[lg policy] ‘Hindi imposition isn’t nationalism, India isn’t China’: India’s Language Divide

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Sat Jan 20 10:30:03 EST 2018


 ‘Hindi imposition isn’t nationalism, India isn’t China’: India’s Language
Divide
<https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/hindi-imposition-isn-t-nationalism-india-isn-t-china-india-s-language-divide-75038>
“The idea of Hindi imposition and to conflate it with nationalism is
entirely bogus,” actor Prakash Belawadi said at the India Today Conclave.

   - TNM Staff <https://www.thenewsminute.com/author-articles/TNM-Staff>
   - Saturday, January 20, 2018 - 10:07

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imposition isn’t nationalism, India isn’t China’: India’s Language Divide>

How can we make politicians and people from the Hindi-belt understand that
many states in India are subjected to Hindi imposition, and that it is
wrong?

At the ongoing India Today Conclave South 2018 in Hyderabad, former Human
Resource Development Minister MM Pallam Raju, Congress Spokesperson Brijesh
Kalappa, actor Prakash Belawadi and Kerala-based writer NS Madhavan, tried
their hand at explaining why the south is peeved with the Centre’s push for
Hindi.

Titled 'The Language Divide: Whose Hindi is it?’, the panel discussion was
moderated by senior India Today journalist Rahul Kanwal.

*Why must promoting Hindi be equated with nationalism?*

Promoting Hindi as ‘rashtra bhasha’ or as the main Indian language is often
justified in the garb of nationalism. But Prakash Belawadi called that out
and said that those two did not necessarily go hand in hand.

“The idea of Hindi imposition and to conflate it with nationalism is
entirely bogus. It’s not correct,” he said.

NS Madhavan also pointed out how attempts to impose Hindi were being made
subtly. "After demonetisation, when the new currencies were printed, Hindi
numerals were used. This is against the official language policy of
Government of India. A person from Tamil Nadu went to the High Court on
this issue. We can understand speaking Hindi or even the letters but
placing Hindi numerals on national currency is imposition," said the
writer.

Prakash also questioned why a country should have just one dominant
language. "The idea is an archaic one,” he said, “It is not about being
anti-Hindi, it is about equity. It is about common sense.  In Karnataka, if
bank forms don’t have Kannada, and people who have studied till class 10 go
to a bank, they feel illiterate. Their primary education has been in
Kannada medium. Why do you impose a situation, where you make people feel
inadequate in their own place?”

*Critiquing justifications to promote Hindi*

Moderator Rahul brought up the example of China, and how it is used by
people to further justify the promotion of Hindi. “Even though many
dialects are spoken in China, they push for one language, and that becomes
a global showcase. People in the world then learn Mandarin in hopes that
they can do better business with China,” he said.

MM Pallam Raju replied that it is not a fair comparison as "China works in
an autocratic manner". "I think India’s greatest strength has been its soft
power – it has arisen from its heritage, culture. Those are the strengths
we should encourage. Every language has its subtle nuances which relate to
its unique identity and I think that’s what makes India great,” he said.

Raju however refused to draw a political correlation to the imposition of
Hindi and said that any attempts to thrust Hindi upon Indians will be met
by resistance.

*Why Hindi, why not another language?*

Rahul asked Madhavan why there wasn’t a strong anti-Hindi sentiment in
Kerala as there had been witnessed in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Madhavan explained that people in Kerala had had to learn Hindi in the past
decade or so because there were over 30 lakh Hindi-speakers in the state,
who were mostly employed in manual labour. “So to communicate with them, we
need to learn Hindi. But this doesn’t mean that the feeling of Hindi being
imposed on other parts of the country is not there,” he said.

He argued that the three-language formula was not implemented in the right
spirit 1968 onwards. “The three-language formula said that in Hindi
speaking states, Hindi, English and any language other than Hindi but
preferably a south Indian one should be used. And in other parts of the
country (non-Hindi speaking states), Hindi, English and a regional language
(should be there). But in implementation, the CBSE has promoted Hindi,
English and any other language. As a result, you can pass out from Kerala
without studying Malayalam. This way of indirectly promoting Hindi, and of
pumping a lot of money into (promoting) Hindi, has affected the Malayalee
also,” Madhavan argued.

Rahul asked then why there a problem learning Hindi as well, apart from the
regional languages. “Why not learn both? Make Malayalam your first language
and also learn Hindi?” he asked Madhavan.

Madhavan replied, “I say why Hindi? Why not French? I come from a state
where everyone who can speak Malayalam can read Malayalam also. You can’t
say that about Hindi-speaking people. 40% of them can’t read Hindi… So why
Hindi? It can be French, or another language which has resources.”

*On the state flag debate*

Brijesh Kalappa stressed on the need for validating regional identity to
help make India’s federal structure stronger.

Addressing the debate surrounding Karnataka's demand for a state flag, he
said, "For federalism to take a deep root, it is essential that each
regional identity be given a voice of its own. And if Australia, Germany,
America have states with their own flags, what’s the difficulty for
Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu? In any case, these states have
their own flag, so why not make it official?" asked Kalappa.

Meanwhile, Prakash Belawadi held a different view. “Getting government
support – what does that mean? That they want to hoist the flag on
buildings? We are already doing that, the government support doesn’t mean
anything really.”
Air Travel
Indian flights will soon allow calls and internet: TRAI has cleared
in-flight phone connectivity
<https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/hindi-imposition-isn-t-nationalism-india-isn-t-china-india-s-language-divide-75038>
The decision by TRAI allows airlines to offer these services once they meet
security norms.

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      - Saturday, January 20, 2018 - 10:16

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flights will soon allow calls and internet: TRAI has cleared in-flight
phone connectivity>

Air travellers in India will soon be allowed to make calls and access the
internet while flying in Indian airspace, since the Telecom Regulatory
Authority of India (TRAI) allowed in-flight connectivity (IFC) on Friday

The decision by TRAI allows airlines to offer these services once they meet
security norms. The notification by TRAI also allowed calls once an
aircraft reaches an altitude of 3,000 metres.

The operation of MCA (mobile communication on aircraft) services has a
minimum height restriction of 3,000 metres in Indian airspace to ensure its
“compatibility with terrestrial mobile networks”.

“We have allowed both mobile communication on aircraft and on-board
internet as IFC in Indian airspace. Now it is up to airlines which one of
these to offer,” said a TRAI official speaking to Times of India.
<https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/trai-gives-approval-for-mobile-calls-net-surfing-while-flying/articleshow/62575489.cms>

Currently flyers are not allowed to use mobile phones or the internet
within Indian airspace due to security concerns. However, with the latest
recommendation by TRAI, flyers can send and receive WhatsApp messages, post
on social networking sites and check emails on-board a flight in India.

Airlines around the world offer Wi-Fi on-board the flight. No Indian
airline however has publicly announced when they will offer IFC on their
flights. Foreign airlines which already offer IFC had to switch it off to
comply with Indian airspace rules.

TRAI recommended a separate category of ‘IFC service provider’ which will
“be required to get itself registered with the department of telecom and it
need not necessarily be an Indian entity”.

The regulatory requirements could be the same for both Indian and foreign
airlines for offering IFC services in Indian airspace.

Indian airline executives welcomed the move and indicated that it will help
them compete with foreign peers. "Indian carriers will determine what to
offer depending on their competitive situation," said an airline executive
speaking to Economic Times.
<https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/trai-paves-the-way-for-in-flight-internet-connectivity-issues-recommendations/articleshow/62569823.cms>




-- 
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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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