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English Ever as a Link Language of India - the Only Defense Against Hindi Onslaught

(English is the Only Shield Against Total Hindi Imposition and Imperialism in India)

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, February 2017 (ID. 2017-02-01)
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OUTLINE

1. Background

2. Fight to Keep English in All Indian Government Communications

3. Why We Should Retain English?

3.1 Example-1: Banks
3.2 Example-2: Highways and Rail Travel
3.3 Example-3: User Manuals for Appliances and Electronic Products

4. English is the Only Barrier Against Complete Hindi Imposition, Imperialism and Onslaught

5. Why English and not Hindi? 

6. Concluding Remarks

7. A Final Thought

 

1. Background


"Hindi is as much alien to South Indians as English is to Indians". - Pattom Thanu Pillai (Former Chief Minister, Travancore-Cochin (now called Kerala State))


Most Hindi members of the Indian Constituent Assembly wanted Hindi to become the sole official language of India effective January 26, 1950--that was just 4 years from the time of the debate over official language in the constitution assembly. One member, V. Dhulekar, went as far as to say on December 10, 1946,

"People who do not know Hindustani have no right to stay in India. People who are present in this House to fashion a Constitution for India and do not know Hindustani are not worthy to be members of this Assembly. They had better leave." [Constitution Assembly Debates-Official Report, Volume 1 (p 26-27), Lok Sabha Secretariat, 1988] .

Many non-Hindi members wanted English to remain as the sole official language or at least as associate official language (along with Hindi). Finally a compromise was reached to keep English as an associate official language for 15 more years, until January 26, 1965. It was an unfortunate move on the part of non-Hindi members; they should have been steadfast that English remain as the sole official language of India and all Indian languages have equal status if non-Hindi states were to remain part of the Indian Union. We are suffering the consequences now.

Although the constitution enshrined Hindi as the sole official language from 1965, there was opposition and protests in Tamil Nadu (called Madras State at that time). The then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru promised that English would remain as the associate official language as long as non-Hindi states want it; the constitution was not amended to make Nehru's promise binding on future Indian governments.

The day when Hindi was to become the sole official language of India, discarding English, came on January 26, 1965. There were unprecedented protests in Tamil Nadu and to much lesser extent in some other non-Hindi states too. This led to the official language act that would keep English as associate official language. This does not and would not stop Hindi imposition, though. Indian government employees are forced to work in Hindi whether they want or not; it seems to be legal (I am not a lawyer). 

Although official language acts requires that English be used in communications with non-Hindi states and peoples, there is a sinister,  calculated and unlawful attempt to remove English little by little. This is not done by an act of the parliament but it is done surreptitiously and, in my opinion, illegally by orders and instructions by Indian government ministries.

2. Fight to Keep English in All Indian Government Communications

Removal of English from Indian government offices, communications, sign boards, instructions, etc. should be resisted tooth and nail as much as we oppose Hindi imposition. Why?

It is not because we love English, it is because we need a common link  language for communication as long as states with different languages are part of the Indian union. Law says it is Hindi and English. If we remove English then it would be Hindi only (unless and until we could do it in all Indian languages).

3. Why We Should Retain English?

3.1 Example-1: Banks

Let us say that all bank forms are printed in Hindi and the state language only. A person from Karnataka goes to West Bengal on business or as tourist. He/she had an emergency and had to withdraw some money there. He is there on a short trip and does not know Bengali; so he had to know Hindi to do the bank transaction. That is the problem. He had too know Hindi and Hindi becomes a must-learn language for anyone who has to travel outside the home state. That is Hindi imposition, thrusting Hindi into non-Hindi throats and that is what Hindi politicians want. That is why we should resist tooth and nail the removal of English.

Our position: Keep all bank forms in state language, English and (grudgingly) Hindi.

3.2 Example-2: Highways and Rail Travel

Take another example. Milestones, destination names, detour information, warnings along national highways are in Hindi and state language only. A Malayali driving within his/her home state of Kerala would have no problem but if she has to drive in Maharashtra for a one-week visit, she needs to know Hindi; so anyone who has to travel for a brief visit to another state is forced to learn Hindi. This is Hindi imposition. It is not possible to put milestones in all languages. So we need a link language and that link is English. If we allow the Indian government to remove English, we are allowing Hindi imposition That is why we should vehemently oppose by all means possible any attempt to remove English use at the Indian central government. We want all highway signs in English and state language only. We know Hindi has to be there because Indian constitution says so. So, for the time being, we have to accept state language, English and Hindi. Then we should try to amend the constitution. Until then do not allow the removal of English.

The same problem arise in train travel. If destination names, tickets, reservation forms, warning signs, etc. in trains and train stations are in Hindi and state language only, then out-of-state travelers have to know Hindi and thus it is Hindi imposition. We want India Railways to use English and state language only but we know Hindi politicians would insist on Hindi because they seem to think that Hindi people are the master race of India and they should be able to travel all over India knowing only their mother tongue--the master language Hindi.

We want English and state language mandatory in banks, buses, post offices and everywhere people have to go for their day-to-day living. For the time being we would have to include Hindi also and live with state language, English and Hindi.

Our position: Keep all highway and rail signs and information in state language, English and (grudgingly) Hindi.

3.3 Example-3: User Manuals for Appliances and Electronic Products

Indian government is also planning to make Hindi mandatory in all appliance and electronic product instructions, users manuals, etc. but English is optional. We want the state language and English mandatory; unfortunately we may have to accept Hindi mandatory also. Suppose I am traveling in Gujarat, my cell phone is lost and need to but a new one. I must have the English option.  Suppose I am working on a three-month project in Andhra Pradesh and purchased a inexpensive television or a refrigerator for my temporary accommodation, I want instruction in English. Any attempt to remove English  instructions for consumer products while making Hindi mandatory is unacceptable and we should resist it. By the way, when I lived in America I have seen users manuals in 4 languages.

Our position: Keep all users manuals and labels in state language, English and (grudgingly) Hindi.

4. English is the Only Barrier Against Complete Hindi Imposition, Imperialism and Onslaught

English is the only things that standing in the way of Hindi thrust into every non-Hindi throat in India. As long as non-Hindi states are part of India, it needs a link language. Unless we keep English as the link language, or at least a link language along with Hindi, Hindi will engulf us all. So we need to resist any attempt by Indian government to remove English from Indian government. All Indian languages must be used in Indian government communications whenever possible (for example, web sites). In other situations state language first (a must), English next and we reluctantly agree Hindi third for the time being while make all efforts to remove Hindi from Indian government affairs.

5. Why English and not Hindi?

We need to teach English in our schools because advanced scientific information is in English and it is impossible to translate them all to our mother tongue. English is the international language and it will be useful if we have to go outside India for higher studies, employment and just a pleasure trip. Since we thus need English, there is no need for Hindi for non-Hindi peoples. When Bengali people in Bangladesh can do everything with Bengali language and English, why should a Bengali in West Bengal (a state of India) be burdened with Hindi? Unnecessary burden. Is it the price non-Hindi peoples have to pay for being part of the Indian Union?

As you read this article, you may think that I am not opposed to Hindi use in the Indian government. Far from it. I am for language equality. Hindi should have the same status and use as the other languages in Indian government affairs. But this article concentrates on keeping English and not on removing Hindi. See Reference 1 for articles on opposition to Hindi as official language.

6. Concluding Remarks

As long as we are part of a multi-language country, a link language is needed. English is best-suited as the link language because it is the international language (you can survive in any major city in the world with it) and also the language of advanced science and technology. Unfortunately non-Hindi leaders in the constitution assembly agreed to Hindi as the official language and there is no way to get rid of it except for non-Hindi states to get out of the Indian Union. Short of that, we have to live with Hindi as official language because Hindi people have the numbers in Indian parliament to block any constitutional amendment. As a pragmatist, I accept Hindi but insist on provisions of the constitution and official language acts to keep English as link language. We want state language and English in all communications but would grudgingly accept Hindi as third language. We shall resist by all means any attempt to remove English from Indian government communications and inter-state business transactions. We need English if we have to travel out of our states to another state or another country. Hindi is of no use outside India or for advanced science and technology.

7. A Final Thought

If Hindi people are so "sensitive" that they do not want to use the foreign English, let them form their own country consisting of the Hindi states and call it Hindia or Hindistan or whatever; they can do everything in Hindi. Let the non-Hindi states form their own union and keep English as their link language. Everybody gets what they want and nobody is forced to learn Hindi or English.
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REFERENCE

1. India, Tamil Nadu and Hindi Imposition

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Thanjai Nalangklilli

FIS170108 - 2017-a1d

 

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