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Why the Hindi vs English debate does not concern India's next generation

Friday, 20 June 2014 - 5:48pm IST | Agency: dna webdesk
Language is solely a means of putting forth a thought. The language through which this thought is put forth is not of extreme significance.

A little over 175 years ago Thomas Babington Macaulay proposed the Macaulay's Minute which enforced the use of English language as a medium of education across India. From there on, English went on to become a language for the elite—of the educated. 

More than a century later, English has become a necessary route for one to climb up the social ladder. Even today to some extent, English is considered as an aspirational language for many. Education today, if not in this language, is considered insignificant.

The Narendra Modi government recently made the use of Hindi in all the government's social media accounts and official letters mandatory.

The controversy was sparked off when a legislative member in the Odisha Assembly was not allowed to speak in Hindi and was asked to speak either in English or Odiya. This move received a backlash from a number of regional leaders who saw it as a way through which the Central government was ignoring indigenous languages. Omar Abdullah came out to say that Jammu and Kashmir will continue using its official languages—Urdu and Hindi. The CPI(M) said that the 'imposition of Hindi was an injustice to other regional languages." Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa also wrote a letter to the Prime Minister asking him to withdraw this guideline. 

PM Narendra Modi, while meeting his foreign counterparts, has always maintained his language of communication as Hindi. However, in today's age, English or any language for that matter has become a means of mere communication. The prime minister through this guideline has simply tried to put forth the point that Hindi also needs to come to prominence instead of English. Since English and Hindi are the two official languages by the government, Hindi also needs to be given more or if not equal acceptance by the country.

The interpretation of this move by regional leaders is slightly misconstrued. The prime minister does not need an interlocuter while talking to perhaps, a Raj Thackeray or Jayalalithaa. Language is solely a means of putting forth a thought. The language through which this thought is put forth is not of extreme significance.

English is still considered a language for the elite. Hindi was a commonground for the people of India. This is not to suggest that regional languages are not. Hindi is just a way for the prime minister to potray his nationalism and showcase the rich heritage of this language.




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