Understanding the politics of dying regional languages

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Sat Jan 13 14:25:54 UTC 2007

Friday, January 12, 2007
Understand Politics Over Dying Regional Languages

 Politics over dying regional languages is an universal phenomena. The
problems can be seen from Africa to America and from Indian continent to
Russia. People need to be conscious to stop exploitations. Future is not
going to tolerate to the people for the attachement towards regional

I am fortunate to have sufficient education to understand the growth
contradictions of society. Especially, when I am trying to find the
reasons for individual development, my education and experience helps me
to look at the problems differently. I am convinced about the fact that
the regional language plays a very significant role in our overall
behaviour, relationship, habit and personality. It is not very difficult
to find the people with regional accent at any platform in India. But
these regional languages have no future in global village. Let us study
why regional languages have no future? We will look into different aspects
like education pattern, class struggles, professional options, and
unification of languages.

Changed Education Trend

The trend is universal. All countries including India are suffering from
this problems. There is a need to eradicate old education system to give
way to new one with due emphasis on global languages across the world.

I have never allowed my schooling to interfere with my education, said
Mark Twain, commenting on the lack of fun in learning in schools. Today
with all the multimedia skill sets, you need a different kind of
education. Life is fun and education must be focused on enhancing fun
rather than making a school or education a prison. The depth of any
subject you choose has increased tremendously. You as a human cannot go on
learning to enhance your capabilities for a better life. There is no end
of information or even knowledge to acquire. Today, you need to get
educated to have a good and enjoyable life. Schooling is becoming a thing
of the past. Now-a-days, people are forced to talk about unschooling. The
educated and learned parents are not concentrating on course, syllabus or
school. They are concentrating on other human or environmental activities.

School children need not go to library to search for books all the time.
Sitting comfortably at one place at home, caf or even a shopping mall she
can access complete list of libraries at just one click of the mouse. And
whole set of encyclopedias are available at a much cheaper price. It is
not necessary that she spends Rs. 40,000 to 50,000 to have the entire set
of Encyclopedia Britannica at her premises; she can just spend Rs. 1000
approximately and have the original Britannica displayed on the computer
monitor. Internet and other media have made knowledge accessible at your
finger-tips at a much lower cost. Children can have access to information
so fast and easily as never before in history. But the only constraint is
the language.

Class Struggle and Language

We must understand the age old class struggle to evaluate the importance
of language. Today, the whole of Indian continent has one of the biggest
enemies of development and it is its regional languages. People are
killing each other. Leaders in Assam, Maharastra or Karnataka are doing
politics over it. People are dying for language affections. Language is
dividing the networked environment developed by the growth of Information
technology and telecommunication. This division has engulfed every walk of
life. This division can be seen in politics, society and even in corporate

The struggle of class is not exclusive to Indian environment. Even US is
discussing this issue on regular basis. Oprah Winfrey show is a typical
example. She does not hesitate to discuss on latest issues disturbing
people like class, language, sex, relationship and so on. In one of the
show on class, she discussed that how people of different class can be
categorized even the way they speak English. English is a global language
and people have to understand this. In India, this discussion is very old
but still not matured. Today I would like to remind all my friends who are
religiously attached to their regional languages to get detached
immediately to have a better and successful future. Language is the
biggest hurdle in your global outlook.

For more information on Oprah Show, you can go to the website as below


The main question comes, is anybody interested to fall behind and see
others moving ahead? I do not think anyone intentionally would like to do
it unless compelled by the situations. Let us create a situation where we
do not creep at later stage of our life.

Professional Options

The horizon of professions has altered drastically. The technological and
economic changes have made profession a new domain altogether. Few years
ago when beauty shops came in the limelight hardly anybody had an idea
that it would emerge to be such a big profession. Today it has matured.
Many ladies and gents are working in these shops. Similarly, other
professions like modeling, stewardship, journalism, fashion designing,
entrepreneurship, catering and hospitality management, tourism jobs,
services industries and so on have emerged. The sudden emergence of call
centers, BPOs (Business Process Outsourcing) and other IT related services
have changed the concept of working in society all across the world. These
services have such manpower-intensive jobs with high financial stakes that
it will almost delete the concept of the Gandhian philosophy of Charkha
and Chakri. The requirements and search for jobs has to be done based on
the latest craze and availability. The expertise of English language
remains at the forefront in all these professions.

People cannot afford to rely on the old concept of government jobs or
other conservative and conventional jobs. The new generation and the
guardians of the new generation have to move from conservatism to look for
better and progressive appointments. Today, organizations are not finding
suitable educated people in cities. Jobs are moving to smaller towns and
villages. Once, it reaches small towns and villages, the educated boys,
girls, housewives, househusbands and parents will be forced to change the
concept of job-search for their benefit and the benefit of the society.
The unlearning of the old conventional jobs has to be done on a priority
basis. With, this it brings the necessity of learning a global language to
move ahead. It is not the question of getting the job today; it is a
question of complete cultural shift.

Earlier, jobs were restricted to agriculture, law, engineering, medicine,
management etc. The majority of the people were dependent on agriculture
for their livelihood. But, now people will move to cities to get the basic
facilities. As per, United Nations estimate, by 2030, 50% of the human
population will live in cities. The global language will play its role in
a new emerging society.

Trying to get government jobs is the old concept now. Few educated people
could get government jobs. Very few will join the loss-making public
sectors to have secure jobs. Gone are those days in this fast developing
professional environment. The concepts of hard work and joining a profit
making company have evolved. The open economy and market has given freedom
to join multinationals. It has given freedom to select professions. People
change professions like their clothes. Companies are starved of people.
People have a luxury of choices. The changes have to be felt, realized,
soaked, conceived and understood. Whoever has done this, unlearned the old
trends and fears, is enjoying the fruits of growth. The fresh IIM
graduates are on auction like the eligible grooms of Andhra Pradesh. Be
proactive and chose the professions of the time.

English Has No Alternative

In a recent report, it became clear that regional languages have no
future. Many languages are dying out because of population movements,
cultural oppressions, wars and economic disasters. Experts say as many as
half of the worlds 6,900 languages are endangered. In the name of Olympic
Games even China is quietly learning English to join the global community.
In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a huge discussion in all the
institutions across India whether we should study English or not. Even
today, there is great confusion prevailing in India in particular and
other developing nations in general. The people have been given a dose of
nationalism in terms of languages. But how far is it advantageous? Is it
in a position to give you comfort of knowledge? Is it giving you a better

You join any professional Institute; you are forced to study in English.
There are hardly any good books available in other languages. All the high
level professional books are available in English. There is a tremendous
difference in the availability of professional books in English and any
other language. The local languages are left for the utilization of local
tribes only, not for the global person. There was a time when there was a
requirement of less information and that too in a different mode like
books or drawing or painting or any art medium; but, today when you surf
the net for the ocean of information, you are forced to learn, think and
act globally. You can not access global information in regional language.
The people across the globe are feeling the handicap of being attached to
regional languages. Many have started cursing their parents and teachers
for the failure. People have started questioning the governmental
indecisiveness to implement global languages in school. Karnataka is a
typical example of this. Narayana Murthy has already questioned the apathy
of governments in state and center. A digital divide starts from regional
languages. People are being forced to remain deprived.

Language Unification

The advent of technology has forced humanity to think about the concept of
unification of languages. Even the famous Nobel Laureate, Rabindra Nath
Tagore, who wrote many poems and prose in Bengali, a local regional
language of India, was forced to learn and translate his own writings in
English to get a wider audience and recognition, leading to the Nobel
Prize for literature in 1913.

The advent of the computer has given a beautiful tool to humanity. If this
intelligent machine is to be utilized then in the years to come, the
people have to learn fewer languages. The development of an Operating
System is a very difficult and tricky proposal. Once it has been developed
and matured in approximately a decades time, it may be very difficult to
develop with those rich features in any other languages. The availability
of www.google.com, yahoo.com, hotmail.com, indiatimes.com and so on would
ensure some kind of unification in the development and spread of languages
in the years to come. As the use and spread of mobile devices increase,
more unification of languages will be forced upon the human being. When
good professional books were not produced in the last century even with
the high level printing technology, is there any reason to believe that,
operating systems or other software would be produced in any regional

There was a time when people from South India used to fight against the
forceful imposition of Hindi on them. The people from North used to get
emotional about the language issues. Schools, colleges and institutions
had the tremendous task of keeping a balance between the propagation and
utilization of different languages. Now the situation has to converge.
Language unification should be taken as an international mission to avoid
the gaps between different people and to spread a global culture in this
world. The spread of one language will put less pressure on students to
learn and master it. People will be able to concentrate on more fruitful
work for humanity rather than fighting over languages. We must learn from
the statement of the famous thinker, Edward de Bono, who says, Language
has been a most important step in human evolution. Language is now the
biggest barrier to further evolution. He writes further in his famous site
http://www.edwarddebono.com that language is an encyclopedia of ignorance.
Politicians who send their children to Harvard or Boston for higher
studies and do politics over Hindi or other regional languages at their
native place should not be able to make a fool of large sections of

It was the far sighted vision of American policy makers to accept English
as national language after British left their land. The two centuries of
magnificent development is the result of this policy. People are not
killing or dying based on languages, they are focusing on development and
better lifestyle. The result of learning English is so obvious, US is able
to create Bill Gates and Stephen Covey.

Today, there is no other option than to unlearn regional languages. People
need to unlearn their attachments to regional languages. People must keep
themselves away from regional feelings. To have global access, global
opportunities, global success and so on people need to be a global citizen
with the ability to speak, read and write in global language.

posted by kamekish at Friday, January 12, 2007

Alex said...
"As per, United Nations estimate, by 2030, 50% of the human population
will live in cities."

There are a lot of people living in the 'slums'.

There is the question of culture, of identity of emotional attachments.
All these are variables and they cannot be exempted. As time goes all this
will come to pass, because like you said 'English' is necessary to
survive. No one tries to write professional books in regional languages,
because there will be a very few buyers and predominantly not many know
the regional language. people know how to speak in their regional
languages, but when it comes to writing, they fail.

"The advent of the computer has given a beautiful tool to humanity."

In particular the internet.

"Today, there is no other option than to unlearn regional languages.
People need to unlearn their attachments to regional languages."

The 'attachments' can go. It is not necessary for people to altogether
forget about their regional languages. Moreover, India is a land of
diverse cultures. There is so much art and literature in regional

cf. image file with map:



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