17 January, 2021

Who Is Killing Our Languages?

The SC judgement giving English supremacy in primary education is the death knell for our mother tongues

Illustration by Saahil
Who Is Killing Our Languages?

What does one say, who does one ask when 22 Indian languages—all of them recognised by the Constitution and an assortment of minority languages besides—lie inert, their legs lopped off by a recent Supreme Court judgement? While the debate about medium of ins­t­ruction was in progress, the newspapers reported a judge as saying, “A Supreme Court judge from Japan was in Delhi, and he spoke in English. No one would have und­erstood him if he hadn’t spoken in English. Even China, which has conservative ideas about language, is opening up to the possibilities of English.” This sounds a bit like the Kannadiga long years ago, who having returned from an England visit, commented, “Incredible! Even little children in that country speak English.”

If only the judge had pondered a bit, he might have got to know about Japan’s language policy, and realised that Japanese is the language of ins­truction in almost all schools, colleges and institutions of higher learning there. It might have become apparent to him that in...



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