Chennai: Hailing India's 'multilingualism', Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Saturday said it was an 'asset' and 'heritage' and that this plurality must be appreciated.
"Multilingualism in our nation extends back to several millenia. This multilingualism is an asset, a heritage we have inherited, and is in fact a resource we deeply cherish," she said.
In her address at Mathribasha Diwas (Mother Language Day) organised at Ethiraj College for Women here, she pointed to the 'rich linguistic diversity' of the country, with hundreds of mother tongues being spoken 'from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.'
"There are more than thousand mother tongues spoken in our country. This is not just a number but a reason to be proud of," she added.
Saying that one should learn to appreciate our plurality, she cited the case of freedom fighter and poet, Subramanya Bharathy, saying he learnt over 30 languages 'because he appreciated' all of them. Yet his mother tongue Tamil was 'the sweetest of all' for him.
Irrespective of the languages spoken or region one hails from, the common binding factor was the "deep need to ensure that India reaches new glories and resurges from times of difficulties and challenges to a great new future," she said while exhorting youth, especially girls to carry along the merits of one's mother tongue.
Earlier, Irani launched an online teaching material brought out by the Central Institute of Classical Tamil, besides releasing books published by Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, and Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi.
Later, answering a question from a student at an event in another women's college, Irani defended the reservation system in India, describing it as affirmative action for all round development.