There is more to gain and less to lose by declaring Hindi as an official language even if less than 0.01 percent of Nepalis speak Hindi as their mother tongue. The idea of judging whether enough people speak Hindi with their parents as criteria to determine the status of the language is missing the point, or rather pretending to miss the point. Hindi is a special case, and here is why.
Hindi is the lingua franca of the Madhesis living in the Tarai belt – undoubtedly. Anyone who disagrees with it is either out of touch with reality or living in denial. All of us who have spent time in the Tarai have seen, on numerous occasions, that civil servants often converse with the general population and with each other in Hindi. They prefer to talk in Hindi with each other compared to Nepali for purely practical reasons. When Nepali speakers in Kathmandu converse with thelawalas they don’t converse in Maithili or Bhojpuri, they converse in Hindi. When Girjia Prasad Koirala addressed the Madhesis to calm the Madhesi uprising, he spoke in Hindi—not Nepali, Bhojpuri or Maithili.
Making Hindi an official language is putting a symbolic end to the use of affinity toward India’s language and culture as a discriminatory tool.
But the more important reason why Hindi should be granted the status of an official language among eleven other languages is not because it is the lingua franca of the Tarai but because it has been used as tool to discriminate against the Madhesis for centuries. Making Hindi an official language, and dhoti one of the official dresses, is putting a symbolic end to the use of affinity toward India’s language and culture as a discriminatory tool.
Nepali nationalism has historically been defined against that of India. There was a conscious effort, and for the right reason, to create a separate identity that did not resemble that of northern India. This strategy must have certainly helped the Shah kings create a distinct identity for Nepal, rally the masses, and may have consequently helped in preserving Nepal as a sovereign nation. While this has been the good side, there is a sad story that remains untold. This is the story of Madhesi youth in the country.
Madhesis have grown up in Nepal learning to be tolerant toward someone ridiculing Hindi, dhoti and India. It has been a part of survival technique. They grow up listening to open ridiculing of Hindi and dhoti. In order to fit in with friends, many join the rest in bashing the language, attire of the Indians. Yet, when they come home they see their parents and grandparents wear dhoti and occasionally speak in Hindi. Some have relatives in India who speak in Hindi with them. How many of us have wondered what effect this could have on nine to 14-year-old Madhesis? This must create conflicts in a young Madhesi kid, sucking the confidence out of him at an early age.
It has been quite interesting to read arguments made against Hindi as one of the official languages. One noted journalist, Dhurba Adhikari, writes: “But does Nepal have the required resource base to have a dozen official languages?” What resources are we talking about here? I mean how costly has it been to give all religions equal status. After all, considering Hindi and Maithili as official languages does not mean that government documents are going to be written in Hindi and Maithili. It is simply a magnanimous gesture. Let us stop making lame excuses.
The other argument is that Hindi is the mother tongue of only 0.47 percent of Nepali citizens and that we should only grant official status to languages spoken by at least 1 percent of the population. Let us cut to the chase. This is not about whether Hindi is spoken by 0.01 percent of people or 1 percent of people; it’s a tussle between Nepali speakers who want to continue to have the superior symbolic advantage over those that converse in Hindi or have proximity to Hindi culture, and Madhesis who want to level the playing field.
If, as many of us like to proudly claim, the goal is to have a culturally -tolerant, diverse, democratic, politically-stable Nepal that is a breeding ground for Nepali citizens confident about their identity, granting Hindi an official language status can only help. It will help in healing wounds of the past. It will help in creating a fresh new identity. It will help in creating a generation of Nepalis who will genuinely embrace diversity. Not granting Hindi an official status would be missing a golden opportunity.
(Writer is an Assistant Professor of Economics and Finance at Texas A&M International University in Texas, USA.)
Hindi is speoken by 20% in India and is not spoken in many states even in India where Hindi originated.
Why hindi in Npeal> Hindi is not receognized even in India . India tried to espouse Hindi in India but it was widely opposed by the southern Indian states.
So it doesnot make sense to make Hindi as an official language in nepal
I am surprised that you are in NC and still hold such intolerant views. People who can´t argue usually end by using words like ´nonsense´. And my last shot to you is what someone has already said in response to the comments similar to you posted: kua ka bhyaguta haru (frogs in the well).
hahahaha this will be my last shot for you lajjit nepali.....
What nepali want is in this comment list...
only you are the one talking nonsenses about this useless article