Prime Minister Narendra Modi (File photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (File photo)

Every Indian should be proud of their mother tongue, says Modi

New Delhi, February 27, 2022

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said every Indian should be proud of the significant heritage of the number of languages spoken in the country and not hesitate in using their mother tongue even while settled abroad.

Delivering his monthly address, “Mann Ki Baat” over All India Radio (AIR), Modi said, “Even after 75 years of independence, some people are facing a mental dilemma due to which they have reservations about their language, their dress, their food and drink. It is not like this anywhere else in the world. It is our mother tongue, we should speak it with pride.

“India is so rich in terms of languages that it just cannot be compared. The biggest beauty of our languages is that from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Kutch to Kohima, hundreds of languages, thousands of dialects which are different from each other but are mutually integrated...many languages - one expression.

“For centuries, our languages have been evolving while learning from each other and have been refining themselves, developing each other. The world’s oldest language is Tamil and every Indian should be proud that we have such a significant heritage of the world. Many ancient scriptures are also there in Sanskrit,” he added.

“The people of India are proud to be associated with 121 forms of mother tongues and 14 of these languages are spoken by more than one crore people in everyday life. That is, many European countries do not have a total population of the people who are associated with 14 different languages in our country outnumber the total population of several European countries.

“In the year 2019, Hindi was ranked third among the most spoken languages in the world. Every Indian should be proud of this too. Language is not just a medium of expression but also serves to preserve the culture and heritage of the society.

“Emphasis has been laid on studies in the local language in the National Education Policy. Efforts are being made that our professional courses should also be taught in the regional languages. In Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal, we all should lend momentum to this effort together; this is a work indicative of self-respect. I would like you to know about the qualities of whatever mother tongue you speak and write something in it,” he added.

The Prime Minister referred to 84-year-old Surjan Parohi in Suriname working to save the language heritage of his forefathers, who had migrated to the South American nation. “Surjan Parohi writes very good poetry in Hindi. His name is considered among the national poets there. That is, even today Hindustan beats in his heart. There is a fragrance of the soil of India in his works. The people of Suriname have also built a museum in the name of Surjan Parohi,” he said.

The Prime Minister referred to Kili Paul and his sister Nima in Tanzania, popular on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for their craze for Indian music. “Their technique of lip-syncing shows how hard they work at it. Recently, a video of him singing our National Anthem 'Jana Gana Mana' on the occasion of Republic Day went viral. A few days ago, he also paid a soulful tribute to Lata Didi by presenting her song. A few days ago, he has also been honoured at the Indian Embassy in Tanzania.

“The magic of Indian music is such that it fascinates everyone. I recall, a few years ago, singers-musicians from more than 150 countries of the world, in their respective countries and costumes, made a presentation of 'Vaishnav Jan', the beloved bhajan of revered Bapu, the favourite composition of Mahatma Gandhi.

“Today, when India is celebrating the important festival of the 75th year of its Independence, similar initiatives can be carried out regarding patriotic songs, where foreign nationals or famous singers from abroad are invited to render Indian patriotic songs. Not only this, if Kili and Neema in Tanzania can lip-sync the songs of India in this manner, aren’t there many types of songs in my country... in many languages of our country... can’t any Gujarati children do that with Tamil songs....some children of Kerala could do that with Assamese songs.... some Kannada children could that with songs of Jammu and Kashmir!”

“We can create such an environment in which we will be able to experience 'Ek Bharat-Shreshtha Bharat'. Not only this, we can celebrate Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav in a novel way. I urge the youth of the country to make videos of the popular songs of Indian languages in their own way.... you will become very popular! And the diversity of the country will be introduced to the new generation,” he added.

The Prime Minister began his address referring to bringing back stolen idols that represented Indian heritage from various countries. “At the beginning of this month, India was successful in bringing home an invaluable heritage from Italy. It is a more than 1000-years-old idol of Avalokiteshvara Padmapani. This idol was stolen a few years ago from Kundalpur temple, Devi Sthan of Gaya in Bihar. Similarly, a few years ago the idol of Lord Anjaneyaar, Hanuman Ji was stolen from Vellore in Tamil Nadu. This idol was also 600-700 years old. Earlier this month, we retrieved it in Australia. Our Mission has received it.

“In our history of thousands of years, idols, one better than the other were always being made in various parts of the country. It displayed reverence, capability, skill and diversity. In the past, many idols were stolen and taken out of India. Sometimes in this country, at times in another, these idols were sold... and for them, they were just pieces of art. Neither did they have anything to do with their history, nor with reverence attached to them.

“It is our responsibility towards Mother India to bring home these idols. These idols embody a part of the soul of India and faith as well. They also have a cultural-historical significance. Realising this responsibility, India increased her efforts. And it fostered a deterrent fear against the tendency to steal. The countries where these idols were taken away also started to feel that it could also have immense significance in the diplomatic channel of soft power in relations with India. India's feelings are associated with it; India's reverence is attached as well, and, in a way, it creates a lot of strength in people-to-people relations as well.

“Just a few days ago you must have noted that the idol of Ma Annapurna Devi, which was stolen from Kashi, was also brought back. This is an example of the changing global outlook towards India. Till the year 2013, nearly 13 idols had been brought back to India. But, in the last seven years, India has successfully brought back more than 200 precious idols. Many countries such as America, Britain, Holland, France, Canada, Germany, Singapore have understood this sentiment of India and helped us to retrieve these idols,” he added.

Referring to the country’s medical heritage in Ayurveda, Modi referred to a meeting with the former Prime Minister of Kenya Raila Odinga. His daughter Rosemary had a brain tumour and underwent surgery following which she almost lost her eyesight. After seeking treatment in several hospitals all over the world for her treatment, he decided on Ayurveda treatment at a hospital in Kerala. The treatment restored her eyesight to a great extent. Odinga told him that he wanted to spread the knowledge and science of Ayurveda in Kenya and also to cultivate Ayurvedic herbs in his country. Prince Charles from Britain is also one of the big admirers of Ayurveda.

In the last seven years, a lot of attention has been paid to the promotion of Ayurveda in the country. The formation of the Ministry of AYUSH has further strengthened our resolve to popularise our traditional methods of medicine and health. “I am very happy that in the last few years many new start-ups have emerged in the field of Ayurveda. The AYUSH Start-up Challenge started earlier this month. The goal of this challenge is to identify and support the start-ups working in this field. I urge the youth working in this field, that they should take part in this challenge,” he said.

The Prime Minister referred to positive changes being made through public participation across the country. One such mass movement named "Mission Jal Thal" is underway in Srinagar, Kashmir. This is a unique effort to clean the lakes and ponds of Srinagar and restore their old glory. The focus of the is on “Kushal Saar” and “Gil Saar”. Along with public participation, technology was being used in a survey to detect encroachment and illegal construction has taken place. Along with this, a campaign to remove plastic waste and clean up the waste was also launched. In the second phase of the mission, a lot of effort was also made to restore the old water channels and 19 springs filling the lake.

“To spread awareness about the importance of this restoration project, local people and youth were also made Water Ambassadors. Now the local people are also taking efforts for increasing the number of migratory birds and fish in Gil Saar Lake," he added.

"The Clean India Mission started by the country eight years ago has expanded. Wherever you go in India, you will find that some effort is being made for cleanliness everywhere. I have come to know about one such attempt in Kokrajhar, Assam. Here a group of morning walkers have taken a very commendable initiative under the 'Clean and Green Kokrajhar' mission. All of them gave a motivational message of cleanliness by cleaning the three-kilometre long road in the new flyover area.

“Similarly, under the 'Clean India Campaign' in Visakhapatnam, cloth bags are being promoted instead of polythene. People are also campaigning against Single-Use Plastic products to keep the environment clean. Along with this, they are also spreading awareness to segregate the waste at home. The students of Somaiya College in Mumbai have included beautification in their campaign of cleanliness. They have decorated the walls of the Kalyan railway station with beautiful paintings," he said.

In the run-up to International Women's Day on March 8, Modi referred to many examples related to the courage, skill, and talent of women.

“Today, whether it is Skill India, Self Help Group, small or big industries, women have taken the lead everywhere. Wherever you see, women are dispelling old myths. From Parliament to Panchayat, women are reaching newer heights in different fields. In the Army too, daughters are now playing responsibilities in new and bigger roles and are protecting the country. Last month on Republic Day we saw that daughters were flying modern fighter planes too.

“The country also lifted the restrictions on the admission of daughters in Sainik Schools, and daughters are taking admission in Sainik Schools all over the country. Similarly, look at the start-up world, in recent years, thousands of new start-ups began in the country. About half of these start-ups have women in director roles. In the recent past, decisions like increasing maternity leave for women have been taken.

“The country is trying to give equal rights to sons and daughters by fixing a common age for marriage. Due to this, the participation of women is increasing in every field. You must be noticing another major change happening in the country. This change is the success of our social campaigns. Take the success of 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao'... today the sex ratio in the country has improved. The number of girls going to school has also improved. In this, we also have a responsibility that our daughters do not drop out of school. Similarly, women in the country have got freedom from open defecation under the 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan'.

“A social evil like triple talaq is also coming to an end. Ever since the law against triple talaq has come into being, there has been a reduction of 80% in triple talaq cases in the country. How are all these changes happening in such a short period? This change is coming because women themselves are now leading the change and progressive efforts in our country,"he added.


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