Tuesday 8 December 2015

India: A country without a national language

image source : www.languageservicesbureau.com

India is a country with unparalleled diversity. Not only in terms of geography and history, India is a mix of various cultures, religions and languages.
Recent outcries about 'religious intolerance' though puts a question mark on whether the diversity in India is a colourful conglomerate, which strenghtens our society, or an ocean of unblendable emulsions, which is a burden on progress and development. It is a very debatable topic and I will give my opinions on it some other day. 
Similar to religious diversity, India also has a huge linguistic diversity. More than 1500 languages are spoken in this country. But unlike most other countries, India does not have one unifying language or a lingua franca, which is spoken or understood by all. 
Well why, we have Hindi! Around 422 million Indians (41%) can speak Hindi and well, it is our national language, right? Wrong. Absolutely wrong!
It is a very common misconception we Indians have. Hindi is NOT our national language. In fact, India does not even have a national language!
Here are the facts: The Central government of India has two official (not national!) languages, Hindi and English, while the state governments can use their respective languages as their official language. While English is the lingua franca (though only 0.01% of the population can speak English), and Hindi (and its dialects) is the most widely spoken language, there are 21 other languages which has the status of official language.
The reason why I stated these facts is because I feel most Indians do not respect people with a different linguistic background other than their own. While many(I did not say all!) Hindi speakers think Hindi should be learnt by all as it is our National language, Tamil speakers especially (read about the anti-Hindi protests of 1965), and a few other non-Hindi speakers refuse to accept that. 
I am not someone significant enough to pass some judgememt and say that one of them is right and the other is not. I just think that if we are stuck with playing a game of who bends first, it is sure to be a never ending wait. Rather, can't we avoid this unpleasantness and love and respect a person for what he or she is, irrespective of what language he or she speaks? So what if that person cannot speak a certain language. Does that change the fact that he/she is a human being just like us with dreams and aspirations not different from ours? I strongly believe (and try my best to practice) that kindness and love still have a place in this world no matter what people say. The results may be delayed but irrespective of religion or linguistic background or nationality, if you treat a person with respect and love, you will eventually get back more from that person. If you on the other hand, hate somebody because 'people from his/her background' treated you disrespectfully, you are just extending the chain of hatred and bad blood. No good will come of it. Just try being respectful and kind and nice and polite, even if the other person might be the opposite.. Sooner or later you will conquer his/her negativity. It is one small act, but it is far far better than criticising someone or something on facebook.

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