Red alert, do we have an identity crisis?
Imagine a world full of people, demonstrating identical faces, synonymous dressing senses, communicating in the same language. Heck, there wouldn't be room for any imagination! Dullness. Boredom. Monotony.
The beauty of the world lies in its diversity.
Every region across the globe, boasts its own history, heritage, culture and language. In our part of the world, the moghul empire still resonates proudly in the mind of the average sub-continental dweller (for reasons ranging from aesthetics to grandeur to unity to pluralism); our poets and writers have been the brains and blood behind reformations and revolutions; our regional dresses and the arts and crafts behold traditionally conservative values but vary in form from province to province; our languages both national and regional, have a wealth of literary works to back their profoundity.
While a lot can be said and mourned in the wake of the globalisation of more than just economies, it is our languages for which I fear extinction the most. A sad trend seems to have engulfed our schools, colleges and households. While Punjabi (the regional language of the Punjab) has since long lost its battle against the throngs of Westernization, we are now keen on annihilating the urdu language too. It is not being argued that everything West is evil-incarnate; rather, it is the sheer ignorance of valuing a beautiful culture, that is worrisome. The urdu language is a powerful one, but it is saddening to witness our toddlers being warned in school against speaking either their mother tongues or their national language. They are expected to communicate in English alone; uttering a word in Urdu warrants a punishment. And in our middle and upper classes, Punjabi is regarded as a language of the poor. People who converse in Punjabi, are derogatorily labelled paindus (roughly, villagers). These are the languages hosting sufis like Bulleh Shah and Waris Shah, sung by legends like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Jagjit Singh, weaving magic through the words of Ghalib, Iqbal and Faiz.
It is hard to understand then, why our people prefer to speak phrases in broken English with "lofty" accents than to speak good urdu or punjabi. An inferiority complex has killed the spark that a proud nation arouses; instead we seem to want to prove our modernity through the acquisition of the English language. Its significance is now much more than being a universal mode of communication. For us, it is to make a statement: we are modern, progressive and educated.
Sadly, we end up making only one statement: we are ignorant fools. Paindus!
Copyright (c) 2008 Saadia Malik