At a time when the Central government’s efforts to popularise Hindi in the southern States are facing stiff resistance, a grama panchayat in Kozhikode district is on its way to become the first local body in Kerala to achieve total literacy in Hindi.
Driven by the presence of a large number of migrant workers from northern States, the initiative was launched by the Chelannur panchayat on Independence Day. The local body plans to declare itself 100% Hindi literate by the next Republic Day.
As most parts of the State, Chelannur too has been witnessing a huge inflow of workers from the North Indian States and the local people find themselves at a disadvantage while communicating with them. This has been the prime reason that prompted the panchayat to take up the initiative.
“Whether Hindi is the national language or not, even Gandhiji had wanted it to be a common mode of communication among people in various parts of the country. In this age, we cannot go ahead without learning at least how to speak Hindi,” said P.P. Nousheer, president of the panchayat. Besides, the panchayat also aims at rejuvenating the State’s literacy programme machinery.
The panchayat went ahead with the programme in a systematic manner. It conducted a survey to estimate how many people already knew how to write, read and speak Hindi and devised its curriculum accordingly. The services of Hindi teachers in the schools in the panchayat, ex-service men and retired teachers were roped in for the purpose. Youngsters with knowledge in Hindi were trained to be instructors.
The programme has been well-received by the public who turn up at the classes regularly on Sundays. “I had been troubled by my inability to communicate with my workers, most of whom speak Hindi. Though I learned Hindi at school, at that time it was just an easy way to get marks. I decided I needed to learn to speak Hindi and the panchayat’s programme was well timed,” said Shibu K.P., a PWD contractor in the panchayat.
Considering the opinion of the students, the panchayat framed its curriculum giving more importance to spoken Hindi than the written language.
“The panchayat’s efforts have already garnered support from the State Literacy Mission and the District Institution of Education and Training (DIET), besides the Keral Hindi Prachar Sabha. If everything goes as planned, Chelannur will be the first local body from a non-Hindi speaking State to achieve 100% Hindi literacy,” said Sasikumar Chelannur, coordinator of the programme.