Monday, March 20, 2017

Culture vultures

With any and every news creating uproar these days, it was hardly surprising that the news of Karnataka CM passing law to make Kannada mandatory creating the furore that was almost on expected lines. To me what was intriguing was the very fact that our states have all been linguistically divided and that was done almost more than half a century ago. Yet, if a CM of a state has to pass a bill to make the local language mandatory, it raises serious questions. Agreed that such a law would create chaos for government staff on transfer and especially their kids, who would’ve to pick up  a new language for every transfer of their parents and also serious stress for them to administer their tasks parallel learning a language afresh just for their official purpose.

The situation has been brought upon us by our own folks. There was literally no planning or long term thinking and now with hindsight its pretty clear that none of the erstwhile leaders had any clue how the linguistic segregation was going to pan out. There could and definitely would be lot many reasons favoring such a move when it was initiated and thanks to the local Dravidian parties who screwed it up big time by their anti-hindi agitations, whatever semblance such an act had, had long been forgotten and made impossible to achieve. Ours being a country rich in diversity and heritage and scale rivalling that of Europe, we always take pride over the number of languages and dialects that are abound in India but honestly not many make any attempt to learn anything other than their own mother tongue and as per the popular trend even that is on the decline. Language of choice has fast become obsolete and language that helps you earn a wage is what has become the majorities preference- which of course is English. We take to streets shouting slogans when someone tries to make sense in opting for a common language across the country, screaming our throats dry as to how it undermines our mother tongue but conveniently skip the question when it comes to our own kid and our own situation. Had the same person protesting been posted in some location where he is totally alien to the culture and language, would he still be crying for his mother tongue begs a query. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in fighting for the rightful respect for each tongue as deserved and anyone who fails to do so is a fake. But when it comes to linking a nation of this size and scale, other than English, we definitely do need a common language. Since Hindi is the popular choice, why not it be is my point. If we’ve to select one language from each corner of India as representative for this linking project, then our school syllabus would resemble the erstwhile currency notes with denominations written on all the major languages.

The concept of linguistic division has only created more confusion and have helped in cunning politicians to create more roadblocks for our own growth. We can point fingers at Europe where every country has its own language and culture and yet having growth rates several times better than ours. But they have the basic infra related to their setup, firmly set as well, which we all ignore. How many local languages have scientific publications in India? How many local languages have translations of major ground breaking information or science articles or the least being how many of them are even current in this modern world with words for the most commonly used terms!!! Unless we’ve a thriving language industry that caters to all these needs and make it suitable to compete with the other languages of foreign nations, leave alone Indian, there is literally no point in adhering to this ridiculous rule. I am all for promoting my local language but this doesn’t happen as an individual act alone. I need proper infrastructure to train myself and my kid in my mother tongue to perform my official and personal activity. Unless such an environment is available, there is no scope for linguistic division to make sense. We would all end up witnessing one hyperbole after another by conniving politicians who would keep selling us the dummy. Pity those poor officials whose life is going to be made even more miserable after every state takes to enacting this law. No wonder the bribe amount for skipping transfers are such a killing!!!

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