24 December, 2005

Me in Teluguwiki

This post contains mainly what I wrote in Teluguwiki in Google groups over a couple of days. I feel it is a fruitful discussion we, a group of Telugu people have had there. In my next post I will try to present others' views as well.
If you find it interesting and want to raise a topic or participate in this kind of discussions, join as a member.
Now read on:

"Hundreds of words from English have already made their inroads into Telugu and successfully "masked" their equivalent Telugu words.
So what? - some may ask. A language reflects the culture, and the ethos of the people who speak that language. For example, consider this:
Respecting elders is an integral part of our culture. But in English language, there are no words to distinguish between elder and younger siblings! In South India, parallel cousins are as good as our own siblings but "jocular" as well as marital relations do exist between cross cousins. But in English there is no such distinction!
(Parallel cousins are children of our father's brothers or our mother's sisters and cross cousins are children of our father's sisters or our mother's brothers)
Still worse is the case when we can not distinguish between a man's elder sister-in-law and younger sister-in-law and between a woman's younger brother-in-law and elder brother-in-law.I can't count how many times I was confused when I hear someone talking about "rice" wondering whether it was 'biyyam' or 'annam'.
It happens only with Telugus. Tamilians' and Bengalis'love for their culture, language and food is well known.
But what I observed when I was in Delhi for some time is that:

In the heart of a cosmopolitan city like Delhi where people from not only every nook and corner of India but also from various parts of the world coexist,
1. A traffic signal is always called a "LAl batti (erra deepam)"
2. Crossroads are always called "gol chakkar".
3. A spoon is always called a "CHEMMACH"
4. Believe it or not, In post offices, I have heard with my own ears more than once an inland letter being called an"Antardeshiy Patr".

The question is about the importance being given to English and also about neglecting Telugu. Well, why should we learn English? The answer is very clear: to get better jobs.
But how should we learn English?This is the biggest question...
and the answer can not be by "Eating English, Drinking English, Speaking English, ..." ALL THE TIME sacrificing our own mother tongue.
It is a myth that English can be learnt only by studying in English medium schools and that too by moving away from Telugu language and Telugu culture. Even in a city like Hyderabad we can see hundreds or even thousands of people who have mastery over 4 or more languages.We have better known examples of PVNarasimha Rao and Puttaparthi Narayanacharyulu who learnt more than a dozen languages each. It is an established fact that Indians in general and south Indians in particular have the natural bility to comprehend different languages easily.
That being the case I fail to understand why people these days are trying to keep their chidren away from Telugu language and culture in their own land only to learn English and that too when it is more clear than ever that the present day children are smarter than their elders.

Here, one word of caution: Imparting primary education in a language other than the child's mother tongue renders the whole education meaningless. The child has to relate what is being taught in the class room with what is being faced in the outside world. This is possible only when the language used in the class room is the same as the language used at home and in the suroundings and the language the child is most comfortable in ie, its mother tongue. Otherwise, the child will get the feeling that the moment it enters the school, it is entering an entirely different world far removed from reality.This does not augur well either to the child or to the education system.

There are several people around us who don't know what an uTTi is. Such things will survive only in Bhagavatam stories.

English is a truly international language. It has its own regional flavours in various parts of the world. Still there is a long felt need to "Indianise" it more to better suit our cultural requirements. The process is going on (eg, we have introduced "co-brother" to English in addition to an embarrassingly ambiguous brother-in-law and have successfully converted 'enjoy' into an intransitive verb) but it needs to speed up.

English has many thousands of words which do not have equivalents in any other language leave alone Telugu and new words are being added to it every day. But one sensitive point we must note here is that every word is Anglicised before being added to it. But Telugisation is not done when importing words from English.
For example, "Bandicoot" is an English word taken from the Telugu word "Pandikokku". But not a single syllable in the English word has retained its original form. 'Pa' has become 'Ba'.'di' has become 'Di'. 'kokku' has become 'coot'. This is something like 'Suddhi'. Same is the fate of "kAsuneTTu" which has become 'cashewnut'. I am not suggesting to distort every English word we use as a revenge against English. But consider this:
Telugu is called the Italian of the east because in both the languages words end with small vowels (hAyi golipe hraswa achchulu-pondikaina poTTi achchulu). I have read somewhere that only these two languages have this property. This renders songs composed in these languages suitable for any tune (RAga) by conveniently stretching the last vowel or cutting it short. That is why the "prathamA vibhakti" Du,mu,vu,lu were imposed on almost every word imported into Telugu from Sanskrit by ppropriately appending one of the four letters at the end of the word. eg, RAmah has become RAmuDu, kAvyah has become kAvyamu, gOh has become govu, etc.

Just like every person has a personality of their own, every language has its own personality. But with the onslaught of English many languages are losing their identity.

Actually institutions like Telugu Academy, Telugu Viswavidyalaym, AdhikAra Bhasha Sangham should take up the task of retaining the originality and uniqueness of our language. But can we really hope that they wil do it?

Recently in a movie song, phrases like heerAdhiheeruDu, sTArAdhisTAruDu were coined.
Staradhistarudu sounds good but heeradhiheerudu is absurd and unacceptable.

Let me write briefly about the state of Telugu literature. Lately, there are new literary forms introduced into Telugu like Haikoos and nAnees. The streams of literature are steeming except drama. If one laments that in the past one hundred years there is no Telugu drama that stands anywhere near Kanyasulkam, we can't refute it. (If only Yandamuri continued writing dramas.......??)
But all other literary forms have greatly developed in style, and the topics they deal with are greatly diversified. Especially short story is said to be passing through its "Golden Age" now. Regarding novels, every year, at least a couple of good or great novels are coming out. We have Sannapureddy Venkatarami Reddy's "KADi", Chandra Latha's "RaegaDi Vittulu" etc on one side and novels like "Thapana" on the other. I don't follow poetry keenly and so I can't say anything about it. Regarding the Publishing houses, Prajasakthi
Book House has published a great number of books on children's literature. I suggest you regularly follow magazines like Rachana, Patrika, and more important: never ever think you are too old to read (Telugu) Chandamama.

In this discuusion when I said earlier "Actually institutions like Telugu Academy, Telugu Viswavidyalaym, AdhikAra Bhasha Sangham should take up the task .... But can we really hope that they wil do it?" I meant developing the language to meet the present day needs so that people using Telugu can have access to the latest developments in various disciplines.

23 December, 2005

Blogging in Telugu

తెలుగులో బ్లాగడానికి ఇది నా తొలి ప్రయత్నం.

08 November, 2005


Chiranjeevi agrees to ask Cola firm to withdraw ad
Staff Reporter
VIJAYAWADA : Film actor Chiranjeevi has agreed to ask Coca Cola (India) to withdraw the `Thums Up truth challenge' advertisement in response to a request made by Jana Vignana Vedika (JVV).
Organisation's general secretary T.V. Rao, president V. Lakshmana Reddy and vice-president Jampa Krishna Kishore in a statement here on Tuesday said that the actor responded to a JVV representation which annexed signatures of 100 scientists.
The film star was requested to withdraw his `endorsement' to soft drinks that were causing several health problems to consumers.
The JVV leaders said that the actor faxed to the company his letter withdrawing endorsement to the advertisement.
A copy of the representation signed by scientists was faxed to Coca Cola (India) also, they said.
When contacted, Chiranjeevi's close relative and film producer Allu Aravind said the actor sent his letter to the company with regard to the advertisement.

24 October, 2005

The Plight of Plachimada

This blog post is mainly a digest of reports I found in some previous issues of India's National Magazine 'Frontline'(January 18 - 31, 2003,June20-27, 2003,March 13 - 26, 2004):

Palakkad has long been considered the main "granary" of Kerala, growing a variety of crops, including rice, coconut, groundnut, cotton, sugarcane, pepper, banana, ragi, rubber, mango, orange, coffee, cardamom and vegetables. Its economy is sustained primarily by agriculture, which engages more than 65 per cent of the workers and by the Bharathapuzha, the second longest river in the State, and its tributaries. Many locations in Palakkad with their enchanting rural households, green fields and breathtaking natural beauty, were till recently the haunt of film-makers from far and near. Now, as the population of Palakkad, 90 per cent of which is rural, rues, the greenery and the beauty have disappeared.

Why the drought and how severe is it?

Indiscriminate extraction of groundwater by the Coca Cola unit had dried up many wells and polluted others and Plachimada is facing the worst drought in history.(Coca Cola and Pepsi have bottling units at Plachimada, Palakkad Dt, in Kerala and Cola at Sivaganga in TN.)The drought is now so severe that people have to skip work and take turns to walk 6 km every day to fetch water. Despite the State government's temporary closure order in the last week of February, the Cola company was functioning normally, guzzling groundwater. This shows how irresponsible and law-defying the cola companies are, minding only profits but not public good.
The people complain: "We had plenty of clean water(past tense). Today we have no work for most part of the year. We cannot use the water from our own well." Said Hameed, a farmer: "For the past three years I chose to leave the land fallow but for an occasional crop of groundnut and coconut. The borewell pump used to work continuously for over 16 hours in 2001. Now, I can pump water for the crops merely for an hour. The pond has dried up. I used to provide employment to 20 people. Now I live on my son's salary (I gave up agriculture)."
Rivers, fields, ponds and canals in Chittur taluk, "the granary of the granary" as this heartland of rice cultivation in the district is known, and in the neighbouring taluks are as dry as they are near the soft drink factories.
Yes, the cola plants have generated employment for a few workers. But at what cost? Loss of livelihood to hundreds of farmers and agricultural labourers and the very survival of people in the region is threatened.
Pattambi (near Shoranur), the most polluted area along the river according to a recent biodiversity study sponsored by the University Grants Commission, has a KWA pumping unit near an urban waste dump. The motors have to work at least eight hours every day if the entire town is to receive water. Now pumping stops after two or three hours. A KWA employee stationed there for over 15 years said that over a decade ago, during the monsoon, the pump house situated 20 metres above the river bed used to be submerged. "We used to hang the motors from the roof to protect them from the flood waters. Now, even at the height of the rains, the river would not touch the walls above the foundation of the building," he said. The drinking water scheme covering 3.5 lakh people got affected by the over extraction of water by the cola plant.

In this context, I once again appeal to all of you to be extremely careful while using water and not to waste a single drop of water. Use water but don't waste it as India with only 6% of the world's water resrc's has to cater to the needs of 16% of the world's population. Watch out for water that runs from the tap mostly while we are brushing, shaving or washing hands or something, water that trickles down for prolonged periods of time or water we flush unnecessarily.

The degree of water contamination:

Back to the report from Plachimada: Over extraction of water and release of effluents contaminated the groundwater so badly that the water damaged the vessels and clothes. Chemical waste discharged from the plant caused the death of cattle and scores of sheep. Kerala sastra sahitya parishad has indicated that the plachimada plant could lead to an environmental disaster as the indiscriminate extraction of groundwater by the Coca Cola unit had dried up many wells and polluted others.
The story does not end there. Today it is Plachimada. Tomorrow ...it can be Guntur, Vizag or any other place. Can we be blissfully ignorant about everything said above and dream that 'all is well with the world'. I am unable to do that. So I am publishing this blog in stead. Please spread the URL of this blog to all your friends and invite their comments.

Now, about Chiranjeevi:

Finally, I 'd like to reiterate that personally I don't have anything against Chiranjeevi. I appreciate his philanthropic works like running blood banks, eye banks, etc. I admire his success as megastar but I am unable to digest his callous indifference to the common cause of the public.

18 October, 2005

Chiranjeevi's Cola ad

In Andhra Pradesh, Chiranjeevi beyond any doubt commands more popularity than anyone else-any actor or leader. But one folly can prove fatal to such popular figures and in the case of the Megastar it seems to be his adherence to and continuation of endorsing Coca Cola despite substantial proof provided by different agencies more than once. It is ridiculous to say the least on his part to declare in the ads "If anyone authentically proves...". Before deciding on what constitutes authenticity, let us consider the following facts:The presence of deadly pesticides at alarmingly high levels was first disclosed by CSE(Centre for Science and Environment). CSE director Sunita Narain is among the world’s top 100 public intellectuals, according to the influential publications, The Prospect and Foreign Policy.The reports of CSE were later confirmed more authentically by no less an authority than the JPC(Joint Parliamentary Committee). Dr.G.Thyagarajan, an expert in Organic Chemistry, chief scientific consultant to the JPC and also former Director of the Central Leather Research Institute had this to say about the pesticide residues:"UNSAFE EVEN IF TRACE", and "There is no scientific basis for the European Union norms" on which the cola firms were heavily dependent to fool us.What else is the Authentic proof that he wants to be provided? For detailed reports of the authentic proofs please visit this web page: http://www.cseindia.org/misc/cola-indepth/index.htm
Media Colatam:
More appalling in this episode is the attitude of the Telugu media. The entire print and electronic media in Telugu have chosen not to report any open letters written in right earnest by Jana Vignana Vedika to Chiranjeevi or appeals made by right thinking parties . Chiranjeevi didn't answer even a single question posed by them. Neither in the past nor at present. Nor has a single newspaper or TV Channel mentioned these appeals or questions anywhere anytime. In stead they chose to broadcast the false and outrageous claims made by Chiranjeevi in the ad dubbing the findings of CSE and JPC as "pukarlu". Nothing can be farther from truth. And yes, one news Channel claims to work for a better society! And they encourage this Chiru Colatam in the interest of a better society?
Do you know these facts?

In future, wars will be waged for control over water resources.(mostly over sharing of river waters).

In our state, there are areas which get drinking water once in a week. In towns like Rayachoty selling drinking water is a big business with annual turnover running into crores of rupees.

Despite these facts the Cola firms are getting fresh water from the State Govt @ 2.5 paise per litre and we buy Cola @ what price? I really don't know.In 2003 summer season, they got 1000000(six zeros) litres of water PER DAY.(I don't know later statistics).

Four litres of water are needed to produce one litre of Cola.ie, With each bottle of Cola we drink, we are throwing away 3 litres of fresh water.

16% of the world's population lives in India but only 6% of the world's fresh water resources are in India.

In this context, I appeal to all of you to be extremely careful while using water and not to waste a single drop of water. This does not mean using less water. My concern is for water that is wasted. Use water but don't waste it. Watch out for water that runs from the tap mostly while we are brushing, shaving or washing hands or something, water that trickles down from the taps for prolonged periods of time and more importantly, the water we flush unnecessarily.

[ Next post:The plight of Plachimada:]