Kolkata, Jan 26: Acclaimed Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar says that children from the middle class are learning English at the "cost of vernacular languages".
The middle and upper middle classes have abandoned them in preference to English, which has become a necessity now, Akhtar said at the Kolkata Literary Meet here Saturday.
"It is a tragedy... The educational system, the globalisation and liberalization has corporatised society," he said.
"English has become ... crucial to connect to the rest of the world. But what is happening is that children from middle and upper middle class families are learning English at the cost of the vernacular languages. So, where will they go?" he asked.
"The middle and upper middle classes have abdicated the vernacular languages, and these classes are mainly responsible for the literature, beauty and aesthetics of the language.
"It is being given to the slum dwellers. It would be unfair to demand from the lower classes (who struggle for food) to make a contribution to the development of literature."
According to Akhtar, destroying a language is akin to causing the death of history and tradition.
"Language is a vessel that carries history, culture and tradition. You kill a language, you kill history, your culture, you kill tradition, and that is what is happening."
He contended that Urdu had suffered because of the two-nation theory that led to the partition of India in 1947.
"Urdu, the language of nationalists, has been enveloped in a shroud, and that is unfair."