A brilliant orator, who had a full command over the Hindi language, proceeded for his final journey on August 16, 2018, as the Vishwa Hindi Sammelan (World Hindi Conference) was to begin in Mauritius from August 18 to August 20. It was Atal Ji who had taken the first initiative to bring Hindi on the world platform. First Vishwa Hindi Sammelan was held in 1975 in Nagpur. At the Nagpur conference, a resolution was adopted urging the United Nations to give the Hindi language an official status at the UN. Two years later, Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the Minister for the External Affairs in the Janata Party government in 1977 headed by Morarji Desai. Vajpayee delivered his speech in Hindi at the UN General Assembly session on October 1977. Before him, no Indian Prime Minister or External Affairs Minister had ever delivered the speech in Hindi at the UN session. There was a current of joy throughout the world among the Hindi speaking population. By delivering the speech in Hindi, Vajpayee stressed the need to give a proper recognition and right place to Hindi at the United Nations. Overnight, Vajpayee became the hero of Hindi lovers not only in India but throughout in the world. He remembered his moments at the UN with great pride.
In his address, he had said, “It is only six months since we assumed power but our achievements are remarkable. The fundamental rights of the citizens have been restored in India once again. We were surrounded by the atmosphere of fear. It is over now. The constitutional measures are being taken so that it is ensured in future that no government can take away the fundamental rights of the citizens of India. Mr. Secretary General Sir, our tradition of “Vasudheva Kutumbkum” (World is one family) is very old. We always believe that the world is one community, one family. There is a hope of this becoming a reality with the active support of the member nations of the UNO”.
Carrying forward Atal Ji’s Message of 1977
Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered his speech in Hindi at the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland early this year. Some known pessimists and so-called intellectuals had even remarked that since Prime Minister’s speech was in Hindi, it will not get due coverage in the world Press. But what happened was the opposite of the doomsayers. Modi’s speech was widely covered in the world media. It also demonstrated the growing economic clout of India in the world.
Jump of Hindi after Atal’s UN Speech
It is unfortunate that even after Atal Behari Vajpayee’s historic speech in Hindi at the UN, the world forum has not given due place and recognition to Hindi as yet. But this is also a fact that Hindi has made a quantum jump in the past four decades. Hindi is spoken in many countries today. In Fiji, Mauritius, Nepal, Trinidad and Guiana Hindi occupies the same place as it has in India.
Two factors are important in making Hindi popular in the world. One is a large number of Indians settled abroad and the second one is Hindi films; although amongst Indians settled abroad there are people who speak Bangla, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi, etc. The number of people who speak Hindi is the second in the world after the Chinese speaking population. More people speak Hindi than people who speak English, French, German or Spanish language. During the past 200 years, Indians are recognised as a good workforce in the world.
Hindi and Hindi films
How far has Hindi cinema been able to make the Hindi language popular in foreign countries? In Soviet Union (now Russia), Raj Kapoor’s films like Awara, Sri 420, Mera Naam Joker, etc. were popular because his films carried a positive message. The song ‘Mera joota hai japani, a patloon Egnlishtani, Sar pe lal topi Russi phir bhi dil hai Hindustani’, rendered by Mukesh was popular in the communist Russia. The song is from Sri 420.
Hindi films are watched in a large number of countries of the world. Hindi films are seen in China also. Amir Khan is a superstar in China. His films easily earn more than Rs 100 cores in China. Amitabh Bachchan is a superstar in Egypt. People walking on the streets of Egypt know many popular dialogues of Amitabh Bachchan films. Dharmendra is a popular actor in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. I am of the view that lyricists of Hindi film songs like Javed Akhtar, Shailendra, Anand Bakshi, Sahir Ludhianvi, Neeraj, Sameer, Prasoon Joshi, etc. are no less talented than any writer or poet of Hindi.
We should express our gratitude to the non-Indians (foreigners) for contributing to the growth of Hindi in the world. I must mention here that Prof Ronald Stuart McGregor. He was a real lover of Hindi who served the language with full dedication. He taught Hindi in Cambridge University from 1964 till 1997. He was a great scholar of Hindi grammar, a great translator and a great historian of Hindi literature. Hindi is richer when it is learnt and taught by those whose mother tongue is not Hindi. McGregor was of British origin. He has written a paper on Ramchandra Shukla after intense research.
McGregor passed away on August 19, 2013, at the age of 84.
I pay my tribute to McGregor, the great Hindi scholar.
R K SINHA
(The writer is a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha)
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