India’s Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday said there should not be imposition of any language and maintained that there must not be opposition to any language at the same time. “Languages must unite us in the cause for inclusive and sustainable development and must not end up as tools to divide us. There should be no imposition of any language nor should there be opposition to any language,” he said while inaugurating the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) in Mysuru.
Naidu said language should become a catalyst for inclusive development and the promotion of one language was not tantamount to undermining or opposing other languages. His remarks assume importance as there had been protests in the southern state of Tamil Nadu some time ago following a change in school syllabus which was perceived as an effort to impose Hindi.
He said that in a democracy, especially in a knowledge economy like India ‘we must not foster the tendency to discriminate between people based upon their ability or inability to speak a particular language.” Emphasizing the importance of protecting and conserving India’s unique and rich linguistic heritage, he said it was extremely disheartening to learn that 196 languages of our country are classified as endangered.
Naidu described protecting and preserving Indian languages as true nationalism and patriotism. He said ‘languages are the life blood of identity and play a significant role in strengthening bonds among people.’ The Vice President said it was time to rethink and reinvent the entire language education in our country and “we must start by making the mother tongue the medium of instruction in schools at least at the primary level or up to 8thgrade.”
Referring to studies, which established that teaching of mother tongue at the initial stages of education gives impetus to the growth of mind and thought and makes children more creative and logical, Naidu called for usage of native languages at home, in the community, in meetings and in administration. ‘We must accord a sense of dignity and pride to those who speak, write and communicate in these languages,’ he added.
The Vice President also advised every state government to medium of instruction in mother tongue mandatory up to 5th or 8th grade. He also wanted the state governments to link employment with the native language up to a certain level and suggested that the sign boards on shops, establishments and other institutions must be represented in local language and any other language of choice.