Constituent Assembly Of India -Volume IX
Dated: September 13, 1949
Then there is the question of accepting Sanskrit as the national language. If all the South Indian friends and others accept Sanskrit, I would have no objection and would accept it. Of course, there is the apprehension that Sanskrit is a difficult language, and it will take a long time to learn it, but this is a different matter. The Hindi speaking areas are in a majority, hence Hindi should be adopted as the national language. But the effect of this should not be the extinction of the various provincial languages and their literatures. Every provincial, language should be protected and the Commission or the Committee formed in this connection should take care of it.
In the end I would only say that those who advocate the use of Roman script do not understand the very principles regarding the genesis of the script. The Sound of the language, which is used to express it, is formed into the script : When written in Roman script, Hindi is difficult to understand and cannot be pronounced correctly. Hence, I say, the Roman script is totally unacceptable : it is ugly and has no scientific basis. Hindi written in Devanagri script is most scientific and should be accepted.]
The Honourable Shri N. V. Gadgil (Bombay: General): Mr. President, I do not want to make a long speech. From what I heard yesterday and this morning in this House and from what I see in the List consisting of 350 amendments, including one, to my discredit I should say, from me, I am impelled to make an appeal to the House to rise to the occasion and end this controversy.
Sir, the amendments range from the acceptance of Sanskrit as the national language to the retention of English for at least one century more. In this context, I do feel that the sense of responsibility with which we have so far carried on the deliberations on far more important topics should be appealed to.
As I analyse the proposition moved by my esteemed Friend Shri Gopalaswami Ayyangar, I think that that is the best in the circumstances. It does not mean that that is the right one under the circumstances. But let us not aspire to solve all the problems simultaneously. Let us leave some of them to the next generation to solve ten or fifteen years hence. What I find is that certain broad principles or broad facts clearly emerge from this proposition. No. I is that there is a fair measure of agreement on the fact that Hindi should be the official language of the Union. I think a declaration of that kind is an achievement. I find also the important fact that the script should be Devanagri. I think to have one script for the official language throughout the Union territory is also on achievement.
I further find, Sir, that there is a spirit of give-and-take in this proposition in as much as an interim period of fifteen years is contemplated during which those whose mother-tongue is not Hindi will have an opportunity to pick up Hindi and get themselves familiarised with it.
After all, the only difference that I find from the various amendments and the speeches relates to the numerals. It will be a sad tragedy if we were tohang the unity and solidarity of this Country on the cross of numerals. I therefore appeal to my Hindi friends with whom I agree in theory-but being a practical man-somebody has credited me with being a politician-I appeal to them to leave something to the next generation; Let the future solve this question of numerals. I do not think. it is such an insurmountable thing that it cannot be solved, given the necessary goodwill, but in the present context where I find a good deal of emotion and passion and play of personalities also, whatever efforts we may make now, instead of bringing the parties together, they win result in something contrary. I therefore appeal in particular to my esteemed Friend, Shri Purushottam Das Tandon that like a big brother he must make a gesture. Hindi today admittedly is a provincial language.
Mr. President:I request the speaker to make no personal reference. It places the gentleman referred to in an awkward position.
The Honourable Shri N. V. Gadgil: I accept your ruling and (he reference may be deleted from the proceedings. After all, Hindi is a provincial language. There are languages in which literature is far more rich, and yet we have accepted Hindi as the national language. That itself is a great achievement for the Hindi people, and if you want to persuade others, the best way is not with the strength of your voting numbers but by persuasion, by tactfully handling the situation; if in the course of the next ten or fifteen years the Hindi people were to approach the non-Hindi people through the, various means of propaganda, I have not the slightest doubt that those people who have taken to English in the course of the last century and a half, will not fail to take to Hindi.
After all, there is not a single Indian who, if he is asked whether he would have English or any of the Indian languages, will vote for English, instead of any one of the Indian languages including his own mother-tongue. So, let the Hindi people go about their task with hope and faith just as they have done in the past and win over the rest by propaganda, not in an aggressive manner but in a persuasive manner. The proposition that has been moved itself provides the procedure whereby what they desire can be achieved, in a much better way than exists today.
In the course of the last three yesars we have not taken any important decision by going into the lobby. Let us not depart from that record. Let the world know that on all important questions, those which constitute the foundations of the Constitution, the decisions here were taken unanimously. If the decision today is taken unanimously, it will not leave any feeling of bitterness; but, as I said, if the Hindi people who constitute a majority in the country and also perhaps in this House, make that gesture, I think the judgment of history will be to their credit. I do not want to take up the time of the House further, but I do hope that what I have suggested will be acceptable to the House.
Shri T. A. Ramalingam Chettiar (Madras: General) : Mr. President, Sir, this is a very difficult question for us from the South to solve. It probably means life and death for the South. unless it is going to be handled in the way in which it ought to be done. Well, Sir, for us coming from the South to go back and face our people with any decision you are going to make here, you will see what it will mean. I have been told by friends of the North that if they were to yield on the question of numerals, they will be twitted by their voters and that they will find their life difficult when they go for elections. What will it be like when we, giving up our own languages, adopt the language of the North, go back to our provinces and face our electorates ? They do not seem to care for out position. Sir I have great admiration for the Hindi people for their great patriotism and the perseverance and the pesistence with whichthey are enforcing their decisions, but at the same time they will have to realise that we too may have some patriotism like that, we may have some patriotism and love for our language, for our literature and things like that.
After all, where do we stand ? We have got languages which are better cultivated and which have greater literature than Hindi in our areas. If we are going to accept Hindi, it is not on account of the excellence of the language, it is not on account of its being the richest language or on account of its being, as it has been claimed for Sanskrit, the mother of other languages and things like that. It is not that at all. It is merely on account of the existence of a large number of people speaking Hindi, not even a majority of the population of the country, but only among the languages which are spoken in India, Hindi claims probably the largest number of people. It is only on that basis that they are claiming that Hindi should be accepted as the official language of the whole country. Well, Sir, being practical, we do not claim that our languages which are better cultivated, which have got better literature, which are ancient, which have been there for millenniums, should be adopted.
Mr. President: May I make a request to the Members that we should not compare the literatures of different languages. I do not know whether any Member here knows the literature of the different languages that are prevalent in the country and when any Member says that his own language and literature is richer than that of this language or that language, he propounds a proposition which cannot be accepted, and the thing is not carried any further by that kind of argument. Let us confine ourselves to propositions which are ordinarily an generally acceptable and not enter into controversies which can be avoided.
Prof. N. G. Ranga (Madras : General): How is it possible to make out your case unless you compare one with the other.
Mr. President: You may make up your mind but do not say so.
Prof. N. G. Ranga: I do not think it is reasonable.
Shri T. A. Ranialingam Chettiar : Anyhow, I was saying that the claim of Hindi is not based on its literature, its antiquity or anything like that. Well, Sir, such being the position, I want the Hindi speaking brethren sitting here to consider whether they I are justified in making the claim for everything they want and putting us, coming from the South, in the false position which we will occupy if we are going to accept all their claims. That is the things which I want them to consider and consider deeply.
Sir, on account of the realities of the situation, as I said, we have accepted Hindi in Nagari script as the official language. I however said that you cannot use the word national language, because Hindi is no more national to us than, English or any other language. We have got our own languages which are national languages and for which we have got the same love as the Hindi speaking people have got for their language. We have agreed to Accept Hindi and the Nagari character as the official language. and script because, as I said, that language claims a larger number of people speaking it than any other language in India. If, for that reason alone, you are going to say that you ought to change over tomorrow, if you are to claim that it ought to be adopted As the official language today or tomorrow. I think it would not be accepted by the people. It would lead not only to frustration and disappointment"-'but something worse.
I may say that the South is feeling frustrated. If there is the feeling of having obtained liberty, freedom and all that, there is very little of it felt inthe South. Sir, coming here to the capital in the northern-most part of the country, and feeling ourselves as strangers in this laud, we do not feel that we are a nation to whom the whole thing belongs, and that the whole country is ours. Unless steps are taken to make the people in the South feel that they have something to do with the country, and that there is some sort of unity in the country, I do not think the South is going to be satisfied at all. There will be a bitter feeling left behind. To what it may lead, it is not easy to say at present.
I have been saying that one of the most important questions is the question of the capital of India. The question is a very important one. People laugh at it sometimes; they do not know the seriousness of the matter. When a man has to come two thousand miles and do his things here, he naturally feels that he is not in his own land. He feels as if it is a strange country to which he has come. In the social life of Delhi, how many Madrasis have got a share, I ask the question. I have been here for the last two or three years; I know very few people in Delhi or U.P. That is the state of affairs. Unless things are made easier for the South, unless the capital is taken to a place, which will common ground for all people, which would not be claimed by the U.P. or the Punjab as their territory, the Southerners will feel that they are going to a strange land. It has been said the other day that the Madrasis are holding positions. Does it show that there is any nationalism here ? Why should not Madrasis hold position if the Punjabis and people from the U.P. are not able to fill up those positions ? After all, if you claim that you have made progress within the last two years, is it not those people who are now at the helm of affairs that have contributed to that'? Sir, such things are not going to lead to unity.
This question of language is much more important than even the question of capital, the question of offices and things like that, If you are going to impose. anything and leave a feeling that you are going to impose it on other people, whether it is a real imposition or not, whether as a matter of fact, as somebody said, it is the natural course to which we have come and we could not avoid it, even if it is so, if there is this feeling that there is this imposition, of the North over the South, it will lead to very bitter results. I do not want to say anything by way of telling my friends in the North that things will go wrong, But at the same time, I think it is necessary for them to realise that, after all when we want to five together and form a united nation, there should be mutual adjustment and no question of forcing things on people who may or may not want it.
After all, what is it that we have asked for ? We asked for time for preparation. That is the first thing that we wanted. It was agreed to by the leaders on the other side. They said that they will allow fifteen years for preparation. What does the draft say? The draft goes back upon it. In the clause it says, for fifteen years English will continue, In, the second clause, it says there will be appointed a Commission or a Committee after five years and the Committee will recommend for what purposes Hindi can be introduced and the President may issue orders- accordingly. What does it mean ? At least with reference to these matters with reference to which order will be issued, the term of fifteen years has been cut down to five. Then you say, after ten years, you are going to appoint another Commission and that Commission is to report and on that report, orders will be passed. What does this mean ? You are only saying that you are allowing fifteen years; but at the end of five years, and at the end of ten years, you are going to introduce Hindi with the natural result that we who are not able to take our part in the administration, in the Government, in the legislature and elsewhere will not be in a position to take our share because we are not prepared by that time. Itis only giving a hope in the first portion of the section and taking away that hope and giving us mere stones in the latter portion of the draft.
I do not know who is responsible for the draft. I have no doubt that Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar has come out to propose it. But, I for instance cannot at all accept it unless the fifteen years period is made real and not merely chimerical by the introduction of these Committees and Commissions and changes which are expected after the fifth year and the tenth year. That is the main thing with which we in the South will be concerned.
The South is the only part of the country probably which does not feel that it is going to come into line with the other provinces soon, especially my part of the country where Tamil is the language spoken. We have been priding ourseleves that we have had nothing to do with Sanskrit. We do not claim that Tamil is derived from Sanskrit, or is based on Sanskrit in any way. We have been trying to keep our vocabulary as pure as possible without the admixture of Sanskrit. Now, we have, to go back upon all that. We have to take words from Sanskrit; we have to change our whole course of action. What it means to the people who have been brought tip in their own language, who have been priding themselves that their language has been independent of Sanskrit, and that that is the only language which can stand against Sanskrit, you have to consider. In that position, we are to prepare ourselves first with reluctance to give up our old position and take to a study of Hindi or Sanskrit. You will have first to educate the people, I mean make them reconcile themselves to the new order of things. Then, they will have to take to the study of Hindi, to enable them to take their place here among those whose mother tongue is Hindi.
Not only that, you are permanently handicapping us. Those whose mother tongue is Hindi they learn only Hindi. But, we in the South, we have got to study not only Hindi but also our own mother tongue; we-cannot give up our mother tongue. There is also the regional language; we have to study that. Permanently, for ever, you are handicapping us by this arrangement. You in the North will have to realise what sacrifice we are making.
After all, what do we ask for in return ? We say, do not complicate matters by having not only the script, but also the numerals. The numerals are being used for purposes of accounts, for purposes of statistics and other things. You want to take away not only the language and the script, but also the numerals. You say that our accounts will have to be kept hereafter in the Hindi numerals if you are going to produce them before the Income-tax authorities. Sir, we have been habituated to these numerals for ever so long a time. After all, the question of numerals is not a question which concerns the South alone. It is a matter of convenience and it is a matter on which people both in India and outside are concerned; statistics have to go outside, Things have to be put in the accounts and sciences in a particular numeral. If you are going to say you have to adopt Hindi numeral, what are you going to do for other purpose? If you are to study anything from outside whether science, banking or anything else, everything will appear in other books only in the international numerals.
After all what is the objection to international numerals ? It is only on the ground that we ought to have 100 per cent. Hindi, because you have agreed to adopt the Hindi language in the Hindi script, you better adopt the Hindi numerals also. You do not care what results from that. After an, the whole world is adopting international numerals. Why should you fight shy because you want to dominate the whole of India ?it is much more the spirit that actuates the people that is so difficult to meet. It is not even the things that are said-we have given up our language in favour of Hindi-but the way in which the Hindi speaking people treat us and the way in which they want to demand things that is more galling than anything which actually is done or is going to be done. That is the way in which it is said of course you ought to accept'. That is the thing that exasperates us. I appeal to the North Indian people not to take up that attitude, to have a feeling that we are all living together in a common country, we have to create a nation-there is no such thing now-and that unless there is give and take, unless they are also prepared to adjust themselves and not demand every. body to adjust according to their dictates. It is only then that India can proceed and ran be successful and form a united nation.
Otherwise I shudder to think what may be the future for us. There ought to be accommodation. I need not say that history has taught us that if there is trouble the outlying places will always try to take advantage of the trouble. We have the example of Burma and other countries. Supposing tomorrow there is some difficulty here, what will be the position? Unless you weld the nation and you make everybody feel that they have got a share in the country and it is their country, unless you do that, if you go on keeping the spirit of domination of one part over the other, I am sure the result is not going to be for the progress or for the safety of the country. Sir, with these words I appeal again to the Hindi speaking people to give up their attitude of domination and of dictation and to adjust themselves.
Shri Satis Chandra Samanta (West Bengal : General) : Mr. President, Sir, I have moved amendments Nos. 223 and 278. In 223, I have proposed that Bengali should be taken as the official or national language of India. As regards language, children-learn language even in the laps of their mother and the language they talk is called the mother-tongue. Everybody loves his mother-tongue. Now we are in need of an official language, a national language for the administration of our country. So, there should be no controversy about the mother-tongues and languages used in different regions and so I have no grudge against any of the languages but I respectfully submit to put the case of Bengali before this august House for their favourable Consideration.
Bengali is a rich language; it has a long history; it has an ancient and a brilliant literature; it has its philology and the like. So it will not be out of place to put the case of Bengali for the acceptance of House. I know most of my friends are bent upon taking up a language which will be more intelligible to the people of India. I would say that only intelligibility to the largest number should not be the criterion, other things also should be taken into consideration. We are taking a language to be our official language or a national language and we should expect which it that we should try to make it one of the international languages. So if we have that point in mind viz., that we should make out national language an international language,-then we must see which of the languages of India has some place at least in the international world. I would submit that Bengali is taught in foreign Universities such as Oxford, Warsaw where Ravindrology is taught in Harvard in the U.S.A. It has also been recognised in language institution in Paris, Munich, Moscow and in Rome. So I submit that Bengali has some international connections. The vocabulary of Bengali should now be taken into consideration.
There is the question of scientific terminology, Shri P. C. Ray, Jagadanda Roy, of Santi Niketan the late Principal G. C. Bose of Banga Basi College Ramendra Sundar Trivedi and others tried their best and coined scientific terminologies in Bengali. There is a monthly magazine known as Gyan Vigyandevoted to the development of such scientific and technical terms. The Bengali language has all these things.
Over and above these, I would beg of you to consider the case of our revered poet Guru Dev, Shri Rabindranath Tagore. It was he who established the Viswabharathi and in that institution, he has made arrangements for the teaching of Bengali and all the other languages of India and even for some languages of other countries. Rabindranath's name is well-known to one and all not only in India, but all the world over. There is not a single man or woman here in this House who does not know this name. Rabindranath's lyrics and songs are learnt and sung by all. They have been translated into the various languages of the world and they have been treasured by all of them. In Calcutta University almost all the Indian languages are taught even in Post-Graduate classes.
Another thing I would draw your attention to, is this. We are now a free nation and in our freedom's struggle, we were all inspired by that great song Bande Mataram; for this Mantram thousands have made sacrifice. For Bande Mataram thousands have sacrificed their property and all. This song inspired one and all in India and this Mantra was given to us by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in his Ananda Math". So I would invite your hearts and mind to this fact, when you are going to select your national and official language.
Sir, I have no quarrel with any one, language I would beg of you to see that Bengali contains Arabic, Turkish and Persian words right from 1200 A. D. Later on it has drawn on from Portugeese, French, English languages. Though originally Bengali was Prakrit, and therefore it contains a lot of Sanskrit words, it has grown by drawing from all these other language also. I would beg I would beg of you to consider this also when you are selecting the official and national language.
Time-honoured customs, culture, literature--all these are there in Bengali.
I would also add that Bengali has advanced in another direction also. It has got Bengali typewriting machine. The Bengali typewriting machine has been made by Shri Suresh Chandra Mazumdar of Ananda Bazar an honourable Friend of mine of this august House. There has been Bengali shorthand from 1915. So official work can easily be carried on in this language. It will be quite suitable for such work in India.
Sir, a lot of controversy has been going on and I do not want to enter into any of them. I put forward before you the case of Bengali and I may say that for my part I am ready to accept the language which will be accepted by the overwhelming majority of this House. But it should not be less than three-fourth of the House, because if it is less, then there will be controversy and the people will not accept that language heartily. It is true that those people who will have to learn the national language will be put to some difficulty. We Indians have suffered so much and sacrified so much for attaining freedom for our country. Can you not suffer a bit for the national language of our land We should, and everybody should, be prepared to make that little sacrifice. The responsibility lies on us. We should select that language which will be acceptable to all and for which they will be prepared to make a little sacrifice. Sanskrit has been mentioned. Hindi has been mentioned. I am not going to say anything against them, because every language should be respected. I would request friends here not to get into controversies but to put their cases safely and justly so that the language selected may be acceptable to all of us. With these words, Sir, I commend my proposition for acceptance of the House.
Shri Algu Rai Shastri (United Provinces : General) : *[Mr. President, with your permission, Sir, I beg to move a small amendment to the amendment
*[ ] Translation of Hindustani speech.
moved by Shri Gopalaswami Ayyanger and request the House kindly to accept the same. My amendment runs thus
You will find that the amendment moved by Shri Gopalaswami Ayyangar is so lengthy that it constitutes a volume in itself. We are going to frame a Constitution and a Constitution should embody only fundamental principles. Article 99, as originally drafted by the Drafting Committee, briefly stated that the language of the Parliament shall be Hindi or English. The question was dealt therein in a very few words. But the amendment moved by Shri Gopalaswami Ayyangar contains many extraneous matters. When I read in the original article drafted by the Drafting Committee for the first time these few words contained in it, that the language used in Parliament shall be Hindi or English, it made me think that the whole question of language had been put in clear and definite terms.
English of course had become indispensable to us only for the reason that our country had been under the yoke of British imperialism for the last two centuries and the alien ruler' imposed his language on us during that period, This imposed language dominated every aspect of the life of our country and became supreme of course in central administration. Even today it appears to be occupying a very prominent position. Till recently English held a dominating position in our country.
When we started the movement for our freedom, we had an ideal before us. What was that ideal? What was the objective for which we launched the struggle for freedom?' We wanted complete freedom from the British domination, we wanted swaraj (self government). We had visualised a picture of 'Swaraj'. This word 'Swaraj' is a Sanskrit word and it has become current in Hindi also in its original, sense. It has a very comprehensive meaning. It means 'self' that is one's individuality, personality are all included in this word. Politically it implies that we are one nation and one country.
We have a common and ancient history. We have a common language having a rich literature of its own. This Vedic Sanskrit-the ancient form of our language-was for long in dominant use in our country. But a language never remains stationary. Our language also underwent some changes. But this was what happened in the case of all other languages. Thus the ancient form of the English language which is being so much extolled here every day was not the same as that is today. I have just read a book from which I find that in olden days the word 'King' was spelt as 'Kynge' and was pronounced in a different way. The ancient style of English was also very much different from the modern style. There were only a limited number of words in English. Some specimens of that English can be found in what Karl Marx wrote about the Industrial Revolution in Britain. An historian has depicted the deplorable condition of the villages in England when the lands of the peasants were acquired in order to promote the trade of wool in foreign countries and farms for rearing sheep were established on them. an event on which the famous book"Deserted Village" was written. Some extracts from the history have been, taken by Karl Marx in order to give a picture of their conditions and these ex-tracts are to found in his famous book "Das Kapital".. The language in which the condition of their English village is depicted provides us with a beautiful specimen of English used in those days.
The language current in those days bears no relation to the modern English. There is a wide difference between the style of ancient English and that adopted Ruskin, Dickens, Shakespeare, and Milton. It is thus plain that language never remains static. It is changing and developing. Similarly the language which we are going to make the national language of the land has descended from the very Vedic Sanskrit which was at one time a living language and was for centuries occupying a place of honour in our country.
We had been aspiring to recapture our fundamental and real self. The rose plant of our national life had so long remained buried deep under the ice of subjugation. Its leaves had withered, its flowers were dry and dead. Only one of its stems-I mean language-had some life left in it. But even in the darkest hour we knew that spring would return, we were sure that the ice of Subjugation will melt and our rosy life would bloom again, and we knew that the plant of our life would send forth beautiful rose flowers of its own. Our country had remained for centuries under foreign rule. Our rich and fertile plans were invaded by foreigners many a time; ultimately we lost our freedom and became slaves of the foreigners. We have always been making an effort to throw off the yoke of foreign rule. The national movement for freedom was but an aspect of this perennial effort of our people.
The movement for liberating ourselves which our people have carried on had a long history. The last phase of our armed efforts for liberation was the battle that we were forced to fight against the British Imperialist in 1857. The movement of 1857, known as the mutiny, was but an expression of that striving of our people for freedom. While the Objectives Resolution was being discussed in this House I had said that that movement of 1857 had been fertilised by the blood of such martyrs as the Rani of Jhansi and Bahadur Shah, the Begums of the Nawab of Oudh and Tippu Sultan, Tantia Tope and Nana Farnavis.
Ultimately the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi had made it possible for us to witness that dawn of freedom in which we had assembled to pay our homage to the great departed and sin,, the songs of our freedom. Now that we have attained sivaraj it should be possible for our 'swa' (self) to manifest itself. It is a matter of deep regret that there are some people here today who say that we have no language of Our own and that in fact we have nothing in common and that we have to create and develop all these things anew. But I would like to tell them that we do possess a language that is common to us, that is understood by a large number of people of this country. At least that is my experience.
In 1942 while returning from Bombay I had to rush straight to the Frontier Province. Khan brothers arc not here amongst us and I may add that their absence is a source of agony to our hearts. But I had on that occasion the pleasure of meeting, the Khan brothers in a camp on the bank of river Sarab. What do you think was the language in which I carried on my conversations and talks with the common volunteers in that camp ? It was not Pushto. It was in no circumstances English. Will it surprise you what I tell you that it was simple Hindi-the Hindi in which I am at present addressing the House-that I talked with the volunteers and I found that they understood my Hindi quite well. Previously in 1928, I had accompanied Lal Lajpat Raito Madras; I may inform you that there also I had talked to the people in Hindi, for- the very simple reason that I am not accustomed to speak in English. Is it necessary for me to say that all those with whom I had occasion to talk understood my Hindi well and it may surprise some of my friends to learn that people there also talked in Hindi with me?
During the Congress session of Cocanada, the annual session of the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan was also held there under the Presidentship of the late Shri Jamanalal Bajaj. I had there the occasion to hear a recitation of Hindi poem by some local girls. Perhaps a better recitation than that cannot be given even by the people of northern India.
What I mean to convey is that Hindi is understood in every province and we are pledged to make is our national language. It was Mahatmaji who gave birth and inspiration to this idea. We wanted that we should be free and that the English should go away from our land. We had hoped that with the departure of the English people their language would also disappear from this land and that we would be able to use our language in place of English. We had not learnt English voluntarily. It was introduced here under the scheme prepared by Lord Macaulay. The alien rulers wanted cheap 'clerks and to this end English was taught us. Those who learnt this language at the initial stage of its introduction came in close contact with the administration and the government and this, as was natural created a love in them for English.
We had thought that with the arrival of freedom, our dress, our language, will regain their lost position and that freedom in its wake would bring new ideas, sentiments and inspiration to us. The dawn of independence has actually brought all this with it:
One who loves his language, dress and diet will never fall into the subjection of others. There was a natural longing in the people's mind to bring the national language to its own in free India.
The question may be asked as to what is our national language. There is no doubt that Sanskrit is the mother of all the languages spoken in India. An of them are derived from Sanskrit; for their vocabulary they have drawn upon Sanskrit which is an inexhaustible source of words. But Sanskrit, the mother of the current Indian languages, cannot be enthroned today on the pedestal of the national language. Its eldest and the seniormost daughter alone can today be the national language. There are many other people, Sir, in this country, but God has bestowed upon you the ability to adorn this high office and we earnestly wish you to be the first President of the Indian Republic. Who doesnot aspire for this office? But everybody has not the merit to occupy this august office. If we want that the President of the first Constituent Assembly of India should be the first President of the Indian Republic, does that mean that we are making any exaggerated claims or that we are giving vent to avarice ?]
Mr. President: *[The Honourable member is talking beside the, point.]
Shri Algu Rai Shastri: *[Discussion as to what should be our. national language, implies our acceptance, of the fact that English cannot be our national language. Now the question arises as to which one of the languages current in the country can be made the national language of our State. Hindi alone has acquired an inter-provincial status. A majority of the people of the country speak Hindi.
* [ ] Translation of Hindustani speech.
Some non-Hindi speaking friends have claimed that their literature is richer than ours. I may concede that claim, but can they honestly say that the number of the people speaking their language is greater than that of those who speak Hindi. If the answer be in the negative, I would like to ask them, which course wouldbe more proper whether to replace English by a language and a script that is spoken and written by a majority of the people or by some other language? Hindi has rivalry with English alone. It has no rivalry with Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, Canarese or Pushto or any other language. The English Government has gone, II. English Governor-General and Governors have gone. Now an Indian Governor-General and Governors have been appointed In this context it is but fit that an Indian language should also take the place of English here.
Having due consideration for all the relevant factors relating to a language, I mean simplicity and intelligibility, etc., etc. Hindi alone can be. the national language of our State. The supporters of Hindi have no quarrel or hostility with any one. They support Hindi only because Hindi alone can claim to be the' most popular and widely spoken language in India. I fail to see why any one should feel in his heart that the Hindi speaking people want to impose Hindi on non-Hindi people ? There is no question of imposition. It is the House or the Drafting Committee that have suggested that Hindi shall be the Official language of the State and the Parliament. If this is taken to be imposition, it is not from us rather it is from the House or the Drafting ,Committee.
Other Indian languages have not acquired an all-India position, they are confined to their own regions. May be that some of them are spoken by a few people outside their regions also, but no other language has acquired an all India importance, Hindi is spoken in U.P., Bihar C.P., Madhya Bharat, Rajputana and Peshawar. It is understood in almost every province. A language that is so widely spoken mut be made the national-language of the Indian Union.
The credit for making Hindi the official language of the Union does not go to us the Hindi speaking people, but in fact it goes to others, who though they cannot speak Hindi fluently, have no command and control over Hindi and have not had any long practice in its use yet admit that Hindi is simple and intelligible.
It may not be out of place if I mention a few of the merits of Hindi script. One of my Friends here has suggested that we should adopt Roman-script. He is a learned man, who can doubt the learning of my honourable Friend, Shri Anthony ? But we should consider every aspect of this script. There are two kinds of script one the shorthand script and the other ordinary or longhand script. It is necessary in the longhand script that a word be written exactly in the way it is pronounced so that there may not be any mistake about its correct pronunciation. That is. the most characteristic feature of the ordinary or longhand script. But in a shorthand script different devices are adopted to represent the greatest number of words with the minimum number of signs.
We begin the primary education of our children with our script etc. If we say but use it to represent the sound of it would be an unscientific method and we will be imparting a wrong training to our children, if we adopt this method. A B C D etc. are the alphabets of the Roman script. We use A & B to represent the sound of Similarly the letter C is used to represent the sound of This is not at all scientific. Rather it is an atrocious script. This is a very sericus defeat in the Roman script.The Pitman's shorthand system has also adopted, as the reporters here are well aware, a script based on phonetic system of the Hindi script. Pitman adopted the phonetic arrangement of the letters for formulating his system. The shorthand reporters have found that arrangement to be very easy and have adopted it.
Therefore, the controversy regarding the script should end. So far as script is concerned, Roman or any other script can bear no comparison to the Hindi script. The Hindi script stands far superior to any other script. As I have already said the letters of a script should have a definite and intelligible phonetic basis.
From this point of view the Urdu script also is found to have the same defect that is found in Roman script. There the pronunciation of letter and the sound they represent are quite different. The letter 'Alif' is used to represent the sound of ; we pronounce 'Lam' but this letter represents the sound of. If we have to write 'Lokat" we will use the letters 'Lam', 'Wav', 'Kaf', 'Alif' and 'Tey'. The pronunciation of letters, in Urdu have no relation to the sound for which they are used. In a longhand script this should not be the case : of course in a shorthand script we may do so.
On the other hand the script and the alphabets of Hindi ire not only simple but can also be learnt with very great ease. The pronunciation of its vowels is simple and scientific. The fact is that they can be pronounced with natural ease and they are also pronounced very clearly. Thus the vowel occurs as the first vowel of the Hindi alphabet and possesses a simple sound unlike the vowels of the other scripts. It stands for one single sound and not for any other. The other vowels also have the same scientific character, and are all scientifically arranged. Moreover the Hindi alphabets are divided into certain groups according to the order of their pronunciation.
We have thus the classification that the vowel and the ' consonant group and are pronounced from the throat, while the vowel the consonant group and are palatal in pronunciation. In this manner the other consonants and vowels are also arranged according to the part of the vocal organs through which they are pronounced. Again the different letters and the groups have also been assigned to different deities--some to 'Indra' and some to 'Varuna' and so on.
It is plain, therefore, that no student can have any difficulty in mastering this language which is entirely scientific in character. I believe that any student can very well pick up--any, even master-its alphabets within a few weeks. I believe that the scholarly and distinguished lawyer members of the Drafting Committee also had an appreciation of this fact, for they also have in their draft provided for Hindi in Devanagari script as the official language of the Union. I add that even if only Hindi is referred to in the Draft, it would imply the use of Devanagari script as well. Just as we also imply the use of the Roman script when we refer to the English language.
Under that Draft English shall continue to be our official language for the next fifteen years. None of us can deny that the use of that language is essential for carrying on our work and that we cannot totally remove it earlier. All of us, therefore, agree that we shall keep English for our administrative and official purposes for the next fifteen years. But it is my belief that within this period of fifteen years, all the Government officials would be in a position to have a very good and sound knowledge of Hindi. I do not doubt in the least that they can do so with the greatest possible case and convenience. The period of 15 years is not a small one. Hindi also is not a difficult language to learn. In any case it is not such as cannot be picked up by our Government officials within this period.I am reinforced in my belief by the consideration that the members of the I.C.S. used to pick up several Indian languages within the period of two years of their training. It cannot, therefore, be doubled that these very people would be able to learn Hindi very well within this period of fifteen-years. I know that they are men of ability. I also know that they have all the facilities and opportunities for learning Hindi. I know that they are officials of ail Independent Government and are men of learning and light. It is, therefore, my conviction that these people can have a very sound knowledge of Hindi within this period.
English is not a language which is the language of the people of any part of our country. Besides it is not the official language of any of these regions. So far this language had been that of the ruling class of the alien Government. It was, in other words, a language of their offices and people working in those offices for the benefit of the alien rulers. But this foreign language was mastered by our administrators and civilians through great labours. I put it, therefore, to you that if they could master of foreign language-the language which did not have its origin in this country, a language which had been brought to this country by foreigners and which had been imposed on this country by those foreigners as the official language for their own advantage and benefit--could be mastered by those of us who wanted to go in for administrative services, I put it to you, can it be said that these very people would not be able to put forth sufficient efforts to master Hindi which is a language of their own country? When you could go through such hard toil and labour for mastering English, I believe, you will have to put forth much less' labour to learn Hindi which is much simpler than English and can, therefore, be learnt with much greater ease than that foreign language.
Even our children would not find any difficulty in learning this language. In this connection I cannot forget that many of the existing administrators would be retiring sooner or later. Those who would be filling their places can very easily learn the Hindi Language within the period of fifteen years which has been provided for in the Draft.
I would like in this connection to state that if we have to make Hindi our national language and to develop it for all our purposes; it is essential that every man of learning in this country should acquire a thorough knowledge of Hindi. This does not imply that Hindi would be, in any way, taking the place of the regional languages. If would not do so. Its evolution however is essential. English is a language that had been evolving from the very beginning. It has also been for centuries the national language of another country and that country has imposed it on other countries as well for its own benefit; but our children who have had to learn it under compulsion, have become denationalised. Their ideas and sentiments have-been more or less anglicised and they have begun to approach the problems of fife from an alien point of view. If is plain, therefore, that English cannot be our national language. Besides we have not to remain tied down to the Dominion of Britain for all time to come. it is, therefore our duty to consider that after the advent' of freedom, it is essential for our dignity and self-respect that we should have a national language. We know fully well the good and the evil that English education. It Is an order that the people of this country may proudly claim Hindi as their national language and Devanagari as their national script that it is necessary that Hindi also should evolve. We should not be governed by narrow or selfish considerations and if we approach the problem of national language with that broad vision. we would succeded. But if we do not do so, instead of making any progress our country will go down in disaster.In this connection I would like to refer to the example of Estonia and Lithuania which had made a demand for their independence after the last Great War. Their main reason for demand of their freedom was that under the alien rulers attempts had been made completely to suppress their language and that they had to carry on an intensive struggle and undergo any amount of sufferings for protecting and maintaining the existence of their own language These petty States are not bigger than the district of Gorakhpur in our province. These people had protected and defended their language against the attempts of the Germans to suppress them. If they could do so, it is our duty also to do the same.
I would like to make it clear that all of us here want the development and promotion of the regional languages, for all of them are very dear to Hindi Several of these regional languages are very sweet and very well developed. Naturally I cannot and do not lay any claim to the superiority of Hindi as compared to any of the regional languages. But from the inter-provincial point of view, I can say that Hindi has a better claim for adoption as the national language, because it is not a language of any one province alone. If is the language of many provinces. I concede that there have been great poets in other languages as well and I would not like to institute any comparison between them and the poets of Hindi, such as Kabir and Tulsi. It is not necessary for me to go into this kind of comparison. I do concede that the Tamil Veda of Shri Tiruvalluvar of the Deccan is is _great a composition-probably greater-than that of Kabir. I do not dispute, therefore, that great literature exists in other languages as well.
But I submit in all humility that the number of people speaking Telugu or Tamil is very much less than that of the people speaking and understanding Hindi. So far as I am concerned, the question whether a regional language has a great literature or not, is quite irrelevant to the decision of the question of the official language of India. We have to choose one language I-or this purpose and if we were to follow the principles of democracy and the rule of majority decision, we will have to accept Hindi, far from all points of views---, it is an undisputed fact that the number of people speaking Hindi is greater than the number of people speaking other languages. Besides it is a very simple as well as a developed language.
I cannot resist the temptation of citing a few passages from the works of the great Hindi poet, Surdas, in order to give you an idea of the high level of development reached by Hindi.
"Alas, my darling is away, The snake like night curls and curls, The fangs of lightning pierce my heart, Incantations or amulets-nothing avoilt, While my life is ebbing away, The separation of ShYatn says Stir, 'Keeps the lady leve in paroxysi?is at pain.' I would like any one here to give me a parallel passage from the literature of any other language. I may add that the Hindi literature is full of numerous: gems one better than the other. Thus I may cite a passage 'from Tulsidas which is as follows:-
The reference. is to Ram applying- Vermillion with his hand to the moonlike face of Sita, his betrothed.]
Mr. President: *[I would like the Member to remember that this is a Constituent Assembly and not a poets' gathering.]
Shri Algu Rai Shastri : *[Sir, I was just giving an illustration in order to refute the suggestion that the Hindi language is undeveloped and does 'not have any literature worth the name. This assertion has been made here and I felt it necessary that something should be cited to refute it and to show that Hindi has a great and extensive literature.
But I would like to submit, Sir, that we are not demanding the adoption of Hindi as the national language on account of its literature. but because it is a language of the people and specially it is a language which, in comparison to other languages is spoken by a larger number of people and that it is a language whose area and sphere are very wide. It is for an these reasons that we fire adopting it as the official language and the fact is that it is not we who are adopting it. it is history that is compelling us to adopt it. Every one of us has to accept it as the official language, simply because every one of us desires to replace the foreign language by a language of our own country. The adoption of Hindi is unavoidable in order to remove English from its present position of official language of the Union.
When we have no other option but to adopt Hindi in this manner, I would submit that there should be no dispute about its script, for it has already its script-a script in which the 'Rigveda' was written-a script in which 'Hanuman Chalisa' is written-the script in which all the books from the Rigveda down to the Hanuman Chalisa of Tulsidas have, been written, is called the Devanagari script. I doubt whether we can, even if we search the whole world, discover a script as beautiful, as scientific as the Devanagari is. The script of our national language is Devanagari. and the numerals are an integral part of that script. The meaning of many. Hindi couplets would be lost if the numerals were changed. Thus Tulsidas has said:
Jaise ghatat nu ank nav (')Nav (') ke likhat pahad."
This numeral (9) is of the Devanagari script. Again Tulsidas says:
I, therefore, submit, Sir, that the numerals are even today in use in Devanagari just as they were to be found in the Sanskrit Rigveda and Yajurveda. 1, therefore, fail to understand the basis of this discussion about numerals here. It is insinuated against us that we are quarreling over a Very minor matter and that our insistence upon the Devanagari from of Hindi numerals is, as a matter of fact, extremely unreasonable and unjustifiable. But I would like to submit very humbly that the matter which may appear to you to be very minor, may ultimately have very dangerous implications. A person may be able to take two seers of milk, but no one would like to take a small head of a fly with it, for, he can never digest that. In the same manner, I would submit, Sir that we are unable to accept violence being done to the form of the numerals, and what is more important we see no reason why an(] for whom we should do violence to them.
It is being argued by some people that the change sought to be made is very minor, because a number of the numerals, more particularly (1), are similar in form. But, in this connection, Sir, I would like you to visualise the situation that is likely to arise. in our province, if we agree to the adoption of international form of numerals. We have constituted in our province Village Panchayats' and 'Village, Assemblies'. For each group of 5 Village Assemblies or Councils we have established a 'Panchayat Court'. All these are now working there. Our province has a population of 60 milliofns and is, therefore, in no way smaller than England--rather it is bigger than the latter. In that province, we have established these, Panchayats for the villages and these bodies have been authorised to, levy taxes. They will have to maintain accounts and keep records and registers. Just think of how they would be maintaining their accounts. I am sure, they cannot but use the Hindi method of accounting that is to say-they, would write Rs. 1-4-3 in the following manner.
In it the vertical line stands for the quarter of a rupee. Now the form of I in English is, as a matter of fact, used for indicating 1/4 of a rupee in the Hindi method of accounting. But the same symbol if drawn outside the bracket like symbol, its value is taken to be one pice.
We have thus been developing our numerals in this country. Is it your intention now to throw away all these improvements that we have made through our history for no reason or rhyme ? It has been argued here, Sir, that the use of Devanagari numerals would cause any amount of dislocation in industry and chaos in our army. But I fail to understand, the kind of difficulties that would arise in the industrial sphere. We can easily avoid any difficulty by specifying the design of the machinery that we seek to import from foreign countries. This is what happens usually in trade and commerce. Even the ordinary traders send their designs and the 'Sarics' and other articles manufactured according to these designs are imported from foreign countries.
Moreover, Sir, will we always continue to import all our machinery from foreign countries ? I believe that sooner or later, we will be casting them here and in that case it would be quite easy for us to use our own numerals. I may add that our numerals are a matter of great fortune to us. We are peopleof a great culture. Our history is glorious and grand. It does not befit us to humiliate ourselves and go down on all fours before the foreigners. I am am confident that we can manufacture all the articles we need and I am confident that our country has the potential capacity to do so.
I may now say a few words, Sir, to those who feel that they would have considerable difficulties in learning Hindi. I would like to assure them that they would find Hindi to be a very easy language to learn, once they make an attempt to learn it. I admit that in view of the extensive use of English for all the official purposes and in all the branches of administration, it would not be possible for us to replace it at once by Hindi and if an attempt was made to do so, there would be considerable administrative dislocation.
I can, no doubt, speak Hindi with much greater ease and facility than many of my other friends. We have, therefore, to give some time to such friends to acquaint themselves very well with the Hindi language, so that they may be able to express themselves in idiomatic Hindi and may be able to think in it as well as to weep and sing in it. I recognise that only that language can be natural to any person in which he can sing out his joys and weep out his sorrows., I concede that time is needed by such friends to have felicity in the use of Hindi. A specified period has to be provided for them and I submit, Sir, that the period of fifteen years is more than adequate. It is my belief that we can replace English by Hindi, within this period, provided we make a sincere attempt to do so. Of course, if we do not seek to do so, the position would be otherwise. But if we really make an effort, there should be no difficulty in replacing English by Hindi within this period.
I have therefore, in the second part of my amendment proposed that during this period of transition, every attempt should be made to put Hindi in place of English wherever it can be done. I visualise this process to be similar to that of erecting a new house in place of an old one. It is plain that the first has to be removed and the second has to be erected, and we have provided a period of fifteen years for effecting this change and it is my belief that this, work can be completed with very great ease during that period.
But who shall be responsible for effecting this change ? Obviously the Government, and I have, therefore, put in the second part of my amendment that it shall be the duty of the Government to take steps to effect this change. But in the draft that has been put before us, such details as the formation of a Committee or the appointment of a Commission have been included in regard to this matter. As we read this article, Sir, we find that the Drafting Committee has added a new clause, there was previously only one clause. In this manner the Committee want to go into minor details and they do not want to leave any possible matter for the decision of the Parliament or the Government to come.
We, have, Sir, provided for adult franchise in our Constitution and representatives elected on that basis shall be composing the future Parliament and I believe they shall be making their own arrangement for the entire country in their own manner. But it is really funny that we would not like to leave even such matters for their decision as the salaries to be paid to our Civilians the number of people to be employed, the facilities to be granted to them and such other matters. Probably it is feared that persons of no education may be elected to the Parliament and such persons may cause any amount of dislocation and chaos. We,. in our anxiety, have included provisions with regard to the judiciary, to the type of the houses that are to be occupied by them, the salaries that are to be paid to them and the work that is to be done by them.
The same tendency appear to me behind this draft regarding language. There would be a Commission. there would be a Committee. All Acts, bye-laws,regulations in all provinces shall be in English. All these matters are found in this draft,--notwithstanding the fact that Hindi is already in use in many provinces and is in use without any difficulty and with all the possible success with which a language can be used for official purposes. But you are bent upon putting in such provisions in spite of all these facts.
I admit that it is almost an impudence on my part to seek to improve the amendment which Shri Gopalaswami Ayyangar, who is a great thinker, a scholar, an expert, and an aged and experienced person, has moved. But I submit, Sir, would not the purpose be served if we leave to the future Government to make such arrangements as may enable Hindi to take the place of English within the period of fifteen years and to become the official language of this country ? The Government is today in the hands of the representatives of the people and I submit, it is time that the language of the people should also be the language of the State and that language of the people is Hindi, simply because it is understood in almost all provinces.
Some friends have mixed up Hindustani, Urdu and such other matters with the question of Hindi. I do not understand how a couplet of Nazir who was a great poet of Agra should be considered 'something outside the Hindi literature. I may cite it here.
I would submit, Sir, that this is a Hindi verse composed by him and that it is one of the Hindi styles or dialects. Again-
"Oh brother render thanks to God who has created the cow for us"' is a couplet which all of us read in a book written by some Moulvi Sahib of Meerut. Are we to consider it as something not belonging to the Hindi literature? I do not think so. It is but natural that to a Moulvi or a Moulana such words would very naturally occur. But we have assimilated all these words in our language and I am sure, these words would remain there. All these constituted a style of Hindi and are not beyond the purview of the Hindi language.
No doubt, some people claim Urdu to be a language. But Urdu is not a regional language, nor is it a language used or spoken in any region, or by any particular community. All of us use Urdu words. I was educated under a Noulvi. He used to teach us:
I submit, Sir, that these great thoughts cannot be exiled from our language.Shri Algu Rai Shastri : *[So, Sir, all these words are of the Hindi language and we cannot exclude them from it. My submission is that the words of other languages which have become cur-rent in- Hindi must be considered to be part and parcel of the Hindi language. I would go further and assert that that language alone should be termed Hindi which has this tendency of including all such words.
Before I conclude, Sir, I would like to say a few words about the content of the Hindi language. There is a great dispute about the real character of Hindi. But I would submit in this connection that Hindi is Hindi and no other definition of this language can be given. Just as I may describe myself by saying what I am, similarly Hindi is described by saving that Hindi is Hindi. Really I fail to understand what other definition can be given. Bhojpuri, Maithili, Khadi Boli and Brij Bhasha are two forms of Hindi. Thus the following passage of Brij Bhasha is part of Hindi literature.
Similarly the following passage in Maithili:
of Meerut is also Hindi. I do not think any one can prevent Moulana Hifzur Rahman from speaking the type of Hindi he pleases, for, there can be no dispute about its true nature since it can be taken down in Devanagari Script and it can be understood by quite a good number of people in this country.
The dispute regarding numerals I submit, Sir, is without any substance. The fact is that the numerals are but an integral part of the Devanagari script and cannot be distinguished from it and we should, therefore, accept Devanagari numerals. Such matters as the appointment of a Commission formation of a Committee for replacing English by Hindi within the period of fifteen years, should be left to the future Government for being decided in the manner it pleases.
With these words, I submit my amendment to you. I concede, Sir, that within this period of fifteen years, English should continue to be used. It is illy conviction, that in our Constitution there should be an article declaring Hindi in the Devanagari script as our official language and that it should make provision that within the transitional period of fifteen years, English should continue to be in use but that after the expiry of that period, Hindi should completely replace English and within this period of fifteen years, it should be the duty of the Government to find out ways and means through which English can be completely replaced by Hindi.
I may add, Sir, that I have no ill-will towards English. I believe there would be English in our Universities even after the expiry of that period and that our students would be acquiring the knowledge of different languages. But I believe, Sir, that the signatures on our treaties etc. shall be in Hindi. Our national language shall be Hindi and our script shall be Devanagari which we have got from the Rigveda' and whose words have been borrowed from that great ocean of learning. It has been fertilized by waters from that sourcethe source which has given-life and light to the world-the source whose literature, philosophy and codes are invaluable treasures of the entire world.
With these words, Sir, I conclude my observations and I thank you, Sir, for having been kind enough to give me so much time for expressing my views.)
The Honourable Dr.Syama Prasad Mookerjee (West Bengal: General) Mr. President, Sir, we are considering a matter which is of vital importance, not to the people belonging to one or other of the provinces of India, but to the entire millions of India's population. In fact, Sir,the decision that we are about to take,even if we ignore for the time being the points of difference, vital though they may appear. to some, the decision that we are about to take is something which has never been attempted in the history of India for the last thousands of years. Let us therefore at the very outset realise that we have been able to achieve something which our ancestors did not achieve.
Some Members have spoken not doubt out of the warmth of their feeling and have tried to emphasise upon the points of difference. I shall say a few words on the points of difference a little later. But I would like the House to rise to the height of the occasion and flatter itself that it is making a real contribution to the national unity of our Motherland of which we and those who come after us may be legitimately proud.
India has been a country of many languages. If we dig into the, past, we will find that it has not been possible for anybody to force the acceptance of one language by all people in this country. Some of my Friends spoke eloquently that a day 'might come when India shall have one language and one language only. Frankly speaking, I do not share that view and when I say so, I am not ignoring the essential need for creating that national unity of India which must be the foundation stone in our future reconstruction. That unity must be achieved by allowing those elements in the national life of our country, which are today vital, to function and function in dignity, in harmony and in self-respect. Today it stands to the glory of India that we have so many languages from the north to the south, from the west to the cast. each one of which in its own way, has made contributions which have made what Indian life and civilisation are today.
If it is claimed by anyone that by passing an article in the Constitution of India, one language is going to be accepted by all, by a process of coercion, I say. Sir, that that will not be possible to achieve. (Hear, hear) Unity in diversity is India's key-note and must be achieved by a process of understanding and consent, and for that a proper atmosphere has to be created. If I belonged to a province where Hindi is the spoken language, I would have felt proud today of the agreement to which practically all the members of this House have voluntarily submitted themselves by accepting Hindi in Devanagari script as the official language of free India. That is a solid achievement which, I hope, those friends of mine who come from the Hindi-speaking provinces should appreciate.
I am not talking about the relative claims of other languages. Left to myself, I would certainly have preferred Sanskrit. People laugh at Sanskrit today perhaps because they think it is not practicable to use it for so many purposes which a modem State has to fill. I do not want' to take your time by dwelling on the claim of Sanskrit. I am not fully competent to do so. but most certainly that is a language which still is the storehouse. shall I say the unlimited and illimitable storehouse, from which all knowledge and wisdom are drawn, not so much perhaps by the present generation of the Indian people but by others who have preceded us 'and by all true lovers of learningand scholarship throughout the civilised world. That is Our language, the mother-language of India. We do wish, not for paying lip sympathy or homage to its genius, but in our own national interests so that we may re-discover ourselves and know the wealth and treasure that we accumulated in the past and are capable of achieving in future,--we do wish that Sanskrit will reoccupy an honoured place in the national educationl system of India.
I am not-similarly advocating the claims of other languages. You will not call it provincial if I say that I am proud of my own language. It is a language which has not remained as a mere language of the people of Bengal alone. It was the language enriched by many noble writers for centuries past-the language of Vande Mataram. It was our national poet Rabindra Nath Tagore who raised the status and dignity of India when he had his great thoughts and contributions in Bengali recognised it the bar of world opinion. (Hear, hear). That is your language. It is the language of India, (Hear, hear). I am sure that the languages of my friends from the South and the West. of which they are so proud, have also great records and must be protected and safeguarded in ample measure. All must feel that nothing has been done in the Constitution which may result in the destruction or liquidation or weakening of any one of these languages.
Why do we accept Hindi ? Not that it is necessarily the best of Indian languages. It is for the main reason that that is the one language which is understood by the largest single majority in this country today. If 14 crores of people out of 32 today understand a particular language, and it is also capable of progressive development, we say, let us accept that language for the purposes of the whole of India, but do it in such a way that in the interim period it may not result in the deterioration of our official conduct of business or administration and at no time retard true advancement of India and her other great languages. We accept that proposition, and the scheme which Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar has placed before you includes certain principles which we consider, taken as a whole, meet this view-point and will be not in the interests of the people coming from the south of India, but in the interests of the people of India as a whole. (Hear, hear).
You Have got sonic time, fifteen years, within which English will have to be replaced. How is it to be replaced? It will have to be replaced progressively. We will have to decide realistically whether for certain special purposes English should still be continued to be used in India. As sonic of my friend,, have already stated. we might have rid India of British rule-we had reasons for doing so-but that is no reason why you should get rid of the English language. We know fully well the good and the evil that English education has done to us. But let us judge the future use of English dispassionately and from the point of view of our country's needs. After all, it is on account of that language that the have been able to achieve many things; apart from the role that English has played in unifying India politically. and thus in our attaining political freedom, it opened to us the civilisation of large parts of the world. It opened to us knowledge, specially in the realm of science ant] technology which it would have been difficult to achieve otherwise. Today we are proud of what our scientists and our technical experts have done.
I say. Sir, we would be suffering from a sense of inferiority complex if we examine the role that the English language should play in this country from any narrow standpoint. There is no question of the English language being used today for political purposes or for dominating any system of national education. It will be for us, the representatives of the people of free India, to decide as to how progressively we will use Hindi and other Indian languages. how progressively we will get rid of the English languages if we feel that forall time to come for certain purposes, we will allow English language to be used or taught we need not be ashamed of ourselves. There are certain matters which we have the courage to speak out, not in individual or sectional interest but where we feel that such a step is to be taken in the interests of the country as a whole.
Sir, with regard to regional languages, I am now happy that the amendment proposes to include in the body of the Constitution itself a list of the principal regional languages of India. I hope we will include Sanskrit also. I shall speak here with frankness. Why is it that many people belonging to non-Hindi speaking provinces have become a bit nervous about Hindi ? If the protagonists of Hindi will pardon me for saying so, had they not been perhaps so aggressive in their demands and enforcement of Hindi, they would have got whatever they wanted, perhaps more than 'what they expected, by spontaneous and willing co-operation of the entire population of India. But, unfortunately, a fear has been expressed, and in some areas that fear has been translated into action, where people speaking other languages, not inferior to Hindi by any means, have not been allowed the same facilities which even the much-detested foreign regime did not dare to deprive them of.
I would beg of those who represent the Hindi speaking provinces in this Constituent Assembly to remember that while we accept Hindi, they in their turn, take upon themselves a tremendous responsibility. I was glad to find that some weeks ago at a meeting of the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, a resolution was passed that in these Hindi speaking provinces, there will be compulsory arrangements for the study of one or more of the other Indian languages. (An honourable Member : A pious resolution ). Let that not remain a pious resolution. It will depend upon leaders like Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant, Babu Purshottam Das Tandon, Babu Shri Krishna Sinha, and Pandit Ravi Shankar Shukla to see to it that within the next few months, arrangements are made, if necessary by statute, for the due recognition in their areas of other important regional languages, specially if there are people speaking those languages residing in those areas. I shall watch with interest and see how these facilities are given and the resolution unanimously passed under the leadership_ of Babu Purushottam Das Tandon is carried into effect in provinces like Bihar and the U.P.
Sir, a lot of talk is going on about what is meant by Hindi. There cannot be any artificial political forces or forces created by statutory provisions dictating as to how a language is to be shaped. A language will be shaped in natural course of events, in spite of current controversies, in spite of individuals, however big or however eminent for the time being they may be. It is the people's will that creates changes; they come naturally and often imperceptibly. It is not a resolution of the Constituent Assembly which will decide the supremacy of a language. If you want that Hindi is to really occupy an All-India position and not merely replace English for certain official purposes, you make Hindi worthy of that position and allow it to Absorb by natural process words and idioms not only from Sanskrit but also from other sister languages of India. Do not obstruct the growth of Hindi. I can speak Hindi in my own Bengali way. Mahatma Gandhi spoke Hindi in his own way. Sardar Patel speakes Hindi in his own Gujarati way. If my friends from the U.P. or Bihar come and say' that theirs is the standard Hindi which 'they have laid down and any one who cannot speak this language will be tabooed, it will be a bad thing not only for Hindi, but it will be a bad thing for the country. I am glad, therefore, that provision has been incorporated in the draft article suggesting as to how this language should develop in this country.
I do hope an Academy of Languages will be established by the Government of India and perhaps similar academies will be established in other regional areasin India where a systematic study of Hindi 'and other Indian languages will take Place, where comparative literatures will be studied and publications in Devanagari script of selected books in all Indian languages will be organised; where the more important task of finding out terms and terminology specially for commercial, industrial, scientific and technical purposes will be dispassionately undertaken. Let us not be narrow-minded in this respect. I played my humble part in giving to my mother-tongue its due place in my University, a work which was started by my revered father nearly sixty years ago and it was left to me to bring that work into fruition fifteen years ago. Calcutta gave ungrudging recognition to all languages in India. We selected our terms and terminology from the point of view of our future advance and not narrow sentiments. If: today it is said that all technical terms and terminology are to be used in Hindi, you may do so in the provinces where Hindi is being spoken. What will happen to Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madras ? Will they also use their own technical terms in their State languages ? If that is so, what will become about the inter-change of opinion and inter-change of educational facilities between one State and another? What will happen to those who go to foreign countries for their future education ? These are questions I would ask you to ponder over. Let us not be carried away by mere sentiment. I am certainly proud of certain sentiments. I am anxious that there should be a language which gradually will become not only the spoken language of the entire population of India, but a language in which the official business of the Government of India will be carried, and will be capable of being used by all. We have agreed it will be Hindi. At the same time, it has to be adjusted and re-adjusted at every step in such a way that our national interests may not suffer and not injure the interests of the State languages also. If you proceed in that fashion I have not the slightest doubt that we will not have to wait for fifteen years ; more readily, it will be possible for people of all the provinces to agree to and implement our decision.
Lastly, I shall say a few words about the numerals. Much has been made about the numerals. We are having a minor war on numerals. But, this suggestion which has been made is not in the parochial interest of the people who come from South India. That is a point which must be understood by every section of this House. The continuance, until otherwise decided, of the international numerals, which really have come back to the land of their birth in a somewhat modified form, is vitally necessary in our own interests, at least for many years to come. Later on, if, on the recommendation of the Commission, the President feels that a change is to be made, that change may be made. You have got your statistics; you have got your scientific work to be done You have your commercial undertakings, banks, accounts, audit. You have so many other things in respect of which the use of international numerals is necessary.
,Some of my friends ask me, if you are taking the entire Hindi language, and when some of the numerals more or less similar, why not accept a few more? It is not a question of learning three or four numerals. I believe every one will know the Hindi numerals, which may be also used right from the beginning. Hindi numerals will also be learnt by all. But the question is regarding their use for purposes for which you consider they cannot be properly used.
Some of my Hindi-speaking friends have asked, why compel us to use the international numerals? We are not banning the use of Hindi numerals in Bihar, Central Provinces or the U.P. where Hindi will be the State language. Obviously Hindi numerals will have a large part to play. Where is the harm if you learn the international numerals also and use them for all-India official purposes ? Rather, it will be to your benefit, specially for your higher educational curriculum. I would ask Babu Purshottam Das Tandon, and appeal to him that in this matter he must rise, equal to the occasion. It is not a matter which need be carried by a majority of votes. Even if some of there. feel against the all-India use and recognition of the international numerals in addition to Hindi numerals, even if he feels that this is not fair and just, or is not to his liking, for the very fact that Hindi which is the language of his own province is being accepted by the entire people of India, tie should have the statesmanship to get up and say that in spite of his personal feelings, he accepts the compromise and approves the resolution.
We have passed many important resolutions in this House during the past years. We have faced many crises together. It will be making a childish affair if on a matter connected with numerals, the Constituent Assembly of free India commanded by one political party divides. We shall be making a laughing stock of ourselves and the whole of India and we would be strengthening the hands of our enemies. Let us emphasise not on the differences but on the substantial achievement of our common aim. Let us tell the whole world that we have done so without rancour and with unanimity. Let us not look at the matter from a political angle.
It pains to find that in some areas, acceptance of international numerals may become a first class political issue. It depends on the leaders of those provinces to take courage in both hands, get up here and say that they have accepted this compromise for the good of India and that they are going to stand together. If the leaders say so, I have not the slightest doubt that the people also will accept it. We have not banned the circulation of Hindi or Devanagari numerals in any province where the State legislature so decides or even for allIndia purposes. All that we have recommended is the acceptance of a formula which we feel will be fair and just to all. I hope that before the debate concludes it will be possible for the representatives of the different view-points to meet together and come forward before the House with the declaration that the proposition of Mr. N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar is going to be unanimously accepted.
Mr. President: The House stands adjourned till 4 O'clock.
The Assembly then adjourned for Lunch till Four of the Clock in the afternoon. The Assembly re-assembled after Lunch at Four P.m., Mr. President (the Honourable Dr. Rajendra Prasad), in the Chair.
Mr. President: We shall now continue the discussion. Mr. Chacko.
Shri P. T. Chacko (United State of Travancore & Cochin): Sir, my position is that English should continue to be used for a period to be fixed and the question of a national language should be left to the future Parliament. A national language has to evolve itself and is not to be created artificially. The national language for a great country like India should have certain minimum requirements. It should be capable of expressing all the needs of modern civilisation. To be capable of meetings all modern demands, it should have a lore of scientific literature. Language as the vehicle of thought determines to a large extent our mental makeup. The capacity for thought, and for thought development, to a great degree is limited by the thinker's language of expression. Each language has a vocabulary, a method of construction and a scheme of thought process distinctly all its own.
A person who knows only a primitive language cannot, of course, think in the same lines as one who speaks a well-developed language. The national language of a great country like India should also be great. Some of our languages in India am really rich in literature. But, Sir, I do not think that any of our languages contain a good scientific literature. It would be almost impossible to teach Chemistry, Physics and such other sciences in any of our languages in India. A language cannot be artificially moulded for ready use. It has to develop itself and that takes time. The adoption of a language from the languages which we are having in India will most probably,, retard our national progress. It may prevent our higher studies. It may prevent scientific researches which we need. Therefore, I believe we will have to wait till the time when a language in India develops itself and matures to that stage when we can make it our official language and our national language.
To replace an international language like English, very expressive, rich ill vocabulary, easy and simple in construction, and one which is recommended to be the international auxiliary language, is almost impossible. Probably Shakespeare decided the national language of England once for all, and for Italy probably Dante decided it. Like that, some literary genius will in future, according to me, decide the national language for India.
A national language can be, decided upon only by mutual agreement. It cannot be done by taking votes; that is what I believe. No language can be imposed upon an unwilling people. No nation has ever succeeded in imposing the language of the majority upon the minority. In the day of Czarist Russia, speaking Lithuanian language was absolutely forbidden and the penalty for breaking this law' was very severe, sometimes amounting to death. Nevertheless, when after two centuries, Lithuania declared itself independent, it was found that about 93 per cent. of the people still spoke the Lithuanian language Likewise, in Spain, the Catalan language was prohibited in 1923, but after a strenuous struggle which ensued in 1932, the State had to recognise that language.
On the other hand, we know what happened in Britain. Even now there are about six spoken languages in the British Isles. English evolved itself as a national language and the people willingly recognised it. The result was that Welsh in Wales and Gaelic in Scotland slowly were abandoned by the people. Likewise we will also have, to wait for some time till a language emerges from among the languages which exist in India. We will have to wait till it matures and reaches that position when we can make it our lingua franca.
Before deciding upon the official language, to me it appears that we have to decide one or two very important questions. Firstly Sir, the question iswhether we should have one language or more languages as our official language. In Switzerland, for example, there are four languages spoken by the people. In schools the medium of instruction is that language which is spoken by the people in the locality where the school is located. In higher classes a second national language is compulsory and later on a third language. All the four languages are recognised as official languages.
In pre-war Czechoslovakia, though there were about twelve languages, besides some dialects spoken by the people, two languages were recognised as official. In public offices the language of the region in which the office was situated was used. In many other countries 'also more than. one language is recognised as official language.
Therefore it is a question to be decided whether we should have one single language as the official language of India or we should have more than one-for example Bengalee, Tamil, Hindi and even English. If we decide on one national language, we will again have to decide whether we should allow the Union Government to use any other language than the official language. In the U.S.S.R., for example, in European Russia itself there are about 76 languages spoken besides innumerable dialects and only one language is the official language of the U.S. S.R. But in offices the language of the region is also officially used. Where many languages are spoken and there are many other dialects also the question is to decide whether we should permit the Union to use only the official language or other languages also in public offices situated in particular regions.
I wish to point out that in Eire even now the English language is used for all official purposes. During the days of the Irish struggle for independence they were almost resisting the use of English. In 1893 a Gailic League was formed which played a most predominant part in the Irish struggle for freedom. In their schools now Irish is taught as a compulsory language. Though the Irish people want Irish to be their only official language yet they find it very difficult to replace English by Irish.
We are all almost agreed that English should continue for a period of fifteen years. So this is not an urgent question, though it is a very important question. It is a sound principle in democracy to know the wishes of the people and to respect the wishes of the people when there is doubt among the representatives themselves as regards the decision which may be taken by them. Though it is an important question, since it is not an urgent question I would request that we take time to go back to the people to get a mandate from the people and for that we should leave the question to be decided by the future Parliament.
Why should we worry ourselves with the problem when we are faced with several very urgent problems which affect the life of the millions of people of the country ? When people who valiantly fought for the freedom of the country are dying for want of food and shelter, when trade and commerce is becoming duller day by day, when unemployment is rampant, especially in the South, when in the North we are having the Kashmir problem and in the South the menace of the Communist hooliganism--even today I got a telegram from my country that the son of a Congress worker who devoted twenty years in the service of the country was stabbed by a communist on Sunday last-and when the future of the very nation itself is hanging on the solution we might find for the food problem I ask why should this august Body waste its time over this question, the solution of which we intend to implement only after fifteen years, according to the agreement almost reached by every one in the House.
After having seen a sort of fanaticism in action in the matter of a comparatively smaller question of the numerals and after having heard a section of the people of this House speak as if all that mattered in life was the Devanagari system of numerals, I feel that it would be better for us to leave the decision onthis question to soberer men. We can hope that our posterity will be more tolerant and wiser and hence they may be able to find an agreed solution for this problem. Our intolerance has already divided India. Let it not divide it again. Instead of imposing a language on posterity I believe it will be better for us if we leave this problem to be decided by posterity themselves.
Shri B. Das (Orissa: General): Sir, this question of Hindi as the, lingua franca has caused us a lot of misgivings. I will 'not be true to myself , my conscience and my God if I do not express my feelings. I will not be true to my great leader, Mahatma Gandhi, who is in Heaven, if I do not express truly and correctly the apprehensions that I have come to entertain during the last three weeks, and which have been aggravated more and more by the dominating attitude of my friends from U.P. and C.P.
As we want a lingua franca I do accept Hindi as the official language, but that does not mean that we have no apprehensions, we have no suspicions or that we have no fears. My Friend Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerji this morning indicated some of the fears and suspicions that non-Hindi speaking provinces including those in the South do harbour. This morning when Pandit Lakshmi Kanta Maitra was speaking I was almost persuaded to accept Sanskrit as the official language of the State, so that everybody will start with an even keel in that mother of all languages. There will then be no rivalry between the sons and daughters of the leaders of U.P. and C.P. that are present here and them sons and daughters of leaders of Orissa or Madras. They will all learn Sanskrit.
The fears and suspicions that we harbour today were harboured by us till a couple of years ago, when the officialdom was manned by the Britishers and the civil service examinations were conducted in London. Naturally, the Englishmen preponderated in service. Now that the civil services and other examinations are being held in Delhi, naturally hereafter the Hindi-speaking provinces (I am not talking of the immediate future but of fifteen years hence) the people of the Hindi-speaking provinces such as U.P. and C.P. will preponderate in the civil and other services of our country.
What shall be the standard or ideal of education and examination in Hindi language ? I do not know much of Hindi. I know a little of what is called Hindustani which the ordinary people use, that inferior Hindustani in which official folks talk to the servants and ordinary workmen. That much Hindustani I. know. According to my investigation Hindi is the only language in the world which requires its verbs to have different inflections according to the gender.
An honourable Member: What about German?
Shri B. Das: I am sorry I tried to learn German but with the advent of first war I gave it up. However, in my old age, I am not prepared to start speaking Hindi-all the time labouring under the dread that I might make a mistake, in the proper gender of the verbs I used and the nervousness that I may not be laughed at by Hindi-speaking ladies and gentlemen over mistakes, I have made.
But that is not the problem. Our children will have to learn a language so like the German where they will have to see that they do not make mistakes in their sentences by using wrong verbs. That is a misgiving, yet I am willing to overlook it. But I am not willing to reconcile myself to the position that for the next fifteen, twenty or thirty years the sons of the Hindi-speaking people, whether they belong to U.P. or to the C.P., will preponderate in the all-India services.
I have watched during the last twenty-One years the spread of Rashtrabhasha Hindi throughout the country. I do say, that very little has been done totrain up Hindi speakers : excepting for the efforts of my Friends Mr. Satyanarayana and Shrimati Durgabai there, very little has been done, so that those who are today capable of a smattering of Hindi reading in Orissa or Madras, can they hope to compete with the Hindi-speaking people or can they compose music or songs like my Friend Pandit Balkrishna Sharma or write beautiful stories like my Friend Shrimati Kamala Chaudhri ? That may not count for my generation but it will count in later generations and affect them.
We know we must have a lingua franca. We accept Hindi. Why is it that the leaders of U.P. and C.P. are so intolerant ? I found leader after leader coming from those benches and talking in Hindi knowing that they are not appealing to the Members of U.P. or C.P. or even in Bihar. They are raising their voices to speak to the people of South India and even to the people of Orissa like me or to the Members from Bengal who talk just a smattering of Hindi. Everybody knows that the Bengali is a little bit conservative : he seldom learns an Indian language gracefully although he masters the English language. Sir, I do hope that when the next speakers rise from the benches of U.P., C.P. or Bihar let them address in English those Members of South India and those like me who cannot understand Hindi so very well. If they are so fond of their mother tongue, let them reserve it for other occasions. Let their arguments show that they have spirit of tolerance, that they want to concede and that they are not in that aggressive mood of, "You must have Hindi as lingua ,franca, we care a rap what happens to you, your sons or grandsons".
We are not going to allow that sort of attitude in speakers from U.P. or C.P. That way you will not make us co-operate in future or even now. Sir, that is what is agitating me and if I speak out my mind I do so in obedience to the dictates of my conscience.
Shri H.J. Khandekar (C.P. & Berar : General): I would like to tell the honourable Member that C.P. is not a purely Hindi-speaking Province; it speaks Marathi as well as Hindi.
Shri B.Das: All right, Sir. I accept my Friend's correction. It is the Jubbulpore district which I have in mind which gave birth to the, President of the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, my Friend Seth Govind Das.
Sir, I have said already that we are human beings and the problems of loaves and fishes affect us as much as the problems of higher national ideology. Let the leaders of U.P. that will speak hereafter tell us how they are solving that problem so that they do not get an overriding weightage on the other Provinces like Orissa, Assam, Bengal, or the Southern Provinces and States like Madras, part of Bombay,
Mysore and Travancore. That is a problem they will have to solve.