भारत भाषा नीति, एक नई सोच

The crucial need for intervention—economy, not just heritage

  1. Projection of soft power
  2. Declining Language Proficiency in India – both, in English & Indian Languages
    1. The World asks: “English or Hinglish – which will India choose?”
    2. Haphazard versus Systematic Language Growth
  3. How English-obsession holds back India’s computer literacy

The crucial need for intervention—economy, not just heritage

Given the policy path we are on, we will lose Indian languages over the next one hundred years. South America, which was colonized a couple of hundred years before India, has practically lost all the native languages of its peoples. Their mother tongues have become the languages of their colonizers, Spanish and Portuguese.

The government is speaking of initiatives to ‘preserve’ Indian languages for their cultural and literary value but keeping English as the economic, legal and technical language. This is foolish and short-sighted. Only dead artefacts need preservation in museums. For languages to grow and flourish they must be linked to economic activity and vibrant knowledge production in all fields.

English has gained this status in the minds of people through deliberate colonial policy. In his infamous minute, Macaulay stated that Indian languages were unfit for science and technology and are, at best, OK for literature.

‘But when we pass from works of imagination to works in which facts are recorded, and general principles investigated, the superiority of the Europeans becomes absolutely immeasurable.’

The current government”s e-bhasha proposal follows Macaulay”s prejudices in consigning Indian languages to classics and literature. Contrast this with the specific policy for the revival of Hebrew, which was not even a literary languages in the 19th century. The setting up of Technion, a Hebrew medium engineering college, was a key step in its revival.

Indian languages were damaged in a far-sighted plan set in motion by Macaulay and internalized by the government hierarchy of independent India. We need a clear shift in policy to reverse the trend. Change is always painful but we need to look at the multi-generational impact. It is worth recalling the steadfastness of Macaulay”s policies.

‘But the admirers of the Oriental system of education have used another argument, which, if we admit it to be valid, is decisive against all change. They conceive that the public faith is pledged to the present system…’

It is necessary, using clear far-sighted policy initiatives to move beyond the present system.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. There is tons of material aallvabie on language learning techniques. The field is known as second language acquisition. It is possible to do experiments in this field, but they tend to be very time-consuming and difficult to set up. One idea would be to do a survey of people on their experiences learning foreign languages.

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