Apropos the editorial “Salad, Cocktail or Stew”( 3 February), a pluralistic society can co-exist peacefully only when the administration ensures that the nation or the province do not turn into a colony of a particular linguistic or religious group. Linguistic chauvinism of the erstwhile West Pakistanis saw the disintegration of its Eastern segment to form a seperate entity named Bangladesh. And racial as well as religious domination and discrimination practiced in Yugoslavia not only disintegrated it into a number of independent nations, but the society also witnessed horrible blood-bath. In contrast, Switzerland is an oasis of peace in today’s violent world despite the presence of four linguistic groups in the country. This is because the truly modern nation accords equal status to all four languages that are spoken in its territory — German, French, Italian and Romansch. And the country of multi-lingual Jews — Israel — preferred to revive a dead language named Hebrew and designated it as the national language so that no particular linguistic group can get additional and undue language. But the country named India which acts as the self-appointed guardian of democracy and equality has seen to it that the language of the cowbelt reigns supreme in this multi-lingual land. As a result the Hindi-speakers have emerged as the privileged lot. In the Railway Recruitment Board examinations, the candidates from Hindi-speaking states used to bag the lion’s share of the jobs because of their undue advantage of answering papers in their own mother-tongue, the facility denied to the non-Hindi speakers. This caused immense resentment in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Assam and untoward incidents plagued the examination centres of Mumbai, Bangalore and Guwahati. But today the examination process passes off smoothly because the current Railway Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee has seen to it that question papers are set in all scheduled languages of India.
Thus it is established that only when all communities in a society receive equal treatment by the authority concerned, an environment of tolerance and communal harmony are inevitable. And as far as the different provinces within a State are concerned, the local administration and the indigenous people need to accord all norms of equality and rights to the settlers, but the migrants should also learn to adopt and respect the language and people of the soil. If such an ideal situation really comes into being, it is not known whether the society would translate into a salad, cocktail or stew; but it is certain that we will ultimately live in comparative peace and tranquility.
D-2/403 Peerless, Nagar, Kolkata-114.