Recently a colleague of mine asked me why don’t all Indians speak Hindi since its a national language. The answer is that there’s no ‘National Language’ in India! This might come as a shock to you but nowhere in the Indian constitution does it say that Hindi is to be used as the national language.
High court verdict on Hindi as National language [link]
Languages of India, Wikipedia [link]
In case you didn’t know India is almost the size of a continent and is a Federal Union that consists of 28 states and 7 Union Territories. Now each state has their own unique culture and language and in most states the official languages are; Regional language and English. Hindi is taught in almost all schools in India except for Tamil Nadu, I’d love to elaborate on that but it might be the subject of another post later on.
Now since primary school we’ve all been taught about our ‘National symbols’ like National Bird, National Animal, National Song etc which is all good and dandy but in the process they’ve also sneaked in the idea that Hindi is the ‘National Language’ and one of the elements of being a patriotic Indian would be to speak the ‘Rashtra Bhasha’ Hindi. Now you may ask; “Why do you have a problem with Hindi?”, Oh I don’t have a problem with Hindi but I do have a problem if its enforced as the Official/National language of India since I don’t speak or use Hindi in any communication.
Lets take a look at some numbers shall we? The total number of Hindi speakers is not known but look at the millions of other language speakers. If you’re argument is that Hindi should be the national language since majority of people speak it then in my opinion it should be Telugu since Telugu has the most number of users.[/sarcasm]
Click to enlarge list
Now coming to regions that speak Hindi you’ll notice that it covers only about 30% of the whole country so the argument that Hindi is spoken over majority of India also doesn’t hold much water.
What is the need for a National Language?
One of the reasons I’ve heard is that “its spoken in New Delhi so we all should speak it”.
This is probably one of the lamest reasons I’ve heard so far.
“Hindi is spoken by all national leaders so we too much speak Hindi”
I don’t think that’s true, there are many leaders and members of the parliament that don’t speak Hindi. I’m sure our ex-President APJ Abdul Kalam didn’t speak Hindi but that didn’t prevent him being the President of India
“We need a National Language”
No we do not, we already have enough ‘National’ symbols and the addition of a ‘National Language’ does not benefit our country in any way.
“Speaking Hindi is patriotic”
To this my response is “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel” (ok that original context maybe a little different but its apt here)
“Hindi unites us”
That’s total bullshit. This is often the argument of people who don’t give a damn about the multicultural heritage of our country. India is home to people of many races, cultures and languages and trying to unite them all with a single language is a joke. We already have the oath of allegiance to unite us and in my opinion that’s enough. When many people put forward this ‘Unity thru Hindi’ crap I like to remind them that we also were taught in school that we strive for “Unity in Diversity”
We don’t need a common language to unite us. I’m proud of the fact that we exist as a nation despite the huge differences in culture, ethnicity and language and this is what makes our country strong.