Quite a number of incidents surrounding language have been in the limelight in this month of August. Initially Kanimozhi Karunanidhi , a Member of Parliament and a DMK leader was questioned about her nationality by a CISF officer at the Chennai airport on her inability to speak in Hindi. And very recently , Ministry of AYUSH secretary , Mr Rajesh Kotecha reportedly in a webinar meeting told yoga masters that those of you who don’t know Hindi can leave the webinar. All such disheartening incidents , blended together with ignorance and arrogance from the majority of Hindi speaking states puts question mark on the slogans of Unity in Diversity.
India is a land of diverse cultures which we heartily acknowledged on the eve of Independence and laid the foundations for a future Republic . From Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh , it’s our diversity which is a glimmer of hope and pride in these testing times. But even after 70+ years of Independence it is evident that stereotypes and self perceived notions have had the better of us . From calling our South Indian neighbors Idli Sambar , Madrasi to Aiyo Ji and the north eastern brethrens as Chinky and momo gang it shows how deep this malice of superiority and cultural bigotry runs amongst us. It actually comes as a bit of surprise to most Hindi-speakers that Hindi is not the national language of this country.
Politically , South Indian leaders have paid the price through their careers in national politics. Culturally, the mega industry of Bollywood never accepted the notion of Dark skinned actors from down south.
Southern and North Eastern India are no doubt a much older and culturally rich civilisation than the Hindi Heartland but they have been snuffed out of the national discourse over the years in a systematic manner . With the ruling party BJP enjoying a stronger support in this Hindi belt one can hear echoes of plans to impose Hindi as the national language upon the masses in the near future.
As of now, Hindi is taught in almost all schools across India till 6-8th standard. But given the urban migration pattern , shouldn’t the North Indian youth which ventures down south for job opportunities should be taught Tamil , Telugu , Kannada and Malyalam for better acclimatization in this new environment.
Our understanding of these cultural and historical regions is as limited and faulty as our pronunciation of them .From कर्नाटक and कन्नड़ ( in reality, Karnataka and Kannada),केरल ,आसामी (in reality , Kerala and Assamese).It shows how culturally stagnant and defunct we have been in acknowledging and cherishing the cultural heterogeneity that encompasses this great geographical entity .
It is an old saying that ‘ who controls Delhi , controls the entire India ‘ . That is where the whole issue of reconciliation and understanding lies . Southern and North Eastern states should be given more than just Hindi as a mirror of our northern states which would create a better cultural confluence.
It is a sign of a culturally defunct system where individuals belonging to a different culture or ethnicity are questioned about their Indianness. It is the need of the hour to slowly unlearn this bigotry and shed this cloak of fake superiority by the Hindi Masses.
Or else it is only hypocritical of us to talk about injustice on ethnic minorities in other parts of the world when we ourselves further the cause of racism and cultural fascism.
“Since every school in India teaches English, why can’t it be our link language? Why do Tamils have to study English for communication with the world and Hindi for communications within India? Do we need a big door for the big dog and a small door for the small dog? I say, let the small dog use the big door too!”
– C.N. Annadurai
Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
A North Indian
Abdullah Kazmi is a student of Psychology and Social Science based in Bangalore. He blogs at The Script.
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