Sunday 4 October 2009

Majoritarianism

I was at the immigration counter at Heathrow, London. The gentleman behind me was also an Indian. He had some questions regarding the immigration process; so, he requested my assistance. I answered his questions in English - he was from the national capital. Looked like he wasn't comfortable in English. So, i tried to explain him about the process in broken Hindi. He asked me 'Don't you know Hindi?' I said, 'No, i know very little Hindi'. He smirked and mocked at me - "You are an Indian and you don't speak Hindi?!?!?!"

All i could do was pity his ignorance. (Dear brother, i have learnt English and little Hindi in addition to my language; whereas you know no other language other than your mother tongue - and you question my patriotism? Shouldn't i accuse of bigot ism?)

How many of us know that India doesn't have ONE national language (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Theres-no-national-language-in-India-Gujarat-High-Court/articleshow/5496231.cms)? How many of us know about the amendment to the Indian Constitution in this regard in 1965? How many of us know that the Indian Constitution is written in English and not in any other language?

Based on my experiences, i see there is (still) a kind of sense that 'you should know Hindi if you are an Indian; You are not patriotic if you don't know Hindi'.

More amusing is this prejudice prevails among the so called 'educated mass' as well. And most of those who say this are those whose first language is Hindi or one of its siblings.

I think there has been enough altercation on the web over this 'Hindi Imperialism' and the reservations and concerns of the minority speakers; so, i am not going any further on it. But, this incident brings out a more generic question - 'How is the Majority imposing itself on the Minority?' This question can be related to any sphere of social life - language, culture, religion, economic system, etc.

'The mind is like a parachute. Works best when open!'

Easier said than done - we are all frogs in a small well. As long as we stay within the well, our thoughts and actions will be influenced by this confined environment. Once we step out and see the bigger picture, we will be able to better appreciate the views of the wider populace.

If only the majority is more benevolent and accommodating, and the minority in turn less effusing, humanity would be a better race.

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