New Delhi: Union home minister Amit Shah on Saturday said that the Hindi language could possibly become the unifying factor in India.
His advocacy came months after the Union government quietly withdrew the new “three-language formula” in the draft New Education Policy 2019. The shift from the current “two-language formula” sought mandatory teaching of the language in schools and was seen as a move to impose Hindi on the non-Hindi speaking states.
Soon after states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and West Bengal erupted in opposition, the Centre quietly removed the contentious clause from the draft NEP.
At the Hindi Diwas on Saturday, Shah rekindled the controversy when he stressed on the ability of the widely-spoken language to “unite” the country and be representative of the nation at a global level.
“India is a country of different languages and every language has its own importance but it is very important to have a language which should become the identity of India in the world. If one language can unite the country today, it is the widely-spoken Hindi language,” Amit Shah tweeted.
“Today, on the occasion of Hindi Day, I appeal to all the citizens of the country that we should increase the use of our mother tongue and also use the Hindi language as one language to realise the dreams of Bapu and iron man Sardar Patel. Happy Hindi Day,” Amit Shah said.
आज हिंदी दिवस के अवसर पर मैं देश के सभी नागरिकों से अपील करता हूँ कि हम अपनी-अपनी मातृभाषा के प्रयोग को बढाएं और साथ में हिंदी भाषा का भी प्रयोग कर देश की एक भाषा के पूज्य बापू और लौह पुरूष सरदार पटेल के स्वप्प्न को साकार करने में योगदान दें।
हिंदी दिवस की हार्दिक शुभकामनाएं
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) September 14, 2019
Taking a cue from him, the working president of the Bharatiya Janata Party J.P Nadda too positioned himself as supporting Shah’s call.
“Hindi is the most-spoken and understood language across India, which unites all of us in the thread of unity and is also our identity in the world. Wish you all a very Happy Hindi Day. Let us all increase the use of Hindi in our daily lives and inspire others as well.”
हिंदी भारत में सर्वाधिक बोली एवं समझी जाने वाली भाषा है जो हम सभी भारतीयों को एकता के सूत्र में पिरोती है एवं विश्व में हमारी पहचान भी है।
आप सभी को हिंदी दिवस की हार्दिक शुभकामनाएं।
आइए हम सभी अपने दैनिक जीवन में हिंदी के प्रयोग को बढ़ाएं एवं दूसरों को भी प्रेरित करें। pic.twitter.com/GAK1MWFezk
— Jagat Prakash Nadda (@JPNadda) September 14, 2019
Almost immediately after the BJP leaders expressed their opinion on Hindi assuming a national identity in future, opposition leader Asaduddin Owaisi of AIMIM took a dig at them. He tweeted to say that the idea of India is “much bigger than Hindi, Hindu, Hindutva”.
Hindi isn’t every Indian’s “mother tongue”. Could you try appreciating the diversity & beauty of the many mother tongues that dot this land? Article 29 gives every Indian the right to a distinct language, script & culture.
India’s much bigger than Hindi, Hindu, Hindutva https://t.co/YMVjNlaYry
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) September 14, 2019
The imposition of the Hindi language is a topic that has great historical baggage in India. Anti-Hindi agitations had gripped south India from the 1930s to early 1960s. They went on to become one of the most important political tools for Dravidian parties then.
Against this backdrop, the constituent assembly that framed the Indian Constitution extensively debated over whether Hindi could become a national language. However, it eventually settled for what is known as the “Munshi-Ayyanagar formula” that included Hindi as one of the many official languages of India.
K.M. Munshi and Gopalaswami Ayyangar, two members of the assembly, felt that the language not only has a limited appeal in large parts of India but also is relatively inadequate to capture the technicalities of law and legislations being framed then for an independent India.
However, the debate which was thought of as an issue that had been resolved came back to haunt the country this June, when BJP – traditionally considered as a north-Indian party – released the draft NEP with a controversial clause that called for mandatory teaching of Hindi.