language politics

Ten things you didn’t know about our polyglot nation

India’s multilingual map throws up many surprises.

The linguistic diversity in India’s literature runs far wider than in any other country in the world. What makes this possible? Among others, the zeal with which different local languages are promoted both by state administrations and by language activists. Here are ten of the most fascinating features of the country’s complex linguistic map:

One
The states and union territories of India carry out their day-to-day administrative work in 18 “official” languages. It is not mandatory for these official languages to belong to Schedule VIII of the Indian Constitution. For example, neither English, the sole official language for four states and one union territory, nor Kokborok, the official language of Tripura, are part of the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

Twenty-eight languages, several of which are still in the process of “scriptalisation”, have been declared as additional official languages.

Two
Jharkhand has the largest number of languages with “official” status. Hindi in Devanagari script is the official language of Jharkhand, and Urdu, the second official language of the state. In addition to Urdu, the following ten languages have been also identified as additional second official languages of the state: Santhali, Bangla, Mundari, Ho, Kharia, Kurukh (Oraon), Kurmali, Khertha, Nagpuri, Panchpargania and Odia.

Jharkhand is closely followed by Sikkim. While English is the official language, the following eleven languages have been identified as additional official languages: Bhutia, Lepcha, Limboo, Newari, Gurung, Manger, Mukhia, Rai, Sherpa and Tamang.

West Bengal holds third place in this list. Bengali is the official language, along with Nepali in the Darjeeling and Kurseong sub-divisions of the Darjeeling district, the other official languages are: Hindi, Urdu, Santhali, Odia, Punjabi and Marathi.

Three
While the three-language formula, as enshrined in the famous Kothari Commission Report (1964-66) is used as a template by most Indian states in school education, Tamil Nadu is the only Indian state which follows a two-language formula – all official work in the state is conducted in only English and Tamil.

Four
The state of Nagaland has the largest number of language academies promoting minority languages of the state.

Five
The moment the population of a linguistic minority group is equal to more than 15 per cent of the population of a district, tehsil, taluka or municipality, the state governments need to ensure translations and publications of Rules, Regulations, Notices, etc. in the relevant languages spoken by these groups. While the other states are still trying to achieve this, West Bengal has reduced this percentage to 10 – and is the most successful follower of this policy.

Six
Language activists of Chhattisgarh are campaigning to have Chhattisgarhi included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, and to be used more in the state where most official work is carried out in Hindi. They secured a great victory on January 8, 2002 when Hon’ble Justice Fakhruddin of the Raipur High Court awarded a judgment in Chhatisgarhi.

Seven
The emphasis on the mother tongue as the medium of instruction in primary school (Classes I to V) has inspired schools in Assam to work in ten different mediums of instruction: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Hindi, English, Manipuri, Garo, Nepali, Hmar and Karbi Anglong. Six other mother tongues are studied as subjects: Mising, Bishnupriya, Tai, Rabha, Tiwa and Deuri.

Eight
Assamese is the link language between different communities in Arunachal Pradesh.

Nine
In medieval times, Braj was the lingua franca in north India. From Punjab to Assam, from Guru Nanak to Shankara Deva, path-breaking original texts were composed in Braj bhasha, and these remain in currency in oral modes, ritual practices and performative texts even now.

Ten
Urdu is the official language of Jammu and Kashmir ever since the Dogra rajas made it the official language in 1889. This is interesting as Urdu is not a mother tongue for any of the major communities of the state – the mother tongues are as diverse as Kashmiri, Dogri, Balti, Dardi, Punjabi, Hindi, Pashto, Ladakhi, Pahari and Kohistani. But, historically, Urdu used to act as the lingua franca.

Devapriya Roy is the author of two novels, a PhD thesis on the Natyashastra, and most recently, with Saurav Jha, of The Heat and Dust Project: the Broke Couple’s Guide to Bharat.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Harvard Business School’s HBX brings the future of business education to India with online programs

HBX is not only offering courses online, but also connecting students to the power of its network.

The classic design of the physical Harvard Business School (HBS) classroom was once a big innovation – precisely designed teaching amphitheaters laid out for every student to participate from his or her seat with a “pit” in the center of the room from which professors orchestrate discussions analyzing business cases like a symphony lead. When it came to designing the online experience of HBX—the school’s digital learning initiative—HBS faculty worked tirelessly to blend these tenets of the HBS classroom pedagogy with the power of new technology. With real-world problem solving, active learning, and social learning as its foundation, HBX offers immersive and challenging self-paced learning experiences through its interactive online learning platform.

Reimagining digital education, breaking the virtual learning mold

Typically, online courses follow a one-way broadcast mode – lectures are video recorded and reading material is shared – and students learn alone and are individually tested. Moving away from the passive learning model, HBX has developed an online platform that leverages the HBS ‘case-based pedagogy’ and audio-visual and interaction tools to make learning engaging.

HBX courses are rarely taught through theory. Instead, students learn through real-world problem-solving. Students start by grappling with a business problem – with real world data and the complexity in which a business leader would have to make a decision – and learn the theory inductively. Thus even as mathematical theories are applied to business situations, students come away with a greater sense of clarity and perspective, whether it is reading a financial report, understanding why a brand’s approach to a random sample population study may or may not work, or how pricing works.

HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program
HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program

“Learning about concepts through real-life cases was my favorite part of the program. The cases really helped transform abstract concepts into observable situations one could learn from. Furthermore, it really helped me understand how to identify situations in which I could use the tools that HBX equipped me with,” says Anindita Ravikumar, a past HBX participant. India’s premier B-school IIM-Ahmedabad has borrowed the very same pedagogy from Harvard. Learning in this manner is far more engaging, relatable, and memorable.

Most lessons start with a short 2-3 minute video of a manager talking about the business problem at hand. Students are then asked to respond on how they would handle the issue. Questions can be in the form of either a poll or reflections. Everyone’s answers are then visible to the ‘classroom’. In the words of Professor Bharat Anand, Faculty Chair, HBX, “This turns out to be a really important distinction. The answers are being updated in real-time. You can see the distribution of answers, but you can also see what any other individual has answered, which means that you’re not anonymous.” Students have real profiles and get to know their ‘classmates’ and learn from each other.

HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort
HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort

Professor Anand also says, “We have what we call the three-minute rule. Roughly every three minutes, you are doing something different on the platform. Everyone is on the edge of their seats. Anyone could be called on to participate at any time. It’s a very lean forward mode of learning”. Students get ‘cold-called’ – a concept borrowed from the classroom – where every now and then individuals will be unexpectedly prompted to answer a question on the platform and their response will be shared with other members of the cohort. It keeps students engaged and encourages preparedness. While HBX courses are self-paced, participants are encouraged to get through a certain amount of content each week, which helps keep the cohort together and enables the social elements of the learning experience.

More than digital learning

The HBS campus experience is valued by alumni not just for the academic experience but also for the diverse network of peers they meet. HBX programs similarly encourage student interactions and opportunities for in-person networking. All HBXers who successfully complete their programs and are awarded a credential or certificate from HBX and Harvard Business School are invited to the annual on-campus HBX ConneXt event to meet peers from around the world, hear from faculty and business executives, and also experience the HBS campus near Cambridge.

HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand
HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand

Programs offered today

HBX offers a range of programs that appeal to different audiences.

To help college students and recent graduates prepare for the business world, HBX CORe (Credential of Readiness) integrates business essentials such as analytics, economics, and financial accounting. HBX CORe is also great for those interested in an MBA looking to strengthen their application and brush up their skills to be prepared for day one. For working professionals, HBX CORe and additional courses like Disruptive Strategy, Leading with Finance, and Negotiation Mastery, can help deepen understanding of essential business concepts in order to add value to their organizations and advance their careers.

Course durations range from 6 to 17 weeks depending on the program. All interested candidates must submit a free, 10-15 minute application that is reviewed by the HBX admissions team by the deadlines noted on the HBX website.

For more information, please review the HBX website.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of HBX and not by the Scroll editorial team.