National Integration And Devanagari Script
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National Integration and Devanagari script

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See interview of Ashok  Kothare

I recall one incidence that took place some years back when I had been to the office of one of my friends who was in the business of providing translations. He had some people who were well versed in most of the Indian languages and with that other many languages of other countries. He had the practice that whenever a translation job comes to him about any Indian language he would prepare the first write up in Devanagari and then give it for translation in the other language's script; but write it in Devanagari script for his records also, because as he told me most Indian languages are written in that script. 

He told me that here are about 53 languages spoken in India and many are treated as dialects of some other more important language. For example Katchhi (कच्छी) is treated as a dialects of Gujarati though that language has resemblance with Sindhi. Where the accepted script is Persian while Gujarati has a separate script of its own. To avoid any problem, practice of first preparing translation in the desired language and in its particular script he has replaced and so he would prefer to write it in Devanagari script and then pass it to the other fellow who would do the translation in the desired script of that particular language. That means, he would first convert all literature in Devanagari script. 

I am a Marathi speaking person and as we all know Marathi has Devanagari as its main script; so I could read all the translations made in any Indian language. To my surprise I could read most of the Indian languages with ease and could understand the content without any difficulty. I could read Punjabi which is normally written in Gurumukhi. If it is in Gurumukhi I cannot read it but when it was in Devanagari I could read and understand it. Same I experienced when I read a write up in Malayalam, The official language of State of Kerala. If it is written in that script I could not have read it and understand it but when it was in Devanagari I could understand the content easily. However with Tamil I had difficulties; the language has much different word construction and that made it impossible to read that when written in Devanagari. I asked my friend why that translation is difficult to understand? He told me that most Indian languages are off shoots of Sanskrit language. Excepting Tamil. Tamil is not off shoot of Sanskrit; it has its own origin and even by etymology it is much different from Sanskrit. That is why even by preparing the writeup in Devanagari I could not follow it with ease the way I could do with other Indian languages. Excepting this one language in all other Indian languages Devanagari worked well. However, these days Tamil has absorbed many Sanskrit words and so it is much more easy to understand it than the older version of Tamil. 

I had almost forgotten this incidence but last week when we friends were discussing the topic of integration of Indian ethos. Somebody told me that the many different scripts keep the country divided. I have suggestion based on the merits of this one script, Devanagari, which is already in use as an official script of most (10) of the Indian languages. Being the most used script this script deserves the position of national script. So far we do not have any such attributes for this script. We have national bird, games, songs and many more but the most basic is the script without which we cannot communicate with each others. But we as yet do not have any thing like national script. I want my readers to help me in bringing up this issue and make this one script national script and with that we shall have a rule that all central government literature such as government circulars, gazetted documents and many such work is published in Devanagari and with that in other script of that state language also. For example, if central government wants to give a circulars for Bengal state it will print it in Devanagari as well as Bengali script and the language will be Bengali; today the practice is to give them out only in English language. I feel, we should discontinue with that old British time practice of publishing everything in English and switch over to Indian scripts in that all Indian citizens who are generally well versed in Devanagari can understand and that will bring about the feeling that we are one people. This effect we cannot get by continuing to use English language because when government publishes it in English it is also written in English language and not in the regional language. But when it will be published in Devanagari it will be in Tami in case of Tamil, Bengali in case of Bengali and so on and so forth. All Indians will be able to understand what is given in the document. 

We see people from one state go to other states of other languages and it is always difficult for them to understand what is given in those languages because of script difference. With this arrangement we will be able to integrate people more naturally. 

I have seen difficulties when people visit other states of other regional languages. Suppose you go to Karnatak and you do not understand Kannada language and its script; you cannot read marks on roads and other places and that makes moving about rather difficult. They also put notes in English language but most Indians do not understand English and so that note is as bad as not there. If they put them in Devanagari but the language will be regional, most Indian will be able to at least read it and that may help them get to some thing (about 70% understanding is possible) and that will make them feel better. Most of our Indian languages have come from Sanskrit and so it is better to understand something than not understanding anything at all. When Devanagari will be national script this will be possible and moving from one state to other will be that much better. This will facilitate learning of other Indian languages also. 

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