MODI.2 has emerged as a very powerful Government. It has not only the numerical majority, it is also facing a weak and divided opposition. That is one of the reasons for it stream rolling over people’s opinions and imposing the agenda of RSS-BJP of Hindu nationalism in a blatant way. On one side it has brought in a law banning triple talaq, on the other it has revoked Article 370. Encouraged by these easy successes, now it seems to be unfolding it’s other agendas one by one.

Speaking on occasion of Hindi day, the BJP President and Union Home minister Amit Shah went on to speak his party mind on the subject Hindi as the national language. Mr. Shah said, it was necessary to have one language which could represent India in the world…and that Hindi was widely spoken and could be the language to keep India ‘united’… “To preserve our ancient philosophy, our culture and the memory of our freedom struggle,…there is at least one language, Hindi, that the nation knows. If Hindi is taken out of our freedom struggle, the entire soul of the struggle is lost.” He tweeted this to emphasize his point: “I want to appeal to people to promote their native languages but also use Hindi to make the dream of Bapu and Sardar Patel of one language come true.”

The intentions behind this statement were not so hidden though the language is very clever. The idea is to relegate English and regional languages to the margins and to give more prominence to Hindi all through. Sensing the intentions of Mr. Shah, many a leaders from South India, M K Stalin, Shashi Tharoor, Pinarayi Vijayan and Kamal Haasan have openly come against his statement. All of them see this as an attempt to impose Hindi on these states.

Vijayan put it bluntly through his tweet, “That language (Hindi) is not the mother tongue of majority of Indians. The move to inflict Hindi upon them amounts to enslaving them.” While Kamal Haasan, in a video uploaded with him standing next to the Ashoka pillar and the Preamble, says India became a republic in 1950 with a promise to the people that their language and culture will be protected. “No Shah, Sultan or Samrat can suddenly break that promise. We respect all languages but our mother language will always be Tamil… The battle for our language will be exponentially bigger…”

As such our country has been very diverse in all the matters related to language, culture, religion and ethnicity. The freedom movement was the real reflector of this diversity. People cutting across all these considerations stood as a single fraternity, respecting the diversity and the rich heritage coming from different religions and languages in particular. In all the languages, India’s aspirations of becoming a single nation got expressed. Hindi along with other regional languages have inherited rich lineage of becoming the mirror of Indian society. Though English was introduced primarily as administrative language, it soon became part of Indian culture, and all these also became a mirror of Indian society and aspirations.

In contrast to national movement for freedom from British slavery, which stood to reflect all the languages, the communal forces had different ideas. Muslim communalism came up with the slogan, ‘Urdu, Muslim, Pakistan’, and on parallel lines Hindu nationalism threw up the slogan, ‘Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan’. When Pakistan was formed in the Muslim majority areas (East Pakistan and West Pakistan) their languages were very diverse. Muslim League’s insistence that Urdu should become the national language of Pakistan did precipitate the feeling of separation of East Pakistan from West Pakistan leading to formation of Bangladesh with Bengali as the major language.

Interestingly the Constitution makers concluded that “Hindustani, written either in Devanagari or the Persian script at the option of the citizen, shall, as the national language, be the first official language of the Union. English shall be the second official language for such period as the Union may, by law, determine.”  The three language formula envisaged English, Hindi and regional language as the fulcrum of education. During sixties there was an attempt to introduce Hindi in Southern states, and this led to massive protests all over, with the result the policy was put on hold. Again with new Education Policy under consideration wanted to make Hindi as mandatory.

The argument continues that Hindi is language of the majority of Indians. The latest data shows that it is mother tongue of 25% of Indians and 44% people say they know Hindi. The massive opposition to this language part of New Education Policy yet again led to holding back of Hindi as mandatory. One recalls that even during 1940s when Congress Government came to power in Tamilnadu (Madras at that time.), attempt was made to introduce Hindi there. The resistance to this was articulated by Periyar Ramasamy Naicker, who raised the slogan ‘Tamil Nadu for Tamilians’ and accused Hindi of being a tool of the Aryans for infiltrating Dravidian culture.

How does one deal with the complex language issue. Country has been running well with English, Hindi and regional languages being used in different proportions at different levels. While there have been conscious efforts to spread Hindi to Southern states, there are no parallel steps to popularize regional languages in Hindi speaking states. One must say Hindi has definitely made long strides in spreading into southern and other states all over the country but this task has been achieved not by impositions from top but by the spread of Hindi films, and popular Hindi serials apart from the efforts of organizations promoting Hindi.

Issue of Urdu as national language contributed to split of Pakistan. In contrast India has done a remarkable balancing act in matters of languages so far. The reorganization of states on linguistic lines has given a unique strength to us. With Amit Shah unfolding their agenda of imposing homogeneity all over, including in matters of language, one hopes this present sanity will prevail and sentiments and aspirations of all non Hindi speaking states will be given due weightage in deciding the national language policy.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

The abolition of Article 370 and Article 35 A has been accompanied by propaganda to justify these drastic steps taken by the BJP Government. As such this abolition of Article 370 has been on the agenda of RSS all through and is part of the triad of Hindutva agenda, along with Ram Temple and Uniform Civil Code. The argument being put forward is that due to this special provision for the state, the state has remained undeveloped, as the outside industrialists could not buy land there and bring in Vikas (development). Also it has been alleged that this clause promoted separatism in the region and has been the cause of turmoil in the region.

All this forms the part of propaganda blitz launched by BJP. As a part of mass contact program, the Party Working President J.P. Nadda released a video on 4th September 2019, justifying the abolition of the special provisions for the state and bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories. The eleven minute video concludes with the speech of Prime Minster Modi saying that Nehru committed historic blunder on Kashmir; to which Ambedkar and Patel had strong opposition.

On Article 370, the video says that Sardar Patel successfully merged 562 Princely states into India but Nehru decided to handle Kashmir himself and created the blunder of giving special status to the state leading to all the problems. Most of the part of BJP’s statement is far from truth; they pick up one small part of the truth and give it a twist to suit their ultra nationalist agenda.

To begin with, why Nehru had to handle Kashmir issue himself? Patel handled all other Princely states as those states were within the geographical boundaries of India; none of them was attacked by any other foreign power, i.e. Pakistan. Since Kashmir has boundaries common with India and Pakistan, Nehru as Prime Minster and Foreign Minister was duty bound to take responsibility of the issues related to Kashmir. India was forced to intervene into Kashmir affairs as it was attacked from the Pakistan side and Kashmir’s King Harisingh urged upon India to send the army to quell Pakistani attack. In none of the other princely states Pakistan could play such military role which created such a situation in Kashmir. In matters of Kashmir, Pakistan was also trying to follow ‘Two Nation theory’, as Kashmir had Muslim majority. As far as Nehru and Patel are concerned, on the handling of Kashmir, i.e. accession treaty, article 370, declaration of cease fire and taking the matter to United Nations is concerned; they were on the same page as revealed by the ‘Ten volume Correspondence of Sardar Patel’, meticulously edited by the renowned journalist Durga Das.

On nature of intervention in Kashmir, Sardar Patel said at a public meeting in Bombay on October 30, 1948: “Some people consider that a Muslim majority area must necessarily belong to Pakistan. They wonder why we are in Kashmir. The answer is plain and simple. We are in Kashmir because the people of Kashmir want us to be there. The moment we realize that the people of Kashmir do not want us to be there, we shall not be there even for a minute… We shall not let the Kashmir down”. (Hindustan Times October 31, 1948) Quoting from Patel’s correspondence A. G. Noorani points out that in matters of ceasefire Patel not being taken into confidence, as alleged by RSS stable is wrong. Noorani says “Volume one of Patel’s correspondence belies the charge that Patel was not taken into confidence. In that event, he was man enough to resign from the cabinet.”

Article 370 did not drop from the heaven. It was the outcome of serious deliberations in the Constituent Assembly (CA). For the explicit purpose of drafting this Article Sheikh Abdullah and Mirza Afzal Baig were made part of the CA. It was primarily Patel, Ambedkar, Sheikh and Mirza Baig who contributed to the formulation of this provision. Now to say that Ambedkar opposed it or Patel did not approve it is height of false hood. Noorani also points out that it was Patel who moved the resolution of the article 370 in the CA, as Nehru was away to US on an official trip. Patel’s letter to Nehru on date 25th February 1950 shows that they both had similar opinion on taking the matter to United Nations, and they both held that the international body should take a call on that.

As far Ambedkar is concerned our Vice President Venkaiyah Naidu and Central Minster Arjun Ram Meghwal in their articles have given a quote in the name of Ambedkar. Their quote says that in a conversation with Sheikh, Ambedkar said, ““you want India to defend Kashmir, feed its people, and give Kashmiris equal rights all over India. But you want to deny India all rights in Kashmir…” This quote is not part of any official record. It was part of speech of Balraj Madhok of Bharatiya Jansangh (predecessor of BJP), which was picked up by RSS paper Tarun Bharat and Organizer. As such Ambedkar had also opined that Muslim majority part of Kashmir should go to Pakistan. Ambedkar was a strong supporter of plebiscite and Patel himself had gone for the same in Junagadh.

As far as development of Kashmir is concerned, the first point we should note that Kashmir is much ahead of national averages as far as social indices of development are concerned. The Article 370 in no way stood in the path of development in that sense. Incidentally while Article 370 has being targeted, Article 371 with similar provisions in North Eastern states is promised to be retained as it is, as per the latest statement by Amit Shah.

BJP’s present propaganda, distorting contemporary history is also trying to defame Nehru. Nehru is their prime target as the ‘Architect of Modern India’, Nehru, laid the foundations of pluralism and scientific temper, the values which RSS-BJP wants to do away with. 

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED