BENGALI SCRIPT AND KOKBOROK: A COLONIAL PROJECT,
R K Debbarma, email@example.com
With the recent reversal to Bengali script for kokborok by the oppositionless TTAADC 'politics of kokborok' is set to deepen and further accentuate entrenched animosities between the Tripura Communists and Tripuri¬† intelligentsia. Over the past few years the controversy surrounding kokborok have been two-dimensional: First, pertaining to script for language; and second, appointment of an imported Bengali as Chairperson of Kokborok Commission. The latter generated uproariously staunched opposition led by MFK. The Government had to confront and find it hard to ward off scathing criticisms, perhaps unexpected, from all directions for its callous insensitivity in importing and imposing a dubious, unsavory tainted academician: a plagiarist from the motherland of Bengalis. The issue, now buried, exposed the colonial mindset and mental feudalism of the Bengali political elites. The scriptwriters continue to stage-manage the issue now staged within the walls of the hollow institution of TTAADC. A masterstroke. The former controversy drags on with brainless bungling politicians dancing to the tunes of their refugee masters.
In the ongoing discourse on the script issue the broader social and political imperatives have been veiled and diluted with the debate confined to the shallow narrow question of 'suitability' of Bengali script for kokborok vis-a vis the Roman script. Debated on this line it is doubtless that Bengali script wins hands down given bulk of our population are educated in government ran Bengali medium schools. However, given the socio-political imperatives of language and the pivotal role it plays in conditioning the way people think: how it shapes peoples mindscapes, the way they see themselves and view others in their day-to-day definition of their lives the adoption of other's script for kokborok needs to placed on broader plane and wider framework.
Here it would be¬† pertinent to take a brief historical overview of language movements in Northeast directed against Bengali language and its script. The Assamese were the first to unfurl staunch vehement opposition to imposition of Bengali as official language during the British rule. In fact the rise of Assamese nationalism is intimately linked with their opposition to imposition of Bengali language in Assam. The Bengali babus had connived and convinced their colonial masters to adopt¬† Bengali as official language of Assam. Assamese nationalist rose to thwart this political designs of the Bengalis. After India's independence Bengali was thrown out of educational institutions. Another opposition to Bengali Script have been , in greater intensity now, raging in Manipur. About a century ago the latter Meitei rulers have, under the influence and spell of Bengali babus adopted Bengali script. Meitei Mayek the original script of Meitei almost disappeared. Progressive minded forces rose seeking its revival. Of late Meitie Intellectuals frontlines are engaged in intense intimate dialogue with the government for its full restoration.
Both these movements were/are not concerned with 'suitability' or 'goodness' of neither Bengali script nor its language. They were/are concerned with the very question of their political identity and reworking their political spaces. In Tripura, unfortunately, the discourse or debate had been confined to and structured around the narrow shallow question of¬† which script is most suitable or good for kokborok? This narrow angle veils the big picture: the larger socio-political question of our identity and our struggle for political space. for about a century Meitei's used the Bengali script despite the existence of its own original script. Why this sudden outburst against the Bengali script? The reason lies beyond the question of 'suitability' or 'goodness' of script. It has to be understood in the broader issue of the political process of re-asserting and re-constructing the Meitei's political identity: A conscious attempt at grounding the way Meitei's redefine their society and give meaning to their past and their present.
Movement for Kokborok need to placed and viewed in this broader framework of redefining our society; re-asserting our political rights. Given our political context( there is a tacit consensus among the youths that our society is half-dead, stagnant, caught in time-warp unable to define itself), two diametrically opposed people - Tripuris and Bengalis - locked in an unnamed silent struggle, politics of language ( adoption of script for kokborok) assumes the character of at once a crucial and critical issue. Tripura epitomizes a dangerous politicalscape with potentially disastrous political construct. An alien illegal people rabidly determined to perpetuate their domination over the Tripuris and the indigenous people bracing up for a sustained struggle to challenged this domination and alter the power equation. The imposition of Benglai script needs to questioned, discussed and understood in this context. For domination is pursued and perpetuated not only though political power but also through the 'invasion of the minds': invading and controlling the way invaded and dominated people think. Bengali political elites insistence on imposing their script is a reflection of their colonial mental frame, their political project of constructing the idea of superiority of their language, their culture in the minds of Tripuris. And by that superiority construct legitimating their superior imposition in Tripura's politicalscape. This colonial design lasted unchecked till the turn of 21st century. When in AD 2000 the IPFT mandated that Roman script be followed for kokborok the Bengali political class went jittery and maneuvered hard to resist this challenge for within this lay their future hold over Tripura. They were able to carved out structures within our society who sought to undercut politics aimed at Bengali domination. In 2002-3 Tripuri youth organizations affiliated to the communists staged a rowdy raucous demonstration outside the Agartala Doordarshan demanding that the program highlights during kokborok slots the language be written in Bengali script. The bulk of the participants were uneducated and the rest Bengali medium educated transported from the interior villages.
Thus today we confront not only outside inimical forces bent on perpetuating their domination over us. There are elements and structures within our society which are used as instruments ( by that inimical forces) to thwart out attempts at redefining our identity. These structures will need to dismantled layer by layer. This imposition of Bengali script needs to be opposed for within it lay embedded projects capable of rendering us identity less and our political space meaningless. Sucked into this complex political vortex our society stands stranded directionless, unable to question and find answers to problems besetting our society. This script issue provides us with propitious opportunity to question our present predicament. At the very root of this issue lie a core issue of our identity and our future.
".. But what is wrong with the world most civilized script...? So Mr. JOOOOSSSuuuWWAA...U still need to learn more our own history first..Enough for u to read only ko, kho,goo....What a stupid script? i wonder u seems to brain washed... Dont Mind. Learnt more.. .."
".. Hi RK! The war between bangla and roman script perpetuated by the elements and structures within our society, as you call them, apparently under the command of their masters unmasks the thinly veiled racism and how we have fallen for it. The elites of Bengalis are aware of the predictable consequences and they consider this to be preemptive exercise while our elements, inasmuch as they are conditioned by the effects of invasion of minds, as pointed out by you, are unable to see the diversionary tactic of their fellow comrades. They dont understand that suitability is a mere propaganda to mislead us to continue their domination. They dont realize that these aliens are comrades in public and aggressors when left alone. The real reason the aliens seized this opportunity is to delay our identity and future. Because within it lay their well being. It is an integral part of the vicious effort to keep us trapped in medieval like situations. We need to understand that our inability to look beyond bangla has made us dumb. At a time when we need wider interaction with the world, this has restrained us from communicating beyond the bangla speaking areas. This is a serious drawback particularly when the multinationals overwhelmingly dominate the world but prefer English speaking rather than bangla speaking population. The MNCs vie for Indian market not because the country has two and half bangla speaking states but because of the rising English speaking middle class. Today takhuk Jeeban would not have been in the States if his expertise and knowledge were confined to the universe of bangla. Finally, enlightenment of our mass is the key to overcome this. People who have mandated the elements to power need to be shown the legitimate alternative. The solution to settle this score will not come from any corner. It has to be initiated by the Kok borok speaking people. Our people need a heavy social and intellectual lift. A society that has no interest in the most burning issue is bound for decline. As for Joshua, (hope not self styled bbgra) there is nothing wrong with bangla. Its undeniably rich and beautiful language and it is essential in our environment. But restricting ourselves to it alone can make us blind to reasoning. We must not be bangla-addict. RK bhai ! Indepth analysis. Excellent ! Keep it up. .."
".. AS i am a history student, i would like to tell something. our borok people was cheated by the bengali people from the middle of the 19th century in different ways, even till today. we need to realised ourselve which is more suitable for kokborok script. in my view english script is very suitable than the bengali script. we can see many kokborok word was become mislead by using bengali script. kokborok should be written in english script because the world can read and understand. .."
The views/ideas/opinions expressed in this section of the website at
www.tiprasa.com.com are solely those of the writer/author/users and not of
www.tiprasa.com. The statements made by the writer/author/user's comments
have not been verified in any manner by the website. www.tiprasa.com shall
not be responsible for or liable in any manner whatsoever for the
views/ideas/opinions expressed by the writer/author/users of this section.