By Tathagata Satpathy, ex-MP

UNION HOME Minister Amit Shah has desperately tried to stir a hornet’s nest by declaring on 14 September 2019 – the day celebrated by the central government as Hindi Divas — to make this the national language. The Indian Constitution has stated both English and Hindi as Official Languages. Unfortunately, many educated Indians still carry an erroneous impression that Hindi is India’s National Language.

Push for Hindi from Delhi has been a contentious matter from the time of Independence, and the southern states have been in the forefront to resist such attempts. Agitations against suspected attempts to impose Hindi on non-Hindi-speaking states up until the late 1960s often resulted in violence in Tamil Nadu. The Centre had intervened to re-assure the populace that no attempt would be made to force the language on anyone; and peace was restored. Not just the Dravidian states, but even those like Odisha and West Bengal had not taken kindly to use of force to impose Hindi. They have their own languages with rich literary traditions and content, to protect and promote. So also with Assamese.  

Keeping both English and Hindi as Official (Rajbhasa) was envisaged with due cognizance to the fact that India cherished its unity with full recognition of its diversity. The nation is a mosaic of languages, cultures, races, religions and castes. To exist here is to co-exist. It also need be stressed that there are nearly six classical languages in this subcontinent, Oriya being one of them, that were born much before Hindi and thus have deep historical roots with the culture of the various races existing in this nation. Wisdom demands that those in temporary power recognize this fact.

The BJP government has this agenda and it is obsessed with the idea of unifying this country, come what may. One Nation, One Leader, One Religion, One Tax and now One Language! Once declared so, we can be pretty certain that they will not leave a single stone unturned to implement this idea too. The fact that this may prove to be a divisive point does not seem disturbing to those in power now.

Today’s world revolves on economic issues and prosperity. India still seems to be an attractive ‘market’ to the international business community because of its large population and the general peace here. If scrutinized properly, recent events that evoked international support for India could very easily be attributed to their huge business interests and deals in process or pending with India. For example, no media wished to point out the reasons for France to invite India for the G-7 Summit. 

Any Indian aware of the current happenings would realize that the French economy is heavily dependent on arms manufacturing industries. For them, selling multi-billion Euros worth of Rafale jets now or the Mirages of the past to India is no small matter. Similarly China too considers India a humongous yet stupid market that has allowed its homegrown industrial capabilities to perish just to keep the sub-standard Chinese companies happy and rich. The US also has very similar interests. All these business matters help India garner international support against a puny Pakistan that has emerged neither as a market nor as a producer of world class goods.

Speaking of world trade and commerce leads us to believe that our youth has the potential to be world class in research, entrepreneurship and business ideas. This is evident if we simply look around us. From Singapore to New York, Indians have succeeded in very many enterprises. They are revered educationists and capable traders. Amit Shah should simply ask them if they managed to achieve this success by using Hindi as their language of communication or they used some other language. While saying this, let no one be misled to think there is any opposition to Hindi. The more number of languages a child learns, the better it is for his or her future.

So, the question arises—why this sudden burst of Shah about One Nation, One Language? The reason may not be difficult to comprehend. The economy of this country is fast losing its sheen. All the fundamentals built over the past 70plus years, whether weak or strong, are crashing. Decisions such as Demonetization or the implementation of GST immediately after that added to the atmosphere of disquiet built over assiduously in the past few years, and are taking their toll now. People in large numbers are losing jobs. Every business, small or medium, is shrinking and dying. Pay cuts are taking place across the board. Senior staff are being retrenched across the board. All these are visible to the eye. The invisible rumblings are even louder. May be, just maybe, this whole “Hindi drama” was played out to divert the attention of the average Indian from the ‘real’ issues of the day. 

Issues of unemployment, increasing poverty, falling incomes and widespread fear are for real. Time alone will tell us what the truth is.

The writer is a former Member of the Lok Sabha and runs the Dharitri group of media based out of Bhubaneswar including Dharitri daily and Orissa Post as their Editor. –IHN-NN

INDIA HERE AND NOW www.indiahereandnow.comemail:indianow999@gmail.com

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