Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday – on the occasion of Hindi Diwas – pitched for the wider use of the language in the country and declared it to be “the basic basis of our cultural consciousness and national unity”.
Mr Shah also linked Hindi – the use of which is a delicate subject given India is home to a myriad languages, each with rich spoken and literary traditions – to the government’s grand plans for an ‘atmanirbhar Bharat’, or ‘self-sufficient India’.
He said an ‘atmanirbhar Bharat’ meant being ‘atmanirbhar‘ with language, and “progress is contained in co-ordination of mother tongue and official language”.
“On the occasion of Hindi Diwas, I urge all countrymen to take a pledge to progressively use Hindi, which is one of the official languages, with their mother tongue in basic works. The progress of India is contained in the co-ordination of mother tongue and official language,” Mr Shah’s Hindi tweet read.
“Being ‘atmanirbhar‘ is not just about producing within… we have to be ‘atmanirbhar‘ even with language… the basis of our cultural consciousness and national unity, Hindi is also a bridge between ancient civilisation and modern progress,” he said.
He praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying: “If PM can speak Hindi internationally, what are we embarrassed about? Gone are the days when speaking Hindi was a matter of concern”.
The government is “committed for parallel development of Hindi and all Indian languages”, he said.
Mr Shah wasn’t the only high-profile government figure to bat for Hindi today; the Prime Minister and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh were among those to issue tweets.
Over the years Hindi Diwas – celebrated September 14 – has become a thorny issue, with many states against what they see as the government’s imposition of the language. The government’s new education policy, which is being implemented from this year, was criticised for that reason.
In 2019 protests, particularly those from southern states, made headlines after the government’s education policy was viewed as forcing school children to learn Hindi.
That was after Mr Shah tweeted Hindi was “a necessary common language… to become the mark of India’s identity globally”, to which DMK chief MK Stalin responded: “This is India, not Hindia“.
Last year Congress MP P Chidambaram tweeted wishes on Hindi Diwas, but also pointed out Tamil speakers (Mr Chidambaram is a native of Tamil Nadu) were also “legitimately proud” of their language.
Another Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor from Kerala, said: “Most of us in the South learn Hindi as a second language but nobody in the North is learning Malayalam or Tamil.”
With input from ANI