Home Minister Amit Shah said on Saturday that the country should come together to promote Hindi. In his Twitter posts on ‘Hindi Diwas’, Mr Shah added that this should not be done at the cost of other languages.
“India is a country of different languages and every language has its own importance but it is very important to have a language of the whole country which should become the identity of India globally,” he said on Twitter, writing in Hindi. “Today, if one language can do the work of uniting the country, then it is the most spoken language, Hindi,” he added.
Appealing to citizens to increase the use of the mother tongue and Hindi, Mr. Shah equated it to realising the dream of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel of one language for the country.
Later, at a Hindi Divas event in Delhi, he said, “Today if you ask a Hindi-medium student to speak for 40 minutes in Hindi, he won’t be able to do so.”
“There is so much influence of English on us that we cannot talk in Hindi without its help. School students should be asked to speak in Hindi and whoever uses an English word should be given one mark,” Mr. Shah said. Stating that the nation was home to 122 languages and more than 19,500 dialects, the Minister said people should realise that if languages are lost to foreign influence then “we will be severed from our culture”.
"There are 18 words to refer to a relationship in Hindi, whereas the word “Uncle” is used uniformly to explain all relations in English...We shouldn't surrender to slave mentality. Promoting Hindi should be our national responsibility. Had (Bal Gangadhar) Tilak and Gandhi not stressed on using Hindi, we would have lost it to the British,” he said.
The Minister said Hindi had to be taken to areas such as law and science and technology and the “battle was only half won”.
He said Centre will teach children in Northeast states to read and write Hindi. “I was in Guwahati last week, I heard that many people are hiring private tutors to teach Hindi to their children. Centre has decided that we will teach them Hindi,” he said.
He said the members of the Constituent Assembly while framing the Constitution had agreed to make Hindi the national language of India. As per the Official Languages Act, 1963, Hindi and English are languages to be used in correspondence between ministries and State governments.
Hindi Divas is observed to mark the decision of the Constituent Assembly on September 14, 1949 to extend official language status to Hindi. It was first observed in 1953.
Mr. Shah said Hindi should reach every individual and every home in the country.
“Next year we will hold the Hindi Divas functions in different parts of the country. I appeal to every parents to speak to their children in their own language and also with the co-workers,” he said.
He added that a language can survive only if the new generation feels proud in speaking it. “It is our strength that we have many languages and dialects. We have to see that a foreign language does not overtake a native language,” he said.
The Home Minister also said during the freedom struggle, the Congress conventions used to take place in different parts of the country and such initiatives empowered Hindi in those areas.
The Minister also referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Prime Minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee and late External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who delivered their speeches in UN General Assembly in Hindi.
”Swaraj had ensured that the UN issues regular Hindi bulletins also tweets in Hindi,” he said.
Three-language formula should not be tinkered with: Congress
Hours after Union minister Amit Shah’s Hindi language pitch, the Congress on Saturday said the three-language formula should not be tinkered with and controversies must not be stirred up on “emotive” issues settled by Constitution-makers.
The opposition party also said no indication should be given of a rethink on the “three-language formula” as it will create strife and unrest in the country.
The three languages formula is commonly understood to comprise Hindi, English and the regional language of the respective states.
Home Minister Shah on Saturday pitched for a common language for the country and said as Hindi is spoken the most, it can unite the whole country.
He also asked everyone to use their native languages as much as possible, but said efforts will be made to expand Hindi’s reach to different parts of the country.
Asked about Shah’s remarks, Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said: “Let me make it very clear, if that is true then the Home Minister of India should know that Hindi has been declared as the official language long back.”
The Constitution clearly respects India’s diversity as it recognises 22 languages spoken by a large number of people, Sharma said.
“We should not stir up controversies on emotive and sensitive issues which have been settled by the maturity of India’s Constitution-makers and the prime minister after Independence, especially I am referring to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. When the issue came up of language and the three-language formula was devised,” Sharma said.
That formula must not be tinkered with and no indication should be given of a rethink which will create strife and unrest in the country, the Congress leader said.
Mamata, CPI oppose Hindi push
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said people should respect all languages and cultures equally but not at the cost of their mother tongues.
‘Hindi Divas’ took a political twist in Karnataka with the Congress and the JD(S) leaders terming it as an ‘imposition’ of the language. However, the ruling BJP batted for learning it just like Kannada and appealed to the people of the State not to treat it as imposition of a language.
The CPI lashed out at Mr. Shah saying it was an “attack” on India’s federal structure and diversity. “The statement of Amit Shah on Hindi Diwas saying that if there is any single language that can ensure unity of our nation that is only Hindi smacks of attack on the very concept of diversity. The need today is to respect, protect and nurture diversity of our nation so that unity is ensured,” the Left party said in a statement.