However, one need not consider material purposes ulterior. An example in point is the material purpose of a hungry man who wants to earn his daily bread. There is nothing ulterior about that. Of course, it becomes ulterior when greed sets in. It is not necessary that a natural regulation of human relationships must help develop only ideals in cooperation with one another. It is perfectly ethical for human relationships to help develop tangible material products and services, again in cooperation with one another, as long as greed is out of the equation. Material pursuits are valid pursuits of life as long as they don't tread on the life or liberty of others.
Once this is granted, it must be granted that groups of people uniting for material purposes is not ulterior either, again as long as such a unity does not tread on the life or liberty of others. There is nothing wrong for a group of people to seek material well-being. What is wrong, is for it to seek its own well-being at the cost of pushing other groups to levels of poverty and helplessness below its own levels, by taking the life or liberty of others. Thus, material pursuits become ulterior only when they cross the boundary of ethics. Within that boundary, there is ample space for a valid and ethical Nation to be defined.
British India and Britain itself were, of course, invalid and unethical Nations. The British took the life and liberty of people in this part of the world in order to feed the greed of material prosperity of the British.
But that need not bias us against the very concept of Nation, like it did seem to bias Rabindranath Tagore. It is perfectly fine for a set of people (or peoples as in the case of India) to organize themselves for the mechanical purpose of material prosperity, and call themselves a Nation. There's nothing ulterior about it as long as greed does not set in. Thus, a Nation need not be necessarily based on unethical or greedy grounds.
However - and this is very imporant - on those who define the Nation rests the burden of ensuring that there is no compromise of life or liberty not just outside, but even inside it. If this ensuring is not done with due diligence, the Nation becomes invalid and unethical. It is only if this ensuring is not done with due diligence, that a Nation becomes tyrannical and unjust - the Nation which Tagore so hated.
The first symptom of such tyranny and injustice is the disregard and disrespect for diversity; the second is the foolish belief that unity can be achieved by forced juxtaposition of the language, culture, religious beliefs, and whims and fancies of one people on every other; and the third is the legalization of an unfair advantage given to selected people or peoples in education and employment (even if it is unintentional). These symptoms are already seen in India.
The first step towards curing India of this disease is to convert India into a Federation of Linguistic States equal in all respects, and in whom the very same principle of respect for diversity and upholding of life and liberty is in turn enshrined. This is the India of our dreams. Such an Indian Nation is free from the ills of the greedy Nation which Rabindranath Tagore so hated. It is not difficult to build such an Indian Nation. We just need to make an attempt to build it.
Unorganized British traders and intellectuals would have simply continued their interactions with Indians until it was profitable to them and probably turned into naturalized Indians if they had lived here. But it took a multitude of traders and intellectuals well-organized as the British Nation to turn organic evolution into forced juxtaposition, and the seed of friendship and cooperation into hatred. It was the British Nation which juxtaposed tens of thousands of Britishers with Indians in a short period of time (yes, a couple of centuries years is a short period of time for these things!), armed them with the right to rule and destroy at will, and ultimately succeeded in creating hatred between the two societies.
When India became independent, the forced juxtaposition of the British was successfully undone, leaving mostly whatever can go on by ways of organic evolution to go on. However, this undoing required the rise of the Indian Nation, that is, a political India which never existed before the British. Rabindranath Tagore was completely opposed to the idea of this Indian Nation, because he saw that as the perfecting of organization and corruption of the power of self-protection which would ultimately make India goad all its neighbouring societies with greed of material prosperity, and consequent mutual jealousy, and by the fear of each other's growth into powerful-ness.
He also held the fear that the Indian Nation would stop Indians and Europeans from learning whatever is worth learning from each other by way of organic evolution - seeds of which were seen in M. K. Gandhi's rejection of everything English - such as education and textile machinery. Even today, there is no dearth of ultra-nationalists in India who look at anything uttered by Europeans as against the national interest of India and everything Indian as for the national interest of India - however steeped in vice that may be. The positioning of Hindi as the official language of India where two other European products (first, of having all state languages as official and second, the English language) are provably better is a glaring example of Tagore's fears coming true.
I have argued earlier that the primary concern of Tagore - that the Indian Nation would goad all its neighbouring societies with greed of material prosperity, and consequent mutual jealousy, and by the fear of each other's growth into powerful-ness has come true not with regard to external societies, but with regard to internal societies. India has not yet risen to that level of greed and perfection of organization and science where it can goad other Nations such as say China or Pakistan or Russia or the United States of America, but the version of India which is enshrined in the constitution has become the license for internal goading. I am referring to the Constitution of India according a higher status to Hindi than every other Indian language. This has become the license for Hindi speakers to literally rule over the speakers of other Indian languages who are less important by definition. This has forcefully juxtaposed Hindi speakers with the speakers of other languages all over India.
Now the Indian Nation has juxtaposed tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of Hindi speakers with other Indians in a short period of time (if a century is a short period of time, 60 years is too short!), armed them with the right to rule and destroy other Indian languages at will, and has ultimately succeeded in creating hatred between the two societies. There are some who believe that having Hindi in parallel with other Indian languages cannot be called imposition - but the fact is, Hindi is the only Indian language in matters of the Central Government, without any parallel Indian language. From the perspective of non-Hindi speaking states, then it was the British, and now it is the Hindis. Not much has changed. There exists in the experience of these states a forced-juxtaposition continuum.
Notwithstanding Tagore's ideas in these matters, the fact is: the solution which finally did undo forced juxtaposition of the British was the Indian Nation which he so hated. Just as a thorn must be used to remove another thorn, it was the Indian Nation under M. K. Gandhi which ultimately succeeded in removing the forced juxtaposition. Of course, it came with all the negatives of the Nation which Tagore so feared (two of which I've pointed out above).
If the past is any indicator of what the future holds in its womb, it appears that the forced juxtaposition of Hindi all over India by the Indian Nation will result in the development or strengthening of state-level nationalisms in post-independence India, which will not rest until the forced juxtaposition is removed. This is already seen most visibly in the Southern and North Eastern states. Also, other types of forced juxtapositions such as that due to which large numbers of speakers of one language are still living second-grade lives in states where they form minorities, and that which state governments themselves engage in, will all aid such nationalisms. Inter-state issues between geographically adjacent states are, of course, due to a bad job done during the reorganization of states. All this, of course, will cost all Indians time and money which are better invested in what Tagore proposed as the solution to India's problems: good education in the mother tongue.
This is the truth as we see it at Banavasi Balaga. The question is - will thinkers and policy makers and men and women of power realize this and take corrective actions?
For example, Hindi speakers and non-Hindi speakers would have organically evolved mutual cooperation and friendship if only the Constitution of India did not forcefully juxtapose these two groups in every office of the central government. Because the Constitution accords Hindi a higher status than every other Indian language, Hindi speakers had to be physically moved to non-Hindi speaking states, bringing them in forced juxtaposition with the speakers of other languages. While there is no natural antipathy between Hindi and non-Hindi groups, such antipathy was created by forced juxtaposition. The Hindi speakers not only came to other states, but came as higher-ups in an artificially created hierarchy. This made matters worse - it increased the speed at which hatred builds.
Doesn't organic evolution involve juxtaposition? Of course, it does. But that juxtaposition is not forced. That's why it's called organic. Organic evolution does not involve the official sanction of a government which can employ the resources at its disposal for the acceleration of the juxtaposition. On the other hand, it involves a case-by-case upholding or rejection of whatever is perceived by the groups themselves as worth upholding or rejecting.
A good example of organic evolution is, perhaps, the widespread acceptance of the Salwar Kameez - a Northern attire - almost all over India. Within 50 years of the birth of political India, it became the attire of choice for young women all over India without government intervention. Another example is food - the spread of South Indian food in North India and vice versa. Now, imagine the Constitution of India calling Salwar Kameez as the National Dress for Women or Idli as the National Breakfast years ago and the kind of opposition and hatred such a statement could have excited. First of all nobody can predict what will find acceptance and what will not; and secondly, the very forced imposition would have ensured widespread protests and consequent rejection. Another example to show the difference between organic evolution and forced juxtaposition is the difference between a Hiuen Tsang coming to India as a traveler and student on the one hand and on the other, a Chinese military attack on Jammu and Kashmir. The first is organic evolution, the second forced juxtaposition.
It is under similar circumstances that Rabindranath Tagore rejected the very concept of a Nation. To him, Nationalism was a way of thwarting and converting to hatred the organic evolution of cooperation and friendship between two peoples. While M. K. Gandhi, the champion of Indian Nationalism, openly asked for the rejection of everything British (including education), Tagore saw that as harmful to both Indians and Britishers. Tagore was very much for the furtherance of what he termed as Society, which is a natural regulation of human relationships, so that men can develop ideals in cooperation with one another - whether they're Britishers or Indians.
Thus, as per Tagore, while Britishers and Indians could have organically evolved a system of cooperation and friendship, politics in the garb of the Nation created hatred between the Britishers and Indians - hatred which ultimately creates a world broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls. While organic evolution brought the British to India as traders, politics and the application of force by the British Nation created a rift between them and the Indians. Once the British Nation got involved in this part of the world, it obtained official sanction of the British Government which could employ the resources at its disposal for the acceleration of the juxtaposition. It is then that juxtaposition became forced instead of organic. It is then that cooperation and friendship turned into non-cooperation and hatred.
Thus, ladies and gentlemen, we have two options: the first is an organic evolution of cooperation and friendship between diverse groups - especially language groups - in India. The second is forced juxtaposition. The first is cooperation and friendship. The second is non-cooperation and hatred. The choice is yours.
Dr. Ambedkar was very well aware of examples in the world where multi-lingual states had been the source of constant troubles, and believed that India would be "blown up" if its states were multilingual. So, for him the question of carving out states on any basis other than language was ruled out. He writes in his Thoughts on Linguistic States:
"One State, one language" is a universal feature of almost every State. Examine the constitution of Germany, examine the constitution of France, examine the constitution of Italy, examine the constitution of England, and examine the constitution of the U.S.A. "One State, one language" is the rule.He emphasized that a fellow-feeling in the citizens of a state is crucial for the success of democracy, and opined that such a fellow-feeling is difficult to attain unless the citizens of the state spoke one language. He quotes many examples where democracy had failed due to the state being a 'mixed' one - meaning where more than one language is spoken:
Wherever there has been a departure from this rule there has been a danger to the State. The illustration of the mixed States are to be found in the old Austrian Empire and the old Turkish Empire. They were blown up because they were multi-lingual States with all that a multi-lingual State means. India cannot escape this fate if it continues to be a congery of mixed States.
The reasons why a unilingual State is stable and a multi-lingual State unstable are quite obvious. A State is built on fellow feeling. What is this fellow-feeling ? To state briefly it is a feeling of a corporate sentiment of oneness which makes those who are charged with it feel that they are kith and kin. This feeling is a double-edged feeling. It is at once a feeling of fellowship for ones own kith and kin and anti-fellowship for those who are not one's own kith and kin. It is a feeling of " consciousness of kind " which on the one hand, binds together those who have it so strongly that it over-rides all differences arising out of economic conflicts or social gradations and, on the other, severs them from those who are not of their kind. It is a longing not to belong to any other group.
The existence of this fellow-feeling is the foundation of a stable and democratic State.
[Democracy] cannot work without friction unless there is fellow-feeling among those who constitute the State. Faction fights for leadership and discrimination in administration are factors ever present in a mixed State and are incompatible with democracy.The maturity of Dr. Ambedkar's thought on the need for "One state, one langauge" is very well illustrated by the clarity he brings on the reasons why the speakers of different languages start "hating" each other. He argued that it is not because of any "natural antipathy" between them, but because of bringing them together in "juxtaposition" and forcing them "to take part in a common cycle of participation, such as Government":
Why do Tamils hate Andhras and Andhras hate Tamils? Why do Andhras in Hyderabad hate Maharashtrians and Maharashtrians hate Andhras? Why do Gujaratis hate Maharashtrians and Maharashtrians hate Gujaratis? The answer is very simple. It is not because there is any natural antipathy between the two. The hatred is due to the fact that they are put in juxtaposition and forced to take part in a common cycle of participation, such as Government. There is no other answer.In summary, Dr. Ambedkar believed that tension between two linguistic groups is created by forcing them to come together in "common cycles of participation" such as Government. This very powerful insight which Dr. Ambedkar brings has the ability to explain the tension between any two linguistic groups anywhere, including in India. Also, this has very strong parallels with Rabindranath Tagore's thought on Nationalism and Politics. I will come back to this point in follow-up posts.
So long as this enforced juxtaposition remains, there will be no peace between the two.
However, it is heartening to see evidence that we're moving in the right direction. India's linguistic policy has undergone many changes, with the creation of linguistic states being an important step in the right direction. India has begun her march on the road to becoming a true multilingual country, and on that march left behind some of her most illustrious thinkers and policy-makers who were in some ways opposed to the march itself.
One such thinker and policy maker was Dr. B. R. Ambedkar - the architect of the Indian Constitution.
Dr. Ambedkar was a strong proponent of the creation of linguistic states, but asserted that the linguistic states so created must use Hindi as their official language (instead of the language of the state itself). This, he held, was necessary to prevent India from becoming "the medieval India consisting of a variety of States indulging in rivalry and warfare". Today, of course, the Constitution of India itself allows for states to use their own languages as official languages without India becoming what Dr. Ambedkar feared.
In his Thoughts on Linguistic States, first published in 1955, Dr. Ambedkar observed that not creating linguistic states poses a greater danger than creating them. While the consequences of creating linguistic states can be handled, he observed, the consequences of not creating linguistic states poses a danger "greater and beyond the control of a statesman however eminent":
A linguistic State with its regional language as its official language may easily develop into an independent nationality. The road between an independent nationality and an independent State is very narrow. If this happens, India will cease to be Modern India we have and will become the medieval India consisting of a variety of States indulging in rivalry and warfare.Dr. Ambedkar's way of preventing India from becoming "the medieval India consisting of a variety of States indulging in rivalry and warfare" was to prevent linguistic states from using their own languages as official languages, and to posit Hindi / English instead. He proposed in the same essay:
This danger is of course inherent in the creation of linguistic States. There is equal danger in not having linguistic States. The former danger a wise and firm statesman can avert. But the dangers of a mixed State are greater and beyond the control of a statesman however eminent.
How can this danger be met? The only way I can think of meeting the danger is to provide in the Constitution that the regional language shall not be the official language of the State. The official language of the State shall be Hindi and until India becomes fit for this purpose English. Will Indians accept this? If they do not, linguistic States may easily become a peril.But, of course, India has gone beyond Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's proposal, and today the states use their own languages as official languages - Karnataka uses Kannada, Tamil Nadu uses Tamil, Andhra Pradesh uses Telugu, and so on. None of this has resulted in the peril of India disintegrating and becoming "the medieval India consisting of a variety of States indulging in rivalry and warfare". It is suppression of diversity which can lead to that result, not its celebration - and we must be thankful to those wise statesmen who have had the courage to do what is good for India.
I have no doubt that the glorification of Hindi in the Central Government and its works will also end, albeit not without effort, especially from the non-Hindi speaking states. There will be a day on which this glorification will be forgotten - just like the truth about Dr. Ambedkar's insistence of Hindi being used as official language in all the states is now forgotten. The little skirmishes that we're seeing today are but pebbles on the road to India becoming a truly multilingual and federal country. Laying down those pebbles is a difficult and time-consuming task, and not achievable without regard for unity in diversity.
- MPs can ask questions in their mother-tongues
- Ministers cannot ask questions in their mother-tongues. They have to use English or Hindi.
- MPs can make speeches in their mother-tongues.
- Ministers cannot make speeches in their mother-tongues. They have to use English or Hindi.
- Ministers cannot answer questions in their mother-tongues. They have to use English or Hindi.
120. (1) Notwithstanding anything in Part XVII, but subject to the provisions of article 348, business in Parliament shall be transacted in Hindi or in English: Provided that the Chairman of the Council of States or Speaker of the House of the People, or person acting as such, as the case may be, may permit any member who cannot adequately express himself in Hindi or in English to address the House in his mother-tongue.Of course the undemocratic insistence that all members should "adequately express" themselves "in Hindi or in English" needs to be amended (at least to the extent that Hindi is removed from that list), but Mr. Achary's belief that his unbalanced treatment to MPs and Ministers has constitutional sanction looks to be untrue. Even if one were to interpret "any member" as "any member of parliament", there is sufficient slack in that term itself - since Ministers are, in general, members of parliament (or must be within 6 months of assuming office).
Also, in denying permission to Ministers to answer questions in their mother-tongues, Mr. Achary refers not to the constitution, but to precedent! How disappointing! In reality, Mr. Achary would have done nothing unconstitutional if he had indeed allowed Tamil to be used by Ministers. But when precedent takes precedence over the constitution, can there be any justice? And - is this whole unbalanced treatment to MPs and Ministers stemming from the fear that what Ministers say tends to get to the international media to which we want to pretend as a country which speaks either Hindi or English?
Today is Engineers' Day - celebrated in reverence of Sir M. Visvesvaraya, the magician-engineer who converted the erstwhile Mysore state to being the most industrialized and progressive state of the India of his times. I hit upon a review of his book "Memoirs of my working life" by a certain "J.C.G" published in the Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Science, Aug. 1951 which I'd like to share:
Memoirs of My Working Life. By Sir M. Visvesvaraya. Published by the author, 'Uplands', High Ground, Bangalore. Price Rs. 6.
The one aim in life of the author has been "to plan, promote and encourage developments chiefly in education, industries, commerce and public works to enable the people to work well, earn well and live well".
This book is a record of his endeavours in pursuit of this aim. He has achieved notable success in many spheres. As irrigation and sanitary engineer, he won laurels in early life in the Bombay Presidency and then as Special Consulting Engineer in Hyderabad and as Chief Engineer in Mysore. Long before T. V. A. was conceived, Sir Visvesvaraya executed the multipurpose development of the Cauvery River consisting of a storage reservoir of 48,000 million cubic feet of water, 150,000 acres of irrigated lands and hydroelectric installation of 80,000 H.P. It required unusual boldness, vision and administrative ability to set up an iron and steel works based on the use of charcoal in the Mysore State. Such faith can achieve the impossible; and today, Mysore is very much the richer for the trust her Government and people have reposed in him.
For more than three decades after retirement from Public Service, Sir M. Visvesvaraya has devoted himself incessantly to the task of developing the resources of the land., both human and material, with the utmost intelligence, enterprise and vision. At the age of 90, fired by the divine discontent that his people still continue to be "slow, sleepy and easygoing", he is as active as ever, preaching the doctrine of intelligent and disciplined work, of self-help, and of risk-taking.
May his countrymen profit by his advice and his example! Then, they may be sure that the dawn of new life, which was ushered in four years ago, will break into a bright day of prosperity and happiness.
- J. C. G.
Here are the guidelines as found on the official notice from the Finance Ministry, with the erroneous one (#5) partly crossed out.
Will the Finance Ministry reform guideline #5?
- The symbol should be sent only on an A-4 size paper in black and white print.
- A graphical construction of the symbol design in exact proportions in a bigger size, along with final design, Theme synopsis and concept is required to be submitted.
- The symbol should represent the historical & cultural ethos of the country as widely accepted across the country.
- The size of the final design should not be smaller than 232 square cm (36 sq inches). It is to be submitted along with minimum TEN different proportionally smaller sizes up to 4 points font size of the text matter.
- The symbol should be applicable to standard keyboard.
The symbol has to be in the Indian National Language Script or a visual representation.
The symbol should be original work of the participant and must not infringe the Intellectual Property Rights of any third party.
- A participant can send a maximum of two entries.
- The entry could be an individual project or a team project.
- The entries received without the requisite fee shall be out rightly rejected.
Finally, rupee to get a symbol!Just to confirm, here's what the official design contest invite from the Finance Ministry has to say, openly assuming the existence of a "National Language":
Major currencies of the world like the US dollar, the pound sterling, the yen and the euro among others, have an identification symbol.
The Indian rupee, however, does not. In February this year, the Finance Ministry invited Indian residents to participate in a competition for designing a 'symbol for the Indian rupee'. Government officials have told CNBC-TV18 that as many 2,500 entries have been received from across the country. While the designs are under the wraps for the moment, a seven-member committee will soon meet for the first time to short list five entries. The committee is headed by a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Deputy Governor and will scrutinise the designs before choosing the final one.
The Finance Ministry has said that the symbol should represent the historical and cultural ethos of India and be widely accepted across the country. It has also said that the symbol should be applicable to a standard computer keyboard. The symbol will also have to be in the Indian national language script or a visual representation. Finalising the chosen design will take a few months, but once the process is over, the Indian rupee will finally have a symbol—befitting its status as the currency of a rising economic power.
The symbol has to be in the Indian National Language Script or a visual representation.Yes, the rupee will soon openly symbolize the ethnic subjugation of hundreds of millions of Indians. Yes, the rupee will soon symbolize the colonial power that rules Independent India. Yes, the rupee will soon symbolize the second-grade status of hundreds of millions of Indians - Kannadigas, Tamils, Telugus, Malayalis...Yes, the rupee will soon symbolize the legalization of ethnic crime against every linguistic people in India whose only fault has been to not have been born as Hindi speakers.
Did you notice that the news item does not use the word "Hindi" at all? Yes, they're coming for your money without telling you. That's the nature of the Hindi attack: it's veiled. By the way, did you realize that as we speak, you're paying hard earned money for the central government to celebrate today as Hindi Day? And - do you realize that India is a democracy which is government by the people, for the people and of the people - the Hindi people?
Kiran was born in 1976 in Mysuru, lives in
For further details, check out Kiran's website, http://www.kiranbatni.com.
For those who care for facts and reality, the simple truth is - Karnataka does not have a population problem, as this projected population density data shows (census data available on Censusindia.net, collated into this graph by Banavasi Balaga):
In fact, any such nonsensical move will not even have the desired-by-Yeddyurappa (but actually undesired) effect of a reduction in Karnataka's population, since that would only work as the lifting of a demographical-diffusion barrier for the people of more densely populated states, thereby encouraging migration from those states to Karnataka. So such a move would only end up reducing the Kannadiga population in Karnataka without reducing Karnataka's population growth - which should not be reduced in the first place!
Also, Karnataka's population density is not high even from international standards - as the following graph shows (2006 data from Wikipedia):
To say that Karnataka has a population problem is to be suicidally blind to facts. It is once again to look at India as a whole devoid of any diversity in any sense - even though data and common-sense show otherwise. This doesn't come as a surprise to anybody who sees the fact that our politicians celebrate "unity in diversity" only on paper. When it comes to actual implementation and understanding of India's problems, all that is washed away by a flood of ignorance.
What then is Karnataka's problem? Why aren't we as developed as say Germany or Israel? The problem is of education - in which Karnataka lags behind the developed countries of the world.
For starters, Mr. Yeddyurappa should look at some basic data before coming to nonsensical conculsions. It is Mr. Yeddyurappa's business to worry about Karnataka's population, yes, but not that of other states in India. Those are none of his business. It is stupid to think of the whole of India, shed a few tears and start coming up with disastrous solutions which can only end up nipping Kannadigas in the bud for no fault of theirs. Need we say anything more about Mr. Yeddyurappa's and his party's reality avoidance and the inability of our politicians in general to focus on the real problem - that of education?
Mr. Yeddyurappa doesn't have his facts right. For this fault, would you like to refrain from reproducing? Should Kannadigas in general refrain from reproducing? Should they be punished for producing more than 2 children? The answer is an emphatic NO! What's even more worrisome is - that this is just a sneak preview of the dangers of giving the future of Karnataka in the hands of ignorant and opinionated politicians.
For further reading, we'd like to refer you to Prof. Amartya Sen's analysis of China's coercive birth control methods and their uselessness as well as the importance of education (although he gets it wrong on which language is best for implementing that education).
As soon as news broke out about the proposed presidential address, many US institutions and people raised objections expressing concerns such as - is Obama trying to convert school children into being his junior lobbyists? Is he trying to indoctrinate children into believing the ideology of his party? Etc, etc. There was widespread opposition to some of the "pre-work" wherein students were apparently asked to write down what they'd do to support Obama. Many analysts and parents were outraged that children were not being allowed the choice of either supporting or not supporting Obama - in whatever he was scheduled to say! Ultimately, the Obama administration was forced to edit out some portions of the proposed "pre-work".
Remember that these were objections raised against the single most powerful human being on the planet. Obama had to bow down to the principles of democracy.
In the meanwhile, India prepares to celebrate the undemocratic imposition of Hindi on the whole of India on September 14th. Three score and two years have passed since India became independent, and the Central Govt. and schools all over India continue to indoctrinate Indians that Hindi is the language of a greater God - giving it names such as "National Language" and "Raj Bhasha" - and making them believe that it is the duty of all Indians to give Hindi speakers an unfair edge in obtaining jobs in banks, the railways, and central-government institutions all over India.
Is there a chance that Dr. Manmohan Singh follows Barack Obama in bowing down to that founding principle of democracy - unity in diversity - and shows he's got what it takes to rip Hindi off its exclusive status in India? Will Dr. Singh re-establish our faith in India being a democracy?
Children are not interchangeable widgets. It does not serve their interests to feed them through learning factories on a single, fixed-pace conveyor belt. Some pick up reading quickly and easily fly through ever more challenging texts. Others find reading a chore, progressing more slowly even when encouraged by supportive families and talented teachers. To demand a single pace for all students in all subjects is to simultaneously tie together the laces of the fleet and kick out the crutches of the slow.One cannot completely do away with state-run education in developing countries where private enterprises are singularly focused on short-term gains and generally fail to see the long-term advantages of education in the mother-tongue. Yet Coulson's statements, which expose the dangers involved in the illogical "One Nation One Board" approach which Mr. Kapil Sibal is so fond of, inspire pertinent questions.
Not only is it impossible to create a single set of standards that would serve every child equally well, such standards would fail to significantly improve our schools. High external standards have never been the driving force behind human progress.
One asks if making examinations difficult is the best thing the KSEEB can do to improve education in Karnataka. Is "raising the bar" the best thing to do when the system ties children down to the ground? If your child is unable to learn to read Kannada decently, do you reform the way in which you teach him or set up a test requiring him to write a commentary on the Pampa Bharata?
Has anyone done a study to expose the actual deficiencies in the education system? Has anyone cared for the reasons why the Kannada medium education system is not producing Einsteins and Aumanns?
Sunday, Jan 18, 2004.
by Ramachandra Guha
I HAVE recently been reading the debates of the Constituent Assembly of India. These are a treasure-trove; invaluable to the scholar, but also well worth reading by the citizen. Among the topics debated by the Assembly were federalism, minority rights, preventive detection — topics that were contentious then, and continue to be contentious now. However, by far the most controversial subject was language: the language to be spoken in the House, the language in which the Constitution would be written, the language which would be given that singular designation, "national".
On December 10, 1946, effectively the first day of business, R.V. Dhulekar of the United Provinces moved an amendment. When he began speaking in Hindustani, the Chairman reminded him that many members did not know the language. This was Dhulekar's reply: "People who do not know Hindustani have no right to stay in India. People who are present in this House to fashion a Constitution for India and do not know Hindustani are not worthy to be members of this Assembly. They had better leave."
The remarks created a commotion in the House. "Order, order!" yelled the Chairman, but Dhulekar then moved that "the Procedure Committee should frame rules in Hindustani and not in English. As an Indian I appeal that we, who are out to win freedom for our country and are fighting for it should think and speak in our own language. We have all along been talking of America, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and the House of Commons. It has given me a headache. I wonder why Indians do not speak in their own language. As an Indian I feel that the proceedings of the House should be conducted in Hindustani. We are not concerned with the history of the world. We have the history of our own country of millions of past years."
The printed proceedings continue:
"The Chairman: Order, order!
Shri R.V. Dhulekar (speaking still in Hindustani): I request you to allow me to move my amendment.
The Chairman: Order, order! I do not permit you to proceed further. The House is with me that you are out of order."
At this point Dhulekar finally shut up. But the issue would not go away. In one session, members urged the House to order the Government to change all car number plates from English to Hindi. More substantively, they demanded that the official version of the Constitution be in Hindi, with an unofficial version in English. This the Drafting Committee did not accept, saying that the foreign language could better articulate the technical and legal terms of the document. When a draft Constitution was placed for discussion, members asked for a discussion of each clause in Hindi. To adopt a document written in English, they said, would be "insulting".
Under the British, English had emerged as the language of higher education and administration. Would it remain in this position after the British left? The politicians of the North thought that it should be replaced by Hindi. The politicians and people of the South preferred that English continue as the vehicle of inter-provincial communication.
Jawaharlal Nehru himself was exercised early by the question. In an essay of the late 1930s, he expressed his admiration for the major provincial languages. Without "infringing in the least on their domain", said Nehru, there must still be an all-India language of communication. English was too far removed from the masses; so he opted instead for Hindustani, which he defined as a "golden mean" between Hindu and Urdu.
Like Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi thought that Hindustani could unite North with South and Hindu with Muslim. It, rather than English, should be the rashtrabhasha, or national language. As he saw it, "Urdu diction is used by Muslims in writing. Hindi diction is used by Sanskrit pundits. Hindustani is the sweet mingling of the two". In 1945, he engaged in a lively exchange with Purushottamdas Tandon, a man who fought hard, not to say heroically, to rid Hindi of its foreign elements. Tandon was Vice-President of the All India Hindi Literature Conference, which held that Hindi with the Devanagari script alone should be the national language. Gandhi, who had long been a member of the Conference, was dismayed by its chauvinist drift. Since he believed that both the Nagari and Urdu scripts should be used, perhaps it was time to resign his membership. Tandon tried to dissuade him, but, as Gandhi put it, "How can I ride two horses? Who will understand me when I say that rashtrabhasha = Hindi and rashtrabhasha = Hindi + Urdu = Hindustani?"
Partition more-or-less killed the case for Hindustani. The move to further Sanskritise Hindi gathered pace. One can see this at work in the Constituent Assembly, where early references were to Hindustani, but later references all to Hindi. After the division of the country, the promoters of Hindi became even more fanatical. As Granville Austin observes, "The Hindi-wallahs were ready to risk splitting the Assembly and the country in their unreasoning pursuit of uniformity." Their crusade provoked some of the most heated debates in the House. Hindustani would not have been acceptable to South Indians; Hindi, even less so. Whenever a member spoke in Hindi, another member would ask for a translation into English. When the case was made for Hindi to be the sole national language, it was bitterly opposed. Representative are these remarks of T.T. Krishnamachari of Madras:
"We disliked the English language in the past. I disliked it because I was forced to learn Shakespeare and Milton, for which I had no taste at all ... (I)f we are going to be compelled to learn Hindi ... I would perhaps not to be able to do it because of my age, and perhaps I would not be willing to do it because of the amount of constraint you put on me. ... This kind of intolerance makes us fear that the strong Centre which we need, a strong Centre which is necessary will also mean the enslavement of people who do not speak the language of the Centre. I would, Sir, convey a warning on behalf of people of the South for the reason that there are already elements in South India who want separation... ., and my honourable friends in U.P. do not help us in any way by flogging their idea (of) `Hindi Imperialism' to the maximum extent possible. Sir, it is up to my friends in U.P. to have a whole-India; it is up to them to have a Hindi-India. The choice is theirs... ."
The Assembly finally arrived at a compromise; that "the official language of the Union shall be Hindi in the Devanagari script"; but for "15 years from the commencement of the Constitution, the English language shall continue to be used for all the official purposes of the Union for which it was being used immediately before such commencement". Till 1965, at any rate, the proceedings of the courts, the services, and the all-India bureaucracy would be conducted in English.
In 1965, attempts were made to introduce Hindi by force, sparking widespread protests in Tamil Nadu. In 1967, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) rode to power in Tamil Nadu on the back of these protests. Wisely, the Union Government extended the use of English in inter-State communication. But from time to time, the chauvinists of Hindi try to press their case. In his previous term as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav wrote a letter in his language to the Chief Minister of Kerala, E.K. Nayanar. Mr. Nayanar replied in his language. It was a brilliant riposte: for while Hindi was not widely spoken in Thiruvanthapuram, in Lucknow, Malayalam was not known at all.
The government can. And the government can 'cause they mix it up with lies and make it all taste good! Let's all feel good because the government says we should....".
Hats off to Tim Hawkins!
Video viewing suggestion: go ahead, jack up the volume! Remember that Uncle Sam is infinitely better than Hon. Chinna Tambi's government - but we believe you're smart enough to see the point, and have enough sense of humor to shake a leg at the video and the parallel with Karnataka!