As I travel throughout the NCR region, it’s hard to miss those numerous posters, banners and hoardings claiming to make a person proficient in the English language in a matter of months, days and even hours. There are even some posters which ingeniously state: ‘Angrezi Speakna seekhe’!
This obsession with the English language is understandable – it helps while seeking a job, making an impression, and in my case, earning my biryani and tikka by writing in English language.
But what hurts me most is the disrespect shown to our national language. May be ‘disrespect’ is too harsh a word here, but I feel the ground reality is that somehow we feel that Hindi is inferior – and this is despite the language being spoken by over 49 per cent of India’s population.
I strongly support the lingual diversity of India – the different dialects that make India such a colourful country. But downplaying a particular language should be a strict no-no.
I have often seen people struggling in larger cities if they don’t know English. Not just the metros, but people in smaller tier II and III towns too feel embarrassed if they cannot converse fluently in English. It is often amusing to see the lengths some people go to hide their lack of proper knowledge of Hindi.
And it saddens me too when I see people losing pride in the national language, especially, when countries such as France, China, Japan, Germany, Italy give such high importance to their local languages. Language unites these countries.
I recall what popular poet, lyricist and writer Javed Akhtar had said at a conference last year, “Language is the tongue, Hindi is the stem and English the branches, through which we can reach the entire world. But the new generation is not inclined towards vernacular languages, and the situation is that English knowing people dislike Hindi speaking people and vice versa. This is disgraceful, but true.”
For those who think that English-knowing people are superior, I would like to quote one of my favourite dialogues from the movie ‘Tiranga’, where the character of Jeevan Lal Tandel says: “Angrezi ko maro goli, Hindi mein samjho”.