International Mother Language Day 2022: Why is it Celebrated and Mother Tongues in India

The International Mother Language Day 2022 Theme is “Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities”. 

International Mother Language Day 2022, Source: UNESCO
International Mother Language Day 2022, Source: UNESCO

International Mother Language Day 2022: International Mother Language Day 2022 was celebrated across the world on February 21, 2022. The day is observed annually on February 21 to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

International Mother Language Day was approved by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO in 1999. The day is celebrated every year since 2000.

As per the UN body, about 40 per cent of the world’s population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand.

International Mother Language Day 2022 Theme

The International Mother Language Day 2022 Theme is “Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities”.  Under this year's theme, UNESCO will discuss the potential role of technology to advance education in various languages and support the development of quality teaching and learning for all.

UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay said on the occasion, "Technology  can  provide  new  tools  for  protecting  linguistic  diversity.  Such  tools,  for  example,  facilitating  their  spread  and  analysis,  allow  us  to  record  and  preserve  languages which sometimes exist only in oral form. Put simply, they make local dialects a shared heritage. However, because the Internet poses a risk of linguistic uniformization, we must also be aware that technological progress will serve plurilingualism only as long as we make the effort  to  ensure  that  it  does".

Why is International Mother Language Day celebrated?

  • The International Mother Language Day is part of a broader initiative to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by people of the world.
  • UNESCO believes in the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity for sustainable societies. It had also expressed concern over the disappearance of languages across the world. Globally, the linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear. 
  • Hence, UNESCO decided to observe the International Mother Language Day as a commitment towards understanding the importance of mother language or mother tongue, especially in early schooling.
  • The International Mother Language Day is a step towards showing commitment to the development of mother tongue in public life.

International Mother Language Day History

The idea to celebrate International Mother Language Day came first from Bangladesh. The idea was approved at the 1999 UNESCO General Conference.  The day has been observed every year since the year 2000.

International Mother Language Day in India

India celebrated International Mother Language Day as a part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu spoke about the importance of International Mother Language Day through a tweet. He said, " technology can greatly further the cause of multilingual education and bring about an inclusive educational experience. 

Mother Tongues in India

India has a total of 121 languages and 270 mother tongues, as per 2011 Census. The eighth schedule of the Indian constitution consists of 22 languages. The census data is divided into two parts, Part 1 that comprises the 22 languages specified in the constitution and Part B that comprises those languages that are not mentioned in the schedule. 

A total of 123 mother tongues are grouped in scheduled languages category and 147 mother tongues are grouped under non-scheduled languages.

Some of the widely known mother tongues in India include Punjabi, Bengali, Malayalam, Hindi, Rajasthani, Tamil, Urgu, Telugu, Konkani, Awadhi, Assamese, Manipuri, Haryanvi, Kannada, Odia, Gujarati and Sindhi.

Other scheduled mother tongues in India include Bhojpuri, Garhwali, Marathi, Maithili, Dogri, Pahari, Chhattisgarhi, Marwari and Sambalpuri. 

Some of the non-scheduled mother tongues category include Arabic, Khariya, Gujari, Sherpa, Kinnauri, Afghani, English, Baori, Tulu, Mao and Monpa.

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