Noting that a nation cannot develop without respecting and enriching its own culture, language, art and literature, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday underscored the need for spreading Bangladesh’s art, culture and literature across the world.
“If we can’t respect and enrich our own culture, language, art and literature, we can never develop ourselves as a nation in the global arena,” she said while inaugurating the month-long 'Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2018' and 'International Literature Conference' on the Bangla Academy premises in the city.
The prime minister further said: “We want our art, literature and culture to spread not only throughout the country but also the entire world.”
She said her government sincerely tries to uphold the culture and heritage of the nation whenever it comes to power.
Sheikh Hasina said those who come to power illegally never know how to exercise culture and language. “Their mentality is actually different to some extent.”
Noting that the Bangalee nation received a lot of admiration and recognition in the international arena, she stressed the need for continuation of the trend.
She said her government wants to build the country with the Liberation War spirit. “Bangladesh will be a non-communal and peaceful country where people, irrespective of their religions and creed, will perform their respective religious rituals independently.
The Prime Minister said the Amar Ekusher Book Fair is not only a place to sell and buy books. “It’s rather a place to increase the number of readers and writers, and enhance the practice of literature.”
She said this fair creates an opportunity for fresh writers to publish and publicise their books. “It also creates a scope for many readers to explore unknown knowledge. It opens the door to knowledge.”
Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor attended the opening ceremony as a special guest while Bangla Academy Director General Shamsuzzaman delivered the welcome speech with its President Emeritus Professor Anisuzzaman in the chair.
UK poet Agnes Meadows, Cameroonian poet Dr Joyce Ashuntantang, Egyptian writer and journalist Ibrahim El Masry, and Swedish poet and critic Orne Johnson spoke on the occasion as distinguished foreign guests.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina distributed the Bangla Academy Shahitya Puraskar while Bangla Academy presented two books titled ‘Alokchitre Bangla Academir Ithihash’ and Banghabandhur Sath e Marcher Bhashon: Bohumtrik Bishleshon’ to the Prime Minister at the opening ceremony.
Twelve personalities received the Bangla Academy Award. They are - Mohammad Sadik and Maruful Islam (poetry), Mamun Hossain (fiction), Prof Mahbubul Haque (essay), Prof Rafiqullah Khan (research), Aminur Rahman Bhuiyan (translation), Kamrul Hasan Bhuiyan and Surma Jahid (literature on Liberation War), Shakur Majid (biography and travelogue), Maloy Bhoumik (drama), Moshtak Ahmed (science, technology and environment) and Jhrana Dash Purokhayshto (juvenile literature).
Later, the Prime Minister visited different stalls of the book fair.
Bangla Academy will organise the two-day International Literature Conference on February 22-23 to build a good bonding among the local and foreign writers, poets, novelists as well as to create a platform to exchange their literary works.
The authorities allotted a total of 719 units -- 136 at the Bangla Academy ground to 92 organisatons and 583 at the Suhrawardy Udyan to 363 organisations.
The fairs will remain open every day from 3pm to 8:30pm, except for holidays. It will remain open on holidays from 11am to 8pm and the fair will run from 8am to 9pm on the International Mother Language Day (February 21).