Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mind Your Language...

Once again, the debate on English versus the Indian languages (specially Hindi) is hitting the national news. Some people seem to have a big problem with the UPSC testing the Civil Services aspirants in basic English proficiency in its entrance test.

(Intellectual bankruptcy.... what else ??)

Earlier, I had written a post on the use of English as compared to the regional languages for higher education in India, when a loonie baba suggested that all higher education in India should be conducted in Hindi or the regional language.

Once all such ridiculous ideas are demolished through logic, such people turn to the issue of nationalism which they think is automatically associated with language.

What such people fail to understand is that a language is a means of communication. It is NOT the parameter to assess one’s patriotism.

A person may have a particular mother tongue. But it is not necessary that his or her mother tongue is understandable to most of the people that person wants to communicate with. Thus, if that person uses another language to communicate with other people, it does not automatically imply that he or she is being disrespectful to the mother tongue.

A person may be living and working away from his hometown and his parents in another place. And therefore, instead of his parents, he interacts with his colleagues and boss on a regular basis rather than his parents. Will that mean he becomes disrespectful to his parents simply because he is not interacting with them on a daily basis ? Similar logic.

Most ‘patriots’ who shout for the use of Hindi or other regional languages instead of English do so because of their negative views for the British who once ruled India. But they forget that English is not the Queen’s property. Yes, the British Empire once ruled almost the entire world. But one good thing that resulted from it is that it provided a common language of communication for people from various parts of the world.

My mother tongue is Hindi, but I’m writing this post in English. That doesn’t turn my loyalties towards the United Kingdom. Neither does it imply that I disregard Hindi or I’m disrespectful towards Hindi. I’m writing in English in order to put across my thoughts, whether good or bad or right or wrong, to people not just across India but across the world.

Often, when I visit a blog directory such as ‘Indiblogger’, I come across some popular blogs by people which are in their regional language. However much I would like to read their views, I cannot do so since I do not understand that language. Similarly, a person from another region of India would be unable to understand my blog if I were to write it in Hindi. So, either I have to learn another person’s language or he has to learn mine in order to communicate our views to each other.

English serves that purpose easily and efficiently bringing people on an equal platform instead of one learning the other’s language. The same goes for people from different parts of the world.

And when people give the examples of Russia, China, Germany, etc. to suggest that they still use their own language instead of resorting to English, they simply show their ignorance about the fact that even these countries are turning to English in order to reach out globally in every field.

And yes, the above countries are more or less homogeneous in the composition of their populations regarding language. India, on the other hand, is not a homogenous country. It is in fact, a Union of States with different cultures and languages. It’s similar in comparison if we consider the European Union to be one country. No wonder we don’t have a single national language and hence need to depend on English as a common language of communication.

So, instead of hating a language just because it is associated with a certain population, people should understand that a language is simply a mode of communication. One should not compare and classify languages, let alone use it as a tool to determine one’s patriotism.

And, instead of changing the education system according to one’s language proficiency, it is much better and easier to be educated in a common language of communication from the beginning along with one’s mother tongue and other regional languages.

(Image courtesy : Google Images)


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