Language Movements in India
Language Movements Against Hindi as An Official Language

Some of the recurrent aspects of language conflict which symbolize feelings of social divisions, separateness and group loyalties clearly demonstrate that the problem becomes acute when the question of national language policy gets politicized. However, the political expression of language loyalties in form of language movements generated by the assertive roles of certain political organizations have not been necessarily anti-national. As the political conflict based on the language loyalties often leaves a divisive and destructive impact on the society or nation, "the tendency to treat these loyalties as inherently anti-national is wide-spread" (Das Gupta 1970 : 1). But once we begin to view the difference in perspective in which a society as 'ethnos' integrates itself and a nation as a policy attempts at the political cohesion, many of the misgivings about the language conflict become crystal clear.

Some of the basic distinctions in this respect can be pointed out as below :

(i) Ethnos, as ethnically defined speech community, is a his
torically established community of people characterized by
common, relatively stable cultural features, certain distinctive
psychological traits and also by an awareness of their identity
and distictness (i.e. we-they oppositions) from their similar
communities. In this case the meaning implied is a Russian
term 'nationalist' i.e., natsionalnost (Bromely 1974 : 36).

The Russian term 'natsiya' i.e. nation is a broader concept demanding the
notion of state affiliation and economic consolidation

marked by the regional sense of identity and affection for their native land. The we-they opposition in this context is to be characterized as ethnopolitical community which may be uni-ethnic as Japan or multi-ethnic as India.

(ii) The nature and process of Social-ethnic and Socio-
political integration though not isomorphic are interactional
in post-feudal societies.

(iii) The nature and process of language conflict differ with
the difference in the political system of a nation depending on
whether the system is imperialistically authoritarian or
nationally organizational, whether the governmental decision
system is democratic in function or authoritarion in action,

the ideal of a nation as an ethno-political unit is : 'internal cohesion - external
distinction,' (Haugen 1966). The political considerations are guided by vehicular (instrumental) motivation while socio-ethnic unity is achieved by cultural (integrational) motivation. The political ideal dictates that for the intense communication there be a single effective language whether one's own or other's while socio-cultural ideals of a nation direct that for the sake of identity and external distinction the language promoted be one's own. In the context of a multilingual nation, communication system for its cross regional or inter-ethnic interaction either shapes itself in the form of official language or onfiguartes itself as a national language. An Official language is concerned with nationism and integrates the country through its administrative goals into political and economic unity. A national language has its roots in the socio-cultural authentically and great traditions through which it integrates the nation on the socio-cultural level (Fishman 1971).

The theory of nation that defines it as a polity by 'internal cohesion and external distinction' is too simplistic to account for the complex semantics of language policy an language conflict. Following facts may be adduced in support of this.

(1) The external distinction which is motivated by the
problem of national identity and loyalty is generally cosntrai
ned by the urge of international communication. We know
well how the Irish movement got ultimately a low ebb because
of the pressure of English as an international language.

(2) The analytic concept of a nation which accepts it as a
potential cohensive arrangement between its sub-units (i.e.,
states or politically governed provinces) directs to account for


states as political entitles by the same criterion-internal cohesion and external distinction. Thus, like national identity and national loyalty, one often comes across with the question of regional (state level) identity and loyalty. When the states are organized on the socio-ethnically consolidated speech communities, language loyalties tend to become in nature and function isomorphic with the loyalties for the politically motivated organizations or regional units. This becomes the root cause for the group politics involved in the processes of language policy formulations.

Indian political system always seeks a compromise between two types of pressure - the centripetal force generated out of the need for the inter-regional coordination at the Centre which primarily communities in English and secondarily in Hindi and the centrifugal force generated out of the demands of the regional states which is motivated to take a larger share of its activity to itself and through its own regional (state official0 language.

(3) In a traditional and stratified society of India one gets a hierarchically organized network of social identity marked with the different layers of language loyalties patterned like the politically organized system i.e., international, national, regional (state), local (district) etc. Language conflicts may manifest the clash in the interest between any two levels of identities and loyalties. For example, Hindi as an official language of India as a nation comes in conflict with English (as a language for the international communication), with Tamil, Bengali etc. (as dialects threatening to establish their own identities.)

(4) Basic to all the language conflicts is the problem of social and economic growth of members of a given speech community as a social and economic growth of members of a given speech community as a social group. The centrifugal force for political separatism and group conflict is largely dependant upon "the degree to which social mobility is blocked because of membership in a given language group" (Inglehart and Woodward 1967 : 359).

The most relevant characteristic of Indian bilingualism has been its allocation of social roles to different languages that form a complex whole of socio-cultural behavior. Different languages configurate in a diglossic relationship that encouraged

stable maintenance of their compartmentalized roles. Non-competing nature these roles sustained the non-coflicting and socially stable pattern of bilingualism. (Srivastava 1976). But with the formation of regional linguistic states with dominant language raised to the official language statue, the situation obviously got changed. Since the government is the main employer and since the government job is the main source for the social mobility and status-uplift, speech communities whenever felt handicapped, due to the pressure tactics of the dominant group, came invariably to the agitation. "Linguistic diversity has existed in India from the beginning of her recorded history. What is new and significant for political study is the mobilization of language groups for social and political objectives. These processes of mobilization invariably result in political restructuring of forces in the Indain society." (Das Gupta 1970 : 70). The creation of Telugu speaking Andhra Pradesh as a separate State is typical instance of group conflict.

(5) Linguistically oriented group conflicts leading to te political cleavage may, apart from the socio-economic factors, be motivated by any feature of socio-ethnic character. In India, for example, religious ties serve as ethnic isolates. For example, the Muslim League and the Aligarh movement symbolized the Urdu language movement with the Muslim culture movement on religious basis, which ultimately got manifested in the form and function of the Pakistan movement.

(6) Language movements are generally movements of group interest which exerts its pressure on the personal loyalty. A person may shift his stand as regards to his group affiliation and group loyalty. The two notable instances from the Indian scene are of C. Rajagopalachari and Suniti Kumar Chatterjee. During the phase of Indian nationalism Rajagopalachari was the one who declared that Hindi alone can be the official language of the future India ; during the Official Language Commission deliberations he put forward that English and/or Hindi as a bilingual knit could be the only solution for the official language controversy; and at the Madras State anti-Hindi Conference in 1965 his avowed policy was for English alone. This shift in his stand is nothing but symptomatic of his group loyalty in the different phases of his political career.

It is under the perspective of group loyalty, language conflict and national development as laid down in the first half of the paper that I propose to critically examine some of the major movements that prevailed in the South against Hindi as an official language. I am aware of the fact that the description as well as its critical appraised to see the movements as characteristic of political aspirations and achievements of the involved speech communities in the form of cause and effect phenomenon of historical dynamics. There could have been another way of looking at it viz, typology of movements as marker of distinct types of language conflict i.e. movements from within the Hindi region versus outside the Hindi region ; within the Hindi region sociolecial (Hindi-Hindustani) versus dialectal (Hindi-Maithili) ; official language (Hindi-English) versus national language (Hindi-Tamil/Bengali) etc.

The Constituent Assembly accepted Hindi in the Devanagari script as the official language of the Union. The Constitution of India contains several other provisions under article 120 (1) and 343 to 351 in respect of the Official Language, some of them are given below for further discussion.

Article 343 (1) : The official language of the Union shall be Hindi
in Devanagiri Script.
The form of numerals to be used for the official purposes of the Union shall be the international form of Indian numerals.

(2) : Not withstanding anything in the clause (1), for a period of fifteen years from the commencement of the constitutions the English language shall continue to be used for all the official purposes of the Union for which it was being used immediately before such commencement : Provided that the President may during the said period authorize the use of the Hindi language in addition to the English language and of the Devanagari form of numerals in addition to the international form of Indian numerals for an of the official purposes of the Union.

Article 351 : It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi
language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the form, style and expression used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the VIII schedule, and by drawing,

wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.
The background in which these decisions were adopted is vital for
understanding the spirit behind the statutory provisions. The debate in the Constituent assembly on the Official Language took place between September 12 to September 14, 1949. Within the assembly there were two distinct blocs : Pro-Hindi and Anti-Hindi wherein Pro-Hindi bloc was divided into two : (a) Hindi bloc represented by P. D. Tandon, Govind Das, Sampurnanand, Ravi Shankar Shukla and K. M. Munshi and 9b) Hindustani bloc represented by Nehru and Azad.

Anti-Hindi bloc was generally in favour of promoting English to the official statues though claims for Sanskrit and Bengali were also occasionally got voiced. According to Ayyangar, English was the language on which "We have built and achieved our freedom". For Naziruddin Ahmed and Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukerjee, English opened to India knowledge, specially in the realm of science and technology and its acceptance may be 'disagreeable necessity ; but still it s a necessity." Nehru was of the opinion that "We must have our own language" but according to him, "English is undoubtedly today the nearest approach to an international language". The viable national language policy was evolved under Munshi-Ayyangar formula as a measure of compromise on several issues. Following were some of the salient features:-

(i) Hindi is the official rather than the national language of India [Art.343 (1)].

(ii) English is to be retained for a period of fifteen years from the date of implementation of the Constitution i.e. 1950 [Art.343 (2)].

(iii)Claims of the regional languages were upheld through the VIII schedule.

(vi)Hindi-Hindustani conflicts were resolved through the ambiguous directive of Art. 357.

The Constitution provides provision for the appointment of a Language Commission to advise the President regarding the progressive use of Hindi and restriction on English for the official purposes of the union. The first Official Language Commission was appointed on 7th June, 1955, which submitted its report on 31st July, 1956.

The Committee of Parliament on Official Language under the Chairmanship of G. B. Pant submitted its report to the President on February 8, 1959. "Pant realized that the post-independence fervour to have one language as the facts of national unity jas ebbed away, The critcism that Hindi had neither any cultural nor political pre-eminence over the other regional languages had become louder." (Nayar 1969 : 32). This was the voice generated outside Hindi region ; Tandon expressed the other view : 'Hindi, for me, is the most patent means of unification and integration'. The recommendation of the Committee was that Hindi be accepted as the principal and English a subsidiary language with no target date for the switch over. Members of non-Hindi region were not happy over the recommendation. S. K. Chatterjee clearly mentioned that the orientation of the Commission was in favour of Hindi speakers 'whoa are to profit immediately and for a long time to come, it not for ever,' Anthony held the view that 'it spells the inevitable disintegration of the country' and Subbarayan characterized it as a victory of 'militant chauvinism.'

The voice and mood that was inside the Committee was also outside of it. The Academy of Telugu convened in Madras a Union Language Convention in the year 1956 which resented imposition of Hindi on the South. It also expressed its anger over switching over English to Hindi. Under the initiative of Rajagopalachari and All India Language Conference was held in 1958 wherein Frank Anthony stated : "The new Hindi today is a symbol of language chauvanism, and worst of all, it is a symbol of oppression of the minority languages." Rajagopalachari, once the supporter of the promotion of Hindi to the official and national status, declared "Hindi is as much as foreign language to the non-Hindi speaking people as English to the protagonists of Hindi". This conference brought together political leaders of diverse orientations, "ranging from Marxism to Dravidianism" (Das Gupta : 193) A resolution was passed in the Conference that English be continued as the Union language without any time limit.

The pressure of anti-Hindi agitation on Nehru was such that after commending the Report of the Committee as a 'remarkable piece of work', on August 7, 1959, he gave an assurance in the Lok Sabha "I would have it (English) as an alternate language as long as people require it and the decision for that I would leave not to the Hindi-knowing people, but to the non Hindi-knowing people". Obviously, not only-pro-Hindi group was dissatisfied but even G.B.Pant, Chairman of the Committee and the then Home Minister of India, expressed his disappointment over the outcome. He told Nayar "whatever I achieved

in two years, the Prime Minister destroyer it in less than two minute." (Nayar : 51). The Official Language Bill was enacted in 1963. The purpose of this Bill in the words of Nehru was to remove the restriction on the use of English from the Constitution. In his own words, "This is a Bill, in continuation of what has happened in the past, to remove a restriction which had been placed by the Constitution on the use of English after a certain date i.e. 1965. It is just to remove that restriction that this is placed."

In spite of the Official Language Act 1963, some of the Hindi speaking States adopted Hindi as the language of courts. The Home Ministry showed interest in the in service training programme and made Hindi obligatory for all Central Government employees above Class III. It even issued a circular that Hindi would become the principal official language of the Union on January 26, 1965. This meant many things : Hindi States would correspond with the Centre in Hindi ; Government employees could use Hindi for noting and drafting ; in addition to English, Hindi names would be given to Central Government Offices, and Organisation. Once again "Banish English movement" was launched in the North to remove English shop sign-boards and car number plates. The lead taken by SSP in 1957 was now in the hands of Jan Sangha-a party with revivalist orientation. The position of this party was strengthened with the joining of Dr.Raguvira after his resignation from the Congress party.

Like the Jan Sangha in the North, which agitated for replacing English by Hindi, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in the South fought against Hindi and sought the use of Hindi to be kept in abeyance indefinitely. Apart from fighting against Hindi dominance, it also fought for the development of the Tamil Language. With blessing from Rajagopalachari, DMK organized the Madras State Anti-Hindi Conference on January 17, 1965. The conference declared January 26, 1965 as a day of mourning. Students participated in the agitation which turned violent. A Tamilnadu Students Anti-Hindi agitation Council was immediately formed. They burnt down Hindi name boards at Railway stations. More than fifty thousand students of Madras College formed a procession. Such demonstration were staged at many places across the State. Two workers of the DMK publicly burnt themselves to death. In an encounter with the state police, no less than seventy people were killed. Two Union Ministers from the Ministry resigned from their office. All this led to the Official Language (Amendment) Act of 1967. The purpose of this act was to give statutory shape to Nehru's assurance. In this act, the

following section was substituted for Section 3 of the Official Language Act, 1963.

"Not with standing the expiration of the period of 15 years from the commencement of the Constitution, the English language may, as from the appointed day, continue to be used, in addition to Hindi (a) for all the official purposes of the Union for which it was being used immediately before that day : and (b) for the transaction of business in Parliament".

Other salient features of this Amendment were that it encouraged bilingualism in the use of Official Language by giving option for the use of either Hindi or English in certain specified areas of activities like (a) resoulutions, general orders, rules, notifications etc, (b) administrative and other reports and (c) contracts, agreements, licenses, tender forms etc. and by asking for translation in English of the communications mad in Hindi between the Union and a State which had adopted Hindi between the Union and a State which had adopted Hindi as Official Language.

The nature and pattern of these movements against Hindi as an Official Language reveal clearly the following points :

(1) Language movements were organised by such speech communities which felt that with the exclusive adoption of Hindi as an Official Language, their opportunity for securing government jobs and other status positions will be lost and therefore, their social mobility will be blocked. Added to this was fear that Hindi speaking Indians wouid tend to dominate the government.

(2) Language Movements were instituted and instigated by the elite middle class who are bilinguals speaking English in addition to a regional language. Apart from occasionally laying emphasis on the promotion of their own regional languages, they considered their action towards the retention of English, which gave to them power and Status.

(3) Several self-made and tailored arguments in favour of the rentention of English were adduced. Some major arguments put forward by the Movements are:

(i)English is a developed language best suited for our industrial an scientific progress.

(ii) English is less divisive because of its neutral character ; i.e. the theory of "the equal distribution of handicaps" which "in our situation only English secures'.

(iii)English is not really a foreign language for India as 'foreign is a political concept. Nothing is foreign when we

make it our own.' (for a critique of these arguments see Srivastava 1975).

(4) Language Movements in the South and in the North (i.e., anti-and pro-Hindi Movements) act and react in a spiral way ; each major political action of the North towards a policy formulation and implementation regarding Hindi gets rebounced by a reaction from the South and vice-versa.

(5) Language Movements have their own effect on the formulation of language policy and its implementation. The Official Language policy has been shaped through stress and strain and compromise and reconciliation. It is for this reason that politically the democratic system existed through the agencies external to its structure and the integrated outlook was evolved not by the developmental capability of the dominating ruling party but by the dispersal and amalgmation facilities of decision makers.

(6) Socio-ethnic factors are invariably brought into the gamut of Language Movements. It has been pointed out by Max Weber that group organizations with political discourse are generated out of two types of social relationships ; communal which is based on sentiment and tradition and associative which is founded on belief in achieving certain pragmatic ends. The organized associations in India through religious and cultural bond combined the two factors in defence of political values. It is for this reason that Language Movements in southern States characterized Hindi domination as a symbolof political source of Aryan and Brahmanical cultural domination.

Dravidian movement of South was in fact a movement against Aryan and Brahmanical culture. The Dravida Kazhagam (DK) and later the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) were merely the extension and intensification of militant and dynamic antireligious 'Self Respect Movement' of 1925. It was under this fervour that E. v. Ramaswamy Naicker appealed DK to burn the national flag and the North-South animosity was exploited by DK in the form of Ravan Leela in Madras on December 25, 1974 wherein effigies of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita were burnt. Bringing in socio-ethnic factors is not the sole peculiarity of the South ; in fact, it is in the socio-cultural soil in India. Similar was the move by Sir Sayd Ahmed Khan who founded the 'United Indian Patriotic Association' and formulated the two nation theory for India which through Aligarh Movement gave rise to the Pakistan Movement.