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Predicament of India's Linguistic minority

News & Views
RK Rishikesh Sinha




The 21st century has brought people of minority speaking community to think, compare, and analyze their community in terms of many modern parameters, and consequently they are moulding themselves to their individual choices and preferences. They are impatient and fearful for being from minority community in the midst of many pull and push of the modern time. In nutshell, people are questioning and they are making their own conclusions. And they are finding their own ways to preserve their unique socio-cultural and linguistic identity.

But why people raise questions on their community? Why so much scrutiny about the community they belong to? Is it mere curiosity? Or it is a pre-planned question being implanted decades ago by our socio-politico surroundings?

Self-doubt, low esteem about ones identity should not arise. In contrast, there should not be any eulogizing about ones community either. The state of the people should be such that there must not be any comparison and analyzing oneself; but the developments that took place long back in the Indian history is working as stimuli to ponder over it. Blame not the person, but the subsisting ecosystem.

The very term “majority” and “minority” to label a community is a misnomer and it is a fantastic invention of the independent India. One should not be so much consumed of these two concepts and start looking down themselves and praise others.

The majority language and minority language was not in the British-ruled India. It came all after independence. Things got complicated after the reorganisation of states on the basis of language in 1956 to begin with 14 States and six Centrally-administered territories. States were formed on the linguistic lines of the majority communities. This development created a division of the majority-speaking community and the minority-speaking community. Henceforth, the majority speaking community started enjoying all the powers in the new setup. And those who were left behind were minorities.

Another development that made matter worse was the setting up of Public Service Commisions in respective states that made compulsory proficiency in one majority language. Here, the minority found themselves in a state of seclusion. They have to inculcate the language which is not their own to climb the success ladder. Some of the minority-language speakers resisted, some created wall for their defence, and some got mixed up.

Where the majority-speaking language were increasing the functional load (their usage) in education, administration, media, public spaces (hospitals, transport), and science and technology; the minority-speaking language got cocooned to be used only in homes.

Today, these chain of developments have pushed the speakers of minority language to develop low self-esteem (and ask questions) in respect to their own identity in terms of their language and culture, and to their own existence. This is the truth of 21st century India, there is India of majority languages, and there is another India of minority languages. Since these two categories are actually political setup which has lately taken the shape of a social setup which is divisive and regressive in nature. The foundation of majority/minority language hierarchies is not a natural process; ironically, it has been constructed historically and politically. Therefore, minorities should confront it politically rather than judging with social eyes to their roots. 

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