Monday 10 November 2014

Why all Indians should learn Hindi
In a previous post I had said that all Indians should learn Hindi, and now I will give my reasons. Many of these reasons have already been given in some previous posts on the topic which are on facebook and my blog, and which I will include in this post. That will relieve me of the burden of repeating the reasonings.
 However, before doing so let me say a few things.
 I know some people may not agree with me, and they are entitled to do so. After all, debate is healthy in a democracy, and everyone should be allowed to put his /her point of view.
 What I insist upon, however, is that this debate should be conducted in a polite and courteous manner, and not by hurling abuses. I am constrained to say this because many comments on my post ' The Languages of India ' and on my earlier posts on the subject were abusive and in highly objectionable language.
 For instance, one Tamilian insulted my mother tongue Hindi in highly derogatory language. I replied by saying that I had never insulted his mother tongue Tamil, rather I had always praised it and its great literature. So unless he apologizes he will be blocked. Instead of apologizing he again insulted my mother tongue Hindi. So I have blocked him, and he will remain blocked unless he apologizes.
  Therefore I am telling people who wish to join this debate : if you are unable or unwilling to use polite and civilized language in the discussion, please do not join the debate at all. One can disagree in courteous and civil language. If, however, you use abusive and impolite language you will immediately be blocked. So if you have any such urge to be impolite, just restrain it and back off, otherwise the consequences will follow.
 Secondly, I wish to make it clear that I am totally against imposition of Hindi on anyone. I am only giving my reasons why all Indians should learn Hindi ( without, of course, giving up their mother tongue, if it is not Hindi ). If my reasoning appeals to you then learn Hindi. If it does not, do not. Where is the problem now ?
 In fact Tamilians were learning Hindi upto the 1960s, and  would by now have learnt it ( without, of course giving up Tamil ) if some short sighted politicians in the North not tried to impose it in the South in the 1960s.
 So please do not distort my words and charge me with trying to impose Hindi on non Hindi speakers. I repeat, I am a totally democratic person, and am totally  against imposition of Hindi, but am trying to persuade ( not coerce ) non Hindi speakers in India to learn Hindi as that would be in their own interest. However if my reasoning does not appeal to you, please feel free to reject it.
 I am now re-posting some earlier posts on the subject.
 We may first understand what is Hindi.
 By 'Hindi' I am referring to simple Hindi, which is also called Hindustani or khariboli, the language of the common man in the Hindi speaking belt, and not literary ( or klisht ) Hindi.

What is Hindustani or Khariboli ?
 Hindustani or Khariboli is simple or spoken Hindi, as contrasted to literary Hindi which is used by many writers and public speakers.
 Hindi, i.e. Hindustani or Khariboli is an urban language.  It is the first language of the common man in the cities of what is known as the Hindi speaking belt (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, etc.) and is the second language in the cities of many parts of the non-Hindi speaking belt, e.g. Punjab, Gujrat, West Bengal, Orissa, Kashmir, Maharashtra, North Eastern states, and even parts of south India. It is spoken not only in India but also in Pakistan, Nepal, Fiji, Mauritius, Surinam, Cities of Bangladesh,etc
How did Hindustani ( or Khariboli ) come into existence ? This is extremely important to understand if we wish to understand Hindi.
Almost all cities in the world originated as market places (mandis).  This was only possible when the productive forces had developed to an extent that people were producing more than they could themselves consume, and hence the surplus had to be sold or exchanged.  In other words, commodities (i.e. goods for sale or exchange,  and  not  for  self  consumption)  began  to be produced.
Since the seller and the purchaser had to have a known place where the transaction of sale and purchase could take place, market places (mandis) were created, which later became cities.
Now the seller and purchaser must have a common language, otherwise the transaction of sale would not be possible.  Hence Hindustani ( or Khariboli ) arose as that common language of the market.
To give an illustration, in Allahabad (where I have mostly lived) Khariboli is spoken in the city, but in the rural areas around Allahabad city the dialect spoken is Avadhi (in which Tulsidas wrote his Ramcharitmanas).  In Mathura city Khariboli is spoken, but in the rural areas around Mathura Brijbhasha (the language of Surdas) is spoken.  In Benaras city or the other eastern cities of U.P. and in western cities of Bihar, Khariboli is spoken, but in the rural areas around these cities Bhojpuri is spoken.  In parts of northern Bihar Maithili is the rural dialect (in which the great poet Vidyapati wrote) but in the cities there also Khariboli is spoken.  In Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh Khariboli is spoken in the cities, but in the rural areas local dialects (e.g. Mewari amd Marwari in Rajasthan) are spoken which an outsider cannot understand. In large parts of Jharkhand and Chattisgarh, though Gondvi is spoken in the rural and forest areas by the tribals, Khariboli is spoken in the cities.
This shows that in vast areas of north India the rural population speaks different dialects, but the urban population had a common language, Hindustani or Khariboli.  How did this happen?
This happened because a vast common market had been created in India (due to the development of the productive forces) even before the coming of the Mughals, and even before the time of the great sufi scholar and poet Amir Khusro ( 1253-1325 ). A trader traveling from Bihar or Madhya Pradesh could easily sell his goods in a city in Uttar Pradesh or Rajasthan or Punjab because there was a common language, Khariboli, which both seller and purchaser knew (apart from knowing their local dialects).
 Thus Khariboli emerged as the common language of the cities in large parts of India.  Even in many parts of the non-Hindi speaking belt Khariboli is understood and spoken as a second language.  Thus, if one goes to Kolkata or Bangalore or Gujarat or Lahore or Karachi or even in many parts of south India he can converse in Khariboli with people living in the cities (though there might be difficulty in rural areas).
                                   The Language Question
When I was Chief Justice of the Madras High Court I was invited to a function in Gulbarga. which is in northern Karnataka. I took a flight from Chennai to Hyderabad, and from there travelled to Gulbarga by taxi. A Professor of Gulbarga University had come to Hyderabad to accompany me to Gulbarga. The mother tongue of the Professor was Kannada, while the mother tongue of the taxi driver was Telugu, but they started talking to each other in Hindi. I was a bit surprised, and asked the Professor why he and the taxi driver were talking to each other in Hindi, when both were South Indians. He said that he did not understand Telugu, while the taxi driver did not know Kannada, but both knew Hindi. So the only way to communicate with each other was in Hindi.

I am relating this incident to say that in fact Hindi has become the link language of the whole of India. Even in the states where Hindi is not the mother tongue, it is known to people in these states, and that makes it easy to communicate. Thus, almost all Bengalis, Kashmiris, Punjabis, Gujratis, Oriyas, people of North Eastern and even most southern states can speak manageable Hindi.

The only problem is in Tamilnadu. There, too, Hindi was spreading due to Hindi films and the Hindi Prachar Sabhas, upto the 1960s when due to the anti-Hindi agitation Tamils stopped learning Hindi. There was a feeling among Tamils that Hindi was sought to be imposed on them, and this caused a reaction.

However, that is past history. I have been telling Tamilians that what has happened in the past has happened, but now they should start learning Hindi as it was in their interest to do so. This was because Tamilians face a lot of difficulty in communicating when they come out of Tamilnadu.
When I was saying this some time back in Anna University in Chennai one elderly Tamil gentleman stood up and said that Tamils knew English, and this was enough to communicate, so why should Tamilians learn Hindi ? I replied that it is not true that everyone in India knew English. It was only the 5% upper class who could speak English. If a Tamilian came to Delhi and took a taxi or auto he would not be able to communicate with the driver since the driver knew only Hindi.

I said I was opposed to imposing Hindi on the Tamils or anyone else. This was the age of democracy, and nothing should be imposed. However I was appealing to Tamilians to voluntarily learn Hindi, as that was in their own interest, and in fact many Tamilians told me that they made a big mistake by stopping learning Hindi in the 1960s. I said that they should now start learning it, or at least tell their children to do so, and most agreed with me.

While advising all Indians to learn Hindi, however, I wish to add two points :
(1) The local language should be promoted. For instance, I see no reason why the local language cannot be used in the High Courts. I myself often spoke in Hindi when I was a Judge of Allahabad High Court, and I see no reason why Tamil should not be used by lawyers when arguing before the Madras High Court, or other local languages when arguing in High Courts in states where that language is spoken. Of course if a Judge from another state has come to that High Court ( and Chief Justices all come from outside under the government policy), then English should be used, otherwise the Judge will not understand the argument. Also, judgments should all be in English, since all law reports are in English, and this enables lawyers and Judges in other states to read that judgment.

(2) Everyone in India should learn English. This is because all scientific literature in India is in English, and knowledge of science is essential for the country's progress. If one goes to an engineering college or medical college he will find that all the text books are in English. If one goes to a lawyers office anywhere in India he will find that almost all the law books in his library are in English. Similarly, books on history, geography, zoology, botany etc are almost all in English. How can one do without English ?
In this connection I may mention that when I was a Judge in the Allahabad High Court, the office bearers of the High Court Bar Association would invite me to the Hindi Diwas function which is held every year. I would tell them that it is better that I do not attend the function as I would say things which some people may not like. However, they would insist that I attend, and I ultimately agreed. When I would come to the function I heard some lawyers saying 'Angrezi dasi hai' (English is a slave girl), or 'Angrezi hatao' ( abolish English). When my turn came to speak I said that my mother tongue,too, is Hindi, but that does not mean that I should behave like a fool. I asked the audience whether they would like their children to prosper ? If they did, they must make them learn English, because scientific knowledge, and even knowledge in other subjects, is almost entirely in English. I said that it was silly to say 'Angrezi hatao' or 'Angrezi dasi hai'.

I would also like to add that simple Hindi, which is also called Hindustani or khariboli should be used instead of 'klisht' (literary) Hindi. In this connection I may mention that when I was a Judge of the Allhabad High Court a lawyer who always argues in Hindi appeared before me with a petition entitled 'Pratibhu Avedan Patra'. I asked him what 'pratibhu' meant. He said it meant a bail application. I told him that he should have used the word bail or zamanat, which everybody understands, instead of the word 'pratibhu' which no one, not even Hindi speakers, understand. Similarly, one day when I was on a morning walk near a military establishment in Allahabad I saw a board on which it was written 'Pravaran Kendra'. I could not understand the meaning of these words. I looked below where it was written in English 'Selection Centre'. I thought they should have written 'bharti daftar' which everyone would understand instead of 'Pravaran Kendra' which no one would understand.

It seems that after Independence in 1947 some people decided to remove Persian words which had become of common usage in Hindi, and replace them with Sanskritized words which no one understood. Thus, the word 'zila' (district), which everyone understands, was sought to be replaced by the word 'janapad'.

In my opinion this was wrong. A language becomes stronger if it adopts words from a foreign language, and it is a misconception that it becomes weaker. Thus, English has become stronger by adopting words from French, German, Arabic, Persian, Hindustani,etc. Hence one should not be intolerant in such matters, particularly when the foreign word has passed into common usage.

                                    An appeal to learn Hindi

I appeal to all Tamilians to learn Hindi. That does not mean I want imposition of Hindi. I am against imposition of anything. This is the age of democracy, and nothing should be imposed. But the fact is that Hindi has developed as the link language of India. When Tamilians come out of Tamilnadu they face a lot of problems since they do not know Hindi. So for purely practical reasons Tamilians should learn Hindi.

Once I said this in Anna University where I had been invited to give a talk. At the end of my talk one elderly gentleman ( perhaps a Professor ) stood up and said that English is already the link language of India, so why should Tamilians learn Hindi ? I replied that English is known only by the 10% or less elite class in India. If a Tamilian goes to, say, Delhi he has a lot of difficulty. The taxi and auto drivers do not know English, so there is a lot of difficulty in communication. Even people in many non Hindi states, e.g. West Bengal, Kashmir, Punjab, Orissa, Maharashtra, Gujrat, North East, and many people even in south Indian states know manageable Hindi ( apart from their mother tongues ). It is the main language even in the Andaman Islands ( as I found out when I went there ). Almost all Kashmiris, Punjabis, Gujratis, Maharashtrians, Bengalis,Oriyas, Nagas, Mizos, etc know Hindi.

In fact Tamilians were learning Hindi upto the 1960s ( due to Hindi films, Hindi Prachar Sabhas, etc ), but then there was a reaction because some short sighted North India politicians tried to impose Hindi, which was unfortunate. But that is a matter of the past, and we have to move ahead.

Some people said that Tamil should be the link language of India. but the fact is that Hindi is known by 15 times or so more people in India than Tamil, and it is spoken even in Pakistan,  (where it is called Urdu ), Nepal, Bangladesh, Fiji, Mauritius, Surinam ( formerly British Guina ), etc.
 I am not saying that Hindi is superior to Tamil. Tamil is a great language, with a very rich literature. I regard all languages as equal. But the fact is that Hindi is known by many more people in India, and even abroad, than Tamil, and it has already developed as the link language of India. So it is in the interest of Tamilians and other non Hindi speakers to learn Hindi
           My appeal to all non Hindi speakers is to think rationally and not emotionally. I am a totally democratic person, and am totally opposed to the imposition of Hindi in Tamil Nadu, or anywhere else for that matter. In the function at Anna University in Chennai, where I spoke recently, I advised Tamilians to learn Hindi. After my speech an elderly gentleman got up and said that Tamilians should not be compelled to learn Hindi, and English was good enough to be the link language in India. I replied that I was totally against any compulsion. If my suggestion that Tamilians should learn Hindi made sense to Tamilians, they should accept it, but if it did not make sense to them, they should reject it. Where is the compulsion? It is not fair to distort what I said.

 Tamil cannot be compared to Hindi, not because Hindi is superior to Tamil (I hold all languages in equal respect) but because it is much more widespread. Tamil is only spoken in Tamil Nadu, which has a population of 72 million. But Hindi is spoken not only in the Hindi belt, but in most non-Hindi states as a second language. In the Hindi belt there are 200 million people in Uttar Pradesh, 99 million in Bihar, 75 million in Madhya Pradesh, 69 million in Rajasthan, 27 million in Jharkhand, 26 million in Chhattisgarh, 26 million in Haryana, 20 million in Delhi and 7 million in Himachal Pradesh. Taking into account Hindi speakers in the non-Hindi belt in India (Punjab, West Bengal, Kashmir, Orissa, Assam and other North Eastern States,Telangana, etc), the number of Hindi speakers would be about 15 times that of Tamil speakers. Apart from that, Pakistanis (who number about 200 million and who call it Urdu ), Nepalis, Bangladeshis, Fijians, Mauretians, Surinamese, etc also speak Hindi.. How then can Tamil be compared with Hindi? Tamil is only a regional language, while Hindi is a national language. This is not because Hindi is superior to Tamil, but due to certain historical and social reasons.

 English is the link language only for the elite in India, and not for the common man. Anyone coming from Tamil Nadu to other parts of India will realise this. Without knowing Hindi he will experience great difficulty (in fact one of the Tamilian judges in the Supreme Court told me very recently that he had made a great mistake in not learning Hindi since he was finding it difficult in Delhi, but now he has started learning Hindi ). Only about five per cent of Indians know English (though I myself have appealed to people to learn English, since much of the knowledge of the world is in English, and I have strongly criticised those who say “ Angrezi Hatao (abolish English”). In fact Hindi is already the link language for Indians, even for many South Indians, as I had explained in my article.

 When I was Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, I once went to a shop in Madurai. To my surprise I heard the Tamilian shopkeeper speaking to someone on the telephone in Hindi. Since I had picked up some Tamil I said to him, “ Romba nalla Hindi pesreenga. Eppadi ? (You are speaking such good Hindi. How is that?”) He replied, “ Arasiyalle Hindi vendaamnu solvaanga, aanaa engalikkubusiness pananum. Adnaal kathukitten . (Politicians say that we do not want Hindi, but we have to do business. So I have learnt Hindi”). I think this shopkeeper had more sense than those who oppose Hindi.
 I dislike both Hindi haters as well as those who wish to impose Hindi on Tamil Nadu and other States. The issue should be considered rationally, instead of emotionally. No one can dispute that Tamil is a great language, with great literary works like Tirukkural, Silapathiharam, Manimekhalai, Kambar Ramayanam , and in more recent times, the great poems of the nationalist poet Subramania Bharathi and many others. I fully support the demand that lawyers in the Madras High Court should be allowed to argue in Tamil (except before judges who have come on a transfer from other States), though judgments should be in English so that people from other States can read them. When in the Supreme Court, I would sometimes speak a few sentences in Tamil when a Tamilian lawyer appeared before me. I think I was the first Judge in the history of the Supreme Court to speak in Tamil in court.

I would appeal to Tamilians to once again consider my suggestion that they should learn Hindi. If my suggestion does not make sense, please reject it.


  1. I Truly support this suggestion. Yes Nothing can be Imposed But we need to learn Good for the Development of India.

  2. Dear sir, Why was English not made as a link language or why shouldn't it be made as a link language instead? Because it could have been of immense use to everyone in this globalised world.. Kindly throw some light..

  3. The English language is the language of this blog.
    Hindi is just the vestige of 1000 years of slavery.
    Copied constitution made a futile attempt to make a slave a king
    (as it tried in many other cases as well) but people never accepted it. Long live English an Arya language derivative.
    The blog owner is well advised to run this blog in HIS MOTHER TONGUE .

  4. With the reasoning, south india prefered English over hindi.
    South put English education at top and produced Nobel ptize winning many scientists while north was busy developing their illiterate child producing BIMARU factories just to be fed on the taxes paid by south and west.
    Who will buy the argument of numerical quantity of masses (retrograde masses) ?
    English ! That is the way forward.
    Hindi represents backwardness.
    Tamil and Sanskrit represent heritage.
    English represent current opportunity.
    People have chosen. Hindi is dying.
    North i.dian people endavor to learn English because it represents business. They make it a point to avoid using hindi as much as they can by their own choice.
    English school enrollment is up more than 300% largely deiven by economically weaker calss !!
    I am well pleased. Long live ENGLISH.THE LANGUAGE OF THIS BLOG !!!

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