According to a law laid by the UN, if less than 1/3 of the state population does not use the state language then it is declared a ‘dead language’. Ironically, today less than 1/3 of the Hyderabadi population does not use Telugu as a medium to communicate. This trend has scholars worried that the language will soon be declared officially dead.
“Out of the 250 students in my school only 40 chose Telugu as their second language. Right from the schooling stage Telugu is being neglected. Parents do not guide their children well. They themselves choose Hindi, as they believe that it will be useful if they move to any other state. But if parents continue to do this, then how will the child learn the importance of our mother tongue. The management is also under the impression that as more number of students are opting for Hindi why give importance to Telugu. Every year several publishers send books to our school but none come from the Telugu department. We hardly have any Telugu books in our library,” laments Padma Sree, Telugu teacher at Pallavi High School, Secunderabad.
Interestingly enough, it comes as a surprise to many that the newly elected mayor himself doesn’t even know the language. Mohd Majid Hussain, the new mayor, requires a translator to understand the proceedings during the standing committee meetings. But this incident throws light on the importance bestowed upon the official language by the highest official in the City and the rest of Hyderabad.
Telugu as a language has several tones and this has become a hindrance. Today citizens are confused as to which tone to speak in. With the recent political unrest in the City, citizens are afraid to communicate in Telugu.
“Instead of taking pride in this it has started to pull us down. Today, people are scared to communicate in Telugu, thinking how others would perceive it. We should all accept all forms of Telugu and not mock at other tones,” said Vasantha Kumar, Telugu teacher Pallavi High School, Secunderabad.
Due to the regional media as well, another new trend observed in the last six to seven years is speaking the language as if one does not know how to talk in Telugu. Putting on an accent and speaking broken Telugu is the new fashion.
“For some reason people find it demeaning to admit that they can converse in Telugu. it’s the latest trend. People do not take pride in our mother tongue anymore. Though they know the language they choose not to communicate in their mother tongue,” says Padma Sree.
Another constraint that the City has is the predominance of Urdu. Scholars believe that only during NT Rama Rao’s regime the Telugu language got its credit. It’s only since then that people started talking in Telugu. Until then it was only Urdu that was the official language used to communicate.
“I have been living here since 40 years and I have seen the rise and fall of the language. One of the reasons why Telugu is not being considered by students for higher studies is the fear of getting less marks. Once I wanted to give a student 99 marks but I was warned not to. This is the only reason why students choose Urdu, French and Sanskrit over Telugu as it’s easy to score. Today English has become a very important factor to get jobs. This is another reason why students choose to give more importance to English and not Telugu,” says Bhaskar D, a retired Telugu teacher and scholar.
He also believes that to attract more students the text book syllabus should be changed. “We do not stress on the usage of language. It needs to be less complex and more interactive.”
Telugu Bhasha Samiti and Andhra intellectual forum scholars have been fighting cases asking the government to make Telugu a compulsory language and also to change all the City sign boards to Telugu.
“The government needs to take an interest in our State language. In government offices and in public property all the sign boards are in English. This has to be changed. In Hyderabad there should be a clear stand and equal importance should be given to both Urdu and Telugu,” said Chalsani Srinivasa Rao, secretary of Telugu Bhasha Samiti.