21 February, the anniversary of the creation of the Tlaxcala translators' network back in 2006, is also the International Mother Language Day. This year is also the International Year of Indigenous Languages. A triple reason to publish this excellent article.-Tlaxcala
Nearly seventy years ago, a group of students from the Dhaka University protested against the then-East Pakistan police, in an effort to have Bengali recognised as an official language.
These activists eventually forced the Pakistan government to not impose Urdu as the national language for the region that later became Bangladesh. This day, February 21, is celebrated worldwide as the International Mother Language Day (IMLD).
IMLD this year assumes greater significance as 2019 is celebrated as the International Year of Indigenous Languages – a campaign to promote widespread use of indigenous languages – by UNESCO and many of its partners worldwide.
The real question is what this really means for the Indian languages in general and the indigenous languages of the country particularly.
A language is not just a means of communications, but a device for politics that gives individuals their identity. There comes a stagnancy that lead to a slow death if a language is not used for native-language-based education and governance. Sanskrit, for instance, despite being one of the oldest South Asian languages is now limited to only literary and religious studies because of the lack of the aforementioned usages.
In a country like India, where only 22 out of 750 languages are recognised by the Union as part of the 8th Schedule of the Constitution, there is a dire need for a lot more action to further the use of native languages in all aspects. Ganesh N. Devy, the founder of People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PSLI), a citizen science initiative to survey the use of Indian languages in natural settings, warned that almost half of India’s languages might die within 50 years.