Bengaluru: The statements of Union Home Minister Amit Shah to use Hindi as a medium of communication among states has stirred a controversy.
The development has also raised debates on imposition of Hindi on states which have their own language.
In an interview with IANS, T. S. Nagabharana, the Chairman of the Kannada Development Authority (KDA), functioning under the Karnataka government, dubbed the idea of Shah as a conspiracy’ against regional languages.
It is also against the principles of federal structure on which India as a country is functioning, said Nagabharana, who is also a theatre personality, film director and artiste.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. What do you have to say about Amit Shah’s statement on using Hindi as a medium of communication?
A. India’s strength is its diversified culture. And the language of the land represents the diversified culture. It is impossible to retain diversity with one language’ policy.
All 22 official languages of India mentioned in Schedule 8 of the Constitution should get the same respect and honour as agreed upon at the time of the formation of Independent India. Then only the cultural strength of a language of the land could be preserved.
Q. Do you think Hindi is being imposed on Karnataka?
A. The Central government is continuously imposing Hindi on Karnataka. The state is functioning after agreeing to the three-language formula (Kannada, Hindi and English) of the Union government.
Take the example of neighbouring Tamil Nadu. There is only ‘two-language formula’ working there (Tamil and English). The present generation in Karnataka is questioning why there should be a three-language formula in the state. When we see why they are questioning, it gets to the issue of education and employment. If 22 official languages, including Kannada, fail to get their due respect, it means one language is forcefully imposed on the states. That is what is happening now.
Q. What does Hindi imposition have to do with education and employment?
A. The founding aspirations of the Constitution have been violated in the country in this respect. Hindi imposition is not just a concern, it is already there. Because of this imposing mindset, the Central government’s objectives are affected. The competitive exams should be conducted in the languages of the respective states. Are they being conducted? No.
When you deny students who have studied in their languages from appearing in competitive exams, constitutionally you are distancing those children from the competitive exams. Those who are kept out of exams, how can they get the benefits? How far this biased approach towards languages is tenable?
The Central took off language restrictions and started selections for the banking sector, and in all rural banks non-Kannadigas got posted. There are quarrels in most of the banks because of lack of proper communication. The people are losing trust in the banking system. The facilities given by the Union government are not reaching the last beneficiary as there is need of others’ interpretation.
Q. What is the stand of Kannada Development Authority on Amit Shah’s proposal in this regard?
A. The Kannada Development Authority will oppose the proposal of Amit Shah in toto.
Q. How are you planning to oppose the proposal?
If it is the stand of the Indian government, then the protests will be different and they would be organised on a large scale. If the decision is taken in an undemocratic way, there are our representatives – MPs and MLAs – who should react to it.
If All MPs have consented and the Indian government’s official stand is to promote Hindi, then there is no chance for opposition. But, first, there should be clarity from the Indian government on this.
Q. Can the statement by Amit Shah on using Hindi as a language for communication between states be a threat for the local languages?
A. We don’t have clarity on whether the statements by Amit Shah on the use of Hindi are personal or they are of the Indian government. There is no clarity. If the clarity is given, then I can answer this question.
Q. Why should there be opposition if Amit Shah is trying to promote Hindi as a national language? What should have been done to put forth such a suggestion without leading to controversy?
A. Has there been a declaration regarding the national language constitutionally? No. How can Hindi become a national language? No state has been consulted on making Hindi a national language. Firstly, there should be a commission on national language. The commission should consult all states regarding making one among the Indian languages as official national language. It has to take the consent of states and later it could be declared as the national language. No such step is taken, how can they even propose anything like this?
Q. This is an age of exchange of ideas, markets. Can Karnataka close doors for Hindi?
A. Karnataka has always welcomed other languages without finding any faults. It is the only state where people answer the person in his own language. You go to a north Indian state and talk in Kannada, see if you can get a reply.
As per the three-language formula, people have to learn another language apart from the language of the land. Then we were told to learn Hindi. Which north Indian state has taught the other language?
You have to respect the formula which united India. Cultural representation of respective states is asserted through the language of the land. But the question is how you treat it?
In the National Education Policy (NEP), the objective is laid out for education in mother tongue or in the language of the land. Will the purpose be served by Hindi imposition? In which state, whether it is Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan or Gujarat, Kannada is being taught?
Q. Can Hindi replace English as a medium of communication in India?
A. English is being used as the bridge or language of communication at national and international levels. The language whichever is contemporary and experimental will be used. So, English is the natural choice and it is being used.
Now, if you want states to use another language from India, there should be a preparation for it. What kind of preparation is being made? All states should be consulted and their consent should be taken on making one language as the medium of communication. Has there been any attempt in this regard? No.
When no such attempt is made, mere mentioning of using any language as mode of communication implies that it is imposition.
Q. What are your suggestions?
A. The literary works of Jnanpith awardees of all languages must be translated into 18 languages. How many of the works have been published? How many works of Raastra Kavi’ Kuvempu have been published? I can give a list.
The conspiracies to push one particular language to the corner should be put aside. Indian culture’s strength is its diversity. And the language of the land represents diversified culture.
By M. K. Ashoka