Monday April 23, 2018

Five reasons why Indian languages are getting neglected

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There is a growing concern that Indians are gradually getting uprooted from their bases leading to the extinction of a rich varied culture.

There are obvious reasons behind the increasing concern.

The advent of technology, inclination to ape foreign culture and cultural invasion of the West is gradually corroding the base of our culture. And regrettably, none of the governments took any serious measures to address this grave concern.

Never did any politician promise, in his election manifesto, that they would reinvigorate the lost glory of our languages and cultures.

Here are a few reasons why several Indian languages are staring at a bleak future.

Lack of government initiatives: After George Abraham Grierson conducted his survey on Indian languages between 1894 and 1928, it was the People’s Linguistic Survey of India which took up the uphill task of carrying out a comprehensive survey on Indian languages. Reportedly, it was the first survey in as many as 80 years. And what came out in the survey was appalling.

The body counted the staggering presence of 780 languages across India. Furthermore, the survey indicated that there might be over 100 more languages hidden in the nooks and corners of our vast country.

Lack of survey in over 80 years attributed greatly to the decay of Indian languages and the state it is in today.

Migration in search of livelihood: Many Indian settlements were set up near rivers and coastal areas and people indulged in various occupations including farming, fishing and others. With the influx of modern technologies, work became easier but people lost their livelihood. As a result, people started to migrate to other places. As the situation demanded they adapted to the new cultures and spoke new languages abandoning their mother tongues.

The Criminal Tribes Act: Criminal Tribes Act is gruesome act that brands a person as a criminal by virtue of his birth in a certain community. The legacy of the nomads continued to haunt the 313 nomadic tribes who lived in India. Economically crippled and hounded by government forces, the members of the tribes were forced to alienate themselves and forge a completely new identity. Lost were their cultures and their languages.

Reportedly over 60 million people belong to theses so-called nomadic tribes.

Notably, this Act was first enacted in 1871 as the Criminal Tribes Act, 1871. 

Lack of usage: Survival of any language depends on the fact that it is spoken regularly. English medium schools make it mandatory to speak in English forcing the students to abandon their mother tongue. In the process, local languages get neglected.

Influence of media: English media channels have created a niche for themselves. They claim to be the most authentic and propagate that watching them ‘enhances’ social status. Consequently, more and more people opt for English channels and regional language channels get overshadowed.  

In the words of Sankrant Sanu, India needs a proper language policy and a “Bhasa Andolan” to address the issue and restore the lost glory of the Indian languages.

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In the realm of ignorance: Koshur the neglected language?

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photo source : www.koshur.org

By Shriya Katoch

  • Koshur is the language of Kashmir, which is at least 750 years old.
  • Though, recognized as one among the 22 scheduled languages of India, the language is slowly disappearing.

HISTORY

The Kashmiri language known as “koshur” has many influences associated with it. It is one of the oldest languages in the world, with Indo-Aryan roots and has a very rich history.
The language itself has elements of different languages, borrowing from Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan, Russian, Persian, Punjabi, and even English.

Though its origin emerges from an ancient linguistic group of Dardi in the 8th and 9th century. According to European linguist G.T Venn, this time worn language has half of its words from Sanskrit, 33% from Tibetan, 10% Persian, 5% Hindi, and 2% from Dogri.

The Kashmiri language is the only Dardi language that has a literature of its own. In fact, Kashmiri literature dates back to about 750 years , this is equivalent to the age of modern English.

STRUCTURE

The Kashmiri language did not have its own script until the late 20th century. Three orthographical structures are set in place to write the Kashmiri language: the Sharada script, the Devangiri script, and the Peso Arabic script. After the 8th century AD the Kashmiri language was written in Sharada script, but this has been discontinued and has only been revisited by the Kashmiri Pandits during religious ceremonies.

In  modern times it is written in Peso -Arabic and Devangiri script. Through the times Kashmiri Peso Arabic script has been affiliated with the Muslim community, whereas the Devangiri script is associated with the Kashmiri Hindu community.

The reason why Koshur is different from other old Indo Aryan languages like Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, etc. is because it has retained its Aryan roots. Infact, some vocabulary features that Kashmiri preserves clearly date from the Vedic Sanskrit era and had already been lost even in Classical Sanskrit.

PRESENT SCENARIO

Even after surviving the test of time after 750 years,  Koshur is dying. The Koshur language is among the dying heritages of the world.

In a multilingual state like Kashmir, it is hard to make a language so time worn to survive. Though attempts have been made by the government.

Koshur has been declared as the official language of Jammu and Kashmir. It has also been included as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.

A group of writers in the Kashmir attempted to popularize the age old language to empty results. Finally, in 1980 government included Koshur in their academic syllabus and opened a Kashmiri department in Kashmir university, but all these attempts could not restore the tarnished language. Only the older population in Kashmir uses this language,with most youngsters using  more common languages like Urdu, Hindi or English.

As of November 2008 Kashmiri language has been made a compulsory subject in all schools in the valley up to the secondary level.

Despite all these attempts made by the government to restore the glory of this age old language, the attempts have been made way too late. The government needs to create a way in which  this centennial old language can be a common tongue in households.

Shriya Katoch multitasks as an Engineering student, an avid reader, a guitar player and a death note fan. Twitter: @katochshriya538

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