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Do you know what is the national language of our Country?
c) the 22 languages included in the Constitution
When this question was posed in class by Manojna the obvious choice of the majority was hindi. Little did they realise that they were wrong. This is because there is no single national language in our Country, all the 22 languages are national languages. English, is the official language and is used in the courts and Government functioning.
During the later half of the presentation a debate had started as to the usage of English as a link language. The voices were equivocal. There was a whole section belonging to hindi speaking states going against English and another section from South India and the North East for English.
Most of what is written above is merely class gossip. But the question asked by Manojna above lead me to reading Balraj Sahni’s Convocation address in JNU in 1972 about the usage of English Language. In a short critique I’d say that I haven’t got to read a better piece on the subject in ages.
I was going by bus from Rawalpindi to Kashmir with my family to enjoy the summer vacation. Half-way through we were halted because a big chunk of the road had been swept away by a landslide caused by rain the previous night. We joined the long queues of buses and cars on either side of the landside. Impatiently we waited for the road to clear. It was a difficulty job for the P.W.D. and it took some days before they could cut a passage through. During all this time the passengers and the drivers of vehicles made a difficult situation even more difficult by their impatience and constant demonstration. Even the villagers nearby got fed up with the high-handed behaviour of the city-walas.
One morning the overseer declared the road open. The green- flag was waved to the drivers. But we saw a strange sight. No driver was willing to be the first to cross. They just. stood and stared at each other from either side. No doubt the road was a make-shift one and even dangerous. A mountain on one side, and a deep gorge and the river below. Both were forbidding. The overseer had made a careful inspection and had opened the road with a full sense of responsibility. But nobody was prepared to trust his judgment, although these very people had, till yesterday, I accused him and his department of laziness and incompetence. Half an hour passed by in dumb silence. Nobody moved.
Suddenly we saw a small green sports car approaching. An Englishman was driving it; sitting all by himself. He was a bit surprised to see so many parked vehicles and the crowd there. I was rather conspicuous, wearing my smart jacket and trousers. “What’s happened?” he asked me.
I told him the whole story. He laughed loudly, blew the horn and went straight ahead, crossing the dangerous portion without the least hesitation.
And now the pendulum swung the other way. Every body was so eager to cross that they got into each other’s way and created a new-confusion for some time. The noise of hundreds of engines and hundreds of horns was unbearable.
That day I saw with my own eyes the difference in attitudes between a man brought up in a free country and a man brought up in an enslaved one. A free man has the power to think, decide, and act for himself. But the slave loses that power. He always borrows his thinking from others, wavers in his decisions, and more often than not only takes the trodden path.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has admitted in his autobiography that our freedom movement, led by the Indian National Congress, was always dominated by the propertied classes-the capitalists and landlords. It was logical, therefore, that these very classes should hold the reigns of power even after independence. Today it is obvious to everyone that in the last twenty-five years the rich have been growing ‘richer’ and the poor have been growing poorer. Pandit Nehru wanted to change this state of affairs, but he couldn’t. I don’t blame him, because he had to face very heavy odds all along. Today our Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, pledges herself to take the country towards the goal of socialism. How far she will be successful, I can’t say. Politics is not my line. For our present purposes it is enough if you agree with me that in today’s India the propertied classes dominate the government as well as society.
Now, which language in your opinion would their successors, the present rulers of India, choose to strengthen their own domination? Rashtrabhasha Hindi? By heavens, no. My hunch is that their interests too are served by English and English alone. But since they have to keep up a show of patriotism they make a lot of noise about Rashtrabhasha Hindi so that the mind of the public remains diverted.
Men of property may believe in a thousand different gods, but they worship only one-the God of profit. From the point of view of profit the advantages of retaining English to the capitalist class in this period of rapid industrialization and technological revolution are obvious. But the social advantages are even greater. From that point of view English is a God sent gift to our ruling classes.
Why? For the simple reason that the English language is beyond the reach of the toiling millions of our country. In olden times Sanskrit and Persian were beyond the reach of the toiling masses. That is why the rulers of those times had given them the status of state language. Through Sanskrit and Persian the masses were made to feel ignorant, inferior, uncivilized, and unfit to rule themselves. Sanskrit and Persian helped to enslave their minds, and when the mind is enslaved bondage is eternal.
It suits our present ruling classes to preserve and maintain the social order that they have inherited from the British. They have a privileged position; but they cannot admit it openly. That is why a lot of hoo-haw is made about Hindi as the Rashtrabhasha. They know very well that this Sanskrit-laden, artificial language, deprived of all modern scientific and technical terms, is too weak and insipid to challenge the supremacy of English. It will always remain a show piece, and what is more, a convenient tool to keep the masses fighting among themselves. We film people get a regular flow of fan mail from young people studying in schools and colleges. I get my share of it and these letters reveal quite clearly what a storehouse of torture the English language is to the vast majority of Indian students. How abysmally low the levels of teaching and learning have reached! That is why, I am told preferential treatment is being given to boys and girls who come from public schools i.e. schools to which only the children of privileged classes can go.
The complete speech may be read at Siddharth Varadarajan’s Blog.
I am pretty keen on going and spending some time in Darfur. I dont think its proper to hear about Genocide in the paper and show that you care. I would like to see Genocide.
Could anyone help me with it?
Hitler’s Birthday today.
While some people may find it ironical that this picture is appearing on this blog (for human rights). I must clarify that I do not support Hitler, I just admire him as a leader. I admire him for having the courage to lead a nation. But not because of all the atrocities that he has committed.
Before my emancipation, I had written something about Hitler that I stumbled upon the other day. The post may be viewed here.
The holocaust archives are to be opened this year. Most likely the true picture of the holocaust would be made public to the world.
Readers must see Law and Other Things to know about the recent debate about reservations in the Country. I can’t help but say that it is very comprehensive and the authors make it a point to inform their readers in great detail.
To be indifferent, is a sin.
Outlook India has published a Special Issue titled “How the Other India Lives”. It is a series of articles that epitomise the State of the Indian nation. The quote above was said by Elie Wiesel in the context of HR vioaltions in the world (particularly the holocaust), but nevertheless holds true here. The Issue is worked up so beautifully that if after reading this we Indians behave indifferent, it is a sin in itself.
Ashok Lahiri in “Deliverance from Deprivation” writes,
It is wrong to say there has been growth without jobs; it’s been without enough jobs, which is different from jobless growth. I have not seen any numbers that show jobs haven’t grown. But the labour force, particularly with increasing participation, has grown even faster. So, the unemployment rate has increased. Secondly, the NREGs (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) is like life insurance. Life insurance benefits a family only if the insured dies. But that may not be the outcome that the family wants. So in the ultimate analysis, we should not derive satisfaction when more people take up jobs under the NREGs. It is an interim solution until more productive and gainful employment is generated in the economy. It’s very important that NREGs is mixed with creation of durable assets.
Kaushik Basu in “Let the Cream Percolate” writes,
It has to be pointed out that the connection between growth and poverty is an intricate and widely misunderstood one. Growth is essential to eradicate poverty. But growth is not sufficient. We need deliberate, complementary policies to distribute the spoils of growth wider.
Ashutosh Varshney in “A pair of Bi- focals” writes,
Markets must flourish. But the masses cannot be left behind.
A booming middle class and corporate affluence alone cannot possibly run a democratic polity, when the countryside, home to over two-thirds of the country, is lagging far behind the dazzling growth of urban incomes, when the rising income disparities are obvious to the low-income households because of television. More…
Lola Nayar in “The Three Curses” (One of the best articles in the Issue) writes,
Education, Healthcare, Infrastructure.. barring stray NGO efforts, the poor in India seem condemned to Human existence.
When it comes to the public health sector, the picture is as dismal as in education. Despite increasing budgetary allocations to health, states are unable to utilise funds. In 2005-06, 18 states were able to use just 50 per cent of the funds meant for improving healthcare delivery systems. Government studies themselves point out that the bulk of the money used is spent on infrastructure development, not on improving services. This perhaps accounts for the poor outcome of the countrywide immunisation programme.
Across the country, individuals have found voices, and are using the right to information to seek efficient delivery of basic amenities and services. more…
The above are extracts from the articles in the Issue. Readers may read the issue or go through the links to know more.