Brilliant orator who had full command over Hindi language proceeded for his final journey on July 16, 2018 as the Vishwa Hindi Sammelan (World Hindi Conference) was to begin in Mauritius from July 18 to July 20. It was Atal ji who had taken first initiative to bring Hindi on world platform. First Vishwa Hindi Sammelan was held in 1975 in Nagpur. At the Nagpur conference a resolution was adopted urging the United Nations to give Hindi language an official status at the UN. Two years later, Atal Behari Vajpayee became Minster for External Affairs in the Janata Party Government in 1977 headed by Morarji Desai. Vajpayee delivered his speech in Hindi at the UN General Assembly session on October, 1977. Before him, no Indian Prime Minster or External Affairs Minister had ever delivered speech in Hindi at the UN session. There was current of joy throughout the world among Hindi speaking population. By delivering speech in Hindi, Vajpayee stressed the need to give proper recognition and right place to Hindi at the United Nations. Overnight Vajpayee became hero of Hindi lovers not only in India but throughout in the world. He remembered his moments at the UN with great pride.
In his address he had said, “It is only six months since we assumed power but our achievements are remarkable. Fundamental rights of the citizens have been restored in India once again. We were surrounded by atmosphere of fear. It is over now. Constitutional measures are being taken so that it is ensured in future that no government can take away fundamental rights of the citizens of India. Mr. Secretary General Sir, our tradition of “Vasudheva Kutumbkum” (World is one family) is very old. We always believe that world is one community, one family. There is hope of this becoming a reality with the active support of the member nations of the UNO”.
Carrying forward Atal ji’s Message of 1977
Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered his speech in Hindi at the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland early this year. Some known pessimists and so called intellectuals had even remarked that since Prime Minister’s speech was in Hindi it will not get due coverage in the world Press. But what happened was the opposite of the dooms Sayers. Modi’s speech was widely covered in the world media. It also demonstrated the growing economic clout of India in the world.
Jump of Hindi after Atal’s UN Speech
It is unfortunate that even after Atal Behari Vajpayee’s historic speech in Hindi at the UN, the world forum has not given due place and recognition to Hindi as yet. But this is also a fact that Hindi has made a quantum jump in the past four decades. Hindi is spoken in many countries today. In Fiji, Mauritius, Nepal, Trinidad and Guiana Hindi occupies the same place as it has in India.
Two factors are important in making Hindi popular in the world. One is large number of Indians settled abroad and the second one is Hindi films, although amongst Indians settled abroad there are people who speak Bangla, Tamil, Telugu, Malayam Gujarati, Marathi etc also. The number of people who speak Hindi is second in the world after the Chinese speaking population. More people speak Hindi than people who speak English, French, German or Spanish language. During the past 200 years Indians are recognised as good work force in the world.
Hindi and Hindi films
On this occasion of World Hindi Conference let us have serious debate on this point. How far Hindi cinema has been able to make Hindi language popular in foreign countries? In Soviet Union (now Russia) Raj Kapoor’s films like Awara, Sri 420, Mera Naam Joker etc. were popular because his films carried positive message. The song ‘Mera joota hai japani, a patloon Egnlishtani, Sar pe lal topi Russi phir bhi dil hai Hindustani’, rendered by Mukesh was popular in the communist Russia. The song is from Sri 420.
Hindi films are watched in large number of countries of the world. Hindi films are seen in China also. Amir Khan is a super star in China. His films easily earn more than rupees one hundred cores in China. Amtabh Bachan is a super star in Egypt. People walking on streets of Egypt know many popular dialogues of Amitabh Bachan films. Dharmendra is a popular actor in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. I am of the view that lyricists of Hindi film songs like Javed Akhtar, Shailendra, Anand Bakshi, Sahir Ludhianvi, Neeraj, Sameer, Prasoon Joshi etc are no less talented than any writer or poet of Hindi.
We should express our gratitude to non-Indians (foreigners) for contributing to the growth of Hindi in the world. I must mention here Prof Ronald Stuart McGregor. He was a real lover of Hindi who served the language with full dedication. He taught Hindi in Cambridge University from 1964 till 1997. He was a great scholar of Hindi grammar, a great translator and a great historian of Hindi literature. Hindi is richer when it is learnt and taught by those whose mother tongue is not Hindi. McGregor was of British origin. He has written a paper on Ramchandra Shukla after intense research.McGregor passed away on 19 August, 2018 at the age of 84. I pay my tribute to McGregor, the great Hindi scholar.
(The writer is a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha)