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)

  • 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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What Difference Between Chinese Domination and American Domination?

Chinese government has always been dominant over it's people

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american chinese
Who is more dominant, Chinese government or US government?. Pixabay

By N.S. Venkataraman

Chinese government has not left anybody in doubt, about it’s ambitious target of dominating the world at any cost. Chinese government has been suppressing  freedom of speech in China, taking away the rights of citizens of Hong Kong in authoritarian manner and aggressively occupying the territory of neighbours such as Tibet and part of Indian territory, which it occupied after 1962 Indo Chinese war. China is now claiming Indian province Arunachal Pradesh as it’s own and aggressively claiming territorial right in South China Sea and Senkaku island. Chinese government says that Taiwan is part of it’s territory and objects to any recognition given to Taiwan by any other country.

Further, China is trying to enforce it’s domination over small and weak  nearby  countries  such as Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and others, by extending loans, which  these countries cannot afford to repay in the foreseeable future.

Viewing China’s methods and targets, one does not find much of difference between today’s Chinese government and Hitler’s Germany. Several countries in the world are  gradually realizing that checking China’s ambition is as necessary, as checking Hitler’s ambition  that caused World War II.

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Chinese government has been suppressing freedom of speech in China. Pixabay

However, the supporters of China claim that US government too should be accused of trying to dominate the world and it has sent troops to several countries such as Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and others to enforce it’s domination. There is an element of  truth in this, as American government seem to think that it has the duty to police the world.

In any case, on careful analysis of the scenario and judiciously comparing the domination desire of China and USA, one cannot but see a subtle difference between both these countries.

While China believes in ruthless elimination of opponents both inside and outside China (just like the way Hitler did) and wants to occupy territories of other countries by coercion or force , US does not indulge in such acts of suppression of human rights or occupying territory of other countries.

US has not concealed it’s desire that freedom of speech and democratic procedures should prevail in all regions in the world. On many occasions , US has fought against totalitarian regimes, religious extremists and terrorist groups and has paid a high price by losing American lives.

statue-of-liberty
USA desires to dominate the world. Pixabay

USA may have the ambition to dominate the world and ensure it’s authority as super power, but it has no ambition of territorial expansions that China has.

All said and done, if the world were to choose between USA and China, it would inevitably come to the conclusion that world domination by USA is a lesser evil than the world domination by China.

Unlike China, the citizens of USA have the right to criticise the decisions of the government, launch protests against human rights violation, if any and exercise their franchise once in four years to change the party in power, if it would act against the wishes of the people. By such process, the conscience of USA largely remain in tact and US government is vulnerable to the pressure of public opinion, both in USA  and other parts of the world.

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In China, the citizens don’t have the right to criticise the decisions of the government. Pixabay

Also Read: McDonald’s Reveals Plan to Open More Drive-Thru Restaurants in UK

On the other hand, China has totalitarian regime and no citizen can survive in China if he would criticise the Chinese President or question the decision of the Chinese government. To this extent, it is dictatorial regime in China, which can be termed as uncivilized form of governance.

The fact is that USA has been remaining as super  power in the world for several decades now and  the world has not  become worse due to the dominating power of USA. Of course, there have been criticism against US government by some section of world opinion but  most of such critics belong to religious extremist groups  and motivated  leftist (communist) forces , whose economic  and administrative policies  have totally failed to deliver the goods.

Achieving super power status by China   and establishing it’s authority in large parts of the world with least consideration for value systems and sentiments of people, is the worst thing that can happen to the world civilization.

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Cybercrime on Rise During Pandemic, Warns UN

There has been a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the ongoing pandemic

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A Toyota Hybrid during a test for hackers at the Cybersecurity Conference in Lille, northern France, Jan. 29, 2020. VOA

The U.N. disarmament chief said the COVID-19 pandemic is moving the world toward increased technological innovation and online collaboration but warned that “cybercrime is also on the rise, with a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the current crisis.”, as suggested by Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) news.

Izumi Nakamitsu told an informal meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday that “there have also been worrying reports of attacks against health care organizations and medical research facilities worldwide.”

She said growing digital dependency has increased the vulnerability to cyberattacks, and “it is estimated that one such attack takes place every 39 seconds.”

According to the International Telecommunication Union, “nearly 90 countries are still only at the early stages of making commitments to cybersecurity,” Nakamitsu said.

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Nearly 90 countries are still only at the early stages of making commitments to cybersecurity. Pixabay

The high representative for disarmament affairs said the threat from misusing information and communications technology “is urgent.” But she said there is also good news, pointing to some global progress at the United Nations to address the threats as a result of the development of norms for the use of such technology.

Also Read: New York Times Devotes Entire Front Page to COVID-19 Victims

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas, whose country holds the Security Council presidency and organized Friday’s meeting on cyber stability and advancing responsible government behavior in cyberspace, said “the COVID-19 crisis has put extra pressure on our critical services in terms of cybersecurity.”

He said the need for “a secure and functioning cyberspace” is therefore more pressing than ever, and he condemned cyberattacks targeting hospitals, medical research facilities and other infrastructure, especially during the pandemic.

“Those attacks are unacceptable,” Ratas said. “It will be important to hold the offenders responsible for their behavior.” VOA

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Alarming Rate of Deforestation Threatens Biodiversity

Biodiversity at risk as forests cut down at alarming rates globally

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As forests continue to be cut down at "alarming rates", the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says biodiversity in danger. Pixabay

The world’s forests continue to be cut down at “alarming rates”, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in its State of the World’s Forests 2020 report.

The 188-page report released on Friday, which caps a decade of studies on biodiversity under the oversight of the UN, examines the contributions of forests and of the populations that use and manage them, with an eye toward forest conservation, reports Xinhua news agency.

According to the report, forests occupy less than a third of the world’s land, but they account for 80 per cent of all amphibian species, 75 of bird species, 68 per cent of mammal species, and around 60 per cent of all vascular plant species. But that biodiversity is at risk, the report said.

“Deforestation and forest degradation continue to take place at alarming rates, which contributes significantly to the ongoing loss of biodiversity,” the FAO report said.

It added that over the last 30 years at least 420 million hectares of forests have been lost to land-use changes, mostly to agricultural development, or in some cases for the production of wood.

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Deforestation at a massive rate poses a threat to biodiversity. Pixabay

The lost forest land is roughly the equivalent to the size of the north African country of Libya, FAO said.

The news is not all bad, however.

Also Read: COVID-19 Virus Infections by Touching Surfaces Relatively Lower: Reports

The report said the rate of deforestation has slowed in recent years, from around 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s to 10 million hectares per year over the last five years. FAO headed the production of the report in collaboration with the UN Environment Program. (IANS)