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Is Hindi the Bhasha of Bharat?

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A small note on 27th May 2014, from the Indian home ministry to government departments in Hindi speaking states to use Hindi for government communication and in social media platforms, is good enough news for media to lap up and rekindle a controversy that rocked the nation way back in 1964 against imposing Hindi as the sole official language of India.

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Times have changed. Hindi is no more restricted to a few states in India. It has spread across the length and breadth of India and is most popular even in non-Hindi speaking states, thanks to Hindi cinema whichhas to a great extent, contributed to its popularity. Other factors such as employment opportunities and tourism also drove people in non-Hindi speaking states to learn Hindi voluntarily. Today, even in a state like Tamil Nadu,where Hindi is not an official language of the state, it is the most preferred optional language along with English.

Has the time come for us now to adopt Hindi as the sole official language of India or the Bhasha of Bharat?

There are now 22 languages that carry official status as each State has adopted their own official language depending on their linguistic demographics. They are Assamese. Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Tulu and Urdu.Document translations from and to any of these 22 languages are done easily by translation agencies. While imposing Hindi as the sole official language of India will cause friction, it will also create a death knell for growth of languages.

Hindi is the Bhasha of Bharat and should never be the sole Bhasha of Bharat. The current language policy should continue. This will lead to a growth of regional languages with Hindi being the common language. Let us not restrict languages to flourish and grow.

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Kumar Aiyer

Marketing Head, BhashaBharti Arts, Mumbai

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