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Ministry of Culture celebrates International Mother Language Day as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav

International Mother Language Day

February 25, 2022

Book on ‘Tribal and Indigenous languages of India’ released

Ministry of Culture, Government of India in collaboration with Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) and UNESCO New Delhi Cluster Office commenced a two-day event today on the occasion of International Mother Language Day, under the aegis of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav at Indira Gandhi National Center of Arts, New Delhi.

International Mother Language Day is observed worldwide on 21st February every year to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to promote multilingualism. Every year a unique theme is chosen by UNESCO to celebrate this special day. The theme of 2022 is: “Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities”, it focuses on potential role of technology to advance multilingual education and support the development of quality teaching and learning for all.

Culture Secretary, Shri Govind Mohan; Mr. Eric Falt, Director, UNESCO Cluster Office, New Delhi and renowned lyricist and poet Prasoon Joshi graced the occasion.

Beginning with felicitation of the dignitaries, the event witnessed Saraswati Vandana with kathak by performers of Sahitya Natak Akademi followed by  poetry recitation by poets in their respective mother tongue and riveting group dance.

Delivering the inaugural address, Joint Secretary, Ministry of culture Smt. Uma Nanduri welcomed the guests. Addressing on the occasion Shri Govind Mohan stressed upon the need of preserving, protecting and promoting indigenous languages in India. Taking a cue from observations made by the United Nations, Shri Govind Mohan said that by the year 2100 half of world’s languages will become extinct; with the rate of extinction being approximately one indigenous language dying every two weeks. We stand here today to celebrate “International Mother Language Day” in order to preserve, protect and promote indigenous languages in India. He further added, as a popular Indian saying goes “Kos Kos Pe Paani Badle, Chaar Kos Pe Vaani”, the statement explicitly explains multiplicity of languages spoken in our country.

However, over the years India’s native languages are also under threat of extinction and endangerment as speakers of mother tongues are becoming rare and major languages are being adopted. It has to be a collective effort of the people and communities of India to come together in conservation and preservation of multilingual diversity that is a part of our cultural wealth.

The Guest of Honor Mr. Eric Falt, Director, UNESCO New Delhi Cluster Office stated that it is a wake-up call for all of us  as every two weeks around the world, a language disappears. Only a few hundred languages have been genuinely given place in education system and in public domain, less than 100 languages are used in digital world today, he added. Loss of a language becomes  irreplaceable  from which flows the idea of observing International Mother Language Day . Worldwide we should place equal stress on development of language; technologies and digital resources for indigenous languages to empower indigenous communities with digital skills. He stressed on paying attention on technologies and innovations so that we can potentially address some of the great challenges that we face today particularly in education.

Renowned poet, lyricist and writer Shri Prasoon Joshi graced the event as chief guest delighting the audience with his light humor, knowledgeable experiences and reciting few of his poems. While addressing the event, he said that the participation of younger generation is important  to take the  mother tongue forward is important . We should feel proud of our mother tongue and use it prolifically, otherwise we may stand to lose it. While we may continue to learn other languages, which is like acquiring a skill, it’s the mother tongue which brings the emotional connect  to our cultural ethos.

Further, the Book on ‘Tribal and Indigenous languages of India’ written by Professor Ramesh C. Gaur, Dean IGNCA was launched by the dignitaries. Later, the event was followed by virtual panel discussions and sessions on International Mother Language Day theme Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities   that is to be continued till February 22, 2022.

The idea to celebrate International Mother Language Day first came from Bangladesh. The general conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) decided to celebrate February 21 as International Mother Language Day in 2000. Every year a unique theme is chosen by UNESCO to celebrate this special day.