29 December 2009

Provincialism of language and The health of popular Indian languages.

1. Indeed, Hindi was broadly accepted as the National Language and Hindi Prachar Sabha-s were established to propagate Hindi language and working successfully in many States, esp. in Tamilnadu, where the objections of serious nature developed later.

2. Malayalees took to Hindi as fish to swimming, as the Sampoornanand version of Sanskritised Hindi- not Hindustani- was understood better by Keralites than even UP-ites, who were more familiar with Urdu words. Most of the rankings in Hindi Language Examinations in Delhi or Agra, I remember were taken by Malayali students, as they knew the Devanagri script while studying Sanskrit and the terminologies too of Sanskrit.  

3. What was objected to and aggravated to serious agitations was the modus operandi followed in imposing Hindi through Central Govt. offices as well as UPSC examinations- only in English and Hindi then- which States like TN would not accept. One of the reasons of success of the Dravida movement was the anti-Hindi agitations in 1960-s, bandhs and defacing Hindi- boards, displays..etc. leading  to severe law and order problems and sympathies for DMK rising fast.

4. The Centre unilaterally decided to send all letters in Hindi which found the trash-box in many offices in non-Hindi States without responding, paralysing the work in offices. It was then diluted to both English and Hindi versions on either side of the paper for Govt. correspondence.
Thousands of mediocre school non-metrics from Hindi States were recruited as Hindi teachers and sent to every Central office to teach Hindi to non-Hindi speaking staff, a futile effort initially, until passing Hindi language tests was made compulsory for promotions.. etc.

5. Nehru then came up with the idea that while non-Hindi States would learn Hindi as a third language, Hindi speaking States would insist on the staff to learn one of the non-Hindi languages- which never materialised.

UPSC examinations too were compromised to accept all 14 languages and mediocres flooded the IAS and other cadres compromising on meritocracy in Central Services.


7. However, IAS officers posted to particular States learn the local language within a few years and converse, speak and write notings in the States they work. This works as it is mandatory.

8. Parochialism is bad and is divisive. But Parochialism has benefited many political parties to win the elections, be it DMK or Shiv Sena or Akali Dal etc. Shiv Sena and MNS are aiming at this goal.

9. Hindi movies have done propogation of Hindi language much more effectively than all Govt. promotionary programmes put together. Popularity in Hindi movies is universal.

10. If you want to promote Hindi, make it a third language from Std.V compulsory up to XII, besides English and mother tongue for the next 15 years, and you will find the next generation prepared to meet any challenges then, without any compulsion.

Veer Savarkar once started addressing a public meeting in Hindi at Bangalore . 
The crowd started shouting "Speak in Kannada. We will hear only in kannada." 
Veer Savarkar replied " Friends, I have spent 14 years of rigorous imprisonment in ill famous Andaman Jail where all freedom fighters were kept in jail. I have learned Bengali from the freedom fighters coming from Bengal , Hindi from those coming from Uttar Pradesh, even gujarathi and 
punjabi. Unfortunately there was none from Karnataka from whom I could have learned Kannada." 
...and there was pin drop   silence.

The primary cause of the problem is the failure of the Indian state on two major counts:

a)  failing to establish a comprehensive public education system to provide quality education for most of Bhaarat's children up to the secondary levels, AND a combination of public & private institutions of higher learning of high quality in all fields (including the humanities) to produce technocrats, professionals, managers, 'artists', thought leaders and cutting-edge researchers for Bhaarat (not for Nasa, Microsoft, and Wall Street); and

b)  failing to establish a comprehensive 'language policy' to further enrich India 's linguistic heritage, which is fundamental to intellectual and moral development, as well as cultural articulation and innovation. 

 Hopefully this anecdote would help people understand how and where India slipped by 
making a comparison. 

 A university undergraduate (biological science) - outside India - has been selected to spend one semester (five months) in a Swedish university, beginning Jan 2010, as part of the student exchange programme.  A catch.  He cannot take courses at the Bachelor degree level because all first degree courses (including the hard sciences) are conducted in the Swedish language.  Only Masters and above are available in English.  This young man (of Indian origin) has, therefore, agreed to choose somewhat equivalent modules from the Masters programme. 

The politicians who fight to get elected can't run even kindergartens properly, so much so that even ordinary peasants are forced into sending their children to unaffordable private 'convents' (in English).  Do you know what kind of damage is being done to the mental and emotional development of these kids forced to learn a foreign language (English)?  Aggravating the problem is the fact that most of the teachers are themselves not proficient in English.  What is going on in the name of education is, therefore, nothing less than criminal.  There are any number of educationists who will vouch for the damage the kids will suffer.  But the education merchants are in cahoots with the politicians and bureaucrats.  

At the other end is the problem of job opportunities for graduates educated through the mother tongue.   

Why is it that Bhaarat cannot get to do what the Swedes, Dutch, French, Japanese, Chinese, Russians.... . can?

Is it because they have superior languages?

Or superior people? 

Jaago India Jaago
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