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Friday, April 20, 2018

Academic studies should include war books

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There are lots of masterpieces in various languages on wars. Most of these masterworks have been translated into English for the convenience of readers. 1971: A Global History of the Creation of Bangladesh by Srinath Raghavan, The Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat, All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, The Winds of War by Herman Wouk, I Was a Spy by Martha McKenna, The Night Runners of Bengal by John Masters, Bangladesh: A Legacy of Blood by Anthony Mascarenhas, Dear John by Nicholas Sparks, War's Unwomanly Face by Svetlana Alexievich, Enemy at the Gates by William Craig are some of the best-known books on wars which have stamped ineluctable marks on the world's history.

Bangladesh had to fight a fierce war for independence during 1971 which lasted for nine months. The Liberation War of Bangladesh is one of the most vital episodes in the history of the modern world. Three million people laid down their lives to liberate Bangladesh from the ruthless claws of Pakistan. India and Soviet Union tremendously supported Bangladesh during the war of 1971 while United States and China opposed Bangladesh's Independence War. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the architect of Bangladesh's independence and the father of the nation, played indispensable roles for the freedom of the country.

A voluminous number of stories and poems have been so far written glorifying the gallantry the people of Bangladesh showed to the world during the Liberation War. A great deal of movies has been made on the basis of this war while lots of songs have been composed dedicated to the martyrs.

However, there is an inadequate academic approach to the Liberation War. To make this point a bit easier to comprehend, the glorious Liberation War of 1971 should be introduced as a distinctive and full-fledged academic discipline in the universities across Bangladesh.

We are aware of the fact that our military forces go through the Liberation War's history and carry out research works on the war in their own institutions and training academies. But fruitful and efficacious steps should be taken to include the detailed history of the Liberation War for the syllabuses of university students. History, Bengali and English departments of different universities can blaze the trail but this course should be put in the curriculum of all academic disciplines irrespectively.

We know that some basic ideas about the history of 1971 are taught in all schools, colleges and universities in Bangladesh but there is no subject called "War Studies" or "War Literature" in any institution for the civilians of our country as far as my knowledge goes.

The autobiography of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the occurrences that led to the Liberation War and the ultimate surrender of Pakistan army, attitude towards Bangladesh from foreign countries during 1971 and all other chapters of the war should be compiled by the historians and educationists in objective and authentic ways to enable the private and public universities to conduct classes on this subject. This will certainly encourage the students of our country to elevate their patriotic zeal and to learn the nation's historic background broadly.

Besides the Liberation War of 1971, this course needs to include the history of other major wars like the World War I and II, American Independence War, American Civil War, Russian Civil War, Vietnam War, Iraq War and so on. At the same time some celebrated books on these wars may be selected as required texts for this course. Introducing "War Studies" or "War Literature" will open up a new horizon of learning for the students and teachers both.

Biographies of decorated warriors, valiant military officers and epoch-making political leaders of different countries may be included too for this course. For example, this course may encompass ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu's book The Art of War, Brazilian author Paulo Coelho's Manual for the Warrior of Light, Carl Clausewitz's book On War and some other similar texts.

Since wars are eventful things, students are most likely to find it interesting to work on "War Studies" or "War Literature" as part of their academic functionalities. We can in a nutshell present the whole world's history to our students if we can make them familiar with the wars nations across the globe fought. This course may be made an obligatory part of all departments in the universities throughout Bangladesh. It is not at all supposed to be a tough job because we have some highly sagacious, qualified and prolific historians who can prepare the curriculum for this course if they receive proper support from the authorities concerned.

Most of the war books tell very thrilling, motivational and humanitarian stories. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane sketches a timid young man who transformed himself into a courageous soldier during the American Civil War which was fought to eliminate slavery during 1861 to 1865. War's Unwomanly Face by Svetlana Alexievich narrates the bravery and sacrifices of Russian women during the World War II while fighting against the German Nazi army. The Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat portrays the precarious times that engulfed England following the execution of English King Charles I in 1649.

Bangladesh: A Legacy of Blood by Anthony Mascarenhas describes the bloodbaths that the people of Bangladesh had to undergo during the Liberation War of 1971 and also the political vicissitudes that shook the nation afterwards. 1971: A Global History of the Creation of Bangladesh by Srinath Raghavan is an insightful book on the international responses to the people of Bangladesh while the Independence War was going on.

Furthermore, The Blood Telegram by Gary J Bass is another striking book on the massacres committed by the Pakistan army during 1971. Most of the young boys and girls these days have almost no idea about these books which is why they do not have categorical perceptions about 1971. Introducing an exclusive course on war studies will aid the current and future generations of Bangladesh to know about the country's history in an academic circumference.


The writer is a columnist for The Asian Age

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