If Hindi is declared the national language of India, will Tamils learn it?

Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:

Without going into the political and societal implications, I’ll go straight to what I think might happen. If it becomes compulsory that the national language should be known to all and if the example of Kerala is anything to go by, then Tamil Nadu might also teach Hindi in school as a subject… not as a language… which effectively kills the very purpose of the imposition itself.

In Kerala, Hindi is taught in all schools in both the state syllabus schools and in CBSE and other school board systems. But the average Malayali seldom uses or has a full conversation in Hindi. They study Hindi just like how they study Science or Math or History. It’s a subject that we have to study in order to pass the exams and not a language for communication.

This is because, generally, in southern India, Hindi has little or no significance. The Dravidian language families are very far from the language family that Hindi belongs to.

If you see the image below from the Wikipedia page[1], see the areas marked in dark blue. All those are the same language family and it makes sense if they have one common base language along with their regional language. The lower portion of India is shown in grey to denote multilingualism.

Across all the states of south India, the medium of instruction in schools is in the local regional language or in English. People talk to each other in the regional language. Hindi doesn’t come into the picture at any point of time. Then what’s the point? Okay, so everyone in a country ought to know the ‘national language’ because a majority speaks it. Cool. Even if it is forcibly taught, it’s going to be a useless exercise because unless there is regular use, nobody will have the confidence to converse in a language. Then why bring in bad blood when you know the end-result is going to be zero?

I studied French for two years in high school, and Arabic for 10 years from Grade 1 to Grade 10. Am I able to talk in French or Arabic? No. Arabic I do speak a little here and there, thanks to the nature of my job. But most kids here who have studied Arabic at school cannot speak the language. Because English is used for communication here and there is no issue.

Likewise, in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Hindi has very little relevance and is hardly ever used for communication. There really is no point in forcing us to study something and have no end results. None of us will ever ‘speak’ in Hindi with each other. It’s not our mother-tongue.

Long story short… the Tamil people might learn it, but it’s going to be a useless exercise.

Edit:

If Hindi is imposed as ‘national language’ because a majority of the country speaks Hindi, then India should also be declared as a Hindu country because a majority of its people are Hindus, no? If everything is to be decided by numbers, then there shouldn’t be any disparity anywhere, no?

How come nobody talks about that? Strange! This is just a pointless fight, IMHO.

Footnotes

[1] List of Indo-European languages – Wikipedia

If Hindi is declared the national language of India, will Tamils learn it?

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