Panel Discussion: Multilingualism in India – Where are we now?

Session Chair: Ajit Mohanty
Panellists: Minati Panda, Giridhar Rao and DP Pattanayak

Chaired by Ajit Mohanty, the panel explored the issue of multilingualism in India and the impact on education. In conclusion, and in answer to the panel discussion question “Multilingualism in India: where are we now?” Ajit stated simply “Confused”, which seemed to sum up succinctly and accurately the mood of the panellists and audience.

The discussion had been far ranging, exploring issues such as the need to address multilingualism for all in India, not just tribal communities, the importance of bio cultural diversity and the efforts being undertaken to preserve this, the view that multilinguality is ideological as well as practical and the difference between plurilingualism and multilingualism (the former is additive while the latter is across languages). The historical element was also much discussed, but unfortunately little was offered for a clear way forward. There was very much a sense of defining the problems, but little in the way of proffering strategies to go forward. So in a sense, this discussion really did identify where things are now.

Post by: Simon Etherton
The writer is the Senior Academic Manager English Partnerships for British Council in South India

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