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'Every Indian Must Know Hindi', Says Cricket Commentator, Sparking Controversy

The comment, ironically, was made during a Ranji Trophy match played by teams whose state languages are Kannada and Gujarati.

New Delhi: An exchange between the two commentators during a Ranji Trophy match between Karnataka and Baroda on Thursday has reignited the debate around the imposition of Hindi, after one of them said, “Every Indian must know Hindi. This is our mother tongue. There is no bigger language than this.”

During the match, which was being held at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, one of the two commentators said, “I liked the fact that Sunil Gavaskar is commentating in Hindi and is giving his valuable inputs in the same language. I also loved it that he called the dot ball as a ‘bindi’ ball.”

The other commentator, identified as Rajender Amarnath by the Indian Express, responded: “Every Indian must know Hindi. This is our mother tongue. There is no bigger language than this.”

The first commentator, Sushil Doshi, then responds saying, “In fact, I look at those people with a lot of anger who say that we are cricketers still we speak in Hindi. You are from India, then of course you speak its mother tongue, that is nothing to be proud of.”

The comments caused a controversy on social media, with many questioning the statements made by the commentators.

Others pointed out the irony of the commentator making the statement during a match being played by sides whose state languages are Kannada and Gujarati.

Amarnath later “clarified” his stance, saying he respects all the languages which are spoken in this country. “… if it has hurt anybody then my sincere apologies to everybody. Please do not take it in any other way except we were just discussing that we love to speak that language as you love to speak your language. India is a country where many languages are spoken and each region has its own mother tongue and we respect everybody’s language,” he said, according to the Indian Express.

According to the Census 2011, 43% of Indians speak the Hindi language (including several mother tongues such as Bhojpuri, Rajasthani, and Hindi). The 2011 data also reveals that only 26% of Indians speak Hindi as mother tongue under the broader Hindi language grouping.

Also Read: What History Tells Us About Discussions Around Hindi as ‘Rashtra Bhasha’

With Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah serving as the BCCI’s secretary, the controversy was also linked to the Union home minister’s push in September last year for using Hindi as a common language. After he said that the language could become the unifying factor in India, he received flak, especially from South Indian politicians. He later withdrew the comments, saying he never asked for the imposition of Hindi.

“I never asked for imposing Hindi over other regional languages and had only requested for learning Hindi as the second language after one’s mother tongue. I myself come from a non-Hindi state of Gujarat. If some people want to do politics, it’s their choice,” he said.