It would be most unfortunate if due to emphasis on shallow entertainment, people in our contemporary society are slowly losing interest in knowing about our political history, and the sacrifices and contributions made by the freedom fighters in 1971
The political speeches in our country are often peppered with expressions such as "the spirit of the Liberation War". However, it is rather questionable whether the acts of our major political parties reflect their proclaimed devotion to the spirit of 1971.
Bangladesh will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence next year. Now is the time to examine questions such as, do our people possess genuine interests in knowing about the Liberation War, or have phrases such as "the spirit of 1971" become mere catchwords, an empty rhetoric in contemporary Bangladesh?
Nowadays we are observing a tendency to emphasise glamour and entertainment in television serials, movies, reality shows, radio programs, and social media.
Sportspersons, musicians, news presenters, and motivational speakers are turning out to be big celebrities because they are garnering enormous publicity from the media.
Once prominent actors such as Chhabi Biswas, Utpal Dutt and Golam Mustafa remain unknown to many of us because they are not highlighted enough in our media. Instead, stories on performers with good looks and physique appear more. It seems as if people do not understand the differences between real heroes and the pseudo ones on-screen.
On one hand, our book shops are not filling up with enough thought-provoking books, and on the other, stores selling mobile phones and electronic gadgets are mushrooming all over the country.
It seems as if we are becoming more interested in taking selfies and less in meaningful activities such as watching films by Satyajit Ray or Tareque Masud, or reading "Arannyak" by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay or "Ekattorer Dinguli" by Jahanara Imam.
On special days such as our Independence Day or Victory Day, our television channels air programs on the Liberation War. Our newspapers, too, publish special supplements. Although we appreciate these efforts, perhaps these are not enough for our younger generation to fully understand the essence of 1971.
In 1971, Tariq Ali was part of a music group. The documentary titled "Muktir Gaan", (1995) directed by Tareque Masud and Catherine Masud, depicts this group's performance in refugee camps and in a Mukti Bahini base during the Liberation War.
Tariq Ali had once said that the people of Bangladesh have forgotten the genocide committed in 1971. These days, whenever I talk to various university students, to my disappointment I notice that they do not have much knowledge about our Liberation War.
They do not know much about the freedom fighters, the women who were raped, and the genocide which took the lives of many intellectuals, and the sacrifices made by all of them.
One cannot help but wonder whether the Liberation War and its significance is discussed enough in families and academic institutions in the country.
When in my classes, I show a 1971 documentary titled "Major Khaled's War" produced by Granada Television, I observe that the majority of students have little knowledge about well-known freedom fighters depicted in this documentary such as then Major Khaled Mosharraf and then Captain Abdus Salek Chowdhury.
When I show the students a historic photograph taken in Dhaka on 16 December 1971, most of the students fail to identify that the person seen alongside Pakistani General Niazi and the Indian army officers is then Major ATM Haider, a Mukti Bahini Sector Commander.
Major Haider was instrumental in turning some young men into skilful guerrillas who, upon completion of their training, entered Dhaka and unnerved the Pakistani army through various successful attacks.
If a guerrilla fighter such as Alam, Fateh, Zia, Shopon or Harris is now seen on the streets, not many people in contemporary Bangladesh would be able to recognise them.
But the reality is that 49 years ago, by risking their lives, they fought against the Pakistani forces to liberate our motherland. Yet there are not enough efforts being made to make people aware of these real heroes.
We have forgotten the two Bengali Captains, Mohiuddin Jahangir and Salahuddin Momtaz, who escaped from Pakistan instead of serving in the Pakistan army and joined the Liberation War. Both of them died in the war.
Our younger generation do not know about eminent Bengali intellectuals such as Mofazzal Haider Chowdhury, Munier Chowdhury, Anwar Pasha, Ghyasuddin Ahmed, Serajuddin Hossain and Shahidullah Kaiser who were systematically abducted and murdered in December 1971.
We are still witnessing corruption, abuse of power, and religious bigotry and intolerance – all of these stand against the spirit of 1971.
After 49 years of our independence, we should take some time to realise whether we have been successful in inspiring our countrymen to uphold the principles of our Liberation War.
It would be most unfortunate if due to emphasis on shallow entertainment, people in our contemporary society are slowly losing interest in knowing about our political history, and the sacrifices and contributions made by the freedom fighters in 1971.
If political parties, academicians, members of mass media, and families do not make efforts to instil genuine interest among our youths, this vital episode of our history might sink into oblivion.
Dr Naadir Junaid is professor at the department of mass communication and journalism, University of Dhaka.