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Hindi as the National language- advantages and disadvantages.

Language is a medium and a means of putting one's thought and opinions to others. India has around 1,635 languages(as per the 2011 census) of which 22 languages mentioned in the eight schedule of the constitution have been recognized as national languages, but the recent note from the ministry of home affairs conveying all ministers and their ministries to communicate in Hindi did receive a lot of flak. The order though meant only for the eight Hindi speaking states, did raise a very serious question. Can Hindi be accepted by everyone in India as a pan national language?

Though the constitution in the article 343 does mention both Hindi and English as the official languages, it is not the language which many in the country use. Let's look at some facts, only 8 of the 29 states in India have Hindi as their official state language, that's less than one third of the states. Obviously if this is taken as a criterion one cannot declare Hindi as an official national language. Many in states like Tamil Nadu, Parts of Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and a few north-east states don't know how to read, write or speak Hindi and since the scripts of their native language and the Devanagari script of Hindi greatly differ it would be grossly inappropriate to enforce Hindi upon them. People in parts of Tamil Nadu and other parts of the country have gone to the extent of having anti Hindi agitations show that it's not just about language or just communication but also a very emotive issue to them and has made them apprehensive that Hindi would largely benefit only those from the 8 Hindi speaking states and suppress their native language.

But declaring Hindi as a national language does not only have its negative points, there a few positives as well. It is still the most widely spoken language in the country with an estimated 258 million people declaring that Hindi is their native language and millions more comfortable with Hindi. A complete usage of Hindi language whilst respecting the various native languages would also ensure better coordination and cooperation among all the states and act as a strong unifying factor and eliminate all regional differences. When countries like Germany, Japan, France, Italy etc. use their respective language as a medium of communication even during International forums not only has the reputation of those countries have greatly enhanced but also those languages have gained a huge reputation worldwide. Similarly if India uses Hindi even in the international forum the prestige of Hindi and India would be significantly raised. When the former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee became the first Indian Prime Minister to address the United Nations General Assembly in Hindi, the world stood up and applauded and thus the stature of Hindi got a huge boost and it got recognized worldwide. India's new Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has also decided that he would use Hindi at various international forums and while meeting various heads of state thus further helping it.

In the end I would like to conclude by saying that India is a land of many wonderful languages and declaring one language as a National language would be totally unfair to other languages but a certain framework should be established between the centre and all the 29 state governments where Hindi can be used up to a certain level while giving due respect to the various regional languages and thus mutually benefiting everyone.

Vaibhav Mahadevan

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