The dangerous Hindu-Hindi push

By Prabhakar Timble
24 June 2014 05:26 IST

Why is the BJP government flirting with small and mundane issue of language despite the challenge of inclusive development and the most critical issue of putting the economy on the track of growth? The only possible explanation could be that what looks as trivial and dead for others is important for the BJP to maintain the differentiation before its loyal and committed vote bank. There could be no other enlightenment on the directive issued by the Union Home Ministry to government officials to use Hindi in the social media communication.

It is an undue hurry to bulldoze an agenda which did not figure in the election manifesto. The Official Language Act 1963 and the amendments done in 1967 has put the issue at rest in our multi-lingual society. Language conflicts and risings have always given burns and wounds. This could be an invitation to the people to sharpen their swords to fight on language.

Language nationalism dangerous

The Hindi push is viewed as one facet of nationalism and ‘bharatiya’ pride.  After receiving flak from NDA partners and the Southern states, it is projected as Hindi communication only for those who speak Hindi. This is obvious and there was absolutely no need for the central government to restate what already exists as there is no embargo of any sort on this arrangement. Does it need a central government notification to reiterate that those who speak Hindi can communicate in Hindi?

Social media is to establish more connect and rapport. Why divide through the medium of language, a media which connects all irrespective of language and almost for free. No paper, no ink, no printing and distribution cost are involved in social media communication. It is also one wherein automatic transcriptions in other languages are possible and without additional cost burden.

The Government’s order on language manufactured an avoidable opposition. It looked like a diplomatic step to gauge opposition. At the same time, it creates rift between states for no reason. It forces people to take sides and stands. Thereby the order provides the feed to the dormant organised gangs of lovers or fanatics of language to reactivate hatred wrapping it as love for Hindi, Hindistan and Hindustan. Hindi dominant states perceive the non-Hindi as questionable patriots and Hindi speaking as natural to being an Indian. BJP is creating a post-dated cheque for encashment later.

 

Languages like religion and caste affiliation differentiates and divides whereas communication tends to unite. Talks of one national language as more equal than others generates inferiority complex. Groups showing opposition and discomfort to official use of Hindi suffer the ignominies of lovers of colonialism, worshippers of whatever is ‘videshi’ and enemies of Indian culture. In fact, they are projected as less nationalised, if not denationalised. As a result, they get paraded as social criminals on the measuring rod of patriotism and nationalism. The probability of the Hindi India ridiculing the non-Hindi as impure Indians is the risk to be faced.

Circulars like the one issued by the BJP government is attempting to use Hindi as a political vehicle to differentiate the concept of BJPs ‘Bharat’. If BJP becomes successful to spark a Hindi and non-Hindi divide and keep the embers burning, the political party can fossilize the electoral gains it has made in North India. One stroke from the central government is enough for the politics of language to bloom and the people to clash. Whatever gains Hindi has made since independence would be lost once fanaticism takes over. The coat of one language nationalism or Hindi nationalism is too small to fit India.

Bury the Hindi-Hindu pride

As and when the Member of Parliament representing Goa takes oath of office in Konkani, the heart of every Goan swells with pride for the recognition to the State and its language despite knowing fully well that it is symbolic tokenism. When the MP representing Goa prefers a different Indian language, it hurts. A MP making a deliberate attempt to take oath in Sanskrit even at the cost of discomfort in understanding and pronunciation is doing it to make a statement that “sanskritisation” is or was the period of golden culture. When the Indian Prime Minister communicates in Hindi at international meets, Indians gather height and weight irrespective of whether they reside in the Hindi belt or the Tamil strip.

Each language gives immense pleasure to all and to those sections who are tied to the umbilical cord of their regional language since birth it gives a sense of added orientation and belonging. Once the central government takes Hindi for a very special treatment it forces a division. Any diktat from the central government on Hindi would destroy the natural net that is weaved by electronic media, film industry, music industry, educational institutions and the inter-state migration and immigration to make Hindi popular. TV has expanded the geographical reach of Hindi. It has brought Hindi on everybody’s tongue. Spoken Hindi has greater acceptability. The difficulty levels are in reading and writing.

BJP should stay off from using language as a political tool of consolidation. However, if division and polarisation is the topmost agenda of the BJP and if the priority is to provide a psychological booster to the right-wing outfits to project such play with language as milestones for the march towards the BJP-RSS concept of ‘akhand bharat’ and the Hindi-Hindu pride, then we will see more of such petty matters on the most urgency list of the central government. 

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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This was the game played by our own Pratapsing Rane during his tenure as CM of Goa. Whenever he found himself in un-confortable positions in his Kodel, he ignited through a third person and ignited Konkani Marathi fire in the bosom of Goans. The Hindutva parties ar doing the same. They would like the citizenry bus fighting over non-existant albeit emotional issues and continue their own clandestine plans and failures in Governance. Right now after lambasting UPA over Inflation they have already chalked out their separate path for inflation, too.

- Kalidas Sawkar, Panaji Goa | 24 th June 2014 19:09

 

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