Mumbai, Sep 28 (PTI) Seeking to debunk the perception that English-medium education is indispensable, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said here Friday that neither he nor Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “convent” schooling. Also Read - India to be Under Lockdown For 21 Days, Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Spike to 536

Naidu, who often speaks about the need to preserve regional languages, said that one’s mother tongue is like the eyes whereas other languages are like spectacles. Also Read - COVID-19 LIVE: Next 3-4 Weeks Are Crucial, PM Modi Tells State CMs | Top Developments

He was speaking after felicitating young musicians here on the occasion of 102th birth anniversary of legendary singer M S Subbulakshmi. The late Carnatic singer was born on September 16, 1916. Also Read - India vs South Africa 1st ODI, Highlights: Match Abandoned Without Toss in Dharamsala Due to Rain

Due to the colonial rule, “a weakness that has crept into our minds is that we have fascination for other languages” and promote our own language less, he said.

Foreign leaders (from non-English speaking countries) do not speak in English when visiting India and instead use interpreters, he said.

“Promoting our language is the need of the hour because culture and language go together. They make you understand common people better. Mother tongue is your eyesight and other languages your spectacles. If you don’t have sight, wear any glasses, you will not improve your sight,” he said.

He said that one argument in favour of English-medium schooling is that it is essential for an individual’s progress.

“Who told you? Did (former president APJ) Abdul Kalam go to a convent (school)? Did Shri Narendra Modi go to a convent? I did not go to a convent but became the vice president of India,” he said.

“Learning English is useful, but do not forget your mother tongue. That’s my advice to all Indians,” he said.

Earlier in the day, speaking in Goa, Naidu had said that “English is not illness, but English mind is illness which we have inherited from the Britishers”.

The vice president also said that the government as well as private institutions and the corporate sector should encourage (Indian) music and all (other) Indian traditions.

“It is for the government to see that this tradition is continued because music is one art which gives happiness, solace. Music is free, you need not subsidise it. You need not make an election promise,” he said.

One’s greatness is not reflected by attire but it comes from “character, calibre, capacity and conduct”, he said.

Naidu, who dons traditional white dhoti and shirt, said when people asked him whether he would change his dressing style after becoming the vice president, he told them he was changing his address and not his dress.

“I have visited many countries, as minister and now as VP. They respect our traditional dress,” Naidu said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.