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Making Hindi compulsory

IFP Editorial: It is high time for the government to call in all stakeholders and frame a common response towards the move to make Hindi compulsory.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 6 May 2022, 3:32 am

(PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons)
(PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons)

 

Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s push for making Hindi compulsory up to Class X in all the states of the Northeast region had been met with stiff resistance everywhere. Various student organisations active in the state have spoken up terming it an attempt to impose Hindi language in the region which would sound the death knell of the various languages and dialects spoken by various communities in the region. While MEELAL, a frontline body working for transition into officially recognised Meetei Mayek had also thrown in their weight in the collective voice of protest, the Manipuri Sahitya Parishad and other forbearers of the then language movement are still silent.

In other parts of India, the renewed move to make Hindi as the national language is being opposed by most of the southern states and other non-Hindi speaking states. Such a move had been there since Independence, but later abandoned by various Central governments when faced with stiff resistance. Although Hindi became the official language along with English, its acceptability remained mostly in the Hindi speaking belt of North India. Looking back in history, most of the Indian states were reorganised on linguistic lines.

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Nearer home, we have also seen the Assamese language movement as opposed to Bengali. As elsewhere, language is a very emotive issue and it took years of sustained movement for Manipuri language to be included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. It was on August 20, 1992 that the Manipuri language was included in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution and every year, the day was observed as Manipuri Language Day.

After inclusion in the 8th Schedule, a state Language Cell was opened in the state Education Directorate which was ultimately upgraded as the Directorate of Language Planning and Implementation in 2013 and the basic idea was not only promotion of the state language but also of the various tribal languages and dialects. As per international standards, even Manipuri Language which is included in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution has been listed as one of the dying languages of the world. We must also understand that the number of speakers of a language is very important in consideration of the status of a language. The basic question is how many people speak Manipuri or Meiteilon, which is heralded as the lingua-franca of the state.

Meanwhile, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh is still silent on the volatile issue and yet to voice an opinion as to what he thinks about making Hindi compulsory in the schools upto Class X. It is not only him, but all BJP chief ministers of the Northeast region are silent on the issue. We all know, the BJP chief ministers would be silent till they get a nod from Amit Shah before making any kind of utterance regarding the ‘imposition’ of Hindi as they are calling it now.

On the other hand, it was indeed strange for the Union Home Minister to make such an announcement. Not so long ago in September last year, Amit Shah had said Hindi is a friend of India’s regional languages and all of them should be promoted and encouraged. Addressing a function on the occasion of Hindi Diwas, Shah also appealed to parents to communicate with their children at home in their mother tongue even if they study in English medium schools.

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The home minister also said people should not only be ‘Atma Nirbhar’ (self-reliant) in producing goods but also for languages. We had lauded the Home Minister’s statement then. But now, he is speaking about making Hindi compulsory and our political leaders are silent. Not only the chief minister, but the recently appointed Education Minister Th Basanta Singh is also silent on the issue. We must say, it is high time for the government to call in all stakeholders and frame a common response towards the move to make Hindi compulsory.

One must also understand, a working knowledge of Hindi is quite useful in communicating and conducting one’s business in some parts of India. Learning the language should be purely voluntary. However, any move to shove it down the throats of non-Hindi speaking people is not wise. 

- EDITORIAL 

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First published:5 May 2022, 9:44 pm

Tags:

NortheastAmit shahmanipuriHindiCompulsory subjectofficial languageManipuri Language Day

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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