Home Minister Amit Shah’s advocacy of “one nation one language” theory has opened up a Pandor’s Box with several of the non Hindi speaking states, especially the southern states questioning the Government’s real intentions. Criticising vehemently on Shah’s statement that ‘Hindi would unite the Country’, all the southern states said that ‘Unity in Diversity” is what led the country and the government was trying to destabilise this unity of the country.
On Hindi Diwas, Amit Shah said that Hindi was the language that can keep India united. He also noted that Hindi should be made the primary language. It has to be noted that Shah’s statement comes a few months after the Draft New Educational Policy 2019 had led to an uproar after a clause in it had recommended mandatory Hindi teaching in all the schools. After large scale protest, the Centre had given the assurance that it would not be imposed without further discussions.
The Imposition of Hindi has always been a contentious issue, especially in the southern states. Going back, the anti-Hindi protests of 1940s, 1960s and 1970s in Tamil Nadu cannot be forgotten. Soon after Shah made the controversial statement, the protests were first heard from Tamil Nadu that was followed by the other four southern states and even West Bengal.
Leading the protest, Dravida Munetra Kazhakam Chief M K Stalin alleged that imposing Hindi was not good for the unity of the country. Noting that India’s strength was diversity that held the country together, Stalin said that the BJP was only trying to destroy this diversity and by which destroying the unity of the nation.
He went ahead in saying that his party had always stood against imposing Hindi. “Our leader Anna has said that if the national language should be the most widely spoken language Hindi, then crow, which is the most flying bird in the country should be made the national bird. We follow Anna and have vowed to protect our language,’ he said.
Meanwhile, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader and Tamil Nadu Culture Minister K Pandiarajan said that the Centre would have to face much protest from not only Tamil Nadu but other states if they try to impose this. Pattali Makkal Katchi leader S Ramadoss questioned the rationale behind ‘Hindi integrating the country.” If imposed on non-Hindi speaking people, then it would only divide the nation and no top unite, he said.
The protests also echoed from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, kerala and West Bengal. Former Karnataka Chief Minister and Janata Dal (S) chief H D Kumaraswamy in a mocking way asked Shah when he was going to celebrate Kannada Diwas as Kannada was also an official language as like Hindi. Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that the Hindi was only an official language just like other official languages in the country. The lie that Hindi was a national language should stop, he added.
CPM general Secretary Sitaram Yechury said that India was a union of states and is based on federal character. This federal concept is what recognises the diversity of the country and the BJP wants to do away with this diversity and impose uniformity, he said and added that it was a serious issue.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in his criticism noted that the claim of Shah that Hindi will unite the nation was absurd. Pointing out that Hindi was not the mother tongue of a majority of Indians, he said that the BJP government’s call to impose Hindi was a war cry against non- Hindi speaking people.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called for respecting all languages but not at the cost of mother tongue.