Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022
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Opinion

Hindi Chauvinism Hangs Like An Imperialist Spectre Over Rest Of India

With Hindi being pushed by the Centre as Rashtra Bhasha, the spectre of language imperialism haunts the Indian Union

Time’s arrow artwork by Anupriya

First things first. Hindi is not the nat­i­onal language of India. The Uni­on of India was not founded on the basis of any particular language, except maybe English, which formed the only strain of common communication and co-ordination—via the British-built rails and post-office—and connected producers of anti-British narratives in anti-British struggles from Bengal to Peshawar and Punjab to Tamil Nadu. The Gujarat high court, in a historic judgment in 2012, termed Hindi as a foreign language as far as Gujarat and Gujaratis are concerned.

But in 2022, another Gujarati—Union home minister Amit Shah—demanded that Hindi, a “foreign” language for non-Hindi people, be used by non-Hindi people instead of English, the only language that is taught in all classes of all schools in all states of the Indian Union. This led to protests in Tamil Nadu by DMK, in Karnataka by the Congress and JD(S), in Mah­a­ra­s­htra by Shiv Sena, in West Bengal by Tri­na­mool Congress (TMC), in Kerala by CPI(M), with even the Tamil Nadu BJP unit rejecting the idea.

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