Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has accepted a doctorate in literature from West Bengal’s Kazi Nazrul University during a special convocation on Saturday.
She was awarded with the honorary D Lit degree at the event in Asansol on Saturday.
The degree was awarded to Hasina for her role in creating a democratic society free of exploitation and discrimination, for empowering women, alleviating poverty and promoting socio-economic development, said Vice Chancellor Sadhan Chakraborty.
The event was part of West Bengal’s celebration of poet Kazi Nazrul Islam’s 119th birthday on Saturday. Bangladesh celebrated the birth of its national poet on Friday.
“It’s significant for me because I have been able to visit the great poet’s place of birth on his birthday and have received an honorary ‘Doctor of Literature’ degree from the university named after him,” she said.
“I believe this honour is not for me alone, but for all the people of Bangladesh.”
She dedicated the degree to ‘all Bangalees’.
Kazi Nazrul University’s special convocation was attended by Bangladesh Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, Bangladesh Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor and Hasina’s advisers HT Imam, Gowher Rizvi and Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury.
Hasina compared the arrival of rebel poet Nazrul on the literary scene to that of a comet blazing through the sky of Bangla literature. He has left behind a golden legacy, she said.
“He was more than a poet. He was an essayist, a songwriter, a singer, a lyricist, a musician, a playwright, a journalist, an editor and a soldier. He was a man of prodigious talents.”
She also highlighted his contributions to the literature of both Muslim and Hindu Bangalees.
“Bengal may be divided,” she said. “But Nazrul and Rabindranath cannot be. They both belong to both Bengals.”
The prime minister was on a two-day trip to India during which she also attended the convocation at Visva-Bharati University and inaugurated the university’s Bangladesh Bhavana.
Funded by the Bangladesh government, the building has a 450-seat theatre, the largest at the university.
The building also houses a library of books on Bangladesh and its relations with India as well as a collection of historical and cultural artifacts of Bangladesh.
The two sides of the building’s entrance have murals of Bangabandhu and Rabindranath.
The inauguration event was also attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The two prime ministers met for bilateral meetings following the building’s inauguration.
From the Visva-Bharati, Hasina travelled to Kolkata, where she visited Rabindranath’s birthplace, the Thakur Bari, at Jorasanko and met business leaders of Kolkata at the Taj Bengal hotel where she stayed during the two-day trip.
In 1972, Kazi Nazrul Islam was granted Bangladeshi citizenship and declared the national poet of Bangladesh. The poet was laid to rest on the Dhaka University campus after his death in 1976.
Though he was born in Charulia, Nazrul travelled all across Bengal, spent a portion of his childhood in Mymensingh and lived in Cumilla, Chattogram, Sirajganj and Faridpur.
Following the convocation, the prime minister returned to Kolkata. She visited the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Museum and met local MPs at a courtesy meeting before returning to Dhaka on Saturday night.