(i) Problems:

The need for language planning in case of Bangla as it is evidenced in West Bengal arises mainly from the importance of the English language and the bureaucratic attitude of administration. The colonial effect of English creates a crisis among the speakers of the Bangla speech community. The problem or the conflict arises from the fact that due to certain societal factors, the speech community is bound to establish a relative measurement of the power of the English language. The persistent effect of British colonialism even after fifty-six years of independence have aroused a mentality of gaining government jobs and jobs in multinational company if they are educated in English. This economic colonialism rather than political colonialism motivates the people to invest more in English than in Bangla. Such a crisis brings forth the need for language planning and policy making accordingly, which has been considered at the governmental level.

(ii) (a) Policy:

Bangla has been incorporated in the eighth schedule of the Indian constitution. The Education commissions like Mudaliar commission; Kothari commission, etc. clearly advocate Bangla (as a mother tongue) to be considered as the medium of instruction from the primary to the University level.
In other fields like administration, mass media, judiciary, legislature, advertisement, notice, application, etc. the use of Bangla has been made permissible by the governmental bodies,even when English maintains to be existent for the purposes.

(b) Language in: Education, Administration, and Mass Media.


Bangla has been accorded the status of the medium of instruction at both the college and University levels. At the post graduate level English still remains as a medium of instruction. The University of Calcutta introduced Bangla as an alternative medium of examination at the postgraduate level since 1975.

Kothari commission (1964  66) clearly recommends three-language formula, which includes mother tongue at the lower primary stage, secondary stage and higher secondary stage. But at the under graduate and postgraduate levels there is no compulsion in language learning. At the undergraduate level, the proposal for language learning along with other combination subjects was put forward by the University of Calcutta council along with other subjects. The problem being extremely sensitive, the government needed to intervene in the matter and it was decided that language should not be featured as a compulsory subject at the undergraduate level but it should be considered as a compulsory additional paper. Thus Bangla was recommended as a medium of instruction, and not as a compulsory subject. It is either English or Bangla that has to be considered at the undergraduate level as an additional compulsory paper. About 80% of the educational institutions in west Bengal use Bangla as the teaching medium up to the degree level, but in case of honours, which constitutes science and technology, English is used as the teaching medium. Bangla is also used as and when required.


The west Bengal official language act was passed in 1961, according to which Bangla was declared as the official language in West Bengal. Some departments use Bangla along with English, though only English is still used in some departments as an official means of communication. For the purpose of official correspondences at the lower levels Bangla is used more than English. The notices and circulars are written both in Bangla and English. But in case of the official orders like, posting, transfer, promotion, leave sanction, English is still used. At the block and taluk levels noting and drafting of files are made in Bangla whereas at the higher level of government administration these are done in English. But in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong subdivisions of the Darjeeling district, Nepali is used at the block level of administration instead of Bangla. Urdu is found to be in use, in Islampur and Asansol sub-divisions at the block level. In the registration and reservation forms and in ration card, both Bangla and English were provided in the format. The instructions of civil service examination and public service commission still continued to be in English. The nomenclatures of offices, societies, local bodies, letterheads, names of various boards, roads etc, are found in both Bangla and English. In general, translation in Bangla were supplied along with English in the various administrative fields.

In the legislature, bills are introduced and passed in English, though sometimes Bangla is used.

Mass Media:

According to India 2002 , A reference Annual, there are 2,643 Bangla newspapers, out of which 99 are dailies, 15 tri or bi weeklies, 618 weeklies, 527 fortnightlies, 710 monthlies, 477 quarterlies, 179 bimonthlies or half yearly and 18 annuals.

The Bangla in radio media is quite widespread. According to 1971 census, the Bangla broadcasting in a month was for about 632 hours, 33 minutes from Kolkata; 67 hours, 17 minutes from Siliguri (West Bengal); 10 hours, 50 minutes from Kurseong. There are other broadcasting stations within and outside India, which broadcast programs in Bangla.

Telecasting in Bangla started in Kolkata in 1975. In 1981 Bangla telecasting was for about three hours a day. But now various channels telecast Bangla programs for twenty-four hours. (E.g. Alpha Bangla, ETV Bangla, DD  7, Akash Bangla, Ekhon Bangla, Tara Bangla).


History of planning in Bengal can be traced back with the introduction of western education by charter Act of 1813. The Church missionary society founded ten indigenous schools. The Bishop's college of Bengal was established during this period. English was consciously adopted as the medium of instruction. With Macaulay's minute of 1835, government adopted the policy of English education. The Wood's Dispatch of 1854 recognized the hapless condition of indigenous schools and agreed to help mass education. During this period Iswarchandra Vidyasagar and Halliday agreed to establish model schools where Bangla (mother tongue) was made the medium of instruction. During this juncture of time steps were taken for the cause of Bangla. Bangla grammar was written by John Beams, Halhed, William Carey, Ram Mohan Roy (Gaudiya Vyakaran), Madan Mohan Tarkalankar, and Vidyasagar (Varna-parichay). Vidyasagar's Varna parichay, marks a significant level in the history of planning of the Bangla language by deleting many letters used in Sanskrit. The spelling style, alphabets, scientific pronunciation, etc were rationalized. Graded lessons of grammer, short stories, verse, etc. were introduced for the purpose of learning Bangla. These reforms helped the cause of primary education and Maos literacy by standardizing the Bangla scripts and writing style. His series of primers in Bangla facilitated mass literacy in Bengal.

In 1880-82 the first Indian education commission under W.W. Hunter recommended mother tongue to be the medium of instruction at the primary and at the secondary stage.

In 1905, the National Council of Education was formed which declared education through vernacular as one of the councils objective. Writing of text books in Bangla for various courses on the primary, intermediate and collegiate levels were encouraged. In 1937 acceptance of mother tongue as medium of instruction was once again pronounced by the Abbot- Wood Report. Instead of English, Gandhiji proposed Bangla in the curriculum of the Basic Education scheme in 1937. The conscious planning of the Bangla language initiated by Pramatha Rabindranath Tagore, also contributed effectively towards the development and planning of Bangla.

Later in the past independence period, the various Indian Education commissions like RadhaKrishnan commission (1948-49), Mudaliar commission (1952-53), Kothari commission (1964-66) suggested that importance should be given on Bangla in general education. The commissions also proposed to consider Bangla as a medium of instruction in West Bengal Board of secondary education, West Bengal council of higher secondary education as well as in the graduate and post-graduate education.




Historically speaking, the process of planning the Bangla language started with the proposal made by John Beams in 1872. He proposed for an academy, which would enhance the development and practice of the Bangla language and literature. This was materialized in 1893 with the establishment of Bangiya Sahitya Parisat. In 1894 the book entitled Grammar of the Bengali language , literary and colloquial written by Beams was published in the Oxford oriental series. The various norms and rules of Sadhu (non-colloquial) and Kathya (colloquial) varieties of Bangla along with examples were dealt with in this book. In this book, Beams spoke significantly regarding the absence of any authoritative standard of the language. He also clearly advocated for the abandonment of Sanskrit vocabulary in the Bangla language. As a result the tendency of abandoning Sanskrit vocabulary in the Bangla literature through gained ground and the code mixing from English vocabulary became abundant. This code switching and code mixing aspect was of course strongly criticized by Michael Madhusudan Dutta, Dinabandhu Mitra and Rajanrayan Basu.

The conscious planning of the Bangla language and its standardization was initiated by Pramatha Chowdhury in his Sabiy Patra (1914). The work of Pramatha Chowdhury and the support of Rabindranath Tagore together contributed towards corpus planning of Bangla.

This long drawn consciousness towards corpus planning and status planning of the Bangla language gave rise to the historical language movement for Bangla in 1948 and in 1952 in Bangladesh.

In West Bengal the various government institutions like Bangla Academy , Calcutta University , Bangiya Sahitya Parisat, Asiatic society, etc. have played active roles in the matter of standardization process of the language. The Paribhasha Samiti , established by West Bengal government, in 1948 and the Paribhasha Samiti , of Calcutta University established in 1936, have set up technical terms of Bangla for various fields like administration, judiciary, legislature, trade and commerce, education, medicine, engineering, etc. Now- a- days there are also individual efforts for developing terminologies of Bangla in various fields. The use of standard colloquial Bangla in various fields of activity like administration, education, judiciary, legislature, transport, science and technology, trade and commerce, mass media, etc. has been standardized by the government institutions from both the corpus planning and status planning perspectives.

Though the planning aspect of standardization has been made, implementation in every field is yet to be achieved to its fullest extent. Though government organizations are found to implement the practice of using Bangla, the non-governmental corporate sectors are still far from the practice. Still some inclination towards the use and practice of the language has been observed by Prof.Pabitra Sarkar in his Bhash prem bhasha birodh (2003) In the field of mass media, that is, television, print media and in the field of education where Bangla has been found to be used quite extensively. Even in advertisements, copywriters are using Bangla captions, which has been observed by Sarkar (2003). In the field of information technology also Bangla is gaining ground.



Modernization of the Bangla language planning has been carried out especially in the field of spelling and script. The modernization of spelling was carried out by Bangla Academy. In 1936, Calcutta University (banan samskar Samiti) was the first to take initiative in this matter. After that in the year 1988 Bangla academy took initiative in the reformation aspect of the Bangla spelling. Not only spelling, proposal for reformation in the matter of script and writing aspect was also taken in to consideration in the memorandum. As a result of the decisions taken in the meeting of 1995 by the eminent linguistics and scholars, Bangla Academy published Academy banan abhidhan in the year 1997 (latest edn. 2002).

In the matter of establishing technical terms for adminstative purpose Paschim Banga Bangla academy published Paribhasa Samkalan (Prasha san) in 1993.

Apart from this, various dictionaries like Sahityer Sabdarthkośa , (1999) by Surabhi Abhidhan (1999) and Bhasa tatver paribhasa (1999) by Subhs Bhattacharya, Butpotti - Siddhartha Bangla kośa (2003) by Sukumar Sen have been published by Paschim Banga Bangla Academy for the purpose of modernization.

Along with this, the pronunciation dictionary of Bangla by Prof. Pabitra Sarkar and translated version of Suniti Kumar Chatterji's The origin and development of the Bengali language are ongoing projects, meant for the modernization of the language.


The origin of script in the Indian context is traced to Brahmi and Kharosthi. James Princep was the first to decipher the Aśokan Inscription in archaic Brahmi. Scholars like Biihler, Kielcharn, and G.H. Ojha opine that Brahmi is of Phoenician origin. David Diringer (1968: 262) says,  All historical and cultural evidence is best coordinated by the theory which considers the early Aramaic alphabet to be the proto-type of the Brahmi script .

The Brahmi script has three stages of development:

	1. Old Brahmi or archaic Brahmi (3rd century B.C. to 1st century B.C).
	2. Middle Brahmi (1st century A.D. to 3rd century A.D) and
	3. Late Brahmi (4ht century A.D to 6ht century A.D)

From 7th century A.D to 10th century A.D. one finds Siddhamatrika lipi throughout India. In eastern India Siddhamatrika developed in to Gaudi on proto Bengali script which is perceptible in documents of the period between 11th to 13th century A.D. From 14th century A.D. and particularly in the 15th century A.D. modern forms of the Bangla alphabet are found in manuscripts and epigraphs (up to 17th century). From 18th century onwards full-fledged development of the Bangla script took place, which is attested in the relevant documents.


As far as the Bangla language is concerned in the Indian context, that is, particularly in West Bengal, no language movement has taken place. However, in this connection it is necessary to mention that Bangla language movement took place in Bangladesh where it has been considered to be the national language. There the movement for the demand of Bangla first took place in 1948 and then the language movement took a violent turn in 1952. 21st February 1952 is considered to be the Bangla language movement day in Bangladesh.

Apart from this, in West Bengal the Kamtapuri language movement started in north Bengal in the later part of 80's. Kamtapuri for Rajbanshi , which is considered to be one of the dialects of Bangla, is claimed to have the language status. The speakers of this dialect tried to establish Bangla as the dialect of Kamtapuri. Now, Kamtapuri has been reduced to the status of a dialect as a result of which the speakers have become the sufferers in various fields of activities. They want to establish their mother tongue as one of the scheduled language and claim to use their mother tongue in various fields of social activities as official language.



Considerable change in the use of the Bangla language can be noticed as a result of the conscious efforts of planning of the Bangla language.

In the field of education, Bangla as a medium of instruction and as a subject is considered widely throughout West Bengal.

Bangla literary activities are also a worthy contribution to the society. Both governmental as well as non-governmental effort can be evidenced for the purpose.

Print media has also taken progressive efforts in promoting the Bangla language and culture. Bangla computerized fonts (ileap, Sumit, gist, etc) have been setup with success, which help in the economy of time and effort of the printing process.

Translation works in Bangla is also an ongoing activity that has been taken up by both governmental bodies and individuals. One such important ongoing translation work is Sumiti Kumar Chatterji's The origin and Development of the Bengali language taken up by Bangla Academy.

In mass media, Bangla is used widely. Even in advertisements Bangla is found to be used nowadays.

As regards administration, Bangla is used in the local administrative setups. But in higher administrative setups, both Bangla and English are used. In private and multinational organizations, Bangla is yet to take up the place of English in the administration.

As a whole it can be said that Bangla has gained ground in course of time due to the effects of language management and planning.


a) Government. b) Government aided institutions. c) NGOs. d) Individuals

The institutions or agencies that are involved in the Bangla language planning are essentially government organizations. The most important agency is Paschim Banga Bangla academy established in 1986. Other agencies are Calcutta University, Bangiya Sahitya Parisat, and Sahitya Samsad.

d) Individual efforts that can be mentioned regarding the contributions to the field of the Bangla language planning are the following.

	1.Dhirananda Thakur. 1954. Bangla Uccaran Kosa. (A Bengali Pronouncing  Dictionary).
	2.Subhas Battacharya. 1987. Bangla bhasar Sat   Satero.
	3.Subhas Battacharya. 1988, Videsi namer Uccaran.
	4.Nirendranath Chakraborty.1991. Bangla ki likben Keno likhben.
	5.Ramen Bhattacharya. 1992. Bangla bananer niyom- anion.
	6.Arun Sen. 1993. bananer abhidhan.
	7.Subhas Bhattacharya. 1994. Lekhak O Sampadaker abhidhan.




Bangla language has been influenced by individuals, particularly the great litterateurs like Ramram Basu, Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Saratchandra Chattopadhyay, Rabindranath Tagore, Tarasankar Bandyopadhyaay, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Satinath Bhaduri, Manik Bandyopadhyay, Lalan Fakir and others.

The use of Sanskritic vocables and syntactic structures dominated the literary horizon of Bangla for some time during 19th century as an influence of Ram Mohan Roy, Iswarachandra Vidyasagar and Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay. An instance of code switching in Sanskrit from Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay' s novel kapal kundala is presented below:

	দূরাদয়ষ্চক্রনিভস্য তন্বী তমালতালীবনরাজিলীলা	

	duradɔẹ̆ɔʃʈʃɔkrɔsjɔ tɔnvi tɔmabtalibɔnɔraʤinila.

	আভাতি বেলা লবণাম্বুরাশে - র্ধারানিবদ্ধেব কলঙ্করেখা	

	abhati bela Įɔbɔnamburaʃer dhsranibɔddhebɔ kɔlɔŋkɔrekha

 The strand to bring ocean resembling an iron-wheel which is dark on account of the row of tamāla and tāli forests, and which appeared like a slender line owing to distance, looks like a thin coating of rust formed on the edge of a steel-wheel (rashuraṁśa of Kalidasa)

The inclination of borrowing Urdu, Parsi, Sanskrit linguistic items are found in the works of Ramram Basu, Kazi nazrul Islam, Rabindranath Tagore and Lalan Fakir. For instance, the Sanskrit term ক্রন্দসী krondoʃi heaven and earth, was used by Rabindranath in the sense of crying woman , which was later on, used by different authors. The establishment of the balance of tatsama and desi words that is found in the works of Rabindranath Tagore during 1891 to 1900 also influenced the Bangla language a great deal.

The code switching aspect is also evident in the use of the dialectal variations or folk register in the works of Manik Bandyopadhyay (e.g. পদ্মা নদীর মাঝি Padma nodir maʤi, 1936) and Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay (e.g. নাগিনী কন্যার কাহিনী nagini kanyar kahini). This phenomenon immensely influenced the contemporary Bangla literature.


Copyright CIIL-India Mysore