Mahatma Gandhi called Hindi the language of the masses as it ties the nation in a thread of unity and has a special place in the public consciousness. Hindi was focused upon as a unifying force even during the freedom struggle to hasten India’s journey to independence. September 14 is celebrated as Hindi Diwas every year to further strengthen and spread this public consciousness across the country. The Constituent Assembly which framed Indian constitution, had accepted Hindi as the official language of the country on September 14, 1949. The intent behind the move was also to simplify administration in a country where hundreds of languages are spoken.
Hindi Diwas truly ignites passion and love for the language among people. Along with various government departments and agencies, schools, colleges and a number of private organizations organize literary and cultural events on this occasion across the country, where people celebrate great works in Hindi language and literature.
On this occasion, Rajbhasha Kirti Puraskar and Rajbhasha Gaurav Puraskar awards are also given to different ministries, departments, PSUs, nationalized banks and the people who work tirelessly for the expansion, awareness and development of Hindi.
Years of hard work towards strengthening the spread of Hindi, has resulted in it being the most spoken language of the country. Hindi is now understood by even those who live in the regions or states where it is hardly spoken.
According to Forbes India, Hindi is the third most spoken language in the world with 60 crore speakers. Only English with 1,13.2 crore and Mandarin with 1,11.7 crore speakers are ahead of Hindi. The 2011 census suggests that 43.63% of the people in India speak Hindi.
It is worth-mentioning here that the issue of language had become a concern for the Constituent Assembly, when English was already used widely in official matters under British rule. But English couldn’t be a language of the masses, hence in 1953, considering so much cultural and linguistic diversity and love for one’s own language, the first Hindi Diwas was decided to be celebrated and from then onwards we continued celebrating this day.
Despite a certain degree of resistance from speakers of other languages, the growth of Hindi continued and it went on acquiring a pan India image and space. Hindi may just be among one of the 22 official languages of the country, but it is fast spreading to every nook and corner of the country. However, Hindi does have a number of dialects, which people speak in different regions and with different accents.
It’s a proven fact that no person can express himself better than in his own language, hence in NEP, mother tongue has been given much prominence in the formal education system right from the school level. A foreign language can’t be expected to introduce us to the great culture and pride of the country, and cannot also connect with the ideological body of the country. Only the mother tongue can keep a child connected with her or his local roots and those who are cut off from their roots never progress, only a tree with deep, strong and wide roots can rise.
Be it Mahatma Gandhi, Rajendra Prasad, Pandit Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, K.M. Munshi and Vinoba Bhave and others, all devoted their whole life to strengthening Indian languages including Hindi. Mahatma Gandhi had also associated the official language with nationalism, and he had once said that if you want to understand the consciousness of this country, then you cannot understand it without your own languages.
The urge for his own language had led Gandhi Ji to even contest the election for the Gujarat Sahitya Parishad and became the President of the same. Gandhi had also compiled a Gujarati dictionary.
The Department of Official Language is an important part of the Ministry of Home Affairs and special efforts are made to protect, promote and popularize the official language.
New Education Policy lays special emphasis on local languages and mother tongue. It has been provided that education up to Grade 5 should be in the local language and the mother tongue. Efforts have been made to integrate learning of Indian languages at the school and higher education level. Fourteen colleges in eight states are offering teaching technical courses such as in engineering in five languages, including Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Marathi and Bengali and many more institutions are going to adopt the way in the day to come.
The plan to establish the Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation for the preservation and development of Indian languages is also laid down in the New Education Policy, which will give a long-term thrust to Indian languages. E-courses are also being prepared in regional languages, so that children studying online can also study in their own language, and the official language. By including many aspects in the New Education Policy, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a huge impetus to this movement.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee started speaking in Hindi when in abroad and present Prime Minister Narendra Modi has almost made it a point that whenever he is at some international forum, he prefers to address it in Hindi and this has helped in establishing this official language. With growing stature of Hindi internationally, the hesitation and the sense of smallness that existed in the minds of many, has disappeared.
Hindi has rich historical and cultural value, as there are numerous valuable writings in the language. With the government at the Centre consistently encouraging Hindi at different forums and also in offices, the growth of this language is now incessant. Now more members of Parliament, ministers, public representatives, leaders and officers deliver speeches in Hindi. All this is resulting in the further spread of Hindi.
Union Home Minister and Minister of Cooperation Amit Shah has extended his best wishes to the countrymen on the occasion of Hindi Diwas this year. In his message, he said that India has been a country of diverse languages and Hindi unites the diversity of languages in the world’s largest democracy. He said that Hindi has been a democratic language. It has honoured different Indian languages and dialects as well as many global languages and adopted their vocabularies, sentences and grammar rules.
He said that Hindi has played an unprecedented role in uniting the country during the difficult days of independence movement. It instilled a feeling of unity in a country divided into many languages and dialects. Hindi, as a language of communication, played an important role in carrying forward the freedom struggle from East to West and North to South in the country.
Shah said that the movements for achieving ‘Swaraj’ and ‘Swabhasha’ were going on simultaneously in the country. Considering the important role of Hindi in the freedom movement and after independence, the architects of the Constitution had accepted Hindi as the official language on 14 September 1949.