The debate on Hindi dominance
1. Shoaib Daniyal's piece ("Stop outraging over Marathi – Hindi and English chauvinism is much worse in India) that compares the linguistic chauvinism is close in spirit to many the saffron and green tracts that erupt routinely, especially close to elections . These unilaterally compare Hindu communalism with Muslim communalism only to arrive at polarically opposite answers. Daniyal and his deemed opponents do too when they carry out what is essentially a very silly debate rooted in fear of an unknown Other. Uninformed factually questionable data will only feed the dangerous concept of linguistic,regional and also a little later, caste and communal identities in India.

2. The correct term for pure is spelt as Shuddh(शुद्ध) not Shudh. Daniyal needs to know his enemy better literally. Hindi with more than 50% of its vocabulary shaped by Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, Portugese, Dutch, Malaysian and countless dialects and other Indian languages, has never prided itself on its Shuddhata but on its easy and wide communicability. The Shuddhikaran debate is of recent origin with political roots, on that later.

3.The first Hindi books, using the Dev Nagari or Nagari script were one Heera Lal's treatise on Ain E Akbari, called Ain e Akbari ki Bhasha Vachanika, and Rewa Mharaja's treatise on Kabir. Both came out in 1795.

Even before Devki Nandan Khatri's hugely popular Chandrakanta, Munshi Lalloo Lal's translation of Sanskrit Hitopadesh was published in 1809. Lalloo Lal was appointed a Bhakha Munshi by the then Advisor to the British government, John Gilchrist who ( according to his own article published in the 1804 Essays and Thesis, reluctantly allowed Nagari to be further developed as official script for text books given that most children belonged to the majority community of Hindus who were familiar with the Nagari script via Sanskrit taught in Pathshalas run by individual groups in the northern plains.

As for novel writing, even before Chandrakanta, one Lala Srinivas Das had published a novel in Hindi in the Nagari script in 1886.

4. Braj , Awadhi and Bhojpuri are popular dialects of northern plains that predate Muslim rule . And even after the Awadh and Moghul Courts (largely via their harems in Delhi and Lucknow) adopted and lent them an upper-crust aura, given a lack of literacy among the common folk also women in purdah, the transmission of dialects remained largely oral.  All these dialects fed Hindi and Urdu and were till the 20th century, separated only by their scripts.

Ghalib, Mir Taki Mir and Hali all used this dialect enriched language along with their Hindu counterparts. Even the collections of poetry and musical texts (classical Bandish) that have come down to us have used both Hindi and Urdu scripts till the Partition .

After Pakistan came into being Urdu consciously distanced itself from its Indian roots and sought its identity in Persian and Arabic. Political leaders in India not only in the north but also the south, have also seen to it that a similar linguistic segregationist discourse is encouraged to capture caste and regional vote banks. It resulted in the cosmopolitan city of Morarji's and Jamshedji's Bombay being snatched and made into the capital of Thackeray's Marathi-centric Amchi Mumbai . In the north, the surge of the middle-caste leaders with no real exposure to a wider learning, has ensured that English be kept out (though netajis sent their own to English-medium schools).

Daniyal's ire against linguistic discrimination is understandable, but he clearly needs to read up a lot . – Mrinal Pande

Shoaib Daniyal replies:

Thanks for writing in, Ms Pandey. My replies are numbered the same as your original points.

2. The elongation of consonant length (in the case of शुद्ध, the voiced denti-alveolar stop) is a phenomenon called “gemination”. As such, the Latin script as used in English has no rules for how to represent gemination (since it is practically absent in English phonology). In the absence of a standardised Latin Hindi-Urdu script, therefore, it is rather difficult to point out whether “shudh” and “shuddh” is the “correct” spelling.  The use of double consonants to represent gemination is a rule native to Devanagri but need not be followed in other orthographic systems such as Latin. As an example, the spelling of शुद्ध in the Persio-Arabic script (شدھ)  has no double consonant while the word “addict”, even though it has a double “d”, does not contain a geminate consonant.

3. There are a number of contenders for the first Hindi novel. There is Pariksha Guru (which you mention) and also Bhagyawati and also Chandrakanta. Of these, it was Chandrakanta that achieved fame and was the first mass work of literature, hence was mentioned. Anyway, whichever novel we take, since their dates of publication differ by a few years, the overall point, that Modern Standard Hindi is India’s newest literary language, remains unchanged.

4. I'm not sure that “dialects” like Braj, Awadhi and Bhojpuri “fed Hindi and Urdu…till the 20th Century”. Before the 17th century, there was no Standard Urdu and before the 19th century there was no Standard Hindi. Braj Bhakha and Awadhi existed as literary languages in their own right far before there was any Hindi or Urdu on the scene. This decision, to paradoxically classify these far older languages such as Braj and Awadhi as dialects of the much newer Standard Hindi and appropriate their history is precisely the issue I have tried to highlight in the piece. Standard Hindi is a great language but this tendency to appropriate other Indian languages or treat them as second class is most unbecoming.

Braj is Braj no matter whether it is written in the Perso-Arabic script or Devanagri. It does not become Standard Urdu or Standard Hindi. Language and script should not be confused.

Correction: The word "شدھ" was inadvertently rendered as "شدہ" and has been changed.