Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday called upon the new generation to know the real history of the nation that had earned the independence and right to speak in their mother tongue through huge sacrifices and struggles.
“The history of Bangalees is the history of sacrifice, and all of our achievements have been gained through that sacrifice.”
The PM was addressing a programme marking the inauguration of the month-long Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela-2019 on the Bangla Academy premises and at adjoining Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital.
The theme of this year's book fair is “Bijoy: 1952 to 1971 Ebong Noboporjay”.
Mentioning that the book fair is not a place for just selling and buying books, the PM gave importance to translating local and international literature books for knowing the world literature and letting others to know the Bangladeshi one. “To know the world literature, it's urgently needed to do the transliteration.”
Hasina said although the world was advancing fast and books were now very much available in digital format, the attraction of printed books will never end. “The joy of turning book pages is something else. It can't be compared with anything else.”
She also underscored the need for establishing a digital library for accessing any book from any part of the world.
The PM regretted her inability to roam around the Ekushey Book Fair freely, saying that she was now living some sort of a “captive life”.
“When I was not in power, I used to come at the book fair and roam around freely. But now, I'm living some sort of a captive life. I don't have the scope to come here. If I want to come here it causes problems for others due to security reasons. Considering people's sufferings, I've to suppress my desire to come here, but in reality, my heart always stays here.”
Two foreign guests -- Indian poet Shankha Ghosh and Egyptian writer and poet Mohsin Al Arishi -- graced the opening ceremony and spoke as distinguished foreign guests. Due to his illness, the speech of Shankha was read out by Ramendu Majumder.
State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid attended the opening ceremony as a special guest. Bangla Academy Director General poet Habibullah Siraji delivered the welcome speech with its President National Professor Anisuzzaman in the chair.
Hasina also distributed the Bangla Academy Literary Award (Sahitya Puroshkar)-2018 at the ceremony.
Four writers and researchers won the award this time. They are poet Kazi Rosy for poetry, Mohit Kamal for literature, Syed Mohammad Shahed for essay and research and Afsan Chowdhury for research on the Liberation War. The winners received a cheque for Tk 2 lakh each.
The PM also unveiled a book titled “Secret Documents of Intelligence Branch on Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman” (Volume-2).
Later, Hasina visited different book stalls.
The fair will remain open from 3:00pm to 9:00pm (Sunday to Thursday) while it will remain open from 11:00am to 9:00pm on holidays. On February 21, the fair will be open from 8:00am to 8:00pm.
Seminars will be held at the fair venue at 4:00pm every day from February 2 to 28 followed by cultural events.
Like the previous years, the venue of the fair was extended to nearby Suhrawardy Udyan with huge changes.
Some 770 units have been allocated to 499 organisations this year.
The authorities allotted 150 stalls to 104 organisations on the Bangla Academy premises and 620 stalls to 395 organisations at the Suhrawardy Udyan.
The book fair began informally on the Bangla Academy premises in 1972. In 1978, the academy officially took the responsibility for organising the fair every year. The fair venue was extended to Suhrawardy Udyan in 2013 to accommodate more publishers and book lovers.