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Nazrul Islam’s unparalleled contribution for independence movement
Mohammad Amjad Hossain
 
It is a good news that a couple of days back connoisseur of Poet Nazrul Islam in Bangladesh celebrated his 118th birthday but it is really regrettable that the people of Bangladesh do not seem to pay much  attention to the rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam as they do for Poet Rabindranath Tagore. It is not realize that Kazi Nazrul Islam as a poet and as well as a revolutionary journalist spearheaded the independent movement of India from the clutches of the ruling British imperialists.
Realising the quality of his powerful pen, a group of Indian intellectuals in Calcutta organized a civic reception for Kazi Nazrul Islam. The civic reception was accorded to him when Rabindranath Tagore was at his peak as a celebrated Nobel prize winning poet. The civic reception for Kazi Nazrul Islam was held at Albert Hall of Calcutta on 15 December 1929 for his courageous stand against the British. Achyarya Profullah Chandra Roy presided over the function and the keynote speaker was Subhash Chandra Bose.
The chairman of the reception committee was S. Wajed Ali, another renowned writer of Bengal, who, incidentally, was maternal grandfather (Nana) of Rokanuzzaman Khan Dadabhai). Subash Chandra Bose recited Kazi Nazrul Islam’s poem: Chal Chal Urdhey Gagone Baje Madol, Nimney Utala Dharony Tal and spoke highly of Kazi Nazrul Islam.
Nazrul’s overwhelming love for the downtrodden and the exploitation of the people by the British made him angry and he diverted this anger against the oppressed by writing his famous poem Bidrohi, in December of 1921, which soon became immensely popular throughout the undivided Bengal. The poet’s feeling against all kind of oppressions reflected in his poem called Bidrohi which declared:
“Shall rest in quiet only when I find the sky and the air free of the piteous groans of the oppressed; only when the battlefields are cleared of jingling bloody sabers” (translated by Kabir Choudhury).  Apart from writing poems, short stories, songs and novels, Kazi Nazrul Islam also left behind an indelible mark in journalism.
This part of Nazrul’s life and contribution did not receive much attention from the people. In 1920 Nazrul Islam began his journalistic career when he joined a daily newspaper called Nava Jug (New Age) of Lawyer cum Politian of A.K. Fazlul Huq who subsequently became the Chief Minister of Bengal. Nazrul became its Joint Editor along with Comrade Muzaffar Ahmed, who was the Editor of the Nava Jug. Nazrul Islam proved his worth and competence in writing editorial comments as well as in copy editing news and features. A.K. Fazlul Huq founded the newspaper to project his political image while Comrade Muzzafar and Nazrul Islam tended to disseminate the ideology and the message of a social revolution. Therefore, the owner of the paper and its editorial team were poles apart in their thinking.  In fact, the cause of the toiling peasants and workers was editorially endorsed and projected.  Therefore, the views of the paper soon incurred the wrath of the British government and the paper ceased publication when the British gov0ernment forfeited the paper’s security deposit.
Nazrul Islam took the initiative to bring out a bi-weekly magazine entitled Dhumketu (Comet) in 1922. As the editor, he wrote against the oppression and injustices perpetrated by the British ruler. The magazine, though attracted considerable readership, also evoked sharp reaction from the British ruler. The journal was banned and Nazrul Islam was prosecuted on charge of sedition. He did not defend himself but gave a long and explosive statement explaining his position, which was later published under the title: Rajbandhir Jabanbandi (Confessions of the Royal Prisoner).The statement was a piece of excellent literature indeed which I reproduce:
“I am on trial for sedition. The Royal crown is pitted against the comet’s flames. The accuser is the King, scepter in hand: the accused is truth, justice in hand. The King is supported by his salaried servants; my support is eve-awake God, who is truth eternal, and the King of the King’s voice, however, is but a bubble, but mine is limitless ocean, for I am a poet sent by God to express (the) unexpressed truths and to give shape to shapeless creation... India is now in bondage. This is undiluted truth. But under the present administration, it is sedition to call a slave a slave, and to describe wrong a wrong. Can such an administration last long? Am I guilty simply because the anguished call of captive truth found expression in my voice? But mine is but the agonized cry of the oppressed universal soul. This cry cannot be suppressed by   coercing me. It will ring again in somebody else’s throat.”
Nazrul Islam was released from the prison on the completion of one year term. The weekly became very popular as can be seen from the comment by Achintya Kumar Sen Gupta, renowned writer of India. He is on record by saying in his memoirs: “On Saturday evenings, we would like many others, wait at Jagubabu’s market for the hawker to come with his bundles of Dhumkethu. As soon as he reached everybody scrambled to reach for the paper. Perhaps we thought the editorial pen had dipped in blood and not in ink. What a language? They were not written to be read alone or read once.”
The next journalistic venture of Nazrul Islam was the publication of a weekly entitled Langal (The plough) in 1925.The weekly projected the viewpoints of the labor swaraj group of the Indian National Congress. This group was committed to the independence of India on the theory of equality of all men and women in political, social and economic terms. As many as 16 issues of this weekly were brought out. Langal was later renamed as Gana-Vanee (the voice of the masses).In 1926 communal riots were practically order of the day.  Nazrul’s powerful pen wrote editorials voicing against religious fanaticism and underscoring the need for communal harmony.
The newspaper Nava Jug resumed its publication in 1935 when the British authority persuaded A.K. Fazlul Huq to deposit a large amount of money. Nazrul Islam joined the paper as its Chief Editor against his will as he was in a financial crisis and passing through mental agony caused by the death of his beloved son, Bulbul, and partial paralysis of his wife Pramila Nazrul.
 
Mohammad Amjad Hossain, retired Bangladeshi diplomat, writes from Virginia, USA

Comment

Mohammad Amjad Hossain
 
It is a good news that a couple of days back connoisseur of Poet Nazrul Islam in Bangladesh celebrated his 118th birthday but it is really regrettable that the people of Bangladesh do not seem to pay much  attention to the rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam as they do for Poet Rabindranath Tagore. It is not realize that Kazi Nazrul Islam as a poet and as well as a revolutionary journalist spearheaded the independent movement of India from the clutches of the ruling British imperialists.
Realising the quality of his powerful pen, a group of Indian intellectuals in Calcutta organized a civic reception for Kazi Nazrul Islam. The civic reception was accorded to him when Rabindranath Tagore was at his peak as a celebrated Nobel prize winning poet. The civic reception for Kazi Nazrul Islam was held at Albert Hall of Calcutta on 15 December 1929 for his courageous stand against the British. Achyarya Profullah Chandra Roy presided over the function and the keynote speaker was Subhash Chandra Bose.
The chairman of the reception committee was S. Wajed Ali, another renowned writer of Bengal, who, incidentally, was maternal grandfather (Nana) of Rokanuzzaman Khan Dadabhai). Subash Chandra Bose recited Kazi Nazrul Islam’s poem: Chal Chal Urdhey Gagone Baje Madol, Nimney Utala Dharony Tal and spoke highly of Kazi Nazrul Islam.
Nazrul’s overwhelming love for the downtrodden and the exploitation of the people by the British made him angry and he diverted this anger against the oppressed by writing his famous poem Bidrohi, in December of 1921, which soon became immensely popular throughout the undivided Bengal. The poet’s feeling against all kind of oppressions reflected in his poem called Bidrohi which declared:
“Shall rest in quiet only when I find the sky and the air free of the piteous groans of the oppressed; only when the battlefields are cleared of jingling bloody sabers” (translated by Kabir Choudhury).  Apart from writing poems, short stories, songs and novels, Kazi Nazrul Islam also left behind an indelible mark in journalism.
This part of Nazrul’s life and contribution did not receive much attention from the people. In 1920 Nazrul Islam began his journalistic career when he joined a daily newspaper called Nava Jug (New Age) of Lawyer cum Politian of A.K. Fazlul Huq who subsequently became the Chief Minister of Bengal. Nazrul became its Joint Editor along with Comrade Muzaffar Ahmed, who was the Editor of the Nava Jug. Nazrul Islam proved his worth and competence in writing editorial comments as well as in copy editing news and features. A.K. Fazlul Huq founded the newspaper to project his political image while Comrade Muzzafar and Nazrul Islam tended to disseminate the ideology and the message of a social revolution. Therefore, the owner of the paper and its editorial team were poles apart in their thinking.  In fact, the cause of the toiling peasants and workers was editorially endorsed and projected.  Therefore, the views of the paper soon incurred the wrath of the British government and the paper ceased publication when the British gov0ernment forfeited the paper’s security deposit.
Nazrul Islam took the initiative to bring out a bi-weekly magazine entitled Dhumketu (Comet) in 1922. As the editor, he wrote against the oppression and injustices perpetrated by the British ruler. The magazine, though attracted considerable readership, also evoked sharp reaction from the British ruler. The journal was banned and Nazrul Islam was prosecuted on charge of sedition. He did not defend himself but gave a long and explosive statement explaining his position, which was later published under the title: Rajbandhir Jabanbandi (Confessions of the Royal Prisoner).The statement was a piece of excellent literature indeed which I reproduce:
“I am on trial for sedition. The Royal crown is pitted against the comet’s flames. The accuser is the King, scepter in hand: the accused is truth, justice in hand. The King is supported by his salaried servants; my support is eve-awake God, who is truth eternal, and the King of the King’s voice, however, is but a bubble, but mine is limitless ocean, for I am a poet sent by God to express (the) unexpressed truths and to give shape to shapeless creation... India is now in bondage. This is undiluted truth. But under the present administration, it is sedition to call a slave a slave, and to describe wrong a wrong. Can such an administration last long? Am I guilty simply because the anguished call of captive truth found expression in my voice? But mine is but the agonized cry of the oppressed universal soul. This cry cannot be suppressed by   coercing me. It will ring again in somebody else’s throat.”
Nazrul Islam was released from the prison on the completion of one year term. The weekly became very popular as can be seen from the comment by Achintya Kumar Sen Gupta, renowned writer of India. He is on record by saying in his memoirs: “On Saturday evenings, we would like many others, wait at Jagubabu’s market for the hawker to come with his bundles of Dhumkethu. As soon as he reached everybody scrambled to reach for the paper. Perhaps we thought the editorial pen had dipped in blood and not in ink. What a language? They were not written to be read alone or read once.”
The next journalistic venture of Nazrul Islam was the publication of a weekly entitled Langal (The plough) in 1925.The weekly projected the viewpoints of the labor swaraj group of the Indian National Congress. This group was committed to the independence of India on the theory of equality of all men and women in political, social and economic terms. As many as 16 issues of this weekly were brought out. Langal was later renamed as Gana-Vanee (the voice of the masses).In 1926 communal riots were practically order of the day.  Nazrul’s powerful pen wrote editorials voicing against religious fanaticism and underscoring the need for communal harmony.
The newspaper Nava Jug resumed its publication in 1935 when the British authority persuaded A.K. Fazlul Huq to deposit a large amount of money. Nazrul Islam joined the paper as its Chief Editor against his will as he was in a financial crisis and passing through mental agony caused by the death of his beloved son, Bulbul, and partial paralysis of his wife Pramila Nazrul.
 
Mohammad Amjad Hossain, retired Bangladeshi diplomat, writes from Virginia, USA

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Research and the overburdened lecturers of private universities

Saquib Rahman
 
The recent initiative of the Government to form an accreditation council to ensure the quality and standard of higher education has been widely acclaimed. While Bangladesh is gradually experiencing a change in the perception of the quality of public university students being better than the private ones, it should have changed long back.  It is beyond question that some private universities not only contribute in improving the literacy rate of the nation, but their economic impacts are impressive, simply because a large number of students would perhaps have gone to the neighboring countries in order to pursue their higher education.
Having said that I sincerely feel that it is the crying need for the University Grants Commission (UGC) to make sure that those universities are well equipped to ensure that the students of private universities get the quality education they deserve.
 
Question of quality education
The UGC has undertaken the Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project (HEQEP) with the help of the World Bank, to produce quality teachers for various disciplines. While the project funds are for the benefit of the university faculty members to develop their teaching methods and techniques, I believe the main problem for providing quality education at most of the private universities needed to be addressed immediately.
Being a lecturer of law, I will speak for my own area. To begin with, I am unaware of any private university other than a few such as North South University in Dhaka, where junior faculty members (lecturers) are not overburdened. Most law schools on average expect lectures of 12 credit hours per week, while lecturers have to attend office for at least 32 hours a week. Lecturers of some universities conducting two semesters (while most of them offer three) in a year are bound by the terms of their contracts to take up to 16 credit hours of class every week, while he/she must remain in office for 40 hours. A specific course of 3 credits for example, means that a teacher is required to take 3 hours of lectures on the subject per week.
For a lecturer, the credit hours at most private law schools may amount to teaching four different subjects per semester. For instance, one may require to study courses (all theoretical, in case of law of course) like Corporate Law, Administrative Law, Criminal Law and Land Law. Most lecturers have to work beyond the compulsory office hours just to prepare notes or engage in research. The situation is different for the public university lecturers. For example, a public university teacher lectures for just one course (or rarely two), meaning 3 credit hours per week. The difference of credit hours explains the capacities of teachers to prepare lectures at both types of institutions. A public university lecturer has the opportunity to spend long hours in preparing notes for the subject of his/her interest or specialization (while this process of preparation further enhances his/her knowledge), but most private university lecturers are faced with the challenge of simply making deliberations, one after another every day, the quality of which undoubtedly suffer.
 
Faculty helps make institutions
It does not end here. A lecturer other than giving lectures, script checking and marks tabulation, is expected not only to carry out various administrative tasks (tackling office bureaucracy throughout) relating to their department in particular or the university in general, he/she is also required to supervise as many as a dozen students for their dissertation papers in a single semester. Such pressures also take a toll on one’s health. With such workload and long working hours, any academic would find it difficult to devote time for necessary research. Needless to mention that promotion of university teachers are based on publications at peer-reviewed journals.
Lecturers’ whining aside, deliberations in the class not being the finest, certainly have a negative effect on the students of private universities. Having to pay so much of their parents’ hard earned money, the students are being deprived of the expected quality of teaching from their lecturers, who are by no means under-qualified in comparison to their colleagues at public universities. It is no secret how private university graduates would hardly ever be shortlisted for an interview at a public university, for the position of a lecturer.  Including the top three recent post graduates in law from Dhaka University, who were my colleagues at the previous university I worked for, the cream from private universities and those with Master’s degrees from prestigious institutions abroad, also join as lecturers at private universities.
Lastly, it is beyond doubt that any university would strive to excel at research. Given the potential that teachers of private universities have, I am confident that lessening the workload and working hours would enrich research (the credit of which would be shared by both teachers and the institutions), which is a primary indicator of university rankings. Research would further help in gaining in-depth knowledge of a lecturer’s subject(s) of interest, which they would teach. That again, would ensure greater quality of classes from the lecturer’s end.
 
Teachers are not clock watchers
I am fortunate to be working with an institution which is one of a kind – encourages research to an extent and generously funds individual lecturers for research, and even provides leave for the purpose. Accommodating such needs of lecturers has helped them achieve the highest reputation and goodwill that helps it further collaboration with prestigious universities and research institutions abroad. The result of good research work by North South University no longer remained confined to the university’s glory, but also attained national pride on some occasions.
Therefore, if the UGC could set a limit to the number of courses and hours a lecturer is to settle for (considering separate fields of academia), students would benefit from quality lectures while private institutions, with the blend of excellent potential graduates and dynamic research capabilities, are expected to occupy a place at the top university rankings.
The space the teachers ask for are simply to engage themselves more into studies, unlike an employee of a private bank or a firm, who work nine to five, but unlike teachers, they need not worry about academic contributions – which the teachers are having to make at the cost of their personal time, depriving their family members and social circles.
 
Saquib Rahman is a Lecturer of Law at North South University and an Advocate of the District Court, Dhaka

Comment

Saquib Rahman
 
The recent initiative of the Government to form an accreditation council to ensure the quality and standard of higher education has been widely acclaimed. While Bangladesh is gradually experiencing a change in the perception of the quality of public university students being better than the private ones, it should have changed long back.  It is beyond question that some private universities not only contribute in improving the literacy rate of the nation, but their economic impacts are impressive, simply because a large number of students would perhaps have gone to the neighboring countries in order to pursue their higher education.
Having said that I sincerely feel that it is the crying need for the University Grants Commission (UGC) to make sure that those universities are well equipped to ensure that the students of private universities get the quality education they deserve.
 
Question of quality education
The UGC has undertaken the Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project (HEQEP) with the help of the World Bank, to produce quality teachers for various disciplines. While the project funds are for the benefit of the university faculty members to develop their teaching methods and techniques, I believe the main problem for providing quality education at most of the private universities needed to be addressed immediately.
Being a lecturer of law, I will speak for my own area. To begin with, I am unaware of any private university other than a few such as North South University in Dhaka, where junior faculty members (lecturers) are not overburdened. Most law schools on average expect lectures of 12 credit hours per week, while lecturers have to attend office for at least 32 hours a week. Lecturers of some universities conducting two semesters (while most of them offer three) in a year are bound by the terms of their contracts to take up to 16 credit hours of class every week, while he/she must remain in office for 40 hours. A specific course of 3 credits for example, means that a teacher is required to take 3 hours of lectures on the subject per week.
For a lecturer, the credit hours at most private law schools may amount to teaching four different subjects per semester. For instance, one may require to study courses (all theoretical, in case of law of course) like Corporate Law, Administrative Law, Criminal Law and Land Law. Most lecturers have to work beyond the compulsory office hours just to prepare notes or engage in research. The situation is different for the public university lecturers. For example, a public university teacher lectures for just one course (or rarely two), meaning 3 credit hours per week. The difference of credit hours explains the capacities of teachers to prepare lectures at both types of institutions. A public university lecturer has the opportunity to spend long hours in preparing notes for the subject of his/her interest or specialization (while this process of preparation further enhances his/her knowledge), but most private university lecturers are faced with the challenge of simply making deliberations, one after another every day, the quality of which undoubtedly suffer.
 
Faculty helps make institutions
It does not end here. A lecturer other than giving lectures, script checking and marks tabulation, is expected not only to carry out various administrative tasks (tackling office bureaucracy throughout) relating to their department in particular or the university in general, he/she is also required to supervise as many as a dozen students for their dissertation papers in a single semester. Such pressures also take a toll on one’s health. With such workload and long working hours, any academic would find it difficult to devote time for necessary research. Needless to mention that promotion of university teachers are based on publications at peer-reviewed journals.
Lecturers’ whining aside, deliberations in the class not being the finest, certainly have a negative effect on the students of private universities. Having to pay so much of their parents’ hard earned money, the students are being deprived of the expected quality of teaching from their lecturers, who are by no means under-qualified in comparison to their colleagues at public universities. It is no secret how private university graduates would hardly ever be shortlisted for an interview at a public university, for the position of a lecturer.  Including the top three recent post graduates in law from Dhaka University, who were my colleagues at the previous university I worked for, the cream from private universities and those with Master’s degrees from prestigious institutions abroad, also join as lecturers at private universities.
Lastly, it is beyond doubt that any university would strive to excel at research. Given the potential that teachers of private universities have, I am confident that lessening the workload and working hours would enrich research (the credit of which would be shared by both teachers and the institutions), which is a primary indicator of university rankings. Research would further help in gaining in-depth knowledge of a lecturer’s subject(s) of interest, which they would teach. That again, would ensure greater quality of classes from the lecturer’s end.
 
Teachers are not clock watchers
I am fortunate to be working with an institution which is one of a kind – encourages research to an extent and generously funds individual lecturers for research, and even provides leave for the purpose. Accommodating such needs of lecturers has helped them achieve the highest reputation and goodwill that helps it further collaboration with prestigious universities and research institutions abroad. The result of good research work by North South University no longer remained confined to the university’s glory, but also attained national pride on some occasions.
Therefore, if the UGC could set a limit to the number of courses and hours a lecturer is to settle for (considering separate fields of academia), students would benefit from quality lectures while private institutions, with the blend of excellent potential graduates and dynamic research capabilities, are expected to occupy a place at the top university rankings.
The space the teachers ask for are simply to engage themselves more into studies, unlike an employee of a private bank or a firm, who work nine to five, but unlike teachers, they need not worry about academic contributions – which the teachers are having to make at the cost of their personal time, depriving their family members and social circles.
 
Saquib Rahman is a Lecturer of Law at North South University and an Advocate of the District Court, Dhaka

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