Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s pitch for Hindi as national language because it is the “heart and soul of our freedom struggle” should have been best avoided because it is beset with strongly divisive attitudes especially in the South where the earlier anti-Hindi agitation had disturbed a hornet’s nest.
The three-language formula has held its ground over the last few decades with Hindi and a regional language ruling the roost along with English. There is no need for raking up a fresh controversy at a time when the agenda of this government must be to knit the country together emotionally.
By seeking to thrust Hindi down the throat of millions, the BJP would be committing a grave act of indiscretion. To use any measure of compulsion would arouse a fresh round of anti-North feeling that the Centre must guard against.
The Opposition in general has turned ineffective in recent times especially after the last Lok Sabha elections but an emotive issue like language could well encourage fissiparous tendencies and fuel a divisive agenda that would harm the country.
There is no reason why Hindi and regional languages must not be allowed to co-exist harmoniously. Many feel that the antagonism towards Hindi in the 1960s had been fuelled by inopportune statements by some Hindi zealots who drove a wedge between protagonists of Hindi and their detractors.
Today, the country can ill afford talk of shooting down Hindi to appease zealots promoting regional languages. There is a delicate balance in prevalence today that must not be disturbed.
If the feeling is nurtured that the Hindi-speaking states would be at an advantage in re-defining the new language norms, it would rekindle strong animosity and bad blood between the regions.