‘Hindi’s like Hinduism, not the only thing around’

R. Jagannathan, executive editor of DNA, hits the nail on the nationalistic head in the Raj Thackeray-Abu Azmi faceoff on Marathi versus Hindi:

“Speaking about Hindi as a national language is no different from speaking about Hinduism as India’s official cultural expression. Hindi is a great language, but it is not any more national than Marathi or Kannada, or Bengali or Telugu. Ironically, it was left to the MNS to point out the obvious: that Hindi is just another regional language of India.

“This is not an attempt to belittle Hindi. In fact, Hindi is best served when it gently mingles with the other national languages, contributing to their growth and, in turn, being enriched by them. No language grows by being exclusive: it grows by importing words and expressions it lacks; it strengthens other languages by giving them what they don’t have.

“If there is to be a truly national language, it will develop from an admixture of all Indian languages. One can see the beginnings of it in Mumbai’s khichdi Hindi — a Bollywood-enhanced version of which we saw in Sanjay Dutt‘s Munnabhai.

“Even as we wait for a truly national lingo to evolve over the decades, supporters of Hindi are doing the language a great disservice by asserting its hegemony. Hindi is India’s largest spoken language, but that does not give it sole status as a national language. That would amount to imposing a linguistic majoritarianism that cannot but harm the country.”

Read the full article: Fighting Hindi hegemony