So the 2.0 version of the Modi Government starts with an education minister who had once claimed, “Astrology is No 1 Science in the World.” And a new controversy, “Hindi should be made mandatory in school syllabus of all the non Hindi speaking state.”
Tamil Nadu roars out in protest “We are Indians not Hindians”, and I thought to share my two cents regarding this debatable topic.
Experience 1: So two weeks earlier, a guy pinged me on my blog page appreciating my writing. I reply with a courteous Thank you. He carries on the conversation and ask my take on “Urdu nazm”. I politely express my inability to read Urdu. He adds no, no they are not actually authentic Urdu, they are just Hindi sprinkled with some beautiful Urdu words. So, I again politely say Hindi is not my forte, I cannot write in Hindi and the lecture begins, “ You are a writer, you should not restrict yourself to English,” and how Hindi being our National Language I am depriving myself of the major chunk of readers!
So for the umpteenth time I had to reiterate to this less informed person the fact that “IN INDIA THERE IS NO NATIONAL LANGUAGE.” A myth that needs to be burst now.
This experience brought back in my mind, one more experience I had years ago.
Experience 2: I was returning from Jamshedpur. The train was yet to start and the book stall in the station was luring me to buy some treasure. So my 13 year old self took some money from her father and went to the stall. I chose one Alistair Maclean and a Sidney Sheldon, when he suggested some Hindi books to me. I smiled and said in my passable Hindi, “I don’t read Hindi books.”
He replied with a sneer taking the money from me, “Oh toh tum woh English padhe bachche ho. Rashtriya bhasha nahi jante.”(Oh you are those English educated kids who do not know our national language).
At that time I myself was ignorant that Hindi is NOT our national language.
So I took the books and said, “Mein Bengali books bhi padhti hun par aapke shop mein woh hain nahi.” ( I read Bengali books too, but your shop doesn’t have any).
Now coming back to point, learning a new language is always a great experience. But, it should be a choice.
In India where all the official documents are available in English and is a gateway to contact the global world why impose one of the official languages unnecessarily, that too with a false propaganda. Learning your mother tongue and English( for all practical purpose, now don’t judge me, unless you are presenting your CV in any other language to Naukri and Linkedln).
There is no harm in learning Hindi I am sure. We all love Bollywood sagas, can understand the dialogues, speak passable hindi dialect. I can read Hindi too, may be not as a fluent novel reader but, rescues me if any official doc in Hindi arrives. But, then there is no harm in learning Bengali, or Tamil, or Malayalam too.
It is not learning or unlearning, the fact that is irking me and many others is the attempt to prove supremacy of one language over another. And probably mixing politics with education. The term mandatory is the key word here. For all cases the choice should be there and the false propaganda of Hindi being the national language should stop. Let us respect our own language( religion, culture) and not disrespect another’s. Some of us may shed our rigidity and some of us may try to shed the pride, for a more unified country.
Hope better senses prevail in future and the younger generation learn to make wiser choices.