Saturday, November 7, 2009

Anna, aap Hindi nahi boltey ho kya...

It was one fine evening. I was sipping a cup of coffee. A call from one of my old roommates who had left for Chennai a month back on a new job offer. As I received the call, these are the exact words he said to me: “ Tumaare Chennai ke log aisa kyun hai yaar. Mein Hindi mein kuch pooch raha tha, wo English mein jawab de raha hai..bohoth gussa aaya muje. ……………………………..Waise, Idar Hindi kyun nahi boltey ? In logonko hindi se kya problem hai?”.

Perhaps he vented his entire frustration on me J . I had a tough time
convincing him. After all, I was not surprised with his question since it was not the first time I am being asked this.

In fact, many Indians have the same question in their mind. First of all, most of the people in Tamil Nadu do not know Hindi. Reason is simple: There was no Hindi subject in most of the schools. There could be some who knows Hindi but may not wish to address in Hindi. If you pose a question to any Tamilian in random asking “Why you don’t encourage/talk Hindi?”, the following are some of the possible answers you might get:
1. That’s how it is here.
2. It’s always like this. (I used to give this answer earlier )
3. We don’t like Hindi.
4. It’s like this for decades.

None of these are answers to the question. Isn’t it? The problem is most of the people are not aware why is it so. Not aware of why people don’t encourage Hindi. Not aware of why the Government does not encourage Hindi? Not aware of why Hindi is not a subject in the State Government schools? One State adamant on not using Hindi? Is there a reason at all for this?

Sri Lankans talk Sinhalese, Pakistan speaks Urdu, Bangladesh speaks Bangla, China speaks Mandarin, India speaks Hindi and English. How come India speaks English as well? We Indians today boast of having a competitive edge in English compared to other countries. Indian economy grew rapidly because of our English in the form of BPO, KPO, LPO .. you name it, we rock it. After all, British ruled not just India , some other countries as well . Then, how on earth is English an official language in India? Hey, we never thought about this. Isn't it? Let’s check a bit of History.

Our Indian Constitution in 1950 decreed that Hindi will be our national language, but as a transitional measure allowed English to continue for 15 years till 1965. As the 1965 deadline kept nearing, Tamil Nadu was one of the states which began to worry. The central government was very firm on having Hindi as the national language. The political parties in Tamil Nadu were completely against this move.

A Tamil leader, Annadurai, saw this as Hindi imperialism and stuck back with one of the most violent agitations ever to happen in the state, says Swaminathan Iyer. Many Tamil students immolated themselves in protest. The police started firing on rampaging mobs, killing at least 60. (Unofficial figures say it is more than 500). These incidents are not known widely.

With the fear that this language issue would cause serious problems to the Central Government, New Delhi retreated and assured all states that their adoption of Hindi would be optional, not mandatory. In 1967 the Official Languages Act was amended to specify that both English and Hindi could be used as official languages for all purposes.

This very moment looked like a victory for TamilNadu, we realize today how big a victory it was for India. It’s a landmark judgment which re-defined the future of India. It’s a decision because of which the country is able to create millions of jobs today. It’s a decision which made India a global power today, a power which can complete with anybody in the world. After all, Annadurai, a staunch Tamil Leader, fought for English, not for Tamil.

Does this justify not encouraging Hindi? Perhaps yes, for the earlier generations. The older generations had witnessed everything in front of their eyes, they saw the students immolating, saw their countrymen being killed. Injustice being meted out for a cause was the general feeling. What about us, the current generation?

We, the current generation, should feel proud of our leaders and their sacrifices , and understand the reality and move on. What is the reality? Reality is Hindi is our national language which majority of the Indians talk. Its a language which connects most of the Indians. And it makes sense for every kid in India to have an option to choose the National Language in their school. Let's not enforce , let's give them an option to choose Hindi.

In fact, the languages in India is so much, and the culture is so diversified, it demands today for every state in India to have a 3 language formula: a regional language to connect with the state, Hindi to connect with the Indians and an English to connect with the world (adding one more to the Rule of 3). If we, the current generation or the youngistan, feel there is no harm in using Hindi, perhaps the next generation in Tamil Nadu might have an option to choose Hindi as a language.

After all, one state cannot be isolated from the entire country. Isn't it high time we grew up and took a more enlightened view of the situation.... regardless?

Jai Hind.
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vishnu said...

Hi Guruji (pronouncing in hindi),

Though the reality depicts us to learn hindi, it was the same reality which annadurai forced us to use English then. By which the complete business turned out to be a real one.But that decision was practiced in other way around which totally causing the current generation (those who don't know hindi script even) in trouble. For example, just to travel from one place to another place! Probably we (the youngsters) can overcome from this language barrier by making a thumb-rule/practice for the upcoming generation to learn Hindi as one of the language as its the national language and also we can bond all the states all- together as "ONE INDIA" rather one state is being isolated in this regard! Hats off to you for blogging with the statistical & historical records!!!


Rhythm said...

Hi Guru,
Very well written thoughts. I completely agree with u as the same problem was faced in Gujarat as most of the people know only Gujarati. But they adopted Hindi very well as they are shrewd business men and they have to travel thruout country. As English is becoming world language, Hindi is Indian language. Because one is not expected to know all the state languages. Also older generation lived their entire life in the same house. But due to globalisation, this is no more truth for current generation. A day will come when every indian will know atleast 3 languages (State Language, Hindi and English)..... Amen...

Abs said...

I'm one of those unfortunate Tamilian! I have no knowledge on hindi and i admit, there are times when i have felt embarrassed about it. I've never thought about this in this way...I can't even proudly present myself as an Indian without knowing our national funny it is if we hear it from a different country men!
Very nice article Guru..well written! Needless to say, it is an eye opener.

Guru Prasad said...

thanks abi..but why do say u r u rightly said, we were unfortunate, the government let us down...i was lil fortunate in the sense that i got a chance to move around to places for my studies and work...btw, did u refer to me as a "different country men"? :) if so, FYI, though i was born in one state, belong to a different state, i consider myself a proud tamil boy brought up in tamil land..

Abs said...

hahaha...not you Guru. i just meant a different country men :)
Anyway i treat you as a proper Tamilian itself..esp after you suprised me with a ancient tamil sentences :)