Hindi language (हिन्दी), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (मानक हिन्दी), is a standardised and Sanskritised register of the Hindustani language. Hindustani is the native language of most people living in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan. Modern Standard Hindi is one of the official languages of India. Hindi literature is broadly divided into four prominent forms or styles, being Bhakti (devotional – Kabir, Raskhan); Shringar (beauty – Keshav, Bihari); Virgatha (extolling brave warriors); and Adhunik (modern).
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- Article 351 of Constitution of India reads “It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing, wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages."
- Article in: Background, Central Hindi Directorate
- The official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script... for a period of fifteen years from the commencement of this Constitution, the English language shall continue to be used for all the official purposes of the Union...
- Constitutional provision, Constitution of India, Part XVII - 343, quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2014). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa, p.6
- Maybe it's the Hindi that has gotten in me
Whatever's got into me, I don't mind
- For the generation that had successfully concluded the freedom struggle and that laid down a language policy in the Constituent Assembly, it was obvious that free India’s link language could not be the colonial language. A vote was held to choose between Hindi and Sanskrit, which Hindi won with the narrowest of margins. This meant that Hindi would replace English for all official purposes by 1965. But when 1965 came, the memory of the freedom struggle and its nationalist fervour had dimmed sufficiently, while under Nehru the English-speaking elite had gained enough self-confidence to thwart the explicit choice of the Founding Fathers. Since then, English has completely elbowed out Hindi and the other vernaculars, to the extent that schools with the vernacular as medium of instruction are shunned and have come under pressure to switch over to English. A nation with a glorious literary tradition is now voluntarily turning into an underdeveloped country dependent on the former colonial language for all grown-up purposes, where virtually the whole next generation will be schooled through English as medium. [...] In language, the first choice made by the Constituent Assembly was anti-colonial, viz. for a replacement of the colonizer’s language with a native alternative. Yet, by the due date of 26 January 1965, it was decided to overrule the Constitution and perpetuate English as lingua franca. This was a choice made by Indians, not foisted on them by British colonialism nor by other outside factors like American imperialism. This choice reduced the vast majority of Indians to second-class status.
- Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015. Ch.9, 27
- In adopting the Hindi as the National tongue of Hindudom no humiliation or any invidious distinction is implied as regards other provincial tongues. We are all as attached to our provincial tongues as to Hindi and they will all grow and flourish in their respective spheres. In fact some of them are today more progressive and richer in literature. But nevertheless, taken all in all the Hindi can serve the purpose of a National Pan-Hindu language best. It must also be remembered that the Hindi is not made a National Language to order. The fact is that long before either the English or even the Moslems stepped in India the Hindi in its general form had already come to occupy the position of a National tongue throughout Hindustan. The Hindu pilgrim, the tradesman, the tourist, the soldier, the Pandit travelled up and down from Bengal to Sind and Kashmere to Rameshwar by making himself understood from locality to locality through Hindi. Just as the Sanskrit was the National Language of the Hindu intellectual world even so Hindi has been for at least a thousand years in the past the National Indian Tongue of the Hindu community..... "By Hindi we of course mean the pure "Sanskrit Nistha" Hindi, as we find it for example in the " Satyartha Prakash " written by Maharsi Dayananda Saraswati. How simple and untainted with a single unnecessary foreign word is that Hindi and how expressive withal ! It may be mentioned in passing that Swami Dayanandaji was about the first Hindu leader who gave conscious and definite expression to the view that Hindi should be the Pan-Hindu National language of India. "
- V.D. Savarkar, quoted from B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
Quotes about the Hindi vs. English debate in India
- According to the Constitution, English should have been phased out by 1965; no outside power was involved when the Indian elite sabotaged this switch. This elite profited too much from the disenfranchisement of the Indian commoners by the dominance of English. Without saying it out loud, they thanked Macaulay for their linguistic privileges... “Decolonization” implies the belated phasing out of English, but this will involve the defeat not of some foreign colonizer but of the indigenous elite.
- Elst, Koenraad. Hindu dharma and the culture wars. (2019). New Delhi : Rupa.
- We can drive English [the English language] out. All this is necessary for us slaves.
- Mahatma Gandhi, quoted from Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015 Ch 29
- “By annihilating native literature, by sweeping away from all sources of pride and pleasure in their own mental efforts, by rendering a whole people dependent upon a remote and unknown country for all their ideas and the words in which to clothe them, we should degrade their character, depress their energies and render them incapable of aspiring to any intellectual distinction.”
- (Horace Wilson: “Education of the natives of India”, Asiatic Journal (1836), quoted p.26) quoted from Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015 Ch 29
- Hindi: The language of songs, Colorado State University's Computer Science Department
- Encyclopædia Britannica Hindi language, Encyclopædia Britannica, 23 March 2014
- Ethnologue in: Hindi A language of India, Ethnologue languages of the World
- Lingua in: FSI Hindi Course Free Live Lingua Project, Live Lingua
- BBC in: A Guide to Hindi - 10 facts about the Hindi language, BBC