Douse language fires

Mamata has blundered in trying to impose Bengali in Darjeeling Hills
Times of India – With protests and bandhs called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha the Darjeeling Hills are tense, and the Bengal government has a serious crisis on its hands. Violence has already broken out against government establishments – such as the torching of the Bijanbari block development office – forcing thousands of tourists to flee the picturesque holiday destination.

The GJM stir started over the state government’s declaration last month to make Bengali compulsory in all schools, which has certainly backfired for chief minister Mamata Banerjee. It has breathed life into her political opponents and allowed them to accuse Kolkata of linguistic and cultural chauvinism.

Unfortunately this isn’t the first time that a Bengal government has tried to force-feed the Bengali language. In 1984, the erstwhile Left Front regime had abolished English in the primary sections of state-run schools to give primacy to Bengali. That decision ended up negatively affecting the job prospects of a whole generation of Bengalis.

In an increasingly globalized world languages have become closely linked with economic opportunities where parochial policies do more harm than good. India’s rich and diverse linguistic traditions must not be sacrificed at the altar of political expediency.

Governments promoting a particular language at the cost of other languages is a recipe for disaster. more> https://goo.gl/Bv8rzu

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