By Satya Sista
Your article, Macaulay’s Children, set me on a tour of introspection and deep thinking. It made me wonder, whether the ease with which some of our countrymen are able write in English and receive world wide acclaim is due to their proficiency in English or the lack of it in their mother tongue or the other Indian Languages. Not being a literary man myself, I am unable to go in to the depth of their minds and see whether their thought process is western or Indian, whether their characters depict true Indians or mostly Westerners, with shades of Indians thrown in to them. Not being born in this era of Western influence, I shudder at the thought of the gradual disappearance of the regional languages, when most of our younger generation does not know how to read or write their mother tongue. Let alone writing in their mother tongue or regional languages, they are even deprived of the joy to read great works in their own language, understand each and every word in the same mental frame as the author, visualize each and every situation and feel one with the characters of the book.
Am I wrong in so thinking? I question my inner self. May be, it says. It is often said that when this World is becoming a Global Village, language should not become a barrier for expression and one should do so in which ever language one feels comfortable. Is that so? I question it again. Yes, it says and continues “The present day generation is not to be blamed for their lack of interest in their mother tongue. It is not their fault if they have not learnt how to read and write their mother tongue or if they are unable to understand and appreciate the great Indian folklore or Epics, or if they do not have an ear for the Indian classical music. The fault is more deep routed. It is in their parents, in their grand parents and even in the society itself. How many of us will support a family member, who wants to study Indian languages or Indian culture? Instead of feeling happy that here is a person who is truly interested in his or her roots, we will try our best to discourage that person and try to lure him or her in to more socially acceptable and commercially viable options. This is an era, where everything which is homegrown is despised and western is lapped up and generation after generation is only strengthening the feeling. It is not restricted to literature alone; it has gone to the extent of our very nerve centre. Don’t you know that English is the passport for success in the present era and don’t you want your children in their higher studies or careers abroad? Don’t you want proudly announce to your near and dear the achievements of your children abroad and the way they are contributing to the growth of a foreign land? Don’t you remember the Indian Ethos, where in, we work for universal peace and universal brotherhood? Simply stop being a regionalist and raise to the level of a Global Citizen”
Oh! My God! What a brainwash. I say to myself. It is nothing but self effacing rhetoric, I quip. Why is my inner self not aligned to my way of thinking? Why can’t it strongly support my views?. As if hearing my thoughts, it says again “ Don’t be discouraged. I do not say that your views are wrong. They are only out of time and out of context. To bring back our Indian languages to their erstwhile glory, it may require a zealous crusader, to change the system of our learning, the mindset of our society and the focus of our future generations. Though English as a language can not be dethroned, we can at best bring our regional languages to an equal level”
In so saying my inner self fell silent leaving a herculean task in my hands and my mind full of thoughts.
Major ( Retd ) SN Sista
H.No 11-13-162, Rd No 3,
Alakapuri, Hyderabad – 500035