The Tribune - Spectrum

, August 18, 2002

On Sheikh Mujib

edited by Cyriac Maprayil, UK.
Reliance Publishing House, New Delhi.Rs 135

WITH nationalism, socialism, democracy and secularism as the foundation stones of the 1972 Bangladesh Constitution, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib inspired millions of his countrymen to aspire towards these goals. As the first President of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh, he was appalled by the greed and selfishness of some of his countrymen who wanted to hijack the progress of the country. His aim, on the other hand, was to modernise the nation with literacy, agriculture and industrial self-sufficiency.

The book, edited by Cyriac Maprayil, Hon. Director, International Centre for Sheikh Mujib Studies, UK, consists of papers read by representatives of the community at a symposium. Cyriac talks of Sheikh Mujib as a thinker and a man of action who had a passion for social justice, while Taifur Rashid, a leading women’s rights campaigner, talks of the leader and his plan for empowerment of women. Rashid notes that Mujib was an advocate of women’s rights who desired to free women from poverty and powerlessness. Bangabandhu not only desired representative democracy to take roots in Bangladesh but also wanted to convert it into participatory democracy, for he believed in peoples’ empowerment.

M. N. Haque believes that Islam and socialism were not contrary to each other to Mujib rather they were complimentary to each other. That is why he advocated a mixed economy to eliminate poverty. However, he was a thorn in the eye of the rentier class who had appropriated the wealth of the nation and had no intention of sharing it with the rest.


With 300,000 women rape victims of the 1971 war, Mujib indeed had a tough job on his hand, argues Belal Hussain Joy. He had to combine justice with progress, and for this he mobilised the people. The path was arduous, but Bangabandhu believed in the power of human spirit. Syed Badml Ahsan calls Mujib a great pacifist. He admires his efforts to make Bangladesh ‘Switzerland of the East,’ a nation that decided not to waste its time and resources in the frivolous arms race but thought about progress. Mujib’s constructive diplomacy reflects in the event that China recognised it as a nation in 1975. He valued India’s friendship but did not want Bangladesh to be aligned with any state. As a member of the Commonwealth, the NAM, the OIC and the United Nations, Bangladesh, with Bangabandhu as its head, succeeded in "introducing the ethos of Bangladesh to the global community."

Omar Faruque in his essay protests against the rot that has bogged Bangladesh after the death of Mujib. Corruption, incompetence and oppression of society seem to be the order of the day. Bangabandhu certainly did not desire all this. Zaidul Hasan Zahid talks of Bangladesh’s realistic regional role and how it should tap its relations with the neighbouring countries, especially India, to increase its income. Both the countries can benefit hugely by improving their rail and road links.

B. B. Chaudhari focuses on rejection of division and social strife by Mujib. G. R. MH Ahmad calls Mujib a staunch Muslim and a staunch socialist. An essay by Abdul Gaffar Choudhary discusses the trial of assassins of the leader and the role of the opposition party BNP. Cyriac winds up by discussing the contributions of Mujib, capturing the essence of the man who believed that a resolute people could resist and defeat the forces of oppression. And that is why he is put in the same league as Sun Yat Sen, Mao Zedong and Kim II Sung. The book throws light on the man who fought for justice but who himself was a victim of injustice. The dates to remember at the end of the book help the reader to understand the events that went in the formation of Bangladesh. The book is a must for libraries as it is just one of the steps among many taken up by the International Centre for Sheikh Mujib Studies to tell the world about Bangabandhu and his faith in Praxis.