The Independent Student Newspaper of Ashoka University

Bhasha Mash: A celebration of Linguistic Diversity

Pratiti, Class of 2020

On 21st February 1952, students and political activists had gathered in Dhaka to protest against the imposition of Urdu in East Pakistan. In the State’s bid to curb dissent, the police were ordered to open fire. This massacre was the beginning of a long-standing struggle that led to the formation of Bangladesh in 1971.

To pay homage to the spirit behind February 21st and its subsequent declaration as International Mother Language Day, Sandhi — the Languages Society of Ashoka University celebrated Bhasha Mash or the Month of Language.

In February, the commemorative activities kickstarted with an Instagram series in collaboration with the History Society. The series consisted of informative posts about different language movements around the world, such as the Telugu Language Movement which led to the formation of Andhra Pradesh, the Bangla Bhasha Andolon in Bangladesh, the Tamil Language Movement in Sri Lanka and the Ainu Language movement in Japan.

Sandhi hosted a talk by Professor Aparna Vaidik (Associate Professor of History), on 15th February titled ‘Historians and Language’, which focussed on the role of language in the historian’s practice, and how
language learning and immersing oneself in its culture is key to understanding the essence of one’s sources.

The Historians Language(s): Professor Aparna Vaidik

Sandhi, in collaboration with Epigraph, curated and managed the pop-library for Indian translations. It displayed books from many Indian languages that have been translated into English. The books were contributed by our faculty members, with Professor Arunava Sinha (Visiting Assistant Professor for Creative Writing) being the largest contributor. The library was a resounding success, with 157 books being lent to the Ashoka Community.

Celebrating Translations: The Pop-Up Library

Finally on 21st February, to commemorate all those who have fallen in securing status and representation for their language, Sandhi hosted an open mic for poetry from different languages. The themes were multilingualism, tolerance and revolution. Poetry from several different languages, including
Tamil, Kannada, Bangla, Hindi, Urdu, and English was recited.

As a bonus event to Bhasha Mash, Sandhi in collaboration with the Quizzing Society organised a language quiz called Linquiztricks. It was hosted by Professor Monojit Choudhury (Visiting Faculty of Computer Science). The quiz featured interesting trivia about languages and their uses. It was won by Nishka Dasgupta (ASP 19) and Chanda Grover (PHD 18).

Missed out on the exciting Bhasha Mash activities? Take some time during the mid-semester break to read up on some great translated works. Here’s a list curated by, none other than, Professor Arunava Sinha!

A Gujarat Here, a Gujarat there

A semi-autobiographical personal narrative from India just after Independence — and Partition.

By: Krishna Sobti

Translated by: Daisy Rockwell

Original Language: Hindi


How a woman joined the family profession of hanging criminals sentenced to death.

By: K.R. Meera

Translated by: J.Devika

Original language: Malayalam

The Man who tried to Remember

A man keeps forgetting if he committed a murder or two.

By: Makarand Sathe

Translated by: Shanta Gokhale

Original Language: Marathi

The Virgin Fish of Babughat

A bone-chilling dystopia in a very unusual prison.

By: Lokenath Bhattacharya

Translated by: Meenakshi Mukherjee

Original language: Bangla

No Presents Please

A collection of stories about the city of Mumbai with a new sensibility and sharpness.

By: Jayant Kaikani

Translated by: Tejaswani Niranjan

Original Language: Kannada

The author is a member of Sandhi — The Languages Society of Ashoka University.

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