Anatomy of Hindi
Anatomy of Hindi
By Prakash A Raj
More than sixty legislators elected in Constituent Assembly (CA) took their oath and speak regularly in Hindi in meetings. They belong to MPRF and other regional parties from the tarai.
Is Hindi spoken in Nepal? According to interim constitution, all “mother tongues” spoken in Nepal are its national languages (Rashtriya Bhasha) as it is a multi-lingual country. Nepali in Devanagari script and derived from Sanskrit is similar to Hindi, also written in the same script. Actually, it is very easy to translate from Hindi to Nepali and vice-versa as it was witnessed during the oath-taking ceremony.
According to 2001 census, Hindi was spoken as a mother tongue by 105,000 people in Nepal which was 0.47 percent of its population. On the other hand, such languages as Maithili, Bhojpuri and Awadhi spoken in the tarai are considered dialects of Hindi in India although India recognized Maithili as a separate language few years ago. Maithili spoken in northern Bihar is spoken as mother tongue by a larger number of people in India than in Nepal.
On the other hand, Hindi instead of Maithili is taught in schools and is used as a language of administration in Maithili speaking areas of Bihar. It is Hindi and not Maithili which is used in local government offices in Darbhanga and Muzaffarpur and in Bihar Legislative Assembly.
Similarly, Bhojpuri spoken in central tarai of Nepal and in western Bihar and eastern UP is not used for official purposes in India. Although the language spoken in Varanasi is Bhojpuri, it is neither taught in schools nor is used in municipality there or in either UP or Bihar legislative assembly. Awadhi language spoken in Lumbini tarai is similar to the language spoken in central UP including Lucknow, Basti and Barabanki.
However, it is not taught in the schools or is used for local governments in Indian cities where it is spoken. It is considered a dialect of Hindi for all practical purposes. The percentage of speakers in Maithili, Bhojpuri and Awadhi in Nepal is 12.3, 7.53 and 2.47 respectively which adds up to 23 percent of the population.
It is estimated that 5.83 percent of population in Nepal speaks Tharu which is considered to be a separate language. On the other hand, many people in the eastern tarai, including Tharus and non-Tharus speak essentially the same language. If this criterion is used then the percentage of Hindi speakers in Nepal would be at least a quarter of the population making it the language second only to Nepali.
Actually, India is a democratic country where the people speaking Maithili, Bhojpuri and Awadhi have chosen to adopt Hindi as their language. If the speakers of Maithili, Bhojpuri and Awadhi in Nepal want to adopt Hindi as their link language, there should be no reason for others to object. As a link language, it is also understood by a very large number of people in Nepal, next only to Nepali. In a federal Nepal, Hindi could be adopted as a link language in eastern tarai.
It is the CPN (Maoist) which made the “autonomous, federal states with right of self-determination” part of its agenda. Can it evade responsibility for secessionist movement in the tarai and elsewhere in the country? The national daily Gorkhapatra which is under Ministry of Communications headed by a Maoist minister has been publishing two pages in different languages spoken in the country daily in its pages.
It has published pages in such languages as Sherpa and Sunuwar whose speakers are less than 25,000 and also Urdu which has 174,000 speakers in the country. This could be a commendable step in view of inclusivity. Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara was seen on Nepal television as saying that nobody spoke Hindi as mother tongue in Nepal. Gorkhapatra has not published anything in Hindi. Is this because of anti-Hindi bias of Maoist leaders? Actually, Nepali as link language developed in Nepal during 240 years rule by the Shah dynasty when it was unified.
King Mahendra popularized its use in the tarai and many migrants from the hills changed the demographic composition there making Nepali as the link language in such districts as Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari on the one hand and in west of Kapilbastu.
However, Maithili, Bhojpuri and Awadhi continue to be spoken in parts of tarai west of Kosi and east of Birganj and in Lumbini. Should those who are not native speakers of those language decide for speakers of Maithili, Bhojpuri and Awadhi whether they should or should not study or use Hindi? Actually, Hindi or Khari Boli similar to that used in written form is used only in western UP around Meerut and Delhi in India.
However, it is now considered language of several states including Himanchal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, UP, Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. This is in spite of several dialects and languages spoken in these states. German is spoken not only in Germany but also in Austria and Switzerland.
Similarly, French is spoken in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Canada. More than twenty Latin American countries speak Spanish. What is wrong in admitting that Hindi is also spoken and is one of its major languages in Nepal in addition to India? Whereas the writ petition at the Supreme Court might be entertained and he may be required to take oath in Nepali language, Hindi being the language spoken by a large number of people of Nepal has to be accepted. If someone can take oath in one of many languages of Nepal such as Magar, Tamang or Newari, why not in Hindi?
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