Telugu the language of Indian soft power: President

HYDERABAD: Telugu is a global language, it is the language of enterprise and technology, of Indian soft power and a vibrant Telugu-speaking diaspora, President Ram Nath Kovind said today.

He was addressing the valedictory function of the World Telugu Conference here.

“Telugu is a global language. It can be heard, read and cherished across continents. It is the language of enterprise and technology, of Indian soft power and of a vibrant Telugu-speaking diaspora that has made a name for itself and for our country. From South Africa to Southeast Asia, the Telugu community is acknowledged as achievers,” the president said.

In the United States, Telugu-speaking people have been elected to public office, and are well-known as entrepreneurs, doctors and technologists, he said.

“It is a matter of pride that the CEO of the technology giant Microsoft -Satya Nadella- is a Telugu. He follows a fine heritage. Among others is Yellapragada Subbarao, the celebrated biochemist who worked at Harvard University in the 1920s and 1930s,” he said.

The commitment of the Telugu diaspora to its mother tongue and the culture of its ancestral land is strong, Mr Kovind said, adding “I am heartened to learn of programmes such as ‘Mana Badi’, which make children of Telugu families conversant with the language of their parents and grandparents”.

Mr Kovind, who visited Hyderabad for the first time after assuming office, also said, “Telugu is the second-most spoken language in our country. It is the mother tongue of the people of two states, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Since 2008, it has been recognised as a classical language for its long literary tradition – a tradition of which even (Telangana) Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao is an important part. The greatest emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire, Krishna Deva Raya, was both a remarkable ruler as well as an exponent and patron of Telugu literature,” he noted.

Mr Kovind also mentioned that three of his “distinguished predecessors” (former presidents) were Telugu speakers — S Radhakrishnan, VV Giri and Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy. “And PV Narasimha Rao, a scholar and prime minister, knowledgeable in many languages, but truly an authority in Telugu, too was from this region,” Mr Kovind said.

The president also noted that Telugu has been called a “bridge language between the south and the north”.

Hyderabad too is a bridge between many cultures and regions, which is a pan-Indian city as well as a global metropolis, he said, praising its technology industry, pharmaceutical companies, vaccine innovators, thriving educational institutions and health-care centres, cinema and special effect production houses and sports facilities.

“And Hyderabad is simply majestic as the city of ‘biryani, badminton and Bahubali’ – giving the country delicious food, a string of badminton champions and films that are an expression of Indian soft power,” the president said.

On Telangana and Andhra Pradesh jointly topping the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ state rankings for 2016, the president said for a new state such as Telangana, this was a creditable achievement.

Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao said the Telugu conference will be held every year in December.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu had inaugurated the five-day event on December 15.