How many people would have heard of kunjipatal or sanganak? There is a good chance not many, unless they had picked up a literary work in Hindi. Or a government document translated into Hindi.
The first is the official Hindi word for a keyboard, the second simply means, a computer. And both, could go out of use in government documents.
The government has decided to keep difficult Hindi words out of its documents, replacing them with words from other languages including English if they are better understood by people.
A circular sent down to subordinate bureaucracy in central government officials has advised them to use foreign replacements for easy understanding and better promotion of the language.
The order was issued by the department of official languages under the home ministry that found such puritan use of Hindi leading to disinterest towards the language among the masses.
In principle, this isn’t the first time the department is asking officials to keep it simple.
Way back in 1976, the government recognised that effectiveness of communication was vital and the objective was to get the message across. Not prompt people to pick up a dictionary to make sense of the letter.
It was a message that the government tried to reinforce in subsequent missives. But the official translators — they are attached with each department — just didn’t get the message.
Finally in September this year, department secretary Veena Upadhayaya gave it another shot. She gave them examples of writings from popular Hindi dailies to make her point.
But not everyone is smiling.
Shivanand Tiwari of the Janata Dal (U) asked in the Rajya Sabha if the directive wouldn’t deprive Hindi of its purity. The government, however, told Parliament that adoption of commonly used words from regional, local or foreign language shouldn’t worry anyone.