These days nationalism seems to be the ‘in’ thing. What with current trends and the way the world around us abounds with deshbhakti for all the wrong things — India seems to be suffering from a sense of amnesia, or at least a part of the nation surely is. Let me explain myself. Recently, we were told that Hindi was essential for us as a nation as it would keep us more united. More united? Aren’t we already? Or did they mean homogenous? Because as far as my generation and I are concerned — we are united and super proud to be Indians already — why do we need Hindi for that?
Language days are aplenty. Some language days are celebrated more enthusiastically and some aren’t. But why is there a need to stuff a language down someone’s throat in the name of patriotism or pride for a nation or nationalism? I have nothing against Hindi, but I have nothing for it either. Hindi is as alien to me as Arabic, Punjabi or Greek. As a South Indian, my native tongues and English are all that I need. North India can keep screaming itself hoarse, but in the South we know English is what will help us move ahead in life and open the world to us. Let’s face it. Nobody speaks Hindi outside India. I mean, yes, the average undereducated North Indian would assume his mother tongue had currency outside India, but sadly he has been misinformed.
My mother tongue Malayalam will ensure I have all the support I need in the Middle East and even in the USA; while my chosen tongue, Tamil, will ensure I am understood in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, parts of Canada, England, France and well, a whole bunch of other places across the globe. I wonder if my knowledge of Hindi will do the same. None of us want to fight against Hindi. We love the language just as much as we love any other foreign language. All we ask is this tongue not be imposed on us. We anyway switch to Hindi when we have to. The hordes of North Indians who have flocked to the South and their inability to speak in any other tongue often leave us with no other choice.
All we’re saying really is: leave us and our languages alone. Your misconstrued hatred for English only makes us laugh in the South — because we’re fully aware of the uncontestable fact that if it weren’t for the English language being the unifying language of communication there wouldn’t have been an India, a freedom struggle or an independent India. Hindi didn’t bring India together, English did.