Friday, May 11, 2012

Cultural Divorcity

The tag line or should I say defining phrase of this country since Independence has been ‘Unity in Diversity’.We Indians have felt proud about the diversity that we find in our country,be it about languages,religion,beliefs,colour,ethnicities you name it and this country has it,if at all United Nations was formed with just Indians from diverse backgrounds it would still represent the world is my belief. The diversity of India has amazed the world and it still sees it in awe and respect,and this not a recent phenomenon like say United States where there is diversity which is not as much of the spectrum as you see in India,but diversity in India is as old as human history itself and so is its ‘Unity in Diversity’ .

What amazes about the diversity more; is that, India for thousands of years has been attacked by Invaders and the British, the two outsiders with whom India has had a tough time dealing with, Invaders came to this country to destroy the culture, religions, heritage and loot the riches and abuse the natives, they did succeed partially in doing so, which I would see as the dark times of our civilization and not just as a country. The britishers too did the same thing,but at some times were a little more civilized than the savage Invaders,despite this still they both became assimalated with this culture and adopted its ethos.

So what makes India, India is the diversity and sustainance of this diverstiy for thousands of years and seeing oneness in everything despite the differences has been the hallmark of the people for ages. Sadly thats not the case anymore, since Independence in 1947 instead of acknowledgeing that it as a mainstay of the identity of this country, we have started to despise this diversity and even shed our own diversity to be more accepted, this holds more for langauges,the beauty of this country lies in the number of languages and various dialects and the variations in those languages from region to region. India after independence adopted a language based policy for the division of its various provinces and princely states, meaning a majority of people who spoke a particular language were part of a state which had that as the offocial language of that particular state, this was a great decision to protect the linguical identity of the people and thus maintain the diversity,but everything went downhill from here.

It is true that India needs a common language, but should this be at the cost of other languages? Is one language more important than another? If not then why is one language forced upon others.

The Problems:

1) The policies of the government and those in power haves been hostile to other languages,even the attitude of majority is condescending to the rest,for example North Indians have no respect to southern languages or Marathi/Konkani/Gujarati whenever a North Indian comes to southern states seldom do you see them showing interest in the local language or culture,and its just not ignorning, a lot of times you see them mocking the local culture and the locals in general,even after staying for 4 or 5 years say in Bengaluru they won’t learn a word of Kannada,but a Kannadiga is expected to learn Hindi else he/she is branded as un-indian,unpartiotic etc etc.Coming to a different state it’s the duty of the person who is an outsider to learn thelocal  language to mix up with the locals,this never happens and this creates an imbalance in the society much to the chagrin of the locals who start blaming the outsiders for destroying local culture.

2) Large scale migration of work-force from one-state to another is also a reason for the social imbalance that we find today, Workers both skilled and unskilled are coming to cities which have huge job opportunities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai from the North, yes they have constitutional right to be anywhere in this country just like any other Indian, but is such a migration so far away from their homes a good development? Many of them have to travel 2-3 days by train to reach their homes, doesn’t anybody see something wrong with this?  Why cant there be job opportunities in UP/Bihar or any other state from where large scale worker migration happens to other distant states.

3) Even in South Indian context  the problem exists, someone from a southern state coming to Karnataka speaks English and makes little effort to learn Kannada,but when a kannadiga goes to a neighbouring southern state he/she will feel like fish out of water as every local will mainly speak and reply to you in their language even if they know a common language like English(although things might be changing slowly in other states too),this is also a major cause of concern as it pertains to the attitude of people and that particular society,this shows the dominating attitude of some languages by way of refusal to learn the local language when in other state at the same time expecting everybody to know their local language the day you arrive in that state.

4) A problem specific to Kannada is that its own people have discarded the language because its apparently ‘uncool’ to speak Kannada, and a majority of the Upper middle class and Upper class have stopped speaking Kannada and opted for English at their homes, such a problem is not so prevalent in other states where no matter what your social status is, people speak their Mother Tounge, then why Kannadigas are abandoning their own language? Just because it is apparently ‘uncool’ to speak it? How is a language cool or uncool? Who decides it? If you look closely the reason a person finds it uncool to speak a particular language, there are many reasons for this, one is no pride attached to the language, but Kannada history and culture is very rich then why is there no pride among Kannadigas? Because in our schools since childhood we are not been fed stories about our glorious past like some neighboring states do, whether its true or not, Gloating about ones language like it’s the only one in the world does help in getting attached to ones language and you are made to feel that this is the language so and so person fought and gave life for or this is the language that so and so King spoke and spoke highly of. second is the Kannada Film Industry has lost the trust of an average Kannadiga, to the extent that even if there is good movie produced in Kannada a lot of Kannadigas will not even check it out cause it’s been somehow established that Kannada movies are un-cool funnily crappy movies from other languages are considered cool(better marketing  maybe).Also those Kannadigas who have settled in other states the 2nd and 3rd generation of them does not speak Kannada at their homes they have adopted the local language and have totally fogotten Kannada,this never happens with Non-Kannadiga people who stay in states that are not their own,even the 10th generation speaks their mother tounge at home and among relatives. The bigger problem is we Kannadigas are dominatable, when a kannadiga girl marries into an non Kannadiga household it’s highly likely that she will adopt their language as her own and forget about her mother tongue.

The Solutions:

Since the problem itself is extremely complicated and sensitive the solution is even more so,but this cannot go on,first we have to acknowledge that this is major problem which India faces today that its diversity is under threat and if we don’t act now many of our beautiful languages will end up like mother of all languages Sanskrit, a report by UNESCO a few years ago about World languages had reported that many of the Indian languages will be extinct in 20-30 years from now,so in such a case say in 2030 AD can India still claim ‘Unity in Diversity’? especially when there will be no diversity with 3 or 4 languages ruling instead of the hundreds today. Will India not become just another country like every other one today? What will be special about us if we will systematically kill the diversities?
So here are some solutions that I think will be helpful in tackling the problems the problems 1-4 will have solutions 1 -4

      1) This problem is about the attitude of the governments and the people,this has to change everybody should respect and treat every other Indian language as their own, for the attitudes to change the people in power should recognize that non-Hindi speaking population are doing their bit to learn Hindi for the common good viz communication and most have realized that Hindi along with English is the common language that all should learn and speak,the same way Hindi-speaking population should learn atleast one other Indian language preferably any  of south Indain languages in their schools seriously,this way not only will it help them when they visit to that particular state but it will also help bridge the gap that exists between North and the South giving a better understanding of fellow Indians,and South Indians will feel more secure that their languages are being given the respect and seriousness that they  so rightly deserve. Is it too much to ask non-locals to be part of a culture that is not their own? Isn’t it UnIndian to treat other languages in contempt? I mean outsiders enjoy the benefits of working in other states, they get everything that the locals do so what’s the harm in learning a language and to some extent the culture?, Also its been scientifically proved by research that learning an extra language helps your brain power,so it’s a win win situation.

      2) The second problem is about large scale migration to distant states, this should be avoided by developing each state even the BIMARU states so that local youth don’t have to travel thousands of kilometeres just to earn a few thousands, there have been many instances where in, the father as a laborer is working in a distant state and he visits his home once in six months or 1 year where his kid is growing without a father this creates a problem in the upbringing of that child. Everytime people of a state show opposition to outsiders the usual retort by outsiders is that the constitution of India permits every Indian to go anwyehere he/she wishes,true and very rightly so, but its just not about that, is it reccomendable that a person leave his family and home and come only once in 6 months are so? No. So thinking constituionally alone is not enough we have think considering other parameters too.

      3) The 3rd problem is specific to south India, people travelling from one south indian state to another specially to Karnataka and staying here for long periods and still not learning a thing about the language share the same attitude as that of North Indians,this is not cool for the diversity that we speak about nor to the unity which we feel exists,so in such cases private companies which hire outsiders should under corporate/social responsibility train them in the local language atleast the basics so that whenever they go into a shop or market they wont face any problem and this way locals will feel that their culture is not under threat.

      4) The fourth problem I have discussed is specifically related to Kannadigas,if today Kannada is getting vanished from Bengaluru the major culprits are us Kannadigas,we don’t respect our own language and think its uncool and speak in English,why this obsession with English? Kannada is older than English and a lot of Indian languages, infact its amongst the oldest, so we should be proud of the language the culture of the state,if this does not happen then blaming outsiders for everything is futile. Secondly a language is cool or uncool based unfortunately on popular culture, Hindi films were considered 2nd grade in 90’s and since 2000 a lot has changed and those people who only saw Hollywood and European cinema are now watching Hindi movies frequently Hindi movies are no longer uncool, how? Because Bollywood started producing good movies(in terms of production quality and presentation), so Kannada Film Industry should take it as a responsibility to make movies that not only touch Kannadigas but also non Kannadiga, this takes you closer to the language, also songs play a major role. A language which produces great songs reaches beyond the language and propagates a language to other language people also, I have seen a lot of my friends learning other south indian languages just by watching their movies,so using soft power to attract Kannadigas and alike is the long term solution. Popular culture has major role to play in terms of helping a language grow and be more visible. Last but not the least the protectionism that has made Kannada Film Industry(KFI) seem worthless on the national stage should  be discouraged, especially in the case of allowing dubbing content from other language into Kannada, sure it will eat into KFI market in the short term but if we look at the long term then dubbing will only help Kannada reach the audience it deserves and with more Kannada aware Kannadigas it will benefit KFI also.

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