On Hindi Diwas, Amit Shah says Hindi can unite nation, south leaders call it ‘forced imposition’
In southern parts of the country, where language is a very delicate issue, Home Minister Amit Shah’s comment that Hindi can play a key role in ‘uniting the country’ triggered reactions from various quarters on Saturday. While Tamil Nadu leader MK Stalin demanded that the home minister take back his statement, Karnataka’s Siddaramaiah said ‘language cannot be promoted through falsehood’
On Hindi Diwas, Shah, in a series of tweets wrote: “India is a country of different languages and every language has its own importance but it is very important to have a language of the whole country which should become the identity of India in the world. Today, if one language can do the work of tying the country to the door of unity, then it is the most spoken Hindi language.”
“Today, on the occasion of Hindi Day, I appeal to all the citizens of the country that we should increase the use of our mother tongue and also use the Hindi language as one language to realise the dreams of Bapu and iron man Sardar Patel. Happy Hindi Day,” he said.
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DMK leader MK Stalin instantly responded with, “We have been continuously waging protest against imposition of Hindi. Today’s remarks made by Amit Shah gave us a jolt, it will affect the unity of the country. We demand that he takes his statement back.” The DMK president added that the issue would be discussed at the executive meeting of his party the day after tomorrow.
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy also spoke on the issue saying, “Trying to push Hindi alone is not going to keep the country together. We have to respect all religions,cultures & languages, that is the main mantra of Indian governance.”
HD Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) also responded tweeting: “Today Hindi diwas is being celebrated across the nation. When will Narendra Modi celebrate Kannada language day, as it is also a Scheduled language as per the Constitution, alongside Hindi. I hope you remember that Kannadigas are also a part of this federal system.”
Karnataka’s Congress leader Siddaramaiah also jumped into the debate with a caustic, “Let there be a stop to the lie that Hindi is the national language. Like kannada it is one of 22 official languages. A language cannot be promoted through lies and falsehood. It grows through harmony and exchange.”
The Congress leader added: “Languages are repositories of knowledge, they can be promoted only through love and not through imposition and pressure. Our opposition is not to Hindi the language, it is against forceful imposition. I, too, am opposed to the celebration of Hindi Diwas.”
Language had always been a sensitive issue in the south with Tamil Nadu’s anti-Hindi agitation of the 1960’s playing a crucial role in the growth of Dravidian parties in the state.
Earlier, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had opposed the draft national policy on education that called for the adoption of a three-language formula in schools — Hindi, English and the local mother tongue in non-Hindi states.
Parties across ideologies— from the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) to the Left and actor Kamal Haasan’s fledgeling Makkal Needhi Maiam — slammed the report, which they saw as a precursor to the imposition of Hindi.
There have, in the past, been protests over moves to have Hindi sign boards at bus stops and railway stations with parties calling it ‘Hindi imposition’ and ‘Hindi imperialism’.
In Bengaluru, Hindi boards at Metro stations also triggered the language debate with many feeling that Hindi was being imposed on people.