Dr R Karthick Narayanan
Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Krea University
Date: Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Time: 2:30 –3:45 pm IST
Venue: SH-2, Krea University Campus
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Meeting ID: 828 2626 2357
Hostkey : 202020
About the Talk:
The speech repertoire of India’s tribal communities is essential to the country’s linguistic and cultural heritage. However, the language in educational policies of the Indian government pays little attention to the languages spoken by them. This paper examines the impact of India’s educational policies on the Toda tribes in the Nilgiri Hills, Tamil Nadu, focusing on their mother tongue, Toda.
Toda is a tribal community in the Nilgiri Hills. They are a traditional multilingual society with access to a network of languages for their communicative needs and identarian functions. They identify the Toda language as their mother tongue. It is one of India’s ‘Othered’ mother tongues, hence remains unnamed and unrecognised by the decennial census. Further, UNESCO’s assessment of the Toda language as critically endangered requires attention to arrest its decline.
The study utilises autobiographical narratives to assess the effects of educational policies on Toda’s attitudes towards their mother tongue, revealing linguistic oppression within institutions. The insistence on dominant languages in schools contributes to negative language attitudes among the Toda, leading to what the paper terms ‘linguicide’ – the active destruction of tribal languages. The study contends that flawed educational policies inflict slow violence on tribal pupils, emphasising the state’s role as an active agent in framing policies that contribute to language death. Moreover, a close reading of the educational policies underscores that these detrimental policies are not just structural but also ideological, resulting in the unequal distribution of resources essential for tribal language inclusion in education and its misrecognition as ‘other.’
About the Speaker:
Dr R Karthick Narayanan holds a PhD in Linguistics and specialises in Sociolinguistics, Language Documentation, and Digital Archiving. He currently serves as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences at Krea University and has previously held research positions at esteemed institutions such as the Central Institute for Indian Languages, Sahitya Akademi, and Sikkim University. He is the co-author of Maarum Ulagil Maraiyaa Oligal, a publication by Sahitya Akademi documenting Toda oral arts. He played a pivotal role in developing India’s first endangered language archive, SiDHELA. Furthermore, Dr Karthick Narayanan is a valued language archiving consultant for Sanchika, the Language Repository of India. His current research at Krea University delves into language endangerment within the multilingual Toda and Kota tribes, and he is working along with Dr Sumitra Ranganathan to create a prototype for a multivocal archive dedicated to preserving India’s intangible cultural heritage. Dr Karthick Narayanan is passionately committed to safeguarding linguistic diversity and utilising the potential of digital tool to protect and promote traditional practices and knowledge systems.