Language: Breaking ‘Unity in Diversity’?

Language is something which has always intrigued me. I took lot of interest in digging up information about South Indian and North Indian  language families and how Tamil and Sanskrit have influenced in the development of each of these groups. It is fascinating to me that India has more than 500 languages and various dialects, some might have died down over the years because of decline in the number of speakers.

The diversity in our country is so vast that we don’t have any nationalized or common language as such. And many times the central government has made efforts to teach Hindi to non – Hindi speakers. This is not something very new. South Indian states have protested against the Hindi hegemony. In Karnataka recently, there was this opposition to the use of Hindi on sign boards as to protest against the center’s decision for the use of Hindi as a medium of instruction in signboards in the metro stations.  The metro authorities at the Namma Metro Station removed the signboards in Hindi on this issue because of the outrage of the people over the imposition of Hindi. People took to Twitter to protest against the Hindi hegemony with the taglines like #NammaMetroHindi-Beda and #StopHindiImposition. Hindi imposition is always looked up with a frown, especially in South Indian states and at times in Bengal too.

Language has been one of the problems in India as we have approximately sixty percent of the population who do not speak Hindi and the other faction who speak Hindi and constitute about forty percent of the population. The present government at the center has failed to understand why diversity is to be respected.

During Rahman’s concert which took place recently in the UK, many Hindi speaking people among the crowd walked out of the event with disappointment. Their reason was that he sung 12 songs in Tamil, as though he did not sing a single Hindi song. People do not understand or so forth their ignorance don’t know that Rahman’s many hit numbers are in Tamil. It is also hypocrisy of the Hindi speakers who don’t seem to understand how Hindi imposition is a threat to other languages and culture existing in our country.

There is a need of a national language for communication among people of different states. As a nation, we are young and so our understanding of democracy is very unclear and naive. The government at the center is not considering language imposition as a serious challenge to the unity and integrity of the nation and hence, it has not come up with any clear solution. Hindi, cannot be made a national language, English is in use to communicate with people as to overcome linguistic barriers in the country.  But the problem does not die down here.

So what can be done?

The problem is more persisting when schools in non Hindi speaking states which are CBSE affiliated are supposed to keep Hindi as a language compulsory along with English. This becomes wrong because the native language is not been taught in schools and it raises many questions. To overcome such a situation, central schools must keep a three language system. This should have the first language, which is the mother tongue, English and a third language which should be any one of the official languages prescribed by the constitution. It is necessary that the school should give at least minimum 5 choices to learn one of the scheduled languages. Hindi should not be imposed on other states, saying that it is a national language.

In this era where social media governs and manipulates people’s thoughts for someone’s advantage, where facts are not given importance as such and rumors make people believe, we must educate ourselves and analyse things critically rather than slinging mud at each other and enjoy being ignorant. It will only come when people do not make general assumptions about facts and thoughts and rather contemplate upon it and that they do not rely on some unethical source. People must learn to respect differences and that they respect their cultural background, beliefs and thus their language. Knowledge and wisdom is the only weapon to fight our short comings and to keep the fire of ‘unity in diversity’ alive.

So, people, if you have a solution to this problem of language barrier among different states in India, please express it in comments!

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