Tamil Tribune

Hindi and Hindian Arrogance Test our Patience

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, April 2010 (ID. 2010-04-01)
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OUTLINE

1. Hindi Arrogance

2. Accept the Hindi Birth Certificate Or Else

3. Celebrate North Indian Festivals Or Else

4. Serve North Indian Food Or Else

5. Do Not Make Railway Reservations in Tamil Or Else

6. English Masters Went Out and Hindi Masters Came In

ABBREVIATIONS

CPRS - Computerized Passenger Reservation System

MRTS - Mass Rapid Transit System

DEFINITIONS

Hindian: People whose mother tongue is Hindi (similar to Tamil speakers are sometimes referred as Tamilans or Tamilians).


1. Hindi Arrogance

We used hear reports of some Hindi tourists and business people who come to Tamil Nadu attempting to speak with local restaurant, hotel and transportation employees in Hindi, and when these employees do not understand Hindi they grudgingly converse in English and then walk away murmuring insults about "stupid Masrasis not understanding Hindi" or "anti-national Madrasis refusing to talk in the national language". Although we were irritated about it, we tolerated this arrogant behavior. [(1) Madrasis is what some North Indians call Tamils even today because Tamil Nadu was called Madras State over four decades ago. (2) Indian constitution does not call Hindi the national language; Hindi is declared the official language, and Tamils oppose it.]

During the past decade more and more Hindi speakers came to Tamil Nadu to work in Information Technology companies (IT Companies), factories and construction projects. Even after living in Tamil Nadu for years, many of them did not learn Tamil and continue to attempt to use Hindi and if it fails use English with, may be, a few words of Tamil mixed in. This is different from the behavior of other language groups, be it Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali or Punjabi, who never attempt to conduct social and business transactions in their languages. Initially they use English but soon they learn enough Tamil for daily use. Hindian behavior and attitude is different. Local Tamil people bit their tongue and tolerated this behavior. Hindian behavior has now reached a level that tests our patience.

2. Accept the Hindi Birth Certificate Or Else

A man from Rajasthan State (a Hindi-belt state), living in Tamil Nadu State for 13 years, went to enroll his son at a school. When he submitted his son's birth certificate in Hindi, the clerk asked him to submit an English translation certified by a notary. Although getting a notarized English translation is not difficult, the man refused to submit an English translation. Instead of getting an English translation, the man went to the school again and again and demanded that they accept the Hindi translation and each time the school refused. Then he complained to a "sympathetic" news reporter and NDTV website published a report with the title "Chennai school takes anti-Hindi stand" (NDTV website, Decemnber 12, 2008). See more details and commentary in Reference 1.

3. Celebrate North Indian Festivals Or Else

A much more disturbing news was reported in several newspapers in March 2009. Students from North Indian states (mostly Hindi belt states) demanded that Holi festival be declared a holiday at Annamalai University, Tamilnadu. When Vice-Chancellor Ramanathan refused, these students engaged in violence damaging university property. Holi is a north Indian holiday and is not declared a holiday in any of the four southern states. This incidence again shows the arrogance of Hindians. Does any northern university declare holiday for Tamil Nadu's Pongal or Kerala's Onam? Our students do not protest. They observe the local North Indian holidays and live within the cultural norms of that region. Hindians, on the other hand, do not observe local culture but demand their culture be observed in Tamil Nadu institutions. What arrogance?

The Holi holiday protest is different from the North Indian student violence that occurred later after a North Indian (Bihar) student Gautam Kumar died in a traffic accident. North Indian students, not the South Indian students, demanded that Annamalai University declare a holiday to mourn Gautam Kumar's death. Of course, the Vice-Chancellor refused. Students do die in accidents in any university and universities do not declare holidays to mourn them. North Indian students attacked the vice-chancellor's house and then, according to news reports, "went on a rampage". University was closed for several days. You will notice a trend here. It is North Indian students, joining together as a group, challenge university authority and go on rampage. Local students as well as other South Indian students are not participating. They lose valuable college days because colleges are closed for days following the violence. Annamalai University is a well-respected 80-year old institution. Only in the past few years have large numbers of North Indian students come to study there.

4. Serve North Indian Food Or Else

Another incidence of North Indian students indulging in violence, this time against Tamil students as well as college officials, occurred in Hindustan Institute of Engineering Technology in Padur near Chennai, Tamilnadu in November 2008. North Indian students beat up the hostel warden complaining that food is of low quality. Tamil students said that the food is all right and came to the rescue of the warden. "Bad food" seems to be a code word for "South India food" for these North Indian students. Otherwise how would you explain only the North Indian students saying food is bad and Tamil students saying food is all right? Once this north-south divide was raised, some North Indians said that they object to using beef instead of chicken. Again Tamil students said that the meat is chicken. Are Tamil students fools not to be able to differentiate between beef and chicken? I also want to point out that, like most North Indians, most Tamils do not eat beef. So if the problem was beef, South Indian students would have objected too.

5. Do Not Make Railway Reservations in Tamil Or Else

This arrogant and violent attitude goes beyond students. Even people working in Indian government offices show their arrogance and contempt for Tamil. In September 2009, a local Tamil woman Lakshmi went to Computerized Passenger Reservation System (CPRS) Center at the Tirumailai MRTS station and filled out the reservation form in Tamil. The employee at the Senior Citizens Counter did not know Tamil and asked her to explain each item in English. This woman, who had high school education and knew English, did so. According to one news report the non-Tamil employee lost his patience and flung the reservation form at her. Another report said that as she was explaining the form in English, the man noticed that she had the wrong train number in the form and threw the form at her. Both these newspaper reports agree that the non-Tamil railway employee asked her to explain her reservation form in English and also that he flung the form at her but only differ on the reason. When she said that she has the right to fill the form in Tamil, two other non-Tamil employees joined the first man and hurled insults at her in English. Seeing what was happening a Tamil-speaking employee volunteered to make the reservation; the three non-Tamil employees "picked up a quarrel with him". According to the news, only two employees at that office knew Tamil. [By the way, here is a bit of news. From 2009 onwards, you can buy tickets in Tamil at London Underground Rail (called "the Tube"). Yet in Tamil Nadu, those who try to buy tickets in Tamil are insulted.] 

6. English Masters Went Out and Hindi Masters Came In

Railways and other Indian government offices have no requirement of knowing the local language but every employee must be proficient in Hindi. Seeing that they can work in Indian government offices anywhere in India in their mother tongue, Hindians get arrogant, abuse local people who do not know Hindi and expect that state government offices, schools and businesses also use Hindi, observe their holidays and serve their type of food.

Why are people who do not know Tamil appointed to central government jobs requiring regular contact with local people? Should the local people learn the language from a thousand miles away in order to deal with government officials in their own area? Or, should those who come to make a living here from a thousand miles away learn the local language? Indian government's answer is "Tamil people should learn the language a thousand miles away".

Is this fair? Is this just? Is all that happened at midnight of August 15, 1947 is, "English masters went out and Hindi masters came in"? [NOTE: British rule over the Indian subcontinent ended on August 15, 1947.]

[All incidences discussed here are from English language newspapers and could be verified.]

Thanjai Nalangkilli

REFERENCE

1. Hindi Arrogance at a Tamilnadu School (by Lalitha Krishnan Nair), TAMIL TRIBUNE, February 2009 (10 KB)

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