Language is power. And ever since Narendra Modi became PM, Hindi translates to power. The Babu, used to English as the lingua franca in official correspondence for decades, has been told by a little bird to polish up his Hindi skills.
And when Modi delivered his Thimphu speech in Hindi on Monday, the writing was on the wall: In Hindi! Sources in the PMO said some inputs for Modi's speech came to the PMO in English which then had to be translated to Hindi for the prime minister's benefit.
That said, the "oral" order that Hindi speaks volumes is out. And word of mouth travels faster than the written, especially in the corridors of north and south blocks, and in the many 'sarkari' bhavans such as
Nirman and Udyog: Word has spread in Babudom that using Hindi will be rewarding.
Of course, some ministries are going the extra mile to bring the Babu up to speed on Hindi. He's being introduced to Hindi words he/she might have to use more often than other Hindi words when at work.
For instance, Monday's word for the Babu in I&B ministry was 'prastavana', which is Hindi for 'introduction'. And with government generally starting everything with 'introductions', or the now
politically correct 'prastavana', using Hindi makes sense nowadays, appropriate or 'uchchit'.
Ministry of I&B, of course, is not the exception. Other ministries too are at it. "This is nothing new. Even otherwise all official communications have been done for years in both English and Hindi," says an official of the defence ministry. "We hold an annual 'Hindi Pakhwarah (fortnight)'. For a fortnight special Hindi classes are held, separate for those from the Hindi belt, and those from the 'AHindi' belt."
An August 22, 2013 circular from the department of languages (DOL) said that those who "pass" the Hindi language, Hindi typewriting and Hindi stenography examinations "under the Hindi Teaching Scheme through one's own efforts" stood to earn a "lump sum award". Of course, if the PM writes in Hindi to a secretary, the secretary has no other option but to reply in Hindi. That or his head on a platter.
Those who attend 'Hindi Pakhwara' and take Hindi seriously also get to win prizes. He/she gets Rs 1,000 extra per year for taking pains to learn and use in official communications Hindi words that are hardly used in day-to-day discourse. But all these years, Babudom has scorned at this offer of "peanuts".
The bureaucrat from the 'heartland' is cool with Hindi even if English comes easier to his tongue. Not so the AHindi south Indian Babu, for whom learning words like 'prastavana' or 'anumodan (proposal) or anumodit (proposed) and putting them to use is easier said than done.
His Vivah (marriage) with Hindi after the anumodan (proposal) is bound to be dolaimaan (rocky).