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Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh has everything to take pride in and move forward

Bangladesh's tale is one of resiliency, harmony, and advancement

Update : 31 Dec 2023, 12:38 PM

Bangladesh is a country tucked in South Asia, and its history is a tapestry made of old knowledge, cultural diversity, unshakeable togetherness, and a spirit of progress. Bangladesh has a lot to celebrate and be proud of, from its early centers of study like Dhaka University to its amazing cultural history, the country's unity in the face of hardship, visionary leadership, and advancements in development. It's crucial to consider the nation's incredible path as it moves forward, protecting its sovereignty, and realizing its full potential.

Ancient glory and traditions

Ancient historical landmarks in Bangladesh exhibit the country's rich cultural past. One such location is Nalanda University, which is found in the Indian state of Bihar in the north. It serves as a reminder of the region's dedication to education and information sharing. Nalanda, one of the first residential universities in the world and a significant Buddhist study institution was established in the fifth century CE. It is reported to have held more than 10,000 pupils and 2,000 professors at its height.

Beyond Nalanda, Bangladesh is home to several ancient monuments that showcase the incredible cultural and architectural achievements of the past. For instance, Wari-Bateshwar is a historic urban archeological site in Narsingdi, Dhaka Division. A fortified urban center with paved roadways and suburban homes that dates to between 400 and 100 BCE has been discovered during site excavations.

Another significant archeological site in Bangladesh is Mahasthangarh, which is situated in the Shibganj upazila of the Bogra District. It comprises the remnants of Pundranagara, also known as Paundravardhanapura, an ancient city that formerly stood on Pundravardhana's land. Mahasthangarh may be dated to at least the third century BCE by a limestone slab with six lines written in Prakrit in Brahmi script that document a land gift and was found in 1931.

Paharpur, also known as Somapura Mahavihara, is where the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur, also found in Badalgachhi Upazila in Naogaon district, is located. One of the most well-known Buddhist monasteries or viharas in the Indian Subcontinent, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is also one of Bangladesh's most significant archaeological monuments. Dharmapala, the second Pala monarch (r. 770–810 AD), founded it, and it served as a significant intellectual hub until the 12th century.

These historical artifacts reveal much about the civilization that inhabited this area and supported artistic and intellectual endeavors. The echoes of the past are still audible in Bangladesh today, serving as a constant reminder of the country's rich history. 

Unity in diversity: From struggle to liberation

Unwavering solidarity and resolve were hallmarks of Bangladesh's march toward independence. The country's uncompromising character was on display throughout the historic uprisings against the British Raj, which controlled the Indian subcontinent, including Bangladesh, from 1858 to 1947. Bengali was sought to be acknowledged as an official language of Pakistan by the heroic language movement, which ran from 1948 to 1956 and called for its usage in government, education, the media, money, and stamps. A precursor to Bengali nationalist movements, this movement sparked the assertion of Bengali national identity in East Bengal and eventually East Pakistan.

The Bangladesh Liberation War, which began in 1971, was the culmination of the fight for freedom. The growth of the Bengali nationalist and self-determination movement in East Pakistan, which led to Bangladesh's independence, ignited this revolution and armed conflict. The sacrifices made throughout this conflict served as a reminder of how crucial unity is in the fight against oppression and injustice. These instances serve as a reminder that, even in the face of apparently overwhelming difficulties, power rests in unity. 

Bangabandhu: A rare visionary leader

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, often known as Bangabandhu, was an inspirational leader who devoted his life to ensuring the welfare of Bangladesh's citizens. He was a dynamic leader who led the nation to independence during the Liberation War by fighting for the rights and freedom of his people. Bangabandhu's dedication to democracy, secularism, and socialism was a reflection of his conviction that these ideas were necessary for the benefit of the average person. His goal was to "bring happiness to the faces of the downtrodden."

The legacy and leadership of Bangabandhu continue to inspire and direct the country toward growth and prosperity. His unflinching devotion to the well-being of the populace, his adherence to democracy, and his leadership throughout the Liberation War made a lasting impression on the history of the nation. The leadership of Bangabandhu serves as a reminder of the transforming force that real leaders possess and their capacity to inspire a country toward advancement. Fidel Castro truly remarked: "I have not seen the Himalayas. But I have seen Sheikh Mujib. In personality and in courage, this man is the Himalayas. I have thus had the experience of witnessing the Himalayas" embracing Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Non-Aligned Summit in Algiers in 1973.

Sovereignty and self-determination

Bangladesh's trajectory has been shaped by its independence fight. Because of its sovereignty, the nation is obligated to keep foreigners from meddling in its affairs. While international collaboration is vital, it is essential to preserve the integrity of domestic matters to keep a country stable and sovereign. Bangladesh must maintain control over its future since external parties may not completely understand the complexities and nuanced internal issues. The nation must protect its interests and make choices that will best serve its citizens.

Bangladesh needs to establish its sovereignty and self-determination in several areas, including the management of its natural resources. Bangladesh is blessed with an abundance of resources, including fisheries, coal, water, and natural gas. The nation's economic growth, social welfare, and environmental sustainability depend on these resources. Foreign parties, however, are equally interested in these resources and may try to make use of them for their gain. For instance, Bangladesh and India, and Myanmar have been at odds about who owns and explores the natural gas deposits in the Bay of Bengal. China has also put pressure on Bangladesh to enable Chinese businesses to finance projects for the mining of coal there. 

Resolving its internal problems is another area where Bangladesh has to use its sovereignty and self-determination. Bangladesh has had many different types of violence and disturbance, including political upheaval, religious fanaticism, racial conflicts, and abuses of human rights. The peace, security, and growth of the nation are at risk because of these disputes. Bangladesh should be cautious not to jeopardize its sovereignty and right to self-determination in the process, even while other players may give aid or mediate the resolution of these issues. When it comes to the Rohingya problem, which entails the flow of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Myanmar into Bangladesh, Bangladesh has been reluctant to accept international action. Bangladesh has stated that it can manage the problem on its own and that it wants a diplomatic solution.

Bangladesh places a high value on sovereignty and self-determination since they represent the country's history, identity, and ambitions. The nation should resist, not allowing its independence and autonomy to be undermined by pressures or influences from outside the country. Bangladesh should make decisions that are in the best interests of its citizens and work to preserve its internal affairs from outside meddling. Bangladesh can guarantee its continued stability and independence by doing so.

Bangladesh's tale is one of resiliency, harmony, and advancement. The country has much to be proud of, from its historic institutions of study, like Nalanda University, to its extensive cultural legacy, which is represented in places like Wari-Bateshwar, Mahasthangarh, and Paharpur. The country's self-determination efforts in the past and the inspirational leadership of persons like Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman have defined its history and continue to motivate its citizens. It is crucial to recognize Bangladesh's accomplishments as it advances toward a better future while being watchful against any challenges to its sovereignty. Bangladesh can keep standing tall as a country with the ability to inspire the world by embracing its legacy, valuing its unity, and building on its success. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina the nation has made significant strides in several areas, including economic growth, gender equality, healthcare, and education. This achievement is evidence of the nation's potential and resiliency. Bangladesh's experience serves as a reminder that unity breeds power and that, by uniting around a shared objective, even apparently insurmountable difficulties may be conquered.


Probir Chandra Das is a columnist and works as Assistant Secretary at the University Grants Commission of Bangladesh (UGC). He is also an enlisted English Language Instructor at RPATC, Dhaka and the member-secretary of Agargaon Administrative Area Puja Celebration Parishad.

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