[lg policy] India: Language Politics

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Wed Sep 9 15:15:00 UTC 2015

Language Politics An article in the Organiser discusses the failure of the
reservation policy in India. According to it, instead of reducing the
number of reserved castes, the policy has caused their count to increase.

An editorial in Panchjanya criticises English-speaking Indians who oppose
Hindi and create “enmity” between Indian languages. Noting that the English
language cannot challenge Hindi in India, the editorial says that
pro-English strategists are trying to divide Indian languages, on the lines
of the divide and rule policy.

According to the editorial, it’s fallacious to claim that the designation
and usage of Hindi as the national language jeopardises other languages.
“How can Hindi be an opponent of Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam or Bengali?” and
“how can the Ganges have hostility towards the Yamuna, Kaveri, Godavari or
Teesta?” it asks.

Hindi has incorporated words of Gujarati, Bengali and Marathi and “defeated
English on every count”, be it in news, advertisements or politics. Foreign
companies cannot penetrate Indian markets without Hindi, and anglicised
leaders have lost badly on the political front, according to the editorial.

The editorial also says that while Hindi is “ruling everywhere”, English
thrives only “in the dens” created by British rule; be it the proceedings
of the Supreme Court, file notings of bureaucrats or the policy discourse,
English is embedded in crucial places.

But, according to the editorial, strengthening Hindi will strengthen the
nation, and making place in the policy discourse for Hindi will instil
confidence in non-English speakers.

*Caste and Parivar*
An article in the Organiser discusses the failure of the reservation policy
in India. According to it, instead of reducing the number of reserved
castes, the policy has caused their count to increase.

The article challenges the argument that historical discrimination towards
lower castes is justification for reservation, and blames the British for
pushing many castes into backwardness. The British education system made it
difficult for lower castes to get educated as the caste system became
legally rigid during the Raj. It also criticises the upper castes who
became rigid and “forgot their moorings and [the] intrinsic spirit of our
scriptures”. In support of its argument, the article points out that “all
castes stood by each other to fight the invaders over the centuries”.

It then highlights the flawed implementation of the reservation policy,
which has caused the number of Scheduled Castes to increase from 1,208 in
1950 to 1,241 in 2011, the number of Scheduled Tribes from 664 to 705 and
OBCs from 1,257 to 5,013. The fact that more castes are fighting for
reservation confirms “that these communities are being further impoverished
by government policies or there is a rush to fall backwards”.

The article asserts that Hindus have always aspired towards higher virtues
and “never believed in living at the mercy of others”. Urging backward
communities to relinquish their reservation benefits, it says that many
have given them up as “it is for the communities to decide how long these
privileges should continue”.

*Victory Lap*
An article in the Organiser challenges the notion that the 1965 war was
“inconclusive”, and applauds the Central government for changing this
perception, declaring the war “a victory” and celebrating it. It quotes
several armymen in order to assert that the war “was a decisive military
victory of an ill-prepared, impoverished and fatigued nation over a
well-equipped adversary”.

It quotes former US diplomat Dennis Kux that “Although both sides lost
heavily in men and material, Bharat had the better of the war. Delhi
achieved its basic goal of thwarting Pakistan’s attempt to seize Kashmir
<http://indianexpress.com/tag/kashmir/> by force.” English historian John
Keay noted that “Bharatiya tanks advanced to within a sight of Lahore. Both
sides claimed victory but Bharat had most to celebrate.”


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