Alas, Hindi will never unite India – T.J.S. George

Amit Shah Cartoon

T.J.S. GeorgeIn what looks like a revolution, the UP Government recently made 15,000 primary and upper primary schools switch to English as the medium of instruction. – T.J.S. George

Amit Shah has cultivated the image of a clever politician. May be he is clever. May be not. The stance on Hindi that he announced a few days ago showed no signs of cleverness. It showed how he could wade into an emotional issue, make a mess of it with his politicking, and gain nothing in the end.

Hindi, he said, should act as India’s link language. Mahatma Gandhi said that, too. Where the Mahatma failed, can Amit Shah succeed? The Hindi issue is immersed in unsolvable complications, and no one will gain anything by ignoring that reality. Hindi will never be a uniting influence. It will be the opposite. By refusing to accept the reality, a politician will merely lose his relevance.

Why is Hindi unable to function as a uniting influence? To those with an open mind, the answer is clear. Hindi is the first language of nearly 57 per cent of Indians. North Indians, that is. Unfortunately, this gives them a proprietary complex that others will never accept. While Hindi is the language of North Indians, South Indians have a different culture and a different concept of life. The twain shall not meet, either in matters of food, or in matters of dress, or in matters of history. The tactical advantages North Indians gain through Hindi makes South Indians more resentful.

The complications of a Hindi-for-India Policy became evident in Amit Shah’s home state just as he was advocating Hindi. In a public statement, the Gujarat Government said that ‘‘all signboards should be in Gujarati.’’ Signboards are meant for people who are strangers to a place. If strangers are given signboards only in local languages, what purpose will it serve other than boosting the parochial pride of local netas? Such questions are irrelevant when linguistic emotionalism wipes out everything else.

Civilisationally, Hindi has not advanced as some other Indian languages have. Number and size have nothing to do with the eminence of a language. Some pertinent points on this subject were made recently by A.R. Rahman, the music director. Remember he was born as A.S. Dileep Kumar in a Mudaliar family. He thought Amit Shah’s lecture on Hindi should not go unchallenged. He said: ‘‘It is easy to divide people. … This is a time to celebrate differences. Tamil is a language that links people with people.’’

Amit Shah must have been flabbergasted to hear that about Tamil. To him, Amit Shah is the element that links people with people. How can a South Indian language usurp that place? We can see what makes people like Rahman good human beings and people like Amit Shah slimy operators. What Shah projects as a link to unite people is in fact a device to divide people. He knows how language can stir people’s emotions. His suggestion to use Hindi as a link language was a provocation, and a deliberate one. He must have known that his idea would be divisive at best. Obviously, he is the kind of leader who hopes to benefit from dividing people.

Hindi divides not only politically and emotionally. It has a bread-and-butter side to it which is even more divisive. Native Hindi speakers will have a clear advantage over others when it comes to employment opportunities. Uttar Pradeshis and Madhya Pradeshis and Biharis will beat Telugus and Kannadigas and Malayalees with ease in the job market where language abilities are a primary factor.

The ‘‘job market’’ is finally forcing the zealots to lie low. In UP, many schools have started giving importance to English. In what looks like a revolution, the UP Government recently made 15,000 primary and upper primary schools switch to English as the medium of instruction. Reports said that the objective of the policy switch was to develop the English-speaking skills of children studying in government schools so that they can compete effectively with students coming from convent-run schools.

When realities like these are taken into account, the harm done by people like Amit Shah becomes obvious. A.R. Rahman exposed Shah’s small-mindedness when he said that Tamil, not Hindi as Shah said, was India’s connecting language. Sangam literature, the earliest flowering of Tamil, goes back to 3000 BC. The first grammar book in Tamil appeared in 3000 BC. People like Amit Shah probably cannot comprehend things like ‘‘3000 BC.’’ After all, for him history began in 2014 when BJP won power. The moral of the story is clear: Amit Shah’s Hindi gambit won’t work. India’s link language will be English. Ask those 15,000 schools in UP which is ruled by a yogi who never speaks English. – The New Indian Express, 18 April 2022

SEE Ambedkar proposed Sanskrit as national language: S.A. Bobde – PTI

A.R. Rahman's Poster

2 Responses

  1. Sita Ram Goel often said it was a mistake to promote Hindi as a national language. It simply would not be accepted in the southern states. He and Ram Swarup did think Sanskrit would work as a national language as Sanskrit and Sanskrit-related words and terms are embedded in all Indian languages including Tamil and Malayalam.

    Dr Ambedkar had proposed Sanskrit as the national language. See HERE.


  2. PM Narendra Modi & CJI  N.V. Ramana

    PM Modi bats use of local languages in courts, says will boost confidence – Press Trust of India – Business Standard – New Delhi – April 30, 2022

    Human sensitivities are involved and they should be kept in the centre of all deliberations, Modi said.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday made a strong pitch for use of local languages in courts, contending that it will increase the confidence of common citizens in the justice system and they will feel more connected to it.

    He also appealed to chief ministers and chief justices of high courts to give priority to cases related to undertrial prisoners languishing in jails and release them, as per law, based on human sensitivities, and asserted that judicial reform is not merely a policy matter.

    Human sensitivities are involved and they should be kept in the centre of all deliberations, Modi said.

    In every district there is a committee headed by the district judge, so that these cases can be reviewed and wherever possible, such prisoners may be released on bail, the prime minister said.

    “I would appeal to all CMs and CJs of high courts to give priority to these matters on the basis of humanitarian sensibility and the law,” he said.

    Addressing the inaugural session of the joint conference of chief ministers and chief justices of high courts, being held after a gap of six years, the prime minister said a group is looking into making legislations in two formats — one in typical legal language and the other in simple language which can be understood by ordinary people.

    He said it is in practice in various countries and both the formats are considered as legally acceptable.

    On the issue of court proceedings, Modi said, “We need to encourage local languages in courts. This will not only increase the confidence of common citizens in the justice system but they will feel more connected to it.”

    Before the prime minister spoke, Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana said there was a need for the legal system to introduce local languages in courts.

    Referring to the CJI’s remarks, Modi said newspapers have got a positive headline.

    The prime minister also appealed to chief ministers to repeal outdated laws to make delivery of justice easier.

    “In 2015, we identified about 1,800 laws which had become irrelevant. Out of these, 1,450 such laws of the Centre were abolished. But, only 75 such laws have been abolished by the states,” he said.

    Prime Minister Modi said as India celebrates the 75th anniversary of Independence, focus should be on creation of a judicial system where justice is easily available, is quick and for everyone.

    “In our country, while the role of the judiciary is that of the guardian of the Constitution, the legislature represents the aspirations of citizens. I believe that the confluence of these two will prepare the roadmap for an effective and time-bound judicial system in the country,” he said.

    Modi said that 75 years of Independence have continuously clarified the roles and responsibilities of both the judiciary and the executive. Wherever it is necessary, this relation has evolved continuously to give direction to the country, he said.

    The prime minister emphasised that the government is working hard to reduce delay in justice delivery and efforts are on for increasing judicial strength and improving judicial infrastructure.

    He said information communication technology has been deployed for case management and efforts to fill vacancies at various levels of the judiciary are underway.

    Modi reiterated his vision of use of technology in governance in the context of judicial work. The government considers the possibilities of technology in the judicial system as an essential part of the Digital India mission, he said.

    He appealed to chief ministers and chief justices of high courts to take this forward. The e-courts project is being implemented in mission mode, Modi said.

    He also gave example of success of digital transactions as they are becoming common in small towns and even in villages.

    Out of all the digital transactions that took place in the world last year, 40 per cent took place in India, he said.

    The prime minister said nowadays, subjects such as blockchains, electronic discovery, cybersecurity, robotics, artificial intelligence and bioethics are being taught in law universities in many countries.

    “It is our responsibility that in our country also legal education should be according to these international standards,” he said.

    Modi said mediation is also an important tool for settlement of pending cases in courts especially at the local level. There is a thousands of years old tradition of settlement of disputes through mediation in our society, he said.

    Mutual consent and mutual participation, in their own way, are a distinct human concept of justice, Modi said.

    With this thinking, the prime minster said, the government has introduced the Mediation Bill in Parliament as an umbrella legislation.

    “With our rich legal expertise, we can become a global leader in the field of solution by mediation. We can present a model to the whole world,” Modi felt.


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