New Delhi, Jan 1 (GCCurrentAffairs) It’s not caste, creed, colour, region or religion- it’s language that matters the most and India’s socio-economic development in the new decade largely depends on multilingualism, analysts maintained.
‘Time will say whether India will emerge as a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2024 or ruling BJP will change it’s ‘strategy’ towards some coming Assembly elections, like Delhi and Bihar in 2020, post protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), but there is no doubt that essence of ‘Unity in Diversity’ lies in more interactions among the communities in as many languages as possible to erase ‘confusions’ and help emerge the country as a major global player,’ the experts, in a survey, observed in unison.
According to the survey, more than 30 per cent people in the country are now bilingual and around 20 per cent of the masses are approaching the level of trilinguality.
India is said to be a ‘sociolinguistic giant,’ and this ‘giant’ is huge and different from the ordinary.
The nerve system of this ‘giant’ is multilingualism. Indian multilingualism is enormous in size, with over 1600 mother tongues reducible to about 200 languages for a population of about 1.27 billion people, with the population of many of the linguistic minorities being larger than many European countries.
According to linguist Li Wei, ‘Language is a human faculty: it co-evolves with us’ and monolingualism, which even in normal circumstances is a rare phenomenon, is beyond imagination in a context such as India, where English has coexisted with indigenous languages over a long period.
In fact, the magnitude of multilingualism in India has made scholars wonder about how communication happens and how social cohesion is maintained.
Asked to comment on the ‘necessity and importance’ of more spread of multilingualism across the country, in the present socio-economic-political structure, historian Anupam Bhirmani said ‘Since time immemorial, India has been a multilingual country.
‘Through more than four millennia of known history, the linguistic families which co-existed together have continuously interacted with each other and achieved a pan Indian character which is unique in itself, firstly, in the matter of sentence structure and, secondly, in the number of shared items of vocabulary.
‘In fact, the world itself has now entered a phase of globalisation where the phenomenon of bilingualism / multilingualism has become the norm,’ he added.
Referring to the ongoing country-wide protests against the newly enacted Citizenship law and the ‘role’ of ‘more interactions’ based on multilingualism to find ‘solution’, Mr Bhirmani, also a Constitution expert, said ‘ No doubt, we are passing through a turbulent time.
‘It is perhaps for the first time post Independence that a newly enacted law, passed by Parliament, is facing nationwide revolt of a greater magnitude, also claiming lives.’
He hastened to add, ‘Yes, multilingualism has a big role in this regard. More and more interactions among the communities spread across the country is urgently required in this regard before the implementation of the new Act.’
When her view was sought on multilingualism, Nilima Roy, lecturer of English residing in the C R Park area of the National Capital, opined ‘There are hundreds of regional talents across India- be it in the field of literature, arts, music or film making- but they do not get the national exposure because of the one and only barrier-language.
‘A command over multilingualism can help spread essence of creations of Tagore or Satyajit Ray or Girish Karnad,’ Ms Roy commented.
In a lighter vein, Ms Roy, also an expert on Tagore, added ‘Moreover multilingualism gives birth to warmth, which is very much needed in the National Capital as Delhi had experienced the coldest day ever on December 30.’