Most of the little Hindi I have was taught to me by Shah Rukh Khan. Not personally, although that wouldn’t have bothered me. But looking at the star and his Bollywood colleagues – and feeling the need to understand what he was saying beyond what he was expressing with those sad puppy eyes. There were Hindi movie songs that I liked – not just King Khan’s – and their meanings were explained to me by kind family and friends who had studied Hindi at school or And these songs m have helped expand my Hindi vocabulary.
I studied Hindi briefly. As a central government employee in Doordarshan, I took a few courses that helped me to read, write (slowly) and even apply for occasional leave – all of this would come as a surprise to those who actually heard my Hindi! I was in the third and final course when I had to travel for official work from Bangalore to Delhi. Upon my return, I was issued a memo asking me to explain why I had not attended the Hindi lessons given while I was away. I decided not to attend any more, if the courses were compulsory, I did not want them.
That’s the thing. Most human beings do not want to impose anything on them. The ongoing language protests are against what is seen as the imposition of Hindi – not the rather soft language itself. It’s a simmering issue, especially in the southern states. Tamil Nadu may have led the initial resistance. Decades ago, when Doordarshan broadcast a national Hindi newscast in prime time, DDK Madras (as it was then called) had news in Tamil instead.
Karnataka, especially in recent years, has also raised objections to the presence of Hindi in some places. the latter says that Hindi is not the national language.
In his tweet – written in Devanagari – Devgn said that Hindi is the national language and our mother tongue and asked why Sudeep had his films dubbed into Hindi.
.@KicchaSudeep मेरे भाई,
हिंदी हिंदी अगर राष्ट्रीय राष्ट्रीय राष्ट्रीय नहीं है आप अपनी की फ़िल्मों हिंदी में में डब िलीज़रते िलीज़रते क्मों को में करके करके रिलीज़ करते करते?
और और मातृभाषा राष्ट्रीय भाषा भाषा, है और रहेगी रहेगी रहेगी
जन गण मन ।
— Ajay Devgn (@ajaydevgn) April 27, 2022
Sudeep answered – in English.
And sir @ajaydevgn ,,
I understood the txt you sent in Hindi. Tats only because we all respected, loved and learned Hindi.
No offense, but I was wondering what the situation would be if my answer was typed in Kannada. !!
Don’t we also belong to India sir.
— Kichcha Sudeep (@KicchaSudeep) April 27, 2022
The exchange continued and ended between the two megastars on a presumably peaceful note, but the fight on Twitter rekindled feelings that many who grew up speaking Hindi didn’t quite understand what millions of their fellow Indians did not understand.
Devgn was criticized for his “arrogance” – and he was reminded that some of his biggest hits were remakes of Southern films. Politicians in Karnataka backed Sudeep, with former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy in a series of tweets saying:
— HD Kumaraswamy (@hd_kumaraswamy) April 28, 2022
Ajaya Devgan is considered the spokesperson for BJP’s Hindi nationalism of one nation, one tax, one language and one government.
— HD Kumaraswamy (@hd_kumaraswamy) April 28, 2022
Former Congress Chief Minister K Siddaramaiah also didn’t mince words and tweeted in response to Devgn:
Hindi has never been and never will be our national language.
It is the duty of every Indian to respect the linguistic diversity of our country.
Each language has its own rich history that its people can be proud of.
I’m proud to be a Kannadiga!! https://t.co/SmT2gsfkgO
— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) April 27, 2022
Social media sees debates about the need for a national liaison language, that all languages should be treated equally and that Hindi should not be given a higher status than other languages Indian. Ajay Devgn.
But long before Ajay Devgn’s tweet, Karnataka had seen protests against Hindi. The capital city’s Bengaluru metro system has adopted a trilingual format for signs and announcements – Kannada, Hindi and English. Members of Kannada groups protested Hindi signs in subway stations with the cry ‘Hindi Beda’ – We don’t want Hindi.
A whole “NammaMetroHindiBeda” hashtag campaign was launched in 2017, backed by then-Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his government. In the same year, pressure was exerted against the use of Hindi in forms issued by banks.
The years that followed saw protests against the celebration of diwa hindiThe situation is more complicated in the city of Bangalore with its very heterogeneous population: it is estimated that less than half of the city’s population speaks Kannada as their mother tongue in India’s IT capital.
The emotion aroused by the language also extends to other related areas – such as the demand for booking kannadigas in industries such as the hugely successful IT and information technology sectors that have called the Karnataka.The border district of Belagavi in Karnataka often sees friction between Marathi and Kannada speakers.During the Cauvery River water struggles with neighboring Tamil Nadu, Tamil channels were removed from cable networks in Karnataka .
Our country is incredible in its number of languages and dialects. Just look at our banknotes. It is of course a supreme challenge also no doubt that a country with essentially one language would be easier to manage. Many Indians speak more than one language – often the language of their neighboring state in addition to their mother tongue. And yes, the soft power of Bollywood and TV dramas has added to Hindi being learned in schools by non-native Hindi speakers across the country as a second or third language.
But the feeling of having Hindi forced upon them has led to resistance to the language from many people – even those who understand and speak it well.
India has seen increasing emphasis on what makes people different from each other. It would be very sad if language were added to this often deadly situation.
The old slogan “Unity in diversity” must be revived in the spirit – for languages too. And for that, you have to respect all the languages of this incredible country. No language is more equal than another. .
Maya Sharma is a television journalist and senior writer based in Bengaluru.
Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.