Language in the knowledge society

We are currently transitioning to the fourth industrial revolution driven by the fusion of knowledge and technologies blurring the lines between physical, digital, and biological spheres. The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and IT to automate production.

Having missed the first two industrial revolutions to uplift the masses, India jumped on the third industrial revolution’s bandwagon with the supporting but significant role of Indian IT workers in the Third Industrial revolution. The success of Indian IT may be measured as moderate in raising the country and workforce’s economic and social parameters; however, it gave the much-needed confidence in our abilities and belief to achieve world-class competence.

There seems to be a lot of conviction and aplomb among Indian leaders and media that we are on a trajectory to play a significant role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and that too, not in supporting but leading roles.

This confidence is obscured on notions of our demographic dividend and past success in IT. However, on closer examination, it is easy to conclude that severe deprivation plagues Indian society in terms of knowledge, which is the driver and fuel of the 4th Industrial revolution.

This lack of knowledge culture leaves us on a fragile foundation to weave dreams of leading society’s knowledge. Our ranking on the Global Knowledge Index also makes it evident, where we are sandwiched at 75th rank between Moldova(74) and Mongolia(76).

One may consider evaluating the role of our languages in the production, use, and propagation of knowledge. Knowledge is embodied in the language, a medium for transmission, which also acts as the repository. Both language and knowledge are living processes, mutually shaping each other. Knowledge is created, disseminated, accessed, changed, restricted, etc., through language.

An ocean of knowledge exists in English and other world languages and is multiplying by leaps and bounds. Comparatively, only a trickle exists in Indian languages, and neither effort was made to expand it.

Below are the number of articles in Wikipedia for various world languages.

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