Hindi fanatic and zealot

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Fantasy Land

A. P. Thangamani

TAMIL TRIBUNE, March 2004 (ID. 2004-03-01)
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1. Hindi Fanatics' Fantasy Land

2. Fantasy 1: "Hindi was the Language of Unity during the Freedom Struggle against British Rule"

3. Fantasy 2: "Hindi is a Symbol of National Unity"

1. Hindi Fanatics Fantasy Land

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is yet again mouthing lies about Hindi and Tamil Nadu, and distorting history. (Some earlier lies are exposed in References 1, 2, 3). Is the learned Prime Minister telling these lies under the "theory" espoused by Hitler's Propaganda Minister Goebbels: "Invent a lie and repeat it often enough and it becomes the truth, no matter what the facts actually are"? Or, is the Prime Minister ignorant of the recent history of India? Is he living in the "real world" or in some "fantasy land" of Hindi fanatics' wishful thinking?

In December 2003, speaking at a seminar on "The national movement, Hindi and Gandhi" in New Delhi, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee propagated some false information (lies). We will briefly examine them here.

2. Fantasy 1: "Hindi was the Language of Unity during the Freedom Struggle against British Rule"

Prime Minister Vajpayee said that "Hindi was the language of unity in the freedom struggle" against British rule. False, totally false. It was English that linked those who opposed and fought the British rule from various regions of the Indian Subcontinent. Very few in the Congress Party or the freedom movement from Tamil Nadu (or Southern India) knew Hindi. When Gandhi or Nehru came to Tamil Nadu they spoke in English and not Hindi. The language of communication between north and south was English. So either Vajpayee does not know the history of freedom struggle or he is an outright liar who tries to rewrite history.

3. Fantasy 2: "Hindi is a Symbol of National Unity"

Vajpayee said that, "Hindi is a symbol of national unity". Nonsense. Hindi is one of the most divisive elements in India. During the deliberations on the Indian Constitution, no other subject met more heated debate that the provision making Hindi the official language of India. Feelings between Hindi zealots and most members from Tamil Nadu were so heated that discussion of official language provision in the constitution was postponed until the very end. It was passed in the Congress Party by one vote, when one of the members who opposed Hindi was absent. Calling Hindi a symbol of national unity is utter nonsense.

Even after Hindi was crowned the official language of India by the constitution, opposition to Hindi continued in southern and northeastern states. It was by no means limited to Tamil Nadu although it was possibly an order of magnitude more intense in Tamil Nadu than anywhere else. General K. M. Kariappa, from Karnataka State, said, "I would urge public opinion in our country to manifest itself resolutely to protest strongly against any form of forcing Hindi as a national language". Is it an indication that Hindi is a symbol of national unity? Pattom Thanu Pillai, former Chief Minister of Kerala State, said, "Hindi is as much alien to South Indians as English is to Indians".

There were anti-Hindi Imposition Agitations almost every year from 1938 to 1965 in Tamil Nadu [Reference 4]. The popular rebellion against Hindi imposition spearheaded by Tamil Nadu students in January-February 1965 was put down with brute force shipping in thousands of police from other states and Central Reserve Police and machine gun wielding soldiers from the Indian army. When the agitation was crushed by brutal force after 19 days, the death toll was so high that the government destroyed all records pertaining to the shootings so public would never know the number of deaths. Number of protesters on the anti-Hindi marches on a single day, January 25, 1965 was much higher than the total number of people who participated in demonstrations against British rule in all through the independence struggle against British rule in Tamil Nadu. Number of people killed in 19 days by police and army was higher than the total number killed in Tamil Nadu during all of British rule in the twentieth century (number killed by Indian Government in those 19 days of anti-Hindi rebellion is more than number killed in those 47 years by British Government). Mr. Vajpayee, are these events any indication that "Hindi is a symbol of national unity"?

After 1965 there were still smaller anti-Hindi demonstrations organized by political parties, although students and the general public were so terrorized and cowed down by the brutal oppression in 1965 that they did not organize any substantial protests after that. A Tamil nationalist once told me, "Next time we rebel against Hindi imposition and imperialism, we will not face guns with black flags (as in 1965) but we will face them with our own guns." I hope that Hindi fanatics in high places understand the feelings of Tamil people and avoid a bloody, armed uprising in Tamil Nadu similar to what happened in Punjab and is now happening in the northeast.

Opposition to Hindi did not come by no means from the students or the Dravidian parties only. Consider former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Kamaraj. He belonged to the Congress Party. He went to jail many times for opposing British rule. He served as the President of the Congress Party. Even though he was a stalwart in the Congress Party, the party was controlled by Hindi speakers, that he could not do anything to stop Hindi imposition. In frustration he told Tamil Nadu State employees, "If you get a letter from Indian Government in Hindi, throw it in the garbage". A former Kerala Chief Minister received a letter from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister in Hindi. He returned it with a note in English saying, "I could have written this letter in Malayalam (dominant language of Kerala). If I send letters in Malayalam to other chief ministers, where we would all be?" 

In September 2000, Manipur freedom fighters banned Hindi movies and television shows in Manipur because they were destroying the Manipuri culture and language Movie theaters and cable television operators obliged. On October 16, 2000 several thousand videocassettes of Hindi films were burnt as a protest against the "Indianization" of Manipur [Reference 5].

So, Mr. Vajpayee, where did you get the idea that "Hindi is a symbol of national unity"? Which nation are you talking about? May be you are talking about a Hindia consisting of the Hindi heartland with all other states as your subservient colonies!

REFERENCES

1. Vajpayee's Big Lie about Hindi and Annadurai (by K. Chezhian), TAMIL TRIBUNE, January 2000

2. Vajpayee, You Ignorant Idiot! (by A. P. Thangamani), TAMIL TRIBUNE, May 2000

3. Prime Minister Vajpayee Talks Nonsense Again! (by A.P. Thangamani), TAMIL TRIBUNE, August 2003

4. A Chronology of Anti-Hindi Agitations in Tamilnadu and What the Future Holds (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, January 2003 (33 KB)

5. Manipur Freedom Fighters Ban Hindi Movies (by L. Varadarajan), TAMIL TRIBUNE, May 2001

RELATED ARTICLE

Hindi Imposition and Opposition in Tamil Nadu

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