In today’s modern world we are enthusiastically talking about the idea and ideal of empowerment. Our thrust is that the weaker and the down-trodden sections of our otherwise highly polarised society must be attached to the mainstream. The astute political section has also taken recourse to such high-floating speeches that advocate the idea of holistic human development. Though their words are often taken with a pinch of salt by the people blessed with saner heads as most of their speeches are only the specimens of demagoguery which in their unmasked essence are merely hollow rhetorical pieces of platitudes and polemics.
But on the flip side of these speeches of sheer “sound and fury”, many sincere efforts are being made to empower the disempowered and to raise the fallen.
Technical education that has the capacity and capability to teach a set of skills to the people has also gained solid ground. In this prevailing scenario when the efforts are towards human empowerment, some anti-social retrograde elements have begun to raise their nasty heads with their covetous, devious, and diabolical design of subverting the scheme of systemic development of the underdeveloped.
On the pretext of fostering the idea of a Hindu nation and misinterpreting the spirit of Hindutva, they have put a big cauldron of language controversy on the fire with a parochial view that only Hindi should be the national language whereas all other languages should not have any right to coexist and flourish. These so-called custodians of Hindi, which is not the mother tongue of every Indian, have an intense abhorrence for the English Language and our regional languages and vernaculars.
Undoubtedly, they are hell-bent on eliminating the diverse linguistic identity of people. Shouting at the top of their voices and straining their vocal cords, these lumpen elements proclaim with a sense of smugness that English is the language of the foreigners and according to their constricted view, it poses a great threat to our cultural heritage. What cultural heritage are they referring to when they themselves have resolved to spread a sense of animosity and acrimony in the name of a Hindu state? Here the fact can not be refuted that their ideas are completely misplaced and thus be sternly repudiated.
Any language, as a matter of fact, is a tool for the holistic growth of a healthy society. Undoubtedly, we can not dream of the existence of a society without language. It is a connecting mode that knits us in a unified whole. As devout nationals with strong patriotic streaks, we berate the Colonial era of the Britisher in which many ordinary Indians were subjected to appalling atrocities and horrendous torments. But at the same time, we benignly express our sense of deep gratitude to our British brethren for showering the legacy of the English language on us.
Today, India is considered a fast emerging mighty nation on the world forum. She stands shoulder to shoulder with other world powers on the international platform. Indians have very accurately and meticulously absorbed the English language with an enviable finesse and sheer perfection which has given the world of English literature the prominent Indian authors like Raja Rao, RK Narayan, Kamala Das, Anita Desai, MK Anand, and many more names to acknowledge. Today in this digital age of technological advancement, a great rush of information is available in English and this information is rightly accessed and used by the Indians for their national development and personal career development.
Although, right after its independence, India has upheld the policy of non-alignment but in today’s cosmopolitan world, no nation can afford to exist like an isolated island segregated from the other nations. This isolation on the various world forums has been eliminated by virtue of our knowledge of the English language. One of the other most empowering tools of development and Renaissance is our mass media and today India has established its robust media roots in the English language.
One can not deny the fact that one must be proud of one’s mother tongue, and so are the Indians who attach their divergent mother tongues with pride of place. But we must not make any attempts to perpetuate a monolithic state even in terms of language supremacy which is nothing more than a nefarious plot to dismember the nation and the whole credit goes to those misguided minds belonging to certain fringe groups.
To make our headway towards our comprehensive and cohesive development, we must not only respect all the regional languages and their dialects but embrace the prominent foreign languages to the fullest as well.
It is not only English rather the knowledge of other foreign tongues like French, German, Russian, Chines, and so on that can fasten the pace of our nationalistic development. If we take a sagacious view of the present sight, we must tap our back as modern English-speaking women have liberated themselves from the clutches of patriarchy and male dominance. Stepping confidently out of the confines of domestic drudgery, today Indian women have carved their remarkable niche in all the segments of society. Whether it is the realm of politics, bureaucracy, academia, journalism, or Information and Technology, the empowered Indian women are ruling the roost and have brought many laurels to our country.
Aristotle, an erudite Greek scholar has aptly stated that those who rule the word, rule the world. Thus we are the democratic rulers who have realised the magical and miraculous powers of language. Therefore no regressive din can out-voice our democratic spirit of debate and dissent.
This is how rising above the mindless controversy of language supremacy, it is time to turn fully vocal in any tongue and let the world know that India is heading towards language-based new dawn, a new Renaissance that is truly liberating in its true essence. The drums of great and glorious transformation are beating and the rumblings can be clearly heard by those endowed with sensitive ears buds.
(The author is a professor and freelance columnist with leading publishing houses)