The proposal of "imposition of Hindi" on the non-Hindi speaking regions and communities of India has stirred up a storm. On Sunday, North-East Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS), along with other organisations, staged a protest demonstration at Arts Faculty, Delhi University, against the "Hindi imposition".
Students from different northeastern regions and other states participated in the protest, the NEFIS said in a press release, according to reports.
The NEFIS denounced Union Home Minister Amit Shah's statement that northeastern states have agreed to make Hindi compulsory till class 10th.
The Forum said, "This latest attempt by the Union Government to impose Hindi makes it amply clear that it takes Hindi to be more important than all other languages spoken in India or recognised by the 8th schedule of the Constitution of India. The current proposal, therefore, seeks to impose Hindi as a national language, thereby exerting Hindi chauvinism over other communities, especially marginalised communities".
The NEFIS further said, "This dismal situation is a result of the long-standing bias and neglect on part of the government of India...The fact that the languages of so many communities/marginal groups are not given due recognition is not accidental but the unfortunate result of the insolent attitude of an arrogant state that chooses to impose its culture and language upon marginal groups/communities in the manner of a haughty conqueror".
While stating state NEFIS had earlier consistently opposed imposition of Hindi, the Forum said that there was an attempt by Delhi University in 2013 to make Hindi/Modern Indian languages compulsory without bothering in the least about how it would affect the students from the North-East and other parts of India. They added, "It was only after NEFIS' concerted struggle that the University withdrew its draconic order".
NEFIS said it strongly denounced "this chauvinist statement" of the union home minister and demanded that the latter immediately retract his statement as well as the intent to impose Hindi on the non-Hindi speaking people.
It also demanded that Amit Shah should tender an apology to the masses of the country for this statement. They warned that NEFIS would intensify its movement if the decision to "impose Hindi is not taken back".
What Amit Shah Said
Describing Hindi as "the language of India", Home Minister Amit Shah last week said Hindi would be made a must up to Class 10 in schools in the North-East. He also said 22,000 teachers had been recruited to teach Hindi in these states.
Shah also said, "We have no objection to Hindi as an optional subject but this is a kind of imposition. People of different states should communicate with each other in Hindi, and not English." He added, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided that the medium of running the government is the Official Language, and this will definitely increase the importance of Hindi. Now the time has come to make the Official Language an important part of the unity of the country. When citizens of States who speak other languages communicate with each other, it should be in the language of India." He was quoted as saying this by the Ministry of Home Affairs at the 37th meeting of the Parliamentary Official Language Committee.
Presiding over the 37th meeting of the Parliamentary Official Language Committee, Shah had reportedly said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided that the medium of running the government is the official language.
Further Reactions to 'Hindi Imposition'
Samuel B. Jyrwa, the chairperson of the North East Students' Organisation, told The Hindu, "We oppose this move as it is one kind of imposition. Hindi can be an optional subject." He added that English is a preferred medium of instruction besides their local tongue. He said the organisation will approach all the state governments in the region not to make Hindi compulsory.
In Assam, the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti has condemned the move as "anti-democracy, anti-Constitution" and one that is against the federal structure of the country, The Hindu reported.
Former Meghalaya chief minister and senior TMC leader Mukul Sangma also criticised the Modi government over the proposed 'imposition' of Hindi in the Northeast. Sangma said that the central government should find another way of promoting the language.
"People will find a way to learn a language if they want to. Nobody is stopping anyone from learning Hindi," Sangma said.
Senior leaders across southern states, namely former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin have expressed their objections towards Hindi being imposed on non-Hindi speaking states.
Reacting to Shah's statements, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said the move to impose Hindi could not be accepted. Speaking at a seminar on Centre-State relations, organised by the CPI(M) as part of its 23rd Party Congress, Vijayan said India is known for its unity in diversity and the Sangh Parivar's agenda was not to recognise this diversity.
Earlier this month, renowned composer A R Rahman's tweet was being seen as a response to Amit Shah's statement. Rahman tweeted the poster of a woman holding a staff with the Tamil letter 'a' (lazha) on it. Interestingly, the letter is unique to Tamil language. The poster, titled 'Tamizhanangu', also quoted lines from a poem by revolutionary poet Bharathidasan. Bharathidasan. The line, "Inba Thamizh Engal Urimai Sempayirukku Vaer" (Delightful Tamil is the root of the staple crop of our rights).