By Bhanupratap Shukla
Hindi Divas (day) arrived again on September 14, 2004. Expressing his sorrow and regrets on the Hindi Divas in the September issue of Sahitya Amrit, Pandit Vidya Niwas Mishra writes: “If only September 14 would never come! We would not have to tolerate the farce of seeing and hearing about the Hindi Divas. The reality is that it is not a Hindi Divas. It is a day which gives sorrow to lovers of Hindi. Like a hypocrite, there is talk about giving assistance to Hindi, there is talk of its widespread use, but alongwith it is added that Hindi will be there; have patience.”
Those who are not able to read Hindi need time to learn Hindi slowly and gradually. Remove the shortcomings in Hindi, collect all kinds of information on knowledge and science in Hindi, make Hindi a rich language. Hindi should be used in all kinds of work; don’t talk about sovereignty. The widespread use of English is unavoidable; accept it. It hurts intensely to learn that year after year, those who are entrusted with the all-round growth of Hindi, they, instead of accepting their own fault, place the fault on Hindi’s footsteps.
There will be demand for English, and respect will be for books written in English. Creative literature in Hindi is the source and is being written on encouragement from within and will continue to be so written no less than in any other language in India, nor less than any language in the world. Through sympathy and out of benevolence Hindi is being used in offices. But even then, a restriction has been imposed—whenever there is any doubt on the law, then the English law will be taken as proof. With great difficulty a section of the Constitution had been accepted in Hindi; it got the certificate of its authenticity from the constitutional committee. It is these people who complain that Hindi will be made difficult. By ‘difficult’ is meant that many difficult words of Sanskrit will be introduced into Hindi, when in the Constitution itself the definition of Hindi has been made clear as—wherever new words have to be used, because of the widespread inheritance of Sanskrit, Sanskrit words will be used. Since long, a particular government dictionary is being made use of in government offices. Along with this, the use of normal language is above such restrictions as it reveals a more openness. But it is not necessary that all government work should be conducted in a technical language.
Much of the correspondence, much of the creative work is of normal nature. For them the use of language is merely customary. That’s why I said in the very beginning that we do not celebrate Hindi Divas. We celebrate the long tenure of slavery of Hindi. We want to increase Hindi usage, though the truth is that all the languages of India are encircled by English and for overt display we talk of using Hindi. The reality is that trapped in the cage of English, Hindi is like a helpless bird dancing from one end of the cage to the other and being made to learn manners that English alone can teach. Due to English being the main tool for establishing contacts, by translating Hindi into English, its simple nature, its richness, its creativity—all these are being excessively influenced. It would be better if Hindi Divas is not celebrated at all.
Yet there is single ray of hope—this uncontrolled spread of English mentality will be responsible for exploding one fine day our complete freedom. Uncontrolled growth in the number of unemployed teachers annually will bear fruit and then the government will sit up, and then only will the new era of democracy begin. Till then what we can do is to celebrate Hindi Divas as non-Hindi Divas and remain conscious that Hindi will never be like this for ever.
The reality is that trapped in the cage of English, Hindi is like a helpless bird dancing from one end of the cage to the other and being made to learn manners that English alone can teach.
The politics of language and the language of politics have not yet halted; they continue still. This work is not aimed at encouraging the regional languages to become rich and capable, instead the objective is to increase the envy-ridden tendencies of regionalism; it is a planned move to keep the political ball of language rolling. Can any devoted citizen be expected to not only support ‘foreign’ against swadeshi, but make every possible arrangement to give it a permanent place of respect?
To remove the British yoke, the freedom struggle was launched from one village to another; people from every language, region, caste, creed and strata considering subjugation as a sin, withstood extreme travails to acquire freedom—why are attempts being made to hold the English language close to one’s heart? Can freedom be complete with freedom from physical slavery? Is not mental slavery more destructive than physical slavery? Why then this objection to British and why this love for English? The language with which the common man has no connection and which cannot be written, spoken or read by more than 2 per cent of the population is being bestowed respect while the language which is understood, spoken, read and written by the majority is denounced—what sort of wisdom is this?
Our Constitution makers had given serious thought to this equally serious problem. In July 1978, when this issue was raised with the then Prime Minister, Morarji Desai, he said in clear words, “I believe that Hindi alone can be the national language of this country and it can strengthen national unity. Our Constitution makers were aware of this issue. That is why when the national languages were listed out, English was not included. They were aware that the nation could not be run through the English medium, because despite the concerted efforts of the British, no more than 2 per cent people could read English, when the population which knows and speaks other languages ranges between 20 per cent to 60 or 70 per cent.”
Despite the very strong rejection of English and support to Hindi and to the many regional languages, not linking oneself with Indian languages but with the foreign English language is the result of strong vested political interests or the outcome of some foreign conspiracy. Had those, who were against Hindi and advocated in favour of English, chosen instead to connect themselves with other languages of the nation and made efforts to learn the national language, even after 57 years of India’s Independence, there would have been no reason why it could not have been learnt. Since then, many generations have entered into various occupational fields. The extent to which stress has been laid on learning a foreign language, if even one-tenth of it had been devoted to learning Indian languages, then in the entire nation we would have had our own language as the language of contact and we would have found freedom from slavery to English language.
Why was this work not accomplished? Who is to be held responsible for this? The answer to this question was provided by Morarji Desai in the following words: “Had Hindi been declared the national language and language for use in government administration on August 15, 1947, then this problem would not have arisen. But even now it is not too late. By discussing and talking out, this work can be done. By foisting Hindi on somebody, the situation will get spoiled.” Citing one of his experiences, he said, “Hindi alone can be the medium for conducting all the nation’s work. There are only 2 per cent people who know English. Other regional languages are known by 15 to 25 per cent, while Hindi is known and spoken by 65 to 70 per cent. Then what would be the easiest way out? Would it be easier to convert the 2-20 per cent or to convert 65-70 per cent into cent per cent?”
Despite such clear talks and policies, putting up the regional languages to fight against Hindi and create an environment of division and jealousy in the country is undoubtedly very wrong. All the languages of the country are sisters and friends of Hindi. All of them have arisen from Sanskrit language. Hence the tendency to show disdain for each other and reject one another goes against the national mainstream. All have to unite to remove misconceptions on the question of language and solve the problem. By arousing regional sentiments and feelings against any language and thus hurt the nation’s soul will not help in establishing happiness and prosperity in the land. The spirit of nationalism can be inculcated only through spread of one’s own mother tongue. This is the reason why Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee spoke in the national language at the UN. By expressing India’s feelings in its own language he displayed his deep devotion to the nation. We have to remember that merely by freeing the nation from political and economic control we have not yet achieved complete freedom. For this, it is necessary to end the mental slavery that engulfs us and this can be achieved by arousing pride in one’s own language. English will divide us apart. It does not have the capacity or samskara to unite. Today also it is doing this destructive work and in this debase political one-upmanship move we are turning a blind eye to this danger. This is the only reason for the agitation against Hindi; it is none else.