Unacceptable, unjustifiable and unfortunate indeed
THE ‘inability’ of the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy to chalk up any programmes to mark the 37th death anniversary of the national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam on Tuesday, and the 72nd death anniversary of the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore on August 6, is curious, to say the least. According to a report published in New Age on Tuesday, the academy, an autonomous institution under the cultural affairs ministry which is required by the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy Ordinance 1989 to arrange exhibitions and programmes on national art and culture and mark important days in the nation’s calendar, cited ‘time constraints’ before and after the long Eid-ul-Fitr vacations for its failure to arrange any programmes to mark these occasions. The academy’s explanation of too little time to organise programmes to mark these two days would have held water had it not managed to organise a two-day programme on August 15, marking the 38th death anniversary of the founding president of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. If the academy could manage a two-day programme in less than a week after the August 8-10 Eid vacation, its inability to organise even a discussion to mark the death anniversary of the national poet in more than two weeks after the holiday was bound to give rise to questions, and it has, as to whether the academy made any effort to mark the day at all.
What’s worse, the secretary of the academy was quoted in the New Age report as saying that it ‘will organise a programme soon to observe the death anniversaries of both Tagore and Nazrul soon.’ Such nonchalance is hardly desirable from an institution that is supposed to play a proactive role to promote the nation’s cultural heritage. It is all the more so because Tagore and Nazrul are two towering figures in Bangla literature. Moreover, our national anthem is the creation of the former while the latter is our national poet. Not surprisingly, eminent cultural and literary personalities of the country have expressed their shock that the academy could not organise any programme to mark the death anniversary of either Tagore or Nazrul, terming it unacceptable, unjustifiable and unfortunate.
It is possible that the academy may have put more emphasis on the two-day programme to mark the death anniversary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, to appease the incumbents. Such prioritisation is, however, unacceptable when it leads to simply ignoring other important dates on the national calendar. Simply put, the academy’s failure to organise the programme amounts to betrayal with the nation’s cultural heritage. Most importantly, through its failure to organise any national-level programmes to mark the death anniversary of both Tagore and Nazrul, the academy has caused embarrassment to the nation, for which it owes an apology.
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