March of the Evil Empires!
English versus the feudal languages!!
VED from VICTORIA INSTITUTIONS
First drafted in 1989. First online edition around 2000
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
Part 2 - Delineation of a feudal language nation
4. The officialdom
Since ancient times, the officialdom always occupied the higher indicant levels. They had to get all the words of respect directed towards them. All the lower indicant, contemptuous, rude, disdainful words were directed towards the common citizenry. The citizens could never unite against this. Because, they themselves were mutually competing for the small space at the heights of the higher indicants. This they could achieve only by colluding with the officialdom, whose proximity itself would lend halo and glow to their personality in sharp contrast to that of their fellowmen, who would be darkened by the shadow of the lower indicants. The more the officialdom was able to display their omnipotence, and more rude and overbearing they become, the more respect they would get. For, the concept of respect here is entirely different from the English meaning of the word.
In South Kerala*, that is in the southern part of the State where Malayalam is the native language, there is an adage that goes something like this: To achieve one’s aim, one should even prostrate in front of a donkey.
This sentence, more or less, sums up the vernacular attitude to the route to achievement. In this place, if one goes to the government office and in a polite, yet dignified manner request for some official signature on some certificate or some other similar thing, it would cause severe offence. For an Englishman to understand why any offence is created in such a positive and ideal posture of approach would be difficult. Actually, what has gone wrong here is that dignified postures by the common person are not allowed by the language. It is allowed only to the higher ups, or senior government officials. An ordinary person displaying a dignified posture and communicating with a pose of dignified intelligence and arguing his case, with a cultured poise would shock the officialdom from its very foundations. To such a person how can an official communicate, without himself going down in the language hierarchy?
The persons who can most successfully display a posture of deep reverence to the official, even if that official’s very posture is undignified and grotesque, and his cravings unbearable, end up achieving their ends. Naturally, people bend, bow, prostrate, cringe, crawl and generally abase themselves to get their things done. The English way of dignified communication becomes a burden and a negative programme in this software.
NOTE added on the 22nd of May 2016: Read my: British sailors in Indian Stinking Jails!
The problem is acute for a person with a posture of dignity. Suppose he is standing along with a number of his countrymen in front of an official. All would be standing in a posture of deep reverence, and muted articulation. This man would stand in a pose of dignified politeness. But then, he would be seen to be existing in sharp contrast to the general ambience of the place. A sense of simmering animosity would develop against him in the mind of the officials. Also, his other countrymen would also feel slighted by his presence, and they also would develop a certain feeling that he is presuming himself to be above others. Actually, what he would have displayed would only be to strike a pose of dignity of the common citizen. Yet, they themselves would build up a level of anger against him. When everyone of them are standing in meek humbleness, suppose he takes on himself to sit in a chair in front of the official, the atmosphere would tingle with an electrical tension than can literally be felt.
People also do admire persons who can don ambivalent postures at short notice. One of servitude and the other of deep dominance. That, then this man does have a deceptive side, which is dubious, does not bother them. They find that he is capable of climbing above the common lot, by this questionable means, as a proof of his personal capacity and ability. The other type of getting things done in dignified manner is a sure negative posture in this language software.
To sum up on the bureaucracy: There is a severe gap of communication between the bureaucracy and the layman. The average layman attains to an attitude of obsequiousness and servitude. This behaviour is accepted as the right attitude by the bureaucracy and the society at large. The bureaucrat assumes a parental attitude and this behaviour is also accepted by the citizen as natural. Unless the relevant citizen is of some standing, arguing, debating, or disputing a point or opinion or attitude or decision of the bureaucrat, by the layman, is discerned by the official as impertinence and over-stepping his limits. Any efforts on the part of the ordinary man to exhibit a mentality of equality is taken as an affront.
So, the natural tendency of the bureaucracy is to be highly feudalistic and domineering. In spite of all endeavours to make the officials more responsive to the needs of the common man, there exists a singular communication gap between the officialdom and the citizenry. They maintain a mood of aloofness and display a sense of power, instead of any attitude of being a part of the citizenry. They cannot bear the common citizens. To put it in other words, they cannot bear the common Indian. But then, who can bear the Indians, who cringe, and bow, instead of being politely assertive?
The citizen instead of being able to sit and talk with a bureaucrat with an atmosphere of equality and dignity has found another means to assert his individuality without hurting the individual official. He has learnt to react. He will react, but will not go to any official and talk it out before reacting.
Let me put this idea in the Kerala context: The crazy levels to which Malayalam has sunk in recent years, has brought about certain highly preposterous situations in the language. Earlier, the middle level indicant for You, that is: Ningal was used to all, other than to socially inferiors. This included government officials also. Now, with the coming of certain strange combinations, this word is highly objectionable when used to the officialdom by an ordinary citizen. What has taken its place is a new word Saar, which is actually a combination of You, He, She, Him, Her etc. all in the very superlative best, and presumably of Sir. Yet, the official will dare address any citizen with the term Ningal or even Nee (the lowest indicant).
NOTE added on the 22nd of May 2016: Actually, the more egalitarian way of addressing an official is from the Malabari language (erstwhile language of English-ruled Malabar). Malayalam was always quite rude to the common folk. Read: Native Life in Travancore by REV. Samuel Maters.
Only the person who is very sure of his own stature will, now-a-days, address the official with a Ningal. In this highly preposterous and stifling atmosphere, the smart alecks have found a way to impress their fellowmen of their courage. This man, who would not dare to sit in front of any official, of whatever level and address him with a Ningal, would gather a crowd of his own political party men, and go in a procession and shout slogans at the highest possible volume in front of the concerned official. He may even dare to use abusive words also, if he is in a furious mood, Son of a Bitch &c.
Another offshoot of this is that bureaucratic jobs are highly liked and sought. There is a severe competition for government jobs (and the competition among the youngsters, especially from the middle class, for entry into professional colleges like engineering and medical, is killing. They choose their career not on the basis of aptitude and suitability, but on the prestige, it gives themselves and their family).
Even though the Preamble of the Constitution of India declares that all citizens are equal before the law, in practice nobody believes it. Everybody knows that when there is a competition of interests between a government official and an ordinary individual, even though there is no written code against the common man, he would find it difficult to argue against the government official, purely because the language would want him to admit his lower status to the public servant. In fact, it was the British who brought in the concept of public servant*. For, in India this concept can never be developed. In the Indian languages, the government official is nobody’s servant. In fact, he is the public master.
Ashoka*. As an allusion to this theme, may I digress to ancient history of the South Asian peninsular region? Who has not heard of Ashoka the Great? He was the most famous of the Maurayan* kings, of ancient times. After fighting a terrible battle on the battlefields of Kalinga, he went into deep remorse. He sought solace in Buddhism. He became a sovereign bent on propagating the ideals of Buddhism. He went on pilgrimages. He posted government officials to see that people practised ethical life. According to his own writings on rock walls and pillars, his government did many things for the people. Modern historians have swallowed his bait. It is like reading the government version of Indian history after some 2000 years and finding out that the people of India lived more luxuriously than say the people of Britain or that of America. For, everything in India is available free for the citizens of India. There are free hospitals, free medicines, government buses, government schools. In fact, government officials to look after every aspect of life. Yet, this is a very erroneous understanding of reality. Unless one can get an understanding about the language in which the people lived, these understandings do not mean much. For, in India which citizen would like to go to a government-run-institution, where they would be treated like dirt? And if it was not so, how can there so many private institutions like private hospitals, private schools etc. exist, running in perfect profit?
One can only imagine with horror, the condition of the people when the King, instead of putting a leash on the tyranny of the officialdom, leaves the nation in their hands and spends his time on spiritual and philosophical debates, and pilgrimages. In fact, there is enough evidence to show that the people did suffer. At that time, the officials used to visit each village periodically. Then, the villagers had to take-up the complete expenses of the officials, and see to their complete comforts. It was a terrible imposition on the villagers. This practice could have existed as a sort of affliction for them. It could have been more so, on account of the feudalism in the language, as they couldn’t question any demand made by the officialdom. Knowing India, I can say demands can be anything, right from hard earned wealth to women in the house. Once the language establishes the hierarchy, the persons on the higher indicants can talk anything, and nothing they say would go beyond the realm of propriety.
I remember hearing of one small-time feudal lord in the erstwhile forest-filled district of Wynad in Kerala. When he is going for his hunting in a particular direction, his henchman would come to one house in the vicinity and inform them that he would be eating there. When he is in the house only the woman of the house should be present inside the house. The family has to acquiesce, and there was no other law in that area, other than this man’s desire.
To conclude this digression, may I give one more information? When the people of Peshawar (northwest frontier area of the South Asian peninsular region bordering current-day Afghanistan) revolted against the tyranny of the officials, they were suppressed mercilessly by the military. That is the untold part of Ashoka History.
Now back to our main theme: One effect of the officialdom existing in the higher indicant level is that no man with a straight back would like to interact with them unless the circumstances are so extreme. There is a small accident on the road. Only the person who would enjoy obsequiousness would take effort to call the Police or some other official. Even then, the officials concerned would put on an artificial tone of superior aloofness, and would impress on the person who called, of their superior position, in each and every word.
But suppose, someone of dignified mentality does call the Police and talk in a matter-of-fact manner, emphasising on the exigency of the situation, instead of harping on words of formal respect. The whole communication would be received with shock and anger by the police officials. Especially if he was someone with no appendage of an official status.
Actually, this incites a desire for aloofness from the officialdom, in the intelligent citizens.
4 - The officialdom
5 - The Police
6 - Efficiency
7 - Women
8 - Family System
9 - Bureaucracy
16 - Dignity of labour
17 - Teacher and student
19 - Economy and its connection with the language of the place
21 - Revolution