All over India, “Hindi Divas” is trending, but in the recent decades, the notion of Hindi itself has led to a divisive trend, in which the non-Hindi states in South India and the Northeast have raised their apprehension against the imposition of the language.
Joining this league, slowly and steadily, is the northern alliance of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
From recent examples of the unique unity between the Jammu and the Kashmir regions on the issue of Article 35A, and the ongoing tussle between Punjab and New Delhi on the national policy over the Nankana Sahib Corridor issue, it seems these states are now at loggerheads with the Centre and its stationed “yes men” representatives.
New Delhi’s Intrusions
Himachal Pradesh can be seen as the latest inductee into this alliance, a state which, for years, was silent on a variety of issues hampering its culture.
The state is slowly waking up, and the alarm bell which did the magic, is the current state government’s aim to scrap Section 118 of the Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972, which restricts people from other states to buy land in Himachal Pradesh.
This issue has led to a never-seen-before channelised effort on the part of Himachali people to stop this ‘anti-people’ move, invariably leading to the start of the “Himachali versus Hindi” bout which, for years, was on the sidelines.
Himachal Pradesh, a peaceful border state, by all means, has done commendable work in the fields of education and environment protection, but when it came to challenge the intrusions in the name of the ‘Hindi phenomenon’, supported by New Delhi’s policy machinery, it went into mute mode.
This led to the decline of the Himachali languages mostly written in the Tankri script, which resembled the Gurumukhi script (the script of Punjabi) and the Nastaliq script (the script of Urdu) more than the Devanagari script (the script of Hindi).
Even the local devi and devta culture of worshipping only local gods, especially in the upper areas, was not spared, and Hindi belt’s Hinduism spread like fire with the help of funding from the Hindi heartland’s religious institutions.
Replace Imposition With Harmony
However, with time, things change, and are slowly changing in the hill state. The stand being taken by all actors against the ‘anti-people’ policy is creating a spirit of oneness, in which every Himachali is determined to fight for their motherland.
The proof of this was given by them weeks back when CM Jairam Thakur – to whom it seems the ‘Rashtrya’ is more important than the ‘Swayam Himachali Sangh’ – took back his decision amidst massive online backlash. This was hours after his Cabinet had decided to amend some provisions related to Section 118, which would have allowed non-resident Himachali employees to purchase land in the name of their children.
But the larger outcome is the fact that Hindi belt-backed cultural and regional policy of the Centre is not going down well with Himachal Pradesh and the entire culturally similar region surrounded by the Sutlej, Ravi, Beas, Chenab and Jhelum rivers, including J&K, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
If this trend continues, then in the coming years, one can predict a new wave of regionalism.
All New Delhi needs to understand is that peace would only prevail when imposition is replaced with harmony, which is the idea upon which the Indian Union originally came into existence.
(Vishal Sharma is currently pursuing an MA (Public Policy, Law and Governance) at the Central University of Rajasthan. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)