Constituent Assembly Of India -Volume IX
Dated: September 13, 1949
They will have to tell us how they are going to teach Hindi to the thirty ,odd crores of people of this sovereign India. Nobody has told us that, Simply passing the Resolution and making Hindi the lingua franca does riot solve the problem. Even during the last 21 years how many teachers bad U.P. sent out to the other Provinces ? Not more than 100. Do they expect that every village school teacher of U.P. will go to Orissa, Bengal, Assam and Madras and sufficiently teach Hindi so that our sons and daughters could equally compete, will the sons and daughters of U.P. and North C.P. ? If my friends of U.P. had tolerance they would not have caused us these heartburns for the last three or four weeks.
The question of numerals has loomed so much in the horizon that they do not appreciate the concession when the, United India, in a spirit of co-operation. agreed to accept Hindi as the lingua franca of India. Why do they not yield? The world is not stationary. What we may incorporate in the Constitution to day may be a dead issue five or ten years hence. We, Hindus, know how the world is changing; we know how our conception of God bag been changing fromtime immemorial. From the days of Rigveda down through the Vistas of Upanishads, Puranas and the Bhagvatam to the present concept, we are changing all the time. Why are my friends from U.P. so insistent that only the Devanagari numerals be used and not also the Indian numerals of international character as many of us want ? I have supported the proposition to have these international numerals along with the numerals; our fears might prove to be wrong; ten or twenty years hence it might be proved that it was a wrong thing to have introduced international numerals, but at present the fear does exist and hence both the numerals the House should accept.
We do not want to fight over this small issue of numerals,. Why should not my friends of U.P. and North C.P. agree that both the numerals will be allowed for another fifteen years ?-then most of us will not be here, at least I won't be in this world fifteen years hence. Then those who succeed, with the resurgence of the spirit of independence and after working the independent Constitution for fifteen years, let them meet together and solve the problem whether the international numerals should continue along with the Devanagari numerals.
With the advancement of science as Dr. Mookerjee rightly pointed out this morning, and with more and more international co-operation, more and more contact with outside world, more and more of the spirit of one world, we should have recourse to international numerals at least in the scientific and technical fields. What is right or wrong it is not for me to judge; it is for me to see that we evolve a common formula whereby all of us unanimously pass these articles which shall be incorporated in our Constitution. Let there be no bickerings. Let not South resent the discussions of the North. Let not North be overbearing to the South when they want the numerals of ancient times to be brought back in modern administration. If some of us who revere the memory of him who brought us this independence and was incarcerated and out of that memory we try 10 co-operate and not hurt the feelings of each other, it is expected of the leaders of U.P. who have pressed this question of language and numerals to show a spirit of tolerance which is expected of them.
Dr. P. Subbarayan (Madras : General) : Mr. President, Sir, this is the first time I venture to address this august Assembly' and I feel rather overcome by that sensation. My amendment is a very simple one and all the other amendments actually follow in its wake.
My amendment is that the language of the Union should be Hindustani in Roman script. I feel that we ought to get akin to the world. The world is getting narrower today and we ought not to think in narrow terms of our own provinces but more with the idea of a "One World". If you do really believe in One World and peace, as Mahatma Gandhi preached to the world, then I am sure most of you, if you search your hearts, will be inclined to vote for the proposition I have propounded today.
Shri R. K. Sidhva (C.P. and Berar: General): Mahatma Gandhi did not say Hindustani in Roman script.
Dr. P. Subbarayan: Hindustani in Roman script, what I advocate, as two scripts are a difficulty and may be an acceptable solution.
There is also another thing which I would like to touch upon. Why all this awkwardness about English ? All this hatred against English ? With the coming of freedom I thought we had abandoned hatred altogether, and we bad become friendly with the English people. I would like to quote the American example. Today, if you take the American population, about 20 per cent. only belong to the British Isles. The very nature of the men who represent them in sporting contests, of which alone I am well aware, come of races which cannot be described as Anglo-Saxon by any stretch of imagination. In the lastDavis Cup against Australia the two representatives who did battle for America and won were Schroeder and Gonzales. Can you think of more strange names than Schroeder and Gonzales-the one a German and the other a Portuguese ?
Therefore, all there people who conic of different nationalities residing in the United States have agreed to adopt the English language is their own. I would far rather that we were bold enough to say that English which has been with us for nearly a century and a half, and we who have imbibed as much of the, heritage of the English language as anyone else, adopted as our common language.
But unfortunately we are not placed in such circumstances because there is still, in spite of all that has been said. the spirit of hatred, the spirit that feels that we should not touch the language of the conquerer though he, has ceased to be the conquerer and willingly left our country without the firing of a shot merely because he felt the time had come when he ought to accept the decision of a whole nation. But still I am willing to give in to national sentiment.
I would, however, like honourable Members to take their minds back to Mahatma Gandhi. I have been told that we should not utter the name of Mahatma Gandhi in this controversy about language. Why not, I ask. Because day in and day out honourable Members mention the sacred name and only run quite counter to what he taught us. When that is the case, Mr. President, why should I not appeal to Gandhiji's name for Hindustani being adopted as the language of the nation?
Shri R. K. Sidhva : Quite right. He should be quoted correctly. Not for Hindustani in Roman script.
Dr. P. Subbaravan: Mr. Sidhva, if you will have a, little patience and hear me develop my argument you will know what I am driving at-I was not quoting him for the Roman script; I was quoting him for the name Hindustani. Well, Sir, to proceed with my argument, English being out of the way, then the next best thing we can adopt is Hindustani in the Roman script, because it keeps us akin to the world.
What is all this nonsense about numerals, I say. Do you want to be archaic and go back to things which have been forgotten for a long time, which you have revived today because you think it is Your own ? May I tell you, Sir, that these numerals are older than the numerals you so fondly bug to today.
Pandit Balkrishna Sharma: Question
Dr. P.Subbarayan: There is no question of questioning that. It is a fact.
Pandit Balkrishna Sharma: It is not a fact.
Dr. P.Subbarayan: You may say what you like. I have my own opinion about it.
Pandit Balkrishna Sharma: Your opinion is not what matters.
Dr. P.Subbarayan: It is not my opinion. It is a fact and not an opinion. Yours is an opinion with which you want to change the fact. Well, Sir, to go back to this question of numerals, it has been said in the. Encyclopaedia Brittanica-it is merely to prove facts I am reading it,, MT. Sharma, for your edification.
Pandit Balkrishna Sharma: Say for your enlightenment.
Dr. P. Subbarayan: I am enlightened enough. "Several different claims. each having a certain amount of justification, have been made with respect to the origin of our present numerals, commonly spoken of as Arabic, but preferably as Hindu-Arabic. These include the assertion that the origin is to be found among the Arabs, the Persians, the Egyptians and the Hindus. Intercourse between traders served to carry such symbols from country to country, so that our numerals may be a conglomeration from different some. The country, however, which' first used, so far as we know, the largest number of our numeral forms is India "One, four and six are found ill the Asoka inscriptions of the third century B.C., long before your numerals were thought of. Two, four, six, seven and nine appear in the Nana Ghat inscriptions a century later.
Pandit Balkrishna Sharma: Is Nana Ghat situated in Europe?
Dr. P. Subbarayan: That is why I say they are our numerals, which you do not unfortunately accept. I am only proving that these numerals originated in India and nowhere else. Two, three four, five, six, seven and nine in the, Nasik caves of the first and second century of our era.
Pandit Balkrishna Sharma: Have you seen these numerals on caves in the Nasik ? Can you enlighten the House whether these numerals are exactly like the ones now in use?
Dr. P. Subbarayan: I am not going to enter into an argument with the honourable Member. He will have his turn to make his observations, For the moment he may kindly bear with me in patience. Two,.. three, four, five, six and nine there are in the Nasik caves of the first and second century of our era. They bear considerable resemblance to our numerals. If the Honourable Member had waited in patience he would have understood my point. Those numerals have considerable resemblance to our own, our two and three being well recognised derivation, from two and three.
None of these early Indian inscriptions gave any evidence of place value or of a zero. That would make our place value possible. Hindu literature gives some evidence that the zero might have been known before our era. But we have no actual inscriptions containing such symbols before the ninth century. The first definite external reference to the Hindu numerals is contained in a note of Severus Sebokht, a bishop who lived in Mesopotamia about 650. Since he speaks of nine signs the zero seems to have been known to him.
Mr. President: Are you going to decide this question on the basis of his verdict ?
Dr. P. Subbarayan: Not on the basis of that but on the basis of their being Indian in origin. I am only proving that these are our own numerals and that we need not fight shy of them.
Mr. President: We need not go into those details any more. The question is to be decided on broader grounds.
Dr. P. Subbarayan: Sir, all that I want to say is that we need not fight shy of these numerals. They are our own and we are only taking back to ourselves what was our own and what are commonly known all over the world. In this way we can be more akin to the world also, because today more than 60 per cent. of the people of the world use these numerals. There is no harm in this As this is so, I do not know why we should introduce archaic connotations and give up something well-known to us and which we have been using all these years.
I have already referred to the Roman script. (Interruption.) Mr, T. T. Krishamachari is a constitutional expert. I do not pretend to be an expert. But what I say is this : When the script is well-known all over the world, and as the world is getting narrower and narrower, it will keep us akin. to the world and we shall be able to get our own scientists talk to the scientists of the world through the medium of our own language if we adopt the Roman script. It will be easily read by the rest of the world and therefore it will get us akin to the wide world. I hope Shri T. T. Krishnamachari is now satisfied.
Well. coming now to the rest of my amendments, I want that the Commission to be appointed under the Resolution as proposed by Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar should not come after five years. Five years is too short a periodfor that. It should come on] after ten years are over and until those ten years we should keep the English language as the medium. My friends from the United Provinces laugh at this. If they had the experience I had to go through ,during the Hindi controversy, they will understand why I am pleading for this gesture on their part. We from the south, wanting a national language, wanting to be in tune with all of you from the North of India, agreed to swallow almost 95 per cent. of what you wanted. And yet, you want the other 5 per cent. also, because you believe in the Tamil proverb:
I am also reminded of the other Tamil proverb which says, if a man comes and asks for a little place on the verandah and if you grant it, he will next ask for entry into the house itself. That is the position of most of you gentlemen, today.
I feel, Sir, that it is very important that you should understand the South Indian position. If I tell you what exactly happened for three months when I holding was charge of the portfolio of education in Madras and Hindi was introduced as a compulsory subject in the first three forms of the High Schools, you will understand my anxiety that I should go back from here with something done, something accomplished. For three whole months, every morning when I got out of my house I heard nothing but cries of "Let Hindi die, and let Tamil live. Let Subbarayan die and Rajagopalachari die". That was the cry that went up for three months and what is more, we were constrained to use even the Criminal Law Amendment Act which we railed against previously.
Shri T. T. Krishnamachari (Madras: General): Hear, hear.
Dr. P. Subbarayan: Mr. Krishnamachari says : 'Hear, hear'. I remember his criticism on the floor of the House. If lie had been in power at that time he would have used worse instruments.
Sir, I will give another information for the edification of my colleagues from the United Provinces. The Congress Bulletin is published both in English and in Hindi. If you compare the number of subscribers for these two editions,-you will be surprised. Only about 1/40th of those who subscribe for the English edition, subscribe for the Hindi edition. This shows that in spite of Gandhiji's attempts and in spite of everything that has been lone, we have not been able to make even those who seem to be jealous of Hindi language buy the Hindi edition of the Congress Bulletin. My honourable friend the Secretary of the Congress (Shri Kala Venkata Rao) wants me to give the number. For reasons best known to him I do not want to give the numbers.
There is another amendment which I would like the House to accept and that is that English should be the fourteenth language in the Schedule. I think my Friend Mr. Anthony has explained the reasons for this' and correctly so. They may be an infinitesimal part of our population, but the Anglo-Indian community is as much Indian as anyone of us is. If we regard them as our kith and kin, their language ought to find a place in the Schedule as any of the other languages. Therefore I feel that 14th should be the English language.
Our Friend Shri Lakshmi Kanta Maitra wants also his amendment to be accepted. I am in favour of putting Sanskrit as the fifteenth language, because Sanskrit is our ancient language and we want also to have it mentioned in our Constitution. This is the one place where we could include, it, Considering everything, I feel that it would be correct if we adopt Hindustani written in the Roman script as the national language of the country.
Shri Kuladhar Chaliha (Assam : General): Mr. President, Sir, after the speech of Dr. Subbarayan which was one of the most rational speeches evermade here in this House, if I come forward to support Sanskrit, I shall be taken as archaic or as an archaeological curiosity. I personally feel that we should have Sanskrit as our national language. Sanskrit and India are co-extensive. However much you can try, you cannot get away from Sanskrit. Our institutions are interwoven with it and values of our lives have been created out of its philosophy. All that is good and all that is valuable and all that we fight for and all that we hold precious have come from Sanskrit literature. The great personalities of Sri Krishna, the Buddha and the Father of the Nation-why do we follow them ? But for the heritage that we have in Sanskrit, we would not be following them. It is in Sanskrit that we have got the most beautiful literature, the most profound philosophy and the most intricate of sciences. Can we ever conceive of anything more beautiful than Kalidasa's Shakuntala or his Megadhuta ? Can we have any better things in the world or can you imagine any better culture in the world ? As regards philosophy, we have the rational philosophy of Sankhya, the philosophy that Swami Vivekananda took to Chicago, where he had it recognised that ours was one of the finest of religions. This was due to his deep knowledge of Sanskrit. Because of his volcanic energy, he was able to galvanise the world with his ideas.
I cannot be as sentimental or as expressive as my Friend, Pandit Lakshmi Kanta Maitra. I have not got the extensive knowledge of Sanskrit as he has, otherwise I would have given you all that we have in Sanskrit by way of science music, architecture, economics, political science and even surgery which will be surprising. It is there for us to draw upon. Sanskrit is such a vast storehouse that all the provincial languages, when they could not find the proper word for anything, have always' gone to Sanskrit to draw upon. Even good Hindi is nothing but Sanskrit. Sir, from birth to death, we perform ceremonies in Sanskrit mantras., Our whole life is so interwoven with Sanskrit that you cannot get away from Sanskrit. May be today only a few people understand Sanskrit, but what about English ? Only one per cent. or two per cent. of the people speak English.
As regards the proposition put forward by the Honourable Shri Gopalaswami Ayyangar, I accept it because it is a compromise solution, and because it is good for India, not because Hindi is a better language. As a matter of fact, when I heard people like the Maulana Saheb speaking in Hindustani, I was struck by the dignity, 'flexibility, refinement of style, sweet intonations of that language, and I thought that Hindustani would be a better substitute for Hindi. You do not ask me why; I do not know, I do not know how to read and write it, but the dignity of the language of Hindustani is such that, when I heard it, I thought it was very attractive. I heard speakers after speakers speaking in Hindi as well as in Hindustani, but I was struck only by the dignity, beauty of expression and the flexibility of the Hindustani language, and I thought it was, very attractive.
Now coming again to Sanskrit, it is the mother of all our provincial languages. We will become better Indians by adopting Sanskrit, because Sanskrit and India are co-extensive. Even if we adopt Hindi or Hindustani, we shall not be able to get away from Sanskrit, which has given us our philosophy and, all the beautiful things of the world.
Then a regards the numerals, the heavens would not tumble down if we adopt the international numerals. If we have used it for 150 year-, and more, we can use it even now, and nothing will be lost. I cannot follow the argument that- the international numerals should not be used, for after all it is our own numerals. If we do not adopt the international numerals, we will not be able to adopt ourselves to the changing circumstances of the world. We should tryto be a little more modern and a little more progressive in our outlook. With these words, I conclude.
Rev. Jerome D'Souza (Madras : General),: Mr. President, I venture to take a few minutes of this House, although I must confess that the points that I wish to bringbefore you have already been touched upon by various distinguished speakers. If, nevertheless, I crave the indulgence 'of the House for a few minutes,it is because with so many others in this House I feel the immense gravity and the vital importance of the topic on which we are engaged. Sir, time and again during the last two years and more that we have gathered in this House, when questions of a controversial nature have engaged our attention and when sometimes passions were roused, some of us who have watched the political scene of our country with a certain detachment, not having been in the rough and tumble of it like stalwart fighters, asked ourselves whether the time would come when before the end of the discussion, our traditional spirit of adjustment and conciliation would assert itself and enable us to come to an agreed solution. And again and again to the deep satisfaction of those who have watched it, to the satisfaction of the friends of this country, possibly also to the deep chagrin of those who do not love us-I would not call them our enemies that spirit of compromise and understanding has asserted itself and we have come to some consensus of opinion.
Only at this point, to the grief of those of us who have wished to see this question also treated in the same spirit of compromise and understanding, I say only on this question, feelings have been embittered or excited to a degree which has not happened before. Now, I am not saying that as a matter of criticism I may even say that it was inevitable-because apart from perhaps religious convictions and in some cases even more than religious convictions, there is nothing inhuman activity which touches the springs of man's action and man's life more than language and all that language implies.
After all, when we come to think of it, there is nothing that proclaims our superiority to the rest of creation than this divine power of language and speech. Because, after all, a world, when the world is really good and sincere, is the flowing out of the very soul of man, is the very counter-part of his innermost being. Therefore, there is nothing that flows out of human life and the human heart more beautiful than beautiful words, nothing more detestable than harsh, hateful, insincere words. When words come out from the depth of the soul and express the innermost sincerity of that soul, the man who speaks in that manner gains a power over his fellow men, with which nothing else on earth cart compare.
How, may I ask you, did our incomparable Mahatma Gandhi hold us as it were in the Palm of his hand, if it were not by the supreme force of sincere, crystalline, vibrating speech which was his own and which was incommunicable ? And whenever we find that a language which we claim as our own, a language which we think is the truest expression of our being is in some way denied to us, our passions are stirred as nothing else stirs them. That explains the passion of those who want a particular form of Hindi: that explains, my friends. the passion of those who, like me, wish to see that all the currents of Indian culture, including those of Muslim India, those of Christian India. those of the different parts of India should find a place within the hospitable limits of that language, which will be the official and which will ultimately become the national language of India.
Sir, what physical and geographical climate is to man's physical being language, its spirit, its genius, its vocabulary, are to the spirit of man, as intellectual climate in which the soul and culture of a people live. If that intellectualclimate is not acceptable to any section, if the meaning, resonance, associations of ideas, historical and cultural implications of a very wide vocabulary do not give satisfaction to all the different elements of this varied and extraordinary nation of ours, in which so many different cultures have to find an expression, there will be great unhappiness. I say, if we do not, find some kind of contentment in the cultural climate, of our land as expressed by the spirit, the genius, the music and the rhythm, and variety of vocabulary, of the national language, then, we shall not feel at home, we shall feel we are strangers, as it were under a decree of banishment imposed upon us, not physically, but in the intellectual and cultural sense. That is the meaning of the stand we have taken; that is the reason why we with all the strength of our soul, plead for this larger-hearted treatment of the vocabulary of this language.
I rejoice that our friends have accepted this. On this most fundamental issue, those who have championed the cause of Hindi have assured us that they accept the explanation which has now been made a part of the proposals of mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar, that Hindi shall include the form of speech known as Hindustani as well as other congate styles and forms. This gives us the assurance that in course of time, with the evolution of this language all the different elements that make up this nation will find in it a cogenial intellectual and cultural atmosphere. On this point, therefore, let me in all sincerity express a profound satisfaction that we have come to an agreement about the language in general, about the content and spirit of it, and finally about the script that has to be used for it.
Having come thus far, shall a minor thing, a small thing, now dash away that cup of unity that has been offered to our lips? Shall our friends say that here again was one of great might-have-beens of our history? In the brief course of recent history in the evolution of events during the past 10 to 15 years, there came a stage when the majority of our people said that division of the country was inevitable. Still, it is possible to say judging after the passage of time, and with the detachment of a historian, that perhaps at such and such a point, if we had acted in a different way, or if the other party or such and such a person has acted slightly differently, the course of events in our history might have been entirely different.
It is difficult when we are so near to the events, when we are, as it were lost in them, to cultivate that distance and detachment and to pass judgment and to discern all that a particular action or gesture, or decision implies. As apparently insignificant action may have very great explosive possibilities, may contain germs that will develop in a manner which we cannot foresee at all. I feel Sir, that some of us here, whether we belong to one section of the House or another, are saying thins performing actions, and aligning ourselves in the course of these discussions in a manner the full significance, the ultimate implications of which, we ourselves are not aware, and which time alone can show.
While therefore rejoicing that there has been basic agreement on this question, let me say in a spirit of prayerfulness and earnest desire that as regards the points that remain unsettled, God Himself may guide our steps and decisions, and ultimately move us to a solution which will ensure the preservation of that unity which we have got at such a price, for which such tremendous sacrifices have been made. I hope and pray therefore that on the minor points on which we are still divided, the unity of this country may not be shattered upon this rock of linguistic consciousness. I will not use the word fanaticism it is feeling, and passion nurtured by ignorance rather than fanaticism, ignorance of all the implications of the decision which we are called upon to make. Nevertheless, I venture to plead for the acceptance in its broad outline of the proposal submitted by Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar, not because I think that in every detail it is acceptable but because it embodies the widest common measure of agreement. I agree with Dr. Subbarayan that reopening the matter within five years though it is asked for and has been conceded, is not a satisfactory arrangement; in five years we shall not be in a position to satisfy the commission which is envisaged that the time has come for a radical and important change. I hope means may be found to evolve a satisfactory formula on this point also, which will be universally acceptable.
The logic of events will convince all that the time is not enough for the mastery of this language by many sections of our people in a manner in which the official language. should be mastered, mastered so that it may become not merely the official language, but ultimately the national language. I may assure those that may think that we are rather lukewarm in giving our support to this, that we wish to see Hindi not only as the official language, but we wish to see it evolving, developing, gaining the hearts of all our people to such an extent that from an official language, it may become a truly national language, nay as Mr. Dhulekar said this morning, with all the sincerity which we recognise in him, that it may become an international language. We do want it. But if it is to be an international language, its inter-national spirit, and outlook must be maintained. If we close our doors against words, ideas, ways and currents of thought, manners of expression and historical association which ate implied in this, then, it will not have the international spirit; the spirit which will naturally and inevitably spread out beyond our country and enable it to become one of the preferred languages of strangers and foreigners.
Cultured people have preferences in the matter of foreign languages. The French people, proud of their language, have a fine statement : I do not know whether national self-love has inspired them to say so, but it expresses their pride in their language. All men have two languages, they say, their own and then the sweet French tongue:
Perhaps, a day may come when the whole civilised world may say,
But, if it is to be that, the capacity to spread and conquer the hearts of men should be there; a truly international spirit as manifested in the way that It has developed in many parts of our country, gathering spoils as we may say of many an age and culture, many a race and many an epoch in our history, should be stamped upon it.
It is for this spirit of universality that I would plead with my friends who have till now stood out on the question of numerals to accept the compromise, putting aside for the moment the merits of the question. Personally I believe that on rights and merits, international numerals have an indisputable superiority. I say as a teacher, as a student of science and literature, as a student proud of our contribution of the concept of zero and its associated numerals to the world culture, that on the merits of the case., it is better to have the international numerals. But even if it were not so, this question of numerals has now come to be a kind of symbol for many of us : Symbol on the one hand of the spirit of adjustment among the differing elements within our country, and on the other, symbol of the spirit of universalism and so we want this point to be conceded. However I should not call it a "concession," rather let me say an agreement on that point, as an affirmation of the spirit of universality from those who have not so far shown themselves willing to make it.This language of India has to be learnt not only by the 350 millions of our brothers and sisters. Remember that it has to be learnt by the army of foreigners who come to our country, to study our culture, to take part in our commerce, to take part in foreign diplomatic representation. It is not merely Indians who have to learn a language, for which they have a natural affinity; it is foreigners also who have to learn this language which will be entirely foreign to them. When we ask for fifteen years it is also because the commercial interests of India are mixed up with this question. Foreign countries which need the knowledge of the Indian language require a fairly wide period for its study. Moreover this universal outlook is required not only in the interests of India but for the good of the world at large.
We wish to carry to the world the message of India's spirit, the message of her firm belief in the primacy of spiritual values, the message of love and Ahimsa which Mahatma Gandhi preached. We wish to communicate to others the literary and artistic treasures which we have inherited from our past, and unless we keep our windows and doors open, unless we make matters easy for those friends to share our cultural heritage, unless we leave-as it were-bridges by which they will easily recognise that it is not an entirely strange land from which we are going out and into which they will be stepping it will not be easy for us to carry out our mission.
I say the acceptance of these international numerals will be a symbol of the spirit of India which wants not merely a narrow nationalism but according to the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi, and Rabindranath Tagore and of our own great Prime Minister wants the spirit of. universal brotherhood. I say that for the sake of this we should not permit anything which would stand in the way of universal understanding and mastery of our language.
So, on all these grounds I should like to make a fervent and earnest appeal that these divisions which have caused so much distress of heart to the lovers of this country may be closed now, that the power and cohesion and the unity which led a mighty political party to win independence might not at this last stage of the deliberations of our great Assembly break down and be dissipated to the satisfaction of those who do not love us and to the deep distress of those who love us. I, therefore, most earnestly and humbly make this supreme appeal through you, Sir, that we may close our ranks; that on this question of language there by be the grace of general and universal acceptance; and that as we rise from this discussion, we may rise not as separated into camps, but as brothers, and children of one Mother--Our Motherland, India. (Loud Cheers.)
Shri B. AL Gupte (Bombay: General): Mr. President, I have tabled amendment No 281. It is a humble attempt at a compromise. The honourable Father D'Souza has just put in a very strong plea for a compromise but he has not put forward any specific formula. My amendment is an effort in that direction. I of course know the fate of those who venture to try their hand at compromise making. Very often they displease both parties rather than please both parties. But in the interest of unity and harmony I have taken that risk.
In my opinion the amendment 65-the Munshi-Ayyangar formula-is itself a very admirable compromise between the two schools of thought. It holds the scales evenly. The name of the language is accepted as Hindi but the protagonists of Hindustani are comforted with a directive clause. In that clauseitself those who are the Champions of Sanskritised Hindi are appeased because it is said down that Sanskrit shall be the primary source of vocabulary, but at the same time the advocates of the other school are also placated by providing that the words from other languages shall not be boycotted. So it is an admirable compromise, it is a very balanced provision and but for one exception, I would have been tempted to describe it as a very fine feat of tight-rope walking. Only in one exception that is in the case of numerals there is unbalance and my amendment seeks to correct that unbalance. It is very unfortunate when there is so much unanimity on all other points only in this small matter there should be such a very serious difference of opinion but unfortunately it is there.
If we compare both these drafts we find that there is substantial agreement even on this point. Under both, the numerals will remain in official use for fifteen years. Under both, the language commission and the Parliamentary Committee will have full power to decide the question of numerals in the five yearly reviews of the situation. So this is common to both the drafts. The only difference is that in the Munshi-Ayyangar draft the international form of numerals alone is mentioned as the official form of numerals and there our Hindi friends feel aggrieved. They think that though their language is honoured, their numerals are torn from that language and all of a sudden in one thrust the foreign numerals are foisted upon them and we must sympathise with their sentiment.
Whether those numerals are really of Indian origin or not-some people contest it-I do not want to go into that controversy-it has to be admitted that they have today an appearance of being foreign, at least to Hindi language. I therefore submit that in this matter we should try to respect the sentiments of our Hindi friends. It is no use trying to thrust these numerals all of a sudden :let them be gradually and peacefully assimilated in the Hindi language. I have therefore proposed in my amendment that both these numerals should be mentioned in the first clause. That is a concession I should like to make to that school of thought. I therefore would plead with my Southern friends that even if according to you the Hindi numerals are to be in official use for such a long period as 15 years, then why not mention them in the, clause ? Why are you so chary about it ?
But at the same time our Mr. Ayyangar has insisted and rightly insisted that our ultimate aim should be that international form of numerals shall be the permanent form of numeral. There I agree with that school of thought and I have therefore provided that after fifteen years subject of course to the right of the Language Commission and the Parliamentary Committee to decide the question in any way they like, the international form of numerals shall be the only form of numerals.
Now I plead with my Hindi friends that they should yield on this point and there are very good reasons for it. It had been admitted by them that the question of language had been solved 95 per cent. to their satisfaction and I do not see why in the interest of unity and harmony they should not yield That 5 per cent. with good grace. Of course there is the other well-known argument about the utility and the progressiveness of using international form', as far as possible especially when they belong to us in their origin, but I will not emphasise that. I will emphasise this that if you have 95 per cent. of your demand, why create this. strife, why this disharmony and bitterness only for 5 per cent ?
I therefore beg of my Hindi friends that they should gratefully yield this 'five per cent. It is a small matter and we have solved much greater problems; by agreement and good-will and amity. If we take, a decision on this by a vote of majority, then it will leave a trial of bitterness and rancour behind it.By our action now we may jeopardise the normal working of our new Constitution, even before it is passed. The party that is defeated may start an agitation for the amendment of the Constitution and the reaction of the other side also may be equally violent. Thus the members of controversy, will remain alive for long time. So, I appeal to the, honourable House. Let us take care that the verdict of history, the verdict of posterity on our labours on this matter, may not be that they set out to find a language to unite them but ultimately ended in allowing the numerous to divide them. Therefore I appeal to all for a compromise. I am not keen about my own formula. But I am keen on a compromise. I only want that there should be, no division in this House on this matter, where there is so much substantial agreement.
With these words I leave this point and proceed to certain observations with regard to another topic, a topic of more enduring interest and more enduring importance, and that is about the characteristic of the future development of the language. There are on the Order Paper certain amendments which advocate Sanskritised Hindi as the official language, And even apart from those amendments, there is a strong tendency in certain influential quarters that Hindi should be over-sanskritised, and perhaps owing to that tendency there has been some difficulty about the adoption of this language as the official language. Of course, those advocates will take advantage of the provision, in the directive clause that Sanskrit would be the predominant source of vocabulary. I have no quarrel with that provision. But I fee[ that no one should take undue advantage of that. It is a compromise and it should be worked in the spirit of a compromise. I am not against Sanskrit; most of us cannot be, it is in our blood, It is the fountain head of our mother tongues and the storehouse of our culture. Not only that I am not against Sanskrit, but I am an admirer of Sanskrit literature, The most ennobling philosophy the subtlest thought and some of the most enchanting poetry of the world, are enshrined in the Sanskrit language.
But with all its grandeur, and with all my admiration for that grandeur, I have to admit that Sanskrit cannot be the language of the masses; and equally certainly over-Sanskritised Hindi also cannot be the language of the masses. In these days of democracy and adult suffrage, it is the masses that must be uppermost in our minds when we decide such questions. It is the language of the masses that we must be able to speak. Otherwise, as far as we Congressmen are concerned, and most of us here are Congressmen, we shall be kicking the ladder by which we rose. We are here because of the support of the masses to the great Organisation to which we have the honour to belong,-the Indian National Congress, and it is the support of the masses that gave it the power to govern *he whole country. I submit therefore, let us not create an artificial barrier between us and the common man by artificially Sanskritising Hindi. Thus easy intelligibility to the common man should be the characteristics of the future development of our language. I appeal to my Hindi friends, do not dwarf your ambition. Do not be satisfied with making Hindi only the official language, but try to make it the national language embracing the entire nation. I admit that Sanskrit must predominate in the literary forms of Hindi. I also admit that Sanskrit must predominate in the scientific terms. Sanskrit also has a place in the language of the common man. But let us not force the pace; let us not force the content. Let things grow spontaneously, and I am sure a day will soon dawn when Hindi will not only be the official language, but a national language easily spoken and easily understood throughout this great country. With these words, Sir, I commend my amendment to the acceptance of the House.
Mr. President: The Honourable Shri Jawaharlal Nehru.The Honourable Shri Jawaharlal Nehru: Mr. President, there has been a great deal of debate here and elsewhere, and much argument over this question. Personally I do not regret the time spent on it, or even the feeling raised by it. Some times I may not agree with that feeling; but after all, the question before us is a very vital question, and it Is right that vital people should feel vitally about it.
We have had learned speeches, and speeches that were perhaps merely enthusiastic. Now, I do not know in which category to place myself. (Laughter). Neither the first nor the second suits me or is appropriate for me. So perhaps, you will put me in some third category. But I am interested vastly in this question from a variety of points of view; and I have listened to the arguments here and elsewhere, and sometimes I regret to say, I have got rather excited myself over it. And these scores and hundreds of amendments have also been perused by me. and yet I have felt that the matter is not one for verbal amendments here and there, but goes down somewhere deeper.
I rise to support the amendment that my Friend and Colleague Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar has placed before the House, (Cheers). I support that amendment, not because I think it is perfect in every way; perhaps if I had my way, I would like to change it here and there. But I know that this is the result of continuous effort and endeavour, and thought and consultation, and as a result of all that consultation and thought, some integrated thin(, took shape. Now it is a difficult matter to alter or vary somethnig that is an integrated whole, which displays a certain strain of thought. You may change it here and there but I do not think that will do justice either to the original amendment or the person who wants to change it. It would be far better if some other integrated solution was found if the first one was not liked or approved of. Therefore, although I would have liked, perhaps if I had a chance, to lay greater emphasis on some aspects of that amendment, neverthless after all that 'has happened I think that amendment displays not only the largest measure of agreement but also, I think, a thought-out approach to this difficult problem.
Now I am not going to talk about any of the various amendments that are before you or even analyse the amendments that I am supporting. Rather I wish to draw your attention to certain other aspects, certain basic things which perhaps are presented by this conflict on the issue either in the House or in the country. After all it is not a conflict of words, though words may represent that conflict here. It is a conflict of different approaches, of looking perhaps in somewhat different directions,
We stand-it is a platitude to say it--on the threshold of a new age, for each age is always dying and giving birth to another. But in the present context of events, all over the world and more so perhaps in India than elsewhere, we are participating both in a death and in a birth and when these two events are put together then great problems present themselves and those who have to solve them have to think of the basic issues and not be swept away by superficial considerations. Whether all the honourable Members of this House, have thought much of these basic issues or not I do not know. Surely many of them must have done so. But there are those basic issues. What is our objective What are we going to do ? Where do we want to go to ?
Language is a most intimate thing. It is perhaps the most important thing which society has evolved, out of which other things have taken growth. Now language is a very big thing. It makes us aware of ourselves. First, when language is developed it makes us aware of our neighbour, it makes us aware of our society, it makes us aware of other societies also. It is a unifying factor and it is also a factor promoting disunity. It is an integrating factor and it is a disintegrating factor as between two languages, as between two countries. Soit has both those aspects and when therefore you think in terms of a common language here you have to think of both those facts.
All of us here, I have no doubt, wish to promote the integrity of India. There are no two opinions about it. Yet in the analysis of this very question ,of language and in the approaches to it one set of people may think that this is going to be a unifying factor, another may think that if approached wrongly it may be a disintegrating factor and a disruptive one. So I. want this House to consider this question and therefore it has become essential for us to view it in this larger context and not merely be swept away by our looking for this or that.
A very wise man, the Father of our Nation, thought of this question, as be thought of so many important questions affecting our national future. He paid a great deal of attention to it and throughout his career he went on repeating his advice in regard to it. Now that showed that, as with other things, ,he always chose the fundamentals of our national existence. Almost every thing he touched, you will remember, was a basic thing, 'was fundamental thing. He did not waste time, thought or energy over the superficial aspects of our existence. Therefore he took up this subject in his own inimitable way, thinking of it always not as a literary man, though he was a very great literary figure, possibly unknown to himself, but always thinking in terms of the future of the Indian people and the Indian nation, how to build it up brick by brick, so that we can get rid of the evils that pursued us. Whether those evils were foreign domination or poverty, or inequality or discrimination amongst ourselves, or untouchability or the like, he put this question on that same high level and looked upon it from the point of view of a step which might either help us to build a powerful and enlightened India or be a disintegrating of weakening factor.
Now the first thing he taught us was this : that while English is a great language and I think it is perfectly right to say that English has done us a lot of good and we have learnt much from it and progressed much-nevertheless no nation can become great on the basis of a foreign language. Why ? Because a foreign language can never be the language of the people, for you will have two strata or more-those who live in thought and action of a foreign tongue and those who live in another world. So he taught us that we must do our work more and more in our own language.
Partly he succeeded in that, only partly, possibly because of the inherent difficulties of the situation. For it is a fact that in spite of all his teaching and in spite of the efforts of many of the honourable Members present here who are keen and anxious to push up our own languages the fact is that we continue to do a great deal of our political and other work in the English language Nevertheless, this is true that we cannot go far or take our people by the million in a foreign language. Therefore, however great the English language may be-and it is great-we have to think in doing our national work, our public and ,our private work as far as possible, in our own various languages and more particularly in the language that you may choose for all India use.
Secondly, he laid stress on the fact that that language should be more or less a language of the people, not a language of a learned. coterie-not that is not valuable or to be respected, we must have learning, we must have poets, great writers and all that; nevertheless, in the modern context, even more than in the past, no language can be great which is divorced from the language of the people. Ultimately a language grows in greatness and strength if there is a proper marriage between those who are learned and the masses of the people. In India-though I am unlearned in those languages-we have twoexamples : one of Rabindranath Tagore who brought about that marriage in the Bengali language and thereby made that language even greater than it was and more powerful, the other the example of Gandhiji himself in the Gujerati language. There are, no doubt, others, but these are outstanding figures.
Now, in any language that we seek to adopt as an all-India language, or for the matter of that in any language whether-it is all-India or not, we have to keep in mind that we dare not live in an ivory tower of purists and precisionists. Though purists and precisionists in the matter of language have their place and should be there, it is a dangerous thing to allow a language to become the pet child of purists and such like people because then it is cut off from the common people. So you have to have both : certainly a certain precision, a certain profundity and a certain all-embraciveness in language and at the same time contacts with the people, drawing its sustenance from the common people.
The last thing in this matter to which the Father of the Nation drew our attention was this, that this language should represent the composite culture of India. In so far as it was the Hindi language it should represent that composite culture which grew up in Northern India where the Hindi language specially held away; it should also represent that composite culture which it drew from other parts of India. Therefore he used the word 'Hindustani', not in any technical sense, but in that broad sense representing that composite language which is both the language of the people and the language of various groups and others in Northern India, and to the last he drew the attention of the people and the nation to that. I am a small man and it is rather presumptuous of me to say that I agree with him or do not agree with him, but for the last thirty years or so, in my own humble way, I stood by that creed in regard to language and it would be hard for me if this House asked me to reject that thing by which I have stood nearly all my political life.
Not only that, but I do think that in the interests of India, in the interests of the development of a powerful Indian nation, not an exclusive nation, not a nation trying to isolate itself from the rest of the world but nevertheless aware of itself, conscious of itself, living its own life in conformity and in cooperation with the rest of the world, that approach of Mahatmaji was the right approach. I should have liked to see somewhat greater emphasis on that in this Resolution, but because of all that has happened, when ultimately this Resolution took shape I accepted it as at any rate in a certain part of it attention is drawn to this fact that I have mentioned. As I have said, I wish it had been more pointedly drawn, nevertheless it is drawn, so I accepted the Resolution. If unfortunately that attention had not been drawn there, then it would have been very difficult for me to accept this Resolution.
Now, we stand on the threshold of many things and this Resolution itself is the beginning of what might be termed a linguistic revolution in India, a very big revolution of far-reaching effects, and we have to be careful that we give it the right direction, the right shape, the right would lest it go wrongly and betray us in wrong directions. Men shape a language, but then that language itself shapes those men and society. It is a question of action and interaction and it may well be said that if a language is a feeble language or an unprecise language, if a language is just an orn