As a country, India is presently poised at an intriguing stage of our evolution as a mature democracy, when the country is trying to assert its independence of thought, assert its willingness to own its problems and move towards a social order that will reaffirm its faith in coexistence of its diverse people who share a vision of common destiny. Languages are the soul of our pluralistic heritage and multilingualism is our way of life. Promotion of Indian Languages must be seen by the nation as an essential part of our development processes that will maximize democratic participation of its people and prove to be a key to our survival as a great nation. Our culture has always understood the importance of language studies. Even in Vedic times four of the six branches of ‘knowledge’: Shiksha [the word meant “Phonetics” but is presently used for education in general], Vyaakaran –“Grammar,” Nirukta-“Etymology” and Chhandas “Prosody” were related to language. The work done by Indian grammarians [both in Sanskrit and Tamil] was of real high quality and laid the foundation for the scientific study of language and many of the modern theories continue to derive great benefit from the work of our ancestors. There was a point of time when knowledge-based texts from India found their way in different parts of Asia through translation. It is the same tool that we used to bring in the western concepts to India during the 18th and 19th century, and the last century saw a virtual explosion of that knowledge. However, much of what has happened has been a vertical and uni-directional flow of texts and knowledge from the west to our country. We are – in many instances, and in most disciplines – still teaching English-based texts. We are faced with a situation where, outside the metro centres, teaching takes place by necessity in the local languages, although resource material in those languages is hard to come by. English as a language of commerce and communication may be more widespread now, but as a mandated medium of tertiary education it is seriously in decline. Thus, linguistic displacement in the schools and colleges is becoming a real problem. A wide gap emerges between the languages of the taught and the languages through which teaching is being done.

A very important area of promotional activities may be seen in the area of technological advancement. Our languages and grammatical descriptions may help provide corpus and mechanisms to aid natural language processing. We have taken rapid gigantic strides in the world of information technology and this advantage should flow in to activities in the area of machine-aided translation. It is hoped that all concerned agencies will do their best to link all Indian languages with technological devices for that will definitely contribute to the empowerment of communities, and acceleration of translation activity.

Languages are precious gift for humanity and meant to build bridges across space and time. We need to be wary of those forces that think otherwise and seek to make issues of language divisive or conflict ridden. We should send a clear message to all that our languages are resources and multilingualism is an asset, and we realize that our destiny as a people is inextricably linked to the destiny of our languages, and to knowledge that we cultivate in and through them. We need to prepare for a culture where transfer of knowledge from one language to the other becomes feasible. The National Translation Mission as envisioned here may become a useful instrument of promotion for knowledge-based research and academic exchanges as well as all-round language development in India.