Shah Faces Heavy Pushback on Hindi Pitch, Leaders Call it 'Language Chauvinism'

Singer AR Rahman took to Twitter to post an artistic depiction of Tamil goddess opposing the imposition of Hindi.

4 min read

From actors to politicians – many eminent personalities and politicians continued to lash out at Union Home Minister Amit Shah over his pitch for Hindi to be made an alternative to English as a mode of communication between people of different states.

The statements were at the 37th meeting of the Parliamentary Official Language Committee in New Delhi on 7 April, where Shah mentioned that "the time has come to make the Official Language an important part of the unity of the country."


AR Rahman Invokes Tamil Goddess

In a latest tweet, renowned singer AR Rahman posted a cryptic image with caption 'Tamizhanangu', mentioning the song to invoke Tamil goddess.

The line, in the footnote of the image, is from a famous poem of celebrated Tamil nationalist poet Barathidasan, which denotes that Tamil, as a language, serves as the root to the rights of the people.

The line says, “Inba Thamizh Engal Urimai Sempayirukku Vaer" which translates to "Delightful Tamil is the root of the staple crop of our rights”.

An artistic depiction of a woman wearing a white saree as the focus, against a red background was viewed as a very subtle reference to mother Tamil opposing to the imposition of Hindi.

'We Dare You': Actor Prakash Raj

Referring to a media report on Shah's statement titled "People from different states should speak in Hindi, not English", multi-lingual actor Prakash Raj took to Twitter to say, "Don't try to break homes Mr Home Minister ... We dare you #stopHindiImposition. We love our diversity. We love our mother tongue. We love our identities. #JustAsking."

Heavy Backlash From Opposition

Telangana minister K T Rama Rao joined the chorus from south against Shah's comment, saying,

"Unity in diversity is our strength dear @AmitShah Ji. India is a union of states & a true 'Vasudhaika Kutumbam'. Why don't we let people of our great nation decide what to eat, what to wear, who to pray to and what language to speak! Language chauvinism/hegemony will boomerang."

Tamil Nadu Finance Minister P Thiagarajan said, "Why should I have a three-language formula?...It makes no sense...Union HM Amit Shah's comment is completely off logic. Hindi is not intrinsic to at least 60 percent - 70 percent of country...Not only it is chauvinism but it is economically inverse logic."

Kanimozhi, Lok Sabha MP from Thoothukudi, also added, “Bringing the idea of one language will not help unite the nation but to split it. The Union government and ministers should be aware of the history of anti-Hindi agitations and the sacrifices made for that."

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) also strongly opposed this statement saying that "these efforts, which stem from the RSS conception of one nation, one culture, one language".

Further, the statement said, “announcement that Hindi should be treated as the national language runs contrary to the spirit of the Constitution and our country’s linguistic diversity”.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan defined the move as a planned attempt to trigger controversy and move focus from real issues.

Terming Shah's statement inappropriate, CM Pinarayi Vijayan said, "The statement made by Home Minister is inappropriate. If you try to impose Hindi on us by destroying the regional language, we cannot accept it. That will destroy the unity and oneness of the country."

Reacting to Shah's remark, former Karnataka Chief Minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah said that he had taken "strong offence" to the Union minister's suggestion, while adding that "Hindi is not our National Language & we will never let it to be."

Echoing Siddaramaiah, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin said that the Union Home Minister's statement would only erode the unity of India.

“Union Home Minister Amit Shah asking people to use Hindi instead of English is an act that will hurt the unity of India. The BJP continues to engage with its job of eroding the diversity of India," Chief Minister Stalin tweeted.

CM Stalin also warned the BJP of making the "same mistake" again.

PMK leader Ramadoss termed Shah’s statement as “shocking.”

“It means nothing but Hindi imposition,” Ramadoss said. “Even as Hindi may be the language of majority states, Jawaharlal Nehru accepted the demands of the non-Hindi speaking states and allowed English to continue as the link language," he said.


Shah's Controversial Imposition

Basing the premise on the idea that people of different states should communicate with each other in Hindi, and not English, he reasoned that "unless we make Hindi flexible by accepting words from other local languages, it will not be propagated," as per a press release by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The Bhartiya Janata Party leader said that now, the time had come to make the official language an important part of the unity of the country.

At the 37th meeting of the Parliamentary Official Language Committee, he also noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had decided that the medium of running the government was the official language and that this would increase the importance of Hindi.

However, Shah had clarified that Hindi should be spoken as an alternative to English, and not local languages.

In 2019, delivering a speech on Hindi Diwas, the leader had pushed for the idea of 'One Nation, One Language'. Shah had stated, "India is a country of different languages. Every language has its own importance. But it is absolutely essential that the entire country has one language that becomes the identity of the nation in the world. If there is any language that can tie the whole country in one thread, it is the most spoken language of Hindi."

(With inputs from The Indian Express and NDTV.)

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