan was engaged in various conspiracies on the issue of transfer of power to the majority party. Breaking all those conspiracies, in the early hours of February 1st, 1971, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, after offering a wreath at the holy altar of Shaheed Minar (I had a hand mic in my hand), said, "I will not let the blood of martyrs go in vain." We must prepare for the ultimate sacrifice. In memory of the brave martyrs of Janani Janmabhoomi, I swear that I will claim the independence of Bengal even with blood. The group of conspirators who have repeatedly killed the students-youth-farmers-laborers of Bengal since 1952. Those who have absorbed the flesh and blood of Bengalis for 23 years are still conspiring to thwart Bengal's independence movement, to enslave Bengalis forever. The soul of the martyr is returning to the house of Bengal today, saying, Bengali, don't be a coward. Claim your rights. Today I am also calling the people of Bengal from this martyr's altar, if I am unable to give orders, get ready, if necessary, I will give blood. But there is no compromise on the question of independence. We have made our beloved motherland independent by fulfilling this promise of the father of the nation expressed in the Shaheed Minar in Amar Ekushey Commitment. February 21 is our inspiration throughout the ages

[ The writer is the Advisory Council Member of Bangladesh Awami League and MP]


Pledge of International Mother Language Day

Pradip Kumar Dutta
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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We Bangladeshis take pride in Ekushey February (21 February). On this day,72 years ago,8 youths( Rafique,Salam,Jabbar Shafiur,Barkat,Awal and two others) laid down their lives in Dhaka streets to achieve recognition of our mother tongue Bangla as one of the state languages of Pakistan. The demand was more than justified. Above 55% of Pakistan's population spoke Bangla and it is linguistically a rich language. Poet Tagore won Nobel prize and there were many other contributors to rich Bangla literature.

Poets Kazi Nazrul, Sukanta, Jibanananda,Mir Mosharraf and novelists Bibhutibhushan,Sarat Chandra,Tarashankar, Syed Mujtaba Ali are to name a few. But the arrogant Pakistani authorities would not listen to any logical argument. They were bent upon establishing Urdu as the only state language of the country. Their ulterior motive was to rule over East Pakistan as they considered themselves as racially superior and consequently, fit to rule. They also thought that they were martial races and fish eating Bangalees were no match to them.

Their neo colonial attitude was evident from the inception of the impractical creation of the state of Pakistan, two parts bound only by same religion but a thousand miles apart,hostile India lying in between. Pakistan won it’s freedom from British colonial rule on 14 August 1947 and from the next month the Bangalees of East Pakistan rose against the West Pakistani dominated central government, protesting the decision of imposing Urdu on them as the only state language. Movement for establishing Bangla as one of the state languages of the country was led by Tamaddun Majlish and Sarbadadaliyo Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad.

The momentum of the movement kept on growing and the climax was reached on 21 February 1952 when the mass movement was tried to be subdued by bullets. The shedding of blood as mentioned earlier infuriated the Bangalees so much that from the next day, the movement attracted all and sundry and the authorities had to give in. Bangla was finally given it’s due status. The victory in the language movement became the source of inspiration for the Bangla speaking East Pakistanis to rise against all unfair practices of the Pakistani regimes(mostly military dominated) to deprive Bangalees of their rights. Finally in 1971 when Awami League winning the general elections was denied to be the ruling party of Pakistan,the Bengalees protested heavily.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the leader of Awami League and would be Prime Minister of the country. The then elites and military leaders of Pakistan could not accept a Bangalee as the countries head of government. They tried their best but failed to intimidate Awami League led by a staunch Bangabandhu. Finally,the military junta planned a military solution to a political problem. They launched a genocidal military campaign against the Bangalees,so that they shy away from their claim of forming the country's next government.

The genocide started with a military clamp down codenamed Operation Searchlight on 25 March,1971. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had no other option except declaring the Independence of Bangladesh in the early hours of 26March. Thus began the glorious war of Liberation of Bangladesh. It was a peoples war. The mukti bahini(freedom fighters) led by several thousand Bangalee army,para military and police personnel deserting Pakistani ranks started to fight and getting organised simultaneously. Their numbers swelled by days.

Students, peasants,workers and youth in general joined the war with minimal training and meagre arms. Further deserting Bengali soldiers and police from Pakistani side also joined in. The horrendous genocide also continued. Finally after nine months of glorious fighting the Freedom Fighters of Bangladesh won the war under the able leadership of their Government in exile in Mujibnagar. Of course we were supported all the way by India, backed by USSR and the socialist bloc countries. During this great war of Liberation too the spirit of Language movement's success was a driving force.

The price paid was too high. Three million martyrs,millions of injured,between two to four hundred thousand sexually tortured mothers and sisters,ten million refugees to India and colossal massacre of properties and infrastructure were the cost of our freedom. The so called martial races had to surrender publicly and unconditionally to the joint forces of Bangladesh and India. A country having Bangla as their mother tongue was born.

Bangalees of Barak valley fought in 1961 for securing Bangla,their mother tongue as one of the state languages of Assam in the Bangla speaking Barak valley. They too had to sacrifice 11young Martyrs to achieve their goal. It was on 19 May 1961 in Shilchar. One of the eleven was Kamala Bhattacharya, the first lady martyr for Bangla. Manbhum Bangalees were amongst the first to fight for their mother tongue. The mostly Bangla speaking Manbhum,Singbhum,Dhanbad areas were made parts of Bihar. As such, Hindi was their medium of education and Bangla had to take a back seat. They too had to struggle a lot and shed blood before a big chunk of Bangla speaking Bihar(now Jharkhand) came to join West Bengal as Purulia district.

To destroy an ethnicity or a group of people, their culture is targetted. Language is the basis of cultural identity. Once language is lost,the culture is lost and the people of the group goes into oblivion. We can cite the example of rich Aztec,Inca and Maya cultures. The colonial Spanish administration destroyed their culture and language and ruled them for centuries. In the contemporary world too we can see how the Kurds,Catalans,Basques are suffering from identity crisis.It is estimated that about 7000 languages are still surviving in this world. Approximately 1500 have already got extinct. With them,gone are folklore,literature and lifestyle of those people. Diversity and heritage is lost in the process. It had to stop.

Having the success of Bengali Language movement in mind, some Bangladeshi youths living in Vancouver,BC, Canada combined with their friends of different other nationalities to form an association named Mother Language Lovers of the World Society. The lead was taken by two Bangladeshi expatriates to Canada Mr Rafiqul Islam and Mr Abdus Salam. They started communicating in 1998 with the UN to declare 21 February as the International Mother Language Day. Finally Bangladesh Government had to be involved. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was more than eager to extend her helping hand.

Rigorous correspondence,lobbying and persuasion by Government of Bangladesh and MLLWS finally brought in the desired it's 1999 sessions at Paris,UNESCO took up the proposal by Bangladesh for discussion. It was co proposed by 21 other countries. The proposal was adopted unanimously. It was decided that all member countries of UN will observe 21 February as International Mother Language Day starting from 2000.All countries will put in all efforts so that no more language anywhere goes extinct. Every single human being has the right to speak in his mother language and all efforts should be made to help him exercise his rights. All languages are a part of a treasure possessed by mankind.

We Bangladeshis used to celebrate Shahid Day and Language Day on 21 February. Now,a new flavour is added. It is International Mother Language Day too.
May all the existing 7000 languages in the world survive and flourish for ever!


"BNP's statement on Russia is not well thought out"

Ashraful Islam, Planning Editor,


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Various exercises are going on in the country's political-diplomatic sphere regarding the complaint of BNP Standing Committee member Gayeshwar Chandra Roy about the role of Russia in the 12th atiya Sangsad(JS) elections held on January 7 and the comments of the country's ambassador Alexander Mantitsky. In response to the questions of the journalists, the Russian ambassador dismissed the allegations of BNP and commented that the Awami League won the election by the votes of the people of Bangladesh. In view of this, the statement of the Russian ambassador was viewed by BNP as 'unwanted' and 'hurt the sentiments of the people of Bangladesh'.

Inam Ahmed Chowdhury spoke to about the tendency to drag the internal politics of the country into the diplomatic sphere. The former Chairman (State Minister) of the Privatization Commission who has served in important positions in several international organizations and currently one of the members of the Awami League Advisory Council spoke on various issues including the adherence to diplomatic etiquette of politicians, the role of Bangladesh in the global arena. He was interviewed by Planning Editor Ashraful Islam. How do you evaluate the debate going on about the involvement of BNP in other countries regarding the recently held 12th JS elections?

Inam Ahmed Chowdhury: The Russian ambassador spoke the truth. What would it do to the government of Russia or India? There is also a conflict of interest between the three countries in question. It is not that the three countries are on the same side. They also have obvious differences. This comment of BNP does not seem to be a well thought out. The Russian ambassador is right; it is not his country's government. I think the other 2 countries mentioned would also say the same thing if their ambassadors were asked this question. So it does not seem that there is any room for debate or debate about it. If it is said that the opinion of the countries influenced the election here, it cannot be said in the same way. Our politicians are aware of Bangladesh's diplomatic position with the outside world. So why unnecessarily drag other countries?

Inam Ahmed Chowdhury: Surely, it is undesirable to drag any other country into the internal affairs of our country. I don't think the BNP leaders made a well thought out comment. There is no justification for dragging other countries. Many times it is said that such a country is a follower of the United States or Russia or China! But this is not to think too much. But if three countries are mentioned then it can be said - firstly it is not very well thought out; Secondly, this comment does not bode well for the unintentional and claimants of dragging a country. Then the ambassador also has to get involved in the argument, saying 'no, we are not'. It's quite funny too. The new government is receiving congratulations from various countries and international organizations. The perception that was being made by the critics was that after the election, Bangladesh would gradually become friendless at the global level. Do you think that fear has been overcome…

Inam Ahmed Chowdhury: Yes, of course that apprehension has been overcome. There is no doubt about it. Everyone wants to work with Bangladesh. They want to cooperate. From different countries...America, Russia, China are saying they want to work with us. We learned that our Prime Minister has been invited to Vietnam. Their support is commendable. The development of the country, Bangladesh has entered the digital-smart era, wants to move forward - in this case, the outside world will also want to cooperate. This is quite comforting news for us. It can reassure us. This assurance of support and cooperation from the outside world is an indicator of confidence in Bangladesh's plans and efforts. All over the world there is a tension of a war. How should our diplomacy with the world in this situation?

Inam Ahmed Chowdhury: Bangabandhu's diplomacy of 'friendship with all and enmity with none' may seem like words to some, but actually it is not words. This has many implications. Indeed we seem to be able to demonstrate that. Let's take Bangladesh's stand on the Palestine issue; we saw that the ambassador of Palestine, Ramdan, expressed great satisfaction with Bangladesh's role. We have taken this position on Palestine on principle, not caring what others think. We are not looking at what America is thinking or what Israel is thinking here. We have sent as much assistance as possible to the brutality being perpetrated on Palestine. I think people notice these things. Today, South African country Gambia made a case about our Rohingya crisis. Other countries are seeing that we are acting on principle. We are not concerned with profit or loss. This practice of diplomacy should continue. Almost all the countries of the world are supporting and recognizing the new government of Bangladesh. We don't want it; they are giving this recognition on their own initiative. This is a really good aspect. I think this is a kind of support and confidence that the world is showing towards the policy of our Prime Minister. It is in flux. Right now we all know what America’s position, many tried to please be but she (Prime Minister) did not. She says everyone is friendly but I will not be corrupt. The day before yesterday, the Prime Minister referred to the attack on Palestine as barbarism. I think there are peace loving people all over the world. Not only should we do anything to get praise, we should not deviate. Bangladesh has been taking this position since the time of Bangabandhu on the Palestine issue. We have maintained the tradition. Many are questioning the position of Saudi Arabia or the Middle East in the Palestine crisis, but hearing that we are happy today, the Palestinian ambassador said, 'We are satisfied.' The center of gravity of the world's economy and geopolitics is shifting towards Asia. What kind of thinking should Bangladesh do in this new global equation?

Inam Ahmed Chowdhury: We should try to increase our strength or capability in the global arena. For example, we have gained a lot of competence in the treatment of heart disease in children. We should acquire more capacity in such areas. In various fields including science and technology, art and literature, not only to move forward, but also to strengthen the will to lead. If we can continue this, we will do very well at some point. Efforts must be intensified where we can do better. What is your optimism about the future in this great progress of Bangladesh?

Inam Ahmed Chowdhury: It's great to think that we can think about going further. The passion or feeling of moving forward into the future is also a great thing. But many countries are not able to do that. Many big countries are not able to do this thinking, what we can do. People want to live in hope. Not all wishes can be fulfilled. However, if this desire to move forward is maintained at the center of a country, it results in great progress. We have noticed one thing; our people have really learned to love the country. Our country is inspiring for many reasons. Through the struggles and sacrifices we have come through, humans have been involved. This exceptional situation we have should be used to the utmost in all cases. It is no small matter that patriotism is being generalized.


That 'war' is practically 'genocide'

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Associate Editor,
photo: Collected

photo: Collected

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It is said that there is a war in Gaza, but there is actually a genocide going on there. The headlines in different media around the world are being published as 'Israel-Hamas war'. In reality, Israel's one-sided invasion has killed 27,000 Palestinian civilians in less than three months.

If there was a war, the information about the wounded or killed soldiers of both sides would be revealed. But reports from the small Palestinian town of Gaza include civilian death tolls, images of crying children, wailing women and the elderly.

From outside Gaza, many people around the world are viewing the war in light of this humanitarian disaster. But not defining that war as genocide by its true nature. The type of fighting that usually occurs between the two sides is absent in Gaza. A one-sided attack cannot be called a war. Yet it is called a war to cover up genocide. Western media and Israeli propaganda portray a brutal massacre as half-truths at the turn of the war.

By leveraging technology, attackers are suppressing much more. They are creating conditions that make it impossible to see the true picture of death and destruction in Gaza. Because, the real picture of the flow of events is not known in detail. Lack of internet and mobile phone networks has created communication disconnection. Access to international media outlets has been restricted and local journalists are facing life-threatening challenges. Due to these various reasons, the true picture of the horrors in Gaza is out of sight. It shows a war situation and hides the brutal genocide.

On Tuesday, The New York Times reported on these anomalies. It said some of the photos taken by photographers in Gaza were seen circulating on the social media platform Instagram; A small amount of evidence is also available. But those who are collecting this information, are forced to choose to leave the work or flee from the battlefield. Reporting from Gaza has also become risky for local journalists. It has been clarified on behalf of the media; we do not know the real news of Gaza!

Because, just as ordinary people are dying due to Israeli attacks, journalists and professionals are also being killed. Many journalists have died in Gaza in the past three months in Israeli attacks. In the latest news, Gazan journalist Ismail al-Dahdou lost all family members, including a young grandson, to Israeli brutality. He was survived by one son. He was also killed in an Israeli attack recently. Dahdou announced his retirement from journalism in an Instagram post this month.

He said, many times he survived the death; His life is now in danger. This world does not understand the meaning of humanity; They are not taking any initiative to stop it (Israeli attacks).

At least 76 Palestinian journalists have been killed since the conflict began on October 7. More journalists and emergency aid translators, drivers and mediators have been killed in the past 16 weeks than in any year since 1992, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a global organization that works to protect journalists. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate says at least 25 journalists in Gaza have been killed while wearing vests that read 'Press'.

According to CNN, residents of Gaza are facing severe food and clean water shortages. They are forced to eat grass and drink contaminated water. Hanadi Gamal Said Al Jamara, 38, said only sleep could save her children from extreme hunger. Al Jamara, a mother of seven, is seen begging for food on the muddy streets of Rafah, southern Gaza. He said that he wants to feed his children only once a day. Her husband is suffering from cancer and diabetes. Al Jamara said his children's faces turned yellow. They often have diarrhea.

In effect, Gaza is headed for famine. Residents of Gaza say they are slowly dying. They face genocide. They are being systematically exterminated in the name of war. Such horrific manifestation of ethnic cleansing is truly a great pain for humanity. The air is heavy with the cries of thousands of orphaned children in Gaza, which attests to the genocide there under the guise of war.

These children do not know why their parents were killed. They did not go to war, were at home or at work. Yet Israel killed them in the name of war. Thousands of children lost parents who had nothing to do with the war. Many orphaned children are in incubators awaiting death by Israeli bombs. No father or mother is alive to hold him to his bosom.

A mother named Hannah died in an Israeli airstrike. She gave birth to a daughter by caesarean section. Nurse Warda Al Awahda is caring for her child at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al Balah, central Gaza. She said, we call this child Hanna Abu Amsha. Online BBC gave this news. Many children have thus lost their parents in the ongoing war. These parents are victims of genocide.

Many families who did not go to war, no one survived. Why do they die in war? They are not soldiers or part of the war. Israel is also killing civilians outside of war because it is conducting genocide. This time orphan children will also die for lack of nurturing. In fact, Israel is waging a war that is worse than genocide.

The total population of Gaza is 23 lakh. Almost half of them are children. These children's lives have been shattered by this brutal attack. As much as Israel says it will take measures to avoid civilian casualties.

But according to Palestinian health officials, at least 11,500 children under the age of 18 have been killed in the fighting. More were injured. Many lives have changed. It is difficult to get the exact number of such children.

At least 24,000 children have lost one or both parents, according to the non-profit group Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor. 10-year-old Ibrahim Abu Mos suffered serious leg injuries. The missile hit him in the stomach. He was injured when a missile hit the house. Mother, grandfather and sister died. Remembering them, he weeps.

Hossain's family cousins used to play sports together. But now they sit near the graveyard buried in the sand. The school has been turned into a shelter. The body was buried near him. All the children in the family have lost a parent or both. Abed Hossain, who lives in the Al Bureij refugee camp, said, "The missile fell on my mother. Her body was dismembered. I spent several days collecting her remains from the ruins of the house. At one point, my brother, uncle and other family members were killed. Hearing this news, my heart was bleeding. Black spots around Abed's eyes. At night, Israelis are frightened by the sound of gunfire while sleeping. He fell asleep. I feel very alone then. Abed Hossain said, I could sleep while my parents were alive. They were killed. So I can't sleep anymore. I always slept next to my father.

Abed Hussain and his two other siblings are looked after by their grandmother. But every day has become difficult for all of them. Abed Hossain said, we have no food. No water. Drinking sea water causes stomach aches. Kinza Hossain's father was killed while kneading flour to make bread. Now the image of his father's dead body haunts him. After being hit by a missile, he was taken home for burial. Kinza Hossain said, father's eyes were not with him. His throat was cut. We want the war to end because everything has become very bad.

Almost everyone living in Gaza now depends on aid donors for life-saving supplies. According to the United Nations, at least 17 lakh people have been displaced. The United Nations Children's Agency, UNICEF, said it is deeply concerned about the 19,000 children in Gaza. These children are orphans. There is no one to take care of them.

Calling such a tragic situation just a war is an understatement. What is going on in Gaza is a planned genocide, a gross crime against humanity.

[Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Professor, Department of Political Science, Chattogram University; Associate Editor,; Executive Director, Chattogram Center for Regional Studies, Bangladesh (CCRSBD).]