Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Why Hindi?

This is one issue really close to my heart. Numerous times I have faced this question - why I don't speak Hindi in spite of being an Indian and Hindi being the "National language" of India. Let me make one thing very clear - Hindi is just the "Official language" of India - which is by no means equivalent to being a "National language". You can have a "National language" when most people in the nation speak that language. Like Canada has English and French - and almost everyone speaks either of these two. But in India - less than a third speaks Hindi as their native language - and as I gather from some random website coming out in my google search "India's schools teach 58 different languages. The nation has newspapers in 87 languages, radio programmes in 71, and films in 15" ( I dont claim any responsibility for the accuracy of these figures - but that gives the idea) - surely there cant be any one language for all the people. And there is not any natural reason for Hindi to get an elevated status - just because most of the prime ministers happened to be Hindi speaking is not a good enough reason for me.

People argue that we need one languor to get the feeling of unity. That's the ideal scenario may be. But unfortunately we are diverse bunch of people - one cant just forcefully unify them. And I have a right to speak my language as much as guy speaking Hindi is. And when he wont speak Bangla talking with me, why would I try speaking Hindi? I really applaud Southern states in this regard - they refuse to communicate in Hindi. I really do not understand why Bengali's, even when they are in Kolkata - try to speakin a pathetic Hindi to outsiders. Why would they do that? Do they think when they are in Allahabad anyone is going to help them out in Bengali? When I'm in a Hindi speaking region I have to try to communicate in Hindi (which is fair), then the people coming to Kolkata have to learn Bengali. Period.

English is a different issue altogether. Whether we like it or not - we were ruled by the British and our education system still in a lot of sense reflects the British influence. So the educated people across the length and the breadth of the country can communicate in English - and the best part is that's almost nobodies native language - so gives no community a sense of alienation. And I like it that way.

I have nothing against Hindi or people speaking the language personally. And I'm sure it is a rich language. But so are Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and a host of other languages. And since I cant learn them all - I see no reason to give Hindi a special preference. Its the language of a just a group of people. Nothing more, nothing less.


tuktuki said...

Hindi is not the 'only' official language of India...English is also an official language. Agreed that it's not the only one...but never realized that the language gave a sense of 'alienation'. Wasn't it rather the other way round during pre- and post- Independence days..'using the master's tools to break in to the master's house', as they say?
Also a query, if Hindi is rejected, how would one define Indian 'nationalism'...is it possible to have an idea about 'nationalism' sans Hindi?

dipthought said...

Thanks for the first constructive comment here!

Language induced alienation? Try living in a city like Bangalore or Chennai without knowing the local language - and you will know what I am talking about.But thats not the point here.Every group of people have their own language - and forcing them to use Hindi is something which I think is not fair.
I cant agree that Indian nationalism is defined by Hindi - there is no historical or ethnic reason for that.India is a collection of a diverse bunch of people with widely different cultures and all - I am not even sure if the "unity in diversity" concept taught in high school is realistic.Whatever you define as nationalism should be something more inherent - otherwise more than half of the country cant be a part of it!

Neel said...

I agree with dipthought From the core of my heart. I am a Programmer based on Kolkata. I also have never spoken in Hindi In My Life Still now. Many people have asked me the Same Question. What I've answered is this --
I Follow vyed in every step in my life. and accordng to vyed one should respect his mother language. and I think as I am not satisfied with my love in my mother language. So I cant speak in the Official Language in My country.

Why I am not satisfied with my love to my mother toung ??
Cause I've seen lots of bengali people in bengal who like to speak in Hindi more than bengali even he is a native bengali for Years.
Untill the ammount of these B U S T E R E D comes down to ZERO I am not satisfied.

There is a Different cause too.
The Truth according to History an Politics of India is
After Mr. Neheru did _____(DASH)________ With Subhash Chandra Bose for the So called Crown of India He realized that three Places in India Bengal, Tamil, Panjab must not let touch touch Delhi cause if they touch they can set fire on the Criminal's Mask. Thats why there was an Implecitely Inspiration of Indian Government to keep these regions in India under the Black cloud of Ignorance. and Choosing hindi as the Official Language is just a Step on this long evil Job.
and they hav ea Nice Shadow of Gandhi (as we all know Shadow is always black if its Shadow)
and they have used this Person as the Shadow
If one Dig hostory he will get more such things.
after Reading the above note I dont think any Bengali People Who love His Bengal or His Mother Language or His Convension Tradition would like to Speak in Hindi

Ankita Datta said...

In my opinion the following lines are pretty disturbing: “I really do not understand why Bengali's, even when they are in Kolkata - try to speak a pathetic Hindi to outsiders. Why would they do that? Do they think when they are in Allahabad anyone is going to help them out in Bengali? It’s true that a person from Allahabad won’t help you out in Bengali, but I am darn sure that they will help you out in some other ways. I don’t believe people help each other out based on whether the person in question speaks your language or not. “When I'm in a Hindi speaking region I have to try to communicate in Hindi (which is fair), then the people coming to Kolkata have to learn Bengali. Period.” I think you should be applauded for your effort, but don’t walk around with the same expectations from everyone. Fairness is a very idealistic concept that can never be fully attained. No matter what there would always be a group of people who would feel alienated. If India had made Tamil and English as their official languages, then I think no one but the Tamilians would have been happy. I feel it’s very important to preserve regional languages and cultures, but when it come to working at the governmental level or at the State levels, we have to agree on one or two languages so that we can work as a country not as bunch of states, each doing it’s own thing. Then, what’s the point of having a country. Lastly, if people have to learn a new language before entering every new state in India, then soon we will wipe out the tourism industry. I think that the problem is that people feel like that Hindi is forced upon them, but it could have been very well some other language. People would have still complained. You can’t make everyone happy at all times. And, you are right that there is no one reason why Hindi should be given some sort of preference, but the fact of the matter is that most of the work in India is still conducted in Hindi and English. I understand your anger, your anguish, and feeling of alienation but, unfortunately, there is very little that can be done about it.