Governance Now Visionary Talks Series

Vice President springs surprise, speaks in 22 languages

Asks citizens to take pledge to promote mother tongue and also learn other languages

GN Bureau | February 21, 2020


#M Venkaiah Naidu   #vice president   #mother toungue   #culture   #Language  
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu at Hunar Haat in New Delhi on Thursday.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu at Hunar Haat in New Delhi on Thursday.

Highlighting the importance of preserving, protecting and promoting Indian languages, the vice president of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu spoke in 22 languages at an event to mark International Mother Language Day in New Delhi. He urged all the citizens to take a pledge to promote mother tongue and also learn other languages.

He 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 the language and employment, the vice president said that 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. He also said that medium of instruction should be mandatory in languages up to high-school level.

He appreciated the move by the supreme court to provide judgment copies in six languages and urged all subordinate courts to follow it.

Emphasizing the importance of protecting and conserving India’s unique and rich linguistic heritage, the vice president said that celebration of ‘Matribhashas’ (mother tongues) should not remain a one-day affair and wanted all citizens to use their respective mother tongue on a daily basis. “Only then the celebration of this kind will attain serious meaning,” he added.

Observing that more than 19,500 languages and dialects are spoken in India as mother tongues, he said that the languages were a repository of collective knowledge and wisdom amassed over the course of the long journey of our vibrant civilization.

Naidu said that Indian languages have always been celebrated for their scientific structure and phonetic, uncomplicated spellings and clear grammatical rules. “Our languages have been vehicles of our vast and highly sophisticated ancient, medieval, and modern literature,” he added.

Recalling the wise words of Father of the Nation, he said that Mahatma Gandhi had reminded the country that mother tongue should not be neglected but this did not mean that one need not learn other languages like English. He quoted Mahatma Gandhi as saying “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”

Referring to thoughts of Sardar Patel who in a similar vein said that children taught in a foreign language were forced to memorize the words without understanding and “when cramming power increases, understanding power decreases”. Quoting from Sardar Patel’s Nagpur University convocation address, he said, “Your University has shown that where there is a will there is a way. I hope you will follow this well thought plan with determination and when Indian language is used as medium you will see that a lot of time of students saved, their intelligence blossoms and minds become sharp.”

Pointing out that a language evolves with human evolution and gets nourished by constant use, the vice president said, “If you do not use a language, you lose it. When a language declines, it takes with it an entire knowledge system.”

He appreciated the HRD ministry for organizing the celebration of International Mother Language Day in one lakh schools across the country on February 21.

Earlier, upon his arrival, the vice president was welcomed in 22 Indian languages by students dressed in traditional Indian attire representing the vibrant culture of different states. He also visited bookstalls set up by various central governmental institutions.

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