Updated: Mar 20, 2021
I would rather get excited when Geeta Aunty (our domestic help) used to greet my Mom everyday in the morning, in English, in her ecstatic tone, “Good Morning Didi!” I felt the joy she gets when she is able to pronounce these small phrases used in day-to-day life correctly, and used to think like a visionary, “Yes! My countrymen are moving ahead in life, they’re progressing! It’s so good!” Afterall, even after seventy-four years of Independence, we couldn’t get over the hangover of the ‘English’ influence which has gradually become the hallmark of the intellectual society. But fortunately, in modern times English is more than just a language, it’s one of those few things which unite people beyond borders, something which brings people on the same page and supports their various forms of expression! But who knew this ‘Queens language’ would soon outshine so much that many of indegenous languages would reach a state of extinction. As I read today’s daily, I got a surprise which was hard to digest, “As much as 800k Hindi-heartland students failed their High School Examinations in the subject of Hindi!” I began to wonder how is it possible that an individual performs poorly in something he/she practices the most (afterall, all of us, if we practice anything for the maximum time, it’s our mother tongue).
Unconsciously, this headline reminded me of all those micro-moments and incidences where our society demeans Hindi. Whether it’s in family occasions where we look down at our cousin who couldn’t roll his tongue enough to pronounce any word correctly or when we feel embarrassed if our parents are not speaking superfluous English in our parent-teacher meeting like our friend's Mom & Dad; the stereotype towards Hindi went on increasing rapidly. This went so far that now, the teachers humiliate a student who speaks in Hindi in the classroom, as if he’s committed some crime by talking in his mother tongue, eventually making language a new medium of discrimination in the society.
The Westerners and their language started dominating our society so much that we did a ‘stepchild’ like treatment with Hindi, failing to proudly withhold it. Ironically, India became the second largest nation across the globe to speak English after the United States, but the first nation where a dozen of native languages and dialects have completely disappeared from society.
It’s not about English but it is about the languages which were the flag bearers of the diverse legacy of India, coexisting peacefully with each other. Also, it is about the question that why does one feel embarrassed if they have to express their thoughts in their mother tongue? We are becoming a cheap replica of the Westerners and forgetting our own rich heritage in the form of these cultures, languages, attire, dialects and so on. How long are we going to live under this frugal idea of development, growth and modernization? I feel this hypocrisy must end and every individual, in any part of the globe must take pride in their originality.
And I don’t know if you noticed, but this is also quite ironic that I’m here (talking about hypocrisy) advocating Hindi in English. Well! Geeta Aunty has prepared my breakfast- Poha (flattened rice fried with seasonings) -and I’m going to eat.
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