All the legal rights, respect and importance, granted by the statute to other official languages in their respective states must also be conferred upon Marathi in Maharashtra. “We do not ask for anything more, but we shall not settle for anything less too”. Can such a demand be termed as improper, illegal or immoral by any standards?
Hindi, the National Language – Misinformation or Disinformation?
– Saleel Kulkarni
|Let us take a simple example to understand how double standards are applied in the case of Maharashtra. Every politician from the north India, while visiting the state, keeps repeating lies such as “Hindi is the National Language and hence every Indian must learn the language and respect the same”. But his principles suddenly change when the same politician visits any other non-Hindi state. There he enthusiastically praises the local language and culture and also takes pain to elaborate how the Central Government or his own party (whichever it may be) is making great efforts for the linguistic and cultural progress of the state. The various display boards, various forms and notice boards etc. meant for the public put up in the offices of the nationalised banks, central government departments, public sector undertakings, Post Offices, Railways, etc., everywhere in the state of Maharashtra are generally in Hindi and English only, thus discarding the language of the state. However, the same organisations accord highest importance to the local language in various other states. In fact, quite often Hindi itself is conspicuously absent. Why such double standards? All the legal rights, respect and importance, granted by the statute to other official languages in their respective states must also be conferred upon Marathi in Maharashtra. “We do not ask for anything more, but we shall not settle for anything less too”. Can such a demand be termed as improper, illegal or immoral by any standards?|
The main intention behind writing this article is to provide insight to the people of Maharashtra, into the basic principles behind the constitution and the linguistic policies of the country; and thereby to empower them to ensure that their language attains its just and rightful position as well as the respect that it deserves.
At the outset it must be pointed out that the Constitution of India has not accorded the status of the ‘National Language’ to any particular language. In fact, the constitution is curiously silent about this aspect. However, it has been indirectly suggested by some of the early leaders of independent India that ALL the languages listed in the eighth Schedule of the Constitution may be considered the National Languages of India.
About thirty years ago, while I was studying at the I.I.T. Kharagpur (West Bengal), I heard for the first time in my life that Hindi was not the National Language of the country and I was in a state of utter disbelief. In IIT, we used to have a non-engineering subject taught by the Humanities Department in every semester. The basic idea behind introducing such subjects not belonging to any typical engineering curriculum was to offer an opportunity to the students to develop not simply as brilliant engineers but also as responsible citizens of the world. In the third year, we had ‘The Constitution of India’ as one of the subjects that was being taught by a Bengali professor, Prof. Chatterjee of the Humanities Department. During the lectures on the constitution of India, Prof. Chatterjee, used to repeatedly tell us: “As per the constitution, Hindi is NOT the National Language of India and all the state languages enjoy exactly the same status and importance”. In fact, it was during my stay in West Bengal that I realised what it really meant to be proud of one’s own language and culture. In Bengal, Bengali is the only language of communication for the Marwari crorepati businessmen, the Bihari rickshaw-pullers, as well as the middle class Bengali office clerks.
On my return from Kharagpur, whenever I tried to make this point in any discussion, my friends used to reject it as a totally ludicrous statement. They would find the statement “Hindi is not the National Language of India” to be as absurd and impossible as the statement, “India is yet to attain Independence”.
Many years thereafter, in the month of August 2008, unexpectedly I came across an article by Mr. Shashi Tharoor in a National English daily and I was really shocked to see exactly the same point being emphasised in the article. An expert such as Mr. Tharoor, who had represented India in the UNO, was trying to highlight exactly the same point. Mr. Tharoor is presently the minister of state for Foreign Affairs in the central government.
One of the statements made by Mr. Tharoor was: “Twelve years ago, when India celebrated the 49th anniversary of our independence from British rule, H D Deve Gowda, the then prime minister, stood at the ramparts of New Delhi’s 16th century Red Fort and delivered the traditional Independence Day address to the nation in Hindi, the language which we have all learned to refer to (though the term has no constitutional basis) as India’s ‘national language’.”
Mr. Tharoor further said, “Indian nationalism is a rare animal indeed. The French speak French, the Germans speak German, the Americans speak English (though Spanish is making inroads, especially in the south-west and south-east of the US) — but Indians speak Punjabi, or Gujarati, or Malayalam, and it does not make us any less Indian.”
He has also commented thus: “It is a reality that pluralism emerges from the very nature of our country; it is a choice made inevitable by India’s geography, reaffirmed by its history and reflected in its ethnography. Let us celebrate our Independence on August 15 in a multitude of languages, so long as we can say in all of them how proud we are to be Indian.”
Enthused by this rediscovery, I gathered some more information on the subject from the internet as well as from some knowledgeable persons, which I present below.
In the pre-independence period, when the British decided to grant some non-political administrative rights to the people of India, there came up the issue of deciding the national language of Hindustan. In the internal discussions that took place within the Congress party, the real tussle was between the Khadi Boli (the tongue closer to Urdu) and Hindi (based mainly on Sanskrit). Finally, a committee was formed to decide upon the issue. After a lot of elaborate discussion, when the matter was finally put up for voting, Hindi (based on Sanskrit) with Devnagari script was voted as the National Language of Hindustan. However, it must be made very clear that while formulating the constitution of independent India, the authors of the constitution have NOT proclaimed any single language as the National Language of independent India and have preferred to be silent on this important issue. Unfortunately, this reality is never clearly brought to the knowledge of the common people like us.
In the booklet ‘The Official Languages (Amendment) Act, 1967: Approach & Objective’ issued by the Central Government, I found the following mention:
While the above 1963 bill was still under discussion in the Lok Sabha, the late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said, on April 24, 1963:
“The makers of our constitution were wise in laying down that all the 14 languages (in the eighth schedule) will be national languages. There is no question of any one language being more national than the other. Bengali or Tamil or any other regional language is as an Indian national language as Hindi.”
The complete article by Shri. Saleel Kulkarni is available at the link given below.
1. This article is Based on the article published on the 15th November 2009 in the Marathi Daily “Loksatta”.
2. You may please check out at the following link, a copy of the communication received subsequently from the Department of Official Language, Ministry of Home, confirming that there is no provision in the Constitution of India declaring Hindi as the National Language of India.
3. The article by Shri. Shashi Tharoor referred to in the above article can be found at the link given below.
– Amrutyatri Group
Tags: अधिकृत भाषा, अधिकृत भाषा कायदा, अनुसूची ८, अस्मिता, केंद्रशासन, घटना, परिशिष्ट-८, भारताची राज्यघटना,भाषाभिमान, मराठी, मराठी अस्मिता, मराठी भाषा, मराठी माणूस, मराठीची चळवळ, मराठीचे प्रश्न, महाराष्ट्र, मातृभाषा,मायबोली, माहिती अधिकार, राजभाषा, राज्य शासन, राज्यभाषा, राज्यशासन, राष्ट्रभाषा, राष्ट्रीय एकात्मता, लोकसत्ता,संविधान, स्वाभिमान, हिंदी, CONSTITUTION, CONSTITUTION OF INDIA, GOVERNMENT, HINDI,MAHARASHTRA, MARATHI, MARATHI LANGUAGE, MOTHER TONGUE, NATIONAL LANGUAGE,OFFICIAL LANGUAGE, OFFICIAL LANGUAGES ACT, RECOGNISED LANGUAGES, SCHEDULE 8, STATE GOVERNMENT