Prof. Anisuzzaman’s cultural activities: How admiring it was!
Dr. Foqan Uddin Ahmed
Anisuzzaman was directly involved in socio-cultural activities as well as teaching and academic work. This is why many have called him people of all times and people of all. Out of a sense of social responsibility, he has performed various responsibilities outside of academic work. He has addressed various crises of national life; Speaks for women and the underprivileged; He stood against communalism, militancy and fundamentalism. During his school life he lived in Kolkata, Khulna and Dhaka and was involved in various cultural activities. He used to do PT-parade in his school life and take part in Bratachari dances. Although Anisuzzaman was introduced to the cultural world of Dhaka through the East Pakistan Literary Conference, he spread it through the events of the Writers-Artists Majlis. A deep affection for Bengali language, literature and Bengali culture was awakened in his mind. As a result, Anisuzzaman spontaneously joined the organizations formed by the conscious and progressive community of East Bengal on language, literature and culture after the partition of the country in 1947. As a result of his association with these organizations, Anisuzzaman developed relations with many progressive poets and writers.
Anisuzzaman’s socio-cultural consciousness flourished at a very young age. The horrific communal riots of 1946 awakened a sense of humanity in his childhood. At that time he donated a small amount of money to help the riot victims. Although he was not directly connected with politics, it has become fully integrated with personal, cultural and larger public life. He has played a leading role in keeping the flow of Bengali culture in the face of adversity. He has always strived to uplift the glory of Bengali language, Bengali literature and Bengaliness and to make it universal. In this case, besides own interest, the closeness of famous people in the world of literature and culture has been especially helpful. His family environment was also conducive to literature and culture. He had his special contribution in organizing the Language and Literature Week in 1963, arranged by the initiative of the Bangla Department of Dhaka University. He was also involved in various activities of Bulbul Fine Arts Academy. When the Pakistani government banned Rabindra Sangeet in the media in 1967, progressive intellectuals in East Bengal, including Anisuzzaman, took a hard line against it. In 1968, he edited a book entitled ‘Rabindranath’. The publication of such a collection reveals the identity of his adventure, and on the other hand, a strong affection for Bengali literature.
During the turbulent days of the freedom struggle in the late sixties, he actively participated in various cultural activities. While living in Chittagong at that time, Abul Fazl, AR Mallick and other intellectuals and cultural figures were present in cultural and political meetings. Professor Anisuzzaman graced the chief guest at the two-day cultural festival held on the open stage of the Bangla Academy on 1 and 2 January 1970 on the occasion of the new invocation of the Cultural Forum. His speech at the cultural festival inspires the youth. During his stay in India during the War of Liberation, he worked for the Liberation War and continued his literary and cultural activities.
When the non-cooperation movement culminated after Bangabandhu’s speech on March 7, Anisuzzaman became involved in it and addressed various meetings and rallies. He made outstanding contributions to the Liberation War as the General Secretary of the Teachers’ Association, a member of the Planning Cell of the Mujibnagar Government and an intellectual. On 13 June he spoke at a meeting of expatriate Bengalis in Allahabad about the war of liberation and the literature of East Bengal. He gave a speech on 15 June at a meeting in Aligarh city. He also addressed a discussion meeting in support of the liberation war in the Mahajati Sadan. In the second week of September, he spoke at the Seminar of the writers of East Bengal and West Bengal organized by ‘Calcutta Krishti Sangha’.
After the independence of Bangladesh, Anisuzzaman taught at Chittagong University and performed various national duties. He was engaged in writing Bengali commentaries on the constitution. In addition to all these works, he delivered lectures on literature and culture in various programmes. He had joined in many programs and delivered speeches in abroad. In 1973, he attended the World Peace Council, Budapest. In 1974, he joined the International Conference on Inequality in Montreal. In February 1975, he read essays at Nafil College in Oxford and at the University of Sussex in March. In 1976, he attended a UNESCO-organized cultural conference in Tokyo. In 1978, he attended the Asian Conference of Kyoto University in Japan. In 1979 he went to the Latin American Conference in Mexico City. In 1980, he participated in an international seminar held in Calcutta. In 1981 he went to Algiers for the International Conference on Culture and Threat. In February 1982, he lectured on ‘Old Bengali Prose’ at the Bangla Academy and in August, he participated in the International Seminar on ‘Geo-Cultural Vision of the World’ held at Cambridge. In 1983, he participated in international seminars held at Tsukuba University, Jadavpur University and Calcutta. In 1986, he participated in the 7th Congress of the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Council held in New Delhi and the Memorial Conference on Asian Relations held in New Delhi. In 1990, he joined on the 30th anniversary of the Bandung Conference in Cairo. In 1993, he delivered Indira Gandhi a memorial lecture on ‘Cultural Pluralism’ at the Asiatic Society in Calcutta. In 1995, he presented a paper at a seminar organized by Jawaharlal Nehru University in India; He also lectured at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia and Duke this year. In 2000, he delivered Govind Dev memorial speech. In 2005, he read essays on Rabindranath at the University of Toronto. In 2006, he attended the Bangla Book Fair in New York. He gave his inaugural address at the Toronto Book Fair. In 2009, he was the chief guest at the Bangla Book Fair organized by the Bangla Academy of Australia in Sydney. In June 2011, on the occasion of Rabindra-centenary, he gave lectures at Monash University in Melbourne. On March 31, 2014, while receiving the Padma Bhushan award, he gave a speech at a stylish function held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan of India.
Apart from the lectures and essays that have been mentioned here, he delivered lecture in numerous other programmes, meetings and seminars in the country. He has given speeches in various programmes including birth anniversary, death anniversary, Amar Ekushey Book Fair, national days, publication festivals, seminars on various contemporary issues, round table meetings, cultural programmes. His discourse was uniquely general in its variety of subjects as well as in its abundance.
At the end of his career in the Bangla Department of Dhaka and Chittagong Universities, he became Professor Emeritus and National Professor. He also served as the President of the Bangla Academy. He also won various awards and honor in the national and international arena including Swadhinata Puraskar, Ekushey Padak, Ananda Puraskar, Padma Bhushan. He was indeed a meritorious personality in the arena of education and culture. He will be ever memorable in the history of Bangladesh. We always pay homage to this great man.
The writer is the Former Deputy Director General, Bangladesh Ansar VDP & Editor, Publisher “The Monthly Bisswayan”