Wednesday, September 10, 2008

IS Hindi the National Language of India?

I live in Mumbai - a pot- pourri of multi-cultural , multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic populace. Local politicians try their hands on whipping the old horses of regionalism, liguistic chauvinism occasionally; but, the city has grown and matured beyond all these trivia.

The recent incidence of an actress Jaya Bachchan calling herself an " UP wala" ( North Indian) and she does not know the local tongue Marathi was not just viewed as a casual remark by the local politicians. Had it been a mere provocation and responded well by a local politician, I would not have bothered to write this - especially after such a long time.

There has always been a story that Hindi is the National Language of India. This is found in the school books, some well recognized websites as well. Many people have told as if it is a fact like Sun Rises In the East.

I could not find any substantiating evidence ( officially ) for this statement. The Indian Constitution ( article 343) merely states that Hindi in the Devanagari script is the official language of Union Government. Official language is different from the National language. At the national level , a few have been accepted and that will be respected in all the states - regardless of the State's whims. For example, the National Anthem is in Bengali . A Tamilian, even if he cannot understand a word of it, has to sing the anthem and respect that. He cannot say that it is not in his mother tongue. So is the case with National Symbols like Ashoka Chakra , national bird, animal , game etc.
But, the constitution does not speak of a National language. It merely talks of the official languages for the Central Government ( English and Hindi) and the State Governments ( States can take their own decision for it's official language).

From where the fallacy of Hindi as a National Language has come?

It could be a fallout of a Hindi Propaganda to make the non-Hindi speaking to embrace Hindi as a communication medium or a popular belief out of the extensive use of Hindi in the Central Government's communications and it's control over the mass media like TV and Radio till the days of globalization.
Whatever the cause, Indians are forced to believe a false statement of a National Language. I am not against Hindi. At the same time, I am not for a statement to make everyone to believe that Hindi is the national language. Leave the decision of learning a language to the common man. He would take what is required for him. If he is an Assamese going to Tamil Nadu, he does not need to learn Hindi. English and Tamil will do.

We don't need a National Language - even by false propaganda.

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