The Moḍi script was extensively used to write Maraṭhi during the rule of the Maraṭha confederacy. But during the British rule, Balbodh (बाळबोध) replaced Moḍi(𑘦𑘻𑘚𑘲) for Maraṭhi documentation in the Bombay Presidency. But Moḍi continued being taught in schools for Marathi until the formal Independence of India and the splitting of Bombay state into Gujarat and Maharashṭra.

Why did the State of Maharashtra stop teaching Moḍi Script in its schools and replace it with Baḷbodh? Why did Baḷbodh become the official script of the Maraṭhi language, instead of Moḍi script?

The British discontinued the use of Modi script in official communication to stop Marathi self-determination in a fashion similar to the way the English discriminated against the Welsh and shamed them for using the Welsh language instead of the English language.

Why did the State Govt. of Maharashṭra not officiate Moḍi for Maraṭhi in an effort to improve self-determination of the Marathi culture?

  • This seems like a history question rather than a politics question, unless your primary focus is on the restoration of Moḍi today (rather than the historical reasons for its discontinuation or the failure to restore it when the state of Maharashṭra was created) - and it's not clear that there is any demand today to restore Modi so there may be no political element. I note that the answer doesn't give any political specifics, but is a more general historical/linguistic answer about different scripts for different languages.
    – Stuart F
    Jan 10, 2023 at 10:57

1 Answer 1


Modi is a more complex script, Balbodh is simpler. Indeed Balbodh means "for children". But if you have learned Balbodh in Elementary school, and you can now read and write Marathi in Balbodh, you have very little motivation for learning an alternative script. When two or more scripts are in competition, the easier script, especially if it backed by a regional superpower, is likely to win.

This is similar to the use of formal cursive in England, or Fraktur in Germany. Children in England would learn simple italic handwriting, and roman style print in Primary school, and maybe then be taught cursive scripts later. But there is little motivation to learn a cursive script that is more complicated to write and harder to read. So when given the choice, most adults reverted back to the easier writing form, and within a generation, there were no teachers to teach formal cursive.

Likewise in Germany, pre-war, Fraktur was a common script for books. But Fraktur is harder to read and certainly harder to write. Moreover when the Nazis described it as "Jewish letters", it just dropped out of use. The Roman typefaces were just easier. Nobody suggests this is to suppress German self-determination. It was just simpler to use the Roman typeface.

Moreover, if you are a Hindi/Marathi bilingual, then learning Balbodh gives you the ability to read Hindi without much effort (or going the other way, if you have learned Hindi, you don't need to learn a new script for your alternate language). Just as English could have been written in Futhark runes, but the advantages of conformity with Latin made it obvious to write it in the Latin script, there is an advantage in using a script that is closely related to the dominant script/language of India: Hindi and Devanagari.

  • 1
    "Without Nazis pushing Fraktur as a more "Germanic" script" – that's not what happened actually. On the contrary, a memo was sent in Hitler's name to regional governments in 1941 in which Fraktur was descried as Jewish letters. Instead, Antiqua was ordered to phase out Fraktur in official prints.
    – Schmuddi
    Apr 11, 2022 at 17:13
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    I shall edit, I'm clearly not right on the details. I'd also be happy to accept edits to correct historical inaccuracies.'
    – James K
    Apr 11, 2022 at 17:22
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    I didn't edit your post because I'm not sure if the German Fraktur example is supportive to your argument after all. It just seems that Fraktur didn't drop out of use due to its complexity but first and foremost because of a political decision based on a racist, nationalistic ideology.
    – Schmuddi
    Apr 11, 2022 at 19:06
  • It might be worth noting that cursive persisted for 200+ years, while it was easier to write than block print. IIRC, it was only when ballpoint pens became common did that flip, and now it's as you said.
    – Bobson
    Apr 11, 2022 at 22:03
  • If you have a dipping pen, then what is "easier" may be greatly different.
    – James K
    Apr 11, 2022 at 22:08

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