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21 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Bangla not in sight as UN official language

HUMAYUN KABIR BHUIYAN

The country as well as the world humbly observes February 21, ‘Shaheed Dibash’ and the International Mother Language Day, today with due solemnity with a dream of having Bangla as one of the official languages of the United Nations. But, the dream is most unlikely to be materialised, at least in the near future, due to many practical reasons including issues related to geo-politics, finance and country’s influence on the face of the world, multiple sources have said while talking to The Independent. “Bangladesh aspires to have Bangla as one of the official languages of the global body. Undoubtedly, it will be one of the proudest days in the history of our country if we can achieve that,” a top government official concerned said. “But, to be brutally honest, despite our tremendous efforts it does not look likely, at least, for the time being,” the official said.

“February 21 is a, kind of, unique day in the history as blood was shed by the people to preserve their right to speak Bangla. And, the UN has already recognised the day by declaring it as the International Mother Language Day,” said another top official.

“Now, we want the language to be one of the official languages of the global body. We have been trying ever since the decision came from the highest office of the country in 2009. But, sadly, the progress is not like we wanted,” he said.           

While addressing the 64th session of the UN general assembly (UNGA) in September, 2009, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina put forward a proposal to make Bangla as an official language of the UN alongside English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, French and Arabic. Bangla as a language holds a ‘singular place as a symbol of people’s faith in the power of languages to sustain cultures, and indeed the identity of nations’, she argued. She reiterated her call during her addresses at the UNGA in 2010 and 2011.

In 2009, parliament passed a resolution endorsing the prime minister’s proposal. The assembly of West Bengal, a predominantly Bangla-speaking state of India, also passed a similar resolution. Roughly, 30 crore people, especially in Bangladesh and West Bengal, speak Bangla across the globe. Aside from Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, Bangla is widely spoken in Indian states of Assam and Tripura. According to officials of the foreign ministry, since the proposal came from the head of the government and there is a resolution in parliament, they took this matter seriously indeed and started to do the needful.

But, they said, soon they came across the aspiration and reality and the reality is not in Bangladesh’s favour due to various reasons.

“We are trying our best in different ways. But, it is unlikely that Bangla will be made an official language of the UN soon,” Ambassador Masud Bin Momen, permanent representative to the UN, told The Independent from New York.

About the obstacles, he mainly mentioned ‘procedural and financial issues’. “We keep on making our efforts and we will,” he added. “The process to get Bangla as a UN official language is a long and difficult process as political, institutional and financial hurdles were involved in the procedure,” said a senior official.  “Look, the matter is political as well as emotional. It is an uphill task,” said another official having a vast experience of dealing with the issue.

“If you set aside all other issues, having Bangla as an official language will cost the country huge amount of money. We are talking about millions of dollars every year,” he said. “We have made the political leadership known about these hurdles,” said the official.He added, “It will be a miracle  if Bangla becomes a UN official language in distant future.” The officials concerned are simply unable to even indicate any timeframe as to when Bangla may become a UN official language. They pointed out that despite being the second largest contributor to the UN budget, Japanese is not an official language.

Indians are yet to be successful after trying for a long time to make Hindi as an official language, they said. Arabic is spoken in much more countries than Bangla and Arabic-speaking countries are wealthy, said the officials, adding that despite that Arabic got the status of a UN official language in 1973 after trying for 20 years, said the officials.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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