By Dr Surendra Singh Pokharna
February 21 is being celebrated as International Mother Language Day throughout the world. A large scale agitation is planned in Rajasthan and other parts of the country to express the feeling of unhappiness of almost hundred million Rajasthanies for not including Rajasthani language in the 8th schedule of the Constitution.
It is very unfortunate to mention that the Rajasthan Teachers Eligibility Test (RTET) conducted by the Government of Rajasthan and held in Rajasthan on July 31,2011 had Sindhi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Hindi, English, Urdu and Sanskrit as languages for the examination, but Rajasthani language, read, written and spoken by about seven crore (seventy million) people in the State was not included in this examination. Except for Hindi, the number of people using these languages in Rajasthan will not be more than few lakhs whereas Rajasthani is spoken, written and read by almost seven crore people within Rajasthan and about three crore Rajasthanies outside Rajasthan. This is due to the fact that Rajasthani is still being not recognised by the Constitution. A simple question arises why the Central Government is delaying the process of recognition of this language from last several decades?
A misconception is created that it is only a group of dialects and there is no language as such. But, the truth is just the opposite. The number of dialects of some of the Indian languages recognised by the Constitution is given below in brackets: Hindi (43), Tamil (22), Telgu (36), Kannada (32), Marathi (65), Gujarati (27), Bengali (15), Konkani (16) and Punjabi (29). Actually Rajasthani is the richest among all these languages because it has 73 dialects. Experts say that larger the number of dialects, richer is the language. An argument is also given many times that Rajasthani does not have its own script so it cannot be included in the Constitution. The fact is that out of twenty two languages recognised by the Constitution, there are eight languages which do not have their own scripts and so they use Devnagari. They are Marathi, Konkani, Nepali, Kashmiri, Dogri, Maithili, Hindi and Sanskrit (Some of these languages have other scripts also). Not only this, the number of persons speaking some of these languages such as Kashmiri, Dogri, Bodo, Manipuri, and Santhali are just few lakhs only, whereas Rajasthani is spoken, read and written by about hundred million people in the country. Actually Hindi is read, spoken and written by almost one eighty million people. Number wise Rajasthani (hundred million people) is just next to Hindi. The number of persons using other languages (all twenty one languages other than Hindi and recognised under the eighth schedule of Constitution) is less than hundred million. According to great linguistic scholar Welfield, Rajasthani stands at number twenty five in the category of popular languages in the world. Even United States of America has recently recognised Rajasthani as a major language of India. Rajasthani has many dictionaries and grammar books, it has more than three lakh words, (compared to around eight lakh words in English), almost four lakh printed and handwritten books are there, about sixty dictionaries are available in Rajasthani. Several magazines and journals are there and many seminars, meetings, cultural events are organised the whole year by many organisations throughout Rajasthan and even outside. Around one hundred films have been made in Rajasthani and several Hindi films have been made using stories written in Rajasthani language like ‘Lamhe’ for example. Hence it is a full-fledged language.
Some people have a fear that if Rajasthani language is recognised then it will negatively affect Hindi language. However, the reality is other way round, actually recognition of Rajasthani will further enrich Hindi as they are sister languages. One should also mention that language is backbone of culture and social systems of any region in the world. Culture and history of Rajasthan is not hundred but thousands of years old, does the UPA government wants to destroy this culture of the great land of India? A resolution was unanimously passed by the State Assembly of Rajasthan on August 25, 2003 and sent to the Central Government in Delhi (UPA-I) to include Rajasthani in the Constitution, but almost nine years have passed since then and the issue is still pending. In 2006, the Shri Prakash Jaiswal, the then State Home Minister declared on December 13, 2006 on a TV channel that the Central Government has decided to include Rajsthani and Bhojpuri in the eighth schedule. But again almost five years have passed and the issue is still hanging. Several organisations have recently met the honourable President and honourable Prime Minister. Even RANA (Rajasthan Association of North America) has submitted a memorandum to the President for this purpose.
In a recent statement delivered by Shri Pranab Mukherjee, honourable Finance Minister and one of the most respectable Member of the Cabinet in UPA-II, has said that since already many languages are there on currency notes, so due to lack of space, it is difficult to include few more languages on the currency notes. One can remind honourable ‘Pranab Da’ that now more text can be written anywhere by using smaller fonts. Also virtually nobody reads the name of currency amount on the note, their colour patterns, designs, numbers and sizes are enough to recognise them. Another interesting reply was given by Home Ministry, in response to a question raised in the Parliament by one Parliamentarian Shri Arjum Ram Meghwal from Rajasthan about delay in recognition of Rajasthani language. The written answer given by the Home Ministry (in English and not in Hindi, which again reflects attitude of the Home Ministry towards the national and other languages of the country) was that the issue is being discussed by a high level committee as some problems are there in conducting UPSC examination. One would like to know from the Home Ministry whether any time limit is given to this committee to submit its report for such an important issue or not. Actually while working in ISRO, I have learned how important it is to have time bound programmes, like launching of satellites in the fast competitive world. Why not Government fix up time limit for such committees. Or is it an excuse to reflect incapability to resolve contradictions in this matter? Or should one conclude that Government speeds up its capability of decision making only when public puts pressure through agitations which we have seen recently against corruption and other issues?
Since as per Shri Prakash Jaiswal, all formalities in this matter were completed five years ago and decision had already been taken to recognise it, it is a sincere request to both the Central Government in Delhi and the State Government in Jaipur to resolve the issues coming in the way to include Rajasthani in the 8th schedule of the Constitution without further delay. One hopes that Shri Pulok Chatterjee, the present Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister who appears to be quite efficient and becoming popular these days for getting time bound reports from various ministries will really use his smartness in speeding up decision making and resolving the contradictions coming in the way of recognition of Rajasthani language also. It is also high time that all Members of the Parliament from Rajasthan in general and those from UPA-II in particular, communicate the feelings of people of Rajasthan in front of all their leaders and all those who are concerned with it.
(The writer is former Scientist, Indian Space Research Organisation).