Friday, 16 October 2015

Language of Respect is Missing in Respecting the Language!


Wondered what is the State of Maharashtra up to? It is up to being more Marathi than before.

Years back Marathi signboards and name hoardings for shops and business establishments were made mandatory. The rules also insisted that in case the name is written in more than one language, then the Marathi name should come in the beginning and should not be of a smaller font size than other languages used on the board.  Now the Marathi-ness is being taken a step (in fact two steps) further.

The Multiplexes have been ordered to assign one screen for Marathi films during the prime time slot (6pm to 9pm).

The ministers want that all official work and documentation shall be conducted in Marathi in the State Secretariat Office.  

In the first instance, the intention seems harmless and even progressive to an extent. But the problems of Marathi films need more than compulsive screening at multiplexes. Marathi films have a legacy of V Shantaram. The real strength of Marathi films has mostly been in its story and content. However, the industry has been struggling to cope up with the onslaughts of Bollywood in terms of budget, among many other things. Marathi films are more often low on budget. Indian audience (or at least a major part of it) is used to grandeur on cinema screens. Thus, it is unfortunate that a regional film low on budget but heavy with content on social issues do not attract many.  The government’s contribution in budget assistance is minimal and if this can be studied further to address inherent film making issues, many problems can be resolved in the first stage of regional film making.  Similarly, about 80% of regional films are shot digitally but there are few government subsidies or similar provisions to promote such films. On the contrary, government grants subsidies for regional cinema shot on films. This doesn’t solve much purpose. Instead it is forcing film-makers to choose the mode of film shooting that will avail them a better subsidy rather than a mode which is in sync with time and technology. Hence, though the multiplex orders seem like a change to be welcomed, the inherent issues remain ignored.

As far as speaking Marathi for official work is concerned, the rule seems archaic and obviously inconvenient. If the intention is to instill a sense of pride in Marathi language, then pride cannot be forced. In past, there have been panels and committees set up to study ways of promoting and preserving Marathi language. These suggestions included
·       Promotions and raises be linked to usage of Marathi for government officials    and other governmental establishments  like schools

·          Officials to monitor ‘correct usage of Marathi on television channels

·   Grants to be withheld for non usage or wrong usage of Marathi in specific institutions under the government

These and such suggestions raise doubts about the intention behind rule. In a secular state, people should be encouraged; not forced to learn and imbibe different cultures and languages. Besides, can we demand respect for language by forcing people to speak in it? Isn’t the language of respect missing in insisting on respecting a language?