The spoken word

The spoken word

The other day I was invited to a seminar on Marathi literature. The theme of the event was contamination of language. A lady guest was called to speak about the importance of using language in its purest form. Our enthusiastic guest, who began speaking in chaste Marathi, was vehemently protesting the use of English words in daily Marathi speech. The audience, mostly from Marathi-speaking families, was listening with great involvement every word she said. A few minutes into her speech and the lady slipped – she used a few English words in her speech. There was uproar in the audience as she embarrassingly tried to continue speaking. The organiser had a strange grin on his face – that which said, "Wonder why I agreed to this theme". The seminar ended with some interactive games on the same theme, where audience was invited to participate.

As we left, I pondered aloud, "Is purity of language really important in our daily speech?" Most people agreed that purity for its own sake is of no use. Language exists to communicate ideas and thoughts. As long as we are able to effectively communicate ideas, it should not matter how pure our language is. Often, we deliberately use a foreign word, because it helps in putting across the idea more clearly. As for maintaining the Marathi culture, there is written literature.

For those who still want to complain against the use of foreign words in our desi language, think about what Lily Tomlin, a world famous comedian-actress had to say, "Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain".

Substance Mania
The state government of Maharashtra has banned the manufacturing, advertising, storage and sale of treated and flavored tobacco (gutka) and pan masala. Yet, we all know that this ban has been ineffective in controlling the consumption of these substances.

Last night, I was traveling from Thane to Kanjurmarg in a CST bound local when my attention was caught by a teenager who boarded the train and occupied the seat in front of me. He was carrying a rather bulky sports bag and was fiddling with his cell phone throughout the journey. Judging by his appearance and the season cricket balls that he was carrying in his bag, I concluded that he was a budding cricket player who hailed from a rich Gujarati family. This young man, aged perhaps 14 or 15 years, was chewing Gutka. I wondered what compelled a young sportsperson like him to resort to this deadly tobacco variant that has destroyed millions of lives across India.

Needless to say that it was a disturbing sight. Despite the ban, young boys are able to source Gutka easily and this shows that the ban alone is a necessary but not a sufficient step towards regulating the consumption of Gutka. What is required is education, especially in schools and colleges, about the risk factors associated with these artificial tranquilisers. Gentle persuasion and de-addiction programmes would be more helpful than reprimanding the young addicts. So will helping them channel their energy into constructive hobbies and activities that will not only motivate them to live their lives healthily but also de-stress them from anxieties that are a result of our overly competitive education system.

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