Hindi chauvinism & Modi

DC | KANCHA ILAIAH
Published Aug 12, 2014, 11:13 am IST
Updated Mar 31, 2019, 12:50 pm IST
The UPSC examination is only a pretext for Hindutva ideologues and other pro-Hindi political forces
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The anti-English, pro-Hindi movement being spearheaded by the Bharatiya Janata Party is part of yet another retrograde Hindutva project that is holding the nation to ransom once again. A section of Lohiates are also active in this movement, which includes members of the Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (United) and Aam Aadmi Party. Historically, the Lohiate Hindi agenda kept the Hindi belt backward. And now Hindutva forces have joined the bandwagon. Though the BJP’s revivalist, chauvinistic tendencies became more visible with their demand to drop the English paper from the Union Public Service Commission preliminary examinations, there were ominous signs of their anti-English ideological underpinnings during the election campaign.

During the campaign, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate gave interviews to English news channels in Hindi without the assistance of a translator. News anchors of English language channels were forced to interview him in Hindi. Once Narendra Modi bulldozed the English channels, other English-speaking north Indian leaders too started speaking in Hindi on English channels. Thus, legitimising Hindi chauvinism.

 

The Hindi-vadis are spinning a rural-urban divide argument to advance their agenda which, in essence, is a retrograde step that checkmates development. If urbanisation were the basis for better representation in the civil services, then south India, Gujarat and to an extent Maharashtra would have taken all the jobs. That’s not the case. Often, candidates from the least urbanised states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa do extremely well. The UPSC examination is only a pretext for Hindutva ideologues and other pro-Hindi political forces to impose their Hindi imperium on the nation.

 

In this whole conspiracy of imposing Hindi as the national language on people who do not know Hindi, especially South Indians who are opposed to its imposition, English channels are playing the role of propagandist. If any leader wants to speak in Hindi, let him/her do so on the Hindi channels. Private English channels like NDTV, CNN-IBN, NewsX, Headlines Today have no business to promote Hindi having been registered as English channels. Whatever be the viewership of a Hindi channel, it cannot be considered as a national channel. So far only English channels are considered to be national channels and English papers are considered national papers.

 

The assumption that Hindi is a national language is a myth. Only 41 per cent of Indians speak Hindi. In any case, the notion of “national” is not number based. It is the spread of that language to the nooks and corners of a country. Though English is spoken by lesser number of people compared to some of the regional languages, the national spread of English is far wider. Secondly, the hunger to educate children of all classes in English is pan-Indian; there is no such hunger to learn Hindi anywhere, including in the Hindi belt.

Mr Modi promised the poor, middle classes, particularly the Other Backward Classes that he belongs to, that they will be made part of development and modernity. Without English spreading to the lower castes, poorer sections, they can never be part of the development that Mr Modi promised. Hindi revivalism seriously threatens the future of children of the poorer communities. Let us not forget that no “Hindi-loving” leader’s children study in Hindi-medium schools. The Hindi agitation is a deceptive agenda not to allow the rural poor to learn English and become equal partners in the process of governance.

 

Hindutva organisations like Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas, Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti (headed by anti-modern revivalist Dinanath Batra), Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and so on want to ensure that Mr Modi does not succeed in his modernisation and development agenda. All the cultural wings of the Sangh Parivar are headed by Brahminic elements who want to rundown Mr Modi.

In the Hindu structures of the nation, Mr Modi does not carry the same respect that the former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee (a Brahmin) carried. Mr Modi may be popular among the masses and may have become the Prime Minister on his own strength, but as he is an OBC, and the structures that control Hindutva cultural and spiritual organisations do not respect him at all. They want him to fail.

 

The Hindi agitation, the revivalist educational agenda, low-key communal incidents with a Hindutva initiative are all part of the anti-development agenda that go against Mr Modi’s promise to the nation. His promise is not seen as the Sangh Parivar’s promise. And if the Sangh Parivar wants to prove Mr Modi a failure, nobody can stop it. The sooner Mr Modi realises that his biggest enemies are in his own parivar, the better.

The writer is director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad

 

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