The downfall of Modern Indian Languages ― No students opted for the Sindhi language this semester

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Deshbandhu College is the only college at the University of Delhi where B.A. programme students can opt for the Sindhi language as one of their subjects. The college had five students who opted for this subject in the previous session, which has now quickly transgressed to a record low of zero this academic year. The administration believes the lack of concessions during the online course admissions, which were usually responsible to encourage more students to opt for this subject, was responsible for this unfortunate situation.

While that may be true, the lack of students in Sindhi classrooms is a symptom of a much larger problem ― the descending academic interest to learn Modern Indian Languages (MILs).

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Most people often carefully chose their college subjects as a way to introduce themselves to their desired commercial goalpost. If a degree has specific and highly revered job prospects, then it is considered to be more desirable. This system makes sense as it connects graduates with the marketplace sooner and the market benefits from having its demand met consistently. That is why STEM majors have higher median salaries than other graduates.

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However, learning different languages is also a highly sought after professional skill, so why do subjects like the MILs suffer?

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To start off, markets have a universal phenomenon of supply and demand. Greater demand for a language translates into a higher supply for it. Some languages are preferred more than others due to various socio-economic and geopolitical reasons. The sharp spike in globalisation has bought the world unprecedentedly closer than ever before, which in turn has created a greater demand for multilingual people. Languages like English, French, Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese are some of the highest sought-after languages in the linguistic industry. Native speakers of these languages constitute large and influential demographics, which in turn, makes the languages important hubs for soft power across the globe. This sets a chain reaction where these nation’s cultural industries expand accordingly. For instance, a person learning Japanese is a lot more valuable than a person learning Sindhi in the international market.

This does not discredit India’s incredible diversity in terms of its languages. It remains as one of the largest countries that have the highest number of multilingual populations. Most Indians have great inter-communication skills to understand the source audience via another language, which is usually different from their mother tongue. While this bridges the communication gap, it inadvertently places the burden on the same people for the preservation of their language and culture. The increase in globalisation has caused increasingly homogenised environments around the world so the need to safeguard our MILs is greater than ever before.

The limited commercial industry for such languages explains the downhill academic interest in Sindhi. Governmental changes like the New Education Policy may encourage more people to immerse themselves in their preferred regional languages by allowing those languages as the medium of education in Primary Schools. Although such policies can additionally benefit from social systems who would encourage people to study their inherited heritage. This can create expansive industries for our domestic languages while also setting a pathway for a system that does not solely value education as a means to achieve greater monetary profitability.

The next few sessions may see more students in this subject with generous concessions and new educational policies, but for now, the Sindhi classrooms in DU remain empty.

Featured Image Source – College Batch

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Vanshika Yadav
She is currently studying English Literature from the Hansraj College, University of Delhi. Read her other writings at www.vanshikayadav.in

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