Should Hindi Be Imposed?

The Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal announced new reforms to impose Hindi as a subject in all schools. NDTV, ‘We the people’ also had a debate on this announcement. Do I agree to this? Well learning a language should not be imposed. Back in my school years we had the option of choosing the Second language that I need to learn. English being compulsory and ‘first language’. I choose my mother tongue Malayalam, while my brother chose Hindi. It was based on your own choice.

I guess imposing a new reform and to ask people to learn Hindi is not the right way. After all where is the ‘Unity in diversity’ theme?

The politicos argue that they need to integrate India into one, and everyone knowing one language is one way to do it. Pranab Mukherjee says that not knowing Hindi affected his chance to become PM (this was shown on NDTV channel). Some in the audience (we the people) argued that Hindi is the National Language and is our culture. I do not have anything against Hindi, but then what about my mother tongue, can’t I argue that I need to protect our culture?

What about Tamil, Kannada, Telugu or any other regional language? Are you suggesting that the next generation should not learn it?

Firstly lets look at the argument of National Integration. Don’t you think English is helping???

Secondly lets looks at the culture thing. Hindi originated from Persian. Well if its been here for a long time then its definitely part of culture. So no arguments on that. Some of the dialects of Hindi came into existence in the 10th century.

Lets look at Tamil, Tamil literature exists from 300BC !! So undoubtedly its one of the oldest languages and so much our culture ! And we need to protect it as well.

I guess either Mr Sibal want to get some screen/blog space with all his new reforms(including stopping 10th board exam) or has nothing much to do in Human Resources. Hey thats HR !


  1. As you pointed out, he should be making sure that all Indians are well versed in English. Hindi can wait. That will make Indians on par with the world in terms of opportunity. Concepts like ‘nation’ ‘unity’ ‘culture’ are being thrown about a lot these days. For good or bad I’m no one to comment, but the problem with these words or rather the context in which they’re used is that they’re all of past-leaning. No looking ahead.

    1. @Balu: I am kind of in disagreement of your statement. I do not believe that to have more opportunities, we need to know Enlgish! Why? China is now the next super power of the world.. Based on what? Their talent! Today, Mandarin is being taught in most of the B-schools of the world. Why? Because, people are beginning to realise that if you have to be competitive, you have to know Mandarin. I wish some day, people are able to say.. if you want to be competitive, you have to know Hindi! But, that can never happen! Because, we, in our country, do not respect our own national language! How can then we expect others to understand?

      1. India can’t directly emulate China. They built their economy around cheap labour, we built our economy around cheap brain power. Mandarin’s being tought in B-schools so that these grads can strike a bargain with the Chinese companies and so that they may even a job there. Not because of anything else. India’s strength has always been in taking the best of the world and improving ourselves around it. Hindi was also such a product wasn’t it? If you’re talking about culture and how we should be speaking even older languages such as sanskrit/brahmi/pali or even urdu instead of ‘impure’ languages like hindi.
        Also, the issue here is not just about culture, but also about a language that a majority will agree to, hence English.

    2. I guess English is the best medium to go forward with. Its all over the place. I guess it’s contributing a lot to the growth the country is having now.

  2. I really don’t think the politicians have anything about INDIA at heart… they think something and just implement. India is such a vast nation and diversed culture… rather than being proud of it, they try t demean regional aspects ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    And isn’t democrasy still there?? I choose what i like!! PERIOD!! but then i am a nobody and what i think isn’t really gonna make a difference…

    1. What brings together India is the fact that we have unity in diversity. So, even though we have different food habits, wear different clothes, speak different languages, but still there has to be a language which unites us all and why does it have to be English??? Why are we ashamed of having or owning up to our national language?

      India is probably the only country where the national language is not fully known by at least 20% of the population. How sad is that!?

  3. I dont think Hindi should be imposed.

  4. I wouldnt say imposed, but yes Hindi is our national language and every Indian should know how to read and write Hindi.

    This has nothing to do with politics. If anything, politics in TN made sure that Hindi wasnt taught to anyone. Anti-Hindi sentiments are so strong, that they ensure that North Indians dont feel welcome there. Fortunately now things are improving and a lot of my Tamil friends understand hindi pretty well… Most of their parents dont.

    1. Many who doesn’t know Hindi doesn’t mean that they are against it. I don’t know HIndi that well(can understand, but cannot read write). I chose to learn my mother tongue.
      Just because its the national language, it doesnt mean that everyone should know it.
      To make things clear we still have all the major languages written on our currency notes. Now thats national integration.
      We should respect all languages like we respect all the states/culture.

    2. Actually Nova, hindi is one of the national languages. Hindi is not THE national language.

      1. Smitha is right. In India, we only have official languages. There is no mention of national language anywhere in the constitution of India.

        Hindi and English are two recognized official working languages through out India and regional languages along with English are each state’s working language.

        We can’t emulate China, Japan or any other country simply because our languages are diverse. No language should be imposed. We are doing just fine.

  5. scriblingpad · · Reply

    Hindi became our major language in presidentโ€™s casting vote when our country was young. Both Hindi and English got the same number of votes and the then president decided to caste the vote in favor of Hindi.
    Personally I had Hindi as second language in school out of my choice. I follow a religion out of my choice. When a religion is imposed upon me, itโ€™s unconstitutional, similarly when a language is imposed its surely a violation of my constitutional rights.
    I guess, there are more people in India who donโ€™t speak Hindi. (Add up people who speak Tamil + Telegu + Kannada + Oriya + Bengali)
    I think that south Indian Languages are older than Hindi which originated from Persian and borrowed our Devanagari script. So in terms of vote, number of people speaking the language and existence Hindi looses.
    Mr. Sibal has to understand that the majority in this country is not Hindi speaking and imposing it will certainly affect his chance of winning again.

    1. @scriblingpad: Yes, most people dont speak Hindi. But, there has to be a common language that unites us all, doesn’t it? Then why is everyone not in favor of accepting it as a national language? You can chose to adopt whatever language you want as a second language, but Hindi should be known to all!

      1. scriblingpad · ·

        Nova, It is not a language which united our country, It is not a culture, It was not even a religion. Its democracy which glues us together.
        Our country has proved that there need not be a language to unite us all. (Compare us with other successful democracies)

        And coming back to our point of language, we need not impose any language to an ybody in our country, its should be purely his or her choice.

      2. Democracy doesnt glue us together… our culture does… we are diverse, but we are as one as any other nation… which is our uniqueness.. Remember the song “Mile sur mera tumhara”?

        There is a language which connects us all and that is unfortunately, a foreign language: English!

        National language should be known by all. Second language is definitely our own choice!

    2. yes, my point was that language should be a personal choice. I don’t know hindi that well, that doesn’t make me any less Indian.

      1. Yeah, but can you imagine going to a world conference as an Indian and if being asked to speak a few sentences in your national language?

  6. @Nova,
    Thanks for your views. But I disagree.
    Why does it have to be Hindi? If I am comfortable with English and since the mordern world is moving in a direction where english is preferable, why should we try to impose one of our languages?

    In business/work we are a global citizen now. The only reason why the companies are outsourcing work to India is because of the huge english speaking graduates in India. Chinese may be a super power but they still lack that advantage.

    I would say that I got a job I prefer because I can speak/write/read in english. I guess many would agree.
    There is no point in directing our next generation on what to learn/not to learn. If they think (I am sure they would) that english needs to be accepted as our language they would.

    We can accept Hindi as a national language, but we cannot ask the next generation to learn it. its their choice.
    Even if its made mandatory, it would be like asking cable operators to mandatorily add DD1 to their channel list. Its there in your cable tv list, but there is no law to watch it.
    So the next generation would accept the language they are comfortable with !! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. @Xylene: It has to be Hindi because when our constitution was formulated, this was decided based on what the masses and our leaders felt. Our next generation ofc has the right to chose whatever they want as their national language, although, I am not too much in favor of changing our national language every yr ๐Ÿ™‚ or maybe every 5 yrs (like our leaders)… there are some things that define a nation (like the National flag, or the national anthem, or the national flower, or the national sport).. and they should remain unchanged… To put it in more of a geeky way, we cant change primary key of a database, can we? Because some things should NOT be changed.

      The generation of tomorrow may not like our National flag colors. After all, India is a democracy and everyone’s feelings count. So, one fine day we wake up and find the orange turned to pink. Now, I am sure that is because majority wants it to be a pink color (Maybe pink will get us noticed more than Orange)… But, will you like that? Will you be able to identify with it? No!

      I guess some things should just be left the way they are… ๐Ÿ™‚ Too much of meddling and too many opinions may just ruin its sanctity and purity ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Noone is talking about changing the national language. Let hindi be the national language.
        its like my monther tougue is not going to change. But that doesn’t mean that I need to learn it. It should be a choice that one should make.. I stay in bangalore, I am sure my kid would know Kannada better than malayalam.
        Also Sibal is not planning to change/ or reconfirm the national language status for Hindi. His idea is to impose it ! Make hindi compulsory for all.
        That wouldn’t be good at all.
        Also if only 20% know the national language, its becuase India is unique. We cannot compare us with the french or the russians or the chinese.
        We have more than a dozen major languages being used by the population.

        Actually using ones own choice has been going on good for 60 years now.
        Its not us(who speak/learn their prefered language) who want a change. Its Mr Sibal.

      2. The very prerogative of a national language means that it should be known by all.

        Wouldnt it be shameful if Indians did not know what their flag looked like or how to sing their National anthem!? Same way, every Indian should be in a position to read and write our National language to say the least! And that is exactly what Mr Sibal is imposing.

  7. scriblingpad · · Reply

    I remember that song, I also remember that the lyrics was in different languages. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And I disagree again. Its not our culture that keeps us together. Its democracy.

    (Our culture has follows the caste system, it takes people apart and does not bring people together) This is just one example of our negetive sides of our culture.

  8. @Nova,
    //Wouldnt it be shameful if Indians did not know what their flag looked like or how to sing their National anthem!? //
    How many Indians do you think know it?
    May be the middle class, the upper middle class might know, not those who are drawn under the poverty line or are illiterate. That doesnt make them less Indian.
    I agree with Scriblingpad, its not the culture/language that keep us together, its democracy, also the freedom to choose.

    The freedom to speek their own language was there for a long time (even before independance) why change now?

  9. //Yeah, but can you imagine going to a world conference as an Indian and if being asked to speak a few sentences in your national language?//

    I would tell them India is known for its diversity unlike many other countries we have more than a dozen major languages. And I speak one of them. Malayalam being my mother tongue.
    Do you know that Matha Amrithananthamai, (a malayalee) spoke in malayalam at the UN? (2000, New York: keynote address at the Millennium Peace Summit, UN General Assembly. )

    I guess the world conference you are talking about has been explained ! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I guess there is no point in discussing further, I got you point that ‘Since hindi is a national language, everyone should know it !’.

    But I guess the non-hindi speaking population wouldn’t agree to it. Atleast I wouldn’t. I don’t know Hindi much, I am not proud nor ashamed ! ๐Ÿ˜€
    But I watch bollywood movies !

    My point is only on the freedom of choice. Its the parents choice on where to send their kids english medium or hindi (as the kids are too small to decide on their choice).
    And when he gets older he/she can learn Hindi if he/she wants to. Or any other language for that matter.

    It was a good debate ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks :). You could post again if you want to ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. @Nova
    Let me ask you one question, it’s about this word that almost everyone mentioned in the comments — national language.
    Do we need a national language to actually unite the country? Or to prove to the rest of the world that we are united? Or are we just trying to convince ourselves that all us oddballs here, are part of one country?
    We all like say unity in diversity, well then look at European Union. How different are they? They have a common currency, the rest is all matter of the concerned state. I brought up the EU connect because they too have way too many languages like us.
    The only thing that makes sense to me when we speak about ‘national stuff’ is national anthem and national flag. That too just because they try to say something without forcing it down your thought.
    PS: National anthem is not in hindi, should we translate it to hindi too?

    1. Yes its in Bengali. The very proof of our diverse co-existence. Thanks for pointing it out.

  12. @Scriblingpad: Yes, the song is in different languages, which is the essence of the country – it defines us in a lot of ways! Please read our upanishads to know what really the “Caste system” means. Trust me, it never was a bad thing. It is over generations and blind foldedness that led to the disintegration of a well meant system. The original intention was brilliant. We couldnt execute it well. So, please do not demean our culture in any which way ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Xylene: We still have the freedom to speak our own language and will always do. No one can take that away from us. But, why deny the propagation of our national language? We should all know at least the basics of our national language even if we do not want to be scholars in it! My concern is here with the anti-hindi sentiments. People are actually against the propagation of Hindi, which you should not be. You should encourage people to learn their national language. I dont see anything wrong in this. If English can be made compulsory, so can Hindi.

    @Balu: If you find Hindi “impure”, I am guessing you are not too fond of English either, are you? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Also wrong analogy as EU is not a country but a conglomerate of countries. National Anthem is what it is.. it should not be changed. Thats my point!

    To end this, good discussion gentlemen. Thank you for the valid arguements. I had a good time discussing this. I guess on this topic, we will have to agree to disagree ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hey who said I’m not fond of hindi.. I can read, write and speak hindi perfectly well, okay but with a mallu accent ๐Ÿ˜› I was just trying to say hindi is just a language and we shouldn’t mix it up with culture. I don’t think India is too different from EU look at the number of regional parties at the centre.

      Yes like you said with regard to this topic I agree to disagree ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. The question to be asked is why do we need a language and then the answer is clearer. English is the global language. China has a full day exam that tests people on their English speaking skills before university admissions. So the comment on China is factually inaccurate. We generally learn our mother tongue by default. At least we learn speaking it. Its great if you know how to write and read it but that depends on home environment. South Indians in Delhi send children to DTEA so that they can learn tamil along with Hindi and English. Trying to force Hindi down everyones throat is a bit difficult. People learn Hindi themselves. Bollywood ensures that. Its when we emphasize local language vs national language that people become hostile to languages. Otherwise everyone has sense enough to try and pick up bits of local language when they visit places. You cannot force culture down peoples throat. Everyone picks up what they want to and discards the rest.

    1. True, I know bits of hindi, thanks to Doordarshan and bollywood.

  14. //agree to disagree// I agree on this ๐Ÿ˜€

  15. […] interesting thing I came along was Xylene’s post on Hindi… Pretty interesting discussion led me to conduct a survey on the very same […]

  16. Whew, great debate going on here! And some very good points as a carry on from the good article. I don’t have any more to add to the ongoing discussion, but my personal view is that its not going to hurt learning another language, so why not Hindi?

    I know I’ve the answer in the comment section but just a personal thought. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Yes, its a personal thought ๐Ÿ™‚ if anyone wants to learn it, they should probably go ahead with the plan. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Xylene – Very interesting . And I agree totally with you. Imposition of Hindi will actually do more harm than good. I think English is fast becoming the link language – and Hindi, as in spoken Hindi, people can pick – to impose it in school, is unnecessary. I don’t think, we can take China’s example. India is such a diverse country that one language signifying unity is ridiculous.

    Fantastic post!

    1. Thanks Smitha ! ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. I am also against forcing Indians to learn Hindi,

    if you forcefeed, it will create people who know Hindi, but not love Hindi

  19. This is an issue which has always bothered me…

    CBSE has made hindi compulsory as a third language if it isn’t your second language…but then in college Tamil is compulsory as well…

    As for the culture which comes along with language,whatever language learn, the “culture” associated with the language you speak at home(i.e. the background which you grow in) is what is going to stick..

    I prefer communicating in English, but its not that I can’t communicate in hindi is poor but then again if I were to move to some place where Hindi is spoken, I will learn the language….Here it is a question of language as a mode/way to communicate..

    Try reading a tamil paper and you will find that, it is English written in tamil script..We are in times when languages keep mixing(especially in the cities)..what we speak actually is far from a “pure” language..words are borrowed and there is no need for it to gain “acceptance”..

    As for should we impose Hindi- no we shouldn’t,simply because it will lead to a lot of problems- not everyone will be will bite into the diversity of our country and will lead to violent claims for autonomy from different sides..

    1. Yes, as long as language is something that is acceptable, it should be respected and protected.
      It can be any language that the people are comfortable with.

  20. Xylene,

    I guess learning new language shouldn’t be an issue. However, i agree that it should not be imposed. I am from a non-Hindi speaking state and i think knowing a third language helps. Rather than have pride in our prejudices, we should take a step forward and learn a language – be it Hindi, Telugu or any other language. I have written on the same topic and my views are slightly different from yours ๐Ÿ™‚

    PS: This is the first time i visited your blog. You are running a good show, i must say.

    1. Thanks for visiting ๐Ÿ™‚
      I am okay with learning a language. I am against enforcing it on those poor kids.


  21. we first learn english then hindi

  22. Dhaka Dreams · · Reply

    After reading this thread, I feel as if India is digging its own grave. I am from Bangladesh and our official language is Bengali since it is the mother tongue of 98 % of the population. However, if you look at the history of language in Bangladesh, it is far from good. From 1947-1971, Bangladesh was East Pakistan. Urdu was being forced on the Bengalis and this was one of the reasons for people demanding autonomy. This still plagues current day Pakistan. There are still Sindhi nationalits demanding Sindhu-Desh (although their tone may have weakened); Pakhtunistan movement still lives on and I dont think Balochi nationalists have to be mentioned at all. The point I am trying to make is- India’s strength is “diversity”. Whenever I visit India, I feel like respecting this fact about our dominant neighbor. I am definitely not the only person. Living in the West, I have seen many people praising India for its diversity and respecting regional languages such as Bengali, Tamil and so on. This is not something that your neighboring countries can say. For example, in Bangladesh all the tribals (such as the Chakmas) in the Chittagong Hill Tracts are being robbed off their culture. The Biharis (also known as muhajirs from India) are looked down upon for not speaking Bengali properly. India should learn something from neighboring countries.

  23. Xylene, while I completely acknowledge your stand, I want to comment on the below lines you stated:

    “I do not have anything against Hindi, but then what about my mother tongue, canโ€™t I argue that I need to protect our culture?

    What about Tamil, Kannada, Telugu or any other regional language? Are you suggesting that the next generation should not learn it?”

    Well, we were only asked to learn Hindi but not “un”learn our mother tongue. Learning a new language should not cause a hindrance in protecting ones own culture. When millions of Indians learnt English, did they ever lose theor culture? Hindi was only asked to be learnt so that one would be able to make a basic conversation whenever needed (not necessarily always so as to exterminate ones own mother tongue) and be able to atleast understand to an extent. This is in the spirit of “Unity in Diversity”. Keeping up the same spirit again, it would have been more sensible though, if the North Indians were asked to learn a South Indian language of their choice. It is a sort of acknowledgement.

  24. @Manoj, when I said “what about my mother tongue” I was refering to Malayalam. It goes the same with other languages as well.
    So if some speaks Tamil, he has the right to protect his mother tongue. Thats what I meant.
    Also I don’t have any problem in learning a new language but it should not be imposed to kids in schools.
    We had Third Language at schools where we could choose the third lanugage hindi or french (which was the only ones we could opt for at my school)
    So if schools are forced to teach Hindi, either they would give away with the regional language subject or add one more subject Hindi.

    My whole point was that learning a language that is not your mother tougue should be of personal choice and treating Hindi as a national language in this country of diversity wouldn’t be the right thing to do.

  25. there is not a lot of awareness among north indians. they think only tamil nadu doesnt speak hindi. lot of north india don’t speak hindi. now hindiwalas think hindi is national language. it is not.

    hindi originated with urdu in the ghettos of prisoners captured by afghan soldiers. where as other indian languages have rich history stretching to two thousand years and more. google oldest spoken language you will see tamil listed!!!!

    i challenge northies to revive sanskrit. the ghetto people couldnt speak sanskrit with its deep pronounciations so they killed it and brought hindi……. fi they knew the historical past people won’t support hindi…..

  26. if not even 20% of india speaks hindi why try to make it a national language ?

  27. Manoj,

    there is already lot of study load in schools, making hindi strict will only make it harder in the curriculum. what need in schools now is yoga and meditation classes compulsory.

  28. Guys none of you are technical in your arguments aginst imposision of hind.

    The following may sound somewhat familiar.

    India is ”Democratic Socialist Secular Republic”


    1. Guys none of you are technical in your arguments against imposition of hind.

      The following may sound somewhat familiar.

      India isโ€Democratic Socialist Secular Republicโ€

      If a language is forced upon you, then democratic principles fail. What is โ€˜โ€™right to chooseโ€™โ€™, when somebody else makes your choise. The joke is, in India Education is not compulsory, but studying Hindi is going to be compulsory.

      Imposition of Hindi is sure to degenerate regional languages. So the Socialist principle of saving ones culture and language, fails.

      The Secular state cannot represent a particular religion, caste, creed, race or LANGUAGE. This is the reason why India doesn’t have a national language. If Hindi is imposed then Secular values are defeated.

      When all the pillar of Indian constitution are broken down then what is the need for a republic. Let there be monarchy and let Mr Sibal be the monarch. Let us all celebrate calling India as ”The Monarchy of HINDIA”.

      Let me explain how a student of a non-hindi state (like Karnataka, AP etc where three language formula already exists) is suffering.

      If I score 95% in English, 95% in Science, 95% in Social Science, 95% in Maths, 95% in the mother tongue/state language. Then my overall score percentage will be 95%.
      But if hindi is made compulsory, then, in order to maintain my overall score percentage as 95%, I should score 95% IN HINDI as well. Even if I score 90% in hindi (by a miracle) then my overall score percentage would be pulled back to 92.50%, thus pushing me below distinction for life ever after. Now who will share with the mourning of a guy who scores 95% overall and 40% in hindi subject. But it should not be forgotten that, as we non hindi students loose (despite our high caliber) my fellow student who is studing in Bihar, UP , MP will be gaining at our cost.

      This is one of the reasons why the civil services and other Govt jobs are no more a south Indianโ€™s choice. There were the days when civil services were dominated by south Indians (Eg TN Sheshan, Gopalaswamy, Karthikeyan IPS, metro man sreedharan to name a few) because the exams were conducted in English (a common platform for both hindi and non hindi speakers) only and we people excelled. Now every exam is being conducted bilingually (English & hindi). Hindi speakers perform well, because they are able to express well in their language. But in our case English is a foreign as is hindi โ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆ.wowโ€ฆ… This stuff is getting lengthy.
      I would conclude saying Hindi is a trap set to tap non-hindi people from further development.

  29. ashish kandwal · · Reply

    hello.who said that even 20%of india not speak hindi?only 20% of indians don’t speak hindi and thats too are south indian because they don’t respect their national language.

  30. @Ashish,
    Can u share some statistics? You are implying that 80% of Indian population is from the North.

  31. @Ashish,
    Also India do not have a national language. It only has official language which happens to be Hindi and English.
    If you are considering Official language as National Language then English is also our National Language.
    Guess you should go back to your history books and look at your stats a bit.

  32. Hi people here( i meant people from north) thinks India means only that part which speaks Hindi, others wish or not consider they have decided that Hindi is national language(though legally hindi alone is not national language of India) they love their language n feel desi through their language if some one speaks other Indian language its not Indian to them to me speaking in Tamil gives me desi feeling so is for Kannada ppl or Telugu ppl as u ppl who feel so in hindi.

    India is an great idea, which means all diverse people come together n respect diversity and encourage free choice n respect all culture religion n language equally, if someone imposes hindi on us n asking it to respect as sole national language n calling others r regional is unfair n stabbing at back after asking all other language speaking kingdom to unite as india and then imposing their language as only identity for all us is completely un acceptable n unethical so linguistic racial view

  33. The REAL Indian · · Reply

    First of all Hindi is NOT a national language of India. It is a official language along with other 21 languages. To hail your Hindi racism, please don’t hurt India’s theme “Unity in Diversity”. If you feel English is a foreign language for you. Same for us Hindi and English both of them are foreign languages. So we choose, which is better for us. Don’t force us to choose YOUR language as a national language, which straight away hurts our national interest. Then many states in India will ask for a freedom from India.

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