Representative Image
Nativist parties like the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have long protested seeking Devnagari signboards to be put up on shop fronts. 
Nativist parties like the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have long protested seeking Devnagari signboards to be put up on shop fronts. 
However, as some critics admit, these sons-of-soil parties, and even state governments, who claim to espouse the cause of the Marathi manoos, have paid scare attention to a critical point—about who owns these shops.
Therein lies the nub—in Maharashtra, politics centred around language has failed to link this with a larger economic and social outlook.
"The education and spread of a language is linked to education... There is no motivation for people to take primary and secondary education in a language if this does not lead to creation of livelihood opportunities," said political analyst Deepak Pawar, who is an assistant professor at the department of civics and politics at the University of Mumbai.
Pawar, who heads the Marathi Abhyas Kendra, which is an organisation working for Marathi language and culture, noted that people would learn a language and spend resources on developing skill sets only if it was made mandatory in certain areas of society.
For instance, Pawar added that a 1998 decision by the state government to make the use of Marathi mandatory in district and taluka courts had not been implemented in toto. "This would have created jobs centred around the use of Marathi like stenographers, typists and translators. The spread of the language means people dependent on it for livelihood will gain. This politics must go beyond symbolism and blaming groups like North Indians and South Indians," he explained.
Anil Shidore, general secretary of the MNS, said framing and implementing rules like making it compulsory for banks to transact in the local language would create jobs for those knowing Marathi.
"It makes sense for banks to work in the language spoken by their customers. Our calculations suggest that just this will create around 2.5 lakh jobs for Marathi speakers in areas like public relations and customer interface," he explained.
Shidore said similarly, universities should focus on translating knowledge from across the globe into Marathi and vice-versa, from Marathi into other languages. This will create a market for translators of Marathi and create around 10 lakh jobs, he claimed.
In addition, making it mandatory for forms in government and semi-government undertakings to be in Marathi and economic and financial dealings to happen in the language will lead to a chain reaction, translating into jobs for Marathi speakers.
This will also create employment in central government and semi-government bodies and the private sector in Maharashtra.
Sign up via our free email subscription service to receive notifications when new information is available.