Sunday, January 13, 2013

Speak to Preserve the Language

Can the potential to grow the Life Style be detrimental for the culture and Religious faith? It seems so. It is like a huge tree which can uproot solid structures. It does not stop there. It goes upto the grass root level to do away with one's mother tongue as well.  Though it sounds strange, it is happening . I was watching a short film on You Tube,forwarded by my friend quite recently. It was all about the possibility of Tamils loosing not only the culture but their language consciously.

When the British ruled India, Lord Macaulay was of the opinion to introduce English in the region. He suggested to give the Indians the book,"Robinson Crusoe" which could  teach them Grammar together. They believed that it could be the step to delink the many languages of the states of the country with a common language and replace them with English. Since education is looked as a source for livelihood, it became unavoidable to learn a global language right from Primary schools.

It was chiefly due to the poor standard of education, people began opting for the convents though it was not affordable. Some schools set the platform for spreading the religions of the west simultaneously by asking the students not to wear the cultural dress of the region and disallowing them from speaking the local language. This was the first and most important dent received and people became helpless and succumb to the situation.

The Government did nothing except to organise World Tamil Meet to boast that they are the real protectors of the language. Sanskrit was mercilessly thrown out of the schools only to target a section of the Public. It was called as a"dead language". Who prevented them to have Tamil as a compulsory language of study atleast upto school level? Does the Government realise the fact that thousands of students who come out of schools in Tamilnadu do not know how to read and write the language? What steps have been taken to plug the dangerous trend?

Yes. The danger is at the door steps. Many parents prefer their children to address them as "Dad" and "Mom" instead of "Appa" and "Amma". It starts from there. Slowly the conversation gets switched over to English as they assume that it gives them a better status. They never attempt to teach their children the local language at Homes. The film I referred above beautifully portrays how the tradition and the language is completely lost when you settle abroad.

I do agree that there are many families who train their children at Home both within the country and abroad. At this stage I want to express my disappointment as this is not enough.  While I am happy to note that music and dance are taught mostly by ladies during their stay abroad, I am yet to hear the news that the language is taught from alphabet level to young lads. Can "Tamil Sangams " in other states of the country and abroad spend more time on this?

Since Sanskrit is primarily used for conducting religious worship, a day may come when Tamil may also face the same fate. Since a large part of Tamil Literature is meant for religion, people should show interest to preseve it by encouraging the next generation in that direction. Can n't the children be taught during their vacation? To start with, the parents should shed their notion that it is inferior to speak in local languages. They should change themselves first before trying it with their children. How often the parents take time to tell the next generation about our customs and practices?

Be it Sanskrit or Tamil, you need to tell the next generation what it means and how important it is when you recite a stanza or a Hymn. Blind repetition simply does nothing. During my recent visit to a Temple on a Pradosham day , I was immensely happy to note young students reciting Vedas. When I had a chat with them after the event, I came to know that they learn Veda and Agama for six years. It was my turn to ask questions at them. I asked them to narrate something about "Pradosham". I was shocked to see them blinking. Their teacher was not there. It reflects the quality of training received by the students. My friend went on asking more questions at them. I knew they were taught very little the meaning of what they recite and the significance of the religious events. This is the reason why Sanskrit was neglected  as the teachers thought that one should read "Bhashyam" for learning the meaning of the verses. It may be correct. But you should know atleast the basics of what the vedas/Agamas convey.

You may wonder why this post is written for Tamils in English language. The reason is obvious and narrated in this post itself.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Responsible Freedom

I read with interest an article on "Responsible Freedom" recently. The author is a HR professional. His thoughts on "freedom at work" may be extended to other areas as well. With the World Dynamics changing , he advocates flexibility in the organisation to retain talent. The call has thus become necessary due to changing requirements. Now the question before us is why such Micro and Macro surveys should be confined to business circles. Is it because the employees want more and more - more personal attention and their voices to be heard and responded to and they want it to happen "Now" ? Is it not aggressively played to arrest attrition and translate business goals into  direct action? Employee development has become the key area everywhere. The multi-fold growth in business challenges has asked for complex changes to remain proactive. We need to groom people to undertake enhanced responsibilities in all areas of work.

Freedom does not mean "do what you want". It provides an opportunity to express , interact ,suggest and share the views/ideas within a framework. It encourages inputs that are innovative and morale boosting. When we apply the Business principles to Religious Freedom, the results are not encouraging. It is disappointing to see people take liberty to misuse the freedom they enjoy. Only when the legal fraternity alerts them that their action amounts to libel or slander, they realise their mistakes. To believe or not may be entrusted to the individual. But then it is not clear how atheism is allowed by Law where people are allowed to  spit venom on others. If someone keeps calm on being attacked verbally or through any media, it is taken for granted that one can go scotfree even after throwing rubbish on somebody. Some politicians are known for issuing statements against some communities who observe extreme tolerence. The statements are the outbursts to divert the attention of people. They refrain to do it only during Poll time.

A road map is to be drawn on how best we treat people honestly and improve their capabilities. Justice delayed is inferred as the inability to punish wrong doers on time. How often the Villagers gather to discuss the issues connected with their Temples? Does the Executive officer of the Temple calls for a meeting to discuss the status and share with them? Recently,the HR&CE dept had organised a training camp for Archakas. We do not know whether it served the purpose. Mere talking may not help in a big way. You need to demonstrate that you care for them. Efforts are to be taken to persuade that the Work culture and environment will be taken care of. Have we ever thought of providing shelter, education and Health care for them? The number of uninsured Priests ,if collected, may be alarming. The society has simply provided them the freedom to live and nothing more!

It should not be mistaken when we point out that Philanthropy is not totally addressed to poor sections of people and dilapidated Temples. We agree that they have the Freedom to donate as per their wish. Our sincere request at this stage is they can extend their generosity towards the downtrodden people and Temples in rural areas.

"Think before you write" is one of the messages we get from Mahabharatha. When Ganapathi asked Sage Vyasa to dictate the verses without interruption, the Sage agreed to do so if Ganesa gets the meaning of each verse before writing. People unnecessarily land into controversy by drawing sketches of Gods and Goddesses which naturally wound the believers and irks them a lot. Once the boundary of Freedom is violated, such events are likely to happen. It is better to anticipate the consequences and stop well before the limit.

Freedom of speech need not be extended to criticize the faith of others. We have heard a politician saying that his party is not a Mutt. While he has the freedom to tell that his party is supreme , his needless reference to Mutt is unwarranted. Practicing Responsible Freedom will prevent such utterences. He may show his opposition to  the policies of other parties without tresspassing into the freedom of others. Hence the Law makers should take appropriate steps to provide Freedom which can  protect the rights of people to enjoy it in the right spirit. May the spirit of Freedom attain its true meaning to make the Democratic principles more meaningful. This is exactly we mean by Responsible Freedom.