Selective Freedom?

In the heart of our democracy, the parliament, MPs have objected to people  using English to reply to questions ‘despite being fluent in’ Hindi.

This is something that really irritates me. Does a person not have the right to speak in any language that he is comfortable in? Surely there are translators in the Lok Sabha. Why create an issue over language? Is it really democratic to behave this way?

Not just this, talking in Hindi is considered ‘patriotic’ and in English or any other Indian Language is considered ‘unpatriotic’ by many. Why? Is our Indianness so narrow that we define it by one single language? If somebody is comfortable speaking in English(or any other language) and the other person has the means to understand it – what is the issue? I understand if the MP was addressing public who understands only Hindi and he happened to speak in English. But in the parliament? So are we free to talk any language – as far as it is Hindi?

To me, this is as bad as the show of chauvinism by some states in rejecting Hindi totally. Why can’t we just accept the differences we have and learn to live with it.. accept that people may speak different tongues, different dialects, follow different religions.. and still remain as Indian as one can be? Why make such a huge issue of language, when we have so many, many more important and pressing issues to be debated upon?

Edited to add : For more information on the languages that can be used in the Lok Sabha –

Edited to add : This link, thanks to Indyeah, It makes a lot of things clear..

86 thoughts on “Selective Freedom?

  1. More than half of them arent educated, even in their own mother tongue. How do you expect those idiots to understand English then ? LOL. Instead of making this rule, they should have made sure that only educated ones can sit in that chair and rule us !!

    To me, objecting to somebody’s choice of language in the Parliament, which is supposed to represent all of us, and insisting that he speak in Hindi – because he is fluent in it – is killing the meaning of what India represents – especially when we claim of ‘Unity in Diversity’.

    • Oh, I forgot to mention that, I totally agree to this post. We have been dividing ourselves based on various factors since ages and I am sure this is going to continue forever !

      It sure looks like that 😦

  2. C’mon Smitha how in the hell is Laloo Prasad Yadav supposed to understand English? So I think if everyone learns his Hindi it will benefit all!!

    That is a point 🙂

    Jokes aside what you say is correct, people think talking in English is like ‘showing off’. When I was doing my Masters there was this guys who used to say, “yeh english mathu adbekku andre Britain ge hogi. Edhu namma karnataka, kannada mathadi” (If you want to talk in English go back to Britain, this is Karnataka talk in Kannada). He wa saying this when I was talking to a girl who had come from Kenya!!! If this guy who was doing his Masters can talk like this, what else can I expect from MPs -most of them who are just 10th pass.

    Goodness! I don’t understand it.. Do people think that forcing others to speak in a particular tongue helps in any way? You know what , I was so stunned when I first went to the library here in the UK. They have ‘welcome’ in every possible language – in which even Indian languages like Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Malayalam and Tamil figure! Can we even dream of this in India?

    • Oh yeah the same case in Singapore also, all sign boards are written in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. Where as people like me can’t even figure out the routes buses take in Bangalore because everything is written in Kannada (I can’t read and write Kannada). I think people should think practically, instead of being so idiotic.

      You know, when I was in the hospital(In London) during my delivery, there was a Vietnamese woman in the bed next to me and she did not speak a word of English and the hospital staff went around trying to find a person who could translate for her.. I found that so sweet.. I mean, they did not really need to , did they? She was after all in a country where English is the ‘National Language’!

  3. I agree. This whole debate is unnecessary. and there is no end to it. But you know on other thoughts when I look at countries like Portugal, Germany or France , they are so orthodox when it comes to language. Even if people are educated and all; they can not speak English. The other languages are looked down; given less importance than the local language. When I see all this I feel we are so harmonious with so many languages in one country.

    Exactly.. if you notice, all the disharmony is brought about by political parties for political reasons..

  4. Well said Smitha .. we all make issues out of nothing n leave those which r real issues aside without tackling them 😦 Language is just a means of communication … y the fuss over which one we speak in instead of laying emphasis on what is the content!

    Exactly.. and in this particular case, more so.. They don’t think twice before wasting tax payer’s money debating nonsense!

  5. I completely agree with what you have said Smitha…
    the problem lies in the mind of the people… they always want to make issue out of one thing or other and this is the one… language…
    I dont like the people who make issues out of race, religion, language… if they dont like others they better keep it with themselves… patriotism is not in the language we are speaking… and they know that for sure

    Exactly, everything that these so called leaders of ours do is for political mileage.. and that is the only thing they are looking for when they raise such non issues..

  6. oh yes. I totally agree with this post.
    And with Swaram! 🙂
    Instead of discussing the real issues and finding solutions to them, they fight over such things…

    Yes, they are just out to get political mileage.

  7. My god will they come up next with a rule saying Bloggers can blog only in their mother tongue??? am gone case then coz only the English alphabets take orders from my brain…Malayalam seems to be too proud to dance to my tunes…Sigh!!

    Are you Malayali too, Sakshi? LOL @only the English alphabets take orders from my brain – story of my life too 🙂

    It’s all crazy with politicians and their way of time pass…like Raj Thackery and his weird demand and now all this language thing…we will never see an end to all these stupid demands and for a change these politicians buckling up and taking action on things that really need to be fixed…

    Exactly, all these issues are raked up by politicians for political mileage..

    • Nzyan oru nalla malayali penkodiyaane….entha vishwaasikan patille??

      goodness! athine nzyan malayalathil respond chaiyan struggle chaiyunnu 🙂 Vishwaasikan pattaya onnum illa 🙂

      • now that we both proved our malayaliness let’s better switch to the language that dance to our tunes coz am sure if a hot headed mallu comes and sees my pathetic malayalam I might be sued….

        That I can agree to – he’ll probably sue both of us for murdering the language 🙂

      • Vishwasicho,Smits…Sakshi oru malayali tanneyaanu…and she has some good malayalam teris up her sleeve too 😀 😀
        I’m seriously planning to enrol myself under her tutelage 😀
        What say,Saksh…game for it??

        Oh me too, Deeps!!! I need to learn some malayalam teris too!! Sakshi, when are the classes starting 😉

        • I told Crafty I want to learn Malayalam.
          What if ppl r sharing secrets behind us err rt in front of us here LOL :))

          But I wanna learn !!!!!! Smithu or Deeps?

          If I were to teach you – you would prob forget everything else you knew 🙂 But I can help translate 🙂

  8. I agree with what you said here..but i will still like hindi to survive the test of time!!

    Well, I would like all the vernaculars to survive the test of time – not just Hindi.

  9. This is one of my pet peeve. This enforcement of Hindi everywhere. Hindi just like English and all other Indian languages is also one of the official languages. In India, we don’t have a National Language simply because we are so diverse. (Those who still claim Hindi as National language please show me authentic link to it. ) It was a movement Gandhiji started to have a common language for India but later upon objection from all quarters and failure to have a common language in a diverse country, this move was no carried forward.

    Yes, you are right. And the original plan was to slowly migrate to Hindi/Hindustani(which was supposed to be a combination of Hindi and Urdu). I think 1965 was the cut -off for it – if I remember correctly. But it was abandoned in the view of protests by people from the south and the east(Bengalis were also against it, apparently) And I think it made sense that the move was abandoned.

    This petty thing about language creeps in every now and then. Who the hell understands Laloo’s Hindi?
    So right! lol@ ‘Who the hell understands Laloo’s Hindi? ‘

    They keep saying English is a sign of ghulami but then even Hindi is as alien to many states just like English. So what if it is a language spoken in many states. It still doesn’t make it easy for everyone to follow. Still every state studied Hindi as a language. How many other states even make an effort to learn a different language?

    Exactly, Hindi is equally a foreign language for a large part of India..

    It is time people rise above such petty issues. All official languages are approved by the parliament. English is also an official language of India.
    Exactly, we really need to rise above such petty issues and work on the real issues facing India.

    • Are you sure Hindi is not the national language? They forced me to take Hindi as my 2nd language stating that it is the national language. Damn teachers.

      • Hindi and English are two official working languages of India. That is these two languages will be used for all official purposes. Regional languages enjoy the same status in respective states. Nowhere in the constitution is it written that Hindi is the National language. It was a card played for political purpose just like the one opposing it is played in TN.

        This forcing Hindi and hating Hindi is played by politicians often and some people too play the same card which is the topic of discussion here.

  10. “To me, this is as bad as the show of chauvinism by some states in rejecting Hindi totally. Why can’t we just accept the differences we have and learn to live with it..”

    With you on this, Smitha. This chauvinism is what I it Karunanidhi or Laloo.

    We cannot become “one”. We have to find oneness in our diversity.

    ‘We cannot become “one”. We have to find oneness in our diversity.’ – Absolutely!!!

    • Nice post Smitha and I agree with finding oneness in our diversity.
      Thank you, IHM, So delighted to see that you are back!!!!!

      “To me, this is as bad as the show of chauvinism by some states in rejecting Hindi totally. Why can’t we just accept the differences we have and learn to live with it..” Well said!
      It does look like it’s not the people but the politicians who create these language wars.

      Yes, you are right. Sadly enough people do get misled by the politicians..

  11. forget about ‘official’ use or non-use, I see people in my own extended family who get irritated if I speak to The G/my sis in english. Why cant you talk in bengali, they say!! How do you explain this to people, I wonder.. Language is about communication, dont you think?

    I agree, language is about communication and at the end of the day, if an individual is comfortable with a particular language – then so be it.

    I get that a lot too.. I get called ‘angrez’ coz I am more comfortable in English than any other language

    • I hear you, Mish. “Language is about communication.” and I really don’t care when people associate pride and patriotism with it.

  12. Well! This is something which has irritated me always. You need to speak in a specific language to prove your loyality. In Mah. Speak marathi in orissa speak oriya etc. Or feel out of the place. Guess in our country we have thousands of people who have nothing else life to do besides pointing fingers & they make a profession out of it!

    I agree! We do have a lot of idle people in our country!

  13. Then I can’t hope to become an MP ’cause I can’t speak Hindi fluently!!!

    MPs have nothing better to do than create a furore in parliament…That’s the only way they think they’ll get noticed and they need to get noticed in order to retain their seats, quarters and power…

    Yes, they just want to ‘get noticed’! But why at the tax payer’s expense????? Creating an issue over a non-issue in the parliament is unforgivable. Then again – thats what they do 😦

  14. Lets us look at this way. Many of these guys who get into Parliament don’t know what they are really there for and what they are expected to do. So, this kind of nonsense makes great sense to them. People in their constituencies are happy that their MP is speaking for their language, the MP is happy that his name appears in print, giving him publicity for free, and the blog samaj is happy because it gives it something to rant about!

    So everybody is happy 🙂 lol @ ‘blog samaj is happy because it gives it something to rant about!’

    Sarboney, you can hope to be an MP if you are not fluent in Hindi. The added benefit is that no one will ask you to speak in that language!

  15. hey speak gibberish for all i care. as vinod says – they do not know why they are elected -governance, what is that.

    manju, at indian cabbages and kings blogspot once wrote a post on parkinson’s law of trivality – that is exactly what it is all about.

    I agree..

  16. The debate on this particular issue in the parliament is trivial definitely. One should be allowed to speak in whatever language they are comfortable in.
    But what I also find disconcerting are the undertones of mockery over the fact that someone does not and will not understand English. Their knowledge of English is further a reflection of their intelligence.

    Yes, this attitude is there, and that is just as deplorable people assuming that one is unpatriotic if someone speaks in a language other than Hindi.

    And that was not the point that I was writing about, at all

    Not talking about the politicians who are mostly if not all …FOOLS! my concern is not for Hindi alone but for Sanskrit and the Vernacular languages too. It is still only the urban centers where English is the new mother tongue. Are the people from semi urban and rural areas not short changed because of their lack of mastery in English?

    Yes, vernacular languages are threatened – no doubt about it. Infact, people also claim that the imposition of Hindi threatens vernacular more than English.. The way I look at it, English is the most suitable link language across India..

    Also maybe I am sidetracking…but Sanskrit slowly becoming a “Dead” language has resulted in a diminishing understanding of our history and culture. We are a generation dependent on translations to delve deeper into our own ancestry and history.
    When there can be protests in Karnatake over the opening of a Sanskrit University things are pretty lopsided all around.

    I do not know about this cannot comment about it. Yes, Sanskrit is becoming dead language.. But we cannot bring it to life by pushing it down people’s throats.. If it has to be propagated, it needs to be done in a way that nobody feels threatened by it. Because not every community/language is happy with the assumption that every Indian language has originated from Sanskrit. And personally, to me, I would first focus on children learning their mother tongues first.. that itself does not happen these days..but then again – it is personal choice – to teach their children whatever language they feel is essential.

    I know you were, maybe trying to make a different point but the fact that a lower status given to our Vernacular languages and Sanskrit are not acceptable too.
    I belong to a vernacular group which has lost its script and maybe in the near future will loose the language(read works of fiction,non-fiction,history culture etcetec ) altogether.

    I cannot believe that a poem or story written in a Vernacular language will maintain its essence or feel when translated into English. It can come close but can never be the same. What that means in the long run is for each one to think about.

    I agree, totally! I feel bad that I cannot really read my mother tongue.. It takes me ages, so a lot of literature is lost to me.

    Maybe I digressed….but sometimes its about communication and sometimes it is more than that. And hence it helps to be comfortable in more than just English.
    Yes, My point was that a person should be allowed to make a point in any language – as far as it is possible for the others to understand..

    • vernacular – please do not even use that word. that is the stupid connotation that the english gave to indian languages.e

      I agree, I prefer not to use the word Vernacular – I somehow ended up using it while replying to the comment above..but I stand corrected.

      that is what happened in america – they kept english – the language who first came to the land and every soul who immigrated picked up this language , leaving their own native languages behind.

      for governance we need one language.
      we need hindi because it has been there
      every language should keep their own state language.
      i think it works very well.
      if you do not know hindi , speak english – but we are loosing focus here –

      Yes, we are losing focus here.. We should just continue the way we are going – with every state keeping their own language.. There is no need to superimpose any language on anybody, really..

      did u read obama is calling the bloggers for health care – wow !( read at huffington post )isn’t that something ?
      opinions matter –
      Will check it out 🙂

  17. 😛 😛 this is our great country!!!!!!

    It is a great country – we just need to get rid of a few idiots who claim to represent us 😦

  18. Honestly,Smita,all I feel like doing is laugh uproariously! Seriously thats what the acts that go on in our Parliament are worth!!

    True.. and these are our leaders, law makers…etc etc etc

  19. as already said, they are no way concerned with the people’s problems and hence they make a fuss about all such things.
    that MP might have not know that there are a number of states in this country who dont understand Hindi and just bcoz Hindi is our national language, he shouldn’t expect everyone to learn it.
    He might have not read about the freedom of speech in the constitution. Oh my! how will he read that, it will be written in English no..

    I Agree, Mystery.. Wish our so called leaders understood this..

  20. if you speak hindi but are corrupt, please tell me how u are patriotic!! this is a good eg. of how a non-issues is turned into an issue.

    Oh corruption is considered a mandatory qualification by our leaders!

  21. Nice post Smitha and thanks to Solilo for articulating my thoughts. We are Indians and we should be proud to belong to a diverse country where all of us are equal and no one language of a certain section of the country has to be forced on others. Let us be proud of our diversity and accept also that English is now a part and parcel of this country. A lot of Indians now speak English better than their mother tongue, and well, if they wish to, let them. No one has any right to say that hey stop blogging in English, stop reading English, stop speaking English, go speak your own tongue!! Sheeeesh!!

    ‘Let us be proud of our diversity and accept also that English is now a part and parcel of this country.’ – Yes, I agree. It can almost be considered one of our Indian Languages.. I think it is ridiculous that people still fight over this.

  22. Rightly said Smitha..everyone should have the right to speak in a langauge that they are comfortable with.. at least it would be less painful to the listeners! the other day was listening to one Kerala MP attempting to speak in English…nd this would be the case if it is Hindi too..

    Yes, true..

    nd talking abt Hindi.. wish the children are not forced to learn it.. I think Hindi needs to be taught in smaller classes and the children will pick up the language later if needed. nd now the children are learning Hindi at the expense of their mother tongue.

    Yes, I agree, again. Technically, most of us, do not learn our mother tongues – but English and Hindi are mandatory..

    but then if there is an illusion that learning Hindi will unite the nation let it be…
    yes – but is it really unifying? That is what I would like to know..

  23. These politician just don’t want to do to anything in these parliament sessions,they just spend the tax payers money on these sessions and for some or the other reasons they walk out in the middle of the sessions.All these MP are given sal, accommodation and travel expenses,what else they want.

    I know – they have no sense of right or wrong.. all they want is to raise issues and make their presence felt.

  24. Do they have a common language in our Army and is it Hindi? In the military it does makes sense since listening/understanding instruction would be a matter of life or death.

    I have no idea, actually.. I have a feeling that it would be Hindi and English and people would be trained so that they understand both languages.. Will check it out though..

    • Since Hindi and English are the official languages, that’s what is spoken in the armed forces.

      Thanks Sols, for the info.

      That’s why I always mention that I am more fluent in these two than Malayalam and I don’t believe in this mother tongue-father tongue-language patriotism. My personal take on languages. So I have no problem conversing in Hindi and English as I have always managed with these two. Other than Malayalam, I have picked up many languages like Bengali, Tamil, Dogri, Punjabi depending on where we lived and with the help of friends.

      Sols, I am not fanatic about mother/father tongue either -but I think it is nice to know one’s mother tongue – because it is part of one’s heritage.. And that is totally personal choice and I think up to individuals to decide if it is important to them or not. I certainly object to govts making education in the mother tongue mandatory and stuff like that. As for picking up other languages – am totally with you on that. I have picked up many languages as well, and I think it is wonderful to pick up the local language, than to not bother and expect everybody to know the language one knows..

  25. I thought the language problem has subsided for sometime now. The parliament has got translators too. Again a bored lot of MPs have started this row.

    ‘Again a bored lot of MPs have started this row.’ – Exactly! They just want an issue to create a row about!

    I have seen our Finance Ministers, while submitting the budget, add some nice quotes in their own languages. It is so nice to hear. Every language is rich in its own way. Yes, English is becoming more of a common language in our urban areas than Hindi. But there should be some binding language esp. the Northern and Southern States. I have noticed that most of the Tamilians are not familiar with even a single word of Hindi. Only the upper strata of people who watch other programmes in TV, apart from Tamil programmes and people who have gone to other states carrerwise, or people who have taken Hindi as a second or third language, are familiar with Hindi. These people will definitely opt for English, if they have to converse with non-Hindi people.

    Yes, you are right.. and we might not have a link language which is common everywhere..

    Only our politicians are finding fault, whenever they get a chance. Otherwise, everyone is happy in communicating in any way, they want.
    So true!

    This is an interesting topic, Smitha!

    Thank you 🙂

  26. BTW Hindi is assumed to be spoken widely across North India….I am not sure exactly which states comprise North India…but the main Hindi speaking states are MP, UP, Bihar and Delhi maybe. Though both UP and Bihar have their own vernacular languages like Bhojpuri, Maghi, Gharwali etc. Actually MP too..Chhattisgarhi too.So I am not sure why the entire North of India is clubbed under the same umbrella and assumed to be Hindi speaking. For many it is just another language that has had to be LEARNT. (Ref. to some comments above)
    Waise was not saying that any language should be forced down upon anybody’s throat…esp. Sanskrit. Was just highlighting upon how the loss of a language leads to a loss of many other things. Yes I agree with you, it should be promoted and in an intelligent manner. Waise I am curious which are the Indian languages which have not been born out of Sanskrit?

    Yes, I do know that the assumption that everybody in the North speaks Hindi is incorrect. And if you ask me, the local dialects in many parts of Northern India is dying out too..
    Yes, people learn languages – just because they have no option.. It is especially true in areas where they have no exposure to that particular language – be it English or Hindi.
    Dravidian Languages and even the Munda Languages like Santali are not based on Sanskrit at all..

    • Smitha, Sanskrit is a base of all Indian languages even Dravidian (another theory of Aryan-Dravidian which I don’t agree to: I believed entire India is a mixed race but then that’s not the topic here.). All languages have borrowed heavily from Sanskrit. It is only that some languages have different script.

      Sols, there is a huge debate on that 🙂 I think it is not certain yet. What I have read is that the loan words are common but the base is still different.. Yes, all languages have borrowed heavily from Sanskrit but the roots are still debated upon.. So I don’t what to believe in.

  27. I can write an essay on this . I will write it later . Awesome post . Very good point .

    Waiting for your essay 🙂

  28. Waise the common link that we think English is, is restricted to the urban population alone..right? If we look at the figures ..the rural population which is way larger than the urban is still left with no common link because they certainly are not familiar with English let alone comfortable with it.
    So to see English or Hindi or any one particular language as a link for the entire nation is not without its own failings.

    You know, I was not championing English or Hindi as the link language.. We have managed fine with English and Hindi as the official languages – lets just continue with it. All I am saying is that we can all be as different as we are and still live harmoniously. It is only when people try to ‘convert’ sections of people into the ‘common mould’ that problems arise.. If you ask me, we should continue the way we are.. different languages, different cultures, unity in diversity that forcing people to adopt languages or cultures that might be alien to them..

  29. Sorry for poping up again and again…but I am using this paltform as a sounding board since I value a healthy discussion with you. And also because I am thinking on this issue 🙂

    Oh keep popping up as much as you like 🙂 I am enjoying the discussion 🙂 And I think the more views that I come across, the more my thinking widens 🙂 So you are more than welcome 🙂

    Don’t you think that English is the new Brahmanical many even in the urban areas can afford an English Medium Education…look at the statistics. Is English also not a language for the priveleged few?
    Maybe we should not look for a common link in such a linguistically diverse country…if its a matter of only communication, we we will survive as long as we respect each other and have a sense of belonging to one nation state.

    Yes, I agree totally! English is becoming the new Brahmanical language. And as I replied to a previous comment as well, I feel very strongly, that we do not need to look for a common link language.
    ‘if its a matter of only communication, we we will survive as long as we respect each other and have a sense of belonging to one nation state.’ – Absolutely!!! As far as all the cultures and languages are respected – we really will not have a problem. It is only when people try to impose one culture/language on another, that issues arise.. and people become resistant to the idea..

    For official purposes..babudom has and probably will thrive on English for sometime to come.
    True.. again, individual states use their languages for official purposes. In Bangalore, all our official docs have an option of using English or Kannada. And I don’t see an issue with it.

  30. I think this is just an attention garnering tactic. Just one of the many crazy things our politicians do to kill time and stay awake in the parliament. Such a sorry state that crores of tax payer money is spent in these useless discussions…

    I agree! When there are so many important things that can be done – they chose to while away their time with all this rubbish!

  31. Hmmmm…… Interesting. I don’t really know that much about india BUT i know Hindi isn’t it’s national language BUT I guess it’s the most commonly spoken language there.

    BUT I agree with you with the point that where should a freedom to be able to use whatever language you feel comfortable with, rather than enforcing one.

    Yes, that was all this post was about – the freedom to express in any language that the speaker is comfortable in.

  32. There is a mentality among us that speaking in Hindi is a hallmark of being patriotic …. if that would have been the case , a majority of the politicians would have been patriotic …. but that is not the case …. 😛 ….

    That is certainly a point 🙂

  33. Any language should serve its purpose i.e. to make communication between people possible. It doesnt mean it has to be just one particular language. totally agree with u.


  34. While we are on languages, my friend whose native language is Mythili said that they don’t speak it anymore and prefer Hindi because it is very similar so parents said why not just speak the language which is widely used. She said many in the North do the same and teach their children Hindi and not these native tongues which is similar to Hindi.

    Yes, I have seen this too.. When I was growing up – a lot of our friends and neighbours traditionally spoke Mythili – but as time progressed, people moved on to Hindi.. to the point where only the grandparents in a family spoke Mythili. And if you ask me – it is bound to happen..

    Personally, I have no problem with what people speak at home or outside and I am not a language chauvinist. But this claim that English killed Indian languages is wrong because English is not the language which is spoken in rural India. It is other Indian languages which slowly killed other Indian languages.

    Yes, I agree.

    We have easily survived with all the differences. The politics of one should speak only this is not going to bring anyone together.

    Absolutely. I think language – in the public space should just be a means of communication.

  35. I have seen such people who can’t stand others if they talk in English and even Hindi! Its as if the language which they have been speaking since childhood is the one chosen by God.
    Oh yes! I have seen such people too..

    English is a universal language. Everyone understands it. There are so many Indians settled abroad just based on the fact that they can speak that language. All the multinationals would have refused to enter India had we not shown that we are fluent in English. Its the bread and butter of so many people.
    And here we still have some people stuck in the stone age.

    Yes, in fact, just yesterday, the Supreme Court overturned a petition in which the Karnataka Govt wanted primary education in the mother tongue only.. The CGI, said that knowing English is essential for survival and it should be up to the parents to decide on the medium of education of their children – and it makes so much sense…

  36. Thanks for a nice blog. I like it. There are so many hidden agenda behind this language controversary. All created by the Tamilnadu politicians. I know these incidents. There are two ways to explain to you and your blog friends. One…please allow me to write a blog on your web as a guest…Or Two…please ask me to write a blog on my own blog. I will write objectively without fear or favor.

    Welcome here, SG, Please do write about it in your blog – And do leave a link here – I am very interested in knowing your point of view as well 🙂

  37. I just saw Anrosh’s comment about the word ‘Vernacular’ and since I dont want any wrath directed at me 😉 I too stand corrected. And yes its not Hindi or English for that matter which ‘kills’ another language but it is the promotion of one language over the other..directly or indirectly. I guess with the passage of time some langauges will be lost and the accompanying literature and philosophy, since the bread winning language will enjoy a higher status. So be it. But yes I choose to complaint 🙂 Sorry for being a party pooper and taking your post to a different tangent..but I had fun and hope you didn’t mind it too much 🙂

    ‘I guess with the passage of time some langauges will be lost and the accompanying literature and philosophy, since the bread winning language will enjoy a higher status.’ – Yes, sadl but true.. And of course one can complain about it 🙂 And one can do one’s best to try and avoid that.. In terms of teaching our children, their mother/father tongue..

    You were no party pooper 🙂 I had a lot of fun discussing with you 🙂 We can go on some more – if you like 🙂

  38. A really interesting question Smitha. And I love the fact that you have picked this topic.

    Yes, definitely! EVERYONE should have the freedom to speak/write/communicate in any language that they want.

    Absolutely! What does our ‘free and fair society’ mean if we have restrictions of speech?

    Like Rakesh said so correctly this is done by our crappy politicians just to get attention …after all the real issues can be swept aside.

    lets get the janta’s attention to crappy , divisive stuff..! is their mantra!


    Yes, and more’s the pity! and they are supposed to be our leaders and our ‘representatives’

    You know its this’
    my language is dying/shrivelling up/under danger
    that ultimately leads to paranoia on a bigger scale and all the hue and cry about OMG!!Indian sabhyata is dying/shrivelling up…under danger from modern forces

    from this regional paranoia to that national paranoia is a very short jump!

    Absolutely! And one thing I feel like saying is – that if the language is dying, we are not going to resurrect it by forcefully imposing it! That as, you mentioned in your post – is probably the most effective way of ensuring that it dies!

    You know what strikes me as really funny?

    People who beat their chests and cry about how their culture is under threat (example the Hindi bhashis(many of them who think Hindi should be the national language! blech! and then there are the marathi sabhyata ke rakshak who think all the ‘outsiders’ are threatening their way of life..)

    Yes, we can find language chauvinists everywhere.. If only people realised that all the languages/cultures could co-exist just as beautifully!

    I cannot help but quote Shail’s post and her words here. they are simply beautiful and stunning in their simplicity and their sheer depth!

    Shails’ beautiful, beautiful words!
    I went and read Shail’s post- absolutely amazing! She has conveyed the analogy so very beautifully!

    The mightiest of trees un-attacked and with the strongest of roots digging deepest into the soil will find one day that those roots have decayed and rotted over time. When that happens the tree has to fall and die anyway. There is no fighting Time.
    A tree is not forever. Nothing is forever. Not even with the strongest of roots.
    You cannot try and prop up a dead tree. There is no use for it. No good will come out of it anyway. Time will have its way and should have its way whether we like it or not.
    New trees will sprout in its place and will grow equally strong roots and look as majestic in its bearing as did the previous one if not more, will have equally solid trunk, thick branches, greenest of leaves, lovely and colorful flowers and luscious fruits.
    In spite we still cling to dying trees with decaying roots, prop them up artificially, even contaminating the soil in the name of preserving roots, never allowing new trees to be born, a new forest to grow.
    If only there was more faith in Time and its ways.

    So very true.. after all that is the way of the universe, isn’t it? Nothing is forever… Isn’t that what our scriptures which most chauvinists quote all the time, says? If only we could let go .. and let new plants grow..

    GAWD!! WHy would I spend my life protecting roots? strong or weak or wahtever?
    Life is about change isnt it? SO I dont see why should worry about protecting any language?

    Absolutely! And the truth is that protection cannot help – if the language is already dying… to me, there must be a reason it is dying.. We can do our best, but we might just have to let go…

    Let people speak whatever they want to. Whatever they are comfy in.


    Totally agree with Piper when she says ,”Language is all about communication.”

    You know what would work best?

    Let India be an open land. Free for all her citizens.
    Let people move fearlessly and without any prejudices between her borders. (and I say this because soon Maharashtra is proposing a NO OUTSIDERS bill)

    That is the most ridiculous thing, I’ve heard ! So now, we are reaching the point where we will need visas to move from state to state????? At at time where the EU countries have realised how important migrant workers are and have visa policy such that EU country workers can work in any of the EU nations – without having to apply for a visa – we are going the reverse way! If only people understood that nobody is an outsider/insider..

    DO NOT bring up the topic of outsiders and insiders.

    This is for all those who think that their culture is DYING. GROW UP ! GET A DAMN LIFE!

    ON ADIFF NOTE(or maybe not so diff after all)
    (those I am talking about will get the hint)

    Isnt it ironical Smitha how the very same people who used to think and even now think that their sanskriti is under threat are now advocating the use of any language that people are comfy in ?

    I mean last I checked there were quite a few people who were thinking that marathi should be LEARNT by everyone who comes to Maharashtra or else they would not be (and I quote) ”respecting the marathi culture.”

    Goodness!! As I said – forcing something down people’s throats is never a solution! Respect has to come from within – cannot be forced !
    OH! that makes me laugh !!it does! and how! 😀

    Oh yes! Me too!

    I am sorry for the ramble Smitha this is one of my pet peeves among many others.

    You are most welcome to ramble. You make so much sense that I actually feel sad when your comment ends 😦

    I am sorely tempted to dig into archives of some people and brandish the evidence as if to say,” look at this you hypocrite!”

    But somehow , with a lot of difficulty ,I am resisting the urge.

    This is what one of my most fav writers says about language chauvinism

    A dead language is not only one no longer spoken or written, it is unyielding language content to admire its own paralysis. Like statist language, censored and censoring. Ruthless in its policing duties, it has no desire or purpose other than maintaining the free range of its own narcotic narcissism, its own exclusivity and dominance. However moribund, it is not without effect for it actively thwarts the intellect, stalls conscience, suppresses human potential. Unreceptive to interrogation, it cannot form or tolerate new ideas, shape other thoughts, tell another story, fill baffling silences.-

    TONI MORRISON, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 7, 1993

    This makes so much sense!!!

    India does NOT need to have a NATIONAl language. Saying that is going against all that India stands for.
    What about the oft repeated unity in diversity then pray?

    Exactly ! We just talk of Unity in diversity, we want everybody to be from the same mould when it comes to actions!

    As the experience of India in the decades following Independence establishes, the only option that is available to a multilingual society is that of recognising and validating linguistic identities

    and might I add validation without resorting to brute force OR threats.

    Absolutely! And I loved the article! I had read it earlier too and more on similar lines in Ramachandra Guha’s book – India after Gandhi..

    People who think Hindi should be the national language are MORONS as are those who think their language is under threat.

    Hindi or any other language! We are too diverse to be defined by any one language! We have a wealth of diversity – let us hope that, that diversity stands the test of time.

    I think I will go and dunk my head in a bucket of cold water now.
    That was enough ranting for a day 😀

    🙂 You are really cute:)
    Please correct any typos :)I seem to have made quite a few 🙂

    Abhi, Only you can apologize about typos 🙂 Loved your comment! Every thing you have said makes so much sense! Wish our esteemed leaders could read your views..

  39. It is not about language or about India or Indians. Disagreement and fighting is an important part of the job profile of our politicians. They are only doing their job:)

    That is true 🙂 They are just doing their job- cause maximum ruckus over total non issues 🙂

  40. Well my hindi isn’t all that great but I am trying to learn it 🙂 What irritates me is when people start talking in Hindi when there are people who don’t understand that language….Anyway I think English should be made the main language in Parliament this would ensure that the person bothers learning the language(and might mean that the person gets some sort of education)…

    Yes, I have heard this quite a lot – about people assuming that everybody speaks Hindi – mainly because most people believe that it is the national language.. I think the way the parliament works today is very good.. it is managing fine without imposing language restrictions unnecessarily..

    And well hindi isn’t the language of the majority in the country , by making it the official language , we will be alienating many and a lot of problems would start…
    Well, Hindi is already an official language.. but yes, forcibly imposing it(or any other language, for that matter) on everybody is not a solution, at all..

  41. A post after my own heart! And wow Indy’s comment rocks! (…btw thanks for the mention Indy)
    If I may, here is one of my own irreverent quotes that I fling around,
    “Everyone has a mother and mothers have tongues. So what is so special about any particular one?? Language chauvinism bores me to tears.”
    Language is only a means of communication and as long as the other person understands what is being said or there are means to understand it no one should have a problem. I find it extremely funny the way people want to cling to things, be it language, dress, culture (or rather their perception of it) as if anything at all is permanent.

    Absolutely! Once we accept that everything is transient – I guess a lot of our problems will be resolved!

    The important point is very few people ‘think’ in the sense ‘use their brains.’ They just hear things at a superficial level, believe and accept it and then go all out to convince others as if that is the very truth of life. I personally don’t believe the world is going to end if someone doesn’t know his/her mother tongue or does not speak it. What we need more than knowledge of any particular language or even culture is the ability to be humane. Besides, who is stopping anyone who wants to be proficient in any language he/she chooses?? Let them just go ahead and be what they want to be, shining examples of the purity (if there ever such a thing!) of language But imposing the same on others, insisting they too take it up with the same interest ‘or else get out’ sort of policies only reek of immaturity, narrow-mindedness and total lack of awareness of the concept of ‘change’ (the only constant thing).

    Absolutely! Change is the only constant. And as you say , ‘Besides, who is stopping anyone who wants to be proficient in any language he/she chooses?? Let them just go ahead and be what they want to be, shining examples of the purity ‘ – exactly! And even so people forget that languages themselves evolve over time.. Surely the English, Hindi or any language that we speak today is not the language that was spoken a few decades ago – so what is it that we are clinging to? And in my opinion, only a dead language – stops evolving.. so I fail to understand – what are we fighting for? what are we clinging on to – the language that existed 5 yrs back, 10 years back? And as you said in your post – we we not trying to prop up a tree despite it’s roots having given up a long while back.

    This comment is getting to be long like my blogs! 😛 But let me just relate an incident here.
    Oh no – it is such a wonderful, sensible comment! I love comments like this 🙂
    My parents returned from visiting Dwaraka and my mother was complaining about the difficulty they faced as all the signboards and those on buses were in Gujarati. “Why cannot they have English in their buses?? How will those from outside the state be able to manage??”
    I asked her,
    “Aren’t the boards in our buses (in Kerala) written in Malayalam and only Malayalam? So don’t those coming from outside the state face the same difficulty?? You belong to the group who insist we should stick to our mother tongue. So what’s wrong if they stick to theirs in their own state??”
    You should have seen the expression on her face when the realization dawned!! I loved watching it! 😉 😛

    I can imagine 🙂
    Phew! I am done.

  42. In my hurry I forgot all about the topic of your post, ‘selective freedom’!
    “Does a person not have the right to speak in any language that he is comfortable in?”
    Sadly it looks like we don’t! Especially if we speak in English we are like you said ‘unpatriotic’!!! Wearing lipstick and sleeveless dress sort of falls in the same category if we remember the words of a minister. 😛 😉

    Yes, funny, isn’t it, Indian standards of patriotism seems to be restricted to language and clothing(for women, that is, men are patriotic in any kind of clothing – must be in their genes!)

  43. I think ppl raise these issues in the Parliament so that everyone’s attention gets distracted from the real issues 😛 😛 seriously!! there has to be a limit for stupidity!

    I agree! There must be an min stupidity limit to enter into Parliament!

    Btw you have been tagged, my friend 🙂

    OK it isn’t really a very difficult tag. Hope u enjoy doing it!

    Will hop over right away 🙂 And thanks so much for tagging me 🙂

    • thanks??? u said thanks for tagging you???

      omg u’re a darling!! 😀 muah!!! lol

      Thank you – but I really meant it 🙂 And this sounds like a fun tag too 🙂 Muahs and hugs !!!

      • and btw LOL@ minimum stupidity comment 😀 😀

        Thats the only thing that explains the morons that enter the Parliament.. On a serious note, it is sad that our politicians view everything as a means to publicity. If only they cared as much about the issues facing the nation as much as they cared about getting some cheap publicity..

  44. I am taking Hindi to a new level. I am even teaching the aussies how to speak in hindi! Lok sabha should be proud of me. 😛

    They will probably honour you 🙂

    But what you wrote is absolutely right!
    “Is our Indianness so narrow that we define it by one single language?”
    So true.

    I somehow don’t understand this brand of patriotism!

    In a country where more than 20 languages exist, how can we just define ourselves or restrict ourself to just ONE language?

    Uffff. Why does the indian government always ALWAYS worry about the wrong issues!

    I know!

    Though I must say, since I moved out of india at a very young age, and my brother at an even younger age, my parents and I do encourage him to speak more in bengali. Because it happens sometimes that you just get SO used to speaking in english with your friends, neighbours, classmates etc, that you slowly tend to lose touch with your mother tongue. So I do make an effort to encourage him to speak in more bengali and less english when hes at home.

    Yes, I do understand that.. I grew up away from where my parents hailed.. and I picked up my mother tongue only because my mom insisted that we speak it at home..Now my daughter speaks mainly in English

  45. U dint know?? Our “Leaders” are keen with “Unity in Diversity” concept. They unite in dividing the country with any and all kinds of classifications!! The fact is half of the people have hardly gone to the school and have no interest or education or development!! Cant blame them u see!!! Day in day out..political dramas are gaining more popularity than hilarious soaps!

    ‘They unite in dividing the country with any and all kinds of classifications!! ‘ – so true! ‘Day in day out..political dramas are gaining more popularity than hilarious soaps!’ – Absolutely!!

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