Is It Fair To Expect All Politicians To Deliver Only Hindi Speeches?

Is It Fair To Expect All Politicians To Deliver Only Hindi Speeches?

We’re a country of incredible diversity, hypocrisy and paradoxes. On one hand we’re proud of the twenty two ‘official’ languages our countrymen speak, conveniently forgetting the 150 others that exist at times, yet impose Hindi on everyone as the language of the nation. Interestingly, however, though Hindi and the devanagari script is held as the dominant language of India, our constitution belies this notion. In fact, we as a nation do not have any national language.

You are free to speak, or not speak, any language in any region - theoretically. Yet, for the last six years the Committee of Parliament on Official Languages (CPOL) has filed 117 recommendations regarding the popularisation of Hindi in India. In what has now become quite a controversial move, President Pranab Mukherjee accepted several of these recommendations - the most contested being that all dignitaries, including the President, Prime Minister and Ministers, will have to give their speeches only in Hindi if they can read and speak the language.

Among the other accepted recommendations is the inclusion of Hindi on Air India tickets, having Hindi magazines and newspapers on board and making Hindi a compulsory subject for students from class 8 to class 10 in all CBSE and Kendriya Vidyalaya schools through a proper policy with consultations with the state governments.

Now, here’s where the issue lies - other than the imposition of a language instead of promoting it to people - the 2001 Census reported that 45 percent of Indians speak or know Hindi. But, as points out in their report, “In reality, only about 26% of Indians in the 2001 census reported that Hindi was their mother tongue. But the census also counts speakers of more than 49 other related linguistic traditions and dialects as Hindi speakers. As a result, people who listed their mother tongues as Bhojpuri, Haryanvi, Maghadi, Marwari, Garhwali and scores of others were also categorised as Hindi speakers.”

The imposition of Hindi has not only been rejected by South Indians but has led to agitations on many occasions. In this instance, it’s great for those Ministers who understand the language to listen to another’s speech, but what of the Ministers who don’t fully comprehend what is being said? Will this not make understanding Hindi, if not speaking it, a necessity to keep up with the proceedings of the government? If Hindi newspapers are being made available in particular on flights, why not those in other regional languages as well? The fact is that this move has disconnected a large part of the Indian population - knowingly, or unknowingly.

Only time will tell how this move plays out, and hopefully this won’t be the beginning of Hindi domination era, considering it has not worked out well in the past. You can read more about the CPOL’s recommendations in this article by Economic Times.

Representational feature image via VG News

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