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Mainstream of consciousness: If we have Hindi Diwas, why not Kannada Day?

Home Minister Amit Shah has said Hindi can play a key role in uniting the country

By Upala Sen in Calcutta
  • Published 15.09.19, 12:46 AM
  • Updated 15.09.19, 12:46 AM
  • 2 mins read
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A woman breaks down in Bowbazar Suman Ballav

Mainstream of consciousness

Home Minister Amit Shah has said Hindi can play a key role in uniting the country. Why Hindi? In his words: "India is a country of different languages and every language has its own importance but it is very important to have a language of the whole country which should become the identity of India in the world." Whichever way you see it, whether you agree or not, what he is doing might be called mainstreaming. Now there be streams. And there be a mainstream. Both stream and mainstream flow and keep flowing, teem with life and death and eddies. The flowing is similar. The teeming life too — though the colours will be different, the shape of the nose, the slit of the eyes, the tongue, the tastes, the appetite. Death feels the same in both. Similar also are the eddies.

Wanted, a prefix

But a stream is a stream is a stream. It is distinct and it is its own main. What is so difficult to understand in this? The Constitution of India recognises 22 regional languages. There are 13 scripts and 700-plus dialects. And that variety cannot be an identity in itself? If you think this is an odd linguistic grouse, you are mistaken. Mainstreaming is the main malady of these times. If you are from the stream without prefix, NRC is three alphabets, a few lakh missing names and just some jumbled lives. A 40-plus-day lockdown equals “normal” when the intent is to link prefix to stream. Again it is mainstreaming at work when a celebration of P.V. Sindhu's world championship becomes, by reflex, a little more kosher and that much more worth celebrations than Manasi Joshi's win at the BWF Para Badminton World Championships.

Mile sur…

HD Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular) said: “Today Hindi Diwas is being celebrated across the nation. When will Narendra Modi celebrate Kannada language day, as it is also an official language as per the Constitution, alongside Hindi.” Point. If you want to redirect streams towards mainstream, then mainstream also alters in character, no? Then you cannot say “ours”, “theirs” — our temple, our resolve, our Supreme Court. You cannot choose only one creature of God for extra holiness. You cannot choose then to eradicate Foot and Mouth and Brucellosis (common diseases in bovines) and be silent about dengue and whatnot. And you cannot choose whose death is more tragic, Arunachal boy Nido Taniam’s or Tabrez Ansari’s. You cannot decide when you will call it lynching and when murder. And you cannot decide on the volume of my tears for Bowbazar or Kachua, just because you don’t know where to find it on the map.

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