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THE POLITICS OVER LANGUAGE

THE POLITICS OVER LANGUAGE

THE POLITICS OVER LANGUAGE
November 14
10:01 2019

“Language is the Communication tool that makes us human”

 

Those who are practicing Christians would recall the tale of the Tower of Babel, one of the saddest and most significant stories in the Bible.

In the biblical fable, God—seeing that people of the earth had become skilled in construction and had decided to build an idolatrous tower, indeed an entire city, in ancient Mesopotamia that stretched to the heavens—infused the human race with a myriad of tongues so that they could no longer communicate, and could no longer build a massive edifice that would replace the almighty.

If the tale is apocryphal, its meaning is not if one has looks at the ongoing politics in the state AP over the decision of the government to convert all government schools into English medium from the next academic year. The decision had triggered a slug fest among a myriad of tongues in the mouths of the political leaders that the issue had turned personal, while the government finds itself like the people in the above fable that it might it difficult to implement its decision.

It’s a free for all to exchange barbs from YS Jagan to CBN to Pawan Kalyan all outsmarting each other to project themselves as the protector of Telugu Language. The decision had triggered criticism from various groups and rival parties which alleged that the decision was taken without any ground work and that it would lead to dropouts from poor children.

It is height of hypocricy that when their children are not contributing to Telugu, they expected the children of subaltern sections to contribute. The ongoing slug fest between the leaders of the ruling party and the opposition manifests a larger issue — political leaders are often all too eager to portray themselves as protectors of the local language but don’t necessarily walk the talk when it comes to their own personal lives.

The paradox is that those who are questioning the decision of the government themselves send their children to the English medium schools. The whole political Tamasha over the protection of the Telugu brings us to one question- -Is it really necessary to make English a compulsory language in schools within a state where most people have the same mother tongue?

To be perfectly clear, no reasonable person could advocate that English should not be taught. At the same time, there is no reason to believe that such importance given to English would in any which way leads people forgetting their mother tongue. Therefore, what is perhaps most damning is the argument of the rival parties in AP that because of this importance given to the English language the culture of AP would die as it would lose out on generations of authors, activists, actors, artists, playwrights, innovators, orators, and businesspersons who would have otherwise contributed to, and enriched, their own language.

It seems evident that in the case of AP and elsewhere, multiple languages ought to be taught along with the Mother tongue and be taught well to allow individuals not only to operate in a globalized world but to also bring together local communities that have been fractured and segregated by the economics of language. While the politicos indulge in war of words in a language of abuse, most of the parents in AP prefer an English medium education for their children. It is incomprehensible that the majority of people in AP are being oppressed by the mere lack of knowledge of English language.

But considering the current inequality in education in government and private schools, the move to introduce English by the AP government, as compulsory language would put students from all schools at level playing field. The AP government has rightly understood the fact if its youth wants to compete against global powers, then they need to study and master over the English language.

Photo courtesy: Google

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