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J JOURNAL OF D DRA VIDIC STUDIES S
VOLUME 8:) BI-ANNUAL
PILe Journal of Dravidic Studies, 8:lIJanuary 1998
Nates and Discussion
LANGUAGE PLANNER RABINDRANATH TAGORE
Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta. O. Prologue Once Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay demanded an "Autonomous History" for Bengal, At the same time, there was aJso a demand for an "Autonomous Grammar" for the BangJa language (1893~ in a conference of Bangiya Sahitya Parisad, an institution of language-management). This is not at all a coincidence that some people of Bengal were engaged in building "Autonomous History" or "Autonomous Grammar" simultaneously as there was a growing need for national identity among the intellectuals under the rule of the Raj. Therefore, there was a distinct link between writing Autonomous History or grammar and budding nationalism in the Nineteenth Century Bengal, This relation between writing grammar and history with nationalism is called atidesay ; (a concept of Paninian grammar) by which the knowledge of Indian past and Bangia Grammar converted into a category of Indian Nationalist thought. (Guha 1988: 2). Both Guha (1988) and Bykova (1961) asserted this fact of self-determination in the case of History and Grammar respectively. By kova commented in course of discussing Tagore as a linguist that the cultivation of mother tongue by Tagore was stimulated by the then patriotic movement with the aim of self-determination. However, there is another side to the story, which dialectically opposed the view of Eurocentric concept of Nationalism as such and which is developed out of dissent against the idea of the Nation State as proposed by the colonizers. Two such dissentors against Nationalism were Tagore and Gandhi (Nandy 1994), who were for the decentralized autonomous planning policy as against the centralized homogenization (i.e. Nationalism) of colonizers. These two opposite viewpoints as well as projects (one is the Nehruvian Bharat-project and the another one is the Tagore-Gandhian decentralization project) are discussed here in reference to Tagore's attitude towards language.
, Definition of 'utidesa' are given below: "Extended application, application by analogy, transference of one attribute to another, attraction one case or rule to another't-s-Apte (1975: 29). "Extended application: transfer or conveyance of application of the character of qualities attributes of one thing to another. "-Abhayankar (196111986: 10).
Notes and Discussion
Notes and Discussion
I will try to show here that these two opposite projects were part of Tagore's language planning policy. It is interesting to note that these two contradictory attitudes existed side by side with a distinct epistemological break. This paper focuses on the polarized language planning policy adopted by Tagore and has three distinct parts. In the first part (The Expansion of Self), the linguistic attitude of Tagore in reference to Asamiya and Oriya is described as Tagore wanted to include Asamiya and Oriya as dialect of Bangia as a part' of the Nationalistic project. The modern centralist politics always envisages one-language formulae with a view to homogenization of pluralistic culture of India. This view also follows Hindu monistic tradition, where all the plurality of jivatmans merges into one paramatman, However, India maintains its inner plurality resisting the imposition of single language. As the focus of this analysis was on the discourse on 'language', section-2 focusses on the perception of language, the perception that orders language according. to the needs of centralized politics. In the second part, a particular portion of 'baNla bhaSa poricOY' is analysed to' understand the nature of Tagore's Language Planning policy (Recovery of Self). This particular portion is a discourse on "national language" which he had opposed. In the third part, microlevel discourse analysis of Tagore's text will lead to the broad spectrum of Pluralistic Language Planning, Decentralized Language Planning and the notion of "planning from below" in connection with the Tagore's Economic Planning as exposed in 'kalantOr' and 'SOdeSi SOmaj'. Though there are several discussions on Tagore'scontribution to Linguistics in general and Language Planning in particular (Nath 1989; Sarkar 1992: 54-78), the language planning policy in the perspective of Tagore's philosophy of economic planning which includes samavayaico-operation) as well as decentralization is not highlighted. Therefore, the linguistic analysis and planning of Tagore must be linked with Tagore's emphasis on the so called Indian "little tradition" and socially controlled self-determination. The paper includes Tagore's dissent over the state-controlled nationalistic policy in connection with pluralistic language planning. 1. The Expansion of Self: Inclusion of Other. An anonymous writer once wrote in 'Bharati', a Bangia journal, (Sravana 1305 Bangabda, July-August, 1898 A.D.) which was in fact edited by Rabindranath. This anonymous writer was Tagore himself because this article was later on published in Tagore's 'SObdotOtto' (Theory of Word) as 'bhaSabicched' (Separation of Language). Whatever the author's name may be, the main emphasis was on homogeneity and mutual intelligibility of Bangia with Oriya and Asamiya. The author argued that Oriya and Asamiya do not differ from Bangla in the same way as the Bangia of Chattagram differs with standard Bangia of Kolkata, i.e. the mutual i~te1ligibility among Bangia, Oriya and Asamiya is more than that of Chattagram dialect of Bangia in question of degree. He also emphasized that the degree of differences between Dhaka dialect and Birbhum dialect could be compared with the differences between Asamiya and Oriya. The author also mentioned that though there are differences in dialects, the "welfare" of the country is possible through
the sprea~ of homogeneous written language. The author exemplified 'Indian" co.ntext WIth an analogy taken from England and its neighbouring territories. He said that though the languages of Ireland and Welsh differ from the English a d they are not at all. dialects of English, still they adopt English, which,' in tur:, strengthens the Britsh Em(:.m~. In t~is way, Oriya and Asamiya could adopt one language to break th.e linguistic barner and to establish a united territory. But" the author lamented, this was not the reality of the then state of affairs-as the British .adopted the defensive strategy of "divide and rule" vis-a-vis homogenization, The Britis~ Raj artificially stimulated 'local' languages by separating Oriya and Asaml~a from Ba~gla. T~e author is nationalistic in his position and proposed a centralized education policy through the medium of BangIa. His main intention was to oppose the divisionalist policy of the British rule. So, he also argued that the Bangla language would reciprocally benifitif Orissa and Assam adopted Bangia as a language of reading and writing. The author even predicted that if there was scope of natural selection of language in India, there would be no possibility of Bangla's defeat as Bangia was the fittest language to survive by defeating others. The Author also critisized Brown's analysisof Asamiya as Brown showed Asamiya as a separate language. Another an.onymous writer wrote in the issue of the same magazine supporting the above mentioned anonymous author's argument, though he pointed out some lin~uistic mistakes of that author (Bharati, Asvin, 1305 Bangabda, October, 1898). This second anonymous writer here referred to an Asamiya stigma that described intention of Bengalees to consider themselves as second governing nation of Assam. But the author questioned this very position by suggesting Asamiya people to follow the footsteps of Bangla as it would develope the language, whereas the autonomy of Asamiya would be stepping backwards by hundred years. 2. Recovery of Self: Decentralization Nath (1988: 29) commented that Tagore was an advocator of Hindi as a National language: or "lingua franca". This was a commentary on Tagoie's particular discourse in baNlabhaSa poricOY (1938). However, if anyone scrutinizes that particular portion, S/he must find a quite contrary statement by Tagore as opposed to tha t of Nath (ibid). Even more, the perception of Tagore is totally different from this alleged monistic and nationalistic option taken by Tagore; Rabindranath was anti-statist (Nandy 1994) and he declared the illegetimacy of nationalism and he was also one. of the propagators of decentralized self-regulated social groups along with Gandhi. How could he propose such an authoritatarian option? Is it a type of loss of self from the part of Tagore? Or is it a misleading statement made by Nath? In 'baNta bhaSaporicOY' Tagore, on the basis of raw statistics, proposed, " ... So, Hindi may be regarded as the one of the languages. for the national interaction in India. It means, some specific language may be accepted to meet some sort of necessity, of course artificially, as we have already accepted English in our communicative sphere." (emphasis added) If one can notice two "may be"s in the discourse, it is almost transparent that Tagore was talking about one possibility, he
Notes and Discussion
Notes and Discussion
was-not talking about the imposition of one language, as an imperative. It would be more clear if We look into the-later part of the discourse: "But, each language owns some natural necessity and that necessity does not occur only in the sphere of social interaction but it is much necessary for exposure of each soul." A nd this is the beginning of uttarapaksa (a category in Indian debating system, where one can expose.one's own view by negating [khandanaJ opponent's version of argument) of Tagore's argument. In fact, the course of Tagore's argument begins with the purvapaksa(a strategic category in.Indian debating system, where opponent's version of argumentation) is depicted of monistic option for taking Hindi as National Language, Unfortunately, Nath mistook the purvapaksa argument as a proof for Tagorets actual position. Let us now see the uttarpaksa discourse, where Tagore, with the help of an analogy, established the notion of pluralistic planning policy: "We should come forward in the aid of our nation.jiut the more important duty of ours is to make fertile and nourish the heart of the people living in it. The performance cannot be done without being aided by language of one's own. The main gate may be lighted by a single lamp fuelled by the governing authority's coffer but to light that single lamp one cannot put off the lamp of every room and cannot snatch away the oil" . This' uttarapaksa position against the lightening of single lamp by virtue of the darkness in the every room of the country negates the possibility of monistic option of-establising'Hiudi as our National language. Tagore mentioned the snatching away of oil from .domestic units to lit the lamp of the royal gate. This may be compared to thesn~~ching away of surplus ~ th.esupe~ordinates, v:hich, in terms ?f Dadabhai Naorojj.or Rameshchandra Dutra, IS "dram of wealth." In case of dram of wealth, "Taxation raised by the, king, ... , is like the moisture sucked up by the sun, to be returned to the earth as fertilising rain ... ". (Ramesh Chandra Dutta cited in Dutta, 19:88: 39). But taxation is utilized another privileged land for the sake of "development". Therefore, the moisture of one land fertilizes and "blesses'; other lands. So also the case of language-drain, where one selected variety is "developed" (as National or standard language) at the expense of "other" languages.' To substantiate his uttrapaksa argument, Tagore exemplified it with his European experience of linguistic diversity. He mentioned the European denial of one master language" viz., Latin after the Middle ages. He concluded with a remark, "We too await the advent of such a day when not by stressing upon a singular language emitting out of many, but by developing each Indian language helping them to flow through their own natural excellence". Therefore, from this uttarapaksa conclusion of Tagore , quite contrary to Nath's c~aim, it is evident that Tagore was not asupporter of any hegemonic imposition of a smgleJanguage. It is also evident from the speech of Tagore given.in Uttarbharatiya Bangasahitya Sammelan (publishedin 'SaHitter pOthe', In The path of Literature, 1923) that Tagore was to against the monopoly of single language as he said that to use a steam roller for constructing king's way may create external equality, but that does not create internal unity of human beings. Using his excellent allegorical
" 'fhis notion of" Drain of language" , which l.San alogous.to of-"Sunflower Syndrome". "Drain of wealth'vsupplements the notion
language, Tagore commented that the external unity leads to death (pOncotto "merging into fiv,e elements") and internal unity leads to pOnca Yet and to Tagore, a pOncaYet is a symbol of decentralized self-determined unit of co-operation. In 'Hindu bissobiddalOY' ('Hindu University', 1308 bONgabdo, 1901, published in poricO Y) Tagore emphasized on the preservation of nijotto "self-ness" of each language without being committed to the other dominant languages. He did not subscribe to the view that, for example, "Santali should shun their self-ness and to be subsumed by Bangla." Tagore clearly clarified that he was against this type of subsumption which violently distruct the growth of the "self-ness".
3. 'BhaSa SOtnobaY (Co-operative of Languages): A NewPerspective Planning
The dialectic of monistic Nationalism and pluralistic Antiaationalism and the epistemological break in between them may seem to be a contradiction within Tagore's discourse, but it must be remembered that the Nationalist projecf of Tagore emerged as -a backlash of BritishGovemmental Policy of "Divide and Rule". When British Government in India decided to divide Bengal into two, this nationalistic movement took a great turn in July 1905 down to 1908. In 1903, Lord Curzon, accompanied by Frazer and Risley decided to separate Chattagram division, Dhaka and Rajsahi division and to attach them to Assam, To abolish the decision of Bangabhanga (,Partition of Bengal'), there was ail all out movement, called svadesi (patriotic) movement, which later on acted as a stepping stone for the demand of svaraj ('self-government'). The movement decided to boycot all British goods. One of the main trends was 'Constructive svadesi' (Sarkar, Sumit, 1983: 113), which rejected the futile and self-demeaning "mendicant" politics in favour of self-help through svadeshndustries, national schools, village improvement and organization. This type of slow reformation system was expression of atmasakti (self-strengthening or nijotta, "selfrress") to Tagore. On the other hand Tagore's dissent over the state-controlled society evolved out of the reading of Indian History. His reading of Indian History focused on unity of the self-determined small units which preserved their existencein the midst of statist coercions and turmoils. These units opposed the centralized state-system with the help of their unique self-determination. This autonomous self-preservation may be, following Chatterjee (1993), termed as "Inner domain" which is impenetrable by something imposed from the above. The Nationalist project was colonially imposed upon the "below" ignoring this basic fact of this "inner domai+" preserved and maintained in the village. On the basis of this reading, Tagore prescribed decentralization and tried to develop the notion of society on the. basis ofsam.avaya (co-operative). Tagore's language planning policy reflects the basics-of his economic planning, Today's pluralistic language planning may be enriched by tills notion of bhaSa·SOmobaY (Co-operation or peaceful co-existence of languages). This concept of bhaSaSOmaha¥. can elerninate '.'oSunflowefi'syndrome'" and""'d:rain of Ianguag~'as welL
Notes and Discussion
Notes and Discussion REFERENCES
ABHAYANKAR, K.V. 1961186. A Dictionary of Sanskrit Grammar. Baroda: tute. APTE, V:S. 1975. The Practical Sanskrit-English Grammar. Delhi. BANDYOPADHYAY, D, DEBNATH, S. 1996. "Mahalanabis Journal of Applied Linguistics XXII, 1: 49-57. as a Language planner". Oriental
4. Tagore's Language Planning in Today's Context The travel through the planning policy adopted by Tagore shows one crucial thing in the human politics which is that the extreme centralization of the economy leads to the standardization of one single variety and that is supported by grammaticalization to that variety. The prescriptions made by grammar ignores solidarity, autonomy and self-determination of other varieties, the speakers of which are captivated and defeated by the very nature of centralized economy. On the other hand, the discursive formation of prescriptive grammar bears non-discursive elements of the political and economic Order of things. This monistic option for "development" leads us to think of better alternatives for our own development. This "development" refers to the concept and world view developed by the Eurocentric bias, which has nothing to do with our own planning either in the politico-economic sphere or in the linguistic sphere. The mismatch between the Earocentricmodel of "development" and our own development plays havoc in a plUI:<,J.1 society like India, which is violently reordered according to the need of eentralized economy. .So some planners, language managers like P.B. Pandit, D.P. Pattanayak, R.N. Srivastava, L.M. Khubehandani, B.R.K. Reddy, U,N. Singh, (in their numerous writings published in last 25 years) consider planning language in a way which is not taught in usual sociolinguistic books published outside India. Pattanayak-Illich (1981) introduced a new policy by challenging the role of grammar in the sphere of education; Singh (1987) is talking about 'sunflower syndrome' in connection with pluralistic planning theory. All these show the legacy of decentralized politics propagated by Rabindranath and Gandhi (d. Nandy 1994). Rabindranath's idea of kingless society and decentralized autonomy as discussed in svadesi samaj, kalantar orin lectures on "Nationalism" leads us to think about a world without the government or king-a totallydeeentralized solidarity of people. It is not exaggeration to say that the anarchist politics and post-structuralism in general also subscribe to this view for decentralization. The change to this type of New World Order needs an analysis-the analysis of past from the view of the ills of the present. The present is pervaded by the centralized marketeconomy, and its subsequent options for absolute monism or IUonarchy. In reaction to this homogenization of the heterogeneous varieties the seccessionalist politics arises as a backlash, and this seccessionalism does not always match With decentralization. So, for the search of sustainable alternative, one needs to analyze the state of affairs which mostly threatened our existence as human beings.
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Acknowledgement I am indebt<:<d to Lat~~.sadhaIlDIasad Bandsosadvav.for, transfarino T~afiTe'~ ..