A day after Samajwadi party MLA Abu Azmi was slapped by MNS members in the Maharashtra Assembly for taking the oath in Hindi, his Mumbai store was stoned by the Shiv sena. Anti-Hindi sentiments have had a long history in India and regional language activists opposed to Hindi exist in many Indian state. But the preeminence of Hindi is being challenged whereas English is seen as aspirational.
Either Maharashtra, Tamilnadu, Karnataka , it happened everywhere. I definitely think that people's representatives should be able to speak the language of the state. But nobody can accept what happened in the Maharashtra Assembly simply because one cannot take law into their hands.
In South India, English is a much more unifying factor than Hindi. While in the north it has been seen that parties like the Samajwadi party have an anti-English, pro-Hindi stand.Moreover If there is a provision in the Constitution to take oath in Hindi and other languages then why this opposition? Forcing anybody to take oath in a particular language is un-gettable.
Mumbai has always been a city of multi-lingual identity,the arrival of Hindi in Mumbai as a dominant language on the street as been in the last 20 years because of the migration that has come from UP and Bihar. However, Hindi is not alien. Bollywood has existed for years. In fact it was Raj Thackeray who got Michael Jackson to Mumbai a decade ago.Also two accumulate fund for the party Raj had organized bollywood shows in Maharashtra.
English is seen as aspirational. All the MNS leaders might be sending their children to English medium schools. So this language war is just a political battle. Forty years ago Bal Thackeray had waged a war against Tamilians, now the battle is with the Hindi-speaking migrants,Everyone wants to take some thing out of this Marathi issue and on the ground taking little care of the actual development for Marathi Manoos.
Recently an Member of Parliament spoke in Tamil in the Rajya Sabha and nobody had a problem there. Infact it was welcomed by many hindi speaking politicians knowing the fact that he cant speak hindi or english.So many MLAs have taken oath in Hindi in Maharashtra Assembly earlier. Then why is it a problem today?
But one more point need to be mentioned , The traders for example from Gujrat whichever state they go to, the first thing they do is learn the local language.There should be an acceptance of the states tradition and diversity. We have to make an effort to understand each other and communicate. Respect for sentiments is important to reach out to each other.This goes without saying.That will create more peaceful environment.
Last and most important point here is if Raj Thackeray wants to protect the Marathi language then he should do more constructive things. Marathi schools and libraries are in a bad shape and that is where he needs to focus on rather than politicising the issue. It is very easy to target an Abu Azmi because it gets you instant popularity. It is much more difficult to encourage libraries, plays and culture. Politicians need a quick fix to make a point so Azmi plays a Hindi card while Raj Thackeray plays the Marathi card.
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