Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Friday clarified that he said an English mind and not the language was an illness that the country had inherited from the British, PTI reported. On September 14, Naidu was quoted as saying that English is an illness left behind by the British.

The vice president was speaking at the fourth convocation of the National Institute of Technology, Goa. “I was speaking about protecting and encouraging the mother tongue and some section of the media wrote that I said English is an illness, I did not say English is an illness,” Naidu said.

Naidu said the colonisers created an inferiority complex among Indians. “They have given us the thought that Britishers are great, foreigners are great and we are nothing,” the vice president said. “We must rid ourselves of this mentality. We must feel proud of our heritage, our past and our great leaders.”

He said “invaders ruined us economically and mentally”. The vice president asked the students not to forget their duty to the nation. “Share and care is the core of Indian philosophy and we should preserve that philosophy,” Naidu said.

He also cited examples of how he has implemented “small changes” to focus on Indian values as the chairperson of the Rajya Sabha. “When any minister wanted to lay paper on the table, they used to say ‘I beg to table’. I said begging whom,” Naidu said. “I said we should say ‘I submit a paper or lay on the table’. We say good morning or good afternoon even if it is good or bad. The way is to say ‘namaskar’. The very gesture of ‘namaskar’ comes from heart.”

Naidu suggested that family members should speak to each other in their mother tongues. “We have beautiful languages. We should always respect them,” Naidu said. “You can learn as many languages as you want. You can learn Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, there is nothing wrong. We should discuss and debate in our mother tongue.”