President Pranab Mukherjee has said Indian languages are not only means of communication but they are also divine as they were used by rishis and others to write scriptures and epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana.

Addressing a large gathering of Telugu people who came from various parts of Andhra Pradesh and from several countries after inaugurating the 4th World Telugu Conference on Thursday, he said the preparation of comprehensive plans to promote these languages was the need of the hour to enable them to cross the borders. Indian languages were symbols of the country’s unity in diversity and this tradition must be protected at any cost.

Mr Mukherjee praised Telugu, recalling its antiquity dating back to 1,500 to 1,000 BC, the contribution made by various poets from Nannaya to Viswanatha, its golden age during 11th and 17 centuries, and the advent of modernity in its literature in 19th century with the introduction of social reform content in its poetry by Gurajada Appa Rao.

He called for efforts to protect the antiquity and sanctity of Telugu for its healthy growth and for using it in the daily administration.

The President earlier honoured 14 distinguished Telugu personalities from all over the world and laid the foundation-stone for construction of an international convention centre at Tirupati.

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy announced that a separate ministry would be created in the Secretariat for protection and promotion of Telugu, and Telugu would be introduced as a medium of instruction in primary education up to Class X. He said that the Sangitha, Nataka, Lalitha, Sahitya and Rangasthala akademis would be revived.

Governor E. S. L Narasimhan, much to the delight of the gathering, read out his speech in Telugu, interspersing it with excerpts from devotional songs of Annamayya. He eulogized Telugu as a language chosen even by musicians for its mellifluousness. He said the general feeling among the people that those who completed education in Telugu medium would not get jobs, was without any basis.