The decision means that the Bengali-speaking students in the state will be able to pursue their study in their mother tongue from 2013-14 academic sessions.
This is pretty cool. Bengali is now a second language in Karnataka. The article also mentions something I’ve always wanted to talk about: Language Martyrs’ Day.
The coming of the announcement just before May 19, which is celebrated as Language Martyrs’ day in Barak Valley, has been welcomed here.
Language Martyrs’ Day is on May 19th, and is held in honour by Bengalis in north-east India (as well as Assam) to remember the eleven Bengalis who were killed by police fire on that day, 1961. The day is also known as Language Movement Day. It’s a national holiday of Bangladesh.
As you can see, by the date – 1961 – this isn’t a recent event. The eleven people were protesting the legislation of the Assamese language, which mandated its use. This had began since 1952, when there was the Bangla Language Movement, which formed due to a decision that resulted in Urdu being the single national language for all of Pakistan.
This was a problem. Urdu, at the time, was a minority language – it was the (supposed) elite class, of West Pakistan, who spoke it. The whole problem wasn’t helped by a declaration governor Khawaja Nazimuddin made: “Urdu and only Urdu will be the national language of Pakistan.”
The movement spread until the entire province was at a stalemate, essentially. Unfortunately, people had to die before the government relented, but eventually the government of Pakistan did relate, and the movement is thought to have begun the independence movement for Bangladesh – which became an independent nation in 1971.
Bengali’s the seventh most spoken language in the world (according to Ethnologue), so – pretty cool.