In a nation as insanely diverse as India, it is difficult to have one national language, but it does need to have a certain lingua franca.
While Hindi has been developed quite vividly as a formal language, it changes its form very fluidly as it travels. This linguistic adaptability of Hindi makes it an easy choice for cross-cultural communication in a country as insanely diverse as India.
Having World Hindi Day serves as an opportunity for people to explore the history that has been buried in the words of authors and poets. It is really important to be aware of how this language serves as an epoxy to a large part of our civilization and the wisdom & history which has been stored in its literature.
After years of invasions, wars, political turmoil and cultural disintegration, when the country was emerging as an independent nation, Hindi was developed as a language to bring people together in 1857, when the country came together to fight against colonization. In 1881, Bihar became the first state in India to adopt Hindi as an official language.
While Delhi nurtured the language, being the centre of political power, we had people like Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar’ and Safdar Hashmi who effectively used the language to challenge the power structures. On the other hand, the Mumbai film industry also played a huge role in making Hindi popular amongst the masses.
As the Lithuanian poet Jonas Mekas rightfully said, “Civilizations perish because they listen to their politicians and not to their poets”.
The biggest threat to Hindi is its popularity and the resulting politicization. Poets have the responsibility to maintain the universality of the language so that it is not confined to the chains of power and authority and continues to be an effective medium to express ourselves.
In hindsight, Hindi will continue to evolve with time, mass digitization is a recent phenomenon and the way it has democratized the literature industry, we will soon discover the actual poetry being written in this era when the dust of this digital hurricane settles down.
As a society, we should enable regular conversations about the function of Hindi as a language, which is to connect the nation and world, to help regional languages emerge with a powerful voice, and to resurrect the languages which have probably been forgotten.
To serve Hindi is to serve all the languages which have merged to create this language as the “language of revolution”.
As Javed Akhtar Saahab said at a popular Festival celebrating Urdu, “Jab tak samajh mein aaye wo Hindi hai, jab na samajh mein aaye wo Urdu hai.” Hindi has to remain a language which can be understood by the masses, it has to survive as a medium, instead of becoming a barrier to communication.
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