It is a false notion that only Hindi can unite the people of India, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin said on Wednesday, 14 September, responding to Union Home Minister Amit Shah's statement that Hindi is not a competitor but a "friend" of all other regional languages.
Stalin added that the nation comprises people who speak many languages and that Shah's Hindi pitch goes against the country's ideals of unity in diversity.
The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister said that instead of marking 'Hindi Divas', there should be an Indian Languages Day, and that regional languages, including Tamil, should be made official languages of the Union government. "India is known for its integrity and there must not be any efforts aimed at dividing the country in the name of 'Hindia'," Stalin said.
Stalin's response comes a day after the home minister, while addressing the All India Official Language Conference in Surat, said that accepting the coexistence of languages was needed and stressed the need to make Hindi flexible by taking words from other languages to expand its dictionary. September 14 is marked as 'Hindi Diwas'.
Take Concrete Steps, Says Stalin
Shah had said, "I want to make one thing very clear. Some people are spreading disinformation that Hindi and Gujarati, Hindi and Tamil, Hindi and Marathi are competitors. Hindi cannot be a competitor to any other language in the country. You must understand that Hindi is the friend of all the languages of the country." He also added that native languages in the country will prosper only when Hindi prospers, and vice versa.
In response, MK Stalin urged Shah to "take concrete steps" for the development of all languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. "It's high time to make all our languages as Official Languages, on par with Hindi," he added.
Earlier on Tuesday, September 13, JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy had written a letter to Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai urging his government not to celebrate 'Hindi Diwas' by utilising the taxpayers' money. The former chief minister said that forcibly celebrating Hindi Diwas, which happens to be on 14 September, would amount to "injustice" to the people of Karnataka.
On Wednesday, members of the Kannada Chalavalai Vatal Paksha (KCVP), had even organised a protest in Bengaluru opposing the celebration of Hindi Diwas by the state government. Responding to the protests, Chief Minister Bommai had said, "There is no need for anyone to get in a frenzy over it. There is no question about it. Water, people and language (jana, jala, bhaashe) – in these matters we resolve to always rise above politics."
(Published in agreement with The News Minute.)
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)