Mr. Amit Shah
Honourable Home Minister
I am writing this open letter to you, as a follow up of your statement that you’d like to “make Hindi as a national language” and through which wished to improve India’s stature in the world. You wanted Hindi to be the identity of India to the rest of the world. I have a simple question in this regard.
Sir, let’s leave aside for a moment, the plan to showcase it to the world. First off, what is the identity of Hindi, i.e. when someone says Hindi, what comes to your mind? …. Literature, or Economy, Society, Science, Music?
The biggest economy in India is controlled by Maharashtra and Mumbai, the regions where Marathi and Gujarati are the dominant languages. In Mumbai, a language mixed with Hindi and Marathi is generally spoken. The stock market is dominated by Gujaratis.
Today, when someone says Indian pop music, the world recalls Bhangra, a native music and dance format of Punjab. When someone says Indian music composer, the world thinks of AR Rahman, a Tamil. Even if you consider the dominant Bollywood composers today, they are Vishal (Sindhi), Shekar (Gujarati), Amit Trivedi (Gujarati), and Pritam (Bengali).
When someone says IT, the world instantly recalls the word Bangalore, where the dominant languages are Kannada and Tamil. (Of course, within all the IT companies, the official language is English.) So much so, that when an American job is snatched in favour of an Indian, they use the word ‘Bangalored’ for that.
When someone says Indian movies, one thinks of Bollywood, Telugu and Tamil industries. You might know that Bollywood doesn’t speak Hindi. It employs a strange amalgam called Hindustani, a mix of Hindi and Urdu. (And since the nineties, Punjabi has been encroaching into the scene as well.)
When someone says Human Development, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Himachal and North Eastern states dominate.
When you talk about Education and Academic Excellence, places like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, North Eastern states come up in the list. Even the so-called Hindi city-state like Delhi appears only at the 8th place.
When you talk about literature, Bengali and Marathi languages dominate. If you consider the greatest literary laurels in the world, such as the Booker, the Indians who had won it in the past are Salman Rushdie (Maharashtrian), Kiran Desai (Maharashtrian), Arundhati Roy (Bengali + Malayali), and Aravind Adiga (Kannadiga), The two writers who had won the Pulitzer, the most revered literary prize in the US, are Siddharth Mukherjee and Zhumpa Lahiri; both Bengalis. The only Indian who has ever won a ‘Nobel in Literature’ – Tagore, was a Bengali.
If you consider the highest honour in the world of cinema, it is the Oscars and the three Indians who have won it are Rahman (Tamil), Gulzar (Punjabi), and Resul Pookkutty (Malayali).
When you say Science, the names that come to our mind are Vikram Sarabhai (Gujarati), Satish Dhawan (Punjabi), Abdul Kalam (Tamil), C V Raman (Tamil), and Jagdish Chandra Bose (Bengali). If you consider those that have won the Nobel for Science, C V Raman, Chandra Sekhar and Ramakrishnan Venkatraman were all Tamils.
The only Nobel Laureate with Hindi as his native tongue is Kailash Sathyarthi, who had won it for his work on eradicating child labour. He was motivated to pursue this cause due to the condition of children he saw in his native Madhya Pradesh.
When you talk about the medical field and healthcare, states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu Maharashtra dominate the scene.
Do you get the picture?
Please look at the condition of those regions that speak Hindi as their native tongue. Check out their literature, education, healthcare, social progress, human development, economic status. Do you really want THAT to be the identity of India to the world? Well, forget Hindi being identity to the world, would you consider Hindi as the respectable identity even to fellow Indians within India? On what basis would we make that claim for Hindi’s dominance? Would learning Hindi help with economic progress? Would it help with accomplishing anything in world literature, science, music? Even if you say many of the names mentioned above learnt Hindi, would you say that their achievement would not have been possible had they not learnt it? For example, Rahman still doesn’t speak Hindi and that hasn’t stopped him from dominating Bollywood for decades; and even reach the Oscars.
Sadly, the empirical evidence is stacked against Hindi.
If you are really keen on improving India’s stature in the world, Sir, then I have a recommendation. Let us declare India as a multi-cultural, multi-lingual country to the world. There are plenty of countries with a single national language. There are plenty of examples of countries that destroyed themselves by trying to impose a single language. Yet, there aren’t many examples of countries actively promoting multiple languages and multiple cultures and emerging successful. Let us show the world that anyone, regardless of their language, religion, caste or gender can succeed in India. And they can be world champions in any of their chosen fields.
Let India’s identity be as the most successful country, because we’re multi-lingual and multi-cultural, and not despite this.
Thanks and Regards,
An Indian citizen