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It Is Time To Let Sleeping Dogmas Lie


Recent remark of the Home Minister of using Hindi as the ‘linking language’ has drawn criticism of the various sections in the country.


GS-I: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

Dimensions of the Article

  • What is the issue?
  • Part of ‘Hindi Promotion’
  • Missing the Point
  • About Efficiency
  • Vehicle of Entertainment
  • Fear of an Agenda
  • Way Forward

What is the issue?

  • Remark says – Hindi should replace English as the ‘link language’ and government’s work will increasingly be in Hindi.
  • A proverbial cat has been let lose among the Southern Pigeons.
  • Indian multilingualism has often been seen a babel of undermining national unity rather than showcasing of diversity of the nation.
  • It is often propagated that Hindi must be the ‘national language’ of India.

Part of ‘Hindi Promotion’

  • Many attempts have been made which are seen as steps towards Hindi Imposition.
  • These are: Imposition of Hindi names on Central Government programs and schemes, a ‘parliamentary committee’ proposal for making Hindi mandatory for MPs and Union Ministers, making Hindi a compulsory subject for CBSE schools across the country, re-lettering milestones on national highways in Hindi, use of Hindi in airport announcements, Central Government issuing media advertisements in Hindi, renaming festivals and occasions in Hindi etc.

Missing the Point

  • Hindi is the mother tongue of some 50% of our population.
  • Growing number can be attributed to rising population in North India.
  • Tough for Non-Hindi speakers to accept Hindi as their primary language of exchange.
  • Anti-English xenophobia should not be injected into the argument.
  • Putting out every document of the government is not possible in 23 languages and hence we use two major languages – English and Hindi.
  • State governments publish these documents in local languages which keeps everyone in loop.

About Efficiency

  • Bureaucratic efficiency may affected due to the language barrier among officers.
  • Language is a vehicle, not a destination, a means and not an end.
  • ‘Three Language Formula’ has not been successfully implemented because South India has agitated against any attempt of Hindi imposition since 1937 whereas any Northerner doesn’t  see the need to learn a language of the south.

Vehicle for Entertainment

  • Familiarity with Hindi is due to Bollywood movies being popular across India.
  • Hindi is a language in which people get entertained. This alone could have made Hindi a national language.
  • However, it must not be shoved down the throat of the unwilling.

Fear of an Agenda

  • Imposition not a god policy in a democratic setup.
  • Agenda of ‘One Language, One Religion and One nation’ is being pushed.
  • This is an anathema to the notion of multicultural, multilingual and secular India.

Way Forward

Language shall be an instrument of opportunity and not of oppression. The quest of uniformity may cause uncertainty, instability and insecurity among the people which may in turn cause social fabric to weaken. India would never want to divide itself on any lines.

Source – The Hindu

February 2024