Book Name: Politics of Identity

By:              Adeel Khan


A language is a tool for communication it encircles the whole society and dominates the socio-cultural and domestic lives alike. If language were not there at first place the ideas of advancement, revolution, development and progress would not even have been inferred.

In the modern world, a language is a tool of elitism and imperialism. The language of the advanced, developed, progressed and modern country dominates that of the lower echelons. The term linguistic-imperialism is a succinct epitome of social and cultural elitism. The language of the dominant always affects the language of the dominated and so it transfers and transmits the norms and behavior as a model to the lesser developed and under-developed countries.

All this argument can be explicitly comprehended if the language of the ones who conquered the other territories and of the ones, who did not conquer any territory, be compared.

When the speakers of the English-Language and Spanish-language migrated to other parts of the world they utterly ignored the indigenous languages and affected the local languages more than any language. In New-Zealand and Australia, from around 70s the dominant language, was solely English. Recently New-Zealand’s native language has gained a fairly handsome importance than any language spoken in the whole of New-Zealand.

Portuguese is another example from Brazil. Portuguese is an engine of acculturation and a distinguishable trait that maintains the superiority of the Brazilians over all the none-speakers of Brazilians. The same is the case with the English language in the USA.

The lands and territories which the Europeans conquered but could have settled there but had financial and strategic interests vested in those parts, they implemented a language policy there for national interests. The French had been endorsed by France in Tunisia and other colonies of France to safe guard interests and maintain superiority.

The British had a lenient policy towards the local languages or it could also have been out some policy that they gave space to the local languages.

The main focus of the Chapter three in this book, (language and politics in Pakistan) is the study of British language policies in India.

This chapter argues that the people who wanted locals to learn Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit and Anglicists who wanted the Indians of the upper echelons to learn and use only English language as a tool of all types of communications, both the groups wanted the Indians to be ruled by the Great Britain.

Orientalist and Anglicist World Views

Orientalism: the academic study of the orient by the oxidant. Modern historians of Anglicism gave a thrashing rebuttal and refuted the British Empire policy makers who had the opinion that the Indian society was so poor and primitive that they lacked any tool for development. Tariq Khan, (author of Language and Politics in Pakistan) says that the British historians such as Adam Smith, James Smith, Ricardo and Thomas Paine had very little knowledge of India and Evangelists (missionaries) wanted to promote only Christianity by thrusting English in the India. The locals were living according to old religious dogmas and there were followers of every religion on the Indian soil and every follower was a staunch one. So Evangelists devised a policy for lingua franca and made the English the language of elites. No one at that time paid a heed to this side because the whole country was sacked by the foreigners and India had a long trail of conquerors over her soil. Besides, there were many languages spoken on the Indian lands that no it bothered no one, that another Language was being added to the local socio-cultural life. English was spoken by the people who had reigns of the country in there hand and accepting the foreign language in the Indian social fabric was not any difficult because the Indians had the experience of Persian rulers for almost 10 centuries, and there were Turks and Arabs and Afghans as well. English could only be learned in convent schools so to allure more children of Viceroys and vicegerents of shrines and Nawabs the missionaries planned to not to teach the basic tenets or dogmas of Christianity just teach them language and manners, they will always act and speak in there circles like us.

The Orientalist Phase

From 1774 to 1785 Warren Hasting was governor of India, he wanted keep the Indian vernaculars intact so that the locals could be proven more efficient subjects of the British Empire and that would consolidate the empire to much extent than the communication through English language. For this purpose Hastings established  madrassah in Calcutta and after lord Minto established four Hindu colleges.

The East India Company directors were fearing a revolt so they could not have taken any injudicious measures to favor any party on the cost of the other but they were utterly flabbergasted because the history had taken a new course. Hindus started to learn English not out curiosity but Muslim animosity. It was a strangest of the feelings for the Goras, they were striving hard translate and learn local languages such as Burushaski in Gilgit and Pashto in FATA. It was mandatory for the British political agents to speak the local language when in any locality.

Anglicist Pressure

The first opposition faced by the current state of affairs was from Charles Grant who was on the position of East India Company’s Country Director. The rampant ethos according to his point of view was not consolidating the Company footings on Indian soil and the majority of the locals (Hindus) were keenly enthusiastic to learn English, so Charles was adamant to legalize English language as an official communication tool.

Sir Stephen Lushington and Randle Jackson opposed Charles Grant and told him that the teaching of English language would give the new ideas, paradigms and horizons to the local better keep their culture and language intact and rule them because if we tried to impose English language than it would prove fatal just like America where the locals demanded secession following the French Revolution pattern. If you teach them English, they will demand rights and it will eventually lead them to liberties of no limits.

But after a short span of time all the company directors, governor general and the Indian correspondence officers in GB agreed to teach and profess the western values and appointed lectors for this purpose.

Indian Initiative for Acquiring English

In the year 1774 a Supreme Court was established for the arbitration of disputes of the company and the Indians which led the Indians to learn English. Indians were very inspired by the mobility of the company troops and their style of conquering and converting everything, an aura of awe always circles their minds which sensationalized the process of acquiring the foreign culture. The locals of Calcutta started frequently writing to the Governor-General that they needed means such as western manners and English language to provide the services to the British Empire and assist consolidating it.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy wrote a letter to the Viceroy complaining that if the British Raj wants to keep the Hindus in darkness and subjugate them with incivility than they opted for the correct measure because we are a weak subject with excessive numbers but if the British Sarkar lends us an opportunity the Indians will prove themselves the best servants.

In 1827 the native princes, Sardars, nawabs, and gentry of the western India collected 2.15 million rupees to appoint a lector that could teach them western philosophy, literature, lifestyle and moralities.

It should be kept in mind that all these demands were coming from the Hindu circles because Muslims were still hostile and anti-Britain that the 1857 freedom fight saved the Hindus from the wrath and only the Muslims were the target of the empire due to the successive course of events.

Shah Abdul Aziz and Sir Syed Khan had to struggle very much because where ever they went the orthodox Muslims opposed them on the ground that they were loyal to the viceroy and not their Islamic values and brethren.


The Anglicist Campaign in India

Around 1820s when lord William was appointed governor-general in India, prior to leaving for India the Governor-General told the missionaries that he is not the Governor-general of India rather they are, and only the policies that would be in the best interest of the Church, will be imposed.

Trevelyan, a civil servant of the empire, helped the governor general very much.

Advent of Macaulay

Charles Grant wrote a letter to the Evangelist church prior to the appointment of Lord Macaulay to India stating that the Macaulay will prove to be a best governor general for furthering the cause for evangelism.

Charles grant was actually right in his prognostication because Lord Macaulay devised a best plan for the transformation of the culture and he succeeded in his designs.

Orientalist response to Macaulay

The orientalists opposed Macaulay saying that he will divide the Indians in many camps. There will be people who will loathe the change and would consider an insult to replace their culture and language.

The Indians response to Macaulay

In 1853 Wilson addressed in the house of commons that the Maulvis of Hindustan are cunningly astute they think that the British government tries to convert them by ridiculing their turbans and vests and changing their clothes, manners and language is a harmful and every single Muslim from the lower echelons to the top most consider us the lurking virulent.

The death of Persian

Persian was the elite language spoken by highly educated Hindus and Muslims alike. In courts and seminaries and government departments, it was a challenge for the British Raj to eradicate Persian. A sense of ethnic difference and Hindu nationalism was needed to arouse the Hindus to show them that they were the different in all respects from Muslims. In this the Sanskrit was popularized and the notable Muslims created Alphabets that assimilated to Persian.

It was a good strategy that in only a century the whole of India was under the sway of foreign culture and changed the 3 thousand year old Indian and a thousand year old Muslim culture in a blink of an eye.

 

 

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