March 17th: Commemorating the Legacy of Bangabandhu`

Published : 16 Mar 2024 10:12 PM

As Bangladesh gears up to commemorate Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rah­man’s birthday, it is crucial to reflect on his tremendous legacy. His unyielding determination, steadfast commitment to the cause of independence, and forward-thinking leadership not only led to the birth of Bangladesh but also established the basis for the country's governing principles. 

Bangabandhu transcended his role as a political leader and became the epitome of the Bangladeshi people's yearning for liberation, fairness, and self-determination. Bangabandhu, born on March 17, 1920, in Tungipara, a tiny village in the Gopalganj district of undivided Bengal, became a prominent figure in the fight against tyranny and exploitation. 

His journey towards becoming the father of the nation was characterized by determination, selflessness, and an unwavering commitment to the well-being of fellow citizens. Starting with his early participation in the Khilafat movement and continuing through his leadership role in the Language Movement of 1952, Bangabandhu has demonstrated a strong commitment to the ideas of democracy and equality.

During the turbulent period leading up to the Liberation War of 1971, Bangabandhu demonstrated his exceptional leadership qualities. Amidst severe oppression and extensive acts of violence carried out by the Pakistani government, he emerged as the advocate for the Bengali population, expressing their aspirations for self-governance and respect. 

Bangabandhu's momentous address on March 7, 1971, at the Racecourse Ground in Dhaka, mobilized a vast majority of Bangladeshis and became a resounding call for independence. During his passionate speech, he proclaimed, "The struggle this time is the struggle for emancipation, the struggle this time is the struggle for independence”.  

Bangabandhu's declaration of independence on March 26, 1971, is a significant moment in Bangladesh's history, signifying the official start of the nation's struggle for freedom. Bangabandhu made a powerful announcement on the radio, declaring the beginning of a self-governing and independent Bangladesh. He urged his fellow countrymen to resist the persecution of the Pakistani government. His impassioned and resolute speeches galvanized hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis to join the cause of liberation, motivating them to actively participate in the struggle for their rights and dignity. This statement, made amid serious dangers and uncertainties, summarized Bangabandhu's resolute dedication to the principles of democracy, justice, and self-determination, setting the foundation for the nine-month-long Liberation War that ultimately resulted in the birth of Bangladesh. 

His visionary concept of an independent Bangladesh, founded on the principles of democracy, secularism, and social justice, motivated individuals from many backgrounds to join the liberation war. Despite enduring incarceration and persecution, Bangabandhu displayed unwavering determination, never faltering in his dedication to the cause of liberation.

The culmination of his relentless endeavors occurred on December 16, 1971, when Bangladesh achieved independence and sovereignty after a protracted nine-month-long battle. The efforts undertaken by many Bangladeshis, under the guidance of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, had ultimately yielded positive results. Nevertheless, Bangaban­dhu's impact on Bangladesh extended beyond the achievement of independence. He embarked on a mission to reconstruct the war-ravaged nation and establish the groundwork for a progressive and inclusive society. 

At the core of Bangabandhu's governing ideology was his steadfast conviction in the power of the people. He aimed to enhance the conditions of the disadvantaged by providing education, healthcare, and economic opportunities, recognizing that true progress can only be achieved by uplifting the most marginalized segments of society. 

Bangabandhu's vision for Bangladesh was summarized in his momentous address on January 10, 1972, where he outlined his comprehensive agenda aimed at ensuring the economic and political independence of the recently liberated nation. Different factors, including decentralization, equitable resource distribution, and preservation of fundamental rights, formed the basis for Bangladesh's growth path. 

In addition, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman emerged as a strong advocate for children's rights, recognizing them as the future guardians of the nation. The government made significant efforts to promote education, healthcare, and social welfare programs for children, acknowledging their innate potential and the need to foster it.  Therefore, in recognition of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's affection for children, the government of Sheikh Hasina has made a significant declaration by officially recognizing his birthday as National Children's Day in Bangladesh. 

This decision highlights the deep respect and appreciation for Bangabandhu's lasting impact, particularly his unflinching determination for the well-being and future of the nation's youth. By celebrating his birthday in this manner, the government not only honors the founder of the nation but also reinforces its commitment to fostering and developing the children who embody the hope and potential of Bangladesh's future.

This effort is in line with Sheikh Hasina's visionary goal of creating a prosperous and inclusive society, where every child has the opportunity to flourish and contribute to the country's progress. 

On the occasion of Banga­bandhu’s birthday and National Children's Day, it is appropriate to reflect upon Bangabandhu's lasting legacy and the principles he stood for. His lifestyle serves as an inspiring example and source of guidance for future generations, reminding us of the strength of bravery, perseverance, and steadfast commitment to the principles of liberty and fairness. 

As Bangladesh continues its path of advancement and enhancement, let us get inspiration from the vision of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and commit ourselves again to establishing a nation that preserves the dignity and rights of all its residents, particularly its youth. By remembering his memory, we acknowledge and celebrate the unwavering determination of the people of Bangladesh and reaffirm our shared commitment to the principles for which he gave up his life.

The writer is a Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi.