Apr 28, 2013

Sanskrit 2.0 and Diversity Policy - 2

As regards globalization, whether people are willing to notice it or not the choice is actually between Succumb via haphazard Anglicization, and Control via methodical Sanskritization.

Since independence, India and other countries with Sanskrit as classical base language have not put in any effort to reconnect with it. Rather, they have preferred a strategy of patronizing the various Prakrits, along with assigning English the status of a lingua franca for modernization. Given the circumstances, perhaps this strategy had some benefits. But clearly, it has run its course and hit a wall, creating a cultural crisis of sorts. Development and modernization is under way, but the Prakrits are hardly able to stand their ground or develop without losing their footing, their cultural character. 

The Prakrits try to fabricate indigenous terminology using Sanskrit root words (when they can avoid absorbing an English word directly), but the end result for the speaking populace is a language that sounds rather artificial and stilted - partly because of an artificial methodology of Sanskritization, and partly because the populace is no longer connected with spoken and written Sanskrit directly

Rather, the better way is to have Sanskrit revived as a parallel language, whose usages then seep into the Prakrits via a natural process - just like how English words are currently trickling into the Prakrits. The natural process that works with English will then work with Sanskrit, too; but with English it leads to a strange, miscegenation - a creole - whereas with Sanskrit it will be a native, classical upgrade.

Another effect of Anglicization is that the Prakrits are forced to become uniform and "modern" in their cultural tenor. They are unable to remain in their cultural orbit, but are forced to reflect - however awkwardly - the affectations of "modernity". With Sanskrit as a platform to manage modernity, a multi-orbit cultural system within Indic civilization can persist without distortion, and each Prakrit can remain comfortably at a desired distance from "modernity".

With Sanskrit in the saddle, India will be able to embrace globalization much better, without losing its own cultural footing. Moreover, it will make available the tremendous knowledge resources buried in Sanskrit, to itself and the world at large. The Prakrits - and English - can then flourish each in their own spheres, with Sanskrit as a platform.

Presented below are thoughts put together by a friend along with other participants at a forum (BRF). The model below is civilizational, not national. That means it is scalable to many countries and regions outside India that have a historical civilizational connection with Sanskrit, or aspire to re-establish a lost connection with Sanskriti, or aspire to create a new relationship afresh. The rest of this post reproduces his summary of thoughts on guiding principles for a policy framework for Sanskritization:

I have earlier often spoken of the need to have a Bharatiya language as India's Operating System if India hopes to be able to position itself as an independent civilizational pole in the world, and I have long favored Sanskrit 2.0 to take up that role.

The only way to preserve diversity in India is to provide the people of India with a platform which ensures its preservation.

What we have built today in the form of ethno-linguistic states is an acknowledgement of this diversity among the major ethno-linguistic groups, but within the region of authority of these ethno-linguistic groups we have allowed a process of reckless homogenization to the detriment of all smaller ethno-linguistic groups. One could even say, we have thrown the sheep to the wolves.

Now the problem is that the concept of federalization that we have started with the Center-State paradigm with respect to linguistic issues, we have failed to pursue the principle any further. Every ethno-linguistic group in India should have been given the authority and resources to preserve its literature, its stories, its music, its songs, its linguo-cultural heritage. However for all minority ethno-linguistic groups within the various states this has not been assured.

It is true, that within a certain region, the people need to deal with the administrative system in a standard medium, so as to make the functioning of the state run smoothly, but that in itself is no reason to emasculate the lingual heritage of a people, to let it die.

Each ethno-linguistic group should have the fundamental right to preserve its culture and the state needs to ensure that through the provision of suitable laws, their implementation, provision of resources and sufficient infrastructural encouragement.

However in order to get there, there is a need for various parties to understand a few principles:

I. "Principle of Respect for One's Language" - One has a right to demand respect for one's ethno-linguistic autonomy from a higher level of political authority, only if one is willing to give the same level of autonomy to ethno-linguistic groups within one's own sphere of political authority. If a state wishes that its language be given due respect by the Central Govt. then it too should respect the language of the various ethnic minority groups within the state, and provide the group with the resources to maintain their own language.

II. "Principle of Need for Upward Compatibility" - Every individual should be empowered to be upward compatible with all levels of cultural-political environments of which he is a part of. As such it is important to enable the citizen to learn all of the following languages: "Four-Language Vertical Integration Formula"!

Community-Language for (e.g. Tula, Toda, Maithili, Brij, Haryanvi, ...)
State-Language (e.g. Bengali, Marathi, Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, ...)
National Language (e.g. Sanskrit 2.0)
Mandatory Foreign Language (e.g. English)

III. "Principle of Need for Cross-Peer Administrability" - One needs to work together with one's peers with whom one shares an environment, a common language being an essential feature of that environment and an essential condition for smooth working. Again every granular environment has peer granular environments which all share a higher environment. It is the higher environment's responsibility to be able to administer the granular sub-environments with minimum level of problems arising out of linguistic incompatibilities. The environment may be a village, a state, the nation or the world.

IV. "Principle of Recognition of Linguistic Dominance" - If we go about creating a federal structure consisting of regions of various levels of political granularity like nation, states, districts, tehsils, villages, etc., there would be some dominant ethno-linguistic group with a smattering of minorities in the given region. Even as it is important that minority rights be accepted, ethno-linguistic minorities would have to agree to recognize the dominant status of the majority ethno-linguistic group and thus to allow the official language of that political granularity level to be based on the language of the dominant group. Depending on the size of the minorities, the official language may have to concede some space to the minority languages as well and to integrate some part of their vocabulary into its own vocabulary and structure.

V. "Principle of Linguistic Neutrality" - In environments where it is not possible for some dominant ethno-linguistic group to politically assert its claim to define the official language of a certain region of political granularity over the objections and potentially resistance from other ethno-linguistic groups, all the linguistic stake-holders should agree to adopt a neutral language as the common official language. Neutrality can be accepted based on the "Principle of Equal Disadvantage in Learning". If all ethno-linguistic groups must exert a more or less equal effort in learning the language, then it could be considered neutral. Such a language can come from various sources - a foreign origin, a common ancestral classical language, or a language of small ethno-linguistic minority from among the group such that a maximum number of people among those concerned would have to exert themselves.

VI. "Principle of Common Cultural Space" - When there is a need to have common language mediums applicable across various ethno-linguistic groups, the commonality should be searched for in some common platform which allows the reproduction of the linguistic psyche of the various ethno-linguistic groups involved rather to be searched in an equally foreign language, a language too alien to reproduce the thought patterns of the people involved.

VII. "Principle of Classicism" - When there is a need to have common language mediums applicable across various ethno-linguistic groups, then one should also try to adopt a language through which much of the past glory of a culture and its literature can be made accessible. It is also important to choose a language where its rules of grammar have been written down.

VIII. "Principle of Linguistic Purity" - It is obvious that with time languages change. New technologies, new scientific research, new paradigms of organization, new forms of cultural expression, new products for consumption, all necessitate an enlargement of vocabulary. Many of these novelties may arise in other language spaces. If the foreign words or expressions have an etymology based on functionality or references to nature, then it may be possible to reproduce those foreign words using a similar etymological process in one's own language. However if the etymology was culturally based, it would be much more difficult to reconstruct the words or expressions in own language. In this case, one should simply import these foreign words into one's own language. Unless some foreign word or expression has no equivalent in the own language, or one wants to express some nuance which can only be expressed through the use of the foreign term, the foreign word or expression should be discouraged in the own language.

IX. "Principle of Love for Vernacular Language" - Every individual should feel proud of his mother tongue, so much so that the individual should try to preserve his own family's particular variant of his mother tongue. One should be cognizant that the official language of the area may not be the vernacular language, and if the moment is opportune, then one should always try to converse in one's own mother tongue.

X. "Principle of Consideration for Protocol" - One is often confronted with situations where multiple contexts are applicable - work place language, language of the political unit, languages of the higher levels political granularity, presence of community members, presence of guests from other language spaces, etc. Everyone has to make a call which language to speak based on all these factors. An understanding of such protocols in society does help.

Just a little effort to bring some clarity to the confusion!

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