By N.R. Waradpande
The Organiser issue dated 7-8-05 carried an article entitled ?Death of a language.? It holds a view-that most of the Indian languages would become extinct perhaps by the end of this century. The definition of being extinct is: ?When the children do not learn the language of their parents?? That is mostly the case with many Indian languages particularly in the case of the children of the elite and affluent, thanks to the craze for English medium education.
This definition of a language being extinct is strange?take the example of Marathi. The craze for English medium education and speaking English even at home is quite prevalent in Maharashtra. It is true that children in these homes do not read and write Marathi even though in some English medium schools the mother tongue is taught compulsorily. These boys and girls can read and write Marathi, but they don?t. Speaking is a different matter because in spite of the planned extermination of Indian languages practiced for the last 50 years it is difficult for a convent educated boy to stir out even in big cities without speaking Marathi. If he/she wants to hire a vehicle or to eat in a restaurant?unless it is of the five star variety?or to find his way he has to talk Marathi or at least Hindi. In smaller cities he/she simply cannot manage without Marathi.
As long as the language does not cease to be spoken can it really be called extinct?
Further, the writer has not considered the number of these elite as compared to the laity who do not know English. Marathi is spoken by 10 crores?equal to the number of those speaking German. In the days of Nehru the number of English knowing people in India was reported to be two crore. It may now have tripled. Even then it is in the region of six crore in the whole of India. Proportionately, therefore, there may be 60 lakh out of 10 crore in Maharashtra who can converse in English. These include people who have not given up speaking their language and their number is larger than the number of the neo Anglo-Indians. Can these few lakhs who speak English only, drown the rest who are nearly 10 crore or will they be drowned by them?
The writer has not considered the number of these elite as compared to the laity who are innocent of English. Marathi is spoken by ten crore?equal to the number of the German speaking. In the days of Nehru the number of English knowing people in India was reported to be two crore.
It may be claimed that Marathi may be surviving among crores but it must be surviving as a tribal dialect. But the English enthusiasts must look at some comparative figures. The circulation of Maharashtra Times in Marathi was reported to be four-times that of The Times of India. The same is the case with Loksatta, the Marathi publication of the Express group. Though in spite of the constitutional injuction the Maharashtra government refuses to switch over completely to Marathi in administration and education, yet various reference books are published in Marathi. Indo-English writers have not produced anything, which can compare with Khandekar'snovels, Kanetkar'splays and Savarkar'spoetry. The Marathi Vijnyan Parishad holds discussions on scientific subjects in Marathi without any difficulty. The Marathi Vishvakosh compares favourably with the Encyclopedia Britannica. If the Anglophiles think that they can exterminate the Indian languages they must be told that theirs is a pipe dream.
The last English ruler of India
One particular fact about language is that it cannot be transplanted. A country may change its religion and customs under the influence of foreign rule but their language remains with them however much the rulers try to suppress it. People in countries from Turkey to South East Asia have changed their religion and embraced Islam but their languages are the same as they were at the time of the Islamic conquest. They have been influenced by Arabic but have retained their individuality. The example of Bangladesh is pertinent. Bangladesh would have nothing to do with Hinduism but it sought separation from Pakistan because of its pride in the Bengali language. The example of South-East Asia is more conclusive. Indonesia has not only preserved Sanskrit vocabulary, it coins words in Sanskrit for modern usage.
In Africa attempts were made to replace an African language by English. But far from English taking the place of the native language, it itself got transformed into pidgin English which cannot be understood by Englishmen nor can the speakers of pidgin English understand proper English. Even the English of the convent educated will remain English as long as they do not pretend that it is their mother tongue and strictly adhere to English.
An astounding example of the mythical statements made in this article is: ?About one billion people worldwide are learning English?. The English billion has 12 zeros and one unit. So many people do not exist in the world! The world population is about 600 crore, out of these only 34 crore are English speaking. Hindi speaking are 87 crore far larger than the English speaking. Spanish speaking are 32 crore quite close to English. Dr. Jichakar computed the figures for people who can speak the language even if it is not their mother tongue. This is 13 crore for Hindi and 16 crore for English. Hindi is short of English only by two crore and this even in the teeth of the fact that the ?last English ruler of India? and his successors have carried on a Jihad against Hindi for the last 50 years. One can well imagine what would have happened if he had not sabotaged the Constitution. Hindi or any Indian language spreads much more easily than English. There are reports that right in England there are so many Punjabis in some localities that the English boys have started speaking Punjabi! In order to have a workable knowledge of English one must study it at least for 10 years for the major part of the day. Gopal Sharma commendingly says that 350 languages have given words to English. This, instead of being a forte of English is its Achilles Heel. It means that the vocabulary of English has no system, every word has to be learnt separately. Surely the majority of the school-going population of any country will not spend 10 years on English if they are not living under a government which creates conditions such that they will starve if they do not learn English. This will be done only by the government of a country ruled by a fake and therefore fanatic pretender of English. As the Sanskrit proverb goes: ?The Sun is less scorching than the sand.?
At what cost English?
It should be noted that in India the school going population spends the major part of 10 years on English because India is NOT an independent country. The very Constitution of India emphasises this. The word Independent in the first resolution of the Constituent Assembly viz. ?India will be an Independent Sovereign Republic? was dropped by Nehru in the second resolution moved by him. He flaunted the Union Jack on the Indian Parliament and delivered a harangue to justify it.
?Sharma goes on elaborating his mythology by saying 60 per cent of the world'smail and 70 per cent of the ratio TV telecasts are in English.? This is not so even in India which is spending all its resources to get the recognition of the world as an English country. I am a regular listener of the radio and TV and I can say that the statement that 70 per cent of the broadcasts are in English has no basis. Radio has a larger audience in the rural areas where English is almost unknown. The zaduwallas carrying transistors are not listening to the English news bulletins.
Sharma says that those who did not give English a prominent place had to pay a heavy price. It is a pity that nobody bothers about the price India had to pay and is still paying for its Anglophilia. At the dawn of independence India ranked 32nd in human development. With the rising craze for English its rank went on sliding right down to 150. Even Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are above India. India stands almost last in all the world rankings except in matters like corruption!
Shri Gopal Sharma has stated how English is studied in all countries. He has failed to mention that no independent country uses English in place of its own language. The medium of administration and education is the native language. Even in Sri Lanka it was announced decades ago that government jobs will not be denied on the ground that a candidate does not know English. Even in India the Kothari Commission described English as a library language to be used only for reading, not for being used as a medium. It recommended that English medium in the universities should be abolished within five years. But a government, which can throw the Constitution to the winds, is not expected to treat the Kothari Commission with greater deference.
The example of South-East Asia is more conclusive. Indonesia has not only preserved Sanskrit vocabulary, it coins words in Sanskrit for modern usage.
Our education system does not make the elementary distinction between education for all and education for the specialists. If English is removed from administration and education as a medium of communication most people will not need to know English. So it cannot form part of education for all.
Secondly, education for all has to be confined only to those subjects which everybody can learn. Everybody cannot be expected to learn music, drawing and painting, Mathematics beyond Arithmetic etc; these subjects require specific aptitude. Trying to teach them to everybody will simply result in inflicting torture.
The same is the case with a foreign language. Everybody does not have an aptitude for learning a foreign language. This is amply proved by our education system. More than 50 per cent fail in English in the matriculation and even those who pass cannot be trusted to understand an English newspaper! What a tremendous waste of national manpower!
How suicidal our servility to English is, is proved by the recent complaint by the army that they are running short not only of officers but also of jawans. Reason? The army wants jawans with eight years of education, i.e., those who have studied English for at least four years! The British raised an army of 25 lakh when the population of India was only 40 crore. That army fought a world war. Now with a population of 100 crore we find it difficult to raise an army of 10 lakh! Much before the dearth of jawans was felt, the armed forces have been worrying over the shortage of pilots. Our Air Force has some hundreds of planes only. But for air superiority we need thousands. In the last world war the moment Russia joined the war against Germany, America gifted 4000 planes to it in the first installment alone. Without this Russia would never have withstood Germany. But if tomorrow America offers us 4000 planes to enable us to resist a powerful aggression, we shall have to say ?Thank you sir, but give us pilots also along with the planes.? The reason? Again we want English-knowing pilots. A candidate must first pass the UPSC competitive exam where English is of prime importance, before he can even be considered as a pilot.
(The writer can be contacted at 38, Hindustan Colony, Amraoti Road, Nagpur-440 033.)