[lg policy] India (Tamilnadu): Language is the key to development: UNESCO Director

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jul 9 14:11:54 UTC 2010

Language is the key to development: UNESCO Director
K. V. Prasad

‘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

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

“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.


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