It has now become clear that the idea of India conjured up by the British is false, and mostly a fabrication to suit their needs of colonization. That is why they dismantled India’s educational system and created a new system of colleges and universities using English as the medium of research and instruction. In 1836, Macaulay said, ”It is my belief that if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolater among the respectable classes in Bengal thirty years hence.” This they largely succeeded but more so that they did make Bengalis and other Indians forget their own culture and tradition in favour of English ethos and culture. There was however no negative impact on Indian unity because it was non-discriminatory among all Indian language speaking people.
Further, English Imperialism had impacted Indian languages in only a limited way mainly because it is not an Indian language and English was imposed by and large only on the sphere of official communication. But Hindi is an Indian language and it is being now used more and more in all spheres of communication, including commercial, educational and cultural. Hindi conferences are regularly organised in overseas countries and parliamentary delegations visit Indian embassies abroad to scrutinise implementation of Official Languages Act.
Since post-partition/ post-independence days in India, there has been continuous attempts by north-Indian lobby, with aid and abetment of GoI, to coronate Hindi as the only official language as also the only representative language of India and Indians. They are thinking like the Britishers. While crores have been spent to spread and propagate the use of Hindi particularly in the non-Hindi speaking states only meagre sums were made available for all other Indian languages. There has been open discrimination in favour of Hindi over other Indian languages. This has not helped the cause of unity and there have been innumerable protests. Yet the politicians particularly from North and West never seem to learn. Their eagerness to impose Hindi on non-Hindi speaking Indians is only to establish their absolute dominance in all aspects of living of Indian people including administration, education and culture.
How can one not see the gross inequity in all this? Take only the example of job market. A child picks up its mother tongue as a fish takes to water. Effortless ease is the most important requirement for effective communication; and it comes with the communicator’s command over the medium of expression. So, if it is one’s own tongue, then the first step for effective communication is achieved. Therefore, people with Hindi as mother tongue always have and will enjoy a very unfair advantage in the Hindi dominated system in the competition for recruitment and promotion for jobs. Equality of opportunity assumes a level playing field where the odds are also shared equally by everybody.
We must not forget a very significant and poignant event for the recognition of Bangla bhasa that took place on May 19, 1961 in Silchar, Assam, when 11 people became martyrs; also, that East Pakistan was liberated and Bangladesh got formed only on the issue of the language. In other words, imposing one language over aspirations of other linguistic people can impact national unity and lead to disastrous consequences. Amit Shah may like to think over his statement that Hindi (imposition) is the only way to national unity in India.
The writer is a long-standing commentator on contemporary issues.