What a start, Mr. Modi!

The Home Ministry has directed government officials using the social media for official purpose to post their message in Hindi and not in English as has been the norm so far; an English version is optional. This applies to Twitter and other social media accounts. Wow! 

The Constitution of India under Schedule VIII recognizes 22 languages as national language. And to impose one of them as a language of communication betrays a lack of understanding of the socio fabric of India, or should I say Bharat?

According to Ethnologue, India is considered to be the home to 398 languages out of which 11 have been reported extinct. But still there is not a single Indian language which is spoken across its length and breadth. Hindi is spoken extensively in North India, but this does not mean that all those residing in North India are native speakers of Hindi; there are dialects and other native speakers of language such as  Rajasthani, Bihari, Haryanavi, Bhili, Gondi, and others. Similarly Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam are spoken by majority of South Indians.

But my disagreement for imposition of one of the 22 national languages listed in Constitution of India as the official language is far more fundamental in nature.

As one sociological commentator  has quite aptly put, “…if language can be employed as a symbol of national unity by a dominant group, dominated groups may, of course, exert the same logic and make political claims based on their linguistic identity. Thus, while the idea of a national language-ideology and its political enforcement may be said to function as a cohesive force, the reverse is also true.”

In the past, the process of trying to make Hindi the national language has caused more division than cohesion; if people are familiar with history, violent protests happened in the 1960’s, when Government of India tried to impose Hindi as the official language of communication, thus giving it the defacto status of the national language; similar to a Prime Minister being first among equals in a cabinet!

Monolingual model is not the evolutionary pinnacle of language development for a nation. And, if imposing Hindi as language of communication is driven by the belief that a national language is a necessary symbol of national unity, I am sorry but I do not concur to this notion.

Language is not just a means of communication; in other words, it is not a bunch of words that are spelt and pronounced differently. Each language is the face of a culture, and each culture is unique. By imposing one language, what in other words you are doing is imposing one culture over another.

Let me reiterate: It is not a psychological resentment against a language, but a psychological resentment against lack of respect for sensibilities, appreciation of differences and valuing diversity of fellow country men and women.

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