Oppose attempts at reducing the status of National languages to local languages

On the occasion of International Mother languages Day, today, we announce the inauguration of Bharatiya Bhasha Samooh and declare our intention to make people aware of the imminent threat to their languages. We will resist and expose every attempt  to downgrade Indian languages.

There are 22 major Indian languages, constitutionally recognized as national languages and so called dialects, or languages without scripts. But they are being downgraded and removed from the national scene by pushing them back to particular regional boundaries. The worse part of it is, the languages spoken in the South of Vindhya are getting step-motherly treatment just because their basic structure is non-Aryan.

This government has worked to belittle all languages; instances have come to light that make the government intentions clear.

In the universities languages are relegated to the secondary status. The language is taught as the seventh subject which means it is not necessary to score marks in a language paper;

Language academies have to manage with meager budgets that may not be enough even for the upkeep of the existing dispensation.

Recently Prasar Bharati has taken the decision to shift its language news broadcasts from the national capital to different regions of the country. The argument is, the news bulletins in a language are being listened to only in a particular region. This shows that the government thinks that these are but local languages.

The excuses given are:

There is staff shortage. This is unacceptable because the staff can always be recruited if the government decides to do so. There has been no new appointment to the language news set up in the last 20 years. Languages are made to suffer the artificial staff shortage and manage with empanelled Casual Assignees who are booked for a limited period of say 72 days in a year. Since the language bulletins are managed by the casual and contract staff for so many years we must presume that there is a sufficient number of people available within the framework of employment decided by the government. After all, states are not independent sovereign nations that follow different recruitment policies. Staff shortage is the creation of the government.

Dearth of talent: They also argue that there is a dearth of talent in languages in the national capital and by shifting bulletins the AIR would be able to use local talent for its news bulletins. It is inconceivable that the talent was in abundance in the past but has dried out in 2017? Rather, there is now greater mobility resulting in various languages being spoken in a region.

It is a myth that listeners are confined to the main language area.

This myth is being deliberately spread to justify the attack on languages. There are people speaking languages other than the main regional language in a particular state. People now do not confine themselves to the areas where the only language spoken is their mother tongues. The government policy completely ignores these listeners who reside outside their mother-tongue areas.

The reason for shifting national languages is to be found in the government design to have one national language for the entire nation. Sindhi, Bengali, Punjabi and Tamil, are cross-border languages. Sindhi enjoyed vast following in the Sindh of Pakistan, Bangladesh speaks Bengali, Tamil bulletins were listened to in Jafna region of Sri Lanka and Punjabi bulletins are being listened to in Lahore. Instead of downgrading them, they should be promoted as cross-border languages.

Punjabi is not Delhi’s language, so thinks the government.  Delhi has a vast population of Punjabis. But ignoring this segment, Punjabi bulletins are also being shifted to Chandigarh. Already, Doordarshan has  stopped telecasting a Punjabi language programme PUNJABI DARPAN which was running for the last 32 years.

There is no Sindhi speaking state! New services Division of All India Radio shifted three languages: Sindhi, Kannada and Telugu to particular regions in 2005. Though, the Sindhi speaking people do not have their own state, the Sindhi bulletins were sent to Ahmedabad. Sindhi population is spread over different regions of the country: They are in Kutch and Ahmedabad in Gujarat, In Mumbai in Maharashtra, in Jaipur in Rajasthan, in Indore in Madhya Pradesh. What was the logic behind sending it to Gujarat?If there was dearth of talent in Delhi, what is the condition in Ahmedabad?The fact is, had the government properly evaluated the listening area of the Sindhi news bulletins these would have been retained in Delhi.

The same is the case with Kannada and Telugu.  These bulletins were shifted to Bengaluru and Hyderabad. There is more regional content now in these bulletins than the national or international, and the authorities have never bothered to correct the situation. Those who want to know more about the other regions of the country have perforce to change over to Hindi or English bulletins. The shifting has thus reduced the listening of language bulletins.

History is being wiped out : Language bulletins were started in Delhi in the wake of WWII and later, during wars with neighbouring countries. This is the history which records first footsteps of none other than Sardar Patel who had launched 6 national language bulletins from Delhi as the first I&B minister and made talent available in Delhi. His admirers make an about turn. The quality of language bulletins will suffer.

There are somw specific terms used in a particular culture, like Lavni, Jallikattu, Ghallughaara, Kaar seva, Onam, Pongal, Lohri, Bisu,These are not prevalent among people outside that frame of culture. India is with many cultural and linguistic traditions. Presently the language news staff exchanges notes when required but now we should expect a language editor in one place to call up his counterpart at some other station learn such cultural nuances.. Even emails and internet can not be faster than the direct access which is available now in Delhi where all languages work together. Ultimately, it will reduce the status of languages from national to local. People will stop thinking in terms of broader cultural perspective.

Diffusion in Delhi, concentration in states. Simultaneously with this diffusion Government is also moving towards concentration of bulletins broadcast from different regions of a state. There are local stations that cater to local population of a region in a state.  Almost all states have more than one originating stations. All will be brought to the state capitals under one roof.
Only NDA government makes such attempts. 

It is not a coincidence that the attempts to shift the language bulletins  get a fresh lease of life whenever the NDA government is in power. Sindhi,  Kannada and Telugu bulletins in Delhi were killed in 2005 as planned by the then NDA government, and again the unfinished agenda is vigorously taken up. From 1st March Assamese, Odiya and Tamil bulletins will stop broadcasts from Delhi, and other languages too will follow suit from 15th March.

What is the reason behind this paradoxical policy?

We suspect that this plan is is linked to the plan of handing over news broadcasts to Hindusthan Samachar, the RSS controlled news agency. It was quietly given opportunity to run Hindi and English News Rooms of News Services division of AIR on trial basis for three months from July to October. There was no competition for such a trial and the trial was conducted without any immediate reason or justification. The agency   has already announced it plans to train 2000 persons in the news making process in all languages over a period of two years. We can expect Hindusthan Samachar to take over the Radio news in the states before the 2019 General Elections.

The situation is bad for the ideal of Unity in Diversity.

Bharatiya Bhasha Samooh

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