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Thursday 9 April 2020

Hindi ‘imposition’ fear resurfaces; usual suspects not alone in scare-mongering

Ironically, even leftist north Indians quoted known right-wing figures who had protested against Hindi 'imposition' to make their point

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New Delhi: “India is a country of different languages ​​and every language has its own significance, but it is very important to have a language of the whole country which will become the identity of India in the world. Today, if only one language can do the work of tying the country with a thread of unity, it is the most spoken Hindi language,” Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted this in the morning of 14 September, the Hindi Day.

Shortly after his tweet, #StopHindiImposition and #StopHindiImperialism started trending on Twitter. Apart from this, #OneLanguage and #AmitShah trended, too.

Like every year, #HindiDivas and #HindiDiwas were trending on social media this Hindi Day, but the positive mood changed after Amit Shah’s tweet.

Lok Sabha MP from Hyderabad Asaduddin Owaisi reacted with his own tweet: “Hindi isn’t every Indian’s “mother tongue”. Could you try appreciating the diversity & beauty of the many mother tongues that dot this land? Article 29 gives every Indian the right to a distinct language, script & culture. India’s much bigger than Hindi, Hindu, Hindutva.”

DMK chief MK Stalin raised a strong objection to Amit Shah’s statement, too. Stalin demanded the withdrawal of the statement from the Home Minister. Stalin said he would call a party meeting on this issue on Monday.

The Youth Congress tweeted on this issue and said that the BJP had forgotten the Indian geography and Constitution. The Youth Congress said that there were 22 official languages ​​and 1,652 mother tongues in the country.

Social media users, mostly south Indians, objected to Amit Shah’s statement. Dhanya Rajendran reported for The News Minute, “‘This is India, not Hindia’: Political leaders oppose Amit Shah’s statement on Hindi unifying India. #StopHindiImposition

Another Tamilian Twitter user wrote, “Learning Hindi is great, but that does not mean to impose it on non-Hindi speaking states. I’m proud to be an Indian. Unity In diversity & yes I’m a Tamil Speaking INDIAN #jaihind #StopHindiImperialism #StopHindiImposition #HindiIsNotMyLanguage #HindiDiwas #தமிழ்வாழ்க

Objections were raised by Bengalis, too. A Twitter user named Uchhas Kundu wrote, “India/Bharat/ভারত is (the) world’s Oldest and Greatest country where Every Religion, Ethnic Group & Language is Equal. The world gives (an) example of India to others. We’re unique in our own way, thats (sic) our beauty. so stop imposing any culture/language on each other. #StopHindiImposition

Interestingly, those from northern and western India were not too impressed by Amit Shah’s speech either. And, ironically, leftists among them seized the opportunity to slam the second-most important leader of the BJP using a tweet by a hardcore right-wing scribe. Rohini Singh of The Wire retweeted Kanchan Gupta’s tweet on the issue where he had taken exception to an assertion by a speaker of the north Indian urban language.

Singh tweeted, “All those demanding Hindi to be made the national language should be forced to learn Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam first. Let’s see whether they will continue with their ludicrous demand then! #StopHindiImperialism

Owaisi wasn’t the only Muslim who protested. Other speakers of Urdu objected to Amit Shah’s speech, too.

Md Asif Khan wrote, “Hindi is not (the) language of every Indian. Most so-called Hindi speakers speak Hindi+Urdu. Hindi doesn’t represent 1.3 Billion people, Hindi Can’t be (the) language of 1.3 billion people. One nation, One Language is a Nazi Idea and we have to oppose it. #StopHindiImposition

Opposition to a feared ‘imposition’ of Hindi

This is not the first time that the proposal to put one language above the rest has been opposed. There has been a lot of opposition from southern states especially in Tamil Nadu to ‘imposition of Hindi’.

Protests against Hindi in Tamil Nadu date back to 1937 when Chakravarti Rajagopalachari’s government supported the introduction of the language in the Madras province, but was opposed by the Dravidian Kazhagam (DK). At the time, protests and violent clashes in the province lasted about two weeks. According to official figures, 70 lives were lost in activism. The protests then took the form of violent clashes and more deaths followed.

For the second time in 1965, when an attempt was made to make Hindi a national language, the southern states were infuriated again.

Recently in the new education policy, when Hindi reading was made compulsory for students of secondary education (Class VIII) in non-Hindi speaking states, there was huge opposition. Eventually, the central government had to rollback the decision.

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