Mrunal Manmay Dash

International Mother Language Day is observed worldwide on February 21 every year to create linguistic and cultural awareness and to promote multilingualism.

OTV caught up with the people of Odisha to understand what the day means to the common Odia person.

Krushna Chandra Pradhan from Khordha said, “Mother tongue is a strong pillar on which our society stands. The Nation as a whole starts to disintegrate when citizens do not follow their mother tongue as much as they should.”

“But it is a matter of regret that our cultural decline has already begun as English and Hindi languages have taken over our daily communication. The government should step in and strictly implement the law to make official communications in odia,” Pradhan said.

Odia language movement activist Bhimasen Pradhan, said, “Language is a means to acquire knowledge. Despite a resolution back in 1954 for using Odia language in all official communications, it is not diligently followed yet.”

“Other States are already using their mother language in the area of judiciary. We have been demanding to follow Odia language strictly in the State and I have been jailed for the same too. But it has bore no fruit till now. Odia language is the ultimate source of knowledge. Even the Centre has mulled to make engineering courses available in regional languages.” he said.

UNESCO, which first announced International Mother Language Day in 1999, encourages and promotes multilingual education based on the mother tongue or first language. It is a type of education that begins in the language that the learner masters most and then gradually introduces other languages. This approach enables learners whose mother tongue is different from the language of instruction to bridge the gap between home and school, to discover the school environment in a familiar language, and thus, learn better.

(Reported By Balaram Lenka, OTV)