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    Unwanted, Divisive

    They are adamant and have been putting effort to give ‘Hindustan’ an identity by imposing Hindi as ‘one’ language since 2014. Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent remark to make Hindi common language has sparked off a strong acrimony in the non-Hindi regions including the South Indian states and Northeastern states. The resentment is not just on an emotional level. It is about preserving the languages and cultures of the diverse demography of the country.

    The Congress and other opposition political parties particularly from South India condemned the BJP’s attempt to impose Hindi as the common language in the country. Even, the saffron party’s ally in Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK also found it unfair and asked the BJP to stay ready to face the music if it does not withdraw the decision.

    Attempt to impose Hindi and agitation against it sporadically took place in India. History reminds, whenever such agitation took place, it succeeded to prevent it. The first such agitation was launched in 1937, which lasted for three years, opposing compulsory teaching of the Indo-Aryan language in schools of Madras Presidency by the first Indian National Congress government-led by C Rajagopalachari. The agitation led to the death of two protesters and the arrests of 1,198 persons including women and children. In February 1940, British Governor of Madras, Lord Erskine withdrew the decision to impose Hindi after Congress Government in 1939.

    Even, Assam had also faced language clash in 1836-1873, when the Bengali language was imposed over Assamese by the Britishers, and in 1961, when the Assam government tried to impose Assamese as an official language in Bengali dominated Barak valley. The Bengali language movement in 1961 led to the migration of around 90,000 Bengalis to Barak valley and around 50,000 to West Bengal.

    The 2011 census of India states that a total of 121 languages are there in India, out of which 22 are recognised by the Constitution of India under the Eighth Schedule. Rest 99 are termed as ‘other languages’. The census was done after thorough scrutiny on 19,569 raw linguistic affiliations out of which 1369 were identified as rationalised mother tongues and 1474 were treated as ‘unclassified’. The Constitution of India does not give any language the status of the national language. Article 343 grants Hindi and English as the official language.

    The tribal groups of the country will not compromise with their existential identity. Aggressive-nationalism will spark off the anti-incumbency wave. ‘Unity in Diversity’ is the soul of India. It would be interesting to see how the BJP will define the identity of India in the near future.

    Photo credit: naukrinama.com


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