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

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Language of Power or Language of People?

Seeing and identifying India through the prism of a single language is not desirable.


On Hindi Diwas, the Home Minister suggested that Hindi can be the lingua franca of India, uniting the nation and becoming its identity globally. It seems yet again a pitch for unity by uniformity, instead of the deeper principle with which the nation has chosen to identify—unity in diversity. Although the concerned minister has denied any move towards imposing Hindi, past attempts in this direction, including the initially introduced mandatory inclusion of Hindi in the draft National Education Policy, 2019, have instilled among many a fear about this being a call for “one nation, one language.”

Such a call ignores the fact that the guiding principle for the organisation of states in independent India was primarily linguistic, thus making it a “multilingual federation.” Thus, not only is there no contradiction between being a Tamil, for instance, and being an Indian, but, in fact, the latter is predicated on the former. The rhetoric of “one nation, one language” misses or seeks to obfuscate the reality of the making of Indian nationality that transcends (and not smothers) the linguistic and regional differences. So far this model has remained functional. However, any attempt at the imposition of a single language as the national language has the potential to create a situation of friction, conflict and division.

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Updated On : 1st Oct, 2019
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