The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has vociferously vouched for wider adoption of Hindi while questioning Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s recent skepticism on the universal adoption of the language. The RSS likened Tharoor to a a ‘suited-booted glorified clerk’ in the publication. The article was published in the latest issue of RSS monthly magazine Panchganya and authored by Shankar Sharan. Sharan is a professor with NCERT. Sharan in his article says, “Instead of encouraging Indian languages, an attempt is being made to set them against each other. This is being done so that people themselves are forced into using English as a medium. Shashi Tharoor, knowingly or unknowingly, is fanning this distrust among Indian languages.”
The article goes on to state,” Tharoor should realise that India’s identity in the world is reinforced by Yoga sutras, Upanishads, Ramayana and Arthashastra which are all written in Indian languages. India’s identity is not determined by English authors like Nirad Chaudhary, Khushwant Singh or Shobha De. Tharoor seems to be criticising the very language whose in which original thought and literature has blossomed in independent India.”
In addition to criticising Tharoor, Sharan also delves into apparent misconceptions about Hindi. The RSS magazine states that Hindi is not a geographically distinct language as is made out to be and the moniker of a ‘Hindi belt’ is a misplaced conception. Sharan says that while languages like Tamil and Bengali can be attributed to a particular region, “Hindi is the voice of the entire nation not of a particular region.” Sharan goes on to suggest that languages like Bengali have a deep connection with Hindi. His article states, “If Bengali is written in Devanagri script it will closely resemble Maithili and Magadhi variants of Hindi. Our national anthem and songs are in Bengali. But since they are written in Devanagri script, nobody even realises they are written in Bengali.”
With PM Narendra Modi using Hindi variegated with generous Sanskrit to address crowds at Davos and the Global Government Summit in Dubai recently, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) views certainly seem to be finding takers in the highest echelons of the government. The minister of external affairs Sushma Swaraj had assured the Parliament the Parliament in a written reply on January 1, 2018 that none other than Modi himself was proactive in promoting Hindi internationally. Swaraj said, “Government continues to take measures for the acceptance of Hindi as one of the official languages of the UN and to popularise Hindi worldwide. On several occasions Indian leaders have delivered statements at the UN in Hindi, including Prime Minister’s statement at the 69th UNGA in September 2014, the address of Prime Minister to the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015, and the addresses to the UNGA by External Affairs Minister during its 70th, 71st and 72nd sessions in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. Necessary special arrangements were made for simultaneous interpretation of these statements into English by the Permanent Mission of India in New York.”
Government data shows that in 2017-18, more than Rs 1 billion was spent by various public sector banks to promote Hindi across hundreds of branches. More than 700 officers of the central secretariat official language cadre continue to be posted in various ministries to ensure Hindi is implemented with vigour in the government’s daily functioning.