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The curious case of language in Indian politics
In this more vocal world driven by rising, conflicting and competing consciousness everyone wants to see that they are represented and many try to ensure that their voices are being heard. India is very complex in its composition and it is not only religiously, ethnically and racially diverse, but linguistically as well. Indian Union officially recognizes more than 22 languages. The main among being Hindi and English.

Therefore, in order to reach the maximum number of people, the agency should speak in their tongues and politics is the most universal and effective agency in a vibrant democracy that India is. But then there are so many political parties and representations. Thankfully, the options for national parties are limited. Let’s agree that there are two major national parties in India: the INC and the BJP. May be few of us can add Union of Left parties as national one as well. But no other party can claim itself so. Obviously all parties would mostly talk in local languages while dealing in states.

But when it comes to Union, the options are mostly limited to only two: Hindi and English. It needs to be accepted that there are tens of millions of Indians who do not understand either of the languages. But still Hindi and English together cover more than half of India’s population. The additional shining point is that those who understand Urdu, Dogri, Punjabi, Marathi and Gujarati can also understand Hindi, rather easily.

Other than counting heads and getting satisfied with a simple majority India has no immediate solution to language problem though it should invest in efforts to invent a common national language and easily comprehensible common national script.

Therefore, the onus lies on both the national parties to make sure that what they speak in New Delhi reaches to a maximum number of people. Despite of having different relative strength in different regions combined with the fact that the BJP does not have much presence in some parts of India, the fact is that both the national parties should try to reach maximum number of people and regions. For that they need to call press conferences in New Delhi in two languages on all important matters: Hindi and English.

This should be as true of the INC as it is for BJP. It’s not a good thing that one party primarily speaks in Hindi while other because of reaction and competition primarily speaks in English. They should not be too selfish either just because of seeking popular base support in the North and in the South respectively. India should not be further divided than what it naturally is.

In order to increase their reach to maximum possible number of people, the BJP and INC can have two separate conference halls in their respective headquarters in New Delhi or they can call separate conferences in Hindi and English in a single hall or a single person or group of persons can speak in both languages.

People have their own priorities and only translations are not always effective. Both parties need to make sure that most of their elected lawmakers in New Delhi have working knowledge of both Hindi and English. For that both parties need to train those elected members a language or the both who don’t know them properly, though knowledge of any language other than the local ones just cannot be a criterion for selecting candidates.

Also, both the BJP and the INC need to see that they have enough national level leaders and also that their leaders of one region have influence and recognition in other regions. In this way Union and unity among various otherwise different people can be strengthened. The BJP in this context is more democratic, free of family dynasties, as compared to the INC. The fact is that the INC should try its best to promote good leaders all over the nation other than counting on Nehru-Gandhi family members.

To be fair to all, the fact is that Nehru-Gandhi family is a big plus for the INC and no political party because of its conscious choice would like to commit suicide by rejecting its pluses. Moreover, the INC has immense value for the nation. But at the same time the uncontested dominance of a single family over the functions of the biggest party of the nation in a matured democracy is not a good thing either. Therefore, there is a lot in stake for the party in promoting internal democracy. On their part the first family of the INC should invest in future of its national leaders and should also accept them gracefully.

The BJP on its part has again very high utility for India and it should see that it spreads in the South and in the North East as quickly and as effectively as possible. In order to spread nationally, the BJP may have to compromise on some of its Hindu-Hindi chauvinist policy. Though segmentation should not be much welcomed in Indian politics unless, it is done in public, the fact is that it requires a better floor coordination between the BJP and the INC to let the Parliamentary democracy function properly.

As a rule and as its duty in national-interest, the INC can prefer and promote or minimally preferentially deal with the BJP sometimes when compared to regional parties. Majority bipartisanism has immense value for the functioning of democracy in India.

India belongs to all: neither the North nor Hindi can make exclusive claim over it. Also, no language should be imposed over others without the full consent of the people. But at the same time it needs to be understood by all, mostly by Tamils and other non-Hindi chauvinists, that India requires a common language, which can let Indians communicate with each other. English has some utility and so does Hindi.

While the language Hindi cannot claim their right over India more than what their share is and that is equal to that of others if federalism is upheld, non-Hindi, particularly better off among them, should understand that in spite of some economic and social backwardness of Hindi region, India cannot be imagined without them.

Let us all Indians try to understand others and understand the constraints of Indian state and adjust to what is real and practical. Therefore, acceptance of Hindi and English as link languages to the extent possible is much required. And as many experts believe that fluency in more than one language make people more intelligent and Hindi on their part should learn more English. Moreover, efforts in the direction of having basic hearing literacy for either or both Hindi and English may not be turn out to be that difficult in 2013 and thereafter. Such would enhance federalism and unity among the people of India.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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