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Don't ignore Indian languages: Sahitya Akademi laureates

By IANS   |   Wednesday, 12 March, 2014
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The recipients of the Sahitya Akademi Awards 2013 here Tuesday acknowledged the need for English as a link language, but warned the nation against ignoring its other Indian languages.

"English has a great market value at present. But when parents send their children to English medium schools, and conversations at dinner tables are in English, the mother tongue automatically gets second or third priority," said Nepali writer Manbahadur Pradhan, who won the award for his travelogue "Man Ka Lahar Ra Rahar Haru".

"It is good to have ultra-modern, tech-savvy children, but not at the cost of thier mother tongue. This generation needs to be inspired to read, and it should come from the family and parents," Pradhan said.

The 24 winners of the Sahitya Akademi Awards 2013 are in the capital for its annual function - Festival of Letters 2014 - to deliberate various topics and discuss challenges to regional literature.

Globalisation, they feel, has worked as a double-edged sword in India. While exposure to the world has made Indians tehnologically savvy and advanced, brought in new avenues of employment and luxury, it has also caused the Indian languages to suffer silently and irrevocably.

Dinesh Misra, president of Indian Society of Authors, said: "English has a market value, but it shouldn't be brought into our homes. If a family speaks in its mother tongue, parents encourage their children to read good regional literature and if a regional language is not considered as secondary, things will change."

Poet Radhakant Thakur, who won the award for his collection of Sanskrit poems "Chaladuravani", pointed out how science and technology have helped India to evolve and be equal to other countries, but how it has also caused loss of love for local languages as well.

"Literature can hold a community together. Our nation will lose its way if it doesn't preserve its languages and literature. A day will come when the Indian languages will vanish," Thakur said.

"Parents have to play an important role in building the nation that is culturally and literally rich. Speaking in mother tongue shouldn't be seen as something that is shameful, and children should be encouraged to speak the language to ensure the tradition of belonging stays," he added.
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