Asansol (West Bengal), May 26 (IANS) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was on Saturday conferred a honorary Doctorate of Literature by the Kazi Nazrul University here.
University Vice Chancellor Sadhan Chakrabarti handed out the degree to Sheikh Hasina at a special convocation, in which a number of senior ministers of her cabinet and West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee were present.
The Vice Chancellor, who presided over the function in the absence of the indisposed Chancellor — Governor K.N. Tripathi — said the Bangladesh Prime Minister was honoured in recognition of her outstanding contribution towards building a democratic society free from exploitation and disparity, for empowering women, alleviating poverty and promoting socio-economic development, which were the ideals of poet Kazi Nazrul Islam.
Bangladesh Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid, Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali, Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor, Hasina’s advisers H.T. Imam, Gowher Rizvi and Tawfiq-e-Elahi as well as other education, cultural and political officials were among those who attended the special convocation of the university in Paschim Bardhaman district of West Bengal.
Dedicating the honour to all Bengalis, Hasina said she agreed to attend the function only because the university was named after Nazrul – the national poet of Bangladesh – whose 120th birthday was being celebrated in West Bengal on Saturday. Bangladesh had marked the occasion on Friday.
“I get requests for receiving such awards from lot of universities across the globe. But nowadays, I don’t have the time to attend them.
“However, when I was requested to attend this programme to receive the honorary degree, the only reason I agreed was because it is named after Nazrul Islam. This is an honour for our entire countrymen. Nazrul is there in the heart of one and all.
“I accept the honour you have given me with all humility, and dedicate it to the people of Bangladesh, and all Bengalis,” she said, as the auditorium burst into thunderous applause.
Hasina said she was fortunate to have got the opportunity to visit the university named after Nazrul on a day his birthday was being celebrated. “For me, this day is very significant.”
Nazrul, born in Churulia under Asansol sub-division in then undivided Bengal, produced a huge body of works in Bengali including poetry and songs. He died in 1976 in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka.
Fondly remembered as “rebel poet” for his writings against colonial rule, as also fascism and oppression, Nazrul is held in high esteem in both Bangladesh, as also in Bengal and Tripura – inhabited by Bengali speaking people.
Sheikh Hasina said Bengal may have been partitioned in 1947, but “Nazrul and (Nobel laureate poet) Rabindranath Tagore belong to both Bengals. Their legacy cannot be divided”.
She said the slogan of “Joy Bangla” (Victory for Bangla) that was coined by his father and and founder of Bangladesh Mujibur Rahman during the country’s liberation war, was taken from a poem by Nazrul.
The Bangladesh Prime Minister recalled that she found Nazrul’s birthplace Churulia in a sorry state in 1999, and thanked West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for renovating it.
Nazrul believed in non-communal consciousness and his teachings of humanity have always been reflected in his writings, she said.
“On one hand, he successfully presented the teachings of Islam in Bengali language and carried its message to the masses. On the other hand, he had also taken the teachings of Hinduism through Kirtan, Shyama Sangeet and Vaishnav sangeet to the commoners,” Hasina added.