Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday suggested making the mother tongue the medium of instruction in schools, at least at the primary level. "Our languages must unite us in the cause for inclusive and sustainable development and must not end up as tools to divide us," he said.
Naidu said there should be no imposition of any language, nor should there be any opposition to any language. The Vice President asserted that language preservation and development needs a multi-pronged approach and added that it was time to rethink and reinvent the entire language education in the country.
Addressing the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) at Mysuru, he further said, "We must start by making the mother tongue the medium of instruction in our schools, at least at the primary level".
Pointing out that a number of global studies by expert groups had established that teaching the mother tongue at the initial stages of education gives an impetus to the growth of the mind and thought and makes children more creative and logical, Naidu said they must be taught multiple languages to widen their horizons.
The Vice President also expressed happiness over the new draft National Education Policy, noting that it has given a number of suggestions to support education in home languages and mother tongues, tribal as well as sign languages.
The policy rightly states that children have the potential to acquire multilingual skills and these need to be encouraged at the earliest, he said in his speech, a copy of which was released to the media in Bengaluru.
Hoping that more people would start using their native languages at home, in the community, in meetings and in administration, Naidu said a sense of dignity and pride must be accorded to those who speak, write and communicate in these languages.
"Language should become a catalyst for inclusive development," he said, adding that language promotion should be an integral part of good governance.
Stressing that many more bold decisions must be made to protect and nurture our languages, Naidu said, “Our 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 any opposition to any language, he said. "Every language is important and worth our efforts in preserving and propagating it. Let us strive to communicate with each other and understand each other better," he added.
Noting that more than 19,500 languages or dialects are spoken in India as mother tongues, according to the Language Census, Naidu said there are 121 languages spoken by 10,000 or more people in India.
"It is extremely disheartening to learn that 196 languages of our country are classified as endangered. We may have to ensure that this number doesnt increase," he said, adding that the only way to protect and preserve the languages was to constantly use them.