Petition AGainst India's biased Language policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Oct 6 14:28:23 UTC 2007

Petition Against India's biased Language policy.<>

*By Admin* | October 5, 2007

To: World, Indians To:
UN Secretary General.CC: Prime Minister, India.
President, India.

Dear Mr. Ban Ki-moon,

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a
troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be
left to irresponsible action."

– George Washington, in a speech on January 7, 1790

A language is not just a medium for communication but represents the
tradition, culture and history of that linguistic group. With this in mind,
we have created this petition opposing the Indian Government's policy to
promote Hindi as another UN language.

India is a country of linguistic diversity. This diversity is showcased by
these figures:
216 different languages are claimed to be the mother tongue of different
linguistic groups with more than 10,000 speakers, 51 languages have more
than a million speakers, and there is a total of 1652 languages and dialects
in India[1][2][3].

Some of these languages like Bengali, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu are
more than 1000 years old and possess its own unique history and culture that
would not be represented by Hindi. Repeated attempts by the center to make
Hindi as the "National Language" of India was defeated by other linguistic
groups in 1937 and 1965 [4]. As of now, India has no National language but
only 23 Official languages [5]. Out of 28 constituent states and Union
Territories in the Indian Union, only 10 States and 3 Union Territories have
Hindi as one of the Official Language.

The present day situation is not much different from 1965 as seen in the
stand taken by the political parties in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
[6][7][8][9][10]. We sincerely believe that the Indian government is a
representative of the many linguistic groups and hence its policies should
reflect this diversity. After all, the motto is "Unity in diversity" and not
"Unity at the expense of diversity". Moreover it sends out a wrong message
to people that all Indians speak Hindi and that it is the only national
language whereas the picture is completely different, even as per the Indian
constitution [5].

The promotion of one language over the others would lead to a slow but
steady erosion of other languages as pointed out by Robert Phillipson and
Tove Skunabb-Kangas (1996). They have stated that many Indians are deprived
of their cultural heritage because of non-familiarity of their mother
tongue. This is exacerbated by the macabre policy of the Central government
which provides economic incentive to Indians to learn Hindi irrespective of
their mother tongue. Further more, this is being justified as "people's
will" since India is a democracy. This is a fallacy since India is a
"Democracy based on simple majority" and the Hindi politicians use their
advantage in numbers to impose Hindi on the other linguistic groups (60-70
\% of Indians) which are lesser in number as a group but together out number
the Hindi natives (30-40 \% of Indians).

Indian Central governments' policy of ignoring the linguistic diversity in
India by not acknowledging the "Equal Official Language" status of the
different languages and by not promoting the different languages at the
International level is a covert means to linguistically and culturally
subdue the non-Hindi linguistic groups, to artificially create a nation of
single language.

We do not intend to torpedo any move by a linguistic group to promote their
language but we take offense at the fact that the Indian government which is
supposed to be the representative of all the languages of India is
selectively promoting one language while ignoring other languages. This is
highlighted by the biased funding and policy that has been the mark of Hindi
politicians by throwing their weight of numbers to drown the voice of
linguistic minorities in India [11][12]. Also, we do not see the need for
having Hindi as the link language in India since English is an essential
requirement for a Hindi and a non-Hindi native in India for educational,
socio-economic mobility[13][14].

While we reaffirm our stand as Indians, we believe that it is our right to
voice our opinion to the world that we do not condone such a blatant move by
the Indian government to promote one language (Hindi) while ignoring the
other Indian languages. We also sincerely hope that this petition is read by
fellow Indians who advocate promoting Hindi which is the native language of
only 30-40 \% of Indians.

We Indians, who do not represent the Hindi speaking region, are appalled by
this move initiated by the Indian government to promote Hindi as the
representative language of India at UN. Please consider this petition as the
voice of our dissent against the biased linguistic policy of the Indian
government. We hope and believe that the UN will not condone such abrasive
and imposing behavior on the part of the Hindi politicians who have a vested
interest in promoting Hindi at UN to cater to their vote banks.



The Undersigned
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