1. Intro – citing recent controversies.
  2. Briefly mention the consequences of Hindi imposition.
  3. Arguments against one language policy referring to scholars’ views (optional in GS answers).
  4. Conclusion.

The debate over Hindi being India’s “National Language” has loomed in the public & political discourse since the drafting of the Constitution. It was recently sparked when the Draft National Education Policy 2019 gave more importance to Hindi over other Indian languages (3-language policy), and more recently, it has drawn the ire of Tamil Nadu upon a proposal for making Hindi mandatory in school education.

The southern state have specially opposed, reminding the centre that Hindi is envisaged to serve as a link-language and would not be imposed on non-Hindi speaking states against their will. A group ‘Bengal Pokkoh’ has emerged even in Bengal spearheading movements against Hindi imposition.

Should Hindi be imposed ?: The number of native Hindi speakers in India are estimated to be only around 44%, including the speakers of Bhojpuri. Thus, the dangers of imposing Hindi are manifold, especially affecting the learning abilities of non-native speakers, thereby affecting their self-confidence. It can also endanger other languages, reducing diversity. Language is integral to culture and national integration cannot come at the cost of people’s linguistic identities.

  • Language is at the core of people’s identities. It is in a language that an individual conceptualises, communicates his thoughts and perceives all human values. It enables him to actively participate in society. Since language is a significant factor in building one’s social identity, it’s diversity must be preserved.
  • Imposing a dominant language can negatively impact an individual’s political identity, since he won’t be able to speak/write in that language, leading to political exclusion.
  • It can also seriously impact employment, education & recreational opportunities, leading to discrimination & injustice.

Even though, the Constituent Assembly debates were informed by remarkable seriousness, scholarship and integrity, most of the linguistic decisions taken by it were located in consensual democracy and domination of elites in that body. According to Papia Sengupta, “the multicultural & multilingual ethos of Indian society was ignored and rights of linguistic minorities were compromised”. Sadhana Saxena explains that the 8th Schedule has taken no cognisance of various languages like ‘minor languages’, ‘tribal languages’, etc.

One language domination threaten the diversity & federalism of India. The states’ fear of the central government’s monopolising faith, education & language will adversely affect the political system based on pluralism & accommodation. Hany Babul MT says “unilingual policies have created “chaturvarna system” of languages, wrongly diving them into hierarchical system”. It is believed that ‘nationalists’ today are promoting linguistic nationalism that sees other Indian languages as inferior to Hindi.

A language is ‘power’, which cannot be achieved by suppressing one’s own language. So a patient national approach is needed to the problem of language. Focus should not be on establishing one national language, but on strengthening the official language whose importance cannot be disregarded. National integration in a multilingual country with many regional diversities must heed to the convenience & necessity of having more than one language, as centre-state & inter-state communication for politico-social reasons cannot be disputed.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish May 11, 2022