‘We will showcase how the State has set an example in promoting Tamil'

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) firmly believes that preserving and promoting language is the key to development in any sphere of activity. In line with this conviction, the organisation encourages nations to promote activities to save the languages facing extinction and develop others, Director and UNESCO Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka Armoogum Parsuramen said on the sidelines of the World Classical Tamil Conference (WCTC) here on Saturday.

Sharing of expertise

Mr. Parsuramen said clarity during the sharing of expertise in fields such as education and science could be ensured only if each section was familiar with the advances language had made in such areas.

For instance, traders from other States should have functional knowledge of Tamil if they wanted to do business with and understand thoroughly the requirements of their counterparts in Tamil Nadu.

While this was one of the most basic areas, he added that there were others — such as science and information technology — that demanded intensive promotion of the language and equipping it with the ability to adapt to new requirements.

“In this context, the Tamil Internet Conference, concurrently conducted at the WCTC, is very relevant. Language has to evolve and also adapt to new technologies,” Mr. Parsuramen said.

He added that the UNESCO would showcase to other parts of the country and other countries how Tamil Nadu had set an example in promoting its language. “After all, it is the UNESCO's task to propagate good practices,” he said.

Complimenting the Centre on according classical language status to Tamil, Mr. Parsuramen said the State government had an enormous task in preserving and promoting the values associated with a classical language.

Blogging in Tamil

“Technology has been an effective tool for decades in connecting people settled abroad with their language in India. The gap between this requirement and the resources to meet it remained unfilled till the advent of Internet. Now, various linguistic sections of India living in other countries have access to their language through the Internet.

“In this context, I suggest that blogging in Tamil will prove to be a great connect between Tamils abroad and those in Tamil Nadu,” he said.

UNESCO's belief

Mr. Parsuramen said the WCTC endorsed the UNESCO's strong belief that learning one's mother tongue thoroughly was the first step towards working for the language's development.

“The UNESCO observed February 21 as International Mother Language Day. Through this, we encourage the use of the mother tongue in education. We tell people they should be proud of speaking in their mother tongue,” he said.

The other task it carried out was identifying languages that faced extinction. “We draw up an action plan to alert governments and sensitise the people in the identified areas to the problem and the need for revival measures.”

If this pointed at an entire race heading for extinction, the UNESCO could only draw the attention of the government in charge. “But we do take up campaigns for protection and revival,” Mr. Parsuramen said.