There’s continually the threat of a little tedium when it comes to language debates in India. The ardor, anger, and arguments all have a long history and might experience irresolvably acquainted. But as I comply with the current uproar at the perceived attempt to impose Hindi in the first draft of the National Education Policy (NEP), one component is clear: the brouhaha has not anything to do with Hindi. The desire to impose or reject Hindi is set many things – Hindu nationalism, religion, caste and an uneasy attachment to English – but it isn’t about the language named Hindi.
Take, for example, the rally of irritated and conciliatory tweets in Tamil by Nirmala Sitharaman, S. Jaishankar, P. Chidambaram, A.R. Rahman, and others. The information channels informed me that Sitharaman’s and Jaishankar’s tweets were nearly identical. I wouldn’t recognize. I wouldn’t recognize because, developing up between Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi, I am the form of Indian who speaks handiest languages: a mash-up of Hindus and a mash-up of Englishes.
As someone who spent all my youth in Delhi, I do the form of understanding numerous other languages. I can eavesdrop, make jokes and swear in a number of them, however, I am now not functionally literate in any. Just as nicely, even though. Sitharaman’s and Jaishankar’s tweets were now not meant for me. In reality, they have been specially crafted to defuse the looming threat posed with the aid of “north Indian Hindi audio system” which includes me.
As I scanned the Tamil tweets embedded in nearly all informative articles on the NEP, my interloping non-Tamil-studying eye observed something. While announcing something it becomes saying in Tamil, Sitharaman’s tweet carried a Hindi-language hashtag inside the Roman script: #ekbharatsreshtabharat. This hashtag has been part of the technoscriptural arsenal of the BJP’s marketing campaign, just like #betipadhaopetibachao and #swachhbharat. But in this unique example, the hashtag struck me as in particular devious, for resituating Hindi whilst performing its removal.
The important Tamil of Sitharaman’s and Jaishankar’s tweets turned into a reassurance to Tamil-speakers that fear no longer, the government does not intend to erase your Dravidian linguistic identification and background. It became a manner to at ease their accept as true with via demonstrating a right away a line of conversation between the allegedly Hindi-selling authorities and its Tamil-speak me humans. It was a politic pass to speak the language of humans. But the hashtag labeled this message under the signal of Hindi. If the DMK and AIDMK have been pushing returned towards the three-language formulation, then Sitharaman’s placatory tweet actually modeled that contentious system.

What is it about Hindi and the three-language formulation that they show so insufficient and so necessary to the idea of India? Statistics upon information inform us that Hindi isn’t always the most extensively-spoken language in India. Hindi audio system from the Hindi belt would scarcely recognize the language while it’s far spoken at 30,000 feet or written in Sarkari drafters. So, what gives?
According to the revised draft of the NEP, the 3-language method is about cognitive improvement and national integration: “A multilingual India is better educated and also better nationally included.” India is richly multilingual. This is a boon for our minds but a bane for countrywide integration. It is not possible for everyone in India to analyze all of the languages within the USA.
To manage subjects, the NEP now proposes that all college students in Class 1 and beyond analyze 3 languages. While the revised draft does no longer stipulate which three languages, it does advise three degrees of language studying that map directly to the regional, countrywide and worldwide. In the preliminary draft, this supposed that students might learn English to be global and Hindi to be national.
The championing of Hindi as crucial to the three-language formula is ready what it approach to belong to the nation of India and who receives to belong. The language isn’t always richer or older or greater scientific or extra true than another language in India, to benefit representative reputation. In fact, as students have time and again proven, it’s far objectively none of those matters.
In its politically engineered existence, however, Hindi is Sanskritic, Hindu and ‘upper’ caste. As such, it does essential political paintings. Any perceived or real preference to push Hindi, consequently, has not anything to do with the splendid qualities of the language however has everything to do with identification and power.
1. Hindi erases Urdu
The institutional push for Hindi erases the shared cultural histories of Hindi and Urdu. Hindustani (an extra populist “Hindi-Urdu” with Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit phrases) was long a strong contender for the function of unbiased India’s “country wide language”. Gandhi himself changed into a vocal suggest for it.
But the already-complex question of India’s potential national language (and later, “reputable language”) got trickier with the likelihood of the formation of Pakistan. A newly independent India desired to define itself now not most effective in opposition to the shadow of the British, but also towards Pakistan. Urdu become typecast as Muslim and Muslims a minority. Hindi become purged of its Arabic and Persianate vocabulary from Urdu and presented as greater Sanskritic.
The revised NEP draft includes precisely two references to Urdu that further this mischaracterization of Hindi-Urdu. In one example, the file calls Urdu a variant of Hindi and inside the different, it refers to Urdu as the language of the Muslim minority.

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