Hindi’s migrating foot­print in In­dia

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Nation - Ar­jun Srini­vas lett­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com ▪

NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu is known for anti-Hindi ag­i­ta­tions both be­fore and af­ter In­dia’s in­de­pen­dence. Yet, ac­cord­ing to cen­sus data, Tamil Nadu recorded the high­est in­crease in the num­ber of peo­ple re­port­ing Hindi as their mother tongue be­tween 2001 and 2011, among all south­ern states, Gu­jarat and Ma­ha­rash­tra. This one statis­tic cap­tures the phe­nom­e­non of In­dia’s chang­ing lin­guis­tic land­scape, the re­sult of mi­gra­tion for eco­nomic rea­sons.

Cul­tural bar­ri­ers do not seem­ingly in­hibit eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion in In­dia. The 2016-17 Eco­nomic Sur­vey pub­lished by the min­istry of fi­nance con­tained es­ti­mates of mi­gra­tion in the 20-29 year age group be­tween 2001 and 2011.

While states in the Hindis­peak­ing belt, such as Ut­tar Pradesh, Bi­har and Ra­jasthan, had the high­est net out­flow of mi­grants, Tamil Nadu and Ker­ala recorded the high­est mi­grant in­flow dur­ing the pe­riod. The sur­vey says that in ab­so­lute terms, Ut­tar Pradesh and Bi­har had a net mi­grant out­flow of 5.83 mil­lion and 2.63 mil­lion peo­ple (in the 20-29 age-group) re­spec­tively, while Tamil Nadu saw the largest net in­flow at 1 mil­lion.

Read­ing these num­bers with per capita in­come level of states shows that in­ter-state mi­gra­tion in In­dia pri­mar­ily takes place from poor to rich states. These mi­gra­tion trends find a strik­ing par­al­lel in the chang­ing com­po­si­tion of the lan­guages spo­ken across states, ac­cord­ing to the re­cently re­leased lan­guage data from Cen­sus 2011. The per­cent­age of peo­ple re­port­ing Hindi as their mother tongue in­creased across 30 of 36 states and Union Ter­ri­to­ries in the pe­riod 20012011. The to­tal pop­u­la­tion in the Hindi-speak­ing states of Ut­tar Pradesh, Bi­har, Jharkand, Chat­tis­garh, Haryana, Hi­machal Pradesh, Ut­tarak­hand, Mad­hya Pradesh, Ra­jasthan and Delhi in­creased by a mea­sure of 21% be­tween 2001 and 2011. In the same pe­riod, the pop­u­la­tion re­port­ing its mother tongue as Hindi in the ma­jor mi­grant des­ti­na­tion states of Tamil Nadu, Ker­ala, Kar­nataka, Ma­ha­rash­tra and Gu­jarat, in­creased by 45%. To be sure, the ab­so­lute share of Hindi speak­ers in these states is still very low com­pared to that of na­tive lan­guage speak­ers. It needs to be un­der­lined that a Tamil or a Gu­jarati per­son, who has picked up Hindi as a sec­ond or third lan­guage, will not show up in the data on per­sons with Hindi as their mother tongue.

There­fore, this statis­tic is a good in­di­ca­tor of per­sons from Hindi-speak­ing states mov­ing to non-Hindi states.

In ad­di­tion to the larger na­tion­wide nar­ra­tive, there are changes in lin­guis­tic com­po­si­tion ob­served within states that help un­der­stand flash­points around iden­ti­ties re­gion­ally.

If we con­sider the case of Gu­jarat, in 21 of 26 dis­tricts (count in 2001), the per­cent­age of peo­ple re­port­ing Hindi as their mother tongue in­creased be­tween 2001 and 2011; 23% of Su­rat’s pop­u­la­tion re­ported Hindi as their mother tongue in 2011, a nearly 10 per­cent­age point in­crease from 2001.

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