Paraphrasing Stephen Fry, I must say that language is my best friend, my mistress, my girl-friend, my goddess. How can a government decide my language?
The Central government is keen on making every Indian learn Hindi. My state government has ordered that Malayalam should compulsorily be taught in all schools in the state. CBSE schools in Kerala are discovering ingenious ways circumventing the problem caused by the state’s order. The latest is that they will teach Malayalam in grades 9 and 10 (to those students who have opted for another language) but will not include it in the assessment programme since CBSE has a two language curriculum.
What I fail to understand is why any language should be imposed on anyone. Don’t citizens have a right to choose the language they wish to fall in love with? Yes, for me language is a love affair. It is my means of expressing myself and giving shapes and colours to my dreams. It is the river which washes away my sorrows and agonies. My dreams and sorrows are all my personal affairs and I must have the liberty to choose the language for my personal affairs.
The state has to communicate with citizens too. Kerala government can choose to issue all official documents in Malayalam and I as a resident of the state will have to find my ways of deciphering the documents. Should the government bother whether I choose a translator or a mediator or a lawyer or whatever to find my Ariadne’s thread through the political labyrinths created by power-hungry bigots?
When someone chooses to impose a language on another, it is subordination of the other that is being sought. The present government of India is keen on imposing Hindi on the entire nation – more than half of which does not speak Hindi – because it wants to subordinate the nation to a single culture and religion.
Today’s Times of India reports that a school in Madhya Pradesh has been converted into a gaushala (cow shed). The panchayat had built two new rooms in order to accommodate the rising number of students in that “sleepy hamlet.” Now one Lakhan Singh Rajpoot whom the newspaper describes as “an influential person” (which in all probability means a criminal) has decided to accommodate cows in the new rooms while the hundred students will study in the “old, dilapidated building.”
This “influential” Rajpoot is a blueprint of governments which impose languages on people. While Rajpoot uses cows (which have suddenly emerged to occupy the centre stage of Indian politics) to deny education to certain sections of people and thus keep them subordinated, the governments use language to subordinate people. The people from non-Hindi speaking states will be highly disadvantaged if Hindi is made the official language of the country. While Rajpoot will reap personal benefits by keeping his cows in a school building, the government will reap political benefits by favouring a particular section of citizens using language as a weapon.
The BJP has been in power at the Centre for three years now. Cows seem to be the only creatures enjoying achche din as of now.