12/02/2019

Hindi is not yet a language that fetches economic gains

"In a country where less than 20% can speak English, a small elite have colonized their own people by drafting everything important in English, be it forms to fill in, instructions on packages of products ranging from medicines to electronics, or top-level announcements of government policy. This has caused a backlash among some citizens against English and in favour of Hindi. To a native Tamil speaker, English, Hindi and Bengali are equally foreign. The imposition of any of these would feel coercive. Of the three, English has the least number of speakers. It ranks as the 44th most widely spoken language by Indians. Yet, Indians tolerate it because learning English appears to be a skill that translates to upward social and economic mobility. English fluency commands a premium in the labour market. It provides Indian elites with special access, and, when coupled with access to the internet, has the greatest potential to connect one with the world.

What advocates of Hindi fail to realize is that non-Hindi speaking Indians will be far less tolerant of Hindi imposition. Hindi speaking regions are generally poorer, provide less economic opportunity, and virtually no upward mobility. If this were not true, Hindi would already have been adopted more widely in non-Hindi speaking regions."