Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hindi and India




The President of India has approved the central government’s plan to make Hindi compulsory in CBSE and Central schools (Kendriya vidyalayas).  This is the latest of many surreptitious attempts made by the central government to impose Hindi on the entire country.  Some of the recent such attempts are asking the MPs to use Hindi in the parliament, changing all highway signs in the country into Hindi, making Hindi as the official communication language for central government offices and use of Hindi by government officers even in social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Union minister Venkaiah Naidu does not even know that Hindi is not the national language of the country.  Probably quite many Indians do not know that Hindi is not the national language.  In fact, more than half of the country’s population have mother tongues which have little do with Hindi.  There are millions of people in the country who cannot communicate in Hindi.  How can Hindi be the common language of the country then?

English has become the world’s link language.  Even countries like Japan and China which had spurned English earlier are now teaching English vigorously in their countries so that they won’t lag behind the world.  India cannot afford to neglect English at all.  Hindi may have national pride for many Indians, especially in the regions which support BJP, but English has the universal edge.

Even BJP’s erstwhile patrons knew it.  V D Savarkar and Syama Prasad Mukherjee had British education.  Deen Dayal Upadhyaya was a student of St John’s College, Agra and did his masters in English literature.  L K Advani has spoken proudly many times about his student days at St Patrick’s school, Karachi.

Today all the prominent spokespersons of BJP converse in fluent English and they know the importance of English in the media particularly because English news channels play a prominent role in the country in shaping public opinions.  Arguably the children of all these leaders who uphold Hindi vociferously study or studied in English medium schools.

Quite a lot of India’s wealth comes from Indians working abroad especially in English speaking countries.  There are millions of youth dreaming of going abroad to seek their fortune since India cannot materialise their dreams in spite of all its boasting about development.

We should learn the required lesson from Sri Lanka which suffered terrible agony because the majority wanted to impose its language on the minority.  Our own Assam was broken up into many small states because Assamese was imposed on people who spoke various tribal languages. 

Source: MapsOfIndia
 
Language cannot be imposed on people.  Indians will learn Hindi if they find it useful in making their livelihood.  There are a few million people from South India and the Northeast living in North India and they learn Hindi because it is necessary for survival.  Even the Tamils who are bitterly opposed to Hindi when they are in Tamil Nadu learn Hindi when they choose to live in the North.  That’s how life is: practical.  And little else.

The government of India should not forget that practicality when it formulates its language policies.  It is good to have our own national language.  But it should also be practical.  Using Hindi in all official communications will put a whole lot of people from Mizoram to Kerala at a clear disadvantage.  The government will obviously deprive these people of their right to know the communications.  That’s simply not fair. 

We should also not forget that there are many languages in India such as Bengali and Tamil which have much richer history, culture and literature than Hindi.  It’s not fair to suppress such languages in the name of a national language which was originally the language of the marketplace and nothing more.

It may now be argued by lovers of Hindi that propagating Hindi does not mean suppressing other languages.  The simple practical truth is that when a language is given official ascendancy it inevitably marginalises other languages.  English has done this to a great extent in many countries.  Since English has already become the global language India cannot afford to ignore it.  But what advantage is the non-Hindi speaker going to get by learning Hindi especially if he is going to live his entire life in Kohima or Kochi?

For BJP, Hindi may have nationalist associations.  For quite a lot of other Indians, Hindi may turn out to be an unnecessary burden imposed on them.  And people may not accept burdens beyond a point.  Tolerance has its limits.

18 comments:

  1. You have made a lot of valid points. I think pushing Hindi will create social unrest in many states that are linguistically very distinct. Besides, Bollywood movies are doing a great job in spreading Hindi. Can a diverse country like India, follow the example to Japan or France? Both much smaller and much more homogeneous countries. I hope better sense will prevail. Let states decide which language they should teach children in their territory. Is education not state subject?

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    1. Bollywood is bringing Hindi to Indians much more effectively than the government or nationalism. Maybe the govt can subsidise Hindi movies in non-Hindi states :)

      The Central govt is unnecessarily interfering with schools. Today's newspaper says that schools cannot sell textbooks and uniforms. Why not? It is certainly a source of income for private schools. So what? Can't schools make some profit and thus provide better facilities to students and staff? Who is the govt trying to help by doing such things?

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  2. Totally agree with you5r points, situation has changed a lot.
    but i have some thoughts on it...before the reign of British there was no sign of English in our country rather the foreign visitors used to learn Sanskrit and other language to communicate and read Indian Books. The truth is India is suffering from "Identity Crisis", Indians are going abroad for better facilities in every aspect but never heard that people from foreign countries are coming here.They have developed themselves much enough to be self-dependent from language to infrastructure to language, we need to be under their shade and this is also type of "dependence" this is why i believe we are still not "Independent".

    Every country should have a national language but the
    condition of India is so critical that it cant be decided now.

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    1. Those olden days were totally different. People like Max Mueller or Herman Hesse took interest in Sanskrit and scriptures because highly intelligent people were motivated by philosophy and even spirituality in those days. Today people are motivated by purely pragmatic things.

      India's diversity is such that a homogeneous culture is impossible. Imposing it would be disastrous. That's why BJP is trying to do it deviously, surreptitiously, which is also not desirable. Diversity has its charm.

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  3. I do not like to imagine a situation where after a decade all the people of this nation can understand or to some extent speak a language because of movies without knowing how to read or write. That would be horrifyingly funny. Education should always be need based and or interest based but there are things which should be taught to children for a wholesome development of their personality. And although Hindi is not our National language but it is indeed an official language and hence I do not find it a conspiracy of a particular party at imposing a language. As a union government it is their duty to spread the official language as a common indigenous language other than English.

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    1. Language learning is as funny as the movies. The more you listen, the more you learn. So my suggestion to propagate Hindi movies is valid. :)

      Horrifyingly funny world, you say. Can India be more horrifyingly funny than what it is now?

      The duty of a central govt is not spreading a language, but spreading growth of all people.

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  4. सुन्दर आलेख Tomichan जी, मुझे उम्मीद है कि कम-से-कम आप थोड़ी-बहुत हिंदी जानते होंगे नहीं तो कृपया google पर Translateकर लें। कुछ बिंदु हैं जिस पर भी विचार करना चाहिए।
    1. आप के दिए गए मानचित्र (Map) में english किसी भी राज्य की सर्व-मान्य भाषा नहीं है।
    2. मानचित्र में दिखाए गए भाषाई रंग विभिन्न जरूर है परन्तु एक पर्यटक होने के नाते मुझे किसी भी राज्य में हिंदी बोलने या वहाँ के लोगों को हिंदी समझने में कोई दिक्कत नहीं महसूस किया।
    3. सर्व-मान्य है और मुझे भी कोई गलतफहमी नहीं है की विदेशों में नौकरी हेतु english की आवश्यकता होती है परन्तु सभी देशों के लिए यह लागू नहीं है और यह भी सर्व-मान्य है कि India में नौकरी के लिए Hindi का ज्ञान होना आवश्यक है, तभी साउथ इंडिया में हिंदी विरोध के बावजूद वहाँ के युवा दिल्ली या अन्य जगहों पर हिंदी धड़ल्ले से बोलते हैं।
    4. जहाँ तक नेताओं को english बोलने की बात है तो bollywood के कलाकार खाते है हिंदी का परन्तु जब interview देना हो तो english में देते हैं. यह गुलाम मानसिकता की बात है, यदि हम english बोलेंगे तो कुलीन वर्ग में मेरी गिनती होगी।
    5. जब India में hindi सीखने में दिक्कत होगी तो आप अंदाजा लगाइए कि लोगों को english सीखने में कितनी दिक्कत आएगी।
    6. मेरे टिपण्णी का गलत अर्थ ना लगाए, मैं भी मनाता हूँ क़ि आज़ादी के इतने वर्ष बीत जाने के बाद भी हमारी कोई एक मातृभाषा नहीं हैं परन्तु होनी अवश्य चाहिए चाहे वह english ही क्यों ना हो और इसपर राजनीति या अलगाववादी सोच नहीं होनी चाहिए।

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    1. Mahoday main bahut vinamrata se kehna chahunga ki agar aap bhi gugal se Angrezi sabdo ke anuwad karke kewal Hindi bhasa ka prayog karte to hriday ko atyant prashanta hoti ki koi Hindi ki puri tarah se samman karta hai.

      Shhama Karen, Rakesh Ji, jahan tak meri jaankari hai, alp bhi ho sakti hai, Bharat desh me bahut sari matribhasayen hain parantu koi rastra bhasa nahi hai.

      Meri tippani ka galat arth na lagayen mera uddheshya aapko aahat karna nahi hai. Agar aisa hota to main apna uttar aapko Tamil me likh ke deta aur kehta ki gugal ka prayog karke anuwad kar len. Maine Devnagri ki jagah Roman lipi ka prayog jarur kiya hai par aapki angrezi ke proyog ko dekh kar aasha karta hoon ki aapko samajh aa gaya hoga.

      Dhanyawad. Aapka din mangalmay beete!

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    2. താങ്ങ്കളുടെ തമാശ എനിക്കിഷ്ട്ടമായി .

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  5. I am not for or against, but the fact is that across the length and breadth of the country (even beyond the mainland..Port Blair for instance) people comfortably understand and speak Hindi..some may pose ignorance if asked for directions but the same are receptive and interested when talked shop..no issues:)

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    1. Visit my village, Amit ji,and you won't find a single person responding to Hindi.

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  6. If Hindi had not been used as a tool to mock others, I would have welcomed the move with open heart.

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    1. Right perspective. I agree. I would like to go beyond. It's not just about mocking. It's more about domineering.

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  7. Its funny that people of this country are happy to learn a foreign language and call that "pragmatic" and find it a matter of pride to say that they will not learn another language from the same country. This blind mental block against Hindi , or any language for that matter, does not help anyone. In fact, blind hatred of any kind cannot be appreciated.

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    1. So why don't you learn my language instead of ordering me to learn yours. Show me the example instead of preaching to me!

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  8. I am also against any kind of such imposition.

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    1. There's no need of Imposition if people find the language useful to them. If it's useless imposition won't work. So in any case imposition is unwarranted.

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  9. Oh I wish more people got this! As a school teacher in a CBSE school in Bangalore, I find this imposition ridiculous. We have children in the school who speak Hindi at home already having trouble with the very literary/bookish kind of language the textbooks promote. If a non-native Hindi speaker were to learn that, it'll be terribly hard, and mostly useless if they were to continue living in the south. And then here's how it'll play out - the students will not score well on the subject, CBSE will realize that very late into its imposition, the exams will be simplified till you reach a point where just about anyone can clear them, and the whole point of teaching Hindi for the sake of 'language pride' or whatever will not be met anyway.
    Conversational Hindi, the useful kind, can be acquired from movies, yea!

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