One Language, One Nation: No, not please

By Sudeepta Mohapatra Sarangi

2013: My first week at my first job in the USA. I was the only Indian in the office. (I still am)

My manager brought to me a letter from Gujarat State Electricity Board, meant for one of our clients (a Swiss chemical company), for their plant in Gujarat.

He asked me to read and translate it to English. I said I couldn’t since I didn’t understand the language.

“But it’s Indian, ain’t it?”, he asked with surprise.

I replied that ‘Indian’ is not a language. The language is ‘Gujarati’.

“So, what language do you speak then?”, he asked with even more surprise this time.

I said, Hindi and Oriya. He further confused Hindi with Hindu and I explained the difference to him.

Unlike the IT companies, most people in my office know only a little about India.

So, I went on to tell him how there are 22 official languages in our country, written in 13 different scripts; there is no one national language and that the dialects run in hundreds!

I was simply beaming with pride as he listened to me in awe.

That is the “diversity” which we have always been so proud of. Diversity not only in language but food, clothes, culture, dance, music and what not!

So, what’s up with this ONENESS mania all of a sudden? Is diversity not so endearing anymore?

And let’s be honest. How many of the great proponents of Hindi send their kids to Hindi-medium schools?

Most of the glitz and glam that we see in our metros or even Tier-2 cities can be attributed largely to the IT companies or MNCs. Do you think they chose India over China because Indians speak Hindi?

(Even the Chinese are now focusing on imparting English education)

So, for God’s sake, speak up against this hypocrisy and divisive politics before it ruins everything.

Oh, wait you will ask me “which God”.
I am sorry. To that, I have no answer.

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