Outlook reports on language issues in Maoist areas
Outlook reporter explores the language factor in Maoist conflict
Debarshi Dasgupta describes himself as a "media fellow exploring linguistic aspects of the Maoist conflict". In that context he looks at schools and at what language goverenment officials use in Bastar district in Chhattisgarh.
In the artucle Black Chalk on Board, which will appear in this weeks' issue of Outlook, he explores the case of a eight year old boy, Sundar, from the Dhurwi tribe who after three years of schooling still does not understand a word of his teacher's Hindi:
"Sundar is a good example of how a poorly run education system and a blinkered resolve to teach only Hindi at the primary level, can spawn chronic illiteracy amongst the perfectly able. Chhattisgarh's tribal children have ended up being a mute lot, overwhelmed by a language they don't understand and intimidated by non-tribal teachers who take them to task if they use their own."
In the article he builds a strong case for the use of the tribal languages in the class and also discusses some of the citics.
In the aricle Language of the Land he critisizes the government for not making it mandatory for officers working in that region to learn a local language. He contrast that with the Maoist whose leaders do make it a point to use the tribal langiuage:
"It is through dedicated linguistic outreach that the Maoists have accentuated their proximity to adivasis and their faith in the tribal cause. Top commanders have acquired near-native skills in Gondi, spoken widely by marginalised tribals in south Chhattisgarh and adjoining areas. Even those Maoists from other tribal communities, including foot soldiers, have had to learn Gondi. "
"Perception matters a lot in this ongoing battle for minds, and being perceived as unfriendly to tribal languages and cultures is one that continues to cost the state dear in this conflict."