It is said, whiskey or for that matter the local brew oils the tied tongue and even an urge to speak in English language develops among certain persons, after a few pegs. There is also a class of people who always make it a point to insert an English word or two every now and then while speaking to others or in a discussion. Well, there is the popular phrase ‘Walking Chatpa’ meaning morning walk.
There is also a rare breed of Manipuri newsreaders in the local cable channels who renders Manipuri news with an English intonation. Yet, there is another class of people who chose to converse and respond in English instead of the state lingua franca, even when they can perfectly understand and speak. They are those who feel they are resisting the dominance of Manipuri language over other languages in the state. On the other hand, there is a general lack of eagerness among the Meiteis who speak Manipuri to learn a few words or phrases of the various tribal languages.
There is a general notion in certain sections of the society that English is the language of the educated class, and anyone who cannot speak properly or fluently in the said language is considered is of the less educated variety. Which is why even parents with little means prefer English medium schools for their children and mushrooming growth of such schools in the state happened. This has led to losing of respect for the mother tongue and a wrong notion that its vocabulary is not enough for modern education and understanding. This is but a reflection of how little the Manipuris knew of their language and the treasure trove of words and phrases hidden in the ancient Puyas.
The Manipuri Language Day is celebrated every August 20 to mark the occasion of inclusion in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution. But, it was deferred this year due to the ongoing total lockdown. After inclusion in the said schedule, a Language Cell was established under the Education Department for promotion and development of Manipuri Language and all other tribal languages of the state. It later became the Department of Language Planning and Implementation. It was also basically established to co-ordinate language planning and development for all the languages of Manipur and to implement all the language policies, acts and rules of the Union and State Government as well.
Without digressing further, we would like to come to the point. Earlier in the morning, All India Radio Imphal aired a science serial which was basically a discussion by some experts on the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. It was very informative, but most radio listeners were disappointed with the language delivery of some of the experts. Radio programs are generally for education and creating awareness on various issues among the general population. So, discussion needs to be on the local language for people to understand the intricacies of the issues.
Generally, AIR Imphal has a very talented and innovative pool of Programme Executives and its programmes on environment, indigenous knowledge systems and science education are always popularly received. Yet, the recent episode of the latest science serial was a disappointment, as some of the subject experts were practically speaking in English, though the medium was supposedly Manipuri. This needs to be looked into by the concerned authorities.