This refers to Justice Markandey Katju’s article “Think rationally about learning Hindi and it will make sense” (Sept. 28). Why should an ordinary Tamilian, who has no reason or compulsion to migrate to north India, learn Hindi? When there is a need, Tamilians will learn Hindi on their own, without any prodding.
During my frequent train travels between north and south India, I have had the opportunity to talk to people from the north. Many of them brag that they have lived in Coimbatore for 20 years or in Madurai for 16 years doing business, etc. Then they ask: “you call egg ‘muttai,’ don’t you?” Or “you call water ‘thanni,’ don’t you?” as though they have done a great service to Tamil by learning these words. As for thinking rationally, let me assure Justice Katju that he will not find a better rationalist than a Tamilian.
The primary object of learning any language is communication, and those who want to earn a living in a Hindi-speaking State will obviously learn to speak in Hindi. People from southern States do go to the north for work. Their children learn Hindi in schools. They learn their mother tongue too to communicate with their relatives. Earlier, when people moved from one State to another, they were willing to learn the local language and adopt the local customs. But now, with more people migrating from the north to the south for job prospects, we find that they insist on the locals knowing Hindi.
I do not understand why the issue needs to be discussed at all — even after the Constitution has been suitably amended to make English an Associate Official Language of the Indian Union to safeguard the interests of the non-Hindi speaking Indian population.
The most logical reorganisation of the country on linguistic basis took place about 60 years ago. It is, therefore, only logical and rational to give primacy to the State language and the accepted link language. English being the accepted link language in Tamil Nadu, the government has been following the two-language formula (Tamil and English) since 1967 in conducting its transactions within and outside the State.
Those Tamilians who feel learning Hindi is a must can learn the language. They cannot expect the State government to spend its tax revenue on providing facilities to people to learn Hindi or any language which is not native to the State.
English continues to remain a language of the elite only because the government is not allocating sufficient resources towards actively promoting the global language as a common second language and the sole link language for all Indians.
If at all we do accept that Hindi should be learnt, it should be a heavily watered down version written in the Latin script to facilitate easy communication in spoken Hindi, rather than the current education model in which students have to learn Hindi in the Devanagri script, adhering to stringent grammar, which is a serious burden on non-Hindi students and hence a source of deep resentment among many people across India. And Hindi should be taught only after the child learns the basics of his/her mother tongue, English, and the local language (if it is not the same as the mother tongue) in that order. A Kannadiga living in Bhubaneswar should start learning Hindi only after he learns basic Kannada, English and Odiya.
I agree with Justice Katju’s views on learning Hindi. Although Tamil is one of the oldest languages and is rich in literature, it is a regional language. Learning Hindi does not mean Tamil is given less importance. Since I am from Tamil Nadu, I love Tamil more than I love English and Hindi. But to communicate with people outside, Hindi is essential. We must learn Hindi with pleasure.