Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Our Bengali heritage

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We agree with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on her warning that those who undermine or refuse to acknowledge our heritage should not hold political power. Indeed, her warning has a resonance with all of us considering the dark realities we have gone through over a long stretch of our history.

We have seen how the essential features of our Bengali culture have been undermined by the two military regimes which were foisted on us as also by the governments led by the BNP. It was a stark and ominous reminder of the critical period we went through in the 1960s when the Pakistani regime of Field Marshal Ayub Khan decreed a ban on Rabindranath Tagore.

Indeed, the very concept of 'Bangladeshi nationalism' inserted into the country's political process by the Zia regime in the mid-1970s, a questionable theme which was continued by the Ershad regime and successive BNP governments, was a violation of the ethos which defined Bangladesh's War of Liberation in 1971. Sheikh Hasina is right to remind us of these unwelcome truths we were compelled to go through. Today, it is heartening to see an entire nation engaging itself in celebrations of heritage through such integral factors of our culture as Pahela Baishakh.

And yet we must self-warn ourselves of the fringe out there, elements which remain active in trying to resort to communalism when we celebrate ourselves as Bengalis. These nefarious elements lurk in the bushes. We need to clear the landscape of these bushes and these men and women who despite being Bengalis refuse to be Bengalis.

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