State Language Movement in East Bengal 1947-1956 A M A Muhith ISBN 984 05 1795 3 2008 218pp 215x136mm HB Tk.450.00 US$25.00
21st February is the International Mother Language Day. The choice of the date owes its origin to the state language movement of East Bengal beginning with the creation of Pakistan in 1947 and ending with the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. The saga of this martyrdom for mother tongue is the subject of this book written by a participant in the movement, who is a luminary in the intellectual horizon of Bangladesh. The book gives the details of the movement from 1947. Mainly dealing with the period from 1947 to 1956 when Bangla was recognised as a state language of Pakistan, the book covers subsequent landmarks in the history of the movement ending with the declaration of Mother Language Day in 2000. The history of Bangla as a language in the Indo-Germanic family and its emergence as a pioneer language in the subcontinent and a language of the Muslims in Bengal is briefly recounted. Pakistan imposed Urdu as the only official language in the country neglecting the claim of Bangla, the language of 63 percent of its population. That ignited the movement and it gained strength from other developments that soured relations between the two wings of Pakistan and turned East Pakistan into a colony of West Pakistan. Deprivation in all spheres added fuel to the language movement and Bengalis of East Pakistan asserted its nationalistic identity and fought a liberation war for the emergence of the nation-state, Bangladesh. Many books have been written on the language movement in the last half a century but most of them are in Bengali. This is almost the first comprehensive book on the epic struggle of Bangla language in the English language. Abul Maal A Muhith is an eminent economist, a successful development administrator and a political leader. One of the most brilliant students of his time he had a distinguished career in civil service wherefrom he resigned as Secretary to Government at a young age. He had a brief stint in diplomatic capacity in Washington DC first as Economic Counselor of Pakistan and then as a Registered Foreign Agent for Bangladesh and finally as Economic Minister and also the Charged’ Affaires of Bangladesh. He served in international financial institutions as the first Alternate Executive Director from Bangladesh in the World Bank and as the only Executive Director from Bangladesh in the Asian Development Bank. He was the Finance and Planning Minister in Bangladesh in 1982 and 1983 and a Visiting Fellow in the Princeton University in 1984 and 1985. He was Chairman of Bangkok-based UNESCAP, co-Chair of Rome-based Third World Forum, Founder Chair of Bangladesh Association of Washington DC and Founder Chair of Porosh and BAPA of Bangladesh. He has published about a score of books, contributed to many anthologies and has written extensively on issues of development, finance, banking, governance, public administration, environment, history and socio-political culture.