It was my first day as a high school language teacher. I was excited as well as apprehensive about facing two-dozen curious students since I had no idea how I would be welcomed. As I entered the class room, I heard “Namastay teacher”, another student greeted “hi shrimati” while the rest of the naughty lot simply cheered “mornin’ ma’am.” Initially, I took it as a joke – the first day prank. But with every passing day, I realized that our young generation is fully obsessed with American lifestyle and Indian language beyond our imagination. These teenagers are part of a cult, defined by what they are exposed to on media especially on TV, Internet and in films.
Language reflects the mindset of an individual and of a nation. It mirrors the way people think, identify and express themselves. As a language teacher and communication professional, I have witnessed growth of a superficial culture in Pakistan completely alien to our cultural traditions and values.
I know a number of people personally who are ashamed of being Pakistani. They are rather proud associating themselves to Lucknow, CP, New York and London. The foreign media especially Indian channels exploit the situation to their advantage and advertise their brands and propagate their culture and skillfully enslaving our generations ideologically and economically. The modern digital and electronic media influence every aspect of our lives and transform us into a consumer society with never-ending craving for foreign fast food, designer outfits, westernized decor, Indian rituals and celebrations. Language is merely a reflection of the damage that rotten our roots.
Today’s Pakistan language is a bizarre mixture of slang and colloquialism, usually influenced by the net chat, Bollywood flicks, Star plus soaps and Hollywood blockbusters. Our youth sounds more like their movie stars than their parents’ children. When they are happy or intend to appreciate something, they scream, “wow, yeah, cool, set hai, ‘fit hai, bomb hai!!!”. Anger is often expressed bluntly in public with expletives such as shit, fuck, bull shit, damn, bitch and other such typical bizarre expressions that are inappropriate to add here. Customs and values are declining dangerously in the modern world. These days, Hollywood hip hop and Hindi films tapori (street slang) language has become increasingly popular among the teenagers from all sections of Pakistani society. Bhau (big brother), khalas (finish), bolnay ka nahi (don’t talk), siyanpati (wisdom), topi na pehnao, panga, aranga, bhinnot and many such unsavoury expressions have been adopted by our youngsters, thanks to madar padar azad media.
They find Aashir-wad, Namaste, Hi and hello more attractive than the good old Assalam-o-Alaikum. When I asked one of my students to complete his assignment on time, he said, “Miss, aap mujhay chitavani dai rahi hain?” (Are you giving me warning?) The entire class understood what he said – thanks to the cable invasion – but ironically nobody knew the Urdu replacement “tambhi” for it.
The influence of foreign media is not confined to language; it affects the psyche and ideals of the youth as well. I hardly saw a student reciting naat or aya’at in class. But I was shocked when one day I found a student singing bhajan “Om Jai Jagjit Harai” at the top of his lungs as I entered the class. I inquired if he understood the meaning of the words which he obviously didn’t. He disclosed that he liked it since his favourite star performed it in a recent movie.
No wonder of our young generation wants to date, attend dance parties, and celebrate Valentines, rang, holi and diwali. They know more about foreign rituals like rakhi and Halloween than their own festivals thanks to a wide variety of foreign cable channels and free net access.
I think it also reflects failure of Pakistani media to counter foreign propaganda and establish its cultural identity. Family, community and educational institutions have also become less effective in holding on to a legacy of customs and traditions. They too would rather hand over this responsibility to media.
You might agree or disagree. Share how you perceive the entire situation.
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