Last week, Modi’s government ordered its officials to use Hindi on social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook etc.) and in government letters.
Not a surprising dictat, as Narendra Modi has taken a clear stand in support of Hindi, pushing for it to replace English as the preferred language of the Government of India. Modi spoke in Hindi and used interpreters in meetings with South Asian leaders last month, and addressed the Bhutanese parliament in Hindi during his first official overseas trip last week. It’s an altogether different thing that when BJP runs campaigns for Modi Sarkar in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections 2014; the party gets recorded Modi’s Hindi speeches in 22 Constitutionally recognised languages of India, by voice artists who can deliver the same speech in Modi’s style and modulation. The idea was to make the regional listeners believe that it’s Modi himself who is making the speech in their language.
Regarding the speeches made outside and inside India; I firmly believe that the objective of language is to communicate. A leader must speak in a language which communicates the words without any need of an interpreter. If the audience understands english , then there is nothing wrong in making a speech in english. Whenever a leader makes a speech in a language the audience doesn’t understand; he puts himself in a situation, where the message when interpreted can be misunderstood. If the leader doesn’t know a language, then no one can blame him/her for speaking in a language not understood by the audience.
Hindi and English are India’s two official languages for federal government business, although India’s constitution recognises a total of 22 languages.
But with more than half of India’s 1.2 billion people using another language as their mother tongue, pushing Hindi as a language of the Entire India , is bit too much.
In comparison to ‘understanding the spoken word’, a much smaller percentage of Indians understand the Hindi Alphabets (Hindi Lipi). That’s why even when a Tamil can understand a North Indian speaking something in Hindi or Punjabi, he may not understand the same words when written on piece of Paper or on the Twitter Timeline. This is much similar to a situation , where I can understand much a Gujarati speaks; but if the same words are given to me to read from a piece of paper I will become more or less clueless.
Thus if sharing Government messages on Twitter is to inform Indians, then I firmly believe that posting them in Hindi is partial to non-hindi speakers.
For the matter, if the Modi Government has ordered its Government apparatus to post the Government updates in all Constitutionally recognised languages of India, then it would have been the best possible way to inform the people. It’s not a big ask, all one needs is a couple dozen Twitter accounts and that many employees.
Using emotional issues as a safety valve … let go contentious issues !
I still remember, how Atal Bihari Vajpayee fans to this day, promote his hindi speech made at some United Nations Convention. The surprising thing is, many wouldn’t have heard that speech. I don’t even know the existence of that speech. But , that speech is still fondly remembered. Why? As these fans want to project as one linked to India’s pride. The speech makes these people emotional.
Narendra Modi’s Push for Hindi , is more political than logical. This is a strategy of using emotional issues as a safety valve … let go contentious issues.
Hindi speakers are concentrated in India’s northern and central regions, home to the country’s two most populous states and where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) picked up most of its parliamentary seats in the election. It is the mother tongue of just over 40 percent of Indians, the latest government data show. Thus 60 percent of India doesn’t speak India. It may or may not understand Hindi, but it surely doesn’t speak or read it.
Narendra Modi Government used the illogical Hindi language issue, to remove the pressure from the much important issue of Railway passenger ticket and freight price rise. The Hindi language controversy is a well planned placement, to let go peacefully the exorbitant 14.2 percent hike in Railway passenger ticket price and 6 percent Railway freight charges. This may appear a clever tactic to some, but if we keep praising such tactics, then important issues will get passed uncontested.
Trying to Woo the Hindi Heartland
The Modi Government’s Home Ministry last month ordered all bureaucrats to prioritise Hindi over English on official accounts on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. This when it particularly knows the serious obstacles in such an implementation. One of these is the failing on the basic objective of communication : To get understood.
But still the Government issued such a dictat. That too when it clearly knows, India’s booming social media scene remains dominated by English, with even Modi still mostly using English language to communicate with the 4.9 million people who follow him on Twitter.
You ask why? As another important objective of this dictat is to give subtle messages to the Hindu heartland.
The primary aim of a language is communication. What makes a language versatile is the ease with which it can be implemented on different media. One of the key reasons of English is the ease with which it can be ported on different platforms. And this ease comes from the lack of additional appendages to alphabets (in Hindi Matrayein). Try filling a Government, school or college form in Hindi ; or try typing on Computer in Hindi, and you will know why English is the language of choice.
If Modi speeches can be voice overed in all regional languages in Modi style and mannerisms during Lok Sabha Polls 2014; then what’s wrong with the same regional languages now. A Language in itself is a beautiful evolution, why use it for politics of this kind.