Language, Shame and New India

India is a land of cultures, heritage and traditions. We take pride in the idea of ‘unity in diversity’ meaning together as one despite the difference in cultures. Although India does not have any ‘national’ language per se, majority population speaks and converses in either Hindi or Language.


Source: ByteandBaba

The linguistic history of the country ranges from the Dravidian, Indo-Aryan and Sanskrit periods. The use of the Pali script was in the Indo-Aryan era. After the Mughal reign, there was a fusion of cultures. Around the 12th century, it was spoken around Delhi and was heavily influenced by Persian and Arabic. In India, language changes every 15-20 km at the level of communicative styles.


English Language began far back in the 14th century and grew out of the Anglo-Saxon period. However, the history of English Literature started from the fifth century but it spread its wings in the fourteenth century, more specifically late middle age. Soon in the early eighteenth century, Britishers created a colossal impact on India. It was precise during this extensive phase of British rule when Indian Literature blossom out and progressively emerged as an important language of communication. Before colonization, India was a multilingual country but later, the English Language has served as an influential language among Indian. Thomas Babington Macaulay who drafted ‘Macaulay’s Minutes on Education later which was known as Macaulay’s Minutes on Education. In this, he praised the English Language and declared that English should be the medium of education in India.


After stating a brief history, it is clear that the medium of language used in this article as well as the prime conversational language, it is handed down by our colonizers. The vast use of English brings us to question, whether we are really free of our oppressors? However, there are no visible signs of ‘oppression’ because of the use of English but, it still is a reminder of the period of struggle. Post-Independence, India broke into various states along linguistic lines. Even today, a language barrier exists between multiple states. Especially between the north and south India. English is a common language between the two in most cases.


The English Language is looked at something with pride. It is a sign of ‘good education’. Children belonging to English Medium schools and colleges are seen having an upper hand. The elitism and classism revolving around language show a gap between the English speakers versus the non-English speakers. The shame surrounding the people who are not able to converse or write in English shows how restricted we are in thought. The thought of considering our colonizers' language superior or ‘cool’. Content creators have used satirical ways of showing India’s ‘elite’ belonging to Delhi and Mumbai being unable to speak in Hindi. These characters show how proud they are of not knowing how to speak in Hindi per se. In most cases it is over dramatic but it shows reality, nonetheless.


The Indian Institute of Mass Communication has issued admission notification for Post-Graduate Diploma in Urdu Journalism. 17 seats are available but despite various notices, there are no takers. This might result in the closure of Urdu branch at IIMC which would lead to people being out of jobs.

The New Education Policy lays emphasis on the regional languages as the primary medium of Education. However, with most higher education institutions and corporations are dominated by primary English speakers, this might lead to a divide yet again. In most school boards, Hindi is an optional subject in High School that is, eleventh and twelfth grade. Most students opt out of Hindi and English is a compulsory subject.


Equal emphasis should be laid on regional languages as well as English. Neither should overpower one another. The shame of being unable to speak or write in fluent English is a prejudice that we have internalised which talks of English as supremacist. India is land of not only Hindi but various languages like Tamil, Telegu, Oriya amongst others. They must be viewed with the same respect as English and even Hindi. This shall be done to preserve the fabric of ‘unity in diversity’.

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