In last decade or so, Jharkhand has been really unfortunate to have seen short-sighted and vision-less Politicians, they have time-and–again become active participants in destroying the very essence of Jharkhand, its rich language, culture, religion, social-fabric, historical-heritage, et al.
On 30th August, the Jharkhand Cabinet gave its nod to the accord second languages to the following local tribal languages and non-tribal languages.
On 3rd September, the Jharkhand Assembly passed the Language Bill. After getting the Governor’s approval, the Raj Basha Department would notify it in the gazette. No doubt this Language Bill should have come a decade earlier; still we praise the government, it is better late than never. One should remember that Urdu was already given second language status way back in 2000, when Jharkhand parted way with Bihar.
Second language to Bengali & Oriya
Nonetheless, in 2011, our cash-starved State Government did not stop with the above mentioned nine languages; they went ahead and granted second language status to the following two more languages, and it is likely to put extra burden on the Jhakhand’s limited exchequer.
10. Bengali (recognized state language of Bengal)
11. Oriya (recognized state language of Orissa)
Many of the Jharkhandi Intellectuals too have criticized the Government’s decision to grant second language status to the above two languages; according to them it reeks of sheer myopic vision of our Jharkhandi Political Class. As they believe that the above two non-Jharkhandi languages are going to eat into the resources meant for Jharkhandi languages. Besides, both Bengali and Oriya are very popular languages that do not need the support of Jharkhand Government to stay alive. Their present status is quite unlike the Jharkhandi languages mentioned herein.
Most of the Jharkhandi Languages are facing serious threat of extinction unless the state government takes necessary steps to safeguard their interests. For instance, few other Jharkhandi languages like Asur, Birhor, Bhumij, Malto(Pahariya), etc. have yet to received the due recognition from myopic Jharkhand Government, who fails to realize that these Jharkhandi languages faces certain extinction due to the wrong policies of the State Government.
But, what really happens when a language dies?
Well to answer this, let me quote a linguistic expert, “The effects could be culturally devastating. Each language is like a key that can unlock local knowledge about medicinal secrets, ecological wisdom, weather and climate patterns, spiritual attitudes, and artistic and mythological histories.”
Well now let us analyze why Jharkhand Government’s decision to grant second language status to Bengali and Oriya language is being condemned by Jharkhandis?
- Firstly, Both Bengali and Oriya have had the great past and they undoubtedly have bright future, so they do not need the patronage of Jharkhand Government, a neighbouring state, to blossom in the future.
- Secondly, it is harsh reality that these nine Jharkhandi languages are fast losing their support bases, even among their traditional speakers of these languages. Majority of the youngsters belonging to the above mentioned tribal and non-tribal Jharkhandi communities are unable to learn their mother tongue, as they lack of the learning opportunities in the schools and college across the state. These Jharkhandis languages have been grossly neglected in the last century, both in pre-independence and post-independence. No doubt, many of them are in the verge of extinction.
- Thirdly, these two great languages (Bengali and Oriya) quite unlike Jharkhandi languages, they do not face the threat of certain demise unless official patronage is extended. Presently, these Jharkhandi languages are gasping for breath and they need life-support system soon. As a famous saying goes, other (linguistic) trees do not really have high chances of survival, when they are planted in vicinity of huge Banyan (Bengali, Oriya and Others) trees.
- Fourthly, it is unforgiving truth that the languages spoken by the major tribes of Bengal (viz., Santal, Oraon, Munda, Bhumij, etc.) and that of Orissa (viz., Kondh, Gond, Santal, Oraon, Koya, Bhumij, etc.); their respective languages were ignored by the Governments of two state.
- Nonetheless, the Tribal (Adivasi) population at Jharkhand has always wondered about the status of numerous Tribal languages in these two states. Only in the recent month, Bengal Government has initiated some corrective measures in this regard; but still they have long way to go to save the tribal languages. Meanwhile, the Orissa Government remains indifferent and continues with their apathetic towards the languages of tribal population of their state.
- Fifthly, most of the Indian States boast of heterogeneous population, and Jharkhand is no different. So; we have Oriya population working in Maharashtra, and they learn Marathi to work in the state; or for that matter many Bengalis working in Delhi learn Hindi; similarly, we have Bihari population working in Punjab, who freely converse in Punjabi.
Why politics over languages?
Do these linguistic groups ask these three states to accord second language status to their respective languages? No, we don’t think so.
If we start using the criteria of ‘percentage of population speaking a certain language’ in a particular State to accord Official Status, then there is no end to it. The vested interest would keep playing Linguistic–Politics with divisive agenda resulting in devastating consequence for the common people leading to mayhem.
Why further divide people in the name of language, as if castes, religions and regions were not enough?
Then why do some aspiring Politicians (leaders) float their Community (language) outfits and then indulge in dirty Politics of Language one-upmanship in Jharkhand? As if they are whole and sole angel guardian of their language, done at the cost of Jharkhandi languages.
For one the awarding of second language status opens the door for the numerous government sops and government funding for these languages.
One, the Government Advertisements in the newspapers and magazines would be required to be published in these new official languages.
Two, the Government Correspondents could take place in these new official languages.
Three, as a spin-off, it entails new-job opportunities for the people conversant in these languages, specifically in government departments, government aided schools and colleges, etc.
Four, it gives ample opportunities to these aspiring linguistic Politicians to push their people to occupy bulk of the job and other opportunities.
Five, no other state, we repeat no other Indian state has so many languages listed as First / Second Official Language. Now, resource-starved Jharkhand has given official status to more than 10 languages. It exposes the extravagant ways of Jharkhand Government.
One could safely declare that the ‘Award for Most Number of Official Language’ goes to Jharkhand!!
Six, the Jharkhandi Political Class have taken steps to take away precious government funds from deserving Jharkhandi languages. Figuratively speaking, let us explain what Jharkhand Government has done, it has taken a piece of Pie (Language Budget) and divide it into extra two pieces at the obvious cost of Jharkhandi Languages. Thereby, the Jharkhandi languages’ rightful shares are being cannibalized at the behest of short-sighted incumbent Jharkhand Government.
What is the right way for Jharkhand Government?
Yet, we would like the Jharkhand Government to take initiative to set-up dedicated linguistic departments in various universities across Jharkhand that would teach not only Bengali, Oriya, Maithili, but also various Indian and foreign languages. In the Jharkhand School Board, we have already recognized these languages as subjects. We believe this is a right way to honour these great languages (besides many others) and not to give political-colours to this sensitive linguistic issue.
We know and realize that with this myopic Language Bill, the present Jharkhand Government has shown its thoughtlessness and utter disregard to the fact is that our ancestors have diligently created these Jharkhandi languages and it is our shared responsibility to keep these languages alive. Perhaps it is time to remind our Political Leaders, to think beyond the short-term gains, petty vote-bank politics, to take concrete actions for the welfare of Jharkhadis and to safeguard their cultural and languages.
We hope that better sense prevail among the political rulers of Jharkhand.
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