The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that promotion and protection of ancient Indian languages was the need of the hour as they offer a window to our ancient civilisational values, knowledge and wisdom.
Addressing the gathering after conferring around 100 ‘President’s Certificate of Honour’ and ‘Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman’ Awards to scholars in Classical Languages, here today, Shri Naidu said “When a language dies, an entire culture dies. We simply cannot let that happen. Protecting our cultural heritage, including languages is our constitutionally mandated duty”, he asserted.
Observing that studies by experts estimate that almost 600 languages were on the verge of extinction and more than 250 languages have disappeared in the past 60 years, the Vice President that the modern Indian languages have ancient roots and are derived in some way from the classical languages. “If we don’t preserve and sustain this link, we lose a very precious key to the treasure house we have all inherited”, he warned.
Emphasizing that language preservation and development needed multi-pronged approach, Shri Naidu said it should begin at the primary school level and continued to higher levels of education. “Functional literacy in at least one language should be ensured”, he added.
Urging people to start using their native languages at home, in the community, in meetings and in administration, the Vice President called for a national movement to protect and preserve the mother tongue. He asked the state governments, Centre, academicians and the school administrations to provide primary and higher education in mother tongue.
Shri Naidu also wanted adequate attention to be given to dialects and folk literature, apart from encouraging Indian language publications, journals and children’s books in local languages. “We must accord a sense of pride to those who speak, write and communicate in these languages, he added.
Saying that language was a vehicle of intergenerational transmission of culture, scientific knowledge and a worldview, the Vice President said that language evolves with human evolution and gets nourished by constant use.
The Vice President called for measures to encourage scholars to do research using the primary sources and unearth new nuggets of knowledge. ‘We must keep on adding to the knowledge and illuminate our present and future,’ he said.
“We must harness the power of technology to preserve and promote our languages and culture. We must have many more technological tools for communication in local languages to serve the needs of all our people speaking different languages”, Shri Naidu stressed.
The prestigious event organised by the HRD Ministry witnessed the presence of around 100 eminent scholars, linguists who have made immense contribution to protection and promotion of Indian Classical Languages through their writings in prose, poetry and several other literary works. Awards were presented for their stellar work in Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Pali, Prakrit, Classical Kannada, Classical Telugu, and Classical Malayalam for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Shri Naidu also released Linguistic Data Resources for Artificial Intelligence and launched Data Distribution Portal that helps in developing language technology and artificial intelligence tools for many Indian languages.
The Data Resource released by the Vice President was the largest corpora for these languages available so far in the public domain. It comprises 31 large text and speech data sets in 19 scheduled Indian languages. The Data Distribution Portal launched would be made available for free to the academic and not-for-profit research organizations.
The Secretary, Dept. of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Shri R. Subrahmanyam, the Director CIL, Prof. D.G. Rao, the Vice Chancellor of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sanskthan, Prof. P.N Shastri, the Joint Secretary (Management & Languages), Dept of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource and Development, Shri Sanjay Kumar Sinha and several senior bureaucrats of government of India were present.
Following is the text of Vice President’s address: