A language is not just a vehicle for communication, but a window into another world and other ways of thinking, Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor has said.
Speaking to students of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Pattom, after inaugurating an art show organised as part of the school’s golden jubilee at the Goethe-Zentrum here, the Minister touched upon the need to learn new languages, how each language tended to evolve, and how he ended up becoming a politician.
He was in his element, conversing comfortably with the students, who lined up to ask the Minister everything from where he was schooled to his understanding of art and the influence of language.
Dr. Tharoor complimented the 143 students whose work were exhibited at the centre and urged them not to preoccupy themselves with purely academics.
On the benefits of learning a language, he explained how it helped in the process of expanding one’s mind.
“I often criticise the education system for tending to be too exam-oriented, and that it entails just filling the minds of students with information to pass the examinations. It is not just well-filled, but well-formed minds we are trying to develop, and learning a language means you are better equipped to learn new things and take on new challenges,” said. Dr. Tharoor.
Even as a child, he said, he used to devour the international pages of the newspapers. Remembering the names of world leaders and the capitals of exotic countries that his classmates did not even knew existed, came effortlessly to him. Captivated by international politics, it was a natural progression he made from a being a student of international affairs to joining the United Nations and working there for 29 years.
The current political avatar was hardly the result of a childhood ambition, he said, describing it as “very much an accidental turn.”
He said that compared to his colleagues, he would have a tougher time trudging the path owing to the fact that he did not take the usual route of being involved in student politics and unions and then gradually working up that ladder. Even so, he said, he felt that a democratic set-up should comprise all kinds of people.
“There should be grassroots politicians, but there should also be technocrats, engineers, thinkers and writers. This diversity in background will enable different minds to come together while formulating policies for the country,” he said.