Wednesday 25 June 2014

Jhakas! No Shudh Hindi Please

Languages are meant to communicate easily and reach out to other people. Let us allow it to evolve. Hindi films have been one major contributing factor to spreading Hindi far and wide across India.
After getting a huge mandate, BJP should have got down to its real business of providing good governance and clean administration. But it is in the news for wrong reasons. It has touched a very sensitive issue in haste – Hindi. The recent government circulars asking officials to please use Hindi on social media shook India’s foundation. Government had to face severe criticism from various quarters. Politicians jumped into the fray. CPM’s Brinda Karat vehemently opposed the Hindi imposition, preferring the Queen’s language. Odisha’s speaker disallowed a question-hour Hindi inquisition. But the biggest blow came from the South, where Tamil parties and politicians battle each other, found themselves on the same side with a common cause on this linguistic plank. DMK superemo M Karunanidi stated, the government’s move would make non-Hindi speakers secondary citizens in their own land. Seizing the opportunity, CM Jayalalitha shot off a stern letter highlighting the misgivings to the PM and informed him they are comfortable with the Queen’s language. Many of BJP’ own allies heaped bitter criticism on it on unnecessarily raking up the sensitive issue. PMK’s S Ramadoss went one step further and demanded all 22 languages in the Constitution’s Eighth Schedule be declared official while MDMK’s Vaiko warned the government, not to provoke a sleeping lion by brandishing the Hindi stick.

Hindi like many of the Indian languages is a beautiful language. Many of us have nothing against Hindi or for that matter the 22 official languages; each one of them is rich with tradition and history. Most Indians are good in communicating in 2-4 languages, and Hindi is one of them. And the Hindi spoken from place to place varies, like for example south, Hyderabadi Hindi is with sprinkling of Urdu, interior Maharastra, Hindi with a lot of Marathi words and the unique Bambaiya, etc. So is the Queen’s language, the Indianised English.

Most Indians apart from their mother-tongue are fluent in 2-3 languages, at least in speaking. This is in fact an asset. Regardless of what the politicians think, Hindi is not spoken all over India, especially South, North East, East, west, etc. However the popular Hindi films are a binding force all over India and a catalyst for Hindi, though it adopts different styles of spoken Hindi in many different films. In Maharastra or for that matter Mumbai where I reside, Hindi is at best, a second language after Marathi and some areas other languages like Gujarati, Tamil, Urdu, Punjabi and Sindhi, etc take precedence. Since both the languages, Marathi and Hindi use the Devanagiri script, locals can read simple Hindi. Hence there is not much opposition here. Mumbai has it own Hindi – Bambaiya, a street smart and colourful Hindi version. But this is not the case in other states who despise Shudh Hindi. The recent Home ministry orders instructing government departments to stick to Hindi on social media platforms was uncalled for and unfortunate.

Why should someone who does not use Hindi as a primary language be compelled to express in it? People suspect it is an attempt to gradually impose Hindi as the sole language across India thereby benefitting the Hindi speaking North Indians. This impression will harm the social fabric of the nation and is not going to be accepted by a vast majority of Indians. NDA allies too are not happy, so are many Indians who believe in national integrity and freedom to express and communicate in the language of their choice.

Languages are meant to communicate easily and reach out to other people. Let us allow it to evolve. Hindi films have been one major contributing factor to spreading Hindi far and wide across India. Compared to ten years back, today while travelling even in remote corners of the vast country, one can communicate to a certain extent, as Hindi is understood by many locals. Let us allow it to grow on it own and be accepted by choice. And as far as I remember, there is no law or bill passed which makes Hindi the national language.

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