IMPOSITION OF HINDI IN INDIA
For a Tamilian by name Iyengar as fore-fathers stayed there some times, an Andhrite by birth and a Chhattisgarhi by brought up, at least two languages came as birth assets - One Telugu as mother tongue and Hindi the language of childhood vicinity. Though sometimes it feel ashamed but fact is of having a better command on Hindi than Telugu. The place of stay Bilaspur in Chattisgarh is largest revenue earning division in Indian Railways for quite many years. It used to be the second Head quarters of the South Eastern Railway having just an overnight journey both sides to and fro Howrah ( Calcutta – where the HQ was stationed). Therefore many of Bengalis from Calcutta preferred Bilaspur to any other place for a transfer out of Calcutta. That made Bilaspur Rich in Bengalis and it resulted such that almost 70 % population of Bilaspur Railway settlement (then Bilaspur was mostly railway settlement only- rest came very late) were comfortable in Bengali. So whoever is having a little inclination to learn, picked up Bengali – writing and reading also. During the life’s service span moved places for father’s transfers in Railways’ job and own transfers , picked up Gujarati, Assamese, Punjabi languages but failed to pick up speaking Marathi though reads and understands it. Therefore represent a complete Indian. But the fact of being more comfortable in HINDI language than any one other remains even today. During schooling I learnt Hindi literature also. First degree is in Hindi medium and professional course is in English medium. It is just because Engineering wasn’t taught in Hindi medium then. This is a general description about a student brought up at Bilaspur ( CG) which I am.
Now the question is imposition of Hindi in India. I have already mentioned regarding my command on Hindi and my affection to languages. But when it comes to official language … I get confused that how confused are we on this subject. Let me put up in this way.
We have –
1. National Language.
2. Mother tongue
3. Regional languages
4. State language
5. Rashtra Bhasha
6. Rajya Bhasha
7. Languages in 8th schedule of constitution
I am surprised to know while referring to Hindi many people (including Hindi speaking population) calls it Rashtra Bhasha. If my understanding is correct – There was/is no language in India as Rashtra Bhasha. Yes, attempts were made by many including Mahatma Gandhi to install Hindi as Rashtra Bhasha – but never succeeded. This Rashtra Bhasha is referred by many as National Language. Ahmedabad high had to deliver a judgment to the effect that there is no national language on the records in INDIA.
Rajya Bhasha, state languages, Regional Language or Rashtra Bhashayen are the phrases used for the languages listed in 8th schedule of our constitution. By which all of them mean that these are the languages which are spoken within the states, in our country. Here they refer “region” for “states” only. So they are the same.
In one letter published in “Raj Bhasha Bharati” magazine of Hindi sachivalaya in 1995, I learnt about “Rashtra Bhashayen” written by then Home minister for “languages in the 8th schedule of constitution”. So Rashtra Bhasha and national language are non-existent. Rajya Bhasha (yen), Regional languages, state languages, Rashtra Bhashayen and 8th schedule of constitution are one.
With this rest are - Mother tongue which is individualistic, Rajbhasha is official language of the union of India as per the constitution.
Summarily we have – Rajbhasha and languages in 8th schedule of constitution. Mother tongue has nothing to do with Indians as a group it is person specific.
A question is raked up many a times why should India not have Hindi as a Common official language. There are numerous opinions for and against it. Let me list them one by one as known to be and discuss in my view.
1. Hindi is spoken by most of our countrymen. One says less than 1/6th of our population and other say 41%. The question is, what are the basic postulates based on which these figures are arrived at. Hindi speaking means … in my case, am I added to speaking population? I think yes. Because I speak Hindi. But on the other hand my name must have been there in non Hindi speaking population going by mother tongue. Even today my organization treats me non- Hindi speaking and forced me for Hindi exams – Prabodh, Praveen and Pragya. I could escape first two but had to appear for Pragya. The fact that my articles about Hindi and in Hindi get published in magazines and news papers doesn’t carry any weight here. Even the in-house Hindi magazine of our organization publishes my Hindi poetry since 1984. Can’t help this attitude. Those who want favourable count take me as Hindi speaking and those who want against count me as non- Hindi speaking. So there is basic difference on the postulates of making a survey. If you say Hindi speaking then you should consider me speaking all other languages I know and if this is done you will find a sum of this much more than the thrice the population of this country , because many people know there languages for their survival.
2. Hindi is the language which can be understood across the length and breadth of this country. This is again biased for forcing Hindi. I have my self faced issued regarding this in Chennai. At Railway reservation counter I was told no room but on sending a Tamilian classmate we all 27 boys got Air-conditioned two tier accommodation from Chennai to Bangalore in the same train same day on the same travelling authorities. What is the use of knowing Hindi there where you will be penalised for exhibiting that you know Hindi?
3. Hindi is fifth largest spoken language in the world. This argument it seems is against Hindi. Why not go for English then which is still more spoken in the world. Why limit to Hindi the 5th largest??? – why we should be satisfied with the 5th largest spoken language and not the largest spoken language it self is the question here???
4. It would be difficult to use Hindi at the initial stages but later it would be matter of pride. So will be with any other language but the intent of pride in question is point of argument.
5. It is surprising that people love to embrace a foreign language English but fail to do so with our own language. Yes it is so practically but reasons are different and arguments are different.
6. Some think a country should follow one of its languages. In the process feel that India needs to follow Hindi. Why Hindi? Is the question here? How is one zeroing down to Hindi.
7. There is a group which agrees not to have a snap-change to Hindi. Let us do it step by step – but let us first agree on HINDI. Let all know for sure that no language forget about Hindi can be snap imposed on any society… it will grind to halt causing uncalled for chaotic situation.
8. English is a foreign language and needs to be replaced. Going by similar lines Hindi is foreign for south Indians. Why should they learn Hindi??? Is the counter argument.
9. Hindi is official language of INDIA. But the fact remains that officially – English is secondary official language of INDIA even as on date. One can check this from Official Language act 1963 updated till today.
10. Official language is important for administrative purposes. Enforcing it into daily life is another one.
11. Some say while under British rule we had swadeshi andolan and when we are independent we are embracing English language. Yes, under British rule we were compelled, so rebuffed but now we are embracing for our benefits and requirements in different arena of life.
1. India is a multilingual country and imposing a language on whole population would be undemocratic.
2. Unity in Diversity is India’s Identity and it clearly reflects our rich and diverse culture & heritage presenting Unity in diversity. This is our unique identity.
3. A child born to a Maharashtrian family staying at Gujarat family will learn first Marathi and then Gujarati. Hindi will be a later compulsion on joining schools. So the child will have stronger Gujarati than Hindi.
4. We are able to attract software companies/ BPOs only because of our command and knowledge on English. So is the case with IT, medical and economic sectors.
5. Language is part of the culture and by imposing Hindi as official language we are forcing people to accept another culture than theirs. Do we have a right for it??? And why should they accept?
6. I want to learn Hindi too, but I hate the attitude of people who think Hindi is somehow greater than my language.
7. For the sake of knowledge English is far more useful and worthy compared to Hindi. Naturally English will have preference over Hindi.
10. Some say make Hindi compulsory in schools, then what? What % of our population attends to the schools? Those in non Hindi belt will remain cut – off even then. Any remedy thought on it?
11. Why can’t India have more than one official language? Hating English is also a kind of linguistic chauvinism.
12. Hindi is your language not mine. My mother tongue is my language. How Hindi gets priority over my language?
13. The feeling that a common language/religion/culture will unite us is incorrect rather this is thinking keeping us divided. Unless we learn and practice to respect mutually we can’t be united.
14. Standard Hindi is the official language of union of India. What is Standard Hindi?
15. It is not practical for an average Indian to learn three languages to juggle with - Mother tongue, Official language of union and a global language – for greater economical incentive, which is English now. Naturally one will tend to corner with English.
16. If imposed forcefully the results as in 1956 in Srilanka – it resulted into civil war and in 1965 in India there were massive riots in Tamilnadu, which also changed political equations there.
17. People from India travelling across the globe for various purposes need English as an essential tool for communication. The service sector in India is existing because of English is their language
Following are two very good logics provided against the imposition of Hindi --
I learnt my mother tongue to communicate with, understand and go along my family members and relatives and also nearby society. Basically I don’t need to learn any other language than my Mother tongue. But all the knowledge is not available in my mother tongue. So to acquire knowledge and in order to get acquainted with the people having knowledge in the field of my interest and also to learn from the knowledge library, I have to learn the suitable language and in this case most suitable language is English – which is worldwide and full of resources for knowledge in any subject. Almost all the IT business is in English. 80-90 % of the worldwide jobs are for English speaking people.
Another explanation says - Telugu existed even at 300BC and earlier signs of Hindustani appeared in 7th century A.D. Even Tamil is ancient to Hindi/Hindustani. And these Hindi speaking/ favouring people try to say it is better than our language.