LANGUAGE PLANNER RABINDRANATH TAGORE

Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

দেবপ্রসাদ বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়

 Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata

March 5, 1997

PILC Journal of Dravidian Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 89-95, January 1998

Abstract: 
The author of this paper was trying to show that two opposite projects with a distinct epistemological break were part of Rabindranath Tagore’s (a Nobel Laureate in Literature) language planning policy in the context of early C 20. This paper focuses on these two 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 was described, as Tagore wanted to include Asamiya and Oriya as two ‘dialects’ of Bangla as a part of his Nationalistic project in the context of division of Bengal (1905). In the second section (Recovery of Self), a particular portion of ‘banla bhasa poricoy’(Introduction to Bangla Language) was analyzed to understand the nature of Tagore’s Language Planning policy, which was essentially anti-nationalist as Tagore questioned the myth of national language. In the third part, micro level discourse analysis of Tagore’s text was led to the broad spectrum of pluralistic decentralized language planning in connection with the Tagore’s Economic Planning. Though there are several discussions in Bangla on Tagore’s contribution to Linguistics in general and Language Planning in particular, the language planning policy in the perspective of Tagore’s philosophy of economic planning which includes samavaya(co-operation)and decentralization with Tagore’s emphasis on the so called Indian ‘little tradition’ and socially controlled self-determination were not highlighted. The author of this paper showed different dimensions of anti-nationalist decentralized politics propagated by Rabindranath and Gandhi (cf. Nandy 1994). Rabindranath’s idea of kingless society and decentralized autonomy as discussed in svadesi samaj, kalantar or in lectures on ‘Nationalism’ leads us to think about a world without the government or king – a totally decentralized solidarity of people. Tagore prescribed decentralization and tried to develop the notion of society based on samavaya (co-operative). Pluralistic language planning may be enriched by this notion of bhasa-samavaya (Co-operation or peaceful co-existence of languages). This concept of bhasa-samavaya can eliminate the ‘drain of language’. Tagore opined that opting for a single ‘national’ language could be compared with the snatching away of oil from domestic units to lit the lamp of the royal gate. This may also be compared to the snatching away of surplus by the super-ordinates, which is, according to nationalist economists, ‘drain of wealth.’ In case of drain of wealth, taxation, raised by the king, like the moisture sucked up by the sun, does not returned to the earth as fertilizing rain, but that taxation is utilized to develop another privileged land, i.e., 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. Tagore commented that the external unity leads to death (poncotto ‘merging into five elements’, ‘death’) and internal unity leads to poncaYet (people’s participation in the decision making body) and to Tagore, a poncaYet is a symbol of decentralized self-determined unit of co-operation. It is also evident from the speech of Tagore given in Uttarbharatiya Bangasahitya Sammelan (‘SaHitter pothe’,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 might create external equality, but that did not create internal unity of human beings.

 

Number of Pages in PDF File: 5

Keywords: Bhasa-samavaya (co-operative of languages)

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About Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

Debaprasad Bandyopdhyay (b. 1965), through his 25 years journey in the realm of institutionalized academics did 27 different types of works, which are someway different from the earlier paradigms or, one might say that those works are not only mere reproductions of his inherited institutionalized cultural capital or a mimicry of a colonially imposed model that leads to intellectual anorexia or rather a type falsification of earlier paradigms. However, that might be not only a lofty claim but it also hid the fact that all our information and knowledge are socially accumulated knowledge that was, it is matter of regret, posed as private property through the sign © and the wisdom is rarely available. Bandyopadhyay’s works and projects are the products of his social milieu. Bandyopadhyay is a local sub-altern public sphere academician, who avoids the technical intelligentsia (followers of Sahib’s models and they are not committed to the persons who are accommodating surplus work-time to them by performing surplus labour) or inorganic intellectuals and thus fails to be a part of academic tribe and its subsequent socialization process. Of course, that socialization process does not lead to legendary Socratic dialogue. He is also a political activist though he has not affiliated to any political parties as he was always talking about the corporatization of political parties within the money-sign-based democratic system. He is a regular participant in TV and radio talk-shows and documentary films, street-corners’ talks and International seminars on socio-political, psychological, linguistic, environmental and economic issues. He also writes editorial columns in newspapers. He is also a part of parallel academics as it is found in West Bengal’s Little Magazine Movement, though that was not counted as the part his academic pursuit by his parent institute. His parent institute justifiably does not believe in the domain of parallel academics as this unorganized sector does not directly contribute in the transactions of formal/organized print capitalist eco-enemy paper-publication. Though the dissemination of knowledge is also observed in this space of these parallel academics as all these writings in public sphere simultaneously influence the classroom-discourse and some of them are translated into English, French and Italian. Not only that, Bandyopadhyay also sought engagement with the people, who, by supplying their surplus labour, are sustaining his livelihood. Bandyopadhyay, a linguist by training and a Ph.D.-holder (1996), a junior lecturer (1999-2011) in an autonomous central government institute in India, tries his best for those from he has received and is receiving the manifestation of surplus labour by executing some self-funded projects on economic issues in West Bengal, India. Recently he has got a consolation promotion to the post of Assistant Professor. He has done following 27 research works: 1. Crippled Creativity: An inquiry into language, psyche, society: 2. VALENCY OF BANGLA VERB AND PROBLEM OF COMPOUND VERBS: 3. Archaeology of Bangla Grammar : 4. CAN COMPUTER SPEAK? 5. FUZZY LOGICAL EXPRESSION IN BANGLA : 6. FOLKLORE AND FOLK-LANGUAGE: MYTH OR REALITY? 7. HISTORICISM IN THE DISCOURSE OF BANGLA LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE 8. ABHABA, ECP, DELETION AND TRACE 9. SVATVA OR MY-NESS AND ECONOMIC ENTITLEMEMT 10. TRANSLATION STUDIES 11. MASCULINITY STUDIES 12. YAYATI & BABAR COMPLEX 13. SOCIO-ECONOMIC SURVEYS IN AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY IN WEST BENGAL 14. CONCEPT OF BODY IN INDIAN PHILOSOPHY AND ARCHITECTURE 15. THE CONCEPT OF ERROR (KHYATI) IN MAD-(WO)MEN’S LANGUAGE 16. THE CONCEPT OF PERCEPTUAL TIME AND GRAMMATICAL TIME IN BANGLA 17. BANGLA CALLIGRAPHY, LANGUAGE ART AND LINGUISTIC PEDAGOGY 18. WO(L)D SPACES: NON-EXISTENCE OF WORDS 19. ANEKANTA METHODS 20. SILENCEME: SILENT OTHER IN LINGUISTICS 21. IMAGINED BOUDARIES AND PRE-COLONIAL INDIAN IMAGI-NATION 22. MAKING OF THE INDIAN PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 23. SEGMENTING THE SUPRASEGMENTALS : MUSICKING IN SPEAKING 24. INTERPRETING GENETIC STRUCTURE BY DEPLOYING LINGUISTIC STRUCTURE 25. GLOTTOPOLITICS OF LINGUISTIC SUBALTERNITY OR AN AGENDA FOR PLANNING FROM BELOW 26. SEMIOTICS OF PHOTOGRAPHY 27. SOCIOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY ACADEMICS
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