Language Movement Day observed across West Bengal

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The International Mother Language Day (IMLD) is observed annually across the globe on February 21, to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and promote multilingualism.

Mother Language Day was first announced by UNESCO on November 17, 1999, and is an annual event since then. The stated objective of this day is to celebrate and protect mother languages all over the world.

Around 240 million people across the world speak Bengali as their mother language, marking it the 5th largest language in the world, according to Ethnologue, a reference publication on living language. It is through language that we transmit our experiences, our traditions and our knowledge.

Recognised as the International Mother Language Day by the United Nations, the day was marked by morning processions, recitations, singing of songs of Rabindranath Tagore, Nazrul Islam and others.

Speakers also called for an end to making languages and ethnic groups subjects of ridicule and jokes in the media and in society.

Mission staff and officials led by Assistant High Commissioner Mohammad Shakhawat Hossain paid rich tribute to the martyrs of the language movement offering floral wreath at a replica of the "Shaheed Minar" at Rabindra Satabarshiki Bhavan in Agartala, the capital of the northeast Indian state of Tripura.

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Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, said on the occasion of the 2018 International Mother Language Day that "our values, beliefs and identity" are embedded within language.

In order to foster sustainable development, learners should have access to education in their mother tongues' and in other languages.

The Punjabi language can also play a vital role in promoting the Sufi teachings in the province, Raza further said.

Globalisation, with its emphasis on a narrow language base, is one of the most dominant factors that are forcing the minority languages into the background, forcing them out of circulation.

Calling the Day an "essential component of the intangible heritage of humanity", Azoulay underscored UNESCO's long-standing commitment to preserving and vitalising language, defending linguistic diversity and promoting multilingual education.