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Regional Language v/s Hindi: Worth A Debate?

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These kind of headlines have become regular in our daily newspapers. Does language create barriers? Is the regional v/s hindi debate justified? As for our politicians the “language” seems to be the most important issue till the next general elections. Many of them prefer to vent out their frustration by writing and some resort to extreme measures like violence.

But what does the Aam Aadmi think of this issue? “It’s just a vote getting cheap-trick played by the local leaders, who wish to be at the national front. I’m a born Marathi, I don’t have any problem with non- Marathi taxi drivers. Even we Maharashtrians go to other states to earn our lively hood, they don’t stop or beat us, and then who are these MNS’s walas to stop anybody. The new Maharashtra is not my Maharashtra, it is the one created by the Thackeray clan. The common people do not think like them”, says Varun Phule, who works in a Bangalore based IT firm.

It’s not just a Maharashtra based problem. State Governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had insisted on putting up hoardings and billboards in the local language, instead of English or Hindi. This step had created a lot of problem for the immigrants. The Gorkhaland movement in West Bengal often accuses state government of forcing Hindi and Bengali on them and not promoting their local language enough.

“This whole debate about regional v/s hindi is just sheer waste of time. Our mother tongues keep us rooted to our culture; they form a very integral part of our being. But resorting to violence against non-locals is totally uncalled for”, says Suja Joe.

Stand of Constitution

The Constitution of India accords Hindi in the Devanagari script as the official language of India (English being the subsidiary official language). It is also one of the 22 scheduled languages specified in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution.

Hindi and National Integration

When Vallabhbhai Patel set about integrating 562 kingdoms and numerous provinces into what we know today as India, our leaders were keen to identify, and establish opportunities for national integration. This was a time when secession from the Union was a real threat, thus prompting the likes of Nehru and Gandhi to try and integrate the country in spirit, and not just politically. This, and the urge to uproot all things colonial, spurred the efforts to replace English with an Indian language. Gandhi pushed for Hindustani -the utilitarian blend of hindi and Urdu- as the national language. Even Rajagopalachari was in favour of establishing Hindustani as the national language. Nehru, the eternal democrat, proposed that linguists evolve a simplified version of Hindustani that South Indians could learn with ease.

Post-partition, however, the Jana Sangh and other Hindi groups pushed for the ‘purification‘ of the language by ridding it of its Urdu influences.

Eventually, after the violent protests in Tamil Nadu in 1965, Lal Bahadur Shastri, himself an advocate of hindi, permitted the use of English alongside hindi for conducting business in India. In addition, states were left free to conduct their business in the language of their choice.

Post 2000

Apart from secessionary tendencies in some North-Eastern states and J&K, India is largely a united nation. While the motive of designating a national language made sense in a volatile and brittle post-partition India, the current obsession with establishing a “common link” stems from a puerile notion of national integration. National integration is not about making Tamilian children learn hindi, teaching Malayalis to do the bhangra, or forcing Gujaratis to eat maacher jhol. National integration is about tolerance; about peaceful coexistence of culturally diverse communities; about every Indian acknowledging every other Indian as an equal citizen.

Our languages may make us different from each other but they don’t separate us. Whether we are a Malayli or a Punjabi, we must not forget that we are Indians first. Speaking in hindi doesn’t make you more Indian or speaking your local language any less Indian.

The writer is a Delhi based correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz

You must be to comment.
  1. Manoj Juyal

    “Aam Aadmi” is least concerned about the language issues. It’s only the politicians who raise these kind of issues to secure their vote bank. I always get surprised when the “Netas” chosen by us disregard our faith by indulging in such worthless issues. There are more relevant issues to be taken care of but they hardly come in the spotlight. I hope these forums can raise awareness among the youth, so that at least they don’t follow these mediocre politicians in their “good for nothing” campaigns.

  2. sreekumar kv

    State Governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had insisted on putting up hoardings and billboards in the local language, instead of English or Hindi. This step had created a lot of problem for the immigrants.
    So the state governments are supposed to exist for the north indian immigrants ?
    There is only one language in india which can take a national role and that is english. Fortunately it is also a global language. So we should have a two language system of english and the regional languages, with the regional language based on the region. So there would be hindi for the north indians and kannada, bengali, assamese, manipuri, tamil, malayalam, telugu etc for their respective regions, and english as the link language connecting all of us.

    1. Shrayjaimishra

      Even if i was born in MAHARASHTRA , TAMIL NADU or WEST BENGAL…i would have said the same what i am going to say right now…..half of this country is not aware of their current NATIONAL SPORT……!!!  A big part of the population is not aware of  its NATIONAL SONG…!!! WE ARE THE ONLY ONES KILLING OUR NATIONAL ANIMAL FOR THE SAKE OF MONEY……!!  AND HERE YOU ARE THE ONE SAYING THAT “ONLY ENGLISH IS THE LANGUAGE WHICH CAN TAKE NATIONAL ROLE”….WHAT AN IRONY….our national language is not even getting support in its own nation…WHY SHOULD THERE BE A DEBATE ON THIS LANGUAGE TOPIC….WE SHOULD RESPECT THE FACT THAT WE ARE INDIANS AND OUR NATIONAL LANGUAGE IS HINDI…so what if i am a Tamilian…or a Bengali….we should have communal harmony and i think if not entirely everyone in this country should be aware of a minimum amount of Hindi….a national language should not be sidelined….I was working in Chennai for a year and a half….and it was like a different part of the world….language barrier,food and the nature….i think the entire country a citizen of this country should be free to move and should be welcomed with open heart by other states….this regional politics is eating the true spirit of India…i will say this in Hindi….”ANEKTA MEIN EKTA”…..

    2. Shrayjaimishra

      Even if i was born in MAHARASHTRA , TAMIL NADU or WEST BENGAL…i would have said the same what i am going to say right now…..half of this country is not aware of their current NATIONAL SPORT……!!!  A big part of the population is not aware of  its NATIONAL SONG…!!! WE ARE THE ONLY ONES KILLING OUR NATIONAL ANIMAL FOR THE SAKE OF MONEY……!!  AND HERE YOU ARE THE ONE SAYING THAT “ONLY ENGLISH IS THE LANGUAGE WHICH CAN TAKE NATIONAL ROLE”….WHAT AN IRONY….our national language is not even getting support in its own nation…WHY SHOULD THERE BE A DEBATE ON THIS LANGUAGE TOPIC….WE SHOULD RESPECT THE FACT THAT WE ARE INDIANS AND OUR NATIONAL LANGUAGE IS HINDI…so what if i am a Tamilian…or a Bengali….we should have communal harmony and i think if not entirely everyone in this country should be aware of a minimum amount of Hindi….a national language should not be sidelined….I was working in Chennai for a year and a half….and it was like a different part of the world….language barrier,food and the nature….i think the entire country a citizen of this country should be free to move and should be welcomed with open heart by other states….this regional politics is eating the true spirit of India…i will say this in Hindi….”ANEKTA MEIN EKTA”…..

    3. Krishna Shastry

      Dear Shrayjaimishra, I understand your national spirit, thats nice. However, let me try to clear out some misconceptions.

      You should notice who is fighting and why. South Indians fight for survival due to Hindi being imposed on them. And North Indians call them lesser people saying South Indians are less patriotic by not knowing Hindi. It is totally unfair.

      The root cause is the misconception that Hindi is national language. I request you to read more about this in wiki or from other reliable sources. Some excerpts from wiki:

      – Neither the Constitution of India nor Indian law specifies a National language.

      – Section 3 of G.S.R. 1053, titled “Rules, 1976 states Communications from
      a Central Government office to State or Union Territory in Region “C”
      or to any office (not being a Central Government office) or person in
      such State shall be in English. Region C (South India) covers Tamil
      Nadu, Kerala , Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh

      Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_language#India

      So, the politicians and Hindi loving leaders have created this misconception in everyone’s mind and we all are suffering.

      If one of the other official Indian languages were made compulsory (any one, of choice) for hindi speaking people, then this false impression would have never existed. This is where probably people making constitution failed, I think.

      Once again, why debate? Because South Indian languages that have extremely rich history, literature are losing out due to unfair treatments and perceptions. Its a loss for Hindi speaking people also if they don’t study any of the other Indian languages, as they miss out getting a better picture of India.

      Regards,
      Krishna Shastry.

  3. sreekumar kv

    Also, Regional Language v/s Hindi: Worth A Debate? ?
    Hindi is one of the regional languages, and its region being north india.

  4. Kumar

    All ignorant and separatist comments. Hindi is not a “regional language” and has nothing to do with North India. Hindi is simply the language that the people of this land spoke, at a time when it was called “HINDustan”(yes, that’s where the word Hindi comes from), now India.

    It’s the language that the native people spoke. Later, of course, through many invasions/migrations..aryans, dravidians, mongols, moghuls, persians, portugese, british etc etc all came and some of them settled; and brought more languages along. As it is, India doesn’t have a national language; but denying Hindi its due is totally uncalled for.

    More than 40% of Indians speak Hindi(or it’s dialects) for cryin out loud..a very distant second being Bangla at about 7%. It’s not the National language, because a lot of ruckus was created on this matter(esp by Tamils, LB Shastri actually had to go and pacify the crazed junta in TN) during the drafting of our constitution, and then it was decided against using a National language. BUT it is the NATIVE language of the land you live in. Learn to deal with it

    1. Himanshi

      Hindu is a Persian distortion of “Sindhu” the historic local name for the Indus River in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent (modern day Pakistan and Northern India). Hindi is a relatively very new language. It is a sort of a daughter language of all the languages you are now calling the “dialects” of Hindi. Bhojpuri and Maithili for instance have a richer history, both literary and cultural than Hindi and yet they were subsumed under Hindi post-independence. They are Sanskritic languages, true but that doesn’t mean they are the same in the same way as French, Italian and Spanish are not the same despite being all Latin-based. My point is, that 40% is arrived at by counting all these languages as a single language which is not fair to the other languages.
      Hindustani (different from Hindi) also has a unique history. It developed during the Independence struggle, a language that was a mesh of the Sanskritic and Arabic elements within the Indian culture. Nehru wanted a form of Hindustani which would have words from all the principle languages in India (a sort of pidgin) to be developed and promoted as the national language. It is easy to guess why it failed.
      Please acquaint yourself a little more with the language-history in the country. Tamil is one of the oldest languages, just as old as Sanskrit and has the advantage of not being a dead language. So technically if we ARE talking about one Indian language, we could adopt Tamil. But we know it is not viable just as imposing Hindi on the rest of India is not the best thing to do. English, for good or bad, is far more acceptable due to the accompanied opportunities (it being a global language). The mother tongue is going nowhere, English can never replace Hindi/other languages as the language of the household but as the language of administration, commerce and communication it fares far better.

  5. Bharath Prabhas

    hey kumar, the name Hindusthan for India dint come from hindi.. this was the land of “Hindus” hence the land is named as Hindusthan. and i dont think Dravidians invaded india. its the aryans and others mentioned invaded. dravidians are the native in india.

    1. YouthKiAwaaz

      Hey Bharat! The name Hindustan came because our nation was right next to river Indus, and the westerners could not pronounce the word “Indus”, thus, it became “Hindus”tan. This word does not mean that we are a land of Hindus, it means that we are a land where the river Indus exists.

  6. mak

    remember having learned in school ‘unity through diversity’.
    i guess what comes first and foremost is the respect of the diversity in each one of us.

    there is so much variety in our country in terms of culture, food, dress, religion, language with each its own strength. we could handle this diversity either of one way:
    a) whichever is majority, we all follow that OR
    b) respect the others values and ways as we’d expect them to respect ours.

    history says human cultures have always been intolerant and suspicious of something different to theirs. so i guess we are anyway fighting a losing battle.

    on the subject of language specifically… it is the key to any culture, the key to unlock wisdom passed on through generations. any culture would therefore be protective and sensitive to keeping its language alive.

    language, religion, food, dress, values, tradition…. a few of the many things that we are all sensitive about.

  7. reza

    WHAT IS BIHAR – COME SEE THIS, YOU THE IDIOT PEOPLE OF INDIA.

    Refer the Languages and Scripts of Ashoka’s Inscriptions- where the people of the word are uneducated, BIHAR was the only state or province who provide education and with best universities as GAYA, MAHADH, PATLIPUTRA. Ask CHANAKIYA, ASHOKA spirits about the BIHAR and ya of course to MAHATMA BUDDHA. How he went GAYA, Bihar and took the knowledge (GYAN). I am talking about the BC’s wait for other new centuries or Eras my dear.
    The official language in Bihar is Hindi, and that is why I am really proud of my Bihar. Moreover, Read about universities are located in Bihār, including Bhagalpur University (founded in 1960) in Bhagalpur, the University of Bihār (1952) in Muzaffarpur, and Patna University (1917) in Patna. And Bodh Gaya, magadh (BC)- In the year 528 BC Buddha is said to have experienced his Great Enlightenment in what is now the town of Buddh Gaya in BIHAR and also to have begun his preaching there.
    Oldest and the World 1st literate, civilized, cultured city in Bihar called Magadha, which dates from the 6th century BC. The region subsequently formed part of the Mauryan Empire and then part of the Gupta Empire.
    Now matter of religion too have a look the fact: Sikhs; their last guru, Gobind Singh, was born here.
    Kingdom of Magadha (Bihar), central power of India from the 6th century BC to the 6th century AD. Alexander the Great turned his brutal mind in to peace when he came BIHAR.
    Go HOME, store and FIND the world MAP of AD 320 and later, you will find “TERE- MERE MAA KASAM” only BIHAR!! yes my dear ONLY BIHAR in our INDIAN territory. BIHAR MADE YOU, REMMEMBER THAT ALL INDIANS and THE WORLD OF INDIANS AND PAKISTANI TOO.
    This is not the matter for abusing any psychological status (yes of course who hate bihar and bihari) take this as the Matter of FACT and it need to be share. This is reza kazmi. (An INDIAN from BIHAR)

    REMMEMBER WHEN U ABUSE BIHAR , WORLD WILL ABUSE YOU!!
    Having spoken power of English without the head and tails of grammar cannot be defined us a well cultured and high societies, just don’t forget where you come from and WHO YOUR ARE. Respect your mother, your mother land, your mother toung so we can call BHARAT MAA KE JAI!! Go France go Germany go China you will see how they care for their LANGUAGE and you the fucking people fighting each other for self status, English speaking societies, fucking fake high societies and all that. INSPIRED OR ADOPT THE BEST NOT THE WORST. And don’t hock the 100 due to 01. TAKE CARE

    Written BY – SYED ABBAS REZA KAZMI. BHAGALPUR-812001, BIHAR, INDIA. rezakazmi@gmail.com.
    {jab kuch tha bharat key nakshy per tab BIHAR tha doston,, sary jab hywaan they yhan Perampara the doston, sidhant tha, seksha the, pyaar tha- jab sare duniya khanabadosh aur jangle the doston} reza

    1. Shrayjaimishra

      BROTHER,
      I READ YOUR POINTS,BUT WHAT I FAIL TO UNDERSTAND IS….WHO SAID ANYTHING AGAINST BIHAR ?????   DID ANYONE…..???  

    2. Saralhindi

      One may not let other Bihari languages fade under the influence of Hindi/Urdu,write them in India’s simplest nukta an shirorekha free Gujanagari script resembling old Bojpuri script or in Roman script to revive old Brahmi script.

      “Hindi and Urdu are the official languages of the state, while the majority of the people speak Angika, Bhojpuri, Magadhi, Maithili and Bajjika.
      Language and literature[edit]
      Main articles: Languages in Bihar and Literature in Bihar
      See also: Angika, Bhojpuri, Magadhi, Maithili language, Magadhi Prakrit, Hindi in Bihar, and Urdu Language in Bihar”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bihar

  8. Krishna Shastry

     I hope few simple points will convey where things went wrong and what is the right path:

    1) Kindly double check: I think you got the wording wrong what you wrote under “Stand of Constitution”. Hindi is one of the 22 official languages in India, I am not sure what a “scheduled language” means, you seem to be weakening other languages unnecessarily. Yes, it has official status (along with English with slightly lesser status) when it comes to communication with central government. But why impose that on common people of India?

    2) Anyways, we should all realize that language is not just a medium of communication. Older a language is, richer culture is associated with it. Imposing Hindi on south will kill many rich language and culture, whats the point?

    3) Please check history of Hindi in wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Hindi
    It says Hindi was standardized after we got independence? Is that all the history modern Hindi has? Do you think it has strength to hold and propagate rich culture of various parts of India?

    4) North Indians being majority obviously silence South Indians on many occasions. That doesn’t make a wrong right. Killing South Indian languages is not a wise thing. Constitution is made by humans, its okay to accept some mistakes and make amends, considering reality and common sense.

    5) Its a give and take. If Hindi is made mandatory for rest of the India, then Hindi speaking people also should learn AT LEAST ONE South Indian or East Indian language, it will surely unite India better, isn’t it? I really think its a fair thing to ask, which is missed out in the constitution.

    6) I have learnt Hindi and have love and respect towards it to some extent. However, the point I am trying to make is that other languages are also important for India’s bright future and Hindi speaking people cannot think that only their language is superior and sufficient. LETS STOP HIGHLIGHTING THAT HINDI IS OUR NATIONAL LANGUAGE AND OTHERS DO NOT MEAN ANYTHING IN FRONT OF IT. If a South Indian is not patriot enough by not knowing Hindi, then a Hindi guy not knowing any non-Hindi Indian language is also the same.

    Hope this is enough to convince you, have a good day.

    1. Shrayjaimishra

      Hey krishna,
      I agree to this..”Its a give and take. If Hindi is made mandatory for rest of the India, then Hindi speaking people also should learn AT LEAST ONE South Indian or East Indian language, it will surely unite India better…”    I completely agree….i know this will help….. but dnt you think first we should stop fighting about this issue….as politicians just try to provoke us….and i think an Indian is an Indian whether Tamilian Or a Bihari…..so there should be an amendment in the constitution now and your point should be included…   have a great day 🙂

    2. Krishna Shastry

      Dear Shrayjaimishra, I believe in my other reply I have answered your question about why there is fight. It is very similar to people of some nation fighting against immigrants when they feel immigrants take locals for granted and systematically destroy locals’ identity, language, history, culture everything without taking any pains to learn and integrate with locals.

      As of now, due to misconceptions, many Hindi speaking people unfortunately got an attitude that there is no need for them to learn any other Indian language, but they expect others to learn Hindi as an act of patriotism and for India’s unity, progress.

      I think the fight should be more focused on bringing in policies that makes Hindi speaking people more aware of rest of the India. Then every thing will be alright slowly and steadily.

      Regards,
      Krishna Shastry.

  9. Umesh Rudrapatna

    @Kumar “All ignorant and separatist comments.”
    There you go… Had a hearty laugh at your narrow minded Indian-ness and the very enlightening etymology of Hindustan :-).. never could imagine it before. Great piece!
    @Shastry: Could not have agreed more with your views.

  10. mandhar deshmuk

    Hindi is NOT our National language.its only official language as per our constitution.
    http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-01-25/india/28148512_1_national-language-official-language-hindi

  11. Saralhindi

    These languages are fading away under the influence Hindi/Urdu (same) unless they are written in different scripts or in India’s simplest nukta and shirorkha free Gujanagari script.Hindi and Urdu may unite under Roman script resembling old Brahmi script.
    If Pakistan can learn Hamari Boli in Urdu why can’t regional states learn Hindustani in their state script.Mother India needs simple script but let the computers decide it’s fate..
    Other local languages and dialects

    Mother tongue No. of speakers[38]
    Bhojpuri 33,099,497
    Rajasthani 18,355,613
    Magadh/Magahi 13,978,565
    Chhattisgarhi 13,260,186
    Haryanvi 7,997,192
    Marwari 7,936,183
    Malvi 5,565,167
    Mewari 5,091,697………..see more here
    Khor
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_India

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biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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