FOREIGN: The Central Reserve of Police who mostly recruit from the Hindi speaking states dubbed Kanimozhi a foreigner because she could not speak Hindi!
By Rajan Narayan
Recently, at the airport the DMK MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi was asked by a CRF security guard whether she was an Indian? This was because she told him that she didn’t speak or understand Hindi. At the National Conference of AYUSH, the newly appointed secretary to the AYUSH Department Rajesh Kotecha demanded that all those who could not speak Hindi should leave the meeting. Is the BJP trying to impose Hindi as the national language of the country?
RIGHT from the time India got independence there has been a conspiracy to make Hindi the official language of the country! As part of this agenda it was decided to make the study of Hindi compulsory in all schools in the country right up to the 10th standard. I recall that I was studying in the present day equivalent of the 12th standard in Bengaluru when the University Grants Commission directed that Hindi should be a compulsory part of the syllabus.
The whole of the south and not only Tamil Nadu erupted in protest. The agitation took an extremely violent turn in the Southern states, particularly Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Conventionally, for some strange reasons, whenever there is an agitation in the south it is the State bus services which are always the primary target. People never realise that if there are fewer buses, they will suffer.
The presumption in Delhi is that English is a symbol of slavery. That following independence an Indian language should be the medium of instruction in India or Bharat. Examples cited were the other countries of the world and particularly Europe and even Asia where countries had their own national language. Since Covid-19 is so much in the news, we may cite the example of China where Mandarin has always been the official language.
THERE was a deep resentment and hatred for English as the language of colonialists. In Europe, for instance, while in France rarely will anyone speak to you in English even if they know the English! The French are so arrogant about their language that they may not even give you a cup of tea if you do not ask for it in French.
Virtually all countries in Europe ranging from Sweden to Switzerland and even the eastern European countries like Poland take pride in their own language. After the two world wars for a long period of time Europe was divided into two parts, with western Europe being under the influence of the United States and eastern Europe dominated and controlled by the Soviet Union. Indeed, even Germany was divided into two parts, namely East Germany and West Germany with the Russians building a fence in the middle of the capital of Germany’s
Berlin. It was barely three decades ago that the Berlin Wall collapsed and Germany was united.
The principle reason our politicians favoured Hindi is because they are most active on Independence Day. There is also no denying the fact that the largest single language spoken in the country is Hindi. Which is the State language of the largest states, namely Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan. Ironically, the Hindi-speaking states were also among the most backward and are still referred to as bimaru states.
The recent Covid-19 mass migration from the southern states to the bimaru states dramatized the number of people who migrated to states like Maharashtra, Tamilnadu and Karnataka for better jobs as there was no employment for them in their own bimaru states. The northern states primarily which are agriculture states and with the mechanisation of agriculture led to a massive loss of jobs, which in turn led to mass migration to the industrialised states. Maharashtra was always a more industrialised than an agricultural state.
WHAT Delhi or at least Hindi fanatics fail to acknowledge is that it is not only the south which opposes Hindi. It has been estimated that out of the 35 states in the country only in 12 states is Hindi the most commonly spoken language. If Hindi came to be spoken in the rest of the country it is probably because of the migrants. If you want a taxi in Mumbai you need to know a little Hindi to communicate with the taxi-driver. For some reason the newspaper delivery business is totally dominated by UP bhaiya. The Diwali holiday for newspapers in Mumbai is on the fourth day of Diwali, that is Bhaibeej, the male equivalent of the Rakhi Bandhan. Since newspaper vendors will not work on that day newspapers have no choice but to declare a holiday.
The whole of the south does not speak Hindi. This includes the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh which is now split into Telangana and Andhra. In the eastern part of the country the Bengalis led by Mamta Banerjee are vehemently opposed to Hindi and every other language. As in France in Bengal you cannot survive unless you know Bengali. Similarly in the state of Orissa the official language is Oriya and most of them do not know Hindi as we can see for ourselves. The majority of the security guards posted at housing societies in Goa are mostly from Orissa, and they cannot speak either Hindi or English.
Punjab is totally opposed to Hindi with the locals taking great pride in their language. It’s only after the division of Punjab that Haryana state came into being and Haryana is a Hindi- speaking state. Even among the Hindi- speaking states there are hundreds of dialects because the Hindi spoken in Rajasthan is very different from the Hindi spoken in Bihar.
A linguist has asserted that the dialect changes every 30 kilometers. I recall when I was in Bihar in the early 60s as a young volunteer doing famine relief work in a remote village near Bodhgaya, a place where Buddha is said to have been enlightened sitting beneath the branches of the Bodhi or peepal tree. Even now not only lakhs of Indians but an equally large number of people from Japan, Malaysia, Burma and other countries not only visit Bodhgaya but have built their own guest houses there.
There are more than a dozen different dialects in which Hindi is spoken in Bihar. When I was doing social work long ago in the 60s as a young man one of the villagers came along and very excitedly told me “Indira mai balu gir gayi.” The literal translation could be that a bear had fallen into a well. But in the Maithili script Indira stand for well and balu stand for sand.
In Goa of course Hindi has never been accepted. Till 1961 when the Portuguese ruled in Goa everyone knew Portuguese because they went to Lyceum for primary education in Portuguese. The Portuguese completely neglected education out of the fear that if there was a common language it would bring the people together to protest against colonial rule. The Portuguese has their Lyceums which offered education up to the 10th standard in Portuguese.
THERE were of course secondary schools or universities or even institutes of technical education like IITs and polytechnics. All the senior officers even in the technical departments were from Portugal or Goa but had studied well versed in Portuguese. Like the British policy of divide and rule the Portuguese tolerated Marathi, but not Konkani the mother tongue of the people of Goa.
Of course the other problem with Konkani was that it did not have the one single script with the Catholics reading and writing in Roman script and Hindus in Devanagari script. Many of the Goans who migrated to Karnataka and Kerala used the Kannada and Malayalam script. There were no officials Marathi schools. But a few big bhatkar or landlords invited Marathi teachers from across the border to teach their family children and the children of the munkar in Marathi. Schools in the Marathi medium were set up on a large scale only after the Liberation of Goa. Goa’s much loved first chief minister, Dayanand Bandodkar, set up more than a 1,000 Marathi medium primary schools within two years in Goa. It was for the first time that the non-Brahmin castes got access to education in Goa. Goans may fight and scratch each other’s eyes out about whether Konkani or Marathi should be the official language of Goa, but no Goan will tolerate the idea of making Hindi the official language!
It was only after migrants from other states started pouring into Goa that Goans started speaking some spoken Hindi. English has always been and will perhaps continue to be the link language between the Centre and the states. Though successive governments have asked for Hindi to be made the national language India’s Parliament and Supreme Court still function in English. Even in the various states at least in the high courts the language used is English. Since judges are transferred from state to state many of them do not know the local language. Goa of course faced the biggest problem as there were very few judges in the country who knew Portuguese and what was worse was Goa was allowed to retain the Portuguese civil code by the Centre.
UNIFORM CIVIL CODE
IN FACT, the BJP government wants to extend the Uniform Civil code to the entire country. The primary difference between the law in other states and the uniform civil code is that in Goa only civil marriage and divorces are recognised. Religious marriages alone have no legal validity in Goa. Whether you have a nikaah or talaq three times over you smart phone they will not be legal in Goa. The second aspect is that unlike in other states where the inheritance laws provide that the eldest son alone will inherit the ancestral property, in Goa it has to be equally divided. When a spouse dies (husband/wife) half the property goes to the remaining spouse. The other 50% has to be equally divided among sons and daughters.
Fortunately, for the daughters of India the Supreme Court has ruled that even under the Hindu and the Muslim Succession Act property must be equally divided between sons and daughters.
The English unlike the Portuguese made English the link language or national language. Unlike the Portuguese they established universities in the four major cities, namely Madras to represent the south, UP to represent the Central Provinces and Calcutta (Kolkatta) to represent the east, with Delhi of course having its own university. The English based on a note put up by Lord Macaulay stipulated that the teaching of English should be compulsory in all schools in the country. The English colonial regime established English as a common language not out of any great love for Indians. They did so because they realised that without a common language a handful of British officers could not rule as large a country as India.
There were less than 5% Britishers who managed to control a country which was 20 times the size of the United Kingdom! It may be noted that in the 15th and 16th centuries it was the countries which ruled the waves which conquered and colonized large parts of the world. If England and Portugal in Europe managed to capture and divide the world between themselves it was because they had very strong Navy ships and of course they had guns. Which most countries did not have at that point of time.
There continues to be a battle between Marathi mogi and Konkani mogi in Goa. Every Hindu in Goa will swear by the fact that Konkani is avoi or mother tongue. Very few however can read or write in Konkani. In contrast a much larger section of the population can read speak and write in Marathi. This is primarily because Konkani did not have a common script which Marathi had.
During chovoth all the puja prayers and mantra are in Marathi as there is no religious material in Konkani in the Devanagiri script. Although this is changing because my good friend Aravind Bhatikar was presented with a Konkani version of Lord Ganesh prayers and invocations this chovoth!