Renowned Kannada novelist S L Bhyrappa today said the emphasis on learning English at the cost of one's mother tongue is killing children's "thinking and feeling" power. The author, though not in favour of a complete ban on English in the educational process, suggested that children should be taught in their regional languages "through stories, songs, poems and simple prose" in the beginning. "Kannada was the medium of instruction in 90 per cent of the schools till 1970. But now in every city and town of Karnataka parents prefer to send their children to English medium schools because they dream of their children becoming doctors or engineers," Bhyrappa said during the inaugural session of "Festival of Letters" here. Organised by Sahitya Akademi, the festival is focusing on "Protecting the mother tongue and folk literature" this year. Citing educationists, the author said one's mother tongue is the "most suitable" language for mental and emotional development of a child. "Imposing a foreign or unknown language simply kills the child's thinking and feeling power. But the parents do not pay heed to this wise counsel," he said. Asserting the importance of regional language as a reflection of country's rich culture, Bhyrappa said, "The language that creative writers use is formed, shaped, used and nourished for centuries by our ancestor authors. It was given life by our folk culture.
Every word we use even in ordinary life has a cultural history." He said though English is used for science, technology and administration, it is "culturally lifeless". "... Therefore Indian writers writing in English are deprived of the cultural soul of this country," he said, warning that if the trend of English medium schools continued, there would be no readers or writers of regional books. The 85-year-old author, who has penned more than two dozen books in a career spanning over five decades, also rued the lack of good translations of regional literature to English. "It is easy to translate from one regional language to other. Most of my books have been translated to several regional languages, but it has always been difficult to find good translations of our literary works in English. English translations of my books have always created problem," Bhyrappa said. The author blamed politicians of treating education as a "personal profiteering business" which has aggravated the problem. "So far no government has deep-dived into the complexity of the problem and given continuity to action through an act in the Parliament," he said.
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