Telangana dialect test for govt. job aspirants

Hyderabad: Language is an emotive issue. For many, one’s native language is like their mother. That is, it should be respected and venerated. Insulting it in any manner is intolerable, Remember, the anti-Hindi movements of 1980s and 1990s spearheaded by Tamil Nadu to thwart the central government’s alleged attempts to impose Hindi on the South?

The crude manner the national language had been forced on half of the country and the resistance it faced and the way the issue had finally died down is now history. But the lesson we have to learn and the fact we have to remember is language issue is more sensitive than many think.

In the coming days, Telangana is likely to witness a lively debate on Telugu, the language that is spoken in Telangana. The state government is reported to have made knowledge of the local dialect compulsory for state recruitment tests.

Defending the decision, Telangana State Public Service Commission (TSPSC) chairman Ghanta Chakrapani has told Hindustan Times recently: “How can a person who wants to get recruited in the revenue department or the agriculture department do justice to his a job if he does not understand the local dialect? That is precisely why we have introduced questions about Telangana dialect in the syllabus for recruitment tests, whether it is for Group-I category or Group-II.”

He told the newspaper: “At least 10% of questions in the general awareness section of recruitment tests pertain to Telangana culture and dialect. The candidates may belong to any part of the country, but they have to invariably study the Telangana dialect, which is essential to be a part of the Telangana administration.”

At the peak of separate statehood for Telangana, separatists had used language differences between the now two states as a tool to demand bifurcation. Though Telugu is the official language for the united Andhra Pradesh, subtle nuances in spoken and written language, variances in expressions and usage have driven a wedge between the people speaking the same language.

There is a belief that Telugu spoken and written in coastal Andhra districts is ‘pure,’ a contention that often angers Telugu speaking people in other districts. What may look strange but true is the same language in every district or region in the country has a distinct style and it is dear to those living in that geographical area.

Similar is the case with the Telugu language in both regions. It is widely believed that Telugu with a high percentage of Sanskrit words has been ‘imposed’ on Telangana by the successive governments in undivided Andhra Pradesh. The same language is also widely used in the media, movies, entertainment and official correspondence. Although many have adopted this language, many, particularly in rural areas, adhere to what is called Telangana Telugu, a mixture of Deccani, Urdu and Marathi.

Since the Telangana government wants to promote the Telugu language as spoken in the state, it thinks it prudent to begin it at the staff recruitment stage itself. The idea is not without merit. Since the staff has to interact with the masses, government work will be a tad easy. Moreover, it thinks use of local dialect/language will help boost traditions and culture that were neglected earlier.

However, questions remain: Even in Telangana, like in any other region, language pattern and style changes from district to district. Which standard the government follows, particularly when it comes to staff recruitment and holding state public service examinations?

There is also a difference between dialect and language. Dialects can be myriad but language will be one with regional variations.

Meanwhile, the Potti Sriramulu Telugu University is compiling a dictionary of Telangana dialect and an encyclopaedia of Telangana Telugu words. These tomes should be able to help Telangana government job aspirants from other states, particularly Andhra Pradesh.

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