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UNESCO launches Report on India’s Tribal and Indigenous Languages

The UNESCO New Delhi office, in collaboration with the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) launched today a report entitled Tribal and Indigenous Languages of India in an effort towards the identification and documentation of India’s tribal and lesser known languages.

The report was launched at an event organized by IGNCA, Ministry of Culture, Government of India and UNESCO to commemorat International Mother Language Day 2022.

When we lose a language, a community loses its unique vision- its history and culture, we lose the local perspectives and stories. It is tragic that, with loss of their mother tongue, people find themselves unable to speak their first language. It is an irreplaceable loss. In this regard, this report presents a significant contribution and an important step in the preservation of Indian languages.
Eric Falt, Director, UNESCO New Delhi

The report highlights the scale of linguistic diversity in the country and the role it plays in empowering communities, including women, the youth, persons with disabilities, displaced and elderly persons.

The two-day event held at IGNCA, New Delhi, also hosted an interactive session with writers, linguists, experts, educators, and other relevant stakeholders. It was followed by a cultural programme including live music performances, poetry recitation in various mother languages, and a webinar on “Using Technology for Multilingual Learning: Challenges and Opportunities”- which is the global theme of this year’s celebration.

India epitomizes unity in diversity, and languages are a big part of our collective identity. Our ministry is committed towards the preservation of indigenous languages, and we believe that technological advancement may be the solution to a lot of our problems in this field.
Govind Mohan, Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Government of India

Every year on 21 February, the world celebrates International Mother Language Day, which was established at the initiative of Bangladesh by UNESCO’s General Conference in 1999. The Day is an essential platform to promote the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity, and multilingualism for peaceful and sustainable societies.

The year 2022 also marks the beginning of the UN proclaimed International Decade of Indigenous Languages from 2022 to 2032. Along with other UN agencies, UNESCO will be leading the efforts to protect, preserve and promote Indigenous languages around the world.

In addition, UNESCO has recently unveiled the World Atlas of Languages, an unprecedented initiative to preserve, revitalize and promote global linguistic diversity and multilingualism.