Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today inaugurated the traditional month-long “Ekushey Grantha Mela” (book fair) with a call to give due honour to the country’s own art, culture, language and literature.
“The nation won’t be developed, if we cannot give due honour and add further excellence to our own art, culture, language and literature,” she told the inaugural function of the book fair on Bangla Academy premises here this afternoon.
The prime minister said Bangladesh is a victorious nation which earned its independence through liberation war. “We’ve got dignity and recognition internationally and we’ve to keep up its continuity,” she said.
In this connection, Sheikh Hasina mentioned that those who grab power in evil and illegal way never know the practice of culture and language. “Their mindset is different,” she said.
The prime minister said her government wants to build Bangladesh with the spirit of independence. “We want that Bangladesh would be a non-communal and peaceful country in the world, where the people will practise their own language and religion freely … we want to take ahead the country in this way,” she said.
At the same function, the premier also launched a two-day International Literature Conference 2018, and handed over prizes among the winners of ‘Bangla Academy Sahitya Puroshkar 2017’.
The winners are: Mohammad Sadik and Maruful Islam (poetry), Mamun Hossain (fiction), Professor Mahbubul Haque (essay), Professor Rafiqullah Khan (research), Aminur Rahman Bhuiyan (translation), Kamrul Hasan Bhuiyan and Surma Jahid (literature on Liberation War), Shakur Majid (travelogue), Maloy Bhoumik (drama), Moshtak Ahmed (science, technology and environment) and Jharna Dash Purokayshto (juvenile literature). Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor addressed the function as the special guest, while Bangla Academy Chairman and Emeritus Professor Anisuzzaman presided.
Cultural Affairs Secretary Ibrahim Hossain Khan, Director General of Bangla Academy Shamsuzzaman Khan and President of Bangladesh Pustok Prokashak and Bikreta Samity Arif Hossain Chhotan spoke.
United Kingdom writer and poet Ignis Mirose, Cameroonian writer Dr Joyce Ashuntantang, Egyptian Poet Ibrahim Elmasi and Swedish writer Arli Johnson also spoke on the occasion.
Cabinet members, PM’s advisers, parliament members, political leaders, 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.
The prime minister pointed out that her government is very much sincere in upholding the country’s rich tradition, language and culture. “Whenever we came to power we worked sincerely in this regard,” she said.
The premier expressed her firm optimism that the Amar Ekushey Book Fair that is continuing for long 30 years is now a claimant to be placed in the world heritage list like the traditional ‘jamdani saree’, ‘mongal shobhajatra’, ‘nakshikatatha’ and ‘shital pati’ of Sylhet.
Sheikh Hasina said her government is giving incentives to the practice of literature and culture of Bangla language. “Simultaneously, we’ve put special emphasis on translation literature,” she said, adding “Osomapta Atmajiboni” of Bangabandhu has been translated into many languages of the world.
Differing over the notion that the young generation doesn’t read books, the prime minister said nearly 60,000 copies of book “Karagarer Rojnamcha” of Bangabandhu have been sold out in less than one year of its publication.
The premier said Bangladesh has got identity in the world as a country of book festival. “Since 2010, we have been handing over textbooks for free to the soft-hearted students on the first day of the academic year,” she said.
The premier said the government has given a special focus on publication sector as part of its efforts for building an information technology-friendly Bangladesh. “Our e-book programme is advancing fast,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela got the recognition as the biggest book fair of 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.
Terming the book fair as a fair of heart, the premier said the book fair expands the field of practising literature and gives a scope to know unknown.
“Simultaneously, the book fair gives a scope to the young writers to publish their literary works and opens the door of practising knowledge,” she said and congratulated the writers, readers and publishers on the occasion of the book fair.
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