Amit Shah, speaking at a function to commemorate Hindi Diwas, hailed the diversity of languages and dialects in the country that he stressed was the “strength of our nation”.
“But there is a need for our nation to have one language so that foreign languages don’t find a place. This is why our freedom fighters envisioned Hindi as ‘Raj bhasha’ (official language)” Amit Shah said at the event to mark the day the Constituent Assembly adopted Hindi written in Devanagari script as the country’s official language.
This statement set off a large number of people thinking and questioning Shah, and as it goes, they took to Twitter to share their concern.
Shah believes that "foreign languages" shouldn't find a place in the country, but what's unclear is his idea of foreign languages itself. The most commonly spoken "foreign language" in India is English. But that has already found its place in India, so what is he talking about then?
Shah’s assertion that our freedom fighters envisioned Hindi as the Raj Bhasha or official language is also a vast generalization.
For instance, one of the rare Indian freedom fighters who literally fought for freedom, Subhas Chandra Bose, had favored the usage of Hindustan - a mix of Hindi and Urdu. His polar opposite, Gandhi, who was initially a supporter of Hindi, also gradually came around to supporting Hindustani.
The current ruling party has had their eyes set on being a mirror image of the Pakistani philosophy of one religion and one language - which cannot be a reality (without corrupt ways) with the amount of diversity in the nation.
The party's ideology is one of a Hindu nation, which reflects in the actions of the party in itself. So, we can be sure that Shah's statement reflected on that ground, appealing to the Hindi speaking majority of the nation.
“There are 22 official languages and over 1652 mother tongues spoken across the length and breadth of India. Their identities will not perish,” the Congress’ youth wing tweeted.
Very correctly so, the youth wing pointed out that the nation cannot declare just one single language as a "national language" because doing so would meddle with the identities of many others.
Our country depends on its diversity to function smoothly, to erase that very identity of diversity would cause unrest in the nation. For now, the unrest rises in forms of comments and remarks but perhaps if enforced, the unrest could be more large scale and non-verbal.
“The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly opposes these efforts, which stem from the RSS conception of one nation, one culture, one language,” the party said in a statement, rejecting the “imposition of Hindi”.
The party said Shah’s “announcement that Hindi should be treated as the national language runs contrary to the spirit of the Constitution and our country’s linguistic diversity”.
The CPI also said that the comments attacked the very concept of diversity. “The need today is to respect, protect and nurture diversity of our nation so that unity is ensured. The Home Minister’s statement is an attack on federalism extending the politics and ideology of RSS to every sphere of life,”
A large part of the unrest comes from the Southern states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The South is a largely multi-lingual area, that depends on English to connect to the rest of the world but does not require Hindi as a common ground.
Speaking at a public meeting organized by ally MDMK on the 111th birth anniversary of former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai in Chennai, Mr. Stalin said, “If we close our eyes for a second, they will impose Hindi and completely discard Tamil. We have been protesting against this since 1938. We protested in 1949, 1950, 1953, 1963 and 1965. We have once again arrived at a stage where we have to protest.”
Shah's comments have caused people to question the very foundation of the nation and how the party is hijacking the very basis to propagate their own Hindutva agenda. Hopefully, the comment remains part of just another unfortunate speech and doesn't materialize itself.