The issue of languages

Two reports in the newspaper-one last week and the other today had a common thread between them-language.

The first one was about the state of affairs in Maharashtra.  The Government had earlier ordered that in the case of getting a taxi permit, the applicant should be fluent in Marathi.  Fluent in the sense to be able to read, write and speak.  The other condition was a bombshell.  The applicant should have been a resident of the state of Maharashtra for at least 15 years.  15 years! They could have declared openly that only those who are born and bred in Maharashtra can claim a taxi permit.

Among the hue and cries(most of the migrants there are taxi drivers as it is the easiest way to gain employment and gain topographical knowledge) that greeted this announcement and to the irritation of the Shiva Sena, the Government retracted it’s earlier stand and claimed that non Marathi speakers and non Maharashtra residents can also claim taxi permits provided they are fluent(in this case to speak only) in Hindi, Gujarathi and other North Indian languages. What a show! Next they will be claiming that all sign boards in Delhi be written in Tamil also to allow Tamilians to ‘read’ properly.

The other report was in today’s paper of Indian Express page 5. It was about the Madras High Court’s rejection of a plea to restrict non-Tamilians in Tamil Nadu filed by a member of the Hindu Tamizhar Movement(watch the contradiction in the name folks – Hindu Tamizhar.  It is evident of the group’s confusion in forging an identity).

When the Indian Constitution does not restrict the freedom to move anywhere within India and settle any where as long as it is legal, it is surprising how these people find fault with the other fellow for the simple case that he does not speak their language.  True, I accept that the residents of a particular state is deemed all privileges than any one else, but in this case, the demand of ousting all non residents of the state for the sake of illiteracy in the local language is too much.

There are people in Tamil Nadu who are residents but are illiterate in the language.  They do not know to read and write the language.  Because they studied in the English medium and took Hindi/French/German/Malayalam/Sanskrit/Telugu as their second language. There are film stars and industrialists in Tamil Nadu who do not have Tamil as their Mother Tongue.  There are even politicians who do not know Hindi and English but go to the Parliament and stumble in replying to the questions.

In Maharashra the condition is even colorful.  Lots of people from southern states go there on job assignments/education basis.  Do they all have to know Marathi to live there? The issue of languages is not restricted to the issue of taxi permits, but is blown completely out of proportion here.  This is the case in almost all states of India.

When the law of the land does not restrict movements of it’s citizens to any parts of the country, who are these people to do so? Whatever gave them the rights to beat up their fellowmen and claim to be guardians of a language which they seldom understand fully?

Fight for any cause, people. But understand the roots of that cause thoroughly before causing mayhem to your fellowman.


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