Hindi, English and Amit Shah

Thursday, 17 October 2019

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Hindi, English and Amit Shah

Swapnil Bharali | September 21, 2019 15:54 hrs


Wonder if Amit Shah has ever had ‘sah’! Never I guess, because he usually has ‘chai.’ And so his call for the Hindi language as a unifying factor for the country and as an alternative to the ‘foreign language’ that is so prevalent and popular – given its historical presence – came in for a variety of flak from a variety of quarters. 


While the south Indians led by Kamal Hassan were close to mutiny in their initial reactions to the home minister’s proposal and announced a slew of demonstrations bordering on agitation, we in the northeast and Assam and fair bit of the Bengali Twitterati chose to have a real good laugh over it. We had our reasons because we have our own version of Hindi that is unique to us. And we do take pleasure in speaking Hindi our way – with all the mistakes in pronunciation and grammar that would leave the connoisseur gaping. For example, we love to wear our pyjama-punjabi. It doesn’t matter that the Punjabi in this case is called Kurta in chaste Hindi. It also doesn’t matter when we explain to the Bihari mechanic that “Gaari thu gharrr gharrr kor raha haai…” because the message goes across and the problem is rectified. 


So all we can say to Amit Shah is, “Bring it on, Sir. We just hope it would not be something you might regret because we will probably prefer speaking Hindi our way and with our accent.” 
But we might just as well question the timing of his remarks, especially when there are a thousand other more pressing problems plaguing the country and that includes a looming recession. Amit Shah trying to project Hindi as a unifying factor on Hindi Diwas just doesn’t look appropriate. So were his actual intentions different? Was it a diversionary tactic to wean the public glare away from the more potent problems of the country? Or was it plain news-mongering where he just wanted to remain in the news with one more controversial statement?


As for English being termed as a ‘foreign language’… well, unfortunately it is not, given the history of the country. The British rule, remember? Centuries of it! It is English that binds the country from north to south, east to west. Terming it as a foreign language is not really fair to the country.

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