North India needs to resist imposition of Hindi

  • Karthik Venkatesh

    There are a bevy of languages spoken in different pockets of the country’s northern regions that are fallaciously subsumed under — as dialects of — Hindi. Hindi, as it is assumed to exist, is really the language of Delhi and surrounding urban centres.

    In 1977, the movie Dangal was released (not to be confused with Aamir Khan’s movie of the same name released in 2016). It was a Bhojpuri film — in fact, the first Bhojpuri colour film — starring Hindi movie villain Sujit Kumar of Aradhana fame and Prema Narayan, a seventies starlet who had never graduated to the big league in Hindi cinema. This kicked off a second wave of Bhojpuri cinema. About two decades previously, the Hindi movie character actor Nazir Hussain had sought the blessings of the then-President, Rajendra Prasad and kicked off shooting for the first Bhojpuri film Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo. It took nearly five years for the movie to hit the screen and was released in 1962. The movie was a smashing success and a rash of films followed, many of dubious quality. By the decade’s end, Bhojpuri cinema had petered out.

    Dangal heralded a revival of sorts. A fresh set of films followed, many starring Sujit Kumar, who remained its most saleable star. In 1984, Amitabh Bachchan made a special appearance in Sujit Kumar’s film, Pan Khaye Saiyaan Hamar. By the late eighties, the industry ran aground again. Since the turn of the millennium however, Bhojpuri cinema has made a comeback and indeed thrived. Such has been its appeal that at least two of its stars have been inducted into politics solely on the basis of the wide acceptance of their persona among the Bhojpuri-speaking public — Manoj Tiwari and Ravi Kishan.

    The success of the Bhojpuri film industry is a telling commentary on the perception that the name of the language spoken across a swathe of North, Central and East India is Hindi. Clearly, to a great many people, Hindi movies did not satisfy the need to hear ‘their’ tongue being spoken. Bhojpuri it was that their hearts actually deigned to own. Hindi remains a foreign tongue to them.

    From Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh in the north through Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in central India to Bihar and Jharkhand in the east, the notion that Hindi is spoken in all of these States is a piece of fiction that every schoolboy has been fed for well-nigh half a century or even longer as fact. The many languages that are actually spoken in these States have been demoted to ‘dialect’ status, (in the national interest, of course), and Hindi as it is spoken in Delhi and perhaps, a corner of Uttar Pradesh promoted as ‘their language’. In popular telling, these States constitute the ‘Hindi heartland’ and they are spoken of by most people outside these areas as a huge parcel of territory that is more or less similar, ignoring the many local histories, traditions and indeed linguistic differences that ought to be considered when discussing these areas.

    Take the case of Bihar. Hindi and Urdu are its declared State languages. A whole host of other languages spoken in Bihar — Angika, Bajjika, Magahi, Maithili and Bhojpuri (all related Indo-Aryan tongues) — do not figure in the argument at all as they were subsumed under Hindi in the 1961 Census. Only Maithili has managed to recover from this act of linguistic emasculation, having been granted Scheduled Language status in 2004. As for a language like Santali which belongs to the Austro-Asian family and is spoken mostly by tribals, it barely even registers as a language for many people.

    Across Bihar, each of these tongues has a distinct territory. Angika is spoken in Bhagalpur and its surrounding areas in the south-eastern part of the State. Maithili is spoken in the north-eastern parts of the State, in Darbhanga and its nearby areas. Bhojpuri on the other hand is spoken in the north-west, in Saran, Champaran and Bhojpur areas. Magahi is spoken in south Bihar, in the districts of Patna, Gaya and Nalanda, and Bajjika is spoken at the intersection of Bhojpuri and Maithili, in areas such as Muzaffarpur and Samastipur. Santali, spoken by close to 4 lakh people (as per the 2001 Census), too is an important language whose speakers are spread across the State.

    Similar is the case of Uttar Pradesh. In central Uttar Pradesh (UP), the spoken tongue is Awadhi. In Bundelkhand (Jhansi, Lalitpur and nearby areas), the tongue is Bundeli. Indeed, Bundeli is spoken in parts of neighbouring Madhya Pradesh as well. In eastern UP, especially in the areas bordering Bihar, Bhojpuri holds sway. In western UP, Braj Bhasha is the name of the language. But, in western UP, as one approaches Delhi, one also notices a preponderance of Khadi Boli which is perhaps the closest to mainstream Hindi as it gets and is spoken in Delhi by and large. This is really the clincher.

    Hindi, as it is assumed to exist, is really the language of Delhi and in the Delhi fashion, is spoken in Lucknow and Patna too besides a few other State capitals and prominent urban centres. xheartland’ is not Hindi at all. In the rural heartland across these States, it is Angika or Haryanvi or Bundeli or Marwari or perhaps one of the many other tongues that have been denied the fullness of their identity owing to the need for a single language that is required to be termed ‘national’, that is the real language of the people.

    Even as the southern part of the country alongwith Punjab and Bengal has kept an eagle eye for the slightest whiff of Hindi imposition, it is perhaps time for north India to think in terms of resisting Hindi imposition too. Northern India ought to own up its local languages and resist their being subsumed under the arbitrary label of ‘Hindi’. This owning up is bound to have important implications for the identity of the populations in the various States as well as for the education system in these States — their educational material is currently prepared in Hindi, which is bound to have a telling effect on the population. Acceptance of local languages will enable creation of material in the ‘true’ mother tongue. Eventually, the effect will be positive. The false identity of Hindi sub-nationalism ought to be done away with. It is an idea that has outlived its purpose.

    A tongue based on false premises cannot truly fulfill the aspirations of the people. India does not need ‘a’ language. Our many languages have fed into a colourful identity of our own that have effectively challenged western notions of nationalism. Our many local identities can co-exist with our ‘Indian’ identity. Eventually, our Indian identity can co-exist with a South Asian identity that recognises the many commonalities across the region. Perhaps, in time, we will realise the true meaning of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’.

    My sincere thanks to Awanish Kumar who helped identify the many languages of Bihar and UP and their geographical spread.


National Book Trust is planning to include Angika and Bajjika in their publishing project

NBT is matching technology with every step: Chairman Baldeo Bhai Sharma –

New Delhi [India], Aug. 21 (ANI): Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative and his call to promote out-of-the-box thinking among the youth, the National Book Trust (NBT) has started digitisation of the whole organisation as also the launch of a special programme ‘Nav Lekhan Mala’ for writers aged below 40 to promote out-of-the-box writing in any Indian language.

“We have brought more than 100 books in digital form. This is a big project we have started on, and the work is underway. One can’t ignore technology in this age, and NBT doesn’t want to lag behind either, said Baldeo Bhai Sharma, the Chairman of the National Book Trust.

Stressing on the use of technology for improving the writing process, Sharma said, “We are also in talks with Microsoft to sign a contract for developing softwares in different languages, with the view to use technology for improving the writing process. For that, we will be setting up training camps in different places for writers”.

“Through NBT, we are also trying to enhance writing and book publishing in the IT sector. Our website has a section for buying books as well as ebooks online. We will be launching an app too. We are constantly endeavouring for NBT to match technology with every step,” said Sharma.

“With the advent of digital India and dynamic changes in reading culture, National Book Trust has also formed new plans and strategies for the new age Indians. we are making all out efforts to make the NBT an excellent organisation fulfilling its core objective to produce good literature at moderate prices to the public and make the people book minded,” said Sharma.

Sharma, who was appointed the Chairman of NBT in March 2015, told ANI, “This is a big opportunity to expand its learning journey through the medium of book publication.”

“The motive with which the government had constituted NBT was to make the Indian society knowledgeable. The road to development cannot achieve its peak without knowledge, and through the medium of books in various languages, NBT has been given the responsibility to communicate a wide variety of intellectual knowledge especially to the youth, the children and the students,” said Sharma.

Elaborating about the ‘Nav Lekhan Mala’ programme, Sharma said, “We have started this programme to develop the writing skills of young generation writers, wherein writers below 40 years can write in any of the Indian languages and on any of the NBT-approved subject areas, based on their interest, and we will publish their books. We started this plan to benefit the youth, and it was hugely successful and welcomed. We have already published 17 books in seven languages- 9 in Hindi and the rest in Tamil, Bengali, Odia, Malayalam, and Telugu.”

On the issue of promoting book publication in new Indian regional languages, Sharma said, “In the last two years we have been working, keeping the focus on regional languages. The interest in reading will increase if we publish books in regional languages, to which people are naturally attached”.

He added, “In Bihar, we published 15 books in such regional languages as Magahi, Maithili, and Bhojpuri. We published 12 books in Nepali language; which was much protested in West Bengal, and is a major language of Sikkim. Books in Tripura’s native language Kokborok were also published. We had organised a three-day-workshop with authors who write in Kokborok, in Agartala, and published 10 children books in Kokborok from the material we received. In the last two years, we published almost 25 books in 8 languages of Bastar, such as Bondvi, Hadvi, and Batri.”

“We took up these special projects with the view to reform and preserve these dialects and languages. We are publishing books in Jharkhand’s Santhali and Mandari languages, and are planning to conduct a workshop with notable intellectual figures and authors. In Bihar, we are planning to include Bajjika and Angika in our publishing project. Until now, the Trust had not published any book in Sanskrit, so we have begun that with publishing ‘Gandhi Tatva Shatakam’ as the first Sanskrit book by NBT,” Sharma said further.

To encourage young women writers, below the age of 40, we have especially started the ‘Mahila Lekhan Protsahan Yojna’ for those whose books have not been published previously. The standard for writing is same as the one applicable for ‘Nav Lekhan mala’ – in any Indian language and in any of the subjects published by NBT. So far, we have received more than 90 manuscripts. Our selection committee will decide, and we’ll publish the books chosen by them.”

Sharma said, “We have initiated another plan ‘Har haath Ek Kitaab’ to promote the tradition of book donation. A great section of the society wants to read, but cannot because of financial conditions.

Financially prosperous people adopted this move with enthusiasm and we have been receiving numerous requests on the NBT site. With donation from the public, we want to donate books in various areas and schools, to the youth, the children, and the book lovers, and through their requests, we distribute book. Besides donation, we took up this project to send the message of book culture by bringing forth storytelling programs and authors’ meets”.

Denying any indication of decline in the interest in book reading in masses in this social media age the NBT Chairman said, “For the career related preoccupations, it surely makes difficult for the youth to take time out for reading but it has not reduced their interest. The enthusiastic response to various book distribution activities organised by NBT is highly encouraging. Our ‘Pustak Parikrama’ buses reach different states and zones, tribal areas, and small villages of the nation.

This year, our buses roamed in the tribal districts of Orissa for two months. Even we were surprised when almost 15 lakh worth of books were bought by students and youth of these remote villages and towns. The amount is not important to us but the number of people that bought the books. If we look at the New Delhi book fair, in the last two years we have expanded on its modernity, and the newspapers have reported that the footfall is as huge there as it used to be in trade fairs, with people waiting in line for it. One newspaper headline even said, ‘Booklovers return to bookfair’. This has been very encouraging for us”.

Pointing out that translation is not only bridging the gap between two languages, but also between people living in different regions and zones of the country and world, Sharma said, “There is a book in Tamil Thirukkural by Sant Thiruvalluvar which is known as the Geeta of South. Last year, NBT produced the book with a Hindi translation. Its gaining popularity, it also making North Indians and non-Tamil speakers aware of the rich volume of Tamil language literature, which not only contribute to the creation of life values but also inspires us to lead a better life”.

Talking about India China Translation Programme, Sharma said, ” This was a significant initiative in cultural diplomacy, in which the Government of India and the Government of People’s Republic of China have put forward an ambitious translation programme that includes translation of 25 each of classical and contemporary literary works from Chinese into Hindi and Indian literary works into Chinese. We are conducting a translation program for making this project successful”.

He further said, “The programme involves close association of language scholars from India and China in this translation effort. Translation is a medium through which people of different culture and languages get connected and understand each other in a better way. Though we would be reading the Chinese works in Hindi we would get an opportunity to understand the literature, tradition and culture of China. This endeavour would bring the two countries closer. We are expediently working on it, and will complete the program in the next two years”.

“We also signed an MOU with a Japanese publishing organization. In Japan, we published a series for Japanese kids on ‘Swachchhta’ (cleanliness). In the initial stages, we’ll be publishing the translated version of five of the books in Hindi and English, and later in other Indian languages, so that the children of India learn cleanliness,” he said.

By cleanliness, we don’t just mean cleaning up garbage. By cleanliness, we mean purification of mental chaos, following a healthy lifestyle, and learning to maintain mutual relations with utmost liveliness. We have covered these areas in those books. These are the plans we have initiated in our translation program.

“National Book Trust also provides subsidy to encourage grants. On a global scale, we organize support programs for increasing the outreach of good literature to other languages with the help of translation, he said.

Praising the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to give global recognition to Yoga, Sharma said, “Last year, we published a book on Yoga by Dr. Bijlani who is a renowned writer and expert on the subject of Yoga, and in that same series, we will be publishing illustrated books on Yoga for children. We will also be publishing books on Ayurveda and the Naturopathy. Today, modern physicians agree on the usefulness of naturopathy”.

Underling the NBT’s efforts in publishing some rare books Sharma said, “Some five decades ago Dr. Vasudev Sharan Agrawal had written a book- ‘Bharat ki Maulik Ekta’ centered on the primary idea of Atharvaveda that established the unity of India to be above caste, creed, language, and region. This book had gone out of print, so NBT reprinted this book by taking the copyright from his heir. Similarly, we published another remarkable book that presents the Indian ancient views on Physics- ‘Physics in Ancient India’ by Dr. Nene, who is a scholar of both Physics and Sanskrit. In this age, bringing such books to our younger generation is extremely important”.

For our visually handicapped populace who are eager to read, we have not only brought out books in Braille but are also planning to release audio books and touch based technology, in collaboration with an institution.

(Source : )

Every Indian language including Angika has equal rights to be got flourished under government policy

Angika row: Litterateur skips poets’ meet

TNN | Updated: May 16, 2017, 10:31 AM IST

MADHUBANI: The two-day eastern zone poets‘ meet held at Darbhanga under the auspices of Sahitya Academy, has evoked protests from locals over treatment of Angika as a language distinct from Maithili.

The meeting, which ended on Sunday, was attended by more than two dozen litterateurs of Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Assamese, Odia, Magahi, Bhojpuri, Maithili and Angika.

In his letter to the organisers, Jha sought to know the reason behind treating Angika independent of Maithili. Angika is a dialect of Maithili spoken in the southeastern region of the state, he wrote, adding the poets writing in the dialect have always been gracing Maithili literary programmes.

Jha also accused the Academy of lacking a clear-cut policy on language and dialect. “If Angika can be treated as a separate language, why tribal languages have been left out?” he asked while talking to this correspondent.

His decision to skip the event to register his protest has been widely hailed by Maithili litterateurs from the region.

Taking exception to the Academy move to treat Angika independent of Maithili, noted Maithili scholar Ram Deo Jha, who was invited to preside over one of the sessions, skipped the event.
Angika is a dialect of Hindi and not a dialect of Maithili. Angika is one of the oldest languages of India. It is more older than Maithili.
It is not uncommon to include a dialect in to Sahitya Akademi programme and activities . Sahitya Akademi has been including Maithili and other dialects in to their programme since years back of it inclusion in 8th Schedule of the Constitution. Infact Maithili has only three districts of Bihar where it is spoken by only few lakh speaker. While Angika is spoken in 26 districts of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal by around 5 Crores of people. It is very shameful act of Litterateur to skip poets’ meet on Angika row. Every Indian language has equal rights to be got flourished under government policy. : Kundan Amitabh
Angika is not a dialect. It is one of the most ancient languages of the world. It is a dialect of Hindi. It is written in Devnagri. Angika was written in Anga Lipi during ancient period. There are 5 crores of Speakers who speak Angika. Maithili is spoken by only 6 to 8 lakh people of Bihar. While Angika is spoken in Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal. We can only laugh on the activity of Maithili Litterateur skipping the poet meet. Angika Samvad
Fighting for language is not good for the litterateur rate meetings. : Mithilesh Kumar