Bob Dylan, George Harrison among 61 to be honoured by Bangladesh
Bob Dylan, and the late George Harrison are among 140 ‘foreign friends’ the government of Bangladesh will honour on Saturday for highlighting the plight of its people during their war of independence 41 years ago.
By Dean Nelson, New Delhi 1:34PM BST 19 Oct 2012
Others to be honoured posthumously include former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Senator Edward Kennedy, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Indian Army Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.
Former Conservative prime minister Sir Edward Heath and the late Lord Shore of Stepney will be honoured at a number of events between now and next March.
The ceremony in the capital Dhaka will not be attended by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, but their nominations along with those of the late former Beatles guitarist and the sitar maestro Ravi Shankar will recall their roles in staging the celebrated 1971 Concert for Bangladesh in New York’s Madison Square Gardens as Pakistani troops waged a scorched earth assault on the then East Pakistan to crush its independence movement.
Joan Baez wrote the anthem “The Story of Bangladesh” which lamented the killings of sleeping Bangladeshi students by Pakistani forces.
The concert, which also showcased some of the Indian subcontinent’s finest classical musicians, is regarded as a template and inspiration for the Live Aid concerts of the 1980s to raise funds for famine relief in Africa.
The awards are regarded as a long-standing debt in Bangladesh to those who supported its people in their darkest hours. Several Pakistani figures who opposed the war against their eastern dominion and a number of leading Indian politicians, including former Bharatiya Janata Party Prime Minister Atal Bihari, are also among those whose contributions are being celebrated.
Bangladeshi officials said most of those being honoured are from India and Britain, which it regards as its greatest supporter in the Western world during its struggle for independence.
Many of them were alerted to the humanitarian crisis by Sir Mark Tully’s BBC reports.
“Last year on our 40th independence anniversary, we created this project for those who stood next to us in our war of liberation. While there was a humanitarian crisis, atrocities and the genocide of Hindu minorities, people sent their support from throughout the world, particularly from the United Kingdom and the cultural activists who organised the famous Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Gardens, the two concerts by George Harrison, Bob Dylan, and Ravi Shankar,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Muna Tasneem.