The controversy arisen out of UPSC’s CSAT pattern even after 67 years of Independence once again put a stamp on the subject that Hindi and other languages are facing neglect since a long time. The kind of dominance, which existed in the context of English during British Rule, is still prevalent in India. It’s indeed quite disappointing that this very mind-set has not changed that English is synonymous with knowledge. What’s unfortunate is our policy makers often boast of derailment and degradation of Indian languages and though vernacular languages are not seen with ignorance these days, it’s also true that these languages have yet to make a place for themselves in government functioning especially at the top level. If the CSAT paper of preliminary examination, which has been considered mandatory for testing administrative skill since 2011, is being seen as the basis to discriminate between Hindi and other languages, there are some concrete reasons behind that as well. The results of past three years have made it clear that the number of students clearing UPSC exams in Hindi and other Indian languages have come down all of a sudden. It’s the main reason behind thousands of students in the national capital were compelled to take their anger into streets.  

It’s not proper that English language should be at helm in bureaucracy and judiciary and other languages will keep on languishing in the fringes. English has always been given a push and priority not only in public sectors but also in private sectors. Since proper policies are not being implemented, especially when it comes to promotion and development of languages, the nation is witnessing emergence of societies of diverse nature. First, that very section, which is fluent in English and climbing top positions by dint of their command over the language and another section which is still loitering in a clueless manner mainly since they have learnt Indian languages.  This scenario exists at such a time when the percentage of people having command over English across the country stands at just 10 percent. But what’s surprising is that this smaller section of the population has gone on to dominate the remaining 90 percent. It can’t be denied that in the contemporary era, knowledge of English is quite important and at the same time, it needs to be understood that language can’t be the sole yardstick of knowledge. The irony of the matter is that the unnecessary inclination towards English language is confined not only to cities but also to rural areas where proficiency in English is projected as the sure shot measure to success.

The students, who are protesting against CSAT, deserve sympathy. Not only because English language can have an impact on their process of selection in the civil services exams but also because the kind of education they have pursued right from the outset did not make them that much compatible to face stiffer challenges. If the students who studied in Hindi or other Indian languages are finding themselves weaker before those who have been taught in English, our educational system is only to be blamed. Why our educational system could not make them competent enough so that they can crack civil services examinations in the language they have been taught? Why it’s often assumed that there is a little scope of development of a student’s personality and caliber in other languages apart from English? There is also another question – if students’ requests are taken into consideration, will it cover up the flaws in our educational system? The issue is not just confined to CSAT but that very education which is failing to impart knowledge to students in a proper manner and hence, is not becoming a factor in personality development. There is one more reality associated with our society, which is divided on the basis of language. People who are well-versed in English are more prosperous compared to those whose knowledge of the language is not that good. The situation is such that discrimination is seen among the employees on the basis of proficiency over English in the same organization. Those who are well-versed with the language register a faster growth and the others are subjected to indifferent behavior. This is creating a feeling of neglect in them.

Our policymakers need to deliberate on this subject that why Indian languages have been subjected to discrimination of this magnitude? This has happened mainly because the government refrained from replacing English with Hindi as official language and promoting other Indian languages after Independence. A nation develops in a fast paced manner only when there is only one or two language to carry out all government functioning. In the presence of more languages, not only it creates problem in communication but also leaves an impact on administrative capabilities and hampers productivity.  In this context, the situation of India is quite strange as states have been formed on the basis of language and there are several states as well where multiple languages are spoken. In such a scenario, Hindi could have replaced English but due to narrow minded approach of some leaders and mainly because of their opposition, this idea was dropped. Its disastrous consequences are now out in open in front of all. Since government as well as private sectors basically depends on English, its acceptance is also widely growing and this is happening at the expense of Hindi and other Indian languages. What could be more unfortunate then no concrete step coming to the fore to make Hindi the national language especially when the language is reaching out to each and every corner through media, cinema and other forms of entertainment? The politicians need to ask this question themselves that whether they want to see Hindi or English as national language? If their prime aim is to establish English as India’s national language then they will have to get rid of their gammon of promoting and pushing Hindi.

The controversy on CSAT has not only kicked-off a debate over language but also raised questions over issues related to social justice. The issue of reservation, which was seen as a medium to bringing in social equality has been reduced to a prime ammo of vote-bank politics. If the questions related to language are solved and Hindi, along with other languages get their well-deserved weightage, the subject of reservation can be rendered ineffective to a considerable extent. It needs to be mentioned here that the section that are not well versed with English is languishing in backwaters and their lack of command over the language is acting as a major impediment in moving towards the path of development. The nation can’t progress by deviating away from its cultures and traditions and social equality can’t be brought as well.  In such a scenario, we need to take such measures to ensure that Indian languages don’t fall victim to discrimination and receive all the glory and respect it deserves. By making Hindi the official language, we can restore and rekindle the lost confidence among people. This will eventually lead to the materialization of the concept of one India – best India.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on July 27, 2014 translated by the English editorial. The author is the Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)