Professor Anisuzzaman, president of Bangla Aceademy, Bangladesh’s national language authority, was in Guwahati recently. He had been invited by the Char Chapori Sahitya Parishad (CCSP), a literary body of Assam, to be felicitated for his immense contribution to the field of literature. Anisuzzaman, who in 2014 became the first person from Bangladesh to be awarded the Padma Bhushan, interacted with Abdul Gani of Twocircles.net about the current socio-political situation in the two countries. Here are the excerpts:
How you describe the current scenario of India and Bangladesh?
The rise of religious fundamentalism has been the common and most dangerous problem for both India and Bangladesh at the present hour. It’s disturbing. Freedom of speech is one of the most important things in a country, but some sections are there to snatch it away.
What are your views on the India-Bangladesh relations?
India- Bangladesh relations have improved substantially and currently are on the best of terms. I wish this will continue and hope the issues between the two countries will be solved through peaceful negotiations and friendly dialogues. It is my earnest hope that India and Bangladesh have a lasting friendship, because without it both countries will suffer. When we talk about relationships, we don’t mean the relations between one government and the other; but people-to-people relationship. But yes, the governments hold the key to it, so they must see to it that state-level relationships improve, so that people feel free to get along with each other.
What you feel about the current situation in India?
It’s very difficult for me to make remarks on the Indian situation because I belong to another country. But since we have talked about international situations, I can say that we would expect liberalism to flourish and we expect the government and the people to be tolerant and decent. We will also expect that the freedom guaranteed by the constitution is not misused. All are freedom are subject to certain limitations.
How can culture play a role in improving India-Bangladesh relations?
Culture represents our thought process and people’s thought are very important in relationships with others. You remember that UNESCO preamble says that wars are started in the minds of the people. So, the minds of the people need to be shaped in a way that we can think of peace. Culture contributes a lot in mutual understanding.
To what extend it is true that the minorities face the religious persecution in Bangladesh?
We did have problems of minorities suffering at the hand of the majority in several places. It is on published record that not just Hindus, but also Christians and Buddhists have suffered. But that is not the general tendency of the people of Bangladesh. I will say that every time something like this has happened the people have come out to condemn it and protest against it.
(Photo Credit: bdnews24.com)