Another wave of colonialism?


Learning and knowing as many languages as possible is indeed a special talent and an advantage for any individual. This talent brings people together because communication is the most important trait of human society. This trait also creates cultural cohesion of peoples belonging to different races and places. In the Indian text, the introduction of the colonial language of English has brought together peoples of the country, as indeed facilitated Indians to communicate with the rest of the world. But English has also marginalized thousands of indigenous languages if India ~ in the process, marginalized myriad Indian cultures. Language is, after all, the primary, the principle, vehicle of culture. This has also happened in Naga society. While the entire country has been blessed with numerous languages and cultures, communication with neighbours of different languages and cultures have impeded emotional cohesion, which have led to citizens of this country “othering” each other ~ consequently, the politics of language because of the colonialism of languages by dominant communities. Indubitably, the introduction of English by our erstwhile colonial masters led to both colonialism of language and the politics of language however much English provided the communication bridge for various communities in India. It is the same with the introduction of English in Naga society too. See how we have adopted English and in the process adopted Western cultures and religions? Yes, we are totally colonized and we have come to believe that what we have adopted is our culture. Colonialism is successful because the colonized internalize that which have been introduced and worse still, believe that what was/is native and indigenous is passé and obsolete. This is where the call for “change” is most dangerous particularly because “change” is never defined, described and/or explained. This now brings us to our Minister of Higher and Technical Education speaking in Hindi the other day in the Assembly. It is laudable that he can speak both Hindi and Urdu, as per newspaper reports. However, speaking in Hindu or Urdu or Greek or Latin or Chinese in the Nagaland Assembly takes on a totally different trajectory considering that our elected representatives are not well versed with any of these languages ~ not to mention the bureaucrats, the media and other visitors to the proceedings of the Assembly. Besides, there is that little matter of official languages to be used during Assembly proceedings and the rules thereof ~ even though reportedly the Chief Minister said that the said Minister did ask for permission. There are two issues involved here (1) the breach of the language rules and more importantly, the courtesy every attendant to the Assembly deserves. (2) More imperatively, while the said Minister may have been the Padmashri’s student and wanted to show his respect by lauding him in Hindi for being awarded this prestigious award, the said Minister may not have realized that he has created a sort of insecurity in the hearts of the common person at a sub-conscious level that Hindi would now be frequently used in the Assembly and soon percolate down to our official and everyday dealings ~ perhaps even soon become the medium of teaching in our educational institutions. And this fear is not unsubstantiated considering what has been happening in the country in the last four years or so. Yes, colonialism comes in many forms and is presented in many colours. And yes, colonialism also comes from within, insidiously and unsuspectingly. Whatever may have been the justifications about the said Minister speaking in Hindi, the fact of the matter is that the politics of language is most real in India ~ in fact, communal politics and the politics of language feed on each other, all aimed at the politics of dominance. And nobody can help but notice how the politics of dominance has adversely impacted on every sphere of human activities and endeavours in India today. Besides, there is this other issue of the Naga issue, which the political parties in power today in Nagaland vow to resolve. Considering that at the core of the Naga issue is the identity of Nagas, how does another wave of colonialism ~ whether intended or insidious ~ help resolve the issue? Somehow, the impression is created that while the new political dispensation in Nagaland has been asked to bow, it has decided to bend over backwards to please the political dispensation at Delhi.