Published on: April 12, 2023

The Language Friendship Bridge

The Language Friendship Bridge

Why in news? India is planning to create a pool of experts in languages spoken in countries such as Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan and Indonesia to facilitate better people-to-people exchanges.


  • The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) has envisaged a special project called ‘The Language Friendship Bridge’, which plans to train five to 10 people in the official languages of each of these countries.
  • As of now, the ICCR has zeroed in on 10 languages: Kazakh, Uzbek, Bhutanese, Ghoti (spoken in Tibet), Burmese, Khmer (spoken in Cambodia), Thai, Sinhalese and Bahasa (spoken in both Indonesia and Malaysia).

Why cannot India ignore these countries?

  • Considering our cultural imprints in these countries, India cannot afford to ignore these countries.
  • In India, the focus till now has been on learning European languages such as Spanish, French and German, along with the languages of major Asian economies such as China and Japan. Though a number of universities and institutes offer courses in these languages, only a handful teach any of the 10 languages on the ICCR list. Sinhala, for example, is taught at Banaras Hindu University and the School of Foreign Languages (SFL) under the Ministry of Defence. The SFL also has courses in Bahasa, Burmese and Tibetan.
  • The idea is to enable India to translate its epics and classics, as well as contemporary literature, into these languages so that people can read them.

Varsity consultations

  • Among those being consulted are the foreign language departments at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, Hyderabad’s English and Foreign Languages University, Banaras Hindu University, and Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwa Vidyalaya at Wardha.