Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat or Hindi-fy India Programme?
TAMIL TRIBUNE, March 2017 (ID. 2017-03-01)
1. A New Hindification Project2. Duplicity of the Three Language Formula
3. More Examples of Hindification of India
4. Concluding Remarks
1. A New Hindification Project
President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, in his address to both houses of parliament in January 2017, said "Celebrating the cultural diversity along with the richness of language and heritage of every state, my government has started the Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat programme. The uniqueness of this programme is to pair and entwine two different states with diverse cultures for over a year so that each state can assimilate the cultural spirit of the other". (President's Secretariat; January 31, 2017)
I do not know what "Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat" means because it is either Hindi or Sanskrit, the favoured languages of the rulers of India. But based on what the president said, it seems to be yet another programme to infuse Hindi into non-Hindi states of India. This is not a cultural diversity program but a program to establish a uniform culture, the Hindi/Sanskrit culture, all over India--slowly killing off the independent identities of the various regions.
From our experience with Indian government's past programmes and projects, we know that, as part of this programme, Hindi culture would be infused into non-Hindi states but very little would be done to spread the other cultures into Hindi states. Here is an example.
2. Duplicity of the Three Language Formula
Indian government introduced the "three-language formula" in education (in schools); this formula requires that all non-Hindi states teach Hindi as a subject in their schools and Hindi states teach a non-Hindi Indian language in their schools. Except for a few states (for example Tamil Nadu) that refused to accept the three language formula, all other states taught Hindi in their schools. Hindi states taught mostly Sanskrit or some related language in a lukewarm fashion paying lip service to the three language formula. Proof of the pudding is in its taste. Millions students in non-Hindi states achieved a reasonable degree of proficiency in Hindi. Can you show in each Hindi state just 1000 students who have the same level of proficiency in one of the South Indian or East Indian languages? You cannot. The three-language formula was just a vehicle to thrust Hindi into non-Hindi states. Same is the case with this Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat programme. It is just another vehicle to Hindi-fy all of India.
3. More Examples of Hindification of India
3.1 Indian Government Employees in Non-Hindi States
Make it mandatory for all Indian government employees (including Indian government bank and railway employees) to learn the state official language and pass a state government administered language proficiency test within one year of employment in the state. That not only educates out-of-state employees in state language and culture, it also removes the difficulty/burden of local people having to deal with out-of-state employees who do not know the state language.
3.2 Change the "One Day, One Hindi Word" Programme to "One Day, One Kannada Word", etc.
Many Indian government offices have a board at the front entrance with a Hindi word and its English translation written everyday. If the Indian government is really for diversity, instead of "One Day, One Hindi Word" ("A Hindi Word A Day"), display a local language word everyday (Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odisa, Tamil, Telugu, etc.). As we said before, many out-of-state employees do not know the state language. See Photo H-289 on this link
3.3 Observe State Language Week instead of Hindi Week at Indian Government Offices
Indian government offices are required to observe "Hindi Week" every year. Hindi essay, poetry and elocution competitions are held for non-Hindi employees. If the Indian government is really for diversity, hold "State Language Week" instead of Hindi Week to encourage out-of-state employees to learn the language of the land.
3.4 Print Rail Tickets in Local Languages
Railway tickets used to be printed in English and local language from the days of British rule; now (2017) computer generated rail tickets are in English and Hindi only. Computer software is available to print tickets in different languages (Kannada and English in Karnataka, Bengali and English in West Bengal, Tamil and English in Tamil Nadu, etc.) or even 3 languages. If the Indian government is really for diversity, print tickets in English and the local language. That is diversity. What Indian government is doing is Hindi-fication of non-Hindi states.
3.5 Make Air India Announcements in Local Languages
Announcements in Air India flights within a state (for example, between two Tamil Nadu cities Madurai and Chennai) are in English and Hindi only. Make the announcements in the state language. That is diversity. What the Indian government is doing in Hindi-fication of India.
3.6 Allow all Indian Languages in Parliament (without Restrictions)
Currently (as of 2017) Members of Parliament (MPs) can speak in Hindi or English anytime they want. They may speak in any other Indian language if they give the text of the speech to the speaker in advance; they may ask secondary/supplementary questions in Hindi or English only. Ministers are not allowed to talk in any language other than Hindi or English.
Reason given for this discriminatory language restriction is that while parliament has several full time Hindi-English-Hindi translators, it has only part-time translators for other languages. Solution is simple. Instead of spending money on Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat, spend a fraction of that money to hire full time translators. That is language diversity.
Members of European Union Parliament (EUP) can speak in two dozen languages without any prior notice. That is diversity. Learn what language diversity and equality means from EUP.
3.7 Food Diversity in Indian Railways
In 2007, Southern Railways that serves most of Southern India removed idli, dosai and sambar from its menu but continued to serve north Indian foods like poori, dal, etc. (The Hindu; April 27, 2007) Idli, dosai and sambar are uniquely South Indian foods. Is this Indian government's idea of cultural diversity? Idli, dosai and sambar were put back in the railway menu after many complaints. Why were South Indian foods removed in the first place while keeping North Indian foods in Southern Railways?
3.8 Use School Textbooks to Promote Diversity
"Government of India should give South India its rightful and legitimate share in history books", Twenty Ninth All-India Conference of Dravidian Linguistics (February 2002). Things have not changed in the past 15 years since 2002. History books used at CBSE schools and central schools continue to be centered on the Hindi belt region, ignoring the South and the East. Instead of teaching a Hindi-centric history of India, expose students to the past of all regions of India. Teach them the cultural diversity of India; cultural diversity would become a fact of life in the next generation. There is no need for Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat, use school textbooks to expose people to the diverse cultures, traditions and history of India. (NOTE: CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) schools and central schools come under the purview of the Indian government while state board schools come under state governments.)
3.9 Use Television for Inter-Cultural Exchanges
Television (TV) is one of the best tools to promote cultural exchange. Indian government has at its disposal the extensive broadcast TV network, the Doordarshan. Instead of using this free broadcast network to promote inter-cultural exchange, India is using it to thrust Hindi into non-Hindi areas and Hindi-fy India. In its many national network channels seen all over India, how many Hindi movies are broadcast and how many non-Hindi movies?
If Doordharsan is to broadcast movies on the basis of population ratio, for every 41 Hindi movies, 7 Telugu movies should be broadcast (similarly for other non-Hindi languages also). Right now Doordharshan is not broadcasting even one Telugu movie for every 400 Hindi movies.
If people who cannot understand Hindi movies has to put up with Hindi movies in their TV, let the Hindi people also put up with non-Hindi movies in their TV. May be they will understand a little of other cultures, history, customs and music. Use the national broadcasts for promoting diversity. There is no need for Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat, use Doordarshan to expose people to other Indian cultures.
There are many more examples we can provide of Indian government Hindi-fying non-Hindi states, quietly and systematically, attempting to destroy local cultures. But the above examples are enough to show Indian government's duplicity in talking of cultural diversity and taking actions to establish a single pan-India culture, the culture of the Hindi region. Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat programme is yet another means to spend taxpayer monies to establish a single pan-India culture. Non-Hindi politicians and people should oppose it.
4. Concluding Remarks
We do not need yet another Hindi-fication programme called Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat. We have enough such programmes already--Indian government offices, Indian Railways, Air India, CBSE and central schools and Doordharsan. Diversify them first, opening them to all Indian languages and cultures. Then we will consider "Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat". We do not want to fund yet another "Hindi-fy India" programme.
Non-Hindi politicians and people may oppose this "Hindi-fy India" programme called "Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat" but their protests will fall into the deaf ears of Hindi politicians. They have the numbers in parliament to block any amendment to the Indian constitutions to stop the Hindi-fy India projects. Sooner or later, it may take a hundreds years, the diverse Indian cultures would be weakened and side-lined and a pan-India culture, namely the Hindi culture, would emerge destroying the many millennia old cultures of South Asia. Only way out of this situation is for non-Hindi states to get out of the Indian Union and form their own union or unions, independent of Indian government and Indian constitution. All non-Hindi states may become a single country (New India?) or multiple regional countries (South India, East India, West India) or multiple independent countries. The choice should be left to each state. People should decide their own future without any dictate from the Hindi masters in Delhi.
[SUMMARY: Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat is yet another wolf in sheep's clothing project for the Hindification of India. Counterpoints opposing the programme.]
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