New Delhi: The Ministry of Human Resource Development is celebrating Matribhasha Diwas, which falls on 21 February every year. Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu was the Chief Guest at the main event organized yesterday in New Delhi. Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ was the Guest of Honour at the event. Minister of State (MoS) for Culture and Tourism, Prahlad Singh Patel, and MoS HRD, Sanjay Dhotre, also graced the occasion. The theme of the program was ‘Celebrating our Multilingual Heritage’ reflecting the spirit of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat.
Highlighting the importance of preserving, protecting, and promoting Indian languages, Vice President Naidu spoke in 22 languages during the event. He urged all citizens to take a pledge to promote their mother tongue and also learn other languages. The VP called for a national movement to promote Indian languages in a big way, and said, “When we protect and promote mother tongues, we protect and promote linguistic and cultural diversity also.”
Calling for a link between language and employment, VP Naidu said knowledge of Indian languages must be made compulsory for recruitment up to a certain level in government jobs. Stating that language should become a catalyst for inclusive development and growth, Naidu stressed the need to use local language in administration. The VP also said that medium of instruction should be mandatory in languages up to high school level.
Speaking on the occasion, HRD Minister Pokhriyal said the mother tongue refers to the language that a person learns without any effort and to which the person has a deep emotional attachment. Pokhriyal said that the language is not only a medium of communication, it has a strong social, cultural, geographical, and economic connect with the speakers of that society as well.
Pokhriyal said India believes in the concept of ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam.’ So, Indians not only respect other languages and cultures, but also assimilate them and live them. In a country like India, where thousands of languages and dialects are spoken, each language has its own significance and identity, the Minister observed.
Pokhriyal highlighted that while India takes pride that it has such a large number of mother tongues, on the other hand, 196 languages of India have been included in the list of endangered languages released by UNESCO, which is a matter of concern. Not only are some languages and dialects fading away or on the verge of extinction, sadly the condition of many major languages is also of grave concern, the Minister observed.
The HRD Minister added that the main reason is that people sometimes suffer from an inferiority complex in relation to their mother tongue, but added that one should understand that no language is major or minor, rich or poor, strong or weak. Now the time has come for us to document and preserve our languages, as well as to encourage them, he implored.
The Minister informed that Matribhasha Diwas is celebrated to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism in the world, as well as to spread awareness about languages. Pokhriyal said that every year UNESCO celebrates International Mother Language Day with a new theme. The theme of this year is “Languages without Borders.”
While addressing the gathering, Minister of State (MoS) for Culture & Tourism, Prahlad Singh Patel, said India is proud of all its languages, but undoubtedly the mother tongue plays an important role in the development of one’s personality. Although one learns many languages as needed, the emotional connection remains with one’s own mother tongue, Patel said, adding that every language in India has vast historic, linguistic, societal, and cultural perspectives. He stressed upon promoting vernacular languages across the world, to remain connected beyond boundaries.
Speaking at the event, Minister of State for HRD, Sanjay Dhotre, said mother tongue is the first language that anyone acquires from one’s parents and the surrounding, and one is most comfortable in articulating oneself in their respective mother tongues only. Hence, he said, mother tongue should be preferred as the medium of instruction in classrooms, especially in primary classes.
Dhotre also added that in India most people are either bilingual or multilingual. This phenomenon, and the larger linguistic diversity, of the country are an asset to cherish, he said.
MHRD along with educational institutions and language institutions is celebrating the Matribhasha Diwas. The educational institutions will organize activities like elocution, debating, singing, essay writing competitions, painting competitions, music and dramatic performances, exhibitions, online resources and activities as well as events exploring the cognitive, economic, social, and cultural activities of multilingual society, exhibitions depicting linguistic and diverse wealth of India in at least two languages, and more.
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