It would not be inappropriate to say that the September month of the Indian calendar compels the Indian constitution to discharge a stinking smell from its part 17, in general and article 351 in particular. Come, 14 September and that unpleasant fight and the war of words between the central government and the anti-Hindi protesters begin. The reason why I am not quoting article 343 which prescribes the official language of the union as Hindi in Devanagari script is because of the self-satisfying efforts of the local politicians in placing ‘their’ language to the official language bracket thus doing away with the loneliness that the sole language would have faced as the official language of the union. The bone of contention is the article Article 351 of the Indian constitution which states that, “It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so…”. Now, there comes the problem.
We boast of being a country with as many as 780 languages but why has that speciality become an impediment for us? Papua New Guinea, which is one sixth of the size of our country, has 839 languages but they are projected as an asset to the country. Our population is 166 times than this beautiful heterogeneous country and we fight in the name of languages. The lines are all parallel but efforts towards making a line longer appears to be imparting a sense of insecurity among the self proclaimed custodians of other lines.
So, the big question is, “Why should article 351 remain in the Indian constitution when there is so much stink around it?” Why even a non-Hindi person at the centre should be forced to grant his consent for the implementation or promotion of Hindi with adamant self declared non-Hindi people from different states opposing it point blank? This presents a clear case of conflict between personal and official interests that primarily are situation dependent.
Why this should be? The language, in no way so fragile to demand support from the union or the constitution to prosper. Nor are the people feeling any need for any support to communicate or to write in Hindi. Then why is the language abused every time, especially on 14 September? Is the ‘gang-rape’ of this beautiful language on every such occasion, not avoidable? Why should the language bear the brunt of the doings (right or wrong) of the custodians or the architects of the constitution? This is not acceptable. Do away with the articles or the clauses that give an opportunity to the language chauvinists to raise their fingers.
It is pertinent to note that Acharya Vinoba Bhave had said, “I respect all the languages of this world but I cannot tolerate insult of Hindi in my country:. It was our father of the nation, who called for Hindi to be given the status of the country’s national language. He had said that all talks of a ‘swarajya’ would be meaningless unless Hindi was provided national language status while giving adequate importance to regional languages. It was C Rajagopalachari who said that, “I equally strongly recommend the inclusion of it in the school curriculum everywhere”. The architect of our constitution, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar also said that it is the bounden duty of all Indians to own up Hindi as their official language. Subhash Bose and Sardar Patel went up to the extent of demanding that Hindi should be used throughout India without any exceptions and the states should also resort to the use of Hindi language because it would promote integration. It is very disappointing that even the so-called followers of these great personalities differ by large from their viewpoints.
Currently in the name of ‘Hindi Imposition’ it has become a fashion to start the hate trends on social media. It is a different story altogether that those trends in no way help reach the anti-Hindi voices to the concerned but generate a lot of pain in the hearts of Hindi speaking (read as loving) people. Why all this fuss? Scrap the stinking article 351. It will stop the need of ‘Hindi cell’ in the organisations that have officers fighting on daily basis to discharge their duties. The finance also may stop questioning the spending on Hindi citing funds crunch. The need for the fabrication of inflated records of Hindi implementation will not be there. Departments will not struggle to nominated people for training in Hindi. There will not be any fear of inspection by local or the parliamentary committee. The Hindi sign boards may not be blackened. The spending on Hindi Diwas and Fortnight etc. will be reduced.
Life will be easy, transactions shall be smooth. If a Bengali and Tamil speaking person meet in UK, they can speak in English. If they meet in Spain, still they can speak in English, why Hindi? When a Chinese Premier comes to our country, our PM can speak in English or Gujarati. If a person from Orissa visits Kanyakumari, he can speak to the tea vendor in English. If a person from Tamil Nadu goes to Hardwar for visit, he can try communicating to the locals in English. What big deal? Speak or not to speak is an individual’s decision, but please don’t make an official mockery of Hindi language in the name of national integrity.
So next time when one feels the need of those nasty means of insulting Hindi, please put the names of architect of the constitution on them or the names of union government at the centre. Don’t punish Hindi lovers for no fault of theirs!