The spec­tre of non-Hindi re­sis­tance

People's Review - - OP-ED - BY GARGA CHAT­TER­JEE

A spec­tre is slowly but surely be­gin­ning to haunt the im­pe­rial forces of Hindi-Hindu-Hin­dus­tan ide­ol­ogy – this is the spec­tre of non-Hindi re­sis­tance un­der the ban­ner of linguistic equal­ity, state rights and fed­er­al­ism. All the pow­ers of the deep In­dian Union state have en­tered into an un­holy al­liance to ex­or­cise this de­mon: the Delhi elite, the rul­ing BJP, the RSS and its as­so­ci­ated or­ga­ni­za­tions, HindiHindu mili­tias and vig­i­lantes, Delhi think-tanks, pan-In­dian Union cor­po­rate, Delhi ide­ol­ogy me­dia, Delhi ide­ol­ogy academia of all hues, their con­trac­tors and col­lab­o­ra­tors. Where is the force against Hindi im­pe­ri­al­ism and for linguistic equal­ity and state rights that has not been de­cried as ‘anti­na­tional’ by its op­po­nents in power in Delhi? Where is the op­po­si­tion that has not hurled back the brand­ing re­proach of “anti-na­tional”, against any party that has stood for State rights and linguistic rights? Two things re­sult from this fact. Firstly, the strug­gle for fed­er­al­ism and linguistic equal­ity is al­ready ac­knowl­edged by all Delhi gangs to be it­self a power. Se­condly, it is high time that linguistic equal­ity move­ments openly pub­lish their views and aims, and meet this fairy tale of a “sin­gle mother tongue “with a man­i­festo of the move­ment it­self. To this end, linguistic rights ac­tivists of var­i­ous linguistic na­tion­al­i­ties will be as­sem­bling in Bengaluru and draft the Bengaluru res­o­lu­tion for linguistic rights. This will hap­pen on Fe­bru­ary 21, 2018 for that date is a spe­cial day for all linguistic na­tion­al­i­ties all over the world which face dis­crim­i­na­tion on the ba­sis of their mother tongue. That day prom­ises a fu­ture, a fu­ture when such dis­crim­i­na­tion will end. The 2014 elec­tion of the BJP has given a strong fil­lip to nonHindi mother lan­guage rights move­ments in the In­dian Union. These are not fringe move­ments, as mul­ti­ple non-Hindi state gov­ern­ments have not been able to ac­com­plish what they have in three year since 1947. Since 2014, of­fi­cial an­nounce­ments have been made mak­ing Ben­gali com­pul­sory in the schools of West Ben­gal, Kan­nada in the schools of Karnataka, Tel­ugu in the schools of Te­lan­gana and Andhra Pradesh and Malay­alam in Ker­ala schools. They join Tamil Nadu, which has been a bea­con in such is­sues. What is im­por­tant to note here is that they are all non-BJP states, rep­re­sent­ing a very wide po­lit­i­cal range – from states’ rights ide­ol­ogy par­ties like the Tri­namool Congress to a strong states’ rights ad­vo­cate in a weak­en­ing Delhi party like the Congress’ Sid­dara­ma­iah in Karnataka to a univer­sal­ist ide­ol­ogy party with a strong lo­cal base in the Com­mu­nist Party In­dia (Marx­ist) in Ker­ala. What these states have started do­ing in this short pe­riod be­tween 2014 and 2017 is some­thing that they haven’t done since 1947. Thus, one must look at the emer­gent re­al­i­ties of the 2014-2017 pe­ri­ods to an­swer ques­tions re­lated to lan­guage is­sues in In­dia. Across the nonHindi states, there is a re­al­iza­tion that soft linguistic na­tion­al­ism has the po­ten­tial to ef­fec­tively counter the BJP’s Hindi-Hindu na­tion­al­ism. It is one of the last re­main­ing strongholds against the all-round Hindi im­po­si­tion, com­mu­nal­iza­tion of pol­i­tics, and the un­prece­dented at­tacks on, the ero­sion of and the in­ter­fer­ence in state rights, with NEET, the Goods and Ser­vices Tax and Niti Aayog be­ing just a few ex­am­ples. It is this com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors that had led to this mo­ment. It is high time that linguistic equal­ity move­ments openly pub­lish their views and aims, and meet this fairy tale of a “sin­gle mother tongue” with a man­i­festo of the move­ment it­self And like else­where in the world, the is­sue of linguistic rights is be­ing as­so­ci­ated with is­sues of dis­crim­i­na­tion in civil­ian gov­ern­ment jobs, mil­i­tary jobs and in terms of how the nonHindi state sub­si­dizes the Hindi states. Even N. Chandrababu Naidu, chief of the ten­u­ous BJP ally Tel­ugu De­sam party has raised con­cerns about Hindi belt mi­gra­tion and huge fer­til­ity dif­fer­ences be­tween Hindi and non-Hindi states. Leader of the fore­most Tamil party, DMK M.K.Stalin has termed Union gov­ern­ment moves a threat to the in­tegrity of the In­dian Union. West Ben­gal premier and Tri­namool supremo Mamata Ban­er­jee has stated on record that the Union gov­ern­ment should only have four de­part­ments – cur­rency, ex­ter­nal af­fairs, ex­ter­nal de­fence and rail­ways. In fact, un­der her regime, for the first time since 1947, the West Ben­gal gov­ern­ment now has its own state logo. Karnataka Chief Min­is­ter and votary for Kan­nada rights, the mighty Sid­dara­ma­iah, are ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of Karnataka hav­ing its own sep­a­rate of­fi­cial state flag. Tamil Nadu al­ready has a state an­them. While this demo­cratic em­pha­sis is there, Hindi-Hindu-Hin­dus­tan forces are busy push­ing for­ward with their own di­vi­sive agenda. Cur­rency notes have been Del­hi­fied and Hin­di­fied, as have pass­ports and Union gov­ern­ment of­fices. Now even en­try for science sub­jects at the PhD level in elite in­sti­tutes re­quire com­pul­sory Hindi lit­er­acy. Thus, Fe­bru­ary 21 this year is a mile­stone in the path of a long gath­er­ing storm that is ris­ing out of dis­crim­i­na­tion to the point of an­ni­hi­la­tion. Since linguistic dis­crim­i­na­tion es­sen­tially re­sults in sec­ond class cit­i­zen­ship, the back­lash is nat­u­ral. This back­lash is demo­cratic, peo­ple-cen­tric, bot­tom-up and not top-down, un­demo­cratic and im­pe­rial as is in case of Hindi im­po­si­tion. What were lan­guage rights move­ments in var­i­ous states are now work­ing in tan­dem with po­lit­i­cal forces on the ground and also in co-ordination with each other. Be­cause this fra­ter­nal co-ordination be­tween sis­ter linguistic States is the best guar­an­tee of in­tegrity in a fed­eral demo­cratic In­dian Union whose unity is un­der the threat from the di­vi­sive forces of Hindu ex­trem­ists.

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