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Professor of English, Tribhuwan University, Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Presidential address delivered by Govinda Raj Bhattarai on the opening ceremony of Nepalese Association of Applied Linguistics (NAAL) at CEDA Seminar Hall, TU

14 September 2013 ( Saturday, 29 Bhadra 2070)

Respected Chief Guest Prof. Abhi Subedi
Guests of Honour Prof. YP Yadava
Prof Hemanga Raj Adhikari
Dr Ramchandra  Dhakal, director of CEDA
Dr Tapasi Bhattarcharya
Paper presenters Sri Sajan Kumar and Balaram Adhikari,
Commentators-- Hemraj Kafle,  Madhu Nyaupane,
 participants and audience in this august gathering.

It gives me an immense pleasure to stand before you  in this  historic moment. Historic because we are opening doors to a new discipline in Nepal--the discipline of future among this remarkable gathering. Even a great river originates in a small  spring,  even  great history has a humble beginning, they start in a particular place or time. Likewise,  this insignificant moment today will create a momentum  in course of  history. But God tries us.

This seminar is a response to the call of time, not to our fancy nor any whim. For a long time the young generation youth had been contemplating the need for a separate activity center for the interpretation, extension and application of a discipline called Applied Linguistics. Accordingly  they arranged a large get together cum dinner at KFC of Lalitpur two years ago-- many seasoned scholars as well as  budding followers  had spent some five  hours discussing  the  scope of, need for  and viability of Applied Linguistics in the context of Nepal. In fact the meeting had charted out that Applied Linguistics now needs to stand out separately and independently. Today this proposed institution called NAAL is the materialization of that dream.
NAAL may look like a small island in the ocean of academia  but it can prove  a beautiful resort for people who were nurtured under the  Departments of Linguistics, of NELTA, of Literatures and of Language Teaching under Tribhuvan University ( as well as other Universities of Nepal) in  the days to come. In that get together a concept paper was presented explaining how  Applied Linguistics has emerged into a huge tree bearing lots of fruits worldwide, whereas in our case it is growing still  as a parasitic plant. The meeting proposed a team under my Chairmanship. We had all blessings from our respected guru—Prof Jai Raj Awasthi; likewise, colleagues  Prof Tirth Khaniya, Prof. VS Rai, Dr Taradutta Bhatta,   Dr. B M Bhandari,  Dr. Anjana Bhattarai, Shree Gangaram Gautam, Shree Lekhnath Sharma Pathak  -- they  had shared their ideas. There were Prem Phyak, Sajan and many young voices too. In the intervening months this plan  subsided because some of the Applied Linguistics  foremen like Prem Phyak  and Balkrishna went abroad for higher studies and this remained dormant for long. In the meanwhile we initiated a new organization called Multilingual Literary Association of Nepal under the Chairmanship of Prof.  V S Rai instead  and organized a seminar on the same last month. Encouraged by a successful inception of that Association  the young generation wanted to revive the old Applied Linguistics vision  once more  from dormant state.  In fact, the avant-guard’s angst and fervor has landed us here today.
Thus they had long back proposed a committee nominating me as a Chair—I said a man lost in literature and translation like me may be very harmful for this discipline of AL but they insisted and claimed  every discipline, together with A L  has gone truly interdisciplinary. So we want you  here. If so, it's fine you will get some literary fragrance in A L too.  I hope hard core linguistics scholar like Prof. Y P Yadava will not disapprove of this.
Series of meetings were held some at the Bhattarai Niwas and others at Fulbari Resort in order to revive the Lalitpur proposal. The last one held three weeks ago ended with a most decisive note which was attended by a large body of enthusiasts. The committee also  decided to organize  a seminar, appointed Br B M Bhandari as its  convener, where a paper will be presented and the body representing following posts  will be  announced:

1. Prof. Govinda Raj Bhattarai, President 
2. Prof.  V S  Rai, First Associate President      
3. Dr  B M  Bhandari, Second Associate President                           
4. Dr. Anjana Bhattarai, Member at Large                     
5. Mr.  Sajan Kumar, Secretary General                
6. Mr. Laxmi Ojha, Treasurer  
7. Mr. Prem Phyak, Member                             
8. Mr. Lekhnath S Pathak, Member         
9. Mr. Netra P Sharma, Member      
10. Mr.  Balram Adhikari, Member                   
11. Ms Bhawana Pokhrel, Member

We worked hard for months to gather some  courage and confidence we needed today. The committee requested Sajan Kumar and Bal Ram Adhikari to prepare a seminar paper on a theme,  broadly,  new trends in applied linguistics. They have prepared it so much painstakingly. I was startled to know how Applied Linguistics has emancipated itself  from the  fetters of rigid boundary. Like many other disciplines that are growingly defined as interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary. Applied Linguistics has also invented new frontiers and it is virtually now a borderless area. Moreover the paper defends cause for subjectivity and openness.
In fact Berlin Wall had set  demarcations between the old and new, between the close and open, between  one big and many small. Its demolition opened up a new world symbolically, yet it is in fact the effect of the boundless growth of science and technology and a new world order that are demolishing all sorts of former  walls. We outline things newly, redefine, resituate and regroup, all features stand anew. The paper also claims it is the time for smaller narratives, time for open doors to the way to multiple truths. We have to honor multiple realities. The paper will tell us everything. It will inspire us and will lead us to a new space. We have a dream of opening up a separate Department of Applied Linguistics but it takes long  decades like in the case of other Departments under T U-- of Linguistics, of Music, of Folklore,  of Women Studies,  of Strategic Management,  of Conflict and Peace and many such others.  These are open ended. There always exists Derridean gap out of which need for new knowledge emerges and civilization keeps giving birth to new ones. But not even the new one  is final and perfect, our journey continues from darkness to light though the light instead of illuminating every thing leaves many corners hazy for us to continue our exploration.

Finally, I am thankful to the committee for selecting me and my members, to Prof. Abhi Sir the tallest Intellectual icon and our dearest guardian, Hemanga sir the untiring lexicographer and true applied linguist and Yadava Sir the uncontested leading scholar of linguistics, so is Dr  Ramchand Dhakal sir  for their generosity and presence that has made  this seminar a great success. The objectives of the Association in our mind are:
a) To establish an independent center of Applied Linguistics
b) To  organize sessions and seminars occasionally
c) To draw inspiration from the world
d) To redefine the scope of Applied Linguistics in Nepalese perspectives looking for its application
e) To foster focused  activities on Applied Linguistics including the publication of annual NAAL.
At this moment I would like kowtow before our gurus-- Prof K P Malla, Prof. K R Kansakar, Prof Shirshir K Stahpit, Prof B M Dahal and successors who spent their lives contemplating linguistics in Nepal. In fact A L is its offspring, and now its proliferating.

  I would like to end my note with an exhortation from the Kathonishad:
ओम सह नाववतु । सह नौभुनक्तु । सह वीर्यंकरवावहै ।
तेजिस्व नावधीतमस्तु माविद्विषावहै ।
ओम शान्तिः ओम शान्तिः ओम शान्तिः ।।

Om, May God protect us both (the teacher and the student)
May God nourish us both.
May we work together with energy and vigor.
May our study be enlightening, not giving rise to hostility.
Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.

Thank you all

1 comment:

  1. Congratulation Daju for this great achievement..I read your opening address with great pride.