ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Breaking the Chaturvarna System of Languages

Hany Babu M T (hanybabu@gmail.com) teaches English at the University of Delhi.

The Indian language policy is informed by a pull towards unilingual identity, inspired by the European model of nation state that is predicated on the homogeneity of its people. Language hegemony works at two tiers in India—at the state and the centre. The Constitution fails to pay more than lip service to the linguistic plurality and multilingual ethos of the peoples of India and has created a chaturvarna (four-tier order) of languages, with Sanskrit, Hindi, the scheduled, and the non-scheduled languages occupying various rungs of the ladder. English—the language of the conquerors—being outside the chaturvarna system has emancipatory potential.

Versions of this paper were presented in “The Indian Vernacular: Languages, Literatures and Histories” conference held at the University of Delhi and “Pluralism and Multiculturalism in Teaching and Research of English Language and Literatures” conference held at VIT University, Vellore. I thank the audience for their suggestions. I also thank G Aloysius for his feedback after going through the draft meticulously.

Updated On : 20th Aug, 2017

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