There is a critical need to preserve mother languages in the light of International Mother Language Day being observed recently. Mother’s tongue/language is defined as the first language a child is exposed to from the time of birth and this language is first naturally acquired by humans.


Need to preserve India’s unique lingual diversity

  • India is an ancient repository of hundreds of languages and thousands of dialects with rich linguistic and cultural diversity.
  • India’s languages hence being an integral part of her ancient culture, give us a sense of identity.
  • However, as India celebrates Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, to mark 75 years of Independence, she has not been able to shed her colonial legacy of dependence on English.
      • Educators and parents continue to accord unquestioned primacy to English and, as a result, the child is compelled to study his or her mother tongue as a “second/third language” at school.
      • This is concerning as a number of studies have shown that children who learn in their mother tongue in their formative years perform better than those taught in an alien language.
  • The emphasis on English has also made India’s educational system exclusive and restrictive.
      • For example, limiting the acquisition of knowledge in technical and professional courses to English medium has made it inaccessible to a vast majority of students.
      • In a survey conducted by AICTE in 2022, nearly 44 per cent of over 83,000 students voted in favour of studying engineering in their mother tongue.
  • Unfortunately, India has scarcely seemed to realise that we were building barriers in the path of our progress by promoting English language alone.


Attempts to promote mother language in India

  • The Nobel Prize-winning physicist C V Raman said, “We must teach science in our mother tongue. Otherwise, science will become an activity in which all people can’t participate.”
  • Mahatma Gandhi, in Young India in 1921, expressed concerns that the foreign medium has turned our children into crammers and imitators. The foreign medium has made our children practically foreigners in their own land.
  • The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 – a farsighted document, which advocates education in one’s mother tongue right from the primary-school level.
      • The PM of India while addressing the first anniversary of the NEP also hailed the AICTE’s landmark decision to permit BTech programmes in 11 native languages.
      • He added that the NEP’s emphasis on mother tongue as the medium of instruction will instill confidence in students belonging to poor, rural and tribal.
  • The UGC also in a welcome move, written to governors and CMs of various states to give a fillip to measures for the promotion of mother tongue education in colleges and universities.
  • The Centre’s initiative to give prominence to native languages in employment and job creation is a welcome step.
  • The Staff Selection Commission (SSC) has also decided to conduct examinations in 13 Indian languages in addition to Hindi and English.
  • Similarly, the Supreme Court’s decision to make verdicts accessible in all Indian languages is of great significance.


Promoting vernacular language

  • Mainstreaming of mother tongue-based multilingual education should be accorded the highest priority.
  • The process of content creation in mother languages, especially with respect to technical and professional courses need to be hastened by leveraging technology.
  • Fast-track methods should be adopted to make quality education more accessible, equitable and inclusive by recognising the role of artificial intelligence in transforming the educational landscape globally.
  • All key stakeholders in education like policymakers, schools, colleges and universities, teachers, regulatory institutions and non-governmental bodies must also be involved to give fillip to mother language.



The mother tongue is the eyesight and spectacles to other languages. The spectacles can function properly only if there is eyesight. Hence this analogy needs to be kept in mind while framing policies, in administration and in pedagogy.


SourceThe Indian Express


QUESTION – Why is it important to create content in one’s mother language and how does it affect the preservation and promotion of a culture or community?