Culture is at the beginning and the end of development
(Léopold Sédar Senghor)
Published on 10 May 2012
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday urged all to stand firm and be united for creating harmonious diversity to provide more colourful, beautiful and peaceful world for future generations.
“Let us stand firm and united in our endeavor for harmonious diversity and let the thousand flowers representing our unique cultural diversities blossom and bloom making our world more colourful, beautiful and peaceful for our children and future generations,” she said while inaugurating the Cultural Diversity Ministerial Forum of the Asia-Pacific Region 2012 at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital.
Hasina also called for sharing each other's culture and heritage that have the strength to overcome the fearsome forces of terrorism, extremism and other challenges facing the globalized world.
She said Bangladesh is one of the few countries whose constitution ensures protection and promotion of diversity of cultural expressions. “Our constitution commits us to identify, evaluate, safeguard, and utilise all our cultural activities, traditional or modern, for aesthetic or economic benefit of our people.”
The prime minister said Bangladesh already ratified the Unesco 'Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions' in 2007.
“I hope all the remaining countries of the Asia-Pacific region will likewise do the same to protect, promote and enrich their unique cultural expressions.”
She noted that in recent years, there has been a worldwide recognition of culture as a source of self-enrichment, sustainable development, poverty eradication, empowerment of the people and their active role in national development.
“It has also led to huge cultural industry emerging around the world requiring measures to be taken for nourishing and protecting indigenous cultural practices.”
For this, Hasina said, a survey of the cultural expressions, their evaluation, and intellectual protection of individual countries is essential. “Bangladesh has already conducted such a survey.”
She said in cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Bangladesh has also conducted a survey of its traditional cultural expressions and found that items like Zamdani, Nakshikantha, Tangail Saree, Muslin silk, Baul and mystic songs, and others contribute significantly to the national GDP.
Most developing countries will benefit in the same way through a survey, she added.
The prime minister said the Asia-Pacific region comprises 60 per cent of the world's population and some of the oldest human civilizations.
“As we experience the ways of life and culture of the peoples of the individual Pacific island countries at one end and the other countries in the different sub-regions of Asia at the other end, we are overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of beauty, charm and colour of the array of vibrant cultures reflected by the many races, ethnicities, faiths, and heritages comprising the Asia-Pacific Region.”
“Indeed,” she said, “I believe our cultures do contribute significantly to the beauty of our world and make our lives fulfilling.”
Hasina expressed the hope that the Ministerial Forum will help flourish the multi-cultural nature of the region, and strengthen the argument that diversity and unity of world cultures, as defined in the Unesco convention 2005, “is quite in conformity with protecting and preserving our cultural expressions.”
“I also believe this Forum on Cultural Diversity will further the cause of tolerance, democracy, human rights, and cumulative cooperation for cultural diversity for realisation of long lasting world peace,” she said.
Later, the prime minister witnessed a cultural programme.
Information and Cultural Affairs Minister Abul Kalam Azad presided over the inaugural session of the three-day event. Ministerial level officials of 44 countries are taking part in the forum.
Director General of Unesco Irina Bokova, Vice President of Kiribati Teima Onorio and State Minister for Cultural Affairs Advocate Promode Mankin also addressed the session. Cultural Affairs secretary Surayia Begum gave the welcome address.
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