Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addressed the nation this evening on the eve of Bangla New Year 1428.
Her speech was aired by Bangladesh Television, Bangladesh Betar as well as private TV channels and radio stations.
The full text of the prime minister’s speech is as follows.
Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
I am extending greetings of Bangabda 1428 to you all staying wherever at home or abroad.
Today is the day of welcoming. We will welcome the New Year today with singing Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore’s timeless song- “Eso He Boishakh, Eso Eso/Muchhe Jak Glani, Ghuche Jak Jora/Agnisnane Shuchi Hok Dhora”.
At the same time, the Muslims’ holy month of pursuit of fasting -Mahe Ramadan has began. I am extending greetings of holy Mahe Ramadan to all Muslim devotees.
On the auspicious occasion of New Year, I am recalling with profound respect the greatest Bangalee of all time Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. I am paying tributes to four national leaders. I am recalling 30 lakh martyrs and two lakh tortured mothers and sisters of the Liberation War. I am saluting freedom fighters with due respect. I am paying tributes to all valiant freedom fighters.
I am recalling all martyrs of the black night of August 15, 1975 including my mother Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib, three brothers– Freedom Fighter Captain Sheikh Kamal, Freedom Fighter Lieutenant Sheikh Jamal and 10-year-old little Sheikh Russel, Kamal and Jamal’s newly married wives Sultana Kamal and Rosy Jamal respectively and my uncle Sheikh Abu Naser, who were killed by the assassins.
Time passes in the compulsive law of creation. We have passed more than a year amid coronavirus pandemic. In the first week of March last year, first coronavirus case was detected in our country. Different worries and panics had gripped us. We had to survive facing those.
In the meantime, we have lost our many dear and near ones in the grasp of coronavirus. I am praying for eternal peace and salvation of the departed souls and conveying my deep sympathy to members of bereaved families.
Borshoboron on Pohela Boishakh is a universal festival of Bangalee nation. This festival is being observed at villages and every nook and corner in Bangla. Rural fairs, Halkhata and different types of sports were key components of Borshoboron.
Traders used to arrange Halkhata festival to realize dues of previous year. Rural families used to purchase necessary utensils for the entire year from the fairs. Improved diets were cooked at residences of householders as per affordability.
In the late 1960s, Borshoboron started on limited scale at urban level in Dhaka under the initiative of Chhayanaut. After our great independence, this festival gradually started making strong impact on city life. Non-communal and democratic spirit of the Bangalee nation started revealing through Borshoboron programme of Pohela Boishakh in the 1980s.
Actually, today’s position has been resulted through the continuous efforts of workers and supporters of Awami League and other secular political parties and organizations.
In course of time, Borshoboron programme is now not only a festival of joy and ecstasy, rather it has been established as a strong bearer of Bengali culture.
Pohela Boishakh encourages us to build a liberal lifestyle getting rid of all of our narrowness and weakness.
It inspires us to live with new enthusiasm removing all of our implicit dampness and shabbiness.
On the Borshoboron of Pohela Boishakh, our nationalism and Bangaliana get new life and enlivened that we are Bangalee nation, a proud nation in the world.
Today not only in Bangladesh, wherever Bangalee community lives in any part of the world, Bangalee’s folk-culture of thousand years has spread there through different programmes of Borshoboron. And a bridge is being created between Bangalee culture and other cultures across the world.
Like the previous year, we cannot arrange outdoor programme this year, because the second wave of coronavirus has made a new strike across the country. The second wave of coronavirus has appeared as more lethal. So, we will celebrate the Pohela Boishakh staying home this time too. Programmes will be aired in television channels and different digital media. Apart from enjoying these programmes, we can celebrate the festival inside our residences with our family members.
We will purify us wiping out all dirt and odds of the past. We will go ahead with bold steps, build enlightened future – let it be our pledge in the New Year.
I would like to say again in the words of Kabiguru:
Nishi Oboshan, Oi Puraton
Borsho Holo Goto
Ami Aj Dhulitole E Jirno Jibon
Bondhu Hou, Satru Hou, Jekhane Je Keho Rou
Khoma Koro Ajikar Moto
Puratoner Bochhorer Sathe
Puraton Oporadh Joto.
We had to face various adverse situations after the coronavirus strike in the last year. As maintaining distancing is one of the major ways to avert the pandemic, we had to take some measures which put impacts on the people’s life and livelihood.
As the second wave of coronavirus took a severe turn, we had to impose some prohibitions on people’s movement in the last week. You witnessed, it is not becoming possible to contain the transmission by any means. So, we are taking some tougher measures at the recommendations of public health experts.
I know many people’s life and livelihood will face troubles for these. But, we all will have to keep in mind that people’s life is the top priority. We can recover everything if we stay alive. In the last year, we had enforced 62-day general holidays at a stretch. We could not reopen educational institutions still now. Overseas movement didn’t come to normalcy. This situation is not only remaining in Bangladesh rather such measures are being taken across the world wherever the outbreak of the deadly pandemic remains in rising trend.
We are keeping our firm attention that our economy and life-livelihood cannot get collapsed completely side by side safeguarding the people’s life.
With the cooperation of all, we had taken some measures and as a result we have been able to face the effects of the coronavirus pandemic successfully in the last year.
Last year, we set four key activities to address the possible adverse impacts coronavirus on the economy. These four activities are:
(1) Increasing government’s expenditure: Giving priority to ‘job creation’ in the field of government expenditure;
(2) Formulating financial assistance packages: Revival of economic activities, continuation of jobs for employees and workers, and retaining the entrepreneurs’ ability of competition;
(3) Enhancing the coverage of social safety net: Increasing the coverage of existing social safety net to meet the basic needs of the common people living under the poverty line, day-laborers and the people engaged in informal activities;
(4) Increasing the money supply: To overcome the adverse effects of the economy, the money supply should be increased in such a way that inflation does not occur.
Our activities based on these four principles still persist. We have already announced 23 incentive packages worth about Taka one lakh 24 thousand 53 crore. We have taken necessary steps so that production is not hampered in factories. We have taken initiative to increase agricultural production. We have provided assistances to day-laborers, transport workers, hawkers, rickshaw-pullers, shop employees, teachers and students of the school and madrasa, imams and muazzins of mosques, people serving at the religious institutions of other religions, journalists and other low-income people. About two and a half crore people were brought under the coverage of various government grants.
There is no reason for you to be worried. The government is always by your side. I, prior to hitting the second wave, instructed to take necessary actions to support the poor and lower-income people. We have already allocated Tk 807.65 crore for creating jobs in rural areas and more than Taka 672 crore for the holy Ramadan and the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr. About one crore 24 lakh 42 thousand poor families of the country would be benefitted in this way. Soon after the coronavirus outbreak in last year, the coverage of various social safety nets, including VGF and test relief, were increased.
Scientists have already discovered a few vaccines against the coronavirus. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is one of those. Fortunately, we were able to bring a significant amount of vaccine doses at the very outset of vaccine production. More than 56 lakh of people have already been vaccinated with the first dose. Those, who took the first dose of vaccine, have already started getting the second dose. We will gradually bring all people under the vaccination programme. We have the preparation for it.
The health experts, however, say there is no guarantee that a person will remain completely protected after getting vaccinated. So, we have to abide by the heath rules even after taking vaccine.
The coverage of coronavirus patients’ treatment in every district of country, including Dhaka, is being further increased. In the meantime, arrangements were made to provide uninterrupted oxygen to specialized government hospitals for the treatment of coronavirus patients. Existing ICU facilities are being further increased.
But we all have to be careful. Each of us has a responsibility to protect ourselves, our family members and our neighbours as well. So avoid crowds. Use mask while going out. After returning home, be clean and steam with the hot water. The government has already issued 18-point directives to tackle the coronavirus. If we all adhere to the health rules to tackle the coronavirus, we would certainly be able to control this epidemic, InshaAllah.
Pandemics come in ages, various storms and disasters come too. The human civilization has to survive by dealing with these. The way of life is not smooth. But no matter how difficult the path is, we have to move forward overcoming it. I would like to say in the words of our national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam:
“Amra cholibo poshchate feli pocha atit (We will leave behind the rotten past)
Giri Guha Chari khola prantory gahib geet (Will sing song leaving hill, cave in the open space).
Srijibo jagot bichitrator birajaban (Will create more different world with heroism)
Taja jibonta se nobo sristi shram-mohan (It is fresh alive with newly created labour-great).”
The Bangalee is a nation of heroes. We have survived by overcoming different adversities. We will also tackle this pandemic coronavirus, InshaAllah. So at the advent of the New Year, it is our prayer before the almighty Allah’s court, so that He saves the world from this lethal disease.
All of you stay well, stay healthy. Everyone should follow the health rules. Happy New Year to everyone again. May the almighty Allah help us all.
Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu,
May Bangladesh live forever
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