State Language Movement in East Bengal 1947-1956
A. M. A. Muhith
The University Press Limited
21st February is the International Mother Language Day. The choice of the date owes its origin to the state language movement of East Bengal beginning with the creation of Pakistan in 1947 and ending with the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. The saga of this martyrdom for mother tongue is the subject of this book written by a participant in the movement, who is a luminary in the intellectual horizon of Bangladesh.
The book gives the details of the movement from 1947. Mainly dealing with the period from 1947 to 1956 when Bangla was recognized as a state language of Pakistan, the book covers subsequent landmarks in the history of the movement ending with the declaration of Mother Language Day in 2000.
The history of Bangla as a language in the Indo-Germanic family and its emergence as a pioneer language in the subcontinent and a language of the Muslims in Bengal is briefly recounted. Pakistan imposed Urdu as the only official language in the country neglecting the claim of Bangla, the language of 63 percent of its population. That ignited the movement and it gained strength from other developments that soured relations between the two wings of Pakistan and turned East Pakistan into a colony of West Pakistan. Deprivation in all spheres added fuel to the language movement and Bengalis of East Pakistan asserted its nationalistic identity and fought a liberation war for the emergence of the nation-state, Bangladesh.