Ahead of the International Mother Language Day, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu wrote to members of Parliament urging them to contribute towards the promotion of Indian languages.
He described the first learned and spoken mother tongue as the ‘soul of life’ and made a passionate appeal to all MPs in a three-page letter.
The Rajya Sabha chairman elaborated on the importance of strong foundational skills in the first language in the initial years of informal learning at home, where education begins.
Naidu said the mother tongue is the first window of an infant to the world and there is enough evidence suggesting that strong literary skills in the first language spoken at home significantly help in improving academic performance and even facilitate learning a second language.
The creative abilities of children should be allowed to flourish by removing language barriers, he said.
The International Mother Language Day falls on February 21.
Naidu reached out to MPs of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in different widely spoken Indian languages and English through e-mail.
Elaborating on the consequence of neglecting native languages, Naidu said that it results in the loss of knowledge accumulated over time in respective cultures, of which languages are a manifestation.
“With a multiplicity of languages and a rich spectrum of dialects, we have regions which are repositories of knowledge much of which stands imperiled today.
This is mainly due to a mindset of looking down upon one’s mother tongue and wearing the linguistic badge of competence in English as a false sign of superiority.
“Culture and language are the two sides of the same coin. They embody rich knowledge and practices accumulated over a long period. Extinction of a language results in the loss of precious legacy. We can’t allow this to happen,” Naidu said in his letter.
The vice president stressed on the need for promoting native languages for preserving the country’s rich cultural diversity.
“We take pride in India being a mosaic of several languages and cultures epitomising unity in diversity.
This applies to the world as well, which is emerging as a global village.
The richness of our diverse cultures can only be preserved through promotion of mother languages,” he wrote.
Noting that learning more languages is useful as it offers more windows to the world besides enabling cross cultural understanding, peace and harmony, Naidu stressed that “it can’t be achieved without a strong foundation in one’s own first language.
Mother tongue is the soul of life”.
Naidu called upon each MP to be an active facilitator in promoting native languages in the large areas they represent and to start with by taking up appropriate communication and outreach programmes on the occasion of ‘International Mother Language Day’ by drawing inspiration from the motto of “Let us love and promote mother tongue”.
“I request you to be an active facilitator in promoting native languages in the large area you represent in the Parliament.
Given your standing among the people you represent, your efforts could give a fillip to the promotion of Indian languages.
“I sincerely hope that you would agree with me on the need for preservation and promotion of all Indian languages and do whatever is possible to enrich them,” he told the MPs in his letter.
Naidu also informed the MPs that about 200 Indian languages are facing extinction and the UNO has expressed concern over one world language becoming extinct every two weeks.
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