Seminar on Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Father of Modern India
Saturday May 31, 2008
International Instutute of Bengal Basin
1700 Dwight Way, Berkeley, California 94703
Seminar Hall room facing Dwight Way, Temple at 2507 McGee Ave. Attic
Ram Mohan Roy was the greatest civil rights leader of his time and stopped sati (burning widows alongside their dead husbands). According to the first Asian Nobel LaureateThe great writer and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore considered Ram Mohan the father of modern India. Ram Mohan was the first person to stand against Hindu orthodox Brahmins and following the Upanishads led people away from idolatry and polytheism. His teaching that the central theme of the Hindu religion is faith in one God is strongly supported by many spiritual leaders of the Hindu religion including widely respected religious master Ram Krishna. Tagore and Gandhi also believed in one God as did many other spiritual leaders and distinguished scholars and scientists across the globe from all cultures and religions
5:10pm David Seaborg, Vice Chairman, will speak on Ram Mohan Roy's philosophy on human rights and racial equality
5:40pm Ramen Chakroborty will speak on Ram Mohan Roy's belief in One God
6:20pm Rash B. Ghosh, chairman of IIBB, will speak on Ram Mohan Roy's education and social reform ideas
6:50pm Keynote address by Nobel Lauerate Prof. Charles Townes
7:20pm Closing Remarks by Subash Sarkar, Moderator
World Language Day Celebration
Saturday, March 22, 2008, 6:00 pm
International Institute of Bengal Basin,
(World Language Day is on 21st Feb but will be celebrated on March 22nd due to unprecedented and illegal and retaliatory action taken against the property owner, a civil right activist, by the City of Berkeley. We apologize for the incovenience caused due to circumstances beyond our control. Location of the celebration will be communicated soon)
IIBB cordially invites all those interested to attend the commemoration of the World Language Day on February 24. Invited speakers will talk about the history of the language movement and role of language in unifying people, in developing cross-cultural interactions, and in achieving peace when we need it most. Email us at email@example.com to confirm attendance.
This will be our second celebration of World Language Day in the Berkeley headquarters of the IIBB.
We are very proud that the Bengali Language Martyrs Day of February 21 has been chosen as the inspiration for World Language Day by the United Nations. This is a very great honor for anyone who cares about this language.
If you wish to speak at this seminar, please let us know by email. Tell us a few words about yourself and what aspect of the language you wish to present so that we can properly introduce you. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of this occasion to present your thoughts. If you inform us in advance, we will be able to include your name in the program. All participants will have the opportunity to contribute during the discussion period.
Among the notable speakers will be David Seaborg, Stirling Bunnell, Rash Ghosh, and Nobel Laureate Charles Townes, the chief scientific and spiritual advisor of the International Institute of Bengal Basin. There will be music and light refreshments will be served.
Background of Bengali Language Movement
The word "Shahid" means martyr and the word "minar" means monument. Shahid Minar- the Monument of the Martyrs - is a unique monument located in the heart of Dhaka city, capital of Bangladesh, to pay homage to the martyrs of the movement for the right to speak in their own 'mother language'. This monument is an icon of courage, sacrifice and patriotism of the people of Bangladesh. It symbolizes the unparalleled strong will of the people to safeguard their own culture and their love for their mother tongue. The Bengali language movement was also the first of the series of movements leading to the war of liberation of Bangladesh.
Before 1971, Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan and was called East Pakistan. Even though the majority of the people of the then East Pakistan spoke the language Bangla, the rulers of Pakistan who were mostly from West Pakistan declared in 1952 their language Urdu as the state language. This was a wake up call for the people of East Pakistan and it showed that the rulers of the country were totally biased towards West Pakistan. So on 21st February, the people of East Pakistan protested vigorously and came out to the streets demanding that Bangla - the mother tongue of 65% of the population of East Pakistan - should be the official state language. The rulers of the country ordered the police to fire on them and three martyrs gave their lives on that day. A temporary monument was erected the next day at the site and eventually replaced by a permanent one.
Since then the people of Bangladesh observe 21st February as the national language day. On 25 March 1971, when the Pakistani armies attacked the people of East Pakistan, this monument was crushed to the ground by the Pakistani army. It was as if they could not stand it. The next day some brave souls put some flowers on that spot to show that the spirit is still alive. In 16 December 1971 Bangladesh won the war of independence and became a free county. Construction began immediately for a new monument and it was made larger keeping all the aspects proportional.
Nowhere on this earth is there a more striking example of sacrifice and fight to speak in one's mother tongue. To make this known to the world a proposal was presented at the 30th General Conference of UNESCO and on September 17, 1999, UNESCO declared 21st February as the International Mother language Day for the people of the world therefore making the Shahid Minar as a global icon of sacrifice for the right to speak in one's mother tongue.