President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday asked Hindi-speaking people to give more respect and space to regional languages and their speakers in a bid to make Hindi more popular across the country.
Addressing a function on the occasion of ‘Hindi Divas’, the President said Hindi continued to face opposition in some parts of the country even though it became an official language many decades ago.
Referring to recent incidents on the Bangalore Metro, where a pro-Kannada group opposed Hindi signboards in the train service, and earlier agitations against Hindi in Tamil Nadu, President Kovind said there was a feeling among some people that Hindi was being imposed on them.
“Non-Hindi speaking people desire that we (Hindi-speaking people) give attention to their languages. Those who speak Hindi should give space to other languages. We all have the responsibility to give respect to non-Hindi speaking people and regional languages,” he said.
Kovind suggested that those who speak Hindi should greet a Tamilian with a ‘vanakkam’, a Sikh with ‘Sat Sri Akal’ and a Muslim with an ‘Adaab’ — words of greeting in Tamil, among Sikhs and in Urdu respectively. They should use the word ‘Garu’ (sir) while addressing a Telugu-speaking person, he said.
The adoption of other languages and cultures will help unite the people and the country, he said.
The president said he had used the Russian word ‘spasiba’ (thank you) while ending his speech at a state banquet during the recent visit of Belarus President A G Lukashenko. The guest was so delighted that he spontaneously responded with a ‘Jai Hind’.
The Belarus president also announced that Hindi would be taught in that country’s state university from this month.
Kovind also asked lawyers and doctors to use Hindi and other regional languages at work.
“In India people don’t understand the language of lawyers and doctors. In courts, now, gradually Hindi and other languages are being spoken. Similarly, if the doctors start giving prescriptions in Devanagari and other languages, the doctor-patient distance will be reduced,” he said.