ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Hindustani, Hindi and English in India

in post-colonial India. We are talking of the patronage given to English as an in- Hindustani, Hindi and creasingly native language by the indigenous ruling class of post-colonial India. Why did this class jump for English?

As I read the article ‘Hindustani in India’ (Anirudh Deshpande, EPW, April 8, 2000) I felt a strong pull of mixed feelings. Mixed, because I instinctually empathise with the emotional tone of the article and Deshpande’s anger at how things have turned out for what was not so long ago the youngest and most promising language of the subcontinent.

And yet, as a sociolinguist, I cannot help thinking that Deshpande has got the drift of the process terribly wrong. The forces that have been acting on Hindi to bring us to this present pass, and the antidotes to this downslide, are not the ones he has identified. No, language is something more emergent; its vitality does not reside in its own outer form. The real forces that have played on Hindi from the time of its birth are actually not ‘linguistic’, or ‘literary’, or ‘official’ at all!

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