The Selfish Politics of Language

Having born in a Telugu speaking family in Tamil Nadu, mostly educated in Kerala and partly in Karnataka is what enables me to speak all the four south Indian languages of Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada. English helped me to interact with people in new states in the beginning and later on I also learnt to write and speak in Hindi. Having learnt Hindi has empowered me more in understanding and expressing my thoughts with my Hindi speaking friends in Delhi and particularly JNU. I can use Hindi language to express my thoughts with a Bengali, Assamese, Odia, Marathi, Kashmiri, Marwari, Gujarati, Pahadi, Sindhi or Awadhi speaking friend and he/she is happy to see a Hindi speaking South Indian through me! The language of Hindi is a wonderful common option of expression for India. Hindi has enabled me to understand the trans-culture that is India. Obviously it was difficult learning Hindi in the beginning for me, but then could understand the importance of learning Hindi to interact, exchange ideas and survive in a Hindi speaking part of this nation and I’m proud of my attempt in this regard.

Many of my progressively thinking Hindi speaking friends have also benefitted by understanding the basics of the four south Indian languages and the associated culture from me. Many coming from a Non-Hindi speaking family but still can speak in Hindi can understand this two-way flow of information quite nicely. This phenomenon is very much cherished in JNU too. We live in a nation where progressive minded people are willing to learn Arabic, French, Russian, Italian, Chinese, advanced English among other skill requirements to equip themselves better in this competitive world. Learning a new language today has become as important as learning  computer programming was in the 1990s and 2000s.

Hailing from Tamil Nadu myself, I know many of my close relatives and friends who have very sadly accepted that they have been put to tremendous employment, social and cultural disadvantage when they are away in the northern part of India, because they don’t know how to speak Hindi. This gives an advantageous edge to those who can communicate better in Hindi inspite of possessing technical skills. Many also have lately realized and accepted that discouraging Hindi learning had been an important aspect of Tamil politics or even Dravidian politics of being Anti-Hindi. Let me tell you these are the selfish politicians who just think about themselves and just about their regional political career. Laws bring about a unity in the method of governance in a democratic way. If laws don’t then guns will have to govern, but then that will be undemocratic. The government is trying to do things democratically and we have the freedom to critique it, but constructively and futuristically. Political debates in the name of saffronisation of culture, language imposition, rights of linguistic minorities and all are mere politics of stupidity run by idiosyncratic politicians. So this issue of the Politics of Language is immature and deserving of a kick in its butt.

When a South Indian learns Hindi or a North Indian learns any of the four languages of Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam or Kannada it not only opens up employment opportunities for the speakers at Pan-India level but starts to fill up the prevailing North – South divide through well-intended interactions and cultural exchanges. This could infact rightly guarantee what it truly means to say, ‘Unity in Diversity’ in the socio-cultural sense.

It is high time that people think logically about the future rather than fall victims of idiotic – lunatic narratives as this is. The pathetic fact is that the ones who have Hindi as their mother tongue or have learnt Hindi are also part of discouraging non-Hindi speaking students from learning Hindi or understating the culture associated with Hindi. This is disgraceful and Pity! Come on folks you are learning a new language and the very attempt promotes your brain to develop newer neuron connections because learning a new language too is a skill. People who have understood this must take and ask others to take a positive attitude towards it. Learn and let others learn.