I got a comment the other day, on my earlier post titled, “Bihari is not a bad word, but Madrasi?” I wondered briefly if I should delete it because it is so… meaningless. Example: “The central govt in Delhi has plans to wantonly ignore other languages and pave the way for their decline by sole use of Hindi and by the portrial of India to the outside world as Hindia.” Eh? Does this guy (girl?) really believe what he/she says? I mean, who actually thinks and believes such total crap? It does not add to the credibility of the person that he/she was too cowardly to leave a name, any name. Maybe I should enforce moderation. But somehow, the idea of moderation does not really appeal to me. I will probably include a comment policy instead. But, to make my point clear. I do not share or endorse such points of view expressed in comments.”
Speaking of languages and cultures, the kind of keywords used to search Google for my blog always throw up some surprises. This post on Biharis seems to be among the most popular ones. One oft-searched term is “Hate Hindi” and surfaces on the first page of Google Search. But why? I never claimed to hate Hindi. Ever. In fact, I speak the language rather well. In addition to some 5 others.
Ok, on to the topic of the day. I stumbled across this wonderful blog yesterday. And my, I was hooked almost instantly. Of all the interesting post on it, one caught my attention because of the sheer number of comments on it. It’s amazing to see so many people wanting to express an opinion on something. But then, it is sometimes disheartening to see many of them rooting for the imposition of one language as a “National Language.” I mean, why do we need a national language. We are managing perfectly well with about 22 official ones. Each person has the right to speak in a language they are most fluent in. Why should we complicate things by wanting to name one language as “national.” One comment to the post claimed that Hindi is spoken by the maximum number and so must be national. Let me extend that logic a bit. Christianity is the world’s most widely practised religion. So, let’s all convert to Christianity. And oh yes, Mandarin is the language with the most speakers. Let’s all go learn Chinese then. Some day, it will be the “global” language. In India itself, almost 85% of the population is Hindu. So Hinduism can be the “national” religion? Ok? Can’t accept it, can you? So why do you expect people to accept Hindi because its speakers are numerically superior? Why should language be any different?
As I said in my post on Biharis, the anti-Hindi agitations in Tamil Nadu happened at a certain time and place. It was inevitable then. That doesn’t mean the violence associated with it was justified. There is no stopping mob violence once it starts. The best thing to do is to find a middle path and avoid making language such a divisive issue. Let’s get one thing straight. It is to have a national language because of the sheer number of languages that exist in India. India has never been, and will never be, a monolingual state. There is no point in rooting for one language as opposed to another. The current system works wonderfully because no Indian language is more important than the other. And please don’t tell me that English is unnecessary. But for English, I wouldn’t understand any official correspondence. My knowledge of most Indian languages is pathetic, despite the fact that I speak at least three of them fluently. And yes, people like me have a right to exist and live in India. English is as much my mother tongue, or perhaps even more, than Kannada can ever be. I am not ashamed of that because I don’t find a reason to be apologetic about my preference for English.