Reactions Against It
According to Tamil Nadu’s political leader, Muthuvel Karunanidhi, prioritising Hindi over the other languages spoken in India is equivalent to treating non-Hindi speakers as secondary citizens. As soon as the government heard of the general reaction to the circular, they decided to withdraw the measure and added that it was originally meant to be addressed to Hindi-speaking states only.
Pushing for Hindi
Hindi is currently the mother tongue of 40 per cent of the Indian citizens, most of whom are concentrated in the north and central parts of the country. Modi himself has been trying to make a point by choosing Hindi when taking his oath of office, during his meetings with foreign leaders and in his trips to international destinations. However, many non-Hindi speakers feel that the current Prime Minister has forgotten about the events which took place 65 years ago.
After the 1950s and 1960s riots that the country was witnessing in defence of local Indian languages, Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indian prime minister at the time, assured all Indian citizens that a switchover from English to Hindi would not take place until non-Hindi speakers stated they were ready for it to happen. Today, many Indians believe that Modi needs to be reminded of this promise.
Languages and the Constitution
The Indian constitution recognises English and Hindi as the official languages of the country. There are other 22 Indian languages which are also recognised and used as official languages within each state. English was chosen as a lingua franca in an attempt to unite all cultures under one useful language which not only makes communication between Indians possible, but also broadens international job opportunities. English is currently used in parliamentary texts, court proceedings and business, and it is also the main language in social media. Hindi, on the other hand, has already been made a compulsory subject in all Indian states except for Tamil Nadu, while the film industry is also helping spread the language around the country. Many think, therefore, that Hindi supporters need to be more patient and wait for the entire country to be able to speak this language to the same extent than those born with Hindi as their mother tongue.