Thursday November 15, 2018

Commemorating the International Mother Language Day- February 21

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By Varnika Mahajan

“Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education, but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.” –UN

Promoting linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism is the core motive which calls for celebrating the International Mother Language Day.

The theme of the 2016 International Mother Language Day is “Quality education, language(s) of instruction, and learning outcomes.”

‘Mother languages in a multilingual approach are essential components of quality education, which is itself the foundation for empowering women and men and their societies. We must recognise and nurture this power, in order to leave no one behind, to craft a more just and sustainable future for all.’- This is UNESCO’s message on this day.

HISTORY

Proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999, the International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000.

The date represents the day in 1952 when students in the then Pakistan demanded recognition of their language ‘Bangla’, as one of the two national languages. The students were gunned down by the police in Dhaka, the capital of today’s Bangladesh.

While the day is celebrated all over the world, Bangladesh declared it a public holiday commemorating this unfortunate incident where it is also known as Shohid Dibôsh or Shaheed Day.

ACTIVITIES ON THIS DAY

The International Mother Language Day witnesses robust efforts by UNESCO and other UN agencies in promoting cultural and linguistic diversity over the world. Apart from providing awareness among people about their language and culture in other countries, these agencies encourage peoples’ morale and appreciate those who acknowledge their mother language.

People visit the Shaheed Minar in Bangladesh on this day, in order to pay homage to the students martyred on February 21. People with their outstanding performance towards language and cultural diversity are lauded. Flowers are sprinkled and it is time for the cultural celebration of their Bengali national language.

The Linguapax Institute, in Barcelona, Spain presents the Linguapax Prize on International Mother Language Day each year for those who have made outstanding work in linguistic diversity or multilingual education.

SYMBOLS

The Shaheed Minar in Dhaka
The Shaheed Minar in Dhaka (Image source: espncricinfo.com)

The Shaheed Minar in Dhaka pays respect to the four students who were shot down while demanding a national identity of their mother language.

An International Mother Language Day monument was constructed at Ashfield Park in Sydney, Australia. Images of Shaheed Minar and the globe on the face of the stone can be seen with the words “we will remember the martyr of 21st February” engraved in both Bengali and English languages.

IN CONCLUSION

We, at NewsGram, appreciate linguistic diversity and promote multilingual education. Apart from operating an online portal in the English language, a full-fledged Hindi language portal ‘newsgram.in’ is operated simultaneously, in order to create news pertaining to lingual awareness about our national language. (Image source: youtube.com)

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  • Bill Chapman

    I hope that Esperanto will not be forgotten today.

    Not many people know that the planned international language Esperanto has native speakers too. See:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzDS2WyemBI

    It was never planned that way, but it happened, and I have met about a dozen native speakers over the years. If it is possible for the speakers of a language launched into life in 1887 to transmit it to future generations, then surely the same should be true for more ancient community languages.

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UN Secretary General Guterres Suggests Multilaterism To Deal With Global Challenges

Reform of the UN has a crucial contribution to make, and I look forward to continuing to press ahead across the pillars of that effort.

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres'
UN Secretary-General António Guterres' press conference with the national and international press to present the results of his visit to Mali and to answer the many questions of journalists.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for a reformed, reinvigorated and strengthened multilateral system to deal with today’s global challenges.

“Toward that end, we need a stronger commitment to a rules-based order, with the UN at its center, with the different institutions and treaties that bring the (UN) Charter to life,” Guterres told an open debate of the Security Council on strengthening multilateralism and the role of the UN.

“But it is not enough to have laws and international conventions, vital as they are. We need new forms of cooperation with other international and regional organisations — a networked multilateralism. And we need closer links with civil society and other stakeholders — an inclusive multilateralism,” Xinhua reported on Friday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Wikimedia

The world is facing many challenges. But at the same time, trust is on the decline, within and among nations. People are losing faith in political establishments, national and global. Key assumptions have been upended, key endeavours undermined, and key institutions undercut, he said.

“This is a time of multiplying conflicts, advancing climate change, deepening inequality and rising tensions over trade. It is a period when people are moving across borders in unprecedented numbers in search of safety or opportunity. We are still wrestling with the risk of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and only beginning to reckon with the potential dangers of new technologies.”

There is anxiety, uncertainty and unpredictability across the world, he said. “It often seems that the more global the threat, the less able we are to cooperate. This is very dangerous in the face of today’s challenges, for which global approaches are essential.”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
FILE – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres give a statement after delivering a speech in Geneva, May 24, 2018

Multilateralism is nothing more than countries coming together, respecting one another, and establishing the forms of cooperation that guarantee peace and prosperity for all in a healthy planet, he explained.

“As 21st century challenges threaten to outpace 20th century institutions and mindsets, let us reaffirm the ideals of collective action while pursuing a new generation of approaches and architecture capable of responding,” he said.

Guterres stressed the necessity to stick to the UN Charter.

Also Read: Earth’s Ozone Layer Is Healing: UN

“Reform of the UN has a crucial contribution to make, and I look forward to continuing to press ahead across the pillars of that effort. But most of all it is our resilient and still visionary UN Charter that points the way — with its articulation of universal values, its grounding in peace, development, human rights and the rule of law, and its vision of countries living as good neighbors and sharing a common fate and future,” he said.

“Strengthening multilateralism means strengthening our commitment to the charter. Such a commitment is needed now more than ever — from all around this table, and around our world,” he added. (IANS)