At a time when non-Hindi speaking states are agitating against Hindi imposition, should Vice President of India attribute progress to only Hindi language?
Speaking at a ‘Hindi Divas’ event organized annually by the Union Home Ministry, vice-president M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said progress in India is not possible without Hindi. According to The Hindu, he also advocated for primary education in one’s mother tongue.
He said English was an “illness” left behind by the British. “When I was young, I participated in anti-Hindi protests. Later, I realized it was not possible to progress without Hindi. I came to Delhi, spoke in broken Hindi but was accepted by all,” he is quoted as saying by The Hindu.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh also spoke at the event, where officials and writers who promoted Hindi were felicitated. “When the Chinese president came here he spoke in his mother tongue. The Iranian president, a Ph.D. in English also spoke in his mother tongue when he was here. One should never forget their mother tongue,” he said, according to The Hindu.
Naidu said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had suggested that people should also learn one other Indian language apart from their mother tongue. The PM wanted Hindi speakers to learn one language from the south, while south Indians could learn one north Indian language, the vice-president said.
“Bank and railway officials speak in English. Those who come to them don’t know the language. You should speak in a language that people know, we have not made any effort in this regard,” he said.
Venkaiah Naidu himself hails from one of the South Indian states where English is an integral part of the culture. Apart from that, these are also the states where anti-Hindi imposition agitations are strong. In light of this, should Vice President of India attribute progress to only one language?
Dr. Ramkumar Manimaram:
“For we Indians, particularly South Indians, English is a part and parcel of our culture. Though we do agree that predominantly in India our language is Hindi. For us, there is no alternative other than English. It is a way of integrity in our country. English is a medium of communication. It should be practiced and not be abolished. Nobody should impose on someone to speak in a certain language and for this matter in Hindi. Right now English is a medium of communication for the majority of the people living in the South. It is a way of maintaining sovereignty in India. In my opinion, it is very unfortunate for a person like him who himself comes from Andhra Pradesh and being a part of the south of India to make such a statement since he knows the value of English here.”
PT Thomas, Kerala MLA:
“In India, there is unity in diversity. That unity means each and every language, their caste, their creed varies even though we stay in the country united. But the culture, our believes or other things. That is the most prominent reason why we as a country is considered united, which promotes a cosmopolitan culture. This kind of statement is really threatening the democratic constitution of India and most importantly our society. It is also against the lives of the Indians. Every regional language has a procession. The government has already agreed that Hindi is our National language. Simultaneously we have been using English with so many other languages. There has been an instance where people were agitated in Tamil Nadu against speaking Hindi. A larger percentage of people living in India do speak Hindi in India but by enforcing a law or by pressuring someone to speak in a certain language is not acceptable. You can’t make someone forcefully believe that one language is superior to other. This kind of attitude is not good for a democratic way of life in our country.”
Sandip Deshpande, MNS Spokesperson:
“Hindi is not a national language. I suppose Mr. Venkaiah Naidu should know about this being our Vice President. All our states are with linguistic differences, all the states are divided on the basis of linguistics. It is the duty of the central government to promote all the regional languages equally and not just Hindi. He should actually advise this to the North Indians. People living in Mumbai for more than decades can’t or do not speak Hindi. Basically, every people in the country love their own Mother tongue in their respective states, whether it is Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh Tamil Nadu or Kerala. The center should promote each and every language equally. They cannot just promote Hindi as a single language.”
Hareesh Babu, Actor, Kerala:
“As an Indian citizen if Hindi is our National language then we must know Hindi. But nobody can force you to speak in a particular language which they are not comfortable with. I am comfortable speaking in English because I’ve learned it since childhood. But nobody can force me to speak in Malayalam, Tamil or any other language which I am not comfortable with. It is up to me. I can very well speak Hindi. I’ve learned Hindi but nobody can force me to speak in that language. In my opinion what Mr. Venkaiah Naidu is empowering people to unify and be a single country which is binding on the country which is okay but nobody should be forced to speak in a particular language.”