Tag Archives: Mother Tongue

War on Language


WHILE visiting Balochistan, one becomes aware of just how removed that province is from mainstream Pakistan. And it’s not only the obvious things — such as the dire lack of development, the air of oppression or the stories of enforced disappearances and dumped bodies. There’s also the more subtle issue of language.

According to Article 28 in the chapter on fundamental rights, the Constitution says: “… any section of citizens having a distinct language, script or culture shall have the right to PRESERVE and promote the same and subject to law, establish institutions for that purpose”. Most of the national conversation on this is centred on the fact that many private schools, at least in urban areas, do not teach the relevant provincial language in contravention of provincial laws to the effect.

In Turbat some weeks ago, I learnt that the situation is quite the opposite in Balochistan. This is the only province where government schools do not teach either Balochi or Brahui, the two most widely spoken native languages outside the Pakhtun-majority areas in the north of the province. Balochi is only taught in a few private schools here.

Public schools in Balochistan teach neither Balochi nor Brahui.

One of the most devastating weapons of repression EMPLOYED by a state is the suppression of a native language.History is replete with examples of forcible assimilation of a people in this manner.

To exclude the teaching of a native language while imposing on its speakers the language of the dominant polity is exactly what it sounds like — an act of cultural warfare. Language is an inherent part of a people’s identity, the repository of their history and culture, a record of epic battles fought and of heroic exploits for its generations to emulate.

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Mother Tongue Absent in Thousands of Classrooms

by: Haider Rizvi

Courtesy: Wichaar.com, July 17th, 2009

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 16 (IPS) – Millions of children across the world fail to receive a basic education not only because they are born into poverty, but because local authorities do not allow them to read and write in their native language at school. According to a study released Thursday by a London-based rights advocacy group, more than 100 million children in the world are out of school, and most – estimated between 50 and 70 percent – are minorities or indigenous peoples. In “The State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2009”, prepared in collaboration with the U.N.’s children agency UNICEF, Minority Rights Group International (MRG) details how minority and indigenous children have been systematically excluded, discriminated against, or are too poor to afford an education.

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Asha Chand is a daughter of prominent and well known Sindhi writer Sundri Uttamchandani

By Ramesh Kateja, India

Ms. Asha is daughter of prominent and well known Sindhi writer par excellence Madam Sundri Uttamchandani, who has scores of Sindhi Novels and Stories to her credit, many of those have been translated in numerous languages globally.

In spite of constraints Sindhi language is facing in India, when the language can only survive through spoken medium, Ms Asha’s initiative to produce sleek and smooth Sindhi programmes for television media is indeed commendable and is certainly a right step in right direction.

Although Half an hour a week is too small a slot allotted for Sindhi ( i am sure that too must have been some kind of favour) is good enough for time being.

Its my appeal to Sindhis worldwide to encourage their children to see these TV programmes and create interest in their mind for their Mother Tongue. When I remember those lines of some Indian Sindhi writer:

Allah, iyen ma thiye, jo kitaaban men paRhije,

Hui Sindh ain Sindhi waaran ji Boli.

Translation of the above poetry: Lord, let that not happen, when we would be reading in the books, There was Sindh and their language Sindhi!

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/e-groups, April 14, 2008