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Emphasis on Multilingualism in NEP 2020 –And its necessity

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer

The NEP 2020 details in Introduction i.e its text from: 4.9 about – Multilingualism and the power of language. To know why multilingualism is necessary for the country and what urgent things have led to the promotion of multilingualism, were deliberated threadbare in a Conclave, the minutes of it are given here:

Reasons for promoting multilingualism in India: 

“A Conclave on Diversity of Indian Languages” by name Gyana Sangam was organised under the aegis of Pragna Bharati on 2nd and 3rd of March-2019 in Hyderabad. In that Conclave many nationalistic thinkers, academicians, researchers and entrepreneurs were involved in discussing to bring out a linguistic ecosystem for the integration and growth of Bharat. They all opined that strength of India lies in the country’s language diversity, which in turn paves the way for multilingualism. 

Shri Panchanan Mohanty, Retd Professor Hyderabad Central University (HCU) in his Keynote speech said-‘five thousand years old Indian languages have been unifying our tradition. Sanskrit nourished most of the languages. The problem in this country is, unlike in Japan-Japanese, Russia –Russian, Germany-German, there is no language to name with in India. Here, in India, one can have as many as his own i.e. multilingualism. If you learn your language, you can learn your culture; culture is a part of language’.

‘Mother Tongues are like mother’s milk that is necessary for a child for its physical and mental growth at initial stages. A person who is weak in mother tongue is weak in other tongue also. If we want to promote primary education in mother tongue, we need to discuss when a second language should be introduced,’ he said.

Salient points of eminent speakers in the Conclave:

  1. The government of India should formulate the ‘Language Education Policy’. In each state, if non-natives speak the natives’ language, they should be appreciated and honoured.
  2.  “India is a darshan of all languages and traditions, the country is known for its tolerance and universal acceptance”, ‘Bharat is a Darshan’- in reality.
  3. There is a lot of debate going on in the country, on how a market-oriented language (English) is sidelining the mother tongue. By mechanically following the western-model, Indians are not critically thinking of what is happening.
  4. When Indian languages are going to be eliminated by the domination and onslaught of English language, it is extremely problematic.  In India we have no single language to speak throughout the country. Hence, a comprehensive policy is needed.
  5. Peoples’ languages or mother tongues are seriously neglected. They are going to be endangered, since India has no language policy in the country. Hence, multilingualism should be promoted. It creates the child more intelligence and more cognitive effects. Even researchers say to that effect.
  6.  Hindi and Urdu are not different; they only have two different scripts. At the ground level, they are the same. Arabic has nothing in common with Urdu than it has with Persian.
  7. In India only scheduled languages get patronize of the government whereas non-scheduled languages do not. So, tribals opt for bilingualism leading to language loss of one of their languages.
  8. Interestingly, Studies show that Indians get Dementia at a late age compared to Americans because of multilingualism which works on their cognitive domain better.
  9. Mother tongue works on eco-system also. If a student is asked to name ten birds in English, he takes time whereas in mother tongue he says quickly with ease. That shows for conservation of environment/ flora and fauna, mother tongue is important.
  10. Mahatma Gandhi’s words with regard to English education were reminded. According to Gandhi ji, ‘the English-education-mask, has emasculated the English educated Indian; put a strain on his nerves and energy. With imitators (of English), no country can rise. The whole nation is emasculated. We can never become proper Bharat’.

Against this background Gyana Sangam: A Conclave on Diversity of Indian Languages worked to promote mother tongue and multilingualism, said Professor Mohanty at the end to the audiences present in the auditorium. Of course he also added, ‘now, in India, English is no more an alien language. English is going to stay in this country. The knowledge of English is beneficial’.

Shri Bhanuchander Nagarajan, Govt Representative from corporate spoke at length on Societal Responsibilities towards preservation of Indian Languages. He said without protecting a language, one cannot promote it. As a matter of fact, he said 1971-war of Indo- Pakistan that led to the creation of Bangladesh was a language-war. That was for the Bengali-identity of Bangladeshis. Language is the fundamental glue. Languages have not died; they may slowly die, if not protected.

‘With mobility and technology, one can acquire multilingualism. Nowadays people are travelling a lot on business purposes (across India) where they need to learn the local language. Politicians of south India are not averse to learn Hindi to play a major role in at the Centre in Delhi!’ he said in a lighter vein.

Perhaps with above background and the contemplation made by the speakers, that equally resonate in many intellectual circles, the government went ahead to incorporate multilingualism in NEP 2020. After all, it is the duty of every individual to protect his/her language. Finally, to protect one’s own language is, to protect one’s own identity and culture.

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer
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