Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday urged the judges to pronounce verdicts in Bangla taking into consideration the poor knowledge of most of the litigants in the foreign language.
She made the urge while inaugurating a four-day programme of the International Mother Language Institute at Shegunbagicha on the occasion of the Amar Ekushey and the International Mother Language Day.
‘Because of poor knowledge in English, most of the litigants need to depend on their lawyers to understand the verdict. The litigants have no scope to know about the essence of the judgement and in many cases, they are harassed for this reason,’ she said.
‘So, it’s crucial to publish the court verdicts in Bangla,’ she said, adding that the judges might verdicts in English, but there should be a provision of publishing them in Bangla.
‘Language of the judgement should also be simple avoiding any Roman style to make people understand it easily. It’s better to deliver the judgement in Bangla and translate it into English,’ said the prime minister.
Describing Bangla as one of the scientific languages in the world, she said, ‘But, we are not so much careful to learn Bangla as we are serious to learn English. That’s why Bangla appears to be difficult to many people.’
Hasina said that pundits had evolved standard colloquial where pronunciation, spelling, usage and style were fixed and unchanged. ‘But, we observe with regret that we are not learning these rules with care,’ she said.
The prime minister said that though difference of opinion with regard to spelling and pronunciation among the pundits sometimes created ambiguity, but it was not a big issue.
‘Everybody should think how the foundation of language learning of the children gets strong,’ she said.
Education minister Dipu Moni, deputy education minister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury Nowfel, UNDP resident representative Mia Seppo and education secretary Sohrab Hossain, among others, spoke on the occasion.
Noted Indian thinker and People’s Linguistic Survey chair Ganesh N Devy presented the keynote speech, while International Mother Language Institute director general Jinnat Imtiaz Ali gave the welcome address.
Urging all to give due honour to other languages, the prime minister said that none should hate languages of others, rather in the era of globalisation everybody should learn another language for communication with all.
Mentioning that Bangladesh is a land of various ethnic groups, Hasina said that for younger learners of different ethnic groups, the government took steps for publishing textbooks in their mother languages and distributing those books free of cost among students at the beginning of the academic year.
Highlighting the importance of Ekushey, the prime minister said the Ekushey was not for Bengalis only today. ‘The messages of Ekushey transcended across the world and the International Mother Language Day was being observed in more than 190 countries,’ she said
She said, ‘February 21 is the day of establishing the right to speak in our mother tongue. It’s the symbol of resistance against colonial rule, exploitation and subjugation.’
Hasina said that the mother language was the main vehicle of the self-esteem for the individual as well as nations. ‘We express our emotions, feelings, needs and opinions with the help of language.’
She said that language was the existence and identity of an individual as well as a nation. ‘If the language is attacked, the individual identity and self-esteem is threatened,’ she said.
She quoted from poetry of Bengali poet of the 17th century Abdul Hakim, ‘Je-sob bangete janmi hingse banga bani, se-sab kaaher janma nirnoy na jani’ (those, even born in Bengal, despise the tongue of this land, I cannot tell who those are born to).
The prime minister also excerpted from the speech of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who said, ‘all nations love their mother tongues’ and ‘no nation can bear the insult to its mother tongue.’
She said that the young generation should know the sacrifice and subjugation the Bengali nation had suffered to earn independence and the right to speak in the mother tongue.
Focusing on the history of the language movement, Hasina said that although the 21st February in 1952 witnessed the tragic incident, the movement for mother language began much earlier.
At the proposal of Sheikh Mujib, she said, the State Language Action Council was formed comprising Chhtra League, Tamuddin Majlish and other student organisations in 1948.
This action council had called for a general strike on March 11, 1948 across the country. On that day Sheikh Mujib was arrested while he was picketing in front of the secretariat, she said.
Sheikh Mujib was later released on March 15, 1948 and he presided over the Action Council meeting at Aamtala of Dhaka University on March 16, 1948 the prime minister said, referring to the book ‘Secret Documents of Pakistan Intelligence Branch on Bangabandhu.’
‘In the subsequent days, Bangabandhu was at the centre of all movements and struggles. For his involvement Bangabandhu had to endure huge torture and persecution by the rulers,’ she said.
Hasina hoped that by performing its duty of practicing the mother tongue, conducting research and playing its role in implementing mother tongue-based education, the Mother Language Institute would become one of the epicentres of language research in the world.
At the outset of her speech, Hasina expressed her profound shock and sorrow at the loss of lives in a tragic fire incident at Chakbazar in Old Dhaka Wednesday evening.
She conveyed deep sympathy to the bereaved families and assured of all supports to the injured people.
The prime minister also inaugurated a sign version of the historic March 7 speech of Sheikh Mujib and unveiled the cover of brail publication of her book ‘Valobasi Matrivasa’.
She also opened a library of the International Mother Language Institute and an archive of writing rules of different languages.
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