This is the first part of a two part series on the occasion of Hindi Diwas.
Today is Hindi Diwas (Hindi Day). 60 years ago on 14th September, 1949, Hindi was accepted and adopted as the official language of the Union. Recently, while filling an application form for an examination, I was required to mention my mother language. Ofcourse, I mentioned Hindi. However, just a couple of days before that, I had also appeared for a Hindi exam as a part of some other civil services exam. As expected, I was miserable in it.
That raises the question, is Hindi really my mother language?
First of all, I'll delineate my brand of Hindi. In everyday life, I use Hindi as the medium of verbal communication. However, is it really Hindi? The base might be that of Hindi but inadvertently so many words from English, Punjabi and Urdu creep in that if I sit down to decipher a sentence just spoken, I'll realise that it is no where close to the 'pure' Hindi. That raises the question that is the 'pure' Hindi really desirable?
Ofcourse it is, I realised while giving that exam. I found that my vocabulary in Hindi is so weak that I should be ashamed of myself. However, if I had given the same exam during my school days, I would have definitely done a lot better. Infact, my Hindi was so fluent back then that I was called Shastriji (Learned of Shastras) by my school friends. 8 years of just English education has indeed adulterated me.
But am I really adulterated? What is the desirability of the purity beyond that exam?
Recently, an Indiblogger started a discussion in the forums. He asserts that,
We are here to promote Hindi as language and want more use of it at Blogs. Some of the Hindi News Blogs and portals do not write Hindi but Hinglish which hurt us. It is our National Language and everyone must respect it.
If a person wants to promote any language, he has the fundamental right to do so under Article 29 and 30 of the Indian Constitution meant for the linguistic (and other) minorities.
So what about Hindi as it is not a minority language? Well, there are special provisions for development of Hindi as an official language of the Union Government under Article 344 and as medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India, i.e. a pan-Indian language under Article 351.
In this context, first of all let me clarify that India has no National language (Rashtra Bhasha) as asserted above by the initiator of the debate on Indiblogger. Constitutionally there are two types of languages - Official languages and Scheduled languages. According to Article 343, India has two official languages (Rajya Bhasha) - Hindi (in Devanagari script) and English. The States can declare their own official languages apart from English.
Talking of Scheduled languages, we have 22 of them under the Schedule 8 of the Indian Constitution. Originally there were 14 - Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malyalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Sindhi (21st Constitutional Amendment Act, 1967), Konkani, Manipuri, Nepali (71st, 1992), Bodo, Dogri, Maithili and Santhili (91st, 2003) were added later. If you might have noticed, 15 0f them are visible on the Indian paper currency while others which were added later still do not find the place there. Entry into this scheduled list has become more of a political affair, a way of appeasing particular minority linguistic sections.
Hence, to claim Hindi as the national language is a big misconception of not only this gentleman but many Indians. Moreover, though it was envisaged as a pan-Indian language by the framers of constitution, Hindi could never rise to that level because,
- It was not easy for states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh or Bengal having rich traditional linguistic culture to accept any such language forced from above, and
- It was necessary for the Central Government to see beyond pan-Indian to global communication. In that respect Hindi could never surpass English.
In this context, in the above mentioned debate on Indiblogger, the initiator further asserts,
If you speak French or German mixing with English, I am sure its not going to be liked, then why make Hindi the scapegoat. Its not only my mother tongue, its a very developed language, why not use it properly.
Well, comparing Hindi with French or German is sort of a faulty analogy. For that matter, Hindi is also one of the least developed language of India if you compare it with the rich linguistic heritage of Tamil, Telugu or Bengali. As long as a person wants to use Hindi properly, he/she is most welcome to do so. Requesting (and not demanding) the others to do so is also his right. However, to give wrong assertions like Hindi is the National language or illogical assertions that Hindi is very developed language, so use it properly; totally fails his/her wider assertions.
Article 351, mentioned earlier with regards to development of Hindi as a pan-Indian language, also clarifies that it is the duty of the Union Government to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule.
In short, Hindi has been developed as a medium for pan-Indian communication. In that sense, it is very important that rather than claiming its purity, it intermixes with other languages. English has actually enriched itself by adopting vocabulary from other European languages like French and German and even Asian languages like Arabic and Hindi for that matter.
Hence rather than purifying Hindi, there should be an effort to make it easier to understand. In this context, Article 351 should move beyond just the Eighth Schedule and include English within its ambit too. Rather than creating new words for common English terms, those terms should be assimilated as has been done all these years.
Why should I call Hindi as my mother language if I am not able to understand the official Hindi documents which use the rarest possible vocabulary. In this context, the Committee of Parliament on Official Language, 1957; constituted under the Constitutional provision (Article 344) under the chairmanship of the then Union Home Minister Govind Vallabh Pant also recommended that proper encouragement should be given for usage of meaningful and simple Hindi words.
Hindi was developed as the language for the common man just as Pali (Buddhist literature) and Prakrit (Jain literature) were developed centuries ago when Sanskrit was regarded elitist and was confined to the Brahminical learning. So why should we emphasize on purifying or in other words complicating Hindi?
In the next part, I'll touch upon the need for a pan-Indian language and the language that should qualify for being the one. Click here to read it.