International Mother Language Day 2023 - The Indian Express

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 International Mother Language Day 2023: International Mother Language Day 2023 - The Indian Express.How ‘Ekushey February’ helped form Bangladesh’s national consciousness .Preserving and promoting mother languages is not just important to maintain identity and linguistic and cultural heritage, but also to ensure that we are creating a more inclusive and vibrant future.This article is written by: Alison Barrett, Country Director, British Council India.International Mother Language Day is celebrated on 21 February globally. It marks the importance of the mother tongue and also spreads awareness about cultural diversity.

Every year on February 21, International Mother Language Day is observed to raise awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to encourage multilingualism. UNESCO has announced that "Multilingual education: A necessity to transform education" will serve as the theme for the celebration this year.

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International Mother Language Day 2023 - The Indian Express

The day the people of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) fought for the acceptance of the Bangla language is commemorated on February 21 each year. India's West Bengal province also observes it. The declaration was made in honor of the Bangladeshi Language Movement (then East Pakistanis). The United Nations General Assembly adopted UN resolution 56/262 in 2002, formally recognizing the initiative after it was first announced by UNESCO on November 17, 1999. Mother Language Day is part of a larger campaign "to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world," as stated in UN resolution 61/266, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on May 16, 2007, and which also declared 2008 as the International Year of Languages.

International Mother Language Day 2023: Significance

Bangladesh was the country to propose the concept of International Mother Language Day. On this day the people of Bangladesh fought for the acceptance of the Bangla language is commemorated on February 21 each year.

This is also the goal of this International Day, which celebrates the diverse languages of the world, committing to the preservation of linguistic diversity as a shared heritage, and promoting high-quality mother-tongue education for all.


International Mother Language Day 2022: All You Need To Know


International Mother Language Day 2023: Wishes & Messages

We must always be proud of our mother tongue because it gives us our identity. Happy International Mother Language Day, my friend.

International Mother Language Day serves as a reminder that mother tongues have unique qualities that make them particularly beautiful. Happy birthday to you, my friend.

Even though the language is just a means of communication, our mother tongue is what ties us to our culture. Greetings on World Mother Language Day.

When you are speaking in your mother tongue, you feel the most at ease. Happy International Mother Language Day, my friend.

The mother tongue is unique for a reason, and that is what makes it so special. Happy International Mother Language Day, my friend.

International Mother Language Day 2023: WhatsApp & Facebook Status

To make this a wonderful International Mother Language Day, let's band together and show our mother tongues the respect and appreciation they so richly deserve.

Language is a means of self-expression, and the mother tongue is a language that ties us to our particular culture. Greetings on World Mother Language Day.

May the International Mother Language Day festivities be filled with respect and love for the mother tongue that separates us so much. Greetings on World Mother Language Day.

The language that we communicate within us cannot change, similar to a world that is more exclusive and durable than one's mother's womb. Respect and cherish your language.

We were created to be loved; love is our mother tongue. The soul is in culture. I want to wish you all a very happy mother language day.

International Mother Language Day 2023: Famous Quotes

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”- Nelson Mandela

Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.”- Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

“Rhythm is our universal mother tongue. It's the language of the soul.”-Gabrielle Roth

“For us Indians, I don't think English can ever exude that magic of emotions which our mother tongue can.”- Kailash Kher

“What is a nation without a mother tongue?”- Jack Edward

“Language is the armory of the human mind, and at once contains the trophies of its past and the weapons of its future conquests.”- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The disappearance of several languages puts linguistic diversity in danger. UNESCO estimates that 40% of the world's population lacks access to education in a language they can speak or understand. Therefore, progress must be made in mother tongue-based multilingual education while keeping in mind its significance.


On February 21, 1952, the University of Dhaka students launched a large-scale protest against the imposition of Urdu in East Pakistan. The day is remembered as a defining moment in Bangladesh’s struggle for nationhood and is now commemorated.


“Ekushey February”, or simply “Ekushey” (‘the 21st’ in Bangla), commemorates the day in 1952 when students of the University of Dhaka launched a nationwide protest against the imposition of Urdu on what was then East Pakistan.


Today, the day is recognised as a pivotal moment in the Bhasha Andolon (Bengali Language Movement), which laid the foundations of linguistic nationalism in East Pakistan and led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.


In recognition of the Bengali people’s struggle for their language and culture, UNESCO announced in 1999 that February 21 would be observed worldwide as International Mother Language Day. This year’s theme is “Multilingual education – a necessity to transform education”, emphasising Indigenous people’s education and languages.



East and West Pakistan: A troubled marriage

The Partition of India was marred with immense bloodshed, displacement and generational trauma. But the newly-formed state of Pakistan, from the very beginning, had a fundamental issue. Divided into two parts on either side of India, East and West Pakistan had little in common except for religious identity.



East Pakistan was Bengali-speaking and was culturally very different from the Urdu-speaking West. However, the West was the seat of power and the birthplace of the Pakistan national movement.


As early as 1948, the issue of language became a major source of rising tensions. Dhirendranath Datta, a Bengali legislator, proposed that Bangla be given status as an official language (in addition to Urdu) in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. Wary of further Balkanisation of the nascent country, leaders from West Pakistan undertook a concerted campaign for assimilation of the East.


Also Read |International Mother Language Day: Remembering Dhirendranath Dutta and others who died for Bengali language

In 1948, the government of Pakistan announced that Urdu would be its only state language. This was met with strong opposition in East Pakistan. On March 21, 1948, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Governor General of the newly-created Pakistan, declared in Dhaka that the language agitation was a “fifth column” intended to divide Pakistani Muslims. He underlined that “Urdu and only Urdu” would be the state language of the country, and admonished those protesting its imposition as “traitors to the Pakistani nation”.


How protests spread in the East in 1952

This issue continued to build up, often leading to protests in the East which were swiftly and brutally put down.


On January 27, 1952, Pakistan’s then Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimuddin (who was from the East) reiterated there would be no compromise with the “Urdu only” policy. Speaking at a public meeting in Dhaka, he announced, “for the sake of Pakistan’s national unity, Urdu must be the official language of Pakistan– both the East and the West”.


This led to a call for protest by the newly-formed Sarbadaliya Kendriya Rashtrabhasha Karmi Parishad (All-Party Central Language Action Committee). February 21 was decided on for holding large-scale strikes and demonstrations in Dhaka.


The authorities, in anticipation, imposed section 144, banning any large-scale gathering.

Undeterred, students and protestors gathered en masse at the premises of the University of Dhaka. To disperse the crowd, the authorities first fired tear gas shells and then went on to arrest several student leaders for violating Section 144, further enraging the protestors.

They headed to the East Bengal Legislative Assembly, demanding the release of fellow protestors. When a few students tried to storm the building, the police opened fire, killing a number of students and wounding hundreds. As news of the firing spread, it was as if the whole of Dhaka stepped onto the streets. Official data pegged the number of people who died that day at 29.

The next day, as thousands gathered at the university campus, the police fired at the crowd, again killing multiple protesters. In the next few days, agitation spread to many cities across East Pakistan. The government gagged the media and blamed “Hindus and communists” for instigating the violence. Any attempts to hold the police accountable were stonewalled.

The aftermath and legacy of Ekushey February

In 1954, the Muslim League lost assembly elections in the East and as a result, when the first constitution of Pakistan was enacted in 1956, Bangla was adopted as the official language of Pakistan along with Urdu. However, this did not end the divide. Bengalis were still underrepresented nationally and economically and socially disadvantaged. Eventually, this would lead to the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Nationalism requires national symbols: artefacts, incidents or individuals who epitomise a certain idea of a nation. For Bangladeshis, Ekushey February is a defining symbol. As poet Abdul Gaffarn Choudhury’s poignant song ‘Ekusher Gaan’ goes:

Amar bhaiyer rokte rangano ekushe Februari, Ami ki bhulite pari

(Can I ever forget the 21st of February, coloured by my brothers’ blood?)

For many, Ekushey February is where the story of Bangladesh’s struggle for liberation begins, where a specific demand for the recognition of Bangla as an official language transforms into a journey for nationhood. Today, it is observed as Shaheed Dibos (Martyrs’ Day) in the country.

Five of those killed in the agitation at the University of Dhaka – Abul Barkat, Abdul Jabbar, Rafiquddin Ahmad, Abdus Salman and Shafiur Rahman – have been immortalised as ‘language martyrs’, heroes of the Bengali nation.

International Mother Language Day: Multilingual learning and teaching to preserve diversity and ensure inclusion

India's multilingual classrooms are richer for the teaching and learning of both mother languages and English, and can prepare future globally mobile citizens. Check the complete guide here.

By India Today Web Desk: Language is a medium of expression, like the strokes of a painter's brush or the expressions of an artist on stage. It's a natural extension of one's identity, thoughts, and understanding - and folds within it the history of a community and of civilisations.

Every year, International Mother Language Day is celebrated on February 21 to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity, and to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of languages to the development of individuals, societies, and cultures.

English remains the driver of the knowledge economy, international business, and of mobility. For India to maintain its competitive edge, greater access to quality English language teaching, and as recommended by the NEP, bilingual textbooks and teaching-learning materials for science and mathematics in both Indian languages and English will be crucial.

Here are some of the ways which could help in promoting mother languages in the coming days.

1. IMPROVED ACADEMIC OUTCOMES


Making education inclusive today is a challenge, with 2.3 billion people lacking access to education in their own language in a world with 7,097 known languages. According to a report, teaching strategies that include multiple languages provide students access to cultural materials that enrich their academic work and increase access to books written in multiple languages.

Implementing the concept of multilingual education can have many benefits, such as improved cognitive development, academic achievement, and cultural understanding. Furthermore, primary education in either mother tongue or native language can improve learning outcomes significantly.


2. CREATIVE EXPRESSION


Creativity is a step towards being able to connect the dots in a way that no one has done before. A world view and a deeper understanding of different practices and cultures aid creative expression, and multilingualism supports this creativity.


Children exposed to more languages also display higher levels of synaptic activity, which increases their mental agility. In a multilingual system, the mix of languages can broaden perspectives and inspire new concepts and ideas through exposure to diverse artistic and cultural traditions.


3. PRESERVING CULTURE

Language is an essential aspect of culture, and when a language is lost, a culture is often lost with it. As per the UN, about 40 percent of the languages spoken in the world are endangered. Multilingual education can help to preserve linguistic and cultural diversity by providing a platform for minority and indigenous languages to be used by future generations.


4. CHILDREN UNDERSTAND MORE IN MOTHER TONGUE

When children are taught in their mother tongue, they develop a deeper understanding of their heritage and a stronger sense of cultural identity, which fosters greater pride and self-esteem.


Preserving and promoting mother languages is not just important to maintain identity and linguistic and cultural heritage, but also to ensure that we are creating a more inclusive and vibrant future.


This article is written by: Alison Barrett, Country Director, British Council India.

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