TODAY -

We can't lose more Boa SR

Kajal Chatterjee *



According to the 1961 census, India were hosting 1100 living languages at that time.

However a 2017 study carried out by the Bhasha Research and Publication Centre in Vadodara, under the title “People’s Linguistic Survey of India”, arrived at the conclusion that India has seen the death of 250 languages in last 56 years! Also the study has foreseen the death of another 400 languages in next 50 years!

So India would be then left with merely 450 languages within its geographical boundary. Going at this rate, it means that in just over a century, Mother India is set to witness unfortunate loss of 650 languages from her lap with each year killing an average of 6.5 tongues!

An UNESCO report had also pointed out several languages or dialects in India which are endangered and are believed to be heading towards extinction.

Extinction of hundreds of languages indicate the disappearance of diversity from the face of the earth. With the loss of languages, we lose entire societies, their culture and a storehouse of indigenous wisdom.

The social scientists and concerned authorities should rise to the occasion to rescue dying languages and cultures to keep heterogeneity and spirit of "equality of all languages" alive, else it will not reflect the Indian democracy in a glorifying light.

Mother tongue remains the most basic identity of an individual or a community. If it does not get its due place under the sun, then the community which speaks it is bound to meet its doom.

This is primarily the reason behind UNESCO's decision of designating 21st day of February( a red-letter day of Bengalis fighting against Urdu imperialists in erstwhile East Pakistan) as International Mother Language Day, thereby stressing the importance of mother tongue in one's life. Just as a child cannot be detached from his/her mother, similarly it would be nothing but a crime if any community gets robbed of its mother tongue.

One and only barbaric societies try to remain obsessed with brute numbers and act accordingly. Mahatma Gandhi had rightly commented “Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth”. After all truth is not any cheap reality show that its worth would be dependent upon the number of votes garnered.

In the same vein human rights is also not a vote-centric reality show. So Russian-American novelist Ayn Rand said “Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority”.

And right of a minority includes his/her linguistic right also. In 2010, the last speaker of Aka-Bo language passed away in Great Andaman along with the tradition and culture associated with the language.

She was named Boa Sr and this speaker of one of the world’s oldest languages met her end on Republic Day(26th January) which is certainly not a very good advertisement of Indian Republic --- constitutionally based on the noble concept of democracy ie equality of all!

However there lies no utility in crying over spilt milk. But if we try to regard ourselves as civilized, then we should definitely ensure that such scandalous history of literally fatal indifference to marginalized language and its speakers do not get repeated in future. So protection and promotion of each and every languages of India should be the urgent need of the hour.

All Indian students should definitely be taught their respective mother tongues in schools so as to make them aware of their roots, literature and cultural legacy.

When a child will remain thoroughly acquainted with his/her mother tongue, indigenous/official language of the state concerned and English; the child will not only grow up to be a confident personality, he/she will also acquire a national as well as international mindset, that too without getting detached from his/her roots.


* Kajal Chatterjee wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is based in Kolkata
This article was webcasted on March 04, 2020.



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