by Shoeb Chowdhury in Dhaka
Bangladesh’s history has been enriched and illuminated with cultural resources since time immemorial. The vital episodes of the country’s historic ups and downs cannot be described without making references to the contributions of cultural platforms and cultural activists who constituted scintillating milestones in the destiny of the nation through their creative power.
The Language Movement of 1952, Non-cooperation Movement of 1969, Liberation War of 1971, anti-autocratic uprising of 1990 and all other striking events of historic value were deeply and broadly spearheaded by the hard work done by singers, painters, stage performers, dancers, recital artistes, actors, actresses and other precursors of the country’s cultural arena.
Cultural heritage and cultural functionalities bear immense implications for human adaptation. Not just in Bangladesh, cultural movements have brought about enormous revolutions in many countries.
Through the devotion of cultural icons and precious roles played by cultural assemblages Bangladesh has been able to hold its head high as an independent, sovereign, democratic and self-esteemed country. Since the liberation of Bangladesh prominent cultural organizations like Bangabandhu Sangskritik Jote, Sammilito Sangskritik Jote, Udichi, Chhayanaut and Khelaghor rose and became distinguished cultural associations with the spirit of patriotism and secular values.
But it has been observed with alarm and remorse that the current young generation of the country is not so warmly affiliated with cultural activities. Lack of cultural dynamism and insufficiency of artistic avocations on part of the country’s youths, a number of evil entities like militancy, drug addiction, moral derailment and communalism have emerged on the soil of this beautiful, fabulous and spectacular landscape.
Crimes like vandalizing Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s sculptures are happening due to the absence of cultural awareness in the minds of people.
On the other hand, important geopolitical struggles of Bangladesh in the past were comprehensively bolstered by the nation’s musicians, chorus vocalists, poets, authors and folk artistes. People of the country proudly recall with honor the monumental endeavors initiated by Shwadhin Bangla Betar Kendra during the Independence War of 1971. During the previous decades, while students were the mainstream of all national movements and revolutions meritorious students used to hold the post of cultural secretaries in different colleges and universities all over Bangladesh whereas at present it is a disappointing phenomenon that most of the students and young boys and girls of today’s Bangladesh are away from cultural preoccupations. According to eminent cultural figures, lack of drive by popular cultural institutions youths of the present age are not developing enough interest to participate in art and creativity.
Besides, well-known cultural platforms are not actively working anymore to demonstrate Bangladesh’s cultural heritage, relevant sources have informed. Some famed personalities have stated that currently most of the cultural organizations don’t have any significant activities except attending funerals of demised artistes or intellectuals. As a result communal political parties and fanatical groups have raised their ugly heads jeopardizing interreligious fraternity. Cultural activities are essential to sustain secularism and interreligious harmony.
Cultural passivity is diverting today’s young people towards illegal things like religious fanaticism, narcotics and other vices, most of the social scientists and cultural organizers have expressed this opinion. Cultural mentors all asserted the value of cultural programs for the proper growth of thoughts and patriotic visions among the young generation of present time. Inspiring young people to grow a leaning towards stagecraft, paintings, folklore, music and poetry is very much required to uphold the nation’s cultural abundance, civil society members have repeatedly emphasized on this point.
The importance of social and cultural activities is preparing people for real life and strengthening their personal skills. Socio-cultural activities not only help us to identify ourselves with the surroundings, but also assist us to develop ourselves in a desired field and also improve capabilities such as organizational, presentation, leadership and interpersonal communication. As social and cultural activities are of paramount importance, educational institutions and cultural units should encourage all extra-curricular activities that are both in line with the educational objectives of the institutions and meet the needs of the students. Culture can be defined as the arts as well as the intangible shared beliefs, values, and practices of a community.
Students participate in arts and culture at varying levels of skill and engagement. Some create, while others listen to, watch, teach, critique, or learn a cultural activity, art form, or expression. Some are professional artists, designers, and inventors, while others engage informally in expressive activities or create innovative tools, relationships, or products. The field as a whole can be represented within a framework that has four main aspects: degree of professionalism, type of activity, locations and spaces, and level of participation and involvement. Together, these formal and informal, tangible and intangible, professional and amateur artistic and cultural activities constitute a community’s cultural assets.
Presence of cultural programs and cultural competitions is very less noticed these days. Once upon a time art and musical contests were held in educational institutions across Bangladesh which now have been reduced. These beneficial things should be resurrected and rejuvenated.
The government should instruct all schools, colleges and universities to promote cultural activities among students so that students can play necessary roles for building up the nation. Moreover, students unions are very important for upgrading cultural values among pupils.
The more cultural activities we can generate the more we can reduce crimes. Besides, cultural programs in educational institutions should be further enhanced.
Today’s young boys and girls are too occupied with cell phones and Facebook. Moreover, television programs are not at all lifelike. That’s why young people don’t have enough patriotic values and cultural consciousness.
Collapse of socialistic ideals, invasion by foreign culture and lack of patronage for preserving Bengali heritage are mainly responsible for less cultural activities among young people. Most of the cultural organizations are not working effectively for growth of cultural values among young generation.
Most people are moving away from cultural affairs due to widespread social media. We need to be more aware to motivate young people for participating in cultural programs.
Noted actor and cultural activist Aly Zaker died a few days ago. He carried out a lot of hard work for fortifying the nation on cultural turfs through dramas and theatre programs. Dhaka’s Baily Road was once upon a time a hub of cultural festivities.
We should feel proud of our art and culture and work relentlessly to promote cultural activities among everyone to resist the rise of evil forces. While concluding, a few lines from a patriotic song can be quoted, “O amar desher mati, tomar pore thekai matha” (Oh my motherland’s soil, I put my head on you with honour).
Shoeb Chowdhury is a diplomat, entrepreneur, author and Chairman of Editorial Board of The Asian Age.