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Fading Languages…

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India is a land of diversity and equally diverse is its languages and dialects of the land. Though only 22 languages has been constitutionally recognised to be included in Schedule 8 of Constitution of India but it doesn’t undermine several other prominent languages which are being spoken by crores of people daily. But, unfortunately, legacy of British had valued English over native languages and dialects. Colonisation of mind that person knowing western language is more intellect, smart market oriented is something created by the globalised world to feed to their workforce requirement. Yes, there exists argument that knowing English is behind India’s software and service industries’ boom. I do accept that, I am also writing here in English, but undermining and devaluing native languages is the problem.

I feel ashamed not because I am not fluent in spoken English or sometimes do vocabulary error while writing but because neither I know well to communicate and write in my mother tongue ‘Angika’ nor father tongue ‘Bhojpuri’. Deciphering ‘Khortha Language’, local language of the place of my resident, is beyond my intellectual capacity.

If we look into facts and figures of linguistic diversity of India we will know that many of our ancient local languages and dialects are now extinct, many are on the verge of extinct and lots more are now endangered. Close to 800 languages and dialects exist across India, according to the People’s Linguistic Survey of India, an independent study conducted by Bhasha Research Centre and nearly 300 languages have gone extinct in the country since the time of independence. A loss of around 30% of languages that were thriving before independence. Bhasha’s language count includes all those in currency, irrespective of the number of users.

However if we go for Census of India surveys we will find that close to 1,600 languages were in use in 1961, 108 in 1971 and 122 in 2011. The drastic reduction in number of recorded languages between 1961 and 1971 is because languages those were spoken by less than 10,000 people were excluded from surveys after 1961. This shows reluctances of government in documentation and protection of our native languages and dialects. As per UNESCO there are 197 endangered languages in India, with 42 classified as Critically Endangered.

A modern intellectual will surely ask why so emphasis on insignificant languages which are now not more than obsolete. Dear Friend, Language is not just a media of communication but it defines a whole of culture and life. Many religion and civilisations thrive on these languages. It binds community and promotes kinship. The language is our identity. Even just analysis of tone of your words could well decipher from which part of the country you belong to. Just imagine what role a language could play.

There are also majoritarianism opinion that Hindi should be made a national language and people from southern part of India must use Hindi Language in day to day official purpose instead of English. I stand with your opinion in replacing English with Indian language but for imposing Hindi on them I will protest against it. The Hindi language which is in use nowadays is more of recent origin which hardly dates back before 19th Century. Culturally this language could not be traced with any land of the country. And language defines culture. Language of southern India could be well traced back by 2500 years, how could Hindi replace such strong historical languages.

Tribal civilisation intrinsically woven around tribal languages are treasure of knowledge of nature’s cure and well being. We had already lost cents of tribal languages and information associated with those languages in stories, couplets, songs etc. and this is irreparable loss to us. Need of the hour is to recognise our inherent strength in our dialects and languages and make effort to protect, preserve and promote them without hesitation. The least we could do is to speak in our native language with our friends and family and never make language a medium to judge someone’s intellect and intelligence. This will be one of the worst form of discrimination practiced in society.

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Liberty of Language

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This is agony of the present education system that I find English easier and simple to write than our Mother Tongue ‘HINDI’. Even many times don’t know why I feel ashamed to speak ‘HINDI’ instead of English; this was on my part and I don’t know of others what they feel of ‘HINDI’ or their native language.

I have full respect for all the foreign languages but I feel ashamed when I prioritize it with our native languages; I feel ashamed when I give less priority to Hindi than English. I don’t know whether English is my language of choice or pseudo-forced language but in due course of time I find English more comfortable than Hindi for writing.

English is said to be a global language and is must for success but I don’t know which kind of success we are going to achieve abolishing our Native Language; might be a personal success in career. There are advocacy that a person is liberal to choose the language he/she wants to use; but in the era where one is considered to be of sub-standard when he/she expresses him/herself in native language. Which kind of liberalism we are talking about? Are we liberal to choose our mother tongue or native language to express ourselves in business environment?

Though Indian government enforces the public offices to do the work in Hindi but for job and employment they find a person with good spoken English. They mandate bureaucrats to do official work in Hindi but recruit those who are well with English.  Majority of offices’ and business deal conversations’ are done or might be done in Hindi, but don’t know why we prefer English‼ Even the laws are framed in such a ‘English’ that a culprit may be released with dignity while the victim may get executed if the Justice is unable to understand the law. This had made Law far from the reach of Citizens.

In a country where more than 85% people are unable to read, write, and communicate in English then why is so much emphasize on English? English is only required when we need to do work at global level or for inter-national business and not everyone is engaged in the job at international level.

The policy in India is such that if a student of 12th class from a Hindi medium or native language school wants to continue higher education from a professional college then he/she is required to know sound English to understand the courses and syllabus written in English. While rest of them are pseudo-forced to opt  for non-professional courses. Major chunk of youth are no more productive. This doesn’t mean that there is need to educate every student in English. Mother tongue is always a language of priority and every one finds easy to learn something in their mother tongue than exogenous language; these are not my words but proved scientifically. The need of the country is to develop policy to encourage institutes in major native languages if not for all 17 languages. The present education system only tells if one have interest in research he/she has to learn English first; one wants to pursue education from IIM he/she must know advanced English; one want to be in Indian civil services he must know English; one wish to be a doctor or engineer he/she must have base in English; one’s passion is in law or CA he/she must pass the exam of English…..

I am not advocating that the present education in English medium should be abolished but advocating on behalf of those 85% who are left behind just because they don’t know English. We need to create avenue and fair chances even for those people who lack in English ability but have caliber to excel in their native language. A complete chain from education institutes to business environment in native language need to be developed before we keep ‘VISION 2020’. At this juncture we again need to learn from China, how they evolved their own language system and all major professional subjects in their native language. ‘HINDI’ is our State Language but we have no professional college with medium of instruction in native language, even regional colleges can’t dare to adopt native language as medium of instruction. We need new system and policy. This new system will take time and resources, but will be of more worth compared to investment. We can’t expect result in next 10 years but surely in next two decades.

At last, I would like to mention why I use English is not because I think of myself more educated and sophisticated but just because I am afraid of failure if the person opposite to me judge me on the language I speak; I fear to stay behind in the pace of English speaking society; hesitation to feel ashamed if someone perceives me of sub-standard because of the language I speak. To me English speaking is not by choice but forced one.

Jai Hind, Jai Hindi…

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