Bihar Bengalis fear for language

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Mar 28 13:38:01 UTC 2006

>>From the Telegraph (Calcutta)
Issue Date: Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bihar Bengalis fear for language


Patna, [Bihar State] March 27: The Bihar Bengali Association is up in arms
against the gross neglect of the Bengali language and its students in the
state and demanded that the Nitish Kumar government evolve a policy on the
matter. The association has charged that Bengalis have been deprived of
pursuing education through the medium of their mother tongue and there is
no policy on the appointment of teachers in schools. The answerscripts of
students who write the secondary board examinations in Bengali were not
being checked by competent teachers. Moreover, the provision of allowing
students to take their intermediate examinations in Bengali has been done
away with, association secretary Biplab Dasgupta said.

The office-bearer described the situation as a conspiracy to stop the
study of Bengali at the intermediate and higher levels of education, which
would result in the extinction of all sanctioned posts and departments of
the language in due course. A senior education department official
admitted that there was much merit in the charges levelled by the
association but said the issue does not seem to have grabbed the
governments attention at the moment. We are aware of the pride of place
occupied by the language in Bihar, which was once a part of undivided
Bengal. The position in Jharkhand is much better, the official said.

Historically, members of the Bengali community have set up a number of
institutions in the twin states of Bihar and Bengal. Bengalis in Bihar are
today are denied their constitutional right to seek primary education in
their mother tongue. We welcome the governments move to develop Urdu and
Maithili in Bihar. But there is no reason why Bengali should be ignored in
the process. Perhaps this is so because we do not constitute a
considerable vote bank in Bihar, Dasgupta said. The association feared
that the continuous policy of neglect will make members of the community
forget their mother tongue.

Bengali is an internationally renowned language. The government cannot be
unaware of the existing arrangement for non-Bengali students in Bengal,
where they can pursue studies in their respective mother tongues, the
association secretary said.

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