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Our love of the English language in preference to out own mother tongue has caused a deep chasm between the educated and politically-minded classes and the masses. The languages of India have suffered impoverishment. We flounder when we make the vain attempt to express abstruse thought in the mother tongue. There are no equivalents for scientific terms. The result has been disastrous. The masses remain cut off from the modern mind. We are too near our own times correctly to measure the disservice caused to India by this neglect of its great languages. It is easy enough to understand that, unless we undo the mischief, the masses cannot do this fully unless they understand every step with all its implications. This is impossible unless every step is explained in their own languages.
Constructive Programme, pp. 19-20
I must cling to my mother tongue as to my motherís breast, in spite of its short comings. It alone can give me the life-giving milk. I love the English tongue in its own place, but I am its inveterate opponent, if it usurps a place which does not belong to it. English is today admittedly the world language. I would therefore accord it a place as a second, optional language, not in the school but in the university course. That can only be for the select few-not for the millions. Today when we have not the means to introduce even free compulsory primary education, how can we make provision for teaching English? It is our mental slavery that makes us feel that we cannot do without English. I can never subscribe to that defeatist creed.
Unless the Government and their Secretariats take care, the English language is likely to usurp the place of Hindustani. This must do infinite harm to the millions of India who would never be able to understand English. Surely it must be quite easy for the Provincial Governments to have a staff which would carry on all transactions in the provincial languages and the inter-provincial language, which, in my opinion, can only be Hindustani written in Nagari or Urdu script.
Every day lost in making this necessary change is so much cultural loss to the nation. The first and foremost thing is to revive the rich provincial languages with which India is blessed. It is nothing short of mental sluggishness to plead that in our courts, in our schools and even in the Secretariats, sometime, probably a few years, must lapse before the change is made. No doubt a little difficulty will be felt in multi-lingual provinces, as in Bombay and Madras, until redistribution of provinces takes place on the linguistic basis. Provincial Governments can devise a method in order to enable the people in those Provinces to feel that they have come into their own. Nor need the Provinces wait for the Union for solving the question, whether for provincial speech it shall be Hindustani written in either Nagari or Urdu script or mere Hindi written in Nagari. This should not detain them in making the desired reform. It is wholly unnecessary controversy likely to be the door through which English may enter to the eternal disgrace of India. If the first step, that is, revival of provincial speech in all public departments takes place immediately, that of inter-provincial speech will follow in quick succession. The provinces will have to deal with the Centre. They dare not do so in English, if the Centre is wise enough quickly to realize that they must not tax the nation culturally for the sake of a handful of Indians who are too lazy to pick up the speech which can be easily common to the whole of India without offending any party or section. My plea is for banishing English as a cultural rule of the English usurper. The rich English language will ever retain its natural place as the international speech of commerce and diplomacy.
Place of Sanskrit
I am of opinion that Sanskrit cannot be dispensed with in matters religious. The translation, no matter however accurate, cannot replace the original mantras which have an import of their own. Besides it would be detracting from the solemnity of the mantras which have been repeated in Sanskrit for centuries, to repeat them today in the vernaculars. But I am clear that each mantra and every rite should be accurately interpreted and explained to the person repeating the mantra or participating in the rite. A Hinduís education must be regarded as inadequate without a knowledge of the rudiments of Sanskrit. Hinduism would be extinct without Sanskrit learning and Sanskrit scholarship being cultivated on an adequate scale. We have made the language difficult by the present system of education, it is not really so. But even if it is difficult, practice of religion is still more so. He, therefore, who would practice religion must regard as comparatively easy all the steps to it, however difficult they may appear to be.
Young India, 13-5-Ď26