Monday, May 9, 2022

What is ailing the Mising language?

It is argued in social media these days that MIsing language has not seen development as that of Bodo language. Although it was posted by someone who was not from a Msing community but it has provoked a debate among the Misings.

I am sharing here some of my thoughts.

The hegemonic policy of Assamese language and hurdles in executive levels are there if we see from state perspective. The Assamese language itself is facing challenges as it has dipped below 50 per cent mark in Assam. Instead of Assamese language, there is a rise of Bengali and Hindi speakers iver the years.
In this backdrop, Assamese language nataionlist and radical supporters will not allow space for open growth of ethnic minorities' languages. This would mean downsizing of potential speakers of Assamese language if tribal languages grow. Being an indigenous but minority group, Misings would always pick up the Assamese language for education and jobs to secure state benefits unless their mother tongue too give them such potential.

Comparatively, the progress of  Mising language cannot be compared with the progress of Bodo language. Bodos have not achieved the current status by sitting simply idle. They have waged a long struggle since 1960s even before our Mising Sahitya Sabha or Agon Kébang was formed. They have taken decisive and far reaching step by compromising their Roman script with Devnagari script to stick to the line of unwritten central govt policy. In fact, this has paved the way for constitutional inclusion of Bodo language.

Mising are democratic who believes in non-violent tactics in pursuing their political, socio+economic or cultural goals. The historicity and ethnic assertion is lesser among Misings since they cannot resonate with solid statecraft or being defeated or dethrone by some other monarch. The Bodos instead have glorious past in the sphere of statecraft.

Emerging middle class of Misings are receptive to Assamese or any other languages whichever benefit them. There is no radical nationalism in the name of language among educated Misings. Instead most Misings are comfortable in Assamese language than their mother tongue after they move to urban areas. In fact, the children are not encourage to learn their mother tongue among middle class. Assamese (or even Hindi, of late) becomes a language of symbolic aristocracy when they interact with fellowmen in village.
A poster in MIsing language by the apex body , MBK, of the tribe.

Polarization among the  political class and  middle class organization elites is another factor. Political class of the Misings doesn't have the same priority  for langauge and literature. Except the literary body and the apex body, even the banner, poster and statement are not circulated in their mother tongue text.
A poster in Assamese language by Mising organizations including the TMPK.
Of course, to some extent, the adoption of script and reading  method is also creating a rift among few people.

The middle class Mising does not dedicate even the least needful for the development of their literature. Writings in mother tongue among middle class is difficult to find. 

Of course, there is a good number of singers and actors among Misings. Youth are connected through folk songs like oi nitom, movies,  romantic and even rap  songs in mother tongue shared in cyberspace. The silver lining is seen in the cultural dimensions but not in literature. 
Dr. Nahendra Padun,  linguist and stalwart of Mising language has argued that younger generation should shoulder the responsibility to develop the language and enrich the literature.