September 14 is Hindi Divas.
Hindi is a direct descendant of Sanskrit through Prakrit and Apabhramsha. It has been influenced and enriched by Dravidian, Turkish, Farsi, Arabic, Portugese and English languages. It is a very expressive language. In poetry and songs, it can convey emotions using simple and gentle words. It can also be used for exact and rational reasoning.
More than 180 million people in India regard Hindi as their mother tongue. Another 300 million use it as second language. Outside of India, Hindi speakers number 100,000 in USA; 685,170 in Mauritius; 890,292 in South Africa; 232,760 in Yemen; 147,000 in Uganda; 5,000 in Singapore; 8 million in Nepal; 20,000 in New Zealand; 30,000 in Germany. Urdu, the official language of Pakistan, spoken by about 41 million in Pakistan and other countries, is essentially the same language. These are the facts concerning Hindi which is the third most-spoken language in the world. Our identity is Hindi but of late Hindi is getting step-motherly treatment from Indians themselves.
It is a paradox that is indicative of an emerging trend in Bollywood – the country’s pan-Indian film industry may make its movies in the national language but prefers to have its scripts written in a colonial one. In other words, no Hindi please, we prefer Angrezi.
“When VVS Laxman walked in to discuss the first day’s play with the media on Friday evening, there were audible groans — bowlers were the stars of the day, and the reporters were hoping to chat with Zaheer Khan. Minutes later, leaving Laxman mid-sentence — he was answering a question in Hindi — one by one, the British journalists walked up to the table, picked up their voice recorders and walked out.”
Now I narrate an incident which took place a few days back. I was commuting by a local train, when a woman asked me in English if I could make place for her. Why she could not have asked me in Hindi, I wondered. Was it necessary to use English? Wherever I go, people choose to speak English, though most of them are fluent in Hindi. Even the educational system has adopted English as the medium of instruction. Should not Hindi have been given priority?
I am surprised that politicians use English in Parliament and even in Republic Day and Independence Day speeches. I have seen youngsters who are proudly declare that they do not know their national language. The use of Hindi has been reduced to the use of slang. Parents feel inferior if their child is unable to converse in English. There are so many English-speaking classes conducted, but not a single Hindi-speaking class.
We are in the 60th year of our independence, but how independent are we? All industries, including the media, fashion and management communicate only in English. Pilots have been fired because they do not know English. I do not wish to insult English. But people should be bi-lingual and speak both Hindi and English fluently. English is the pair of spectacles, while Hindi is the eye. If people do not have eyes, of what use are the spectacles? I feel proud when Indians do not feel inferior while communicating with foreigners, but what if they are asked to speak Hindi? Do the Japanese or Chinese face similar problems? They have come a long way, but do they really need to depend on a foreign language like our youth do?
It is always good to know a foreign language and culture, but not at the cost of the local language. I would like to conclude by quoting Bapu, “There should be no use of foreign language between two people knowing the same language, the use of the other language then, should be punished.”
The world is changing and it is always sensible to change with the changing situation. But we cannot afford to forget Hindi and its rich culture because it is the pillar our country rests on. If this support were to weaken, it would lead to a catastrophe. It is high time we respected our
mother tongue national language. The Hindi Divas should not be the only day when we remember our identity, i.e. Hindi.