While home minister’s remarks on Hindi (rightly) sparked debate, his views on the country’s rich linguistic scene should be welcomed
GN Bureau | September 16, 2019
Home minister Amit Shah’s remark on the need for a single national language has rightly sparked a debate, but the headlines missed much in his speech about language, culture, and identity.
Giving away Rajbhasha Gaurav Puraskar and Rajbhasha Kirti Puraskar awards on the occasion of Hindi Divas Samaroh, Shah on September 14 said unity and diversity is the strength of our nation, but a national language is needed so that foreign languages do not overpower our own. He also said Gandhiji and Sardar Patel, who forged a united India, appealed people to accept Hindi as the national language. He also quoted Vinoba Bhave and Dr Ram Manohar Lohia in support of the argument.
Urging all to get connected with Hindi, he noted there was unanimous consensus for Hindi as national language in the Constituent Assembly, in spite of the assembly’s sheer diversity. He said that this decision was an important factor in ensuring cultural unity of India. He called for greater use of the national language in all aspects of life. He said that only when we understand the importance of Hindi, can it thrive and prosper.
This triggered sharp reactions, from political leaders, especially of the south, as well as twitterati. Many pointed out the fallacy of the one-nation-one-language argument and some recalled Jinnah’s similar views, which led to the bifurcation of Pakistan and the birth of Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, there was more to Shah’s speech than the call for making Hindi the national language. Here are other remarks from the speech worth perusing:
* Hindi is the language of coexistence. Its growth will never be at the cost of any other language. Hindi is the heart and soul of our freedom struggle. Let us make Hindi the most widely used language in the world.
* India has a high degree of linguistic richness; the nation was home to 122 languages and more than 19500 dialects. The richest languages of the world belong to India. The depth of Indian languages is unparalleled, because of the equally unparalleled depth of Indian culture.
* A country that forgets its language kills its cultural existence. Language connects us to the roots of the nation. If we lose our language, we will be cut off from our culture.
* We must get rid of the inferiority complex towards Hindi and our other languages that has set in due to colonial hangover. We must be proud of our language. Noting the role played by teachers in the growth of languages, he said that teachers and educators must instil a sense of pride about Hindi in students.
Meanwhile, speaking on the occasion, minister of state G Kishan Reddy said that while Telugu was his mother tongue, he had equal love for Hindi, and a mother tongue and the national language must go together. Calling Hindi a source of self-pride for the country, he noted Tamil poet Subramania Bharathi’s love for Hindi. He added that Hindi is India’s greatest social and cultural heritage and is emerging as a powerful cultural capital of India. He remarked that even multinational firms were accepting Hindi as a functional language. He noted the growing popularity of Hindi with India's films, and said that the growth of Hindi on the global stage adds to India's soft power. He advocated a greater use of IT for the development and popularization of Hindi.
As the UN has declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets, the Indian Army has steered introduction of millets flour in the rations of soldiers. This landmark decision will ensure troops are supplied with native and traditional grains after over half a century, when these were discontinued in favour
When discussing digital currency, you might think of one or two well-known varieties. There is the digital representation of currency that you access with mobile and online banking services. This currency is the liability of a commercial bank. There is also cryptocurrency, a digital medium of exchange issu
The Indian President: An Insider’s Account of the Zail Singh Years By K.C. Singh HarperCollins, 312 pages, Rs.699
Bipin: The Man Behind the Uniform By Rachna Bisht Rawat Penguin, 207 pages, Rs 599 On the morning of 8 December 202
In Love, At Ease: Everyday Spirituality with Pramukh Swami By Yogi Trivedi Penguin Random House, 360 pages, Rs 499 Spirituali
Taking note of Mumbai’s rising air pollution and deteriorating air quality in the recent months, the BMC has attributed rising dust levels to different large-scale development and construction works combined with changes in the wind speed conditions. It has constituted a seven-member committee, which