Sunday, 15 July 2012

Hindi hain hum...

The Pakistanis are a worried lot. This time it’s the infusion by stealth of `our’ shudh Hindi into `their’ paak Urdu. Our Kareena Kapoor is `sundar’ (she isn’t, but go along with me here), while their Veena Malik is `khoobsurat’ (again, she isn’t but...).   Check out this clip from a light hearted talk show they have called Hasb-e-Haal, where even the otherwise hilarious Azizi laments this `cultural invasion’. As if to get even, they are now pressing for the airing of Pak channels in India (a long overdue step, to be dealt with in a later post).

I am with the Pakistanis here. In fact, I have for long lamented the infusion of shudh Hindi into saral Hindi. Ask any villager in any part of India why he wishes to educate his kid, and he will tell you “Padh likh ke daaktar ya injiniyar ban jaye”.  Apparently, everybody and his aunt know what an injinayar is except the Govt of India, who insists that the correct term for engineer is `abhiyanta’! I once went looking for the office of the Executive Engineer in DESU’s Mayapuri office in Delhi. I passed it three times, till someone pointed out the board - `Adhishasi Abhiyanta’ – this to someone who even the linemen and peons of DESU call `X-EN’ – ok, AXE-EN since it’s Delhi.. 

Vinod Khanna once remarked that the Hindi News Bulletins over All India Radio were not really `Hindi mein samachar’ but `Samachar mein Hindi’! The one reason why Hindi can never truly become our national language is that it is so far removed from spoken Hindustani as to render it a non starter. If I, as a learned person can’t follow the Hindi being used officially, what of the educationally challenged?  If at all Hindi or Hindustani has made any headway south of the Vindhyas, we have only Bollywood to thank, and not any government initiative.

Languages need to be inclusive in case they are to grow and flourish. English liberally opens its doors to words like chai (tea), charpoy, bandobust and so on – why can’t Hindi call an engineer an injiniyar? In the Army, we had a day in the week called the `Hindi Day’ where all official work was to be carried out in Hindi – my Head Clerk was a Keralaite, so you can imagine how THAT went...

With the number of languages and dialects in India in the hundreds, the already acute problem is further exacerbated by idiots making it an emotional issue. If our country can be India in English, Bharat in Hindi and Hindustan in Urdu, why can’t we have Bombay in English, Bambai in Hindi and Mumbai in Marathi??

All regional languages need to be junked as a first step – but that opens up a new line of thought – woh kissa phir kabhi!!


  1. Dear Harish, In my regiment I had no problems getting 100% attendance for all my monthly Battery "Sainik Sammelans" formerly Darbars! Apparently my Hindi was so "tuti-fruti" that the guys from the other Batteries used to come to hear my speeches! Nice one!

  2. Aparna Mittal's Comments

    Harish, as far as I could make out - they are not objecting to shudh hindi - they are objecting to any hindi at the expense of urdu. Shuruaat is not shudh hindi. Aarambh would be. While I love shudh hindi, I agree we would have been better off with hindustani as our official language. The other challenge is teaching our kids not to talk like the cartoons or reality TV - even in English..

  3. Raju Ghatpande's Comments..

    While on Sainik Sammellans our CO (Col Mathews M P if you please) was always at a loss to know as to why the attendance on the other Regtl Parades was so thin where as His Sainik Sammellans used to be "House Full"....He used to insist on speaking in shudh(so he claimed) Hindi and declare the Sammellan open with the first salvo "Jo mai bolti vo pichey dikhai deti?"......Mathews Sir your contribution in popularising Hindi is still recognised....

  4. Samina Rizwan's Comments..

    Aparna, I think the discussion by Azizi was about more than just language, it was about cultural invasion. The language matter is easier to resolve, but the cultural invasion is not going to be neutralized through discussions like this one. Azizi, usually so articulate and bang-on about attitudes and impacts, I think misses it this time. Our children watch "Indian" translations of cartoons because there are no Pakistani translations. One can not expect moms to suddenly become vigilant about culture, one has to provide the content to them and their kids. Also, we are so paranoid about Indian cultural invasion, why did we never object to Captain America and Superman - white anglosaxons who have been welcomed into our homes for generations? They have caused more damage than the Devtas of Hindu mythology can! Short short, I can poke a million holes in Azizi's line of discussion. Having said that, I am concerned (even more than Azizi) about the cultural invasion and I strictly watch my childrens' perception of their own culture, heritage, sense of dignity and use of language, but then what is my children's heritage? I believe it is Sub-continental, Pakistani, Punjabi and Islamic in that order. I never say to them "salaam aise nahin aisey". Nonsense. All Sindhis in Pakistan say "Saeein, Assalamoalaikum" while gesturing like Namaste. People like Azizi, or their counterparts on the other side, forget that the Adaab is not a "Pakistani" tradition. It is, for lack of better definition, a tradition of the urdu-speaking immigrants from India, the ahle-zuban or "Hindustani" as we call them to this day. The Punjabi, Pathan, Sindhi and Baluchi communities have never used Adaab. So much for Lahore in Veer Zaara, or Zaara herself. You will not see a single Lahoran like Zaara - they would be more like, say, Puro in "Pinjar" or Priyanka's character in "Teri Meri Kahani". I think we spend too much time lamenting the inevitable and too little strategizing to prevent in advance.

    As for the language, that pains me no end, I admit. Shuruaat is just not a word....who created it? There is the beautiful "Aghaaz" or even "Shuru se"...why shuruaat? What jarrs most is the Kh...Khuda not from the epiglotis but from the throat. A close second is the mere ko-tere ko, and then that confounding lilt that is sing-song in a daft kind of way. This does not mean that Hindi words in Urdu are a no-no. Why? Urdu is, I would say, 60% Hindi with a healthy and beautiful peppering of Arabic, Turkish, Persian and English. Addition of a new word is refreshing and gives longevity to the language. Bastardization of words, diction, delivery - that hurts! I can not understand why Urdu is considered Pakistani or Muslim, why do we own it and Indians reject it? Why do Indians own Hindi and we reject it? Can we decide who owns Punjabi, or Sindhi?

  5. Hi Fellows,
    What is Hidi is known and what is Arabic is Known so is little known very old and very rich in litreture and most sweet language in the World is Persian.Persian language does not have hard sounds.

    When these invaders from Persia now Iran invaded and stayed in India , a common language called URDU was born. The dilect became immensl popular. The script was taken from Arabic the base language of Persian and words emerged to form this language called URDU more because of its writing.

    Thus the claim on URDU by Pakistan being its language may not be correct.In Punjab URDU was officail language even in Courts till very late. HIDI is spoken very rarely by few people but language of most Indians is HIDUSTANI which is mix of many languages. It is popular as it is language of Massses. Hindi despite govt orders is not popular as it is NOT a language of Masses.

    Thus let the Masses decide on its communication, any dictat in any counrty on such issues is counter productive.

    1. I agree, Ravi - and I also know you studied Persian as a foreign language.. For my father and his generation, Urdu was the FIRST language, sad that we didn't imbibe it from them..

      Would also recommend that you read Samina's comments above. Although Punjabis, her father (Air Cdre Rafi from the PAF) insisted that the kids learn Urdu rather than Punjabi - since Urdu was their NATIONAL language! Aur yahan, mother tongue ko le kar khoon kharaba hota hai!!

      I don't think we can ever have a NATIONAL language, therefore we have to work around English as an official language, and Hindi and regional languages as back up..

  6. Harish, I unreservedly agree with you on the use of English as an official language and Hindi and other regional languages being a back up but the recent ruckus created by Hindi speaking students over English being one of the subjects for the CSAT exams should have put paid to your ideas. There is no way that the north will allow such a thing to happen. We have to face the fact that the North has always dominated the South on such issues.
    I love Urdu and would indeed lament the contamination of that language. However, as that guest on Aziz's forum said, ' yeh to chalti dariya hai...-' languages continue to evolve over the years so perhaps contamination becomes inevitable.

    1. Vinny, I don't think we need to worry just yet. There's just no option in Indian official officialdom but to carry on with the status quo, at least for the foreseeable future. This CSAT agitation, like all agitations, will die down, and we will return to what we have always had, ie English as the official/link language, and all other languages and dialects fighting for their own space..