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Monday, July 5, 2010


A harsh reality of the six decades of independence is that we have been callously shirking our responsibility regarding giving ourselves a definite language policy. Instead, we have been using languages as tools and weapons for achieving petty political ends.

This has weakened the “vehicles for human communication” to a great extent. Our negligence and heedlessness have reduced languages to mere means of identifying religions and religious communities. This casualness has gone to such preposterous lengths that on purely sectarian grounds our people have snapped ties even with their mother-tongue and disowned en masse a particular language of the North.

If our loud talk about national unity and emotional integration is not hypocrisy, we must turn immediate full attention to the fast deteriorating condition of our languages and adopt remedial measures.

First, we must incorporate in our language syllabi _ at least at the college and university level_ a considerable portion of the literature of at least one sister or cognate language. Such interaction with literature in other languages will certainly reduce the extent of alienation we have generated for nearly half a century. This step can break mental barriers. Without such a measure all our talk about “cultural mainstream” will remain a mere abstraction.

Wittingly or otherwise, we have been confining our concept of nationalism within the four walls of provincialism. We have always taken pride in regarding, if not calling, our respective States as our country. Slogans like “Telugu Desam”,” Desan maan des Haryana”, “Sohna des Punjab ni sayyio” and “Mharo des Marwad” amply testify to the reigning and growing tendency of regionalism. If Andhra or Haryana or Punjab or Marvad is the “des” (country) of ours, then whose country is India?

This is the tendency that has been impelling us to ask for more political and financial powers and additional natural resources for our respective states even at the cost of creating imbalance in the national economy.

We do talk of cultural mainstream. One may pertinently ask, “Where does this mainstream flow?” Let us be bold enough to acknowledge that such a mainstream has yet to take a form. Unless our infatuation with a particular language transcends regional barriers and unless we set our face against associating languages with religious sects, we will never have a “cultural mainstream”.

It is but proper that we inculcate amongst our populace a sense of belonging to all the languages of India. At the national level we should have a permanent agency for translating selected pieces of literature from one language into another so that the reader of one language does not stay alienated from the literature being produced in contemporary languages.

Let us not hesitate in admitting that the linguistic reorganization of states by our top leadership was a historic blunder. Going by the result seen, this has promoted regionalism with all the attendant ills. The Academies and Language Departments of various states, in a bid to demonstrate the ‘great’ contribution of their respective states to the world of literature, have only widened the gulf between the spoken languages of the neighbouring regions.

The reorganization of states was done by politicizing the language issue, and by distorting the factual position of languages. Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar came to be declared as Hindi-speaking areas whereas in actual fact, Hindi is not the spoken language throughout the length and breadth of these states. Haryanavi and not Hindi is the spoken language in the whole of Haryana. In Uttar Pradesh Braj, Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Bundeli, Garhwali etc. are the languages of the general masses.In Bihar Maithili and Bhojpuri are the spoken languages.

Similarly, the reorganization of states made Jammu & Kashmir an Urdu-speaking state despite the fact that Dogri in the Jammu region and Kashmiri in the Kashmir valley are the only languages in vogue (in the composite state).

English, Hindi and Urdu, in my estimation, are not regional languages. They are inter-regional languages spoken and understood in the whole of the country.

My suggestion is that the true role of these three languages should be acknowledged by redefining these as “cultural languages of India”.

These three languages have a great deal of inter-relationship. Every member of the trio represents one very distinct shade of the composite Indian culture. Hindi is the legitimate representative of India’s age-old Aryan culture; Urdu that of the culture evolved to unite the (Indo-) Asian cultures; and English of a natural assimilation of the cultures of the East and the West.

The prevalent tri-lingual formula is based on the sound concept that in a vast multilingual country like ours, it is necessary for every citizen to learn, in addition to his mother-tongue, at least two more languages just as people in Europe do. We have been finding no problem whatsoever in learning three languages under this formula. But this formula has miserably failed in creating or catering to the “cultural mainstream” of India for the simple reason that in each state one or the other shade of our composite culture finds no room in the academic curricula.

Hence my plea for adopting a “quadric-lingual formula” in place of the tri-lingual one, which should ensure sufficient knowledge on one’s part of one’s mother-tongue and the three cultural languages of India.

Another harsh fact needing honest acknowledgement is that there is very little serious readership among the literate people of our regional languages. All the serious readership is virtually monopolized by English. That was the reason why the tallest nationalists of our country, during the freedom struggle and even later, published their most serious works in English and not in the regional languages they were most conversant with. Not only Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru, C. Rajgopalachai and Dr. Rajendra Prasad did so, even the redoubtable Urdu scholar Maulana Azad, who did not know English, published his “India wins freedom” in English and not in Urdu.

There is every justification for one to feel proud of one’s regional language. There is equal need for producing serious readers in that language. This is one additional reason for my plea for a four-language formula in place of the current tri-lingual one.


  1. हमारे मुल्क़ में अंग्रेज़ी को इतनी अहमियत मिलती रही है - और शायद मिलती रहेगी - उसकी २ वजह है :

    १. अंग्रेज़ी में हमारे शासन का कामकाज होना - ये हमारी औपनिवेशिक पृष्ठभूमि कि देन है . हर इन्सां शासक के रहन-सहन, बोल-चाल का अनुसरण करता है . इसको समाजशास्त्री एम. एन. श्रीनिवास के शब्दों में sanskritisation कह सकते हैं . और शासक वर्ग खुद को आम जनता से बढ़कर साबित करने के लिए एक ऐसी ज़बान में बात करना चाहता है जो आम जनता को कम आती हो . हिंदुस्तान जाहिलों का मुल्क़ है , इसमें अंग्रेज़ी में बात करना ऊँचे सामाजिक स्तर का द्योतक है.

    २. हम ने उच्च शिक्षा कि अध्ययन सामग्री कभी अपने भाषा में उपलब्ध करने कि सोची ही नहीं. भारत सरकार का केंद्रीय अनुवाद ब्यूरो आज तक कितनी पाठ्य-पुस्तकों का हिंदी में अनुवाद कर सका है ? बाक़ी देशी भाषाओँ कि बात क्या करें ? ऐसे में अगर बस्ती और बक्सर के विद्यार्थी को ज़बरदस्ती अंग्रेज़ी नहीं सीखनी पड़ेगी तो और फिर चारा क्या है?

    रही बात किसी भाषा को किसी धर्म विशेष से जोड़ने की बात , तो ये सबसे अधिक उर्दू के साथ होता है. बहुत हद तक उसकी ज़िम्मेदारी मुस्लिम समुदाय की बनती है . अगर हमारे किसी इस्लामी शिक्षण संस्थाओं में सारे सूचना-पट पर सिर्फ अंग्रेज़ी और उर्दू में लिखा हो तो इसका क्या तात्पर्य है ? मसलन जामिया मिलिया इस्लामिया - एक केंद्रीय विश्वविद्यालय - के द्वार पर आप को अंग्रेज़ी में Qurratul-ain-Haider Gate लिखा हुआ मिलेगा या फिर उर्दू में बाब-ए-कुर्रतुल-एन-हैदर लिखा हुआ. ये असल में राजभाषा अधिनियम के ख़िलाफ़ भी है , जिसके तहत उस बोर्ड पर सबसे ऊपर हमारी राजभाषा हिंदी में कुर्रतुल-एन-हैदर द्वार लिखा होना चाहिए. लेकिन मुस्लिम तुष्टिकरण के इस दौर में कौन जामिया के VC नजीब जंग से ये बात कहेगा?

  2. As per my view our national language policy should be as following:

    1.Education must be in state language/mother tounge. English Medium schools should be banned or forced to give education through state's language only. This will faciliate to develop our own languages.
    2.Hindi and Englinsg both sould be studied as compulsory languages. Hindi as a language of nation as more than 50% population is uderstanding the same. English as a international language.
    3.Central Govt. should work in Hindi. English should be used as supportive language.
    4. State Govt. should work in their respective languages. Correspondence between two states should be either in Hindi or English with the translation of vise-versa.