By Ratika Thakur*: This year again less popular Hindi day was celebrated on the 14 of September. I remember how in school, it was observed as Hindi Diwas for a week. Coincidence or not I and my friends were talking about the pros and cons of a language on the dinner table just last week. It all started when a 2 year old was called by his father loudly in English and he responded back with a “yes” and came running to his legs. My friend couldn’t stop and immediately expressed how she would also communicate and make her children fluent in English from the very day of their birth (of course, it would happen when they really start to speak). The other friend agreed and instantly remarked that how English (spoken) had become imperative and an element of confidence.
That was when I came to think and realize the power of a language, of how it makes one confident and an impressionist. Being a global language and a common interface of sharing thoughts, English no doubt is a tool of survival. Or is it more than that? Especially when it comes to being confident (or at least others think that you are confident enough) or an impressionist (at least you think that you leave an impression on others).
If we see pride in a foreign language aren’t we making ourselves already inferior? Let’s take an example of our forefathers who accomplished everything in a much less competitive era (but in tough circumstances) when the English ghost had not taken over. It happened because they believed in themselves, their hard work and their utter dedication. Nothing could stop them (never their lingo). Their success was embedded in their understanding and knowledge and not in superiority or inferiority of a language.
Considering times today, we have become so dead fans of English that sometimes we don’t readily accept people who express in Hindi. The inferiority in one language and superiority in the other creates the entire complex of choices.
But when it comes to our feelings and emotions, we know they cannot be articulated better in any other form besides our mother tongue. Especially joy, fear and anger are best put across in our own respective dialects (no matter in what part of the world you are staying). Now that’s the power of our legacy (be it any language).
Just a few days back I accidentally came across an android application of a well known Indian writer, Munshi Prem Chand. The application displayed 147 stories written by him. First lines of its first tale (दो बैलों की कथा) were so deeply entrenched in emotions that it could only be expressed and felt in the original text, it was written in. The twist of fate that I discovered that app made me really happy . The question of accessibility of books, religious texts etc in the global language stays. But largely the essence and gist of the narrative is lost in translation (close example of English movies dubbed in Hindi).
I would love to sing to my children “chanda mama” as much as want them to know of the little twinkling stars. Speaking in English is good or more of a necessity but to confide in for confidence in a language and take pride is not.
Let’s be proud of our thoughts, our knowledge and our actions. Let’s teach our upcoming generation to be confident in the righteousness. Let’s learn Hindi as heartedly as English. Else it will share its fate with Sanskrit, Urdu and many other dialects of the world.
Let’s just keep language just a mode of communication and nothing more than that. Let it not take away out true selves and our hearts and the heritage that all of us are blessed with.
*(Ratika Thakur, Research Fellow, Department of Anthropology, Panjab University, Chandigarh)