THE CROAK is a weekly environmental newsletter put out by the eCoexist team. It is the voice of the environment on its last legs, the final croak that can either be a plea for attention or a call of triumph as the frogs jump out of the well of ignorance and denial.

Matru Bhasha

On the 26th January 2022, India will observe its 73rd Republic Day - so many years after the British left our country we are still speaking in their language and I am still writing this newsletter in English. 

So why is linguistic diversity important for sustainable development? 

As per the UNESCO website,

"Linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear. Globally 40 per cent of the population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand. Nevertheless, progress is being made in mother tongue-based multilingual education with growing understanding of its importance, particularly in early schooling, and more commitment to its development in public life.

Multilingual and multicultural societies exist through their languages which transmit and preserve traditional knowledge and cultures in a sustainable way.

UNESCO  focusses on linguistic diversity and multilingualism as an integral part of sustainable development, and in particular to realize targets 4.6 and 4.7 of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) on education.

The SDGs depend on linguistic diversity and multilingualism as a vital contribution to Global Citizenship Education as they promote intercultural connections and better ways of living together."



Vinoba , Multilinguism and Loknagari

India has  122 major languages and 1599 other languages and dialects. Vinoba considered this diversity of linguistic tradition as a strength and not a weakness. He himself spoke several Indian languages fluently including Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu, English, Sanskrit . Vinoba proposed that Indian languages should use the Devanagari script as a common script and during his jail term in the early 1940's he developed a script on this idea called Loknagari, the language of the people. Just as in Europe, there exist several languages but which are all using the same alphabet based in Latin, so too, he suggested that if the various languages of India could be brought together with the help of a common script, this could achieve a unity in our diversity. He also spent time studying the script of Devanagari to refine it and make it more logical in the way it was used phonetically. 

Loknagari - a script developed by Vinoba Bhave during his time in jail 

The Vinoba Janmasthan website in Marathi

The eCoexist team, with support from the Trusteeship Foundation , developed a simple website for the Vinoba Janmasthan Pratishthan last year in English - we are happy to say that we now have a Marathi version also available online. 

The intention for eCoexist in our assocation with the Sarvodaya community is to understand what lessons we can imbibe from the Sarvodaya approach for creating a more sustainable future for our country. In this way, we are exploring a home grown approach to Sustainability rather than simply adopting the Western environmental movement. 

Visit the Marathi website here
The difference between language and speech

Language is the foundation of culture - it embodies the world view of the community that uses it and defines the value system of their life together. It is the skeletal framework of thought processes and is essential to communication. 

Speech and script are secondary to language - they are tools of communication between individuals and across generations. 

In regards to sustainable development, both of these are important- the first to enable the individual to know her place in the Natural and man made world, and the second for her to relate and connect with other individuals. Indian languages are based in a worldview that does not place man at the center of the Universe, rather reminds him that he is one out of millions of species. In the wealth of diversity of linguistic expression, India also accepts that diversity is a natural law, offering space for difference of opinion and belief systems . 

When this diversity is replaced by a monolinguistic culture, the loss of traditional knowledge is irreparable. 

Many Indians who have grown up in the cities, and have been educated in English are in a way stuck with this language - even if we still speak in Indian languages - most of us find it hard to read and write in them and sadly, harder to think in them. Our world view is then, constrained by our inability to speak languages from our own culture and this also limits our connections to an English speaking world mostly. 

Be as it may, we can make an effort to return to our roots and choose to improve our language skills, to be able to access the wisdom of our traditions. Our mother speaks in several tongues, yet if it is a language of love, she communicates irrefutably. This seems to be the central message of Sarvodaya. 

Did you enjoy this newsletter? Subscribe on our website

The Croak is a weekly environmental newsletter put out by the eCoexist team. It is the voice of the environment on its last legs, the final croak that can either be a plea for attention or a call of triumph as the frogs jump out of the well of ignorance and denial. Satirical, urgent and wise the newsletter brings to your attention, topics of global environmental relevance as well as emerging encouraging alternatives. Put together by a team of passionate Nature lovers, The Croak hopes to look at the environmental crisis in its face. It is a tool to reconnect readers to Nature, through questioning and self reflection. To understand the outer environment as a reflection of our own inner state, individually and as a species. And to take responsibility for enabling change.
If you would like to contribute articles on ecology consciousness and sustainability please get in touch with us.

Facebook Twitter Youtube Instagram
306 Harmony Wing 2 North Avenue Kalyaninagar Pune 411006
All rights reserved.

Not interested in our newsletter anymore? Give us feedback before you unsubscribe.