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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mother Tongue in the Mother Land

The half baked sarkari attempts to implement hindi in Hindustan have always saddened me. I always regarded it blasphemous to implement the mother tongue in the mother land. Yet the efforts have continued since the nation came on its own during its tryst with destiny. And we created establishments whose primary job was to promote Rajbhasha, or the commonly spoken hindi within the plethora of sarkari setups in the country. Yet despite these attempts marked by a casual approach in almost all associated activities, the usage of our mother tongue has remained barely confined to name-boards, signage’s, noting sheets, a few official communiques and some ceremonial functions. The march of English on the other hand has continued unabated.

I often wonder whether there is any other country in the world other than ours where such attempts are being made, and despite my best efforts could not locate any so far. Perhaps our dabbling in the absurd is regarded as such by the rest of the world or maybe it is regarded as illogical and beyond comprehension by those who look upon their motherland and everything associated with it with a sense of national pride. Yet if our intentions were indeed genuine, we would have achieved the target a long time ago.

And almost everything retains the flavour and bias for English, beginning from infancy till we kick the bucket, to the extent that even in social interactions, people conversing in the mother tongue are looked down and often frowned upon. So is it in conferences, seminars and even discourses when one finds someone rarely using the mother tongue to communicate. And why not – our educational system is grounded in English with the hindi medium schools not qualifying even as a distant cousin to their English counterparts.

Even the authors and also the readers of hindi literature are regarded many notches below their counterparts in other languages. This bias permeates even the bureaucracy with the hindi speaking bureaucrats called “desi” in local parlance being regarded inferior to the one who frequently and also fluently dabbles in English.

During trysts abroad we notice foreigners generally communicating in their mother tongue without much concern for the ability of the receiver to absorb a language he may be unfamiliar with.  And the best part is that they are never apologetic about that, because for them it is the most normal thing to do. Indeed it should be!

And therefore the recent change with the chief executive of the nation speaking in hindi even during his visits overseas is gratifying to say the least. His stress on the mother tongue almost always in all his interactions is indeed genuine and also rare if we take into consideration many of those who earlier adorned the highest chair in the land. And that is what has given many of us that rare feeling of national pride surfacing after a long time. After all, only identifying ourselves with the core values and culture this nation stands for is going to give our society happiness and progress in the truest sense.

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