IMPHAL, February 21: Meiteilon or Manipuri language if it is extinct, the game of polo, Siroi Lily, Raas Leela will also go extinct said member of Research Forum Manipur (REFORM) Dr W Romesh in his keynote address during the observation of International Mother Language Day at Centre for Entrepreneurship & Skill Development New Social Science Block, Manipur University.
UNESCO initiation to safeguard mother languages of the world, International Mother Language is observed today in the entire globe with the theme ‘Quality Education, Language(s) of Instruction and Learning Outcomes’.
Dr Romesh further noted that International Mother Language in the state was first observed at Kangla Fort in the year 2010 organised by REFORM and subsequently in the following years it was observed at many other places of the state.
He said that Research Forum Manipur is actively working towards safeguarding and developing Manipuri Language.
He called for a dedicated University in the state for languages only. He also noted Manipur University has language department for Korea, Japan and Myanmar but do not have a department for learning Manipuri Language.
Former President REFORM Mutua Bahadur as special guest said that movement to safeguard mother language began in the year 1952 and UNESCO, considering the importance of the issue resolved in November 1999 to observe February 21 since 2000 as International Mother Language Day.
Meitei community residing in the neighbouring countries of Myanmar and Bangladesh speak Manipuri very fluently and must be encouraged to make a habit of speaking Manipuri as frequently as possible to preserve the language. He said the Manipuri community there have made a rule to levy fine if phone calls are not answered in Manipuri amongst them. He expressed that the use Manipuri language is becoming more popular globally.
Registrar, Manipur University, Longjam Joychadra who was Chief Guest of today’s observation said we need to understand the strong and weak points of our mother language and only then can we go forward in developing and safeguarding it. Manipuri language is also a lingua franca or linking language among different communities residing in the state, he observed.
He said that Manipuri Language and Assamese language are the only languages recognised by the Indian constitution’s 8th Schedule, in the entire North East.
Manipur has about 27 lakh population with 77% literacy rate, Joychandra said that with 23% illiterate and with more than 34 tribal communities.
Most have very little access to literatures that are produced in Manipur language, he said.
He said writers find it difficult to sell 500 copies of the books they write in Manipuri and at the most they can push this figure to 1000 copies he said.
He said that there is a need to transliterate Manipuri books into other languages so that other communities can learn our tradition and culture in depth.
Today’s International Mother Language Day observation held at Manipur University was also attended by Prof P Gunindro of Manipur University and Editor in chief REFORM Dr N Birchandra as guest of honour and president respectively.