Now you see it, now you don’t!

The current language policy is a case in point where official pronouncements demonstrate a will to respect and accept all lingual and historical legacies of native cultures, but in fact marginalize their languages and cultural icons by excluding them from all official deliberations and plans.

Tactics of maintaining power and control have also been modernized in the modern-day nation state. Sometimes they do, but these tactics are no longer enforced entirely through constitutional modalities, legal systems, administrative structures and openly pronounced policies.

On the contrary, constitutionally derived laws, rules and regulations are designed to give a false impression that the state overwhelmingly and sincerely subscribes to universally recognized norms of human rights, equality, justice, education and equal distribution of wealth.

Underneath this colorful sheath of semantic mambo jumbo and legal jargons, however, lays the hidden face of unannounced but enthusiastically promoted and agreed upon agenda on how to maintain the hegemonic system of power and control.

The real menace lies within the doctrine of exclusion and inclusion as a strategy to achieve the hidden goals. This exclusion-inclusion regime becomes an essential part of not only targeting economic but cultural and educational institutions of the society.

Pakistan’s cultural policy, if there is any, also follows the same golden rule of excluding the unwanted “demands” and including those “aspirations” that suit the establishment to help the ruling elite in maintaining their power structure intact and keep it thriving.

The current language policy is a case in point where official pronouncements demonstrate a will to respect and accept all lingual and historical legacies of native cultures, but in fact marginalize their languages and cultural icons by excluding them from all official deliberations and plans.

The constitution, for instance, promises to declare Urdu as an official language at the federal level and it allows introducing native languages of the four provinces as medium of education in schools. Practically, however, it’s altogether a different story.

At the level of inclusion, the center sponsors and even financially supports literary and cultural organizations in the provinces but their languages are strategically excluded from cultural and educational institutions systematically. And all of this is justified and operationalized in the name of national integrity and security.

At the federal level, English, the language of economic and political power, and a status symbol for the ruling elite, has been widely accepted, while Urdu, a functional language being used by a vast majority of people has been thrown out of the corridors of power and control.

Interestingly, Urdu, which has become the lingua franca of today’s Pakistan and no doubt has a capacity of becoming the official language, represents only 14 percent of the population. As weird as it looks, Urdu has silently replaced native languages as medium of instruction in schools in all provinces except Sindh which has resisted the move.

In my view, the time is ripe for introducing a new kind of exclusion-inclusion doctrine. Let’s include Urdu, Sindhi, Panjabi, Seraiki, Pashto, and Balochi as national languages and exclude English from the corridors of power for good.

There is nothing wrong, however, to teach our children three languages in schools in this multilingual and global age: their own mother tongue, Urdu, and English. This way they will be able to communicate in their mother tongue and be proud of it, use a regionally accepted lingua franca, and learn a significant global language.

For ruling elites, who always take refuge behind the nicely constructed canopy of national unity and security, recognizing native languages as medium of education in provinces equals going back to their roots, and therefore, detaching from the center. Probably they will be surprised to know that in neighboring India, every state has its own language as medium of education in schools and they are still thriving as a nation.

There was a time when the talk of dividing Punjab into two or more provinces was considered treason and now it has become a widely accepted view to the point that even Panjab Assembly has recently demanded to create Bahawalpur and Seraiki provinces.

I think the time is approaching fast when provinces will be allowed to restore their languages as medium of education in schools and a mode of communication in offices.

As it appears, the hegemonic strategy-now you see it, now you don’t-is getting rusty and out of date!

(From Viewpoint Online)

Enhanced by Zemanta