ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Regional LanguagesSubscribe to Regional Languages

English Language Education in India: How Aspirations for Social Mobility Shape Pedagogy

While English is not the official language of India, it has become the language of the ruling elite. Fluency in English is extremely sought after and brings with it the potential for social mobility to the underprivileged sections of society. But is an English-medium education the solution? */ */

Emerging Scholarship on Vernacular Languages in Early Modern North India: A Conversation with Imre Bangha

For historians and scholars of Indian languages, literature, and culture, the period between 1500 and 1800 CE has emerged as an exciting field. Approached from the theoretical perspectives of early modernity, this period offers spectacular insights and narratives of unprecedented changes in social, political, and intellectual life. The rise of regional and vernacular languages, the formation of their distinct identities, and their transformation into languages of literary production remains an exceptional feature of this period. Scholars working with the archives of regional languages have come up with interesting and thought-provoking observations on the relations between language and political culture. Facilitated by discoveries of wide-ranging archives of literary and other forms of cultural production, scholars of early modern India highlight the fluidity in identity formation and absorbent culture that mark the social and political life of this period. New insights emerging from these fields have also persuasively helped revise the established understanding of medieval India based on the historical constructions in the 19th and 20th centuries. The historians working with vernacular language archives employ methods of intellectual history and philology to make significant contributions to the field. They offer tangible textual evidence on changes in languages and literary cultures vis-à-vis social and political life. Imre Bangha, a scholar of early modern vernacular literary culture in northern India, has been instrumental in bringing back questions of language and identity formation in early modern vernacular languages, while also throwing new light on these issues. Currently, Bangha teaches Hindi at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, combines rigorous philological analysis of texts (based on a close reading of extant manuscripts and their variations) and a nuanced approach to the social history of languages and scripts. His work has contributed to pushing the boundaries of early modern studies of languages and literature of northern India. In the process, he has sought to revise widely held views on Hindi literary historiography. He has published critical editions and translations of the works of some of the little-known yet important literary figures from the early modern period, such as Ānandghan (It’s a City-Showman’s Show! Transcendental Songs of Ānandghan with R C C Fynes, Penguin India, 2013) and Ṭhākur (Scorpion in the Hand: Brajbhāṣā Court Poetry from Central India around 1800: A critical edition of Ṭhākur’s Kabittas, Manohar, New Delhi, 2014). He has also authored several important articles on these topics and writers. He is currently working towards publishing similar editions of the works of Bājīd, a 16th-century poet and theologian of Rajasthan; the Awadhi poet Tulsidās best known for Rāmćarit-mānas; and Viṣṇudās, a 15th-century court poet and among the earliest Brajbhasha poets from Gwalior. He is also working on two monographs: one, a history of the emergence of the Hindi literary tradition; and two, an account of Hindustani before modern Hindi and Urdu.

Caste in a Casteless Language?

This paper focuses on a new archive of dalit writing in English translation. The "archive" has a forced homogeneity imposed by the term "dalit", which embraces an urban middle-class dalit and a member of a scavenger caste; the homogeneity is consolidated by the fact that the translated texts are in an international language. The questions asked concern the relationship between caste and the English language, two phenomena that represent considerably antithetical signs. Dalit writers accept English as a target language, despite the fact that local realities and registers of caste are difficult to couch in a language that has no memory of caste. The discussion shows how English promises to dalit writers (as both individuals and representatives of communities) agency, articulation, recognition and justice. The paper draws attention to the multiplicity of contexts that make writing by dalits part of a literary public sphere in India, and contribute to our thinking about caste issues in the context of human rights.

Social Science Policy in the New Millennium

A recent policy workshop on social sciences in India drew attention to the need to formulate a comprehensive social science policy - one that would not only create a holistic interdisciplinary paradigm for social science research, but also encourage research in regional languages and create a relevant database.
Back to Top