One Language policy in Indian Mileu
India's strength lies in its diversity. Indians belong to
different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, each having a
history that dates back to preBuddhist times. Languages like
Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Marathi, Odiya, Bengali, Assame, etc.
have a long history and the total number of people who speak
these languages exceeds the population of entire Europe. If
these communities are willingly part of a united India it is
because they believe in their Indian nationality deeply, which
is not tied to any particular religious or linguistic identity.
From the beginning, even during the Indus times as we now understand,
India has always been the land of diverse communities and linguistic
groups. The people also came from different racial backgrounds.
What kept them united for the last 5000 years or so is their
cultural history which is deeply rooted in Hinduism, Buddhism,
Jainism, and Sikhism. The cultural imprint is so strong in the
consciousness that even when people migrate to other countries,
they retain their distinct Indianness.
There is little doubt that India is held together as a country
because of its cultural and linguistic roots and its historic
ties with the ancient religious traditions that are today recognized
under different religious banners. In 1960's the central government
tried to impose Hind1 upon non-Hindu speaking people and it
provoked widespread unrest. In the nineties when the BJP government
came to power they tried to revive Hindi as a national language,
which was not received well in non-Hindi speaking states. It
probably also led to its subsequent defeat in the next general
election. BJP has hardly any presence in non-Hindi speaking
states, except for one or two regions. Their unpopularity in
non-Hindi speaking states is mainly because they are identified
not only as a Hindu party but also as a Hindi party. People
in the southern states prefer English to Hindi because English
is historically associated with the regions. The British ruled
these states in the past long before they emerged as a ruling
power in the north, whereas prior to independence these states
were seldom ruled by Hindi rulers. South Indians are also aware
of the many prejudices people in the North hold against them.
Hindi movies regularly make fun of the way non-Hindi speaking
people speak or pronounce Hindi. It does not bode well for promoting
Hindi in southern states.
The BJP government upon whom people have kept many hopes
should focus their attention upon the economic development of
the country and the social ills that plague the nation rather
than promoting one language or one cultural identity that may
threaten the unity and integrity of India and weaken the unity
between Hindi and non-Hindi speaking people. Let us hope commonsense
prevails and the government will protect all linguistic traditions
and communities instead of just promoting one language or one
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