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The Divided States Of India


As I landed in the city of Bangalore, a man is shouting just outside the airport. He is shouting something that I do not understand. Fortunately, he has learned 4 5 English words. After all, he is standing outside the airport. “Where,” he asks. “Marathahalli” I spoke. “Bus 8”. He says one word and starts shouting again. He was a bus driver. But most importantly, a resident of Karnataka state in India. Yes, this place is in my country and we both cannot communicate.





Many years back when I was in the eighth standard, my textbooks proudly and boldly highlighted the words, “India is a diverse country”. They would show the culture and folk dances of each state. Unique on its own. A moment to feel proud. You can never find a country as diverse as India, as culturally rich as India. That was just the textbook. My practical started almost 2 months ago.

Soon when I reached my hotel I realized nobody in the hotel knows Hindi. Yes, Hindi. A language spoken in India. A language which is not only spoken in India but covers the majority of India. My mother tongue is Hindi. A language spoken by 42% of Indians. You know how much that is? Might cover the majority of the existing countries. Even though I speak a language that is spoken by the majority of my country, I feel helpless here communicating with my fellow Indians. I realize India is so diverse that its diversity has made me an unknown stranger at an unknown and strange place. I see this as a place where just my driving licence and voter id is valid. Nothing more.



A few years back, I visited the Garhwal region which I mentioned in Future of My Language. A place where Garhwali Is spoken. Another Indian language. For not even a single second I felt to be at an unknown place. They respected that Garhwali is not something everyone knows. They knew fluent Hindi. They always spoke Hindi if you are not from their native place. I do not remember a time when I felt the need to learn the language. I visited the remotest places in that region. Places where the road is not built. Places where homes are still of mud. Places where you wake up and see peacock dancing and children going to the school. Places where you have to make a list of the things that you need so that one person can go on Sundays and buy these things. They live remotely. Those were the people that did not know Hindi. I can understand that. There were females who have never been outside the parameters of their town for their life. They actually never got a chance to learn Hindi. But, students were learning Hindi there. They knew the art of preserving their own culture and participating in others. Things are just opposite here.




It does not matter how much-educated person you talk to. If he is from this state, 80% of the time he does not know Hindi. I find this strange. I find this questionable. A question on my country. Is India really diverse? Or is it a fancy word to say divided? A friend of mine told me that they do not want to write the billboards or road directions in Hindi because they say we don’t write our directions in Kannada in Delhi or other parts of northern India. Oh! Did I tell you Kannada is spoken here? A language spoken by 3 crore people is challenged to a language spoken by 43 crore people. It must have made sense to them. It does not make to me. Does it make to you? Well, it will if you are born here.


Maybe I am not interested in these situations. But these situations affect me every day. Uber driver does not speak Hindi. A shopkeeper does not. Even the Zomato delivery guy sometimes does not. But, the challenge is not this. I cannot challenge this with my million fellow Hindi speakers on the grounds that I cannot communicate. They have a beautiful response for this that fills my heart with an emotion I would rather not express. “Hindi?” I speak every time before communicating with anyone. “No, Kannada”. “Do you know English?” “Yes” I say. And so I communicate. From an auto-rickshaw driver to anyone you see. Knows English. A language that is not my own. A language that will never make me proud to speak with my fellow Indians. I am standing in my country and still, I am speaking a foreign language. For the reasons, I do not understand.



This drives me back to think about the country I live in. I am confused. Is it a good thing that I feel like a stranger in the boundaries of my country? “A south Indian always favours a south Indian” I heard. Why is that? Aren’t we all Indians? Am I north Indian because I live in the north? Or just because my mother tongue differs from you? I walk on the streets and overhear people discussing. I overhear people talking. Something I do not understand. Maybe one day I will visit China or Spain. I will walk on the streets and overhear people. I won’t understand. What is the difference? An American is walking these streets and does not understand what they say and what is written. I walk and do not understand what they say and what is written. What's the difference? “South Indian cinema is the best cinema”. “You north Indians copy from us.” Isn’t your movie and our movie both Indian movies? “Diwali will not be a holiday, it is north India’s festival”. Isn’t it India’s festival? “Make our language one of the official languages of India” The reason is unknown. “Hindi cannot be the national language of India” because a language worth 3 crores is more important than 43 crores. Shouldn’t we understand and try to unite India? I feel awkward and strange. A feeling I cannot describe. I feel like an outsider. Maybe you are proud of such a country. I am not. I will never be. A country which is divided inside. We have already felt the pain of the division long ago. This is a small process, minuscule on that scale. But still, it affects. Are you proud of not being able to understand what I say? Do you really think India is diverse? Do you really believe India is united? Think again. 



Comments

  1. Common thing which you have put it up in an amazing way. Every south indian must read it. Keep it up.

    ReplyDelete
  2. People in Karnataka are very possessive about there language as compared to any other state and that's okay untill they wont inflict there language on you South Indian doesn't know Hindi but they know English thanks to crown. This make independent India better than the British flag it gives freedom to choose your language by not forcing a language spoken by majority of people becoz democracy take cares of majority as well. We ourselves don't care about hindi.Even in school we got penalise for speaking in Hindi and to survive we need to learn english

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beautifully written, really language is the first thing which unite people. Giving respect and protect beauty is good but not good if we ignore Hindi language which clicked first to other countries. It is very painful that we only relocate one state to another and the language become barrier. It is not only about south region it is also who think Hindi is just as common language.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You mentioned, “A south Indian always favours a south Indian” I heard. Why is that? "
    In fact i heard "A North Indian always favours a North Indian". In fact in my personal experience it holds true in my life. Please note i am not Kannadiga nor i can speak kannada. Though i speak hindi my north indian work collegues do not mingle well with me as they do with their own so called north indian friends". Its common. So do not blame people of not speaking the language you know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First of all, my post is not against people living in any part of India. I dont understand why south indians are reacting like a child. Second of all, I wrote it because of the same thing you saw in your office. Your north indian friend mingles well. You would do the same if you come to work in North India and find someone of your region. This is what I dont want. If everybody would have spoken the same language, you would be mingling with him like best of friends. This is how it should be. We speak south india north india east india whatever because we dont interact on a common platform. If we could, we would just be Indians. We interact on English on which we all should be ashamed of doing so.

      Delete
  5. What you have written is totally factual ..but this division is contemporary in all other countries..even in developed countries people will be more attached and will have soft corner for their natives...
    Division actually present at all levels…for e.g.  our planet Earth than my country, than my state, than my zone in state, than my block in a zone, than neighbors and finally people are divided in their homes..brother is fighting wit brother…at all levels people are fighting each other or supporting each other…
    I don’t thinks if there is any solution for this problem??

    ReplyDelete
  6. The solution is making study of hindi compulsary & making it one common language (instead of English that is used just to show pride or international culture) that breaks the barriers that arise from one state culture to another. Also, there should atleast one native language that should be chosen by the individual i order to preserve his culture & uniqueness.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I totally agree on the most basic labels. In companies, we can try English, but not at least where we are informal to others. In those situations, being local and using a common, most known/used language would help relax a lot. But Nope. English is what dominates in these areas, than 1 of our own language, which could have united us more like a family rather than a company/ colleague (official) environment.

    ReplyDelete

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