India is a country with ‘unity in its diversity’ and this is what we are taught since our childhood and we are proud to be born in such a country that has such diverse cultures and languages. It is said that in India, with every few miles, the languages and its dialects start to change and this is the beauty of the nation. India is home to about ‘121 major languages’ (spoken by more than 10,000 people) according to the 2011 census, with ‘22 recognized scheduled languages’ and ‘2 official languages’ that are Hindi and English.
We are home to the largest number of languages in the world, but still, when it comes to representing India on any International platform it becomes hard for us to choose one of our languages, and thus we rely on the imperialist language which was imposed upon us years ago. The language which was used by the oppressors has successfully made its way into our lifestyles nowadays and is even considered as a ‘symbol of literacy’ by the folks irrespective of the other knowledge which a person may possess. We are so used to this language that we even find it easier to write our native languages in the English alphabets and we commonly use its words with our languages.
All these things may seem to be natural today but these are the slow steps towards ‘another form of colonisation’ by the western world. Some people may argue that this is the global language and hence is the need of the hour to be learned to have the same pace of development with the western world but those people need to understand the fact, that most of the ‘Asian Giants’ including China, Japan, South Korea and Russia are the worst performers in English and almost all of the ‘Eastern-Europe’ struggles to have a word when it comes to speaking in the so-called global language.
So why are we Indians are proud to be the World’s second-largest English speakers? Because it makes us look educated and modern in front of others? A country with more than a ‘billion population’ and hundreds of languages can’t even promote one of its languages on an International platform such as ‘United Nations’ where English and Chinese languages enjoy the privilege. If we talk about the most spoken languages of the world then ‘Hindi’ stands still in the third position only after English and Mandarin Chinese.
We are not far away from the day when Hindi will become one of the most used languages in the world, but that day will only be possible if our brothers and sisters from all parts of the country start learning this language, so that we can stand strong on the International grounds. Some people may think that promoting Hindi to all parts of India would be nothing more than a mere political agenda but those people need to understand the importance of having a ‘National Language’ across the country to ease the ways of communication throughout the nation.
Today, English is commonly used in almost all the government procedures from the judiciary to interstate matters and it is such a pity that a country with so many languages is bound to use a foreign language for many of its official purposes. Hence, it becomes our responsibility to promote a common Indian language throughout, to further unite people from all the regions of society. In such a diverse nation we would have at least one thing in common and that would be our language. Imagine when around a billion people start to speak a language unanimously, then how come the world will ignore us. We will enjoy the same status and privileges, as are being enjoyed by the English speaking countries.
Many ‘Non-Hindians’ have a notion in their mind that speaking Hindi would affect their culture and is a ploy by the North Indians to promote and impose their language to them. But hypocrisy lies when the same Non-Hindians are ready to speak the English language and they are almost as fluent as Shakespeare, but they never feel the same about it affecting their culture. We can preserve our culture besides learning one more language and that too a language that is spoken by more than 44% of the country’s population. ‘Culture defines our identity and language is used to express it, so changing the medium of expression would not change our identity’.
There are various areas where we are lagging only because of lack of national languages, like trade, education, and research, areas of national security like military, jobs in multi-domains, politics, etc. The lack of national language (common language) acts as a barrier to the progress of the nation. Even Gandhi Ji used to believe that for the unification of the country, having a common language is important and ‘Hindustani’ (Hindi and Urdu in Devanagari script) being the ‘language of the majority’ was to be adopted by the nation. His views were backed by Sardar Patel.
And later in 1965, when the government decided to give Hindi the ‘Status of National Language’, there were mass protests in the south due to the political leaders who misguided people to let them remain divided from the mainstream politics and have their own ‘regional supremacy’ over the state. These politicians and local leaders in the name of preserving their culture have managed to let the country divided, whenever there is a voice supporting the need for a common language. They fear their loss of power and political agenda, and thus keep the local people away from the ‘national goals and progress’.
For those people who still think that English could remain as a source of commonality in India should think that we can’t have a foreign language as a common language which does not even relate to our culture and people and is a sad reminder of ‘Colonisation of India’. Moreover, according to a ‘2005 Indian Human Development Survey’ only around 8% of Indians are fluent in English, which leaves only Hindi as the largest majority language.
India is not the only nation with such a diverse culture, there are many nations in the world which have diversity but still share a ‘common ground’ in terms of a national language. For instance, Indonesia had an estimated 600 languages but it was in the early 20th century when they realized the importance of a common language for the development of the nation and ‘Malay’ which was spoken by less than 5% of the population (their majority) was chosen and today it has been effective in uniting the nation and creating a strong national identity, promoting education and literacy throughout the nation.
Note: This article is not against any other regional Indian language, it is just for the sake of telling people the importance of having a common language throughout the nation for better development. And look at the irony of the situation, that this article written for promoting the use of our national languages is itself written in English, just to make sure that everyone could read it and understand the message, as still many people would face difficulty in understanding the language of their own nation.