Sanskrit week: A move to preserve language, not to wage linguistic war

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After massive outrage over usage of Hindi on social media platform for interactions, now Sanskrit is the new bone of contention between Central and State Government especially Tamil Nadu. Sanskrit, also called Mother of all languages recently came to limelight when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan used this language to take oath in the Parliament.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Saturday vociferously opposed CBSE's plan to celebrate Sanskrit week in schools, scheduled from August 7 to 13. Jayalalithaa has suggested that instead of Sanskrit celebration, more appropriate move would be to organise a 'Classical Language Week' in each State based on its linguistic heritage.

A move to save language on the verge of extinction

With the aim to popularise and stimulate interest in the language, CBSE recently had asked all its affiliated schools to celebrate 'Sanskrit week' on an experimental basis. At present, only the Kendriya Vidyalaya schools funded by the Central Government offer Sanskrit as a mandatory language. Private schools besides English and Hindi offer other optional languages like French, Sanskrit etc out of which students have to choose one.

Parties resisting the move

In a letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jayalalithaa said, "Tamil Nadu has a rich cultural heritage based on the ancient Tamil language. There has also been a strong social justice and language movement in the State. Hence, any official celebration of 'Sanskrit week' in Tamil Nadu is highly inappropriate".

While Government is of the view that there is nothing wrong to preserve one of the finest ancient language (as all Vedas, Bhagavad Gita etc are in Sanskrit) which is losing its sheen day by day. Other parties including allies of BJP, MDMK and PMK have slammed this move saying it will affect the national integrity.

Terming this move (Sanskrit week) mischievous and dangerous, MDMK leader Vaiko said that it is a conspiracy against thousands of students who belongs to diverse background. Ruing over the issue, another Dravidian and PMK leader S Ramadoss said, "Sanskrit is spoken only by 14,000 people. We can't accept imposition of it on people speaking other languages. There should be a common language policy. Discrimination is not right". All the languages including Tamil should also be promoted, said PMK leader.

Registering the protest against language supremacy move, DMK spokesperson T K S Elangovan said, "Sanskrit is not the common man's language. Only upper class people speak Sanskrit".

Sanskrit on the wane

Over the years Sanskrit has lost its charm which stems from various reasons. Recalling a statement of former BJP president Rajnath Singh in 2013 where he cited English as the reason for decline of Sanskrit. He had said, "The English language has caused a great loss to the country. We are losing our language, our culture as there are hardly any people who speak Sanskrit now".

But Sanskrit scholars felt otherwise and disagreed with the view of Rajnath Singh. One of the Scholar M C Dileep Kumar said, "We have to blame ourselves for the downfall of Sanskrit, which is the result of neglecting the language over a period of time and lack of job opportunity for Sanskrit scholars".

"People in nearly 49 countries are now researching and learning Sanskrit by understanding its importance. However, this is not the case in India, where no importance is being given to promote the language. Lack of job opportunities has further deepened the problem and it has taken the sheen out of the subject", Kumar further said.

Point is one of the oldest language is on the verge of extinction. While so many foreign countries like Germany, US are adopting this language we are trying to do away with it.

Students opt for professional language rather than Sanskrit in schools and they are very much right as professional language will bring them more jobs and Sanskrit will leave them empty handed.

'Sanskrit week'- a right move?

The Government must adopt some coherent strategy to preserve this ancient language and for that most important thing is to create jobs for the same. Nowadays, highly qualified Sanskrit teachers are sitting idle without any jobs. Why?

Sanskrit can only be revived only if there will a better job perspective for Sanskrit scholars. Another step for revival of the language will be to ensure that the language is taught in schools right from beginning and 'Sanskrit week' is an effort in this direction only. Surely, CBSE must have planned for revival of other regional languages too and if not they should make a broader roadmap in this direction.

India is said to be a country of unity in diversity. And people should make all the concerted efforts to keep up the same. Rather than politicizing the issue, our respected politicos should rather concentrate on preserving the national pride of our country.

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