M. Venkaiah Naidu called English an “illness” left behind by the Britishers at a Hindi Divas function organised by the Union Home Ministry. According to a report in The Hindu, he said, “When the Chinese President came here he spoke in his mother tongue. The Iranian President, a PhD in English, also spoke in his mother tongue when he was here. One should never forget their mother tongue.”
True, in our country Hindi has been reduced to the language of less-learned and unsophisticated. English is a symbol of urbanity and intelligence. But it is very easy to demonise Britishers and their language for the apathy we show to Hindi today. No one ever asked us to embrace English by discarding Hindi. No one pointed a gun to our heads and demanded that we consider English-speaking skills as a measure of someone’s intelligence or smartness. So then why do we still shove this blame on others and not take it on ourselves?
There is nothing wrong with being good at any language
Being multilingual is a skill which opens global avenues for you. Yet these days speaking Hindi or English in our country is seen as a mark of belonging to a certain section of the society. There is one section which is proud of not being able to read or write Hindi. Similarly, there is another section which feels all English literature, along with those who read it needs to be impaled and set to fire.
- M. Venkaiah Naidu called English an “illness” left behind by the Britishers at a Hindi Divas function.
- In our country, Hindi has indeed been reduced to the language of less-learned and unsophisticated.
- But no one ever asked us to embrace English and discard Hindi at gunpoint. It is we who inserted a class system among languages.
But whoever said that one language can only be great when another is deemed inferior? In European countries, people do not demonise English, but merely treat it as a second language. They learn their mother tongue and then take up English because let’s be practical, in this age of globalisation, we all need a common language to converse. It just happens to be English and not French or Hindi Or Urdu.
No language is inferior. What is inferior is our arrogance which reduces language skills to a status symbol.
We have a tendency to create and embrace divides among ourselves, where they shouldn’t exist in the first place. Thus, on this Hindi Divas, do not pledge to reject English, but to show more love to Hindi. To read, write and celebrate the richness of this language but without hailing it as a superior one. Stop classifying languages with a class system, because it only prevents us from enjoying them. Both Hindi and English can co-exist in harmony in our brains and on our tongues. All they need is equal respect in our hearts.
Picture credit: NDTV
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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.