Tamil is the oldest language of the world, and is a big treasure and source of pride, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his address to students at the sixth edition of the Pariksha Pe Charcha event held on Friday, while urging them to learn languages other than their mother tongue.
“Did you know Tamil is the oldest language of the whole world, not just of India? Shouldn’t such a country be proud? We have such a big treasure, a big source of pride. Our chest should swell with pride and we must tell the world this,” Mr. Modi said during the event, remarking that he had spoken in Tamil during an address at the UN General Assembly in 2019 in order to spread this message.
A total of 38.8 lakh registrations were received for the event, among whom participants were students, parents, and teachers across 155 countries. Pariksha Pe Charcha, which simply means Discussion on Examinations, saw the Prime Minister interacting with students and taking their questions for nearly two hours on various topics related to life and exams.
‘Not a burden to learn new languages’
He said that if cuisines from different parts of the country could be exchanged, so could languages. “When people from north India relish dosa and sambhar easily, they don’t think of north versus south. When those from the south have aloo puri, there is no tension and no obstruction. Everyone should make an attempt to learn languages other than your mother tongue,” the PM said. He added that these languages should be learnt without it being treated as a burden.
Mr. Modi pointed out that if children could learn tabla, flute or piano, they could also develop similar interest in learning new languages which could also provide them a window into a new universe.
Multilingualism is one of the core themes of the National Education Policy of 2020. While it promotes “home language/ mother tongue/ local language or regional language” as a medium of instruction atleast till Class 5, but preferably till Class 8, the policy also talks about promoting multilingualism from the foundational learning stage. It espouses the three-language formula, so long as at least two of the three languages are native to India. The move has been seen as an attempt to promote Hindi and viewed with suspicion by some States, such as Tamil Nadu, which has a two-language formula, just Tamil and English.
In November as well, while addressing a Tamil Nadu group visiting Varanasi as part of the Kashi Tamil Sangamam, the PM had hailed Tamil as the oldest language in the world. He had released a translation of the Thirukkural in 13 languages and announced the setting up of a chair dedicated to Tamil poet Subramania Bharti at Banaras Hindu University.
At Pariksha Pe Charcha, the PM also spoke at length about how students could cope with exam-related stress, and what parents and teachers could do to help reduce the pressure on them. He encouraged students to go on “digital fasting” once a week.
Terming digital slavery a “disease”, Mr. Modi said that families were increasingly communicating with each other within the walls of the same house through WhatsApp and therefore children must look at demarcating an area within the household as a “no technology zone”, so that they could enjoy life.