India and Tamilnadu: AIDS prevention, protection and control

India: Health and Welfare for Hindi Speakers Only

K. S.

TAMIL TRIBUNE, June 2004 (ID. 2004-06-01); Updated July 2012
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OUTLINE

1. Introduction

2. AIDS Prevention Information

3. Final Comments

Update (January 2014)

1. Introduction

I am a physician (medical doctor). I had this information for quite some time. I was hesitant to mix India's official language controversy with healthcare. More and more I thought about it, I felt that I should write about it and let people make up their own minds.

It relates to the arrogant, discriminatory practice of the Indian Government regarding Hindi in virtually every sphere of life. For example, do you want to watch television; you need to know Hindi to take full advantage of Indian-Government run free television (Doordharshan)  [Editor's Note: Private television channels are available only on cable and satellite and you have to pay a substantial monthly fee for cable or satellite service.] Unfortunately this type of Hindi-centered attitude ("benefits for Hindi speakers only") has entered the sphere of health and welfare services provided by the Indian Government also.

2. AIDS Prevention Information

AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome) is a menace to the human race. Although there is no cure for AIDS and there is no vaccine to prevent it, certain relatively simple measures by individuals could protect them from getting this dreaded disease. Western countries have substantially decreased the spread of AIDS by widely disseminating such protection/prevention information to the masses.

While the spread of AIDS is somewhat under control in western countries, it is spreading fast in some African and Asian countries. Unfortunately India is one such country. India has the highest number of infections in the world. More than 3 million adults in India are already infected by AIDS. The best way to control the spread of AIDS in India is the same tactics that western countries used -- wide dissemination of AIDS prevention information to the public.

Degreed doctors such as myself can get the necessary AIDS prevention information from English books and pamphlets. But most people see doctors only after they are sick. So doctors are not in a position to disseminate AIDS prevention information on a large scale. Life-saving AIDS prevention information should reach people through para-medical personnel, social workers, village council (panchayat) workers and teachers who come to contact with people more often than doctors. These non-degreed medical workers may or may not have sufficient command of the English language to understand English books on AIDS prevention. They would be in a much better position to help people if such books are available in their mother tongues.

Indian Government, in fact, realized this. So the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Government of India) allocated funds in 1999 to write AIDS prevention related books. A good move. That is where the language discrimination came in. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Government of India) allocated funds for writing such books in Hindi only. Sure it helps to educate Hindi speakers about AIDS prevention. What about the Assamese, Bengalis, Kannadigas, Malayalis, Tamils, Telugus, et al? Outside of the Hindi belt (north-central India), even in states where Hindi is taught as a compulsory subject in schools, most doctors, para-medical professionals, social workers and village council workers do not have sufficient knowledge of Hindi to understand Hindi books on AIDS prevention. So only Hindi speaking regions benefit from these taxpayer supported preparation of Hindi books.

Indian Government attitude seems to be, "Do you want to benefit from Indian Government funded books on AIDS? Then know Hindi well enough to read and understand them. If you do not know enough Hindi, it is your fault. Too bad, tough luck, good bye!"

3. Final Comments

Our contention is that, monies that fund the writing of these AIDS prevention books come from taxes collected from non-Hindi peoples also (In fact, about 75% of the taxes are paid by non-Hindi peoples). So Government of India should allocate funds for writing AIDS prevention books in all languages. That is the reasonable thing to do. But don't expect such reasonableness or fairness from the Indian Government that is dominated and controlled by Hindi politicians. Government of India is determined to fund the development of Hindi only, even if it adversely affects the health and welfare of non-Hindi peoples. (Under criticism, Indian Government may throw some funds to other languages also after a few years to mute the criticism. If and when it happens and you read it in a newspaper, check out and find for yourself how much money is allocated to Tamil and other languages compared to Hindi. We do not ask for equal funding but proportional to the population.)

Some Hindi supporters may say, "Let the state governments fund writing such books in their languages". All right, then let the Indian Government stay out of it completely and let the state governments do it. Let Hindi speaking states fund Hindi books, Tamil Nadu fund Tamil books, Kerala fund Malayalam books, etc. But since the Indian Government decided to fund Hindi books, it should fund such books in all languages. Is the duty of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to protect the health and welfare of Hindi speakers only or does it have a responsibly to promote the health and welfare of non-Hindi peoples also? Is it India or Hindia?

MORE SUCH INCIDENCES (SUMMARY) updated in January 2014

There are more incidences where the Indian government acted with disregard for the safety and health of non-Hindi peoples in order to thrust Hindi everywhere and omit local languages. These are described in some detail in Reference 1 (click here).

1. Year 2006: India government required pharmaceutical companies (drug companies) to print labels in English and Hindi but not in local languages. These labels may include useful information like dosage, warnings, adverse effect of drugs and their symptoms. Hindi speakers can go anywhere in India and read drug labels in their mother tongue but others cannot have the labels in their mother tongue even in their own state. 

2. Year 2012: Indian Railways placed advertisements in Hindi in Tamil newspapers about the dangers of carrying inflammable articles in trains; but no such Tamil advertisements, leaving Tamil travelers ignorant of the dangers.

3. Year 2013: Indian government placed safety instructions in English and Hindi on cooking gas cylinders sold in non-Hindi states but no instructions in the local language, in total disregard for the safety of non-Hindi housewives and others using cooking gas cylinders. Hindi speakers living in non-Hindi states get their safety instruction in their mother tongue but local residents are ignored.

Read more details about these incidences in Reference 1.

REFERENCE

1. Cooking Gas Explosions and Hindi Instructions (Tamil Nadu, India) (by K.S.), TAMIL TRIBUNE, January 2014 (10 KB).

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