Reactionary politics in India, and the Indian State itself, seek to promote Hindi and thwart development of other languages and nationalities, not only those of South India, but notably also those in north India. The term “Hindi States” is an artificial construct meant for the same purpose. Whole languages were undermined and shown as “dialects”.
The policy on languages and states is driven by political interests of the ruling classes and their parties rather than any objective, democratic and scientific criteria.
Modi’s BJP government in a hurry made a special law in the latest monsoon session of the parliament and declared Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi as official languages in Jammu and Kashmir, in addition to Urdu and English. It readily got Presidential Assent on Sep 26.
It is a part of its continued efforts to dismantle and disintegrate the political status J&K had. Kashmiri is spoken by around 7 million, mostly Pandits. Dogri is spoken by 2.6 million people as per 2011 Census. They are spoken in POK also, it is to be noted, which will be brought under India’s physical control as Home Minister Amit Shah had asserted last year in parliament.
They were accorded a Status by being listed in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution : Kashmiri in the beginning itself, as Constitution was drafted soon after the First Kashmir war in 1947.
And Dogri in 2003, by 92nd Amendment, along with Bodo, Santhali, Maithili, by Vajpayee regime of BJP-NDA.
Earlier, by 71st Amendment, Manipuri, Nepali, Konkan were added in 1992, by PV regime of Congress.
In all, 7 languages were added, to 15 in the Schedule 8. All these additions are languages spoken by smaller populations, and the decisions were driven by some narrow political motives of the rulers, rather than meeting their aspirations.
Bihar is going to polls soon. But no party, ruling or opposition, raised the Bhojpuri issue. They are more interested to divide the voters on communal and caste lines, than responding to linguistic-political aspirations, for instance of Bhojpuris.
Bhojpuri, among others, is not accorded a due official status, despite a long pending and justified demand. It is estimated to be spoken by about 15 crore people, 8 in Bihar and 7 in UP, apart from Jharkhand.
The United Nations has published the universal declaration of human rights in Bhojpuri and Sarnámi, one of 154 languages of the world.
About 51 million people got themselves enumerated as Bhojpuri-speaking ( recorded as a sub-group of Hindi for technical reasons ) in 2011 census. Unless consciously insisted, they are counted as Hindi-speaking. Bhojpuri has its own media, newspapers and hundreds of films made in it. If it were same as Hindi, how is this possible?
It is spoken in contiguous areas of western Bihar, adjoining Eastern UP ( poorvanchal demand is there ), and North west Jharkhand. Thus it can claim a due official status. Despite all this, it is treated as a second rate language.
It is one such language separately taught in Bihar’s schools, and universities. It is a second language in Jharkhand schools. It is not a dialect of Hindi, has many of its own dialects in Bihar and including four in eastern UP.
This map shows the rich linguistic diversity of Bihar that is denied to show it as a Hindi State. It marks areas of Bhojpuri, Mythili, Magahi etc, with their dialects too.
One Ravikant Dubey had petitioned that Bhojpuri be one of the official languages of India (Times of India, 2012 Jan 23). Due to the persistent demand from Bhojpuri language activists to recognise it as an official language, P Chidambaram, then Union Home Minister, announced 17h May 2012 to Lok Sabha speaker a few lines in Bhojpuri : “hum rauwa sabke bhavna samjhatani (I understand your feelings)”, proposing to include Bhojpuri in 8th Schedule of the Constitution and accorded the official status. It remains unfulfilled.
The concept of linguistic states was initiated in Andhra of 1956, but the principle was not accepted nor implemented, particularly in North India. It was always narrow political interests that dictated the policy.
Seven languages were added to 8th schedule in the last 20 years. But for instance, not Bhojpuri, spoken by about 15 crore people. Why? This is to see that the hegemony of Hindi is maintained, and not undermined, in the name of “Hindi states”, a misnomer often.
Languages Are Treated As Dialects , And Vice Versa
“In fact, when East India company arrived, there was no Hindi language as we know it now. Bihar was called as Northern Frontier Province, and people there spoke at least four different languages before Hindi arrived there. Some of them had their own scripts, had official status too.”
The above, and similar lines about UP, are from an article written (around 2011) in the context of a movement for separate Telangana, before its formation in 2014. One of the dialects spoken in Telangana, of Telugu, was presented as a distinct language it was not.
When there are so many Hindi states, why not two or three Telugu states? That was the argument of certain ruling class groups of Telangana, based on a false interpretation of a dialect of Telugu as a distinct and separate language.
Intellectuals from Telangana including linguists were mostly overtaken by separate state chauvinism; they deserted scientific principles of linguistics; some who knew the folly kept silent, or rather silenced by rabid chauvinism. That was the context in which the article was written.
Some of them had then named the dialect as Amma Bhasha, replacing the word matru Bhasha, mother tongue. They said it should be the medium of instruction in schools, not “Andhra language” of the latter region. After formation of Telangana, however, the government ditched the Amma (mother), and went “patriarchal”: They promoted English as the medium of instruction in schools. The chauvinists who had harped on Amma Bhasha, now again kept silent or acted as accomplices of the rulers. After some protests, it was assured, mercifully, that Telugu will be given its due place. Similar is the case with Andhra Pradesh.
While in Telangana, a false interpretation was made of a dialect of Telugu as a distinct and separate language, it was a case of reverse in north India: The reality there was several older languages were misrepresented and shown as dialects of Hindi, a newly evolved language, by the ruling classes. We mentioned Bhojpuri above.
Thus development of those ( non-Hindi) languages in the North, and evolution of associated distinct nationalities, was sought to be thwarted by the State.
In UP, the Centre of Hindi chauvinism, displayed by Tripathis, Tiwaris to Lohias, English medium in schools was initiated by the regime of Mulayam, a rabid Hindi advocate. That policy was greatly expanded by the BJP government in 2018 by converting 5000 Govt primary schools to English medium. “ The move will give fresh impetus to education in UP ” Anupama Jaiswal, Education Minister said.
Now the BJP’s Modi govt prescribes, in its NEP, mother tongue as the medium of instruction. It is sheer duplicity.
Hindi Bias in the Constitution
Indian Constitution dealt with the language question in Articles 343 to 351. It is constantly misrepresented by several authorities, experts and media. You ask any one what is the the National Language of India, the most likely answer would be HINDI, as if Hindi is the National Language, which it is not.
That was what was attempted when Home Minister Amit Shah in September 2019 said : “ It is absolutely essential that the entire country has one language that becomes the identity of the nation in the world.” Only Hindi could unite the country. And it is a national responsibility that Hindi expands and prospers, he said on Hindi Diwas. (The Indian Express, Sep 15, 2019.)
He however later clarified, when met with vociferous protests from non-Hindi states, that he was not for imposing Hindi, but reiterated the need for promotion of Hindi. It is part of the “One Nation” politics promoted in an India that is multi-national, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual. To be fair to BJP, it was not alone in this nefarious game. Congress was at it, but was resisted by non- Hindi states, and dearly paid for it in Tamilnadu. Hindi zealots of North India are one in it. Ram Manohar Lohia, Mulayam Singh etc are examples.
This bias for Hindi and bias for “One Nation” politics is built into the Indian Constitution. It was stiff opposition that thwarted Hindi imposition even at the time it was being drafted. Still, informally, the idea is inbuilt in the false notion of Hindi as the national language.
Article 343 actually says “the official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script.” That is how the idea of Hindi as the national language of the whole country is deceptively worded. This distinction was part of the debate in the Constituent Assembly itself, some wanted it as THE national language of the whole country. It was strongly resisted and so the above formulation , official and of the Union, was retained.
Amidst lot of opposition to imposition of Hindi, clause 343(2) says “English shall continue to be used for all the official purposes of the Union” for a period of 15 years from 1950. However, due to recurrent strong protests from non-Hindi states, it was assured that English shall continue (indefinitely).
Article 344 however hints at “progressive use of Hindi”…It does not stop there. It speaks of “ restrictions on use of English.”
Article 345, mischievously titled as Regional Languages, (as if Hindi is not a regional languages), however says states can adopt “any one or more of the languages in use”, or Hindi, as the official language in that state. English of course shall continue to be used.
Article 351 betrays the Hindi bias and provides for a “ Directive for development of the Hindi language” as a duty of the Union.
What were passed off, wrongly and for long , as Hindi states and Hindi dialects needed to be given a new and separate status. They were not Hindi dialects at all.
Thus in 8th Schedule of the Constitution 22 languages are listed, including those that were originally listed. More were added, to meet and neutralize the rising aspirations by 71st Amendment, Dogri, Manipuri, Nepali, Konkan in 1992; by 92nd in 2003-04,Bodos, Santhali, Maithili.
As per the Union Home Ministry, demands for inclusion are there, kept pending, from 38 more languages, including those spoken and claimed as mother tongue by crores of people like Bhojpuri , Magahi, and Chattisgarhi. But the Modi govt pushes only the latest Bill for Kashmir.
It is to be noted that Sindhi, the official language of Sindh province of Pakistan, but of no state in India, was added by 21st Amendment in 1967; two years after 1965 war with Pakistan. Why Sindh is added, and others are not included is a question by itself.
DV Rao (1917-1984, communist revolutionary and former MP) had raised this issue, while rejecting the One Nation and Two Nations theories, explained about a multi-national India in his 1971 Statement before the Court. He took into account the democratic aspirations in the north and asserted, “The linguistic areas of Hindi are not homogeneous. People of different dialects, having their own literature and culture, have characteristics enough to develop into separate nations, Rajasthan has already developed in that direction. It is possible that some more also develop likewise.”
In fact, Hindi literature is hardly 200-250 years old. Whereas written literature of other languages, wrongly listed as Hindi dialects, began centuries before that ( say 1300 AD onwards ), not to speak of oral literatures.
At the same time he rejected anti-Hindi chauvinism and the contention of a “Hindi imperialism,” as “unreal and unscientific”, having ‘no economic foundation.”
“The language policy of the ruling classes is a part of their reactionary and anti-people policies. They are following the footsteps of the imperialists in this respect also.” The victims include those of north India and Hindi-speaking people.
(People’s Democratic Revolution In India, 1971, p.211-212)
They Can Not All Be Lumped As “Hindi States”, Which Is A Misnomer!
There was a day when entire South Indians were lumped together as Madrasis. It was laughed at as ignorance of the north Indians. The fact is, north or south, ignorance, opportunism and chauvinism go together in these matters.
For an average South Indian, or even a journalist or a politician or a quiz master , UP, MP, Bihar, Himachal, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan once constituted “Hindi states”. Three more were added in 2000 AD: Uttaranchal ( renamed uttarakhand), Jharkhand, Chattisgarh. The population of all these states adds up to some 46 crore as per 2001 census.
In 2011 census, 43.63% of population are listed as Hindi speaking. They include those speaking distinct languages like Bhojpuri, including those who asserted Bhojpuri, not Hindi, is their mother tongue. The enumerator, who represents the state, records them as Hindi speaking.
Bhojpuri, Haryanvi, Braj, Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Bundeli, Bagheli, Kannauji etc all are lumped together as Hindi languages. So also Chattisgarhi and Jharkhandi, and Pahadi, Kumaoni, though three states were formed. Some misrepresent even Rajasthani as Hindi.
This and such other questions were discussed in the article , mentioned in the beginning, written (around 2011) in the context of a movement for separate Telangana. Information about North Indian languages is taken from Wikipedia etc. Extracts from that are given below. (Data is old, 2011 Census data was not yet available.).
Beneath The The Camouflage Of Hindi States
Is it a fact that those shown as Hindi-speaking are really so? A little study brings out the following highlights.
There are 1652 mother tongues listed in India officially, and 22 languages in 8th schedule of the Constitution. And some more are to be added to that list.
The newly carved out states of Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh have their own distinct languages, literatures, some have separate official status and scripts of their own.
Maithili ( spoken by 4 crore people ) and Santhali which we had lumped up as part of Hindi states were officially given separate language status ( 8th schedule) in 2003. Some more are in the queue, like Bhojpuri (15 crores). But they are shown as Hindi-speaking.
In earlier times , UP was actually called United ProvinceS, and MP as Central ProvinceS. Mark the plural. They were not compact entities, nor Hindi-speaking states.
In fact, when East India company arrived, there was no Hindi language as we know it now. Bihar was called as Northern Frontier province, and people there spoke at least four different languages before Hindi arrived there. Some of them had their own scripts, had official status too.
Haryana has a population of 2.1 crore( 2001), nearly 70 percent of whom speak Haryanvi, which has a separate identity as a second language, with 55 percent Haryanvi literacy, as different from 68 percent claimed for Hindi.
Rajasthan was called as United States of Rajasthan in 1948 period. Now it has a population of 5.64 crore including about 1.6 crore people who speak Marwari, now in the queue to be listed in the 8th schedule. It has its own script. Mewari is another language spoken by 52 lakh people. Bagri is spoken by 20 lakh people.
Then there are Mewati, Shekhawati, Hadoti, Dundhari and several other tongues. All these have distinct geographical areas. Braj is spoken in east Rajasthan. If you can call Gondi, Savara, and koya languages as Telugu, we can call these as Hindi. Obviously we can not. Rajasthani is the lingua franca that is evolving, but with distinct claims by Marwari and the like.
Himachal Pradesh has its own pahadi group of languages. Kinnauri is a distinct language with its own territory.
The case of south Indian languages is different from Hindi. They evolved as distinct languages, with different scripts, separate preserved written literatures which are at least 1000 years old. Tamil claims and has greater ancestry. What happened in 1953-56 was not separation, but actually integration and reorganization of states on linguistic basis. Therefore their reorganization on linguistic basis could not be stopped. Andhra Rashtra ( it has a distinct connotation) was a pioneer in this regard., and soon emerged as AP though people could not, and were not allowed to, unite as one nationality.
It is ironic that separatists who claim a separate status for Telangana dialect (it is definitely not a distinct language, not even one dialect, but a group of dialects), lump scores of distinct languages as one HINDI with several states and base their argument on that. It is a tragedy that scores of Telangana’s reputed social scientists, writers, linguists and (so-called ?) revolutionaries–not to speak of degenerate politicians– are party to this unscientific outlook, to this opportunism and perfidy.
Evolution of nationalities and nations
It was part of world-wide process of formation of distinct nations and evolution of emerging nationalities. This process was completed in west Europe before 1900 AD, and began in East Europe after 1900. While most of them evolved into distinct nation states like Germany, France, England, Spain, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland , some developed into multi-national states like USSR, Yugoslavia, and India. Soviet Union and Yugoslavia later broke into nation states by and large. India evolved into a Union of States and still undergoing a churning process.
Now let us see what is the reality of the claim of one Hindi and several states.
Bhojpuri, mother tongue of 15 crore people
This map shows Bhojpuri area that is contiguous
As of now, it is not yet listed in 8th schedule, but people have their own way: they have distinct literature, different world-wide academies.
Wikipedia says it is chiefly spoken in the Purvanchal region of Uttar Pradesh, in the western part of Bihar state, and in the northwestern part of Jharkhand in India. Bhojpuri is one of the national / official languages of Nepal, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Fiji and Suriname.
Bhojpuri speaking region is bounded by the Awadhi-speaking region to the west, Madhesh to the north, Magahi– and Maithili-speaking regions to the east, and Magahi– and Bagheli-speaking regions to the south. Bhojpuri was historically written in Kaithi scripts, but since 1894, Devanagari has served as the primary script.
Bhojpuri has its own kaithi script, used since at least 16th century until early 20th century; it was written in both kaithi and Nasta’liq ( Persian script) for sometime, and kaithi had replaced Persian script in courts and offices 1880s onwards. During those times it was known as the language of Northern Frontier Province language.
British India standardized the script, used it in offices and courts . It was the medium of written instruction in primary schools. It continued to be used as such in some distrticts into 1960s. Devnagari was introduced as late as in 1894.
Babu Ram Smaranlal wrote his stories ( 1898) in Kaithi. Padmasri Sarda Sinha is the koel of Bhojpuri folk songs, Bhikari Thakur is known as the Shakespeare of Bhojpuri theatre. Rahul Samkrtyayan wrote some of his writings in Bhojpuri. Swami Sahajananda Saraswati was a great peasant leader-orator in Bhojpuri. They have their own – not Hindi – media : newspapers (five), magazines (the Sunday Indian has a Bhojpuri version etc. ), TV channels ( Mahua, Hamar etc.), websites and wikipedia in Bhojpuri and scores of Bhojpuri cinemas too. Modern Hindi evolved with Bhojpuri as one of its bases.
And it is deemed as a dialect of Hindi, ie., like callig a mother as the daughter!
Magadhi (Magahi, some say) is another Bihari language spoken by about 2 crore people. Bhojpuri, Magadhi, and Maithili are three major languages of Bihar, after separation of Jharkhand, and they are spoken in distinct geographical zones, with some overlap in course of modern development.
Maithili, listed in the 8th schedule, but not Bhojpuri
Linked to ancient Mithila where Sita that is Maithili was supposedly born. It is spoken ( in Bihar etc ) by some 4.5 crore people, though officially only 1.22 crore people ( not a small number) were listed in the census (2001). It is the enumerating staff who enter the data and illiterates do not and can not insist otherwise, it should be noted. It has two major variants, the north Bihari and the Angika in east Bihar and adjoining Jharkhand areas. And it is listed in the 8th schedule as a distinct language, by popular demand in 2003.
It has distinct script(s) : Mithilakshar, relegated by Hindi promoted by the govts., is sought to be preserved. Tirhuta and Kaithi are its other scripts. ( There are some languages with more than one script, like Konkani written in kannada, Marathi and Devnagari.) With a modern grammar prepared by George Abraham Grierson, it is used in official correspondence too .
Sahitya Academy gives prizes for Maithili works separately from Hindi. It has rich and old literary tradition dating back to Varna Ratnakaram (1224 AD) by Jyothiswar Thakur . Vidyapati was its most popular poet ( known as soul of Mithila ) and even today no celebration goes without his songs. There is a Vidyapati samaroh every year.( His Bengali works are also famous. There were kingdoms including today’s Bihar and W.Bengal.
Bihar was separated from Bengal in 1911-12 period, amidst demands for linguistic provinces. Lord Hardinge wrote to the Secretary of State of India : “We are satisfied that it is in the highest degree desirable to give the Hindi-speaking people now included within the province of Bengal, a separate administration.”
He got a positive reply dated 1911 November 1 and thus Bihar was perhaps the first linguistic province formed, though the British had their own strategies. ( Cited by KV Narayana Rao, p.30-31 in The Emergence of AP, 1973).
In fact, it is said, it was Vidyapati ( 1350-1450 period ) who got it an official status, replacing Sanskrit, by Raja of Darbhanga( there is a constituency by that name in Bihar today).
Besides the above two, in UP Avadhi is spoken by 2 crore people, Kanauji by one crore people. Geographically, far east UP has Bhojpuri, and west of it is Awadhi, then kanauj in central UP, and far western UP has Braj Bhasha .
Braj and Awadhi were the original literary languages of this part of North India, which were precursors for modern Hindi, like Bhojpuri and Mathili mentioned earlier. Hindi in fact developed as a lingua franca with official patronage, including Urdu dialects also.
Bhakti poetry of Tulsidas , Surdas, Gurudas, Amir Khusro’s sufi poetry were all written in these languages , not Hindi as we know it now. There is Brajbhoomi demand ( we know it as the land of Kamsa , krishna’s uncle ) covering far west UP, east Rajasthan ( Bharatpur and Dhaulpur ), and south Haryana ( Faridabad, Gurgaon), Delhi- Mathura road , all a contiguous region. Mayawati’s BSP supports it as also Bundelkhand . Southern UP ( Jhansi to Banda zone) , and adjoining districts of MP speak Bundeli , with Bundelkhand as a demand And we lump them all as Hindi !
Uttarakhand , not a Hindi state, has its own languages
We often hear arguments if three Hindi states could be divided into six, why not break up AP too. Take Uttarakhand separated from UP. Out of its 85 lakh population (2001), 40 lakh speak Garhwali , mostly in west of the state, and 24 lakh (1998 data) spoke Kumaoni, in eastern parts of the state. The rest speak several allied languages linguists classify under pahadi group of languages. In fact, they are distinct languages. For instance, Kumaoni has its own script, and it is officially taken as a second language with 58 percent literacy rate. They are not Hindi dialects
Chattisgarhi is an official language and has 8 dialects of its own !
Chattisgarh carved out of MP in 2000 AD has its own official language, different from MP. Chhattisgarhi Language is a rich Indo -Aryan language and is spoken in almost all the parts of Chattisgarh.
Out of its more than 2 crore population, Chattisgarhi is spoken by 1.15 crore people, as per dated statistics. It is regarded as an official language along with Hindi. Linguists treat it as a distinct language, and not as a dialect, and it has 8 dialects of its own ! The rest speak several tribal and other languages ( some are a part of Dravidian family, nearer to Telugu, some borrow from Munda ), adding up to 90 dialects. The state has a rich tradition of folk songs and folk theatre. Habib Tanvir ( Charandas Chor) restored its pride of place.
Jharkhand , a land of tribal languages and adivasi struggles
Jharkhand literally means the land of jungles and bushes and was carved out of Bihar in 2000AD as a predominantly tribal state ( 28 percent STs ,and 12 percent SCs ) with 32 ST groups. It has a history of tribal rulers since 1200 AD, Santhali and Munda tribal rajas being noted among them. It was known as Jharkhand since 1765 when British East India company came to control it. 70 percent of its 2.7 crore population speak Jharkhandi group of tribal languages, Santhali, Mundari, Ho, and some speak the Dravidian tribal languages which include Oraon (Kurukh), and Korwa. They have distinct geographical spread.
Santhali has a modern Olchiki script, now in use. Likewise Warang chiti Script is used by Ho. Tolongsiki Script is developed for Kurux (Oraon)language though not much in use. 10 percent speak Bengali, in areas adjoining Bengal.
The period of revolts of the Adivasis ( Santhals Oraons Mundas Hos) to protect their Jharkhand land took place from 1771 to 1900 CE. The Santhal insurrection broke out in 1855 under the leadership of two brothers Sidhu and Kanhu. Then Birsa Munda revolt, broke out in 1895 and lasted till 1900. It was the longest and the greatest tribal revolt in Jharkhand. It was also the last tribal revolt in Jharkhand. All of these uprisings were quelled by the British through massive deployment of troops across the region.
How can this land of tribal languages (70 percent population speak them, 10 percent speak Bengali) , and adivasi strugles be called a Hindi state?
“Hindi written Devnagari script” the Constitution specifies
Kaithi script was used for administrative purposes in the Mughal era for writing Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Maithili, Urdu, Magahi and Hindi from at least the 16th century up to the first decade of the 20th century.
By 1894, official texts in Bihar were written in Kaithi and Devanagari.
It was so popular that Government gazetteers report that Kaithi was used in a few districts of Bihar through the 1960s. Bhojpuris who were indentured labour in Africa and the Caribbeans mostly used Kaithi.
“Hindi written Devnagari script” the Constitution specifies, not only to deny that status to Urdu script that was used by crores of people, including “Hindu” writers like Kishan chander , but to deny it to crores of Hindus.
The reactionary, undemocratic, and discriminatory language policies that were pursued by British imperialists were inherited by the Congress regime after 1947 August. The British sought to impose English as the official language.
In a country where after seven decades of independence, real functional literacy, the ability to read and write in mother tongue, is hardly 25%, the first and foremost task is to rectify that situation.
Instead of that, the Congress regimes continued a so-called three language policy, which in effect added Hindi to English as a burden. While the South India (except Tamilnadu) tried it, others in the North did not implement it. Those who migrate and need it for their livelihood would learn any language(s). Congress mouthed the slogan of unity in diversity but neglected the development of the non-Hindi languages including those in the so-called Hindi states.
The BJP claimed it is a party with a difference, but its Modi-led government is basically going along the same path more deceptively. The double yoke of English and Hindi is continued by it.
The need for one or more link languages for certain purposes should not be mixed up with the basic needs of people. Imposition of any language on the masses of people is undemocratic, and should be rejected.
India claims to be the largest democracy, a big power with nuclear and satellite technologies, and seeks a permanent seat in Security Council. If it can not treat all its nationalities and their languages as equal, what worth is it? The USSR had 15 Republics and around 30 crore population when it collapsed. All languages of the Republics were dejure official. For an India with 130 crore people, it should not be difficult to accord a similar status to all the Scheduled languages, after revising the same.
The struggle for real and complete democracy, in multi-national India, should reject the reactionary One Nation Policy, and the discriminatory and arbitrary language policy, pursued by the ruling classes and their parties. All major languages of all nationalities must be treated as national, official and equal.
(Author was a mediaperson)