Not Hindi or English, the real language question is status of vernacular

Source– The post is based on the article “Not Hindi or English, the real language question is status of vernacular” published in The Indian Express on 22nd October 2022.
Syllabus: GS1- Regionalism
Relevance– Languages related issue
News- The article explains the issues related to the status of vernacular language in India. It also explains the state performance in solving the challenges posed by linguistic diversity.

What are the challenges posed by linguistic diversity?

Imposition of Hindi– It is related to establishing Hindi as primary language.

Status of vernacular language– The Indian language experiment has given political accommodation to so many languages. But the accommodation comes with a hierarchy. The main issue is that language identity and culture are different from the language of knowledge, privilege and access.

The vernacular had become increasingly confined to identity, culture, and a marker of second-class status.

English has been the language of power. It opens the frontiers of knowledge and access to privilege. Hindi language is seen as closing off the access to frontiers of knowledge in science ,law and civic studies.

What is the Indian state record in resolving language related issues?

The state has a good track record in resolving issues related to Hindi imposition. But it has not been able to resolve the issues related to the status of vernacular.

India’s two-language formula produces a superficial bilingualism. We may speak two or three languages. But we don’t have access to knowledge in two languages. The teaching of the third language is totally wasted. It gives no competence in that language.

Our translation mission has not been successful in translating knowledge in vernacular.

The parents are demanding English education. Many Dalits have glorified  English as a sign of emancipation. But the state also fails in providing equal access to English learning. Divisions have been created that are based on English fluency.

What is the way forward?

The focus should be on pedagogical rather than political issues. Knowledge should be provided in English in areas like research and science where access to knowledge in vernacular is not possible.

The ability to communicate fluently in vernacular languages will be a great asset. Those who did not get an English education, continuing vernacular education should be a medium of expanding their opportunities.

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