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Hindi Is Spoken By 44% Population, Yet Why Do We Shy Away From It?

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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.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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