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All hail Sanskrit – the most perfect language ever

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By Harshmeet Singh

In 2011, Kendriya Vidyalaya Schools (KVS) introduced foreign languages such as Spanish and German in classes 6th to 8th as the third language, replacing Sanskrit. This move was challenged in the Delhi High Court by Sanskrit Shikshak Sangh, which argued that “The action of the respondents (KVS and CBSE) would cause irreparable damage to Sanskrit language and Indian culture and as a result, the next generation would not learn Sanskrit and hardly have any knowledge of Sanskrit and the rich ancient Indian culture.”

While the Delhi HC asked KVS to file a response to the PIL in July 2014, the Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani declared that “teaching of German language as an option to Sanskrit will be discontinued herewith”. However, she didn’t make Sanskrit a compulsory language in schools and stated that German would still be a part of the curriculum as a foreign language. Most of Irani’s critics slammed her for forcing the students to learn Sanskrit which, according to them, is a dead language and doesn’t serve any purpose.

The idea of making it a Sanskrit v/s German affair is flawed in itself when there is enough space to accommodate both the languages. And if there is actually a battle among languages, Sanskrit indeed stands out among the crowd. Our habit of slamming Sanskrit as ‘useless’ and replacing it with something European is in line with our typical affinity towards anything ‘foreign’ at the cost of our own traditions. German was introduced in KVS in 2011 after a MoU was signed with the Goethe Institute of the Max Mueller Bhavan. While many ‘critics’ questioned the Government’s decision to abruptly introduce Sanskrit in place of German in 2014, no on raised an eye brow when the students of Sanskrit were suddenly forced to take up German in 2011 and the Sanskrit teachers were overnight asked to turn into German teachers!

For a language to be taught to the students, it must jell well with the national culture and history. On this ground, German is an outcast in our schools. In comparison, no language played a bigger role in shaping up the Indian history and culture than Sanskrit. Sanskrit’s status as ‘India’s greatest literary language’ is undisputed. Contrary to the popular belief, Sanskrit was much more than a Hindu language. Ancient Indian works in the field of Music, Science and Arts have been discovered written in Sanskrit.

Experts regard Sanskrit as the ‘most scientific human language ever’. Sanskrit is probably the only known language in the world boasting of a context free grammar, which makes sentence formation utterly precise, based on set rules. Panini’s attempt at bringing together all the set rules of Classical Sanskrit is still regarded as one of the most thorough researches undertaken on any language. Many experts have also drawn parallels between the present day computer coding and Panini’s attempt at deriving set rules for classical Sanskrit’s grammar. Our attempts at discarding the ‘most perfect language ever invented’ are a true reflection of our disregard towards Indian traditions.

 

 

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Amidst Controversy, President Distributed 65th National Film Awards

Irani also hailed the noticeable presence of regional cinema and talent and also drew attention to how over 20 women were honoured at the stage.

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Iconic actress Sridevi was posthumously honoured at the 71st Cannes Film Festival. Filmmaker Subhash Ghai, who received the award on her behalf, says he felt honoured.
Sridevi gotthe TITAN Reginald F. Lewis Film Icon Award at 71st Cannes Film Festival. Wikimedia commons

Controversy marred the 65th National Film Awards ceremony here on Thursday with several awardees protesting against the whittling down of the number of those to be honoured by the President to a select 11.

Upset over breaking from the long-held tradition of the President giving away all the awards, around 60 awardees wrote to the Directorate of Film Festivals, President’s office and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, over the “discrimination”.

The name plates of the absentee winners were placed facing down at the Vigyan Bhawan, where several others from across the length and breadth of the country congregated to celebrate the diversity of India and Indian cinema.

Celebrated names like K.J. Yesudas and A.R. Rahman, apart from actors Riddhi Sen, Divya Dutta and Pankaj Tripathi and a host of others attended the gala.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore handed out the remainder of the 125 awards at the event, which was also devoid of a musical performance unlike every year.

Another posthumous honour went to Sridevi, whose powerful performance in her last film "Mom" fetched her the Best Actress Award. Her husband Boney Kapoor and two daughters -- Jahnvi and Khushi -- took the stage together to receive what was Sridevi's first National Award in a career of 50 years.
Boney Kapoor and daughter receiving Sridevi’s award from President, BollywoodCountry

The prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award — the country’s highest cinema honour — was given posthumously to Vinod Khanna, whose wife Kavita Khanna and son Akshaye Khanna received it. It was an “emotional and proud moment,” Akshaye said.

Another posthumous honour went to Sridevi, whose powerful performance in her last film “Mom” fetched her the Best Actress Award. Her husband Boney Kapoor and two daughters — Jahnvi and Khushi — took the stage together to receive what was Sridevi’s first National Award in a career of 50 years.

President Ram Nath Kovind, who joined the ceremony in the latter half, said: “We will miss them forever… More than just box office successes, they tugged at our hearts and captured our emotions.”

He said India’s strength lies in its diversity, and cinema celebrates it by having a unifying voice which transcends regions. He spoke about the “transformational times for cinema” and how “India is gaining traction as a filmmaking destination”.

Irani also hailed the noticeable presence of regional cinema and talent and also drew attention to how over 20 women were honoured at the stage.

All the officials who took to the mike thanked the President for his presence. However, the question many were left with after this edition of the ceremony, is why all the winners were not felicitated by the President.

In the letter, the protesting awardees said they felt “dejected rather than honoured” for their work.

It was on Wednesday that the awardees were informed that a large segment of the awards will not be presented by the President. They discussed the matter with Irani the same evening and were promised a reply.

"...We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of the honour of this appreciation of a once-in-a-lifetime moment of pride and glory that the National Film Awards had promised us."
Smriti Irani, Information and Broadcasting Minister- wikimedia commons

“In the circumstance of not receiving a response for our grievance, we are left with no option but to be absent for the ceremony. We do not intend to boycott the award, but are not attending the ceremony to convey our discontent…

“It feels like a breach of trust when an institution/ceremony that abides by extreme protocol, fails to inform of such a vital aspect of the ceremony with prior notice. It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy.

“…We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of the honour of this appreciation of a once-in-a-lifetime moment of pride and glory that the National Film Awards had promised us.”

Also Read: Akshay Talks About Building a ‘Society’ 

The President handed over the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Nargis Dutt Award for Feature Films on National Integration, Best Book on Cinema, Best Direction (non-feature film), Best Jasari Film, Best Male Playback Singer, Best Music Direction (songs and background music), Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Direction (feature film), Best Feature Film and Best Editing.

Singer Shashaa Tirupati felt “terribly disrespected”.

Shashaa, who bagged the Best Female Playback Singer for “Vaan varuvaan” from “Kaatru Veliyidai”, told IANS: “It’s like the thrill of it is gone now… National Awards and the President go hand-in-hand. For 64 years, they have been given by the President. When you speak of the National Award, automatically people visualise the President handing over the award to the recipient.”

Riddhi Sen, the Best Actor winner for the film “Nagarkirtan”, received the honour from the President. But he found the decision for others unfair.

“This is discrimination and this is absolutely unfair.” (BollywoodCountry)