It was in 1952 in Bangladesh, when four students sacrificed their lives fighting the battle to recognize Bengali as the national language of Bangladesh. This instance led to declaring February 21st as the ‘Bengali Language Movement Day’ in Bangladesh. The initiative to recognize February 21st as International Mother Language Day was further passed by UNESCO General Assembly in 2000 to strengthen the linguistic roots and promote and encourage linguistic diversity.
Knowing one’s mother tongue helps preserve the culture and traditions of a community. Therefore, the theme for International Mother Language Day 2019 is:
‘Indigenous languages as a factor in development, peace, and reconciliation’.
Further, 2019 has been declared as the ‘International Year of Indigenous Languages’. One of the basic ideas to recognize and celebrate the International Mother Language Day is to empower the locals with their native language.
It helps make knowledge, education and learning accessible to the people who otherwise have no access to education as one of the biggest hindrances to access the information available is the barrier of language.
Initiatives taken in the same direction:
- There have been ample initiatives by the government of different countries and states to provide access to education and exposure to the outside world to the remote areas in the native language.
- Many large organizations like Google LLC are working towards developing and implementing initiatives like Google GLOW (Growing Local Language Content on Wikipedia).
- It will help avail and access information by the people around the world in their native language, keeping in mind their culture, ethnicity and traditional values.
- The launch of Digital Literacy Library by Facebook in six Indian languages-Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam has also made information reach millions of people who are not well-versed with English, as initially English was the predominant language of Facebook.
- In many scientific researches and studies, the knowledge of the indigenous language and culture has helped develop and find new ways to cure many illnesses and to better understand the ecology of a place.
Here are some inputs about the languages of India:
- As per Schedule 8 of Constitution of India, there are 22 official languages of India. Though the exact number of languages spoken in the country is more in number and is still contradictory.
- Article 350A of Constitution of India, encourages the use of mother tongue for the mode of instruction for the primary school.
We should, therefore, pledge to keep alive our native language and culture in the following manner:
- Encouraging children to learn and speak their mother tongue with other languages.
- This would also help imbibe in the children receptiveness for linguistic diversity.
- Also make education accessible for all, irrespective of their regional and linguistic differences.
- Let language be a bridge to bring together people from all over and encourage harmony.