Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: ‘Hindi is threatening to swallow other Indian languages’

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Language politics

I am big fan of your content but this article amounts to the subversion of truth and creating baseless spins (“Karnataka’s battle against Hindi has national implications. But it’s the wrong battle”). Did you excercise any editorial diligence on this?

To start with, the headline misrepresents the facts. The fight is against Hindi imposition and not against Hindi. The author also writes: “But similar Kannada majoritarianism is at work in the recent blackening of Hindi signboards on Bangalore’s metro railway and a sudden zeal to impose Kannada at the cost of Hindi and other languages.” The argument here is similar to the claim of reverse racism. Clearly, Hindi is a hegemonic force in Karnataka and all other places in India where the language is alien, as the author himself acknowledges later in the article. How can protesting Hindi hegemony be termed Kannada majoritarianism?
Tomorrow, if some other hegemonic forces imposed Mandarin on the Bengaluru metro signage and if Kannadigas were to object to this, would you call that Kannada majoritarianism? People have the democratic right to use their language in their linguistic domain and calling this a “zeal to impose Kannada” is spin of the highest order.

If all the author seeks to do is make a case for the inclusion of more languages in governments’ interface with citizen, it is a fair point and is especially relevant for government of India, which is hell bent upon imposing Hindi in the country. – Swarna Kumar

***

Do cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Ahmedabad have metro sign boards in South Indian languages like Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam? What is the author’s take on the linguistic chauvinism in these cities? Why is it that a person from South India has to be well versed in Hindi in order to work in these cities, even though people from Mumbai and Delhi migrating to Bengaluru don’t have to bother with learning Kannada or Tamil in Chennai? – Ashwin Kumar P

***

I am also multi-lingual and well-versed with Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and English. But that does mean that one language should be imposed on people in another part of the country. A country like India is home to numerous languages and many states have been formed with the intention of protecting and preserving their language. But Hindi is threatening to swallow all other languages. Hindi is not a national language, as claimed by Hindi chauvinists. – Jagadeesh HB

***

Official communication and signages in Kannada and English is all Karnataka needs. The imposition of Hindi is only harming us. Central government offices are all using Hindi and this is pushing us against the wall as it puts Hindi speakers at an advantage. – Veeresh Kovalli

***

This is bit very different from what the Thackerays did in Mumbai. Somehow, we are comfortable with a foreign language (English) being imposed on us, but cannot stand another language from our ow country. Politicians keep such issues on the burner so that the more important discussions never come to the fore. This acts as the perfect bait for journalists hungry for content that will divide opinions. So, we end up discussing these issues and having senseless TV debates on such topics while Modi and his men devise ways to keep burdening the poor.

All our intellectuals are occupied with debates over language, minority issues, nationalism and sexism, but the common person’s plight does not get any traction. After all who wants to hear the story of an auto driver or a daily wage worker being forced to pay more for a necessity like LPG cylinder? What doesn’t affect the debaters themselves is most often left out. Our biggest concern right now should be that the voice of the common man is not heard only because he doesn’t have the time to log into Facebook and get updates about the changes in policy.

Your team at Scroll.in should turn their focus to how recent policy changes have affected the lives of common people. – Vishal Shenoy

***

Decisions over language should be taken by respective state governments. All non-Kannadigas who migrate to Karnataka they should learn to speak and write the language. The same would apply to a Kannadiga who moved to Tamil Nadu or any other state. The use of multiple regional languages will be more suitable for interstate borders, where people can opt their choice of language. – Shivaprasanna

***

Kannadigas have been patient for too long. But it now appears as though Kannada will be hijacked by Hindi in all spheres of activity. We are a tolerant people and have given ample time even to the countless migrants who have made Karnataka their home. But the migrants are to blame for the current situation. Most of them have refused to learn Kannada despite living and working in Bengaluru for more than 10 years. These people resort then use touts and agents in government and other offices thus also encouraging corruption in all public dealings. – BN Pundareek

***

If minority communities can be given reservations, benefits and privileges, why can’t the same be done for minority languages? The nation is too partial towards Hindi-speaking people who have access to more opportunities. For example, many tests for recruitment into jobs are conducted in English or then Hindi. The Centre is privileging the growth of Hindi at the cost of other languages. India has always been proud of its diversity, but how many Hindi speakers really give respect to other languages?It’s simple: in Rome, do as the Romans, in Bengaluru, give importance to Kannada and so on. – B Vidya

***

Other languages developed in Karnataka because we accepted them and gave them space to grow. But you should not question the local language because of the freedom given to you. Kannada, as a language and as a way of culture, has always helped hold on to their traditions. But that doesn’t mean they can overrun the existing culture. – Manjunatha HS

***

I feel very sad when we Indians fight with each other over illogical things like language. We know that the primary purpose of language is to unite people but in India, it is the opposite. Politicians add to the hype around these issues. If you look at IT sector of Bengaluru, a majority of the people use Hindi during their working hours apart from English.

We as North Indians are not against any other languages, in fact we try to learn them through our friends. So I do not understand the outrage. I understand that banks or or local bodies should have signs in Kannada, but why should it come at the cost of Hindi?

We do do not have any​ problem in accepting foreign languages but have a lot of reservations about local languages. – Atul Chaurasia

State of debt

This is article highlights the need for states to control burgeoning deficit and how loan waivers can impact this (“The death of austerity: With farm loan waivers, states are building up staggering debt”). It is true that loan waivers have a contagion effect and are not permanent solutions. The permanent solution lies in increasing agricultural productivity, creating employment in the countryside and creating manufacturing jobs in semi-rural areas and towns near the countryside. It also calls for innovation in growing techniques, like multi-cropping, inter-cropping and the like.

However, the author fails to point out how the non-repayment of non-agricultural credit, especially the financial sector’s credit to the corporates, has led to the ballooning of non-performing assets of the banking sector. We also need to be mindful about the relative share of the overall bank credit going to agriculture, industry and other sectors, given that 65% of Indian population lives in rural areas and more than half of India’s working population is dependent on agriculture.

The country will have to take hard decision on the main issues that are afflicting the agricultural sector to ensure that our growth is inclusive, sustainable and stable. – Nirmal Ganguly

***

Loan waivers amount to political harakiri. They are very difficult to monitor, especially when given out on a massive scale. Instead, we need better insurance plans to cover farmers in case of crop loss. – Bala Sugavanam

Taxing times

For a country full of people who have found ways around taxes by bribing officials and paying large sums to chartered accountants, the GST will certainly pinch (“Watch: This comedian tells you (with a disclaimer) how Narendra Modi tricked us into paying more tax”). Several governments have reminded us of our duty to pay taxes but shamefully, less than 2 crore Indians, mostly salaried employees, pay taxes.

Prime Minister Modi is made of sterner stuff. When cajoling doesn’t work, he wields a mighty stick. And the blow will be remembered for generations. – Mahesh Nayak

Nehruvian decline

These are the rantings of someone who hates the dusk of an era that the likes of him have benefited from for too long (“Opinion: Is Modi the Mahmud Ghazni of the Nehruvian nation state?”). However, the author fails to understand that Rahul Gandhi is a consequence of the Nehruvian legacy, a corrupt, authoritarian and nepotistic order. Further, what Shiv Visvanathan does not understand or refuses to recognise is that India could only begin to be free once it got rid of the English speaking, anglicised coterie that has controlled its destiny for seven decades.

Now that the so-called vernacular is reclaimed their country, it is finally on its way to being free. But it will take more than one Modi to complete the process. Let us celebrate that the Nehruvian era is finally coming to an end. How ironic that a so-called secular like Visvanathan should liken the agent of that process to Ghazni, who plundered and tried to demolish Hindustan! – Vibhaker Baxi

Literary memories

My heartfelt sympathies go out to Amrita Tripathi for this extremely moving piece (“Reading with my father, from my childhood till the time the end was near for him”). It was my father’s death anniversary on August 4 and the day always brings back fond memories and nostalgia for a childhood that is now a dim and distant memory but one that forms our core.

I too am a voracious reader and the description of the trips to Midland Janpath made me nostalgic. My daughter and son would devour at two or three comics, sliding down and squatting on pavement behind the kiosk! They are grown up now and have children of their own, with whom they make that annual prilgrimage to Midland!
While growing up I had the same rule that your father had for you - to ensure that I had at least one serious book issued to me along with popular fiction, to which my mother added a Hindi novel as well. So I read Premchand, Hindi translations of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and other Bengali novelists chosen for me by our librarian. Thank you for sharing these beautiful memories. – Zarina Bazliel

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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