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19 January, 2020 11:22:18 AM


The significance of the Mujib Year

Mujib not only made his country independent, recreated the Bengali nation and saved its thousand year old language and culture
Abdul Gaffar choudhury
The significance of the Mujib Year

A few years ago I was talking with our famous writer Syed Shamsul Haque. He was suffering from terminal cancer and living his final days.

He told me that his last wish was to live till the Mujib year and to observe the pompous celebration of Mujib's birth centenary. Almighty did not grant his wish. He died and is now in grave. In this respect I am his most fortunate friend who is still living and reached the year 2020, which is marked as the Mujib year. His birth centenary will be observed not only in Bangladesh but in several countries of the world. I feel pride that I had the opportunity to see him, to be with him for a long period and witness his astonishing political life which was full of turmoil. A great man does not come in every era. We are most fortunate because we were born in an era when a great man was born, who is now compared with George Washington, Lincoln, Nelson Mandela and Gandhi. He was born in 1920 and now it is 2020. He was born in the British occupied Bangladesh and before his death he made this country a sovereign and independent state.
If he was an ordinary leader who only achieved independence for his motherland then people might not have thought of observing the Mujib Year. But Mujib not only made his country independent, recreated the Bengali nation and saved its thousand year old language and culture. His aim was to create a Bengali cultural nationhood with modern secularism and to promote its culture and language worldwide. In this respect he could be compared with emperor Ashoka of Mauryan Empire of ancient India and Emperor Akbar of Delhi of medieval India. Emperor Ashoka's aim was to establish a kingdom with a secular basis. Even he himself converted to Buddhism to preach Buddha's ideals of peace and harmony. In some places in India the Ashoka year is still observed today and India government put the Ashoka Chakra in their national flag as the state symbol.

Akbar of the Mughal Empire, known as the great Mughal, was so secular in belief that he preached a new religion din-e-ilahi to unite Hindu, Muslim and all other religious communities in his empire. One of his associates Abu'l Fazl was a great secularist and produced a book called Ain-i-Akbari (Rules of Akbar) which is the basis of the modern British law. In the-then time Islamic fundamentalists opposed violently his secular policies. They could not kill Akbar but murdered his two great secular associates Abu'l-Fazl and Birbal. After these killings Akbar was depressed and spent his final days in great melancholy. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of the independent India paid great tribute to Ashoka and Akbar and said, "In reality Akbar was the founder of the modern Indian nation". Ashoka and Akbar were both great secularists and preached peace and religious harmony.

In my opinion, after Ashoka and Akbar Sheikh Mujib was born as a great secularist and established the first secular state in the subcontinent. Like Ashoka year, the Mujib year also reflects a state without any racial and religious discrimination, full of peace and tranquillity. A European politician expressed his surprise after observing the 20th century's Indian politics and said, 'Nehru and Jinnah were well educated in a western country. They were strong secularists and believed in the western democracy, but after returning to India both of them changed their political characters. Both divided India to Hindu India and Muslim India. But Sheikh Mujib was neither western educated nor did he start his life as a secularist but became a strong follower of secularism and a great secularist. He first established a secular state in the subcontinent. He will be remembered not only in the history of Bangladesh but in the history of India also'.

More than thousand years ago Ashoka preached secular philosophy. In his first life he killed more than 5 lakhs Buddhists then in repentance he himself became a Buddhist and for the rest of his life he fought against religious discrimination. After thousands of year since Asoka, the Mujib year similarly reflects the Ahsoka era and his great achievement is the establishment of a modern democratic and secular state in the subcontinent. In his first life Sheikh Mujib was in the camp of communal politics. But before he became a full-fledged youth leader he became a secularist and started to believe in socialism. He established independent Bangladesh with four state principals among which secularism is one. Though from the Bangladesh constitution secularism has been obliterated by the autocratic leaders but they had to replace the word secularism with religious equality. The people of Bangladesh still desire the revival of 72 constitution fully. We can hope one day 72 constitution will be revived fully and the word secularism will come back to the constitution with full force. Mujib year reflects these four state ideals which is the cornerstone of our independence.

Barrister Moudud Ahmed is not a follower of Sheikh Mujib. He is the leader of the anti-Mujib political camp but he also described the short-lived time of Mujib's rule as Mujib era. Sheikh Mujib ruled the country for only three and a half years. Then he was assassinated by conspirators. But within this short time he gave his nation a state, a constitution, a parliament and achieved recognition for Bangladesh from all the nations except China and Saudi-Arabia. Within a very short time Bangladesh became a member of the Commonwealth and the United Nations. In the second year of his rule he was invited to 73 non aligned countries summit conference in Algeria. The whole conference treated him as a great hero and Fidel Castro said, 'I have not seen the Himalayas, but I have seen Sheikh Mujib'. All the African leaders came to meet him in his temporary residence in Algiers and hailed him as the great leader of the camp of the non aligned countries with Indira Gandhi. Once Nehru and Nasser were treated as the leaders of NAAM. After their death along with Martial Tito, Mujib and Indira, became the virtual leaders of the non aligned camp. 2020 is a historic year, known as the Mujib year, but we can treat his brief period of rule as Mujib era. This year the month of March, Mujib year will observed in Bangladesh and some other countries in the world but the Mujib era will continue with his ideals and dreams. 'Mujib is dead, long live Mujib'.

London, Friday 17 January, 2020


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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.

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