Sunday, January 24, 2010

Let's Communicate

Language barrier - it is the biggest hurdle we face in our own country. If a North Indian goes to South India, he will feel as if he has come to some other country altogether. We cannot blame people here; for the basic structure of our states is such that we may not even understand a single word spoken by our neighbour state. The purpose of this post is not to wage war among two poles attracting each other; I cannot afford it myself because my case is of west meets south. But yes, such things do irate me a lot when people pretend that they do not know a particular language due to the reasons best known to them.

During my so many visits to various places; I have noticed that certain people do not communicate to you in Hindi or English; they prefer to stick to their respective mother tongues. One must respect that no doubt. But if I am new in that state and not familiar with the local language; that does not mean I should be treated in the worst possible manner. I am made to feel like an alien from some other planet. My countryman is not ready to answer to my queries about directions. Same person will run behind a foreign tourist to gain business. That time their English speaking skills come out of them like lies come out of a politician - so very natural.

My point is pretty simple - is it so difficult for us to treat our own people well? Is it so difficult to co-operate with them only because they do not know the language you speak in that particular city or state?

I know this topic has been spoken about so many times; but whenever I see this happening around me, it pinches me. It hurts me to see myself and others being treated like aliens for using my fundamental right of moving anywhere in my own country. I sincerely wish that people start giving more importance to the country than the state.

Many people have this myth that Hindi is our national language while many think otherwise. Our Constitution of India has laid down the provisions for adopting Hindi as our Official Language.

Article 343(1) provides that Hindi written in Devnagari script is to be the Official Language of the Union. All regional languages are national languages, so Hindi is the Official Language. Article 343(1) lays down a period of 15 years for introduction of Hindi in place of English. The Constitution does not however regard the 15 years period as an absolute deadline.

If the deadline was there, then the Hindi would have become our Official Language on and from January 26, 1965.

The language battle is a never ending one so far as we realize that it is not going to help us ever. It is certainly possible to accept and live with and around people who may not be knowing your language; they may not be able to speak with you; but they can for sure communicate with you if you support them and co-operate with them.

My Gujarati mother with her adulterated Hindi; my Sister in Law's telugu mother with her fantastic Marathi and no Hindi; and my Mother in Law with only Hindi - they communicate with one another so perfectly; especially when it comes to sharing recipes. A five minute conversation takes them half an hour with many rounds of dumb charades and full time entertainment for us. But they still communicate, share ideas, laugh, sympathize and learn different cultures.

Let's try to be like them.

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PS: Do read the post by SG - Language Controversy which is on a similar line and highlights the reasons why Hindi was not adopted as an official language in 1965. Do read his comments too posted below.