The above question can be answered in affirmative. We have the “problem” about languages, because adults discuss it and try to “solve” it! Children do not have the problem, because of their natural ability to imbibe all the languages of the situation and environment in which they grow up. The purpose of this ability is survival. It becomes necessary for a normal, healthy childhood to pick up the language of the school and the playground. At the end of the day, let us acknowledge the context of Amit Shah’s speech – the Hindi Divas, when we may naturally expect all well meaning people to say a few good and kind words about the language. Only Hindi can unite India because it is most spoken language in the country.
It is nobody’s case that Hindi is the magic bullet that will unite India. In a country that has over a hundred languages and dialects, we certainly need one language in which we can all converse and understand each other easily. English is not and cannot be such a language. Delirious people allergic to the word ‘Hindi’ (in fact anything that starts with ‘Hind’) are spreading fearful doomsday scenarios as they probably did in the year 1965. As a participant in that agitation as a school boy, I realise today looking back, that passions were merely whipped up for political gains then, leading to tragic loss of lives. I do feel that all communication from the Central to state governments must be in English if the latter so desire. Central government communication to people in states through ads and other means must be in local languages. People must be encouraged to learn Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states.
I agree that Hindi cannot be imposed as a national language; but there is little wisdom in not accepting fact that Hindi has potential to become ‘a common language. Despite all anti- Hindi agitations, fact is that on basis of numerical strength of Hindi speaking population, Hindi will score over other regional languages and it has a better chance to be accepted as a ‘common language. I think political leaders, especially those belonging to the regional parties, must reconsider their opposition to use of Hindi as a common language. Incidental observations: (a) our politicians have ensured that investments are made to set up private schools where English is the preferred medium of instruction. (b) In all new schools in the private sector, study of Tamil or Malayalam or Kannada or Marathi, as the case may be, has become less and less unimportant, as it is study of a ‘second’ or even a ‘third’ language. (c) Our objective should be to ensure that all Indian languages prosper.
Hindi is not a glue it’s just a language, I know English, but it does not unite me with British, I still need visa and their approval if I were to go there. I also need the same if I were to go to Russia. Maurya empire united (Mostly North) India and ruled for 130+ years, they did not enforce their language, but India was united for longer period than it is today. British tried to enforce English, but their empire collapsed after 1947 and India split into two. What keeps us united is, oneness, our culture, mutual respect and the language Hindi becomes a via media among people to converse and mix with each other. This is going on for centuries and no one can deny. Kanimozhi, A. Raja were all conversing in Hindi when they were staying in Delhi as MPs.
Even actors like Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan join the bandwagon to blindly agitate against Hindi. However, they bank on Hindi audience for the bilingual language films and eye for box office hits in Hindi. But when it comes to encouraging Hindi, they back out without any reason. Be a Roman in Rome is true and Super stars should have a rational thinking and a holistic approach towards Hindi.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)