[lg policy] India: Dr. T.K. Oommen at Aligarh Muslim University

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Tue Feb 9 14:20:41 UTC 2010

Dr. T.K. Oommen at AMU

Written by AMU Correspondent
Monday, 08 February 2010

Noted Sociologist, Dr. T.K. Oommen, Professor Emeritus of Jawharlal
Nehru University said that although India’s mind boggling linguistic
diversity  has acknowledged, independent India’s language policy was
precariously proximate to that of the nation-state. India pursued a
policy which privileged Hindi, spoken only by 38 percent of population
even after mother tongues are encapsulated within.

He was delivering the keynote address of the three-day International
Seminar on “Language, Culture and Identity: Issues and Challenges”
organized by the Department of Linguistics, Aligarh Muslim University.
Prof. Oommen pointed out that Urdu, the sixth major language of India
has an all India presence comparable to that of Hindi. But since it is
not the principal language in any state Urdu is subjected to
discrimination creating frustration among its speakers. On the other
hand the tendency on the part of Urdu speaking Muslims to relegate
their regional language identity to the background and fore ground
their religious – linguistic identity needs to be noted. Thus during
1951-61 bi-lingual Muslims throughout India revealed their preference
to proclaim Urdu as their mother tongue leading to a growth of 68.7%
Urdu speakers.

On language and identity he threw light on various issue like national
language, linguistic reorganization of states, nation-state,
homogeneity and heterogeneity. He added that India should abandon the
goal of establishing a nation-state which is wedded to the creation of
a homogeneous society and in its place adopt the idea of nation-state
which celebrate cultural diversity. On the issue of linguistic state
reorganization he commented that linguistic state is necessary but not
sufficient and is an unfinished task in India. He referred the
language policy of India as ambivalent and said “pluralism is the way
forward for India”.

Delivering the presidential address, Prof. P.K. Abdul Azis, Vice
Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University said that no one can destroy
the language and culture of a country. He suggested that the policy
should be like that it should nurture the diversity of the country.
There should be no compelling situations and we want an India of our
own choice. He added language is a powerful tool of communication and
pointed out that English is a language of communication, science and
technology. He said no one is interested to provide education to their
children in their mother tongue. Everybody is interested to get their
children to English Medium School. Prof. Azis said India believes in
Unity in diversity.

Highlighting the objectives of the three-day international seminar
Prof. S. Imtiaz Hasnain, Director of the Seminar said that contexts of
globalization, emergence of knowledge society, increased migration
flows worldwide, new information technologies and desperate regional
growth have impacted the socio-cultural fabric of nations worldwide.
These social, cultural and linguistic phenomena pose questions and
challenges before Indian societies not only in terms of how to manage
the effects of growing complexity of identity, language and culture
but also how the Indian societies represent themselves in these

Prof. Richard Hallett of USA, Prof. Sangeeta Bagga Gupta of Sweden,
Prof. Anvita Abbi, Prof. Devi Prasad Shastry, CIIL, Mysore and Prof.
A.R. Fatihi welcomed the guests.
Dr. Masood Ali Beg conducted the programme and Dr. Shabana Hameed
proposed a vote of thanks.


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