Our Home Minister has talked about the importance of Hindi as a national language. He said, it would ‘strengthen’ national unity. These ideas are not knew which are emerging from Sangh parivar whose vision of India purely the dominance of the Aryan Race led by north Indian brahmins or Banias. The thought of diversity instill fear among them as they want to unify India in everything including what kind of cloths would you like to wear.

I come from Hindi heartland but the fact is in my region of Uttarakhand, people speak so many dialects. I was amazed to see the powerful Garhwali literature. There is already lot of work on both Garhwali and Kumaoni languages. You can not ignore them being mere dialects. Go to UP and you will find the sweetness of Bundelkhandi, beauty of Avadhi, the danda mar, khari boli of Meerut and western Uttar Pradesh, and the vast spectrum of Bhojpuri which crosses both UP and Bihar at the moment and is being celebrated by the non resident Indians too.

Language in India is a contentious issue. I have always maintained that we need to admit the diversity of our culture which include languages, food habits, and living style. All these develop according to our geographical locations.

Our Constitutional forefathers were visionary and understood this thing. Language of a state is basically straight forward related its identity and culture. We must learn from the mistake that Pakistan did immediately after the independence. The Governor General, Mohammad Ali Jinnah was on a visit to Dhaka and was to address a huge gathering at the campus of Dhaka University. Over three lakh people were waiting to hear him and it was a new state so the Muslim sentiments were high, in the East Bengal. It was March 21st, 1948 in the Dhaka University Campus, Jinnah announced proudly : ” “Without one state language, no nation can remain tied up solidly together and function’. This was East Pakistan where the question of language was so powerful irrespective of their religion, people would speak Bengali. The ownership over Bengali language by the people. Some of our friends inform us that the huge crowd went berserk and people started throwing chappals and shoes. There was unrest in Dhaka and other parts of East Pakistan. Jinnah died in September 1948 leaving the issue to be settled by the exported leadership of Pakistan which mainly hailed from Western Uttar Pradesh and Urdu speaking. The unrest was never settled but more and more restriction and cultural barrier were created in the name of the ‘national unity’ and the end is that after 24 years, Pakistan had to finally accept the rise of Bangladesh and got divided.

In India too there have been lots of protests against the imposition of Hindi language on people particularly in the South. Periyar openly opposed it and his views was simple. Tamil was a great language and the state of Tamilnadu had taken tremendous pride in its Tamil Dravidian identity and they would not like to read Hindi language which can never match the literature and power as of Tamil and other such languages which are actually older.

Though there is nothing wrong in learning languages and Hindi has already entered into our homes through our Television channels, news programmes and reality shows. Even people in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka can speak normal ‘kamchalaau’ Hindi if they need to communicate with people. So there is no need to do so raise a controversy. We know Hindi has been promoted and people enjoy curtsies of the Hindi Diwas. I knew a ‘patrakar’ bhai used to take sarkari project on Hindi alone and would go to north East, Goa and southern State. The work was just to organise a meeting, get it published in the newspapers and that was the end. So Hindi gave a lot of ‘services’ to such people whose work was to create chauvinism.

But I want to say things clearly. It is not that leaders have become worried about Hindi and dont know how popular is Amitabh Bachchan’s show Kaun Bangea Carorepati among the people outside Hindi heartland. The problem is that at the moment when the sarkaar should do all its efforts in bringing a sense of belonging among people, rectify the economy as we are heading towards economical recess and disaster. Unfortunately, the Sarkaar is still in election mode. It means they will continue to raise all these issues on regular basis so that you can discuss their performance but only discuss their issues. The bhakts in the Hindi heartland will be happy as if all their economic issues are resolved.

Anyway, please dont get annoyed. These issues will come after every interval, some time at a faster pace. We can say one thing that India progressed and remained united because people wanted it and decided to live together. Those who thing we are united just because we have big military and they can push a danda from the above are mistaken. It is our duty to strengthen the unity and integrity of the country and the only way is to accept our huge diversity as our strength and not rant on imposing a unified agenda which will only harm the country.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist. Twitter @freetohumanity



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