By Joga Singh
Why Indian Languages are Essential for India’s Development?
Respected Indian Citizens, English language has invaded various significant Indian linguistic domains exclusive to mother tongues. India is suffering great developmental losses due to this. This harmful invasion has been caused by some illusions. These illusions are that only English is the language of international exchange, commerce, science and technology and Indian languages are incapable of becoming a vehicle for the higher level of knowledge.
But the facts demonstrate that these conceptions are mere myths and are not supported by any evidence. The following facts need attention in this regard:
- In the year 2012, the nine of the top ten countries in teaching of Science and Mathematics at school level were the ones where medium of instruction is not English;
- Only a few of the top 50 universities in Asia are the ones where English is the language of instruction and none of the Indian universities is among them;
- In the 17thcentury (when barely any Indian knew English), the Indian share in world trade was 22 (twenty two) per cent. It came down to 1.78 per cent by 1950 and now hovers around 1.5 (one and a half) per cent;
- The international expert opinion and practice overwhelmingly support the view that education, particularly at the school level, can be imparted successfully only through the mother tongue medium, and;
- The following words from the field of medical science and their Hindi equivalents make it clear that our languages do possess vocabulary for each field of knowledge or it can be obtained with a very little effort:Haem – रक्त; Haemacyte – रक्त-कोशिका; Haemagogue – रक्त-प्रेरक; Haemal – रक्तीय; Haemalopia – रक्तीय-नेत्र; Haemngiectasis – रक्तवाहिनी-पासार; Haemangioma – रक्त-मस्सा; Haemarthrosis – रक्तजोड़-विकार; Haematemesis – रक्त-वामन; Haematin – लौहरकतीय; Haematinic – रक्तवर्धक; Haematinuria – रक्तमूत्र; Haematocele – रक्त-ग्रन्थि/सूजन; Haematocolpos – रक्त-मासधर्मरोध; Haematogenesis – रक्त-उत्पादन; Haematoid – रक्तरूप; Haematology – रक्त-विज्ञान; Haematolysis – रक्त-ह्रास; Haematoma – रक्त-ग्रन्थि।
As these examples illustrate, the complete vocabulary of each language is constructed out of some limited basic elements, called roots and affixes. And there is no marked difference among languages with regard to these basic elements. Thus, all languages are equal in terms of their lexical capacity.
The poor international ranking of Indian educational institutions, the constant fall of Indian share in world trade, the expert opinion on language issues and the contemporary international linguistic scene and practices provide irrefutable evidence that India has suffered great losses by handing over our mother tongue domains to the English language and neither we have gained anything by this nor are we going to gain. One significant reason for India’s lagging behind countries such as South Korea, Japan and China, etc. is the intrusion of English language in Indian education and other important domains.
It is true that in the present globalized world, foreign language skills are an essential ability. But, even here, the experience and research show that a student imparted education through mother tongue and studying foreign language as a subject learns the foreign language better than the one imparted education through that foreign language from the beginning. The following statement from a UNESCO book (Improvement in the Quality of Mother Tongue – Based Literacy and Learning, published in 2008, pp. 12) is very much relevant here: ‘What seems to be standing in our way is a set of myths about language and learning, and these myths must be revealed as such to open people’s eyes. One such myth is that the best way to learn a foreign language is to use it as a medium of instruction. (In fact, it is often more effective to learn additional languages as subjects of study.) Another is that to learn a foreign language you must start as early as possible. (Starting early might help learners to have a nice accent, but otherwise, the advantage goes to learners who have a well developed first language.) A third is that the home language gets in the way of learning a foreign language. (Building a strong foundation in the first language results in a better learning of additional languages.) Clearly, these myths are more false than true, yet they guide the way policymakers tend to think about how speakers of other languages must learn dominant or official languages.’
Some more key factors about language matters are also essential to be considered: 1) In modern times, the life and development of a language depends on its being the medium of instruction. A language can sustain itself only if it is used in various domains of human life; 2) The English medium instruction is producing a generation which has no appreciable mastery neither over the mother tongues nor over English and neither it can connect intimately with their own culture, tradition, history and people; 3) The Indian constitution (an epitome of wisdom of the freedom movement) gives a right to every Indian citizen to receive education and services in the mother tongue (see article 347 and 350A); 4. Almost all of the countries start teaching foreign language after the age of ten. The foreign language skill of these children is not less than Indian children. Also, most of these countries are ahead of us in education and development as well.
Therefore, we earnestly request the Indian people to deeply reflect upon the present linguistic situation in India in the light of the facts cited above so that a correct and scientific language policy could be put in place. We Indians are already very late in this and India has suffered great developmental losses due to this. The developmental losses of far greater proportion are bound to happen if the present policies are continued. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Kuvempu Bhasha Bharti Pradhikara, the Karnataka government’s organization for Kannada language, organized a seminar in which the linguists active in defence of Indian mother tongues were invited. It was decided there to take out a Mother Tongue March in Delhi on 21st February, 2015, the International Mother Tongue Day. We earnestly request all Indian citizens to participate in this march in big numbers.
A booklet titled ‘International Opinion on Language Issues: Mother Tongue is the Key to Education, Knowledge, Science and English Learning’ provides detailed information on the findings of worldwide research and expert opinion on language matters and the current international linguistic scene. This document is available in Punjabi, Hindi, Dogri, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Maithili, Urdu and English at the web site http://punjabiuniversity.academia.edu/JogaSingh/papers . Contact +91-9915709582 or firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain this document by e-mail or in print. You can also watch one video (in English) on language issues at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xaio_TyWAAY&feature=youtu.be
Please make your contribution to the struggle for Indian languages by further publicizing the facts given here and in the document mentioned above. VICTORY TO THE MOTHER TONGUES!