Saturday, April 13, 2024

“National Language”

  • Should we do away with English?
  • Should we have Hindi as national language?
  • Is sentiment more important than practical wisdom?

Every being in the universe has its own uniqueness that makes it survive. Cheetah is unique in speed, snake is so in muscle power and man has dominated this world because of his abilities to think and speak. Many beings have some primitive ways of communicating their primary feelings such as hunger, fear, anger, lust etc. But only man has a developed communication system in the form of language to express his ideas and feelings. This was possible because man’s lower jaw is arranged in such a unique way that he can produce a vast variety of sounds which no other being can. A group of sounds is word and a group of words is a sentence. Thus language is a meaningful combination of chosen sounds. Language is an important aspect of culture. Many people feel proud of their language and thus it is an emotive issue too.

Also read: “Intolerance”

Intolerance, order of the day

Of late, intolerance has been the order of the day in India and it spread even to language. Every country has a ‘national language’ which all its citizens use. But India is a land of many languages. Hindi is the common language in the northern part of India though every state has its own language. In the past when there were attempts to consider Hindi as the national language, South Indian states, particularly Tamilnadu, protested vehemently. As a matter of compromise a three language formula was evolved and was introduced in schools across India. According to that a student has to learn English and Hindi apart from his Regional language. (Perhaps there could have been an idea that everybody would know some Hindi after a decade or so). But English, the legacy of the British, which remained in every part of India has become the ‘official language’ of India, and the link language between states.

Also read: “I for You”

Every language is great

 It is vain to say that this language is great and that one is not. Most of the languages have great literature too. As the main purpose of using language is to communicate our ideas and feelings, we have to consider ease of learning and practical use of a language in our time and place. Sanskrit is said to be a very great language but it is not used now by anybody. Educational psychologists recommend mother tongue as the medium of instruction for better understanding of any subject. Still how many of us educate our children in vernacular medium? English as medium of instruction is more a fancy to most of us than a necessity in school education. We take it as a prestige issue! But higher education and professional education has to be in English as necessary books and libraries have not yet been developed in vernacular languages. When all kinds of knowledge is available in our regional languages then only we can avoid English in higher education. Otherwise a translating computer in every pocket may make it possible to avoid English!

Also read: “Heritage”

Should we avoid English?

A fundamental question is should we avoid English now and think of a national language? Though English is a foreign language we got used to it for centuries and our kind of English is recognised world over as ‘Indian English’. The number of English speakers among us is growing year after year. It is used in our offices, courts, international and national institutions. It is the international language used in diplomacy and business, It is the language of computers and our knowledge of English made us dominate the world as Software Engineers and get lots of money. Without considering these benefits should we be sentimental about having a national language? Will not our ego be satisfied unless we have a national language? Is it wise to forego so many advantages English bestows on us? In matters of art we may be guided by our heart but in worldly matters we have to be practical and follow reason. In today’s globalized world it would be disastrous to replace English with a national language just because a few politicians and cine actors started discussing it again.

Also read: Skill Centres Prevent Farmers’ Suicides

Rajendra Singh Baisthakur
Rajendra Singh Baisthakur
Rajendra Singh Baisthakur had been a Lecturer in English. He is a poet, critic and translator. His interests are Literature, Philosophy and social media.
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