Language debate

Read the fine print: Hindi is the mother tongue of only 26 per cent of Indians

The Census says about 45% of Indians listed Hindi as their mother tongue. But people who use Haryanvi, Bhojpuri, Maghadi and more than 49 linguistic traditions are also categorised as Hindi speakers.

On Thursday, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Chief M. Karunanidhi criticised an order by the Home Ministry advising government officials to accord priority to Hindi when writing letters and on social media.

Karunanidhi said that the order was an attempt to "impose Hindi against one's wish". He said it should "be seen as an attempt to treat non-Hindi speakers as second class citizens".

However, home minister Rajnath Singh clarified in a tweet, "The Home Ministry is of the view that all Indian languages are important. The Ministry is committed to promote all languages of the country."

On the social media, the directive found several supporters. Some claimed that the order was justified because Hindi is, after all, India's national language. It isn't: it's one of India's two official language, along with English.

Others made a majoritarian argument, suggesting that Hindi should be made the national language because it is the mother tongue of about 45% of all Indians.

That, after all, is what the Census of India says.


However, the devil is in the details. In reality, only about 26% of Indians in the 2001 census reported that Hindi was their mother tongue. But the census also counts speakers of more than 49 other related linguistic traditions and dialects as Hindi speakers. As a result, people who listed their mother tongues as Bhojpuri, Harayanvi, Maghadi, Marwari, Garhwali and scores of others were also categorised as Hindi speakers.


This has long been a vexed issue. "The question of the status of Hindi in the Indian Census has been debated since the earliest census exercises," said GN Devy, the chairperson of the People's Linguistic Survey of India, which was started in 2010 to create a linguistic portrait of India that is "rooted in people’s perception of language".

Devy said that the problem arose with the official Linguistic Survey of India conducted between 1894 and 1928 under the supervision of British civil servant George Grierson. That survey used the word "dialect" to categorise several languages spoken by smaller groups. Many languages of present-day Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh were described as dialects, Devy said.

"So long as that misconception is not removed, the exact status of Hindi as a language shall not be known," Devy said.

However, he cautioned against singling out Hindi "as an instance of over-enthusiasm of language imperialism". At one time, Konkani was seen as a dialect of Marathi as well as that of Kannada; Oriya was understood as a sub-set of Bangla, while Kuchhi in Gujarat is perceived as a sister of Gujarati.

Said Devy, "The question of 'language and dialect' has not been properly sorted out in part of the world so far."

 
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

Harvard Business School’s HBX brings the future of business education to India with online programs

HBX is not only offering courses online, but also connecting students to the power of its network.

The classic design of the physical Harvard Business School (HBS) classroom was once a big innovation – precisely designed teaching amphitheaters laid out for every student to participate from his or her seat with a “pit” in the center of the room from which professors orchestrate discussions analyzing business cases like a symphony lead. When it came to designing the online experience of HBX—the school’s digital learning initiative—HBS faculty worked tirelessly to blend these tenets of the HBS classroom pedagogy with the power of new technology. With real-world problem solving, active learning, and social learning as its foundation, HBX offers immersive and challenging self-paced learning experiences through its interactive online learning platform.

Reimagining digital education, breaking the virtual learning mold

Typically, online courses follow a one-way broadcast mode – lectures are video recorded and reading material is shared – and students learn alone and are individually tested. Moving away from the passive learning model, HBX has developed an online platform that leverages the HBS ‘case-based pedagogy’ and audio-visual and interaction tools to make learning engaging.

HBX courses are rarely taught through theory. Instead, students learn through real-world problem-solving. Students start by grappling with a business problem – with real world data and the complexity in which a business leader would have to make a decision – and learn the theory inductively. Thus even as mathematical theories are applied to business situations, students come away with a greater sense of clarity and perspective, whether it is reading a financial report, understanding why a brand’s approach to a random sample population study may or may not work, or how pricing works.

HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program
HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program

“Learning about concepts through real-life cases was my favorite part of the program. The cases really helped transform abstract concepts into observable situations one could learn from. Furthermore, it really helped me understand how to identify situations in which I could use the tools that HBX equipped me with,” says Anindita Ravikumar, a past HBX participant. India’s premier B-school IIM-Ahmedabad has borrowed the very same pedagogy from Harvard. Learning in this manner is far more engaging, relatable, and memorable.

Most lessons start with a short 2-3 minute video of a manager talking about the business problem at hand. Students are then asked to respond on how they would handle the issue. Questions can be in the form of either a poll or reflections. Everyone’s answers are then visible to the ‘classroom’. In the words of Professor Bharat Anand, Faculty Chair, HBX, “This turns out to be a really important distinction. The answers are being updated in real-time. You can see the distribution of answers, but you can also see what any other individual has answered, which means that you’re not anonymous.” Students have real profiles and get to know their ‘classmates’ and learn from each other.

HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort
HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort

Professor Anand also says, “We have what we call the three-minute rule. Roughly every three minutes, you are doing something different on the platform. Everyone is on the edge of their seats. Anyone could be called on to participate at any time. It’s a very lean forward mode of learning”. Students get ‘cold-called’ – a concept borrowed from the classroom – where every now and then individuals will be unexpectedly prompted to answer a question on the platform and their response will be shared with other members of the cohort. It keeps students engaged and encourages preparedness. While HBX courses are self-paced, participants are encouraged to get through a certain amount of content each week, which helps keep the cohort together and enables the social elements of the learning experience.

More than digital learning

The HBS campus experience is valued by alumni not just for the academic experience but also for the diverse network of peers they meet. HBX programs similarly encourage student interactions and opportunities for in-person networking. All HBXers who successfully complete their programs and are awarded a credential or certificate from HBX and Harvard Business School are invited to the annual on-campus HBX ConneXt event to meet peers from around the world, hear from faculty and business executives, and also experience the HBS campus near Cambridge.

HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand
HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand

Programs offered today

HBX offers a range of programs that appeal to different audiences.

To help college students and recent graduates prepare for the business world, HBX CORe (Credential of Readiness) integrates business essentials such as analytics, economics, and financial accounting. HBX CORe is also great for those interested in an MBA looking to strengthen their application and brush up their skills to be prepared for day one. For working professionals, HBX CORe and additional courses like Disruptive Strategy, Leading with Finance, and Negotiation Mastery, can help deepen understanding of essential business concepts in order to add value to their organizations and advance their careers.

Course durations range from 6 to 17 weeks depending on the program. All interested candidates must submit a free, 10-15 minute application that is reviewed by the HBX admissions team by the deadlines noted on the HBX website.

For more information, please review the HBX website.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of HBX and not by the Scroll editorial team.