Thrusting language on people akin to ticking time bomb

Imposing language on people may trigger massive political unrest

rahul

Rahul Dass | May 17, 2017


#Language   #Kerala   #Malayalam   #Language learning   #CBSE   #ICSE   #Bengali   #Hindi  
(Photo: Wikimedia)
(Photo: Wikimedia)

Nobody ever learnt a language that was imposed on them. Language is an emotive issue and history is replete with instances when making a language mandatory has led to outrage and even bloodletting. We don’t seem to have learnt our lessons from history as Kerala decided to make Malayalam mandatory in its schools. A month later West Bengal followed suit and made Bengali compulsory in schools.

Kerala Governor P. Sathasivam on April 11 signed an ordinance that said all education institutions in the state will have to compulsorily teach Malayalam until Class 10. It is applicable to all institutions under CBSE and ICSE boards from the next academic session.

A month later, the West Bengal government made Bengali compulsory in all schools. This includes private English medium schools.

Bengali is an exceptionally beautiful language. It is an exceedingly rich language, which has spawned gigantic literary works. Bengali writers have been way ahead of their times and their writings are classics. Absolutely no doubt about that.

But, here lies the rub. Not everyone in West Bengal is a Bengali. One is not sure they are too keen to learn the language.

The warm people in the Darjeeling hills speak a variety of languages, including Nepali and Tibetan. Now, the Lepchas are reasserting their identity by laying stress on their Rong language.

It essentially boils down to this – by imposing Bengali we will end up alienating them. People have taken to the social media to express their anguish. A young woman from the hills wrote on her Facebook, asking people to have a hashtag #podhbonalikhbona, which is “won’t study, won’t write”.

It would be appropriate to mention that Bengalis know how to put up a fight when it comes to protecting and preserving their language.

Who can forget the Bengali Language Movement in Assam’s Barak Valley, where Bengalis are in majority. It was a protest against the Assam government’s decision to make Assamese the only official language of the state. On May 19, 1961, eleven people were killed, making it a dark day. Bengali was ultimately given official status in Barak Valley.

In neighbouring Bangladesh, after independence in 1947, Urdu was imposed on the people. Dhaka University students and other political activists on February 21, 1952 organised a protest. The police opened fire and some demonstrators were killed, leading to widespread civil unrest. Finally, the government was forced to accord official status to Bengali language in 1956.

Tamil Nadu too has seen huge protests both before and after independence over Hindi being made compulsory.

Exactly 80 years back in 1937, the first anti-Hindi imposition agitation was launched to oppose compulsory teaching of Hindi in the schools of Madras Presidency. Mandatory Hindi was withdrawn in 1940 after three years of protests.

Post-Independence too, Tamil Nadu saw protests when efforts were made to make Hindi compulsory.

The bloodbath shows that language movement can be quite dangerous. Clearly, the state governments have erred in making the language mandatory. They have forgotten that language imposition has taken a violent turn in the past.

It may sound harsh but its true that learning Malayalam and Bengali would in no way better prepare the students for the modern world, where English, Chinese and French are much sought after languages. The government must look ahead so that its students are all geared up to make their mark across the globe. They will get good jobs if the students are comfortable in languages which the industry needs.

Howsoever passionately we may feel about these two languages, one is not sure if the Human Resource managers are eagerly waiting for candidates who are masters in these. Better give them what they want so that the students employability increases dramatically.

It would be prudent to promptly withdraw the decision to making Bengali and Malayalam compulsory.

Let sleeping tigers lie. Why needlessly nettle it?


 

Comments

 

Other News

The light turns amber

In a black salwar-suit and matching headscarf, Ruksana (name changed) listens carefully from a corner of the hall. Members of her support group are talking about their suffering, struggles, aspirations and achievements. At her turn, she slowly opens up. Like that of many others, her story is one of deceit,

Aero India 2019 kicks off in Bengaluru

Five day long Aero India -2019 organised by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was inaugurated at Air Force Station, Yelahanka, Bengaluru on Wednesday.   The French origin Rafale fighter jets are also participating in the event.   Asia’ largest

BHEL builds India’s first regenerative 5,000 HP electric locomotive

In a major technological breakthrough, BHEL has developed the country’s first such regenerative 5,000 horse power (HP) WAG-7 electric locomotive with a modern regeneration system for Indian Railways.   The electric loco was flagged-off by member traction, railway board, Gha

Prime Minister dedicates Rs 33,000 crore projects in Begusarai

Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated a host of developmental projects at Ulao airport in Begusarai, Bihar. Modi said these projects will fuel the progress of Bihar and the eastern states. He said that Bihar had the potential to play a pivotal role in driving the growth of the country. “The

IOCL finalises term contract for import of US crude oil grades

IndianOil Corporation has finalised a term contract for import of up to three MMT (million metric tonnes) of crude oil of US origin grades to diversify term crude sources in 2019-20 fiscal. The enterprise has finalised the contact on February 15, 2019.   The value of the cont

For a healthy tomorrow

When Dr Shruti Kamdi (pictured on left), a transfusion specialist at a leading Mumbai hospital, had her first child, she struggled to nurse her baby as she was unable to secrete enough milk. Admitted to a private hospital, she was put on medication to increase breast milk. But that didn’t help much.

Current Issue

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter