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Consul General Riva Ganguly Das asks staff to think in Hindi

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New York: “Think in Hindi before you prepare your document in Hindi”- India’s newly appointed Consul General Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das would like her staff to think in Hindi in order to present better documents in the official language of India.

The Consul General was speaking on the occasion of the kick-off of Third International Hindi Conference 2016 at an event held at the Consulate Ball Room on March 14.

“We are doing a lot of work in Hindi. If we think in Hindi we can produce more accurate documentation”, she explained pointing out her support to the cause of Hindi. Emphasizing the commitment of Government of India for promoting Hindi, the consul general said that more opportunities for Hindi learning should be created.

She elaborated upon a diverse Hindi program conducted by Indian Council for Cultural Relations, a Ministry of External Affairs initiative that supports Hindi scholars in various countries around the world.

The conference is scheduled to be held from April 29 to May 1 at the Consulate Ball Room.

India’s Consul General Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das (third from left) officially launched the Third Intenational Hindi Conference 2016. Also seen with her are (from left) Purnima Desai, Ashok Ojha and Upendra Chivukula (second from right)
India’s Consul General Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das (third from left) officially launched the Third International Hindi Conference 2016. Also seen with her are (from left) Purnima Desai, Ashok Ojha and Upendra Chivukula (second from right)

Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs, Government of India, sent a message for the success of the conference. Ashok Ojha, coordinator of the conference, explained that the theme of the conference was, “Hindi Language: A Democratic Voice of Complex Issues in Education, Literature, Arts and Media”. According to Ojha Sweden-based Hindi scholar, Heinz Werner Wesslerhas, agreed to deliver his key-note address at the inaugural event on April 29.

Ojha said that a Kavi Sammelan is scheduled on April 30, the second day of the conference. A Humorous Hindi Play, ‘UdanKhatola’, and a story session, ‘Kahani Manch’, will also be held during the conference.

A number of speakers including Dr Susham Bedi of Columbia and CUNY, Dr Seema Khurana of Yale, and Dr Rakesh Ranjan of Columbia, spoke at the kick off event. According to Khurana, she will prevail upon Yale to host the conference in 2018. Others who spoke in favor of Hindi included Prof Indrajit Saluja, Mrs Purnmia Desai, head of Shikshayatan cultural organization, Col Veerendra Tavathia and media professional Sunil Hali.

A cultural presentation by danseuse Rimli Roy and a poem recitation was performed at the function. (picture courtesy: theindianpanorama.news)

(The article was first published in The Indian Panorama)

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Governor humiliated for addressing in Hindi

  Incidentally, Hindi is a very powerful language, if we go deeper. This language is so self-sufficient that it is one of the direct descendants of Sanskrit, the oldest and the perfect language in the world

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Sri Ganga Prasad was criticised for giving his speech in his native language and not English in the legislative assembly.

Salil Gewali, Shillong

  • Hindi is one of the official languages of India
  • Sri Ganga Prasad faced criticism for giving his speech in his native language
  • This makes one question if English is becoming dominant in India

Sri Ganga Prasad faced a barrage of criticism when he delivered his maiden speech in the National language in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly. Even one of the legislators abruptly walked out of the assembly hall while the Governor was digression the session. Thus, the Governor was intensely scoffed at and humiliated through the social media and other news media.

Well, everyone has their right to disagree and criticize. Of course, we do not disagree that the majority of people in Meghalaya are not fluent in Hindi.  This is not a big deal. But disrespecting the language could be.

Is Hindi being ignored as the nation moves more towards English? Wikimedia Commons

This news also made many of my facebook friends abroad pretty curious.  One very learned scholar – Avital Markel from New York speaks out her mind with a dose of humor: ‘why is there so much noise when your governor delivered the speech in the language which is originally from India itself? I know another popular name of this country as Hindustan, not “Englistan”, I believe.’ Another Yoga teacher from Las Vegas — JM Palmer remarks — ‘it’s ridiculous that people can disrespect their own language. I can easily pronounce a good many Sanskrit terms. I personally have tremendous respect for India’s Sanskrit and other languages because they are the languages of Yoga and wisdom of spiritual dimension’. Mr. Palmer is a spiritual seeker who regularly visits India.

                 I think both Avital and Palmer views resonate with what the citizens of other countries feel. At least with those who have not been insanely fascinated by the English language like some Indians do. It’s much observed in the country that one without English speaking skills is obviously looked down upon.  The ‘inferiority complex’ vis-a-vis the West and its external trappings often hold many Indians back in asserting that they are Indians. This syndrome is getting more pronounced among the certain class of intellectuals and the snobbish folks. This has already taken a very ugly shape. The trait of sedition is quite noticeable amount the certain class of citizens.

                    Anyway, if we have regularly tolerated the bunches of fraudsters, rapists, and murderers in the parliaments and state assemblies in the country, why could we survive a speech of few minutes in Hindi and so on? 

Also Read: Is Hindi The National Language of India?

On the contrary, the citizens of very developed nations such as China, Russia, Germany, Portugal, France will never lose their calm when their leaders speak in the native languages. Actually, they all speak their own languages. The imperialist British till the date has literally failed to cast its spell on them. The citizens of those self-reliant countries rather swell their chests and claim their superiority and what they are due for.

                          If I am not mistaken Hindi is still recognized as the national language of the country. So, even if we are unable to learn the language, it would do jolly good if we do not disrespect it at all. Here it will be quite relevant to cite a case of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at United Nations General Assembly. I believe, nobody walked out of that international summit on 27th Sept 2014 when the Prime Minister delivered his speech in Hindi. Thank God, we didn’t have any leaders from Meghalaya who might have cringed with embarrassment and walked out! That particular speech by PM Modi in UN was so applauded that it subsequently served to motivate the member countries across the world to vote in favor of declaring a Yoga International Day for 21st June.

Harivansh Rai Bachchan, a Padhma Bhushan awardee for his contribution in Hindi Literature. Pexels
Hindi is a powerful language and ought to be used more. Pexels

                        Incidentally, Hindi is a very powerful language, if we go deeper. This language is so self-sufficient that it is one of the direct descendants of Sanskrit, the oldest and the perfect language in the world. On the robust ground of India’s Sanskrit the Modern linguistic stands. Kudos to those unprejudiced and rational intellectuals such as Sir William Jones, Johann Goethe, F. Schiller, Franz Bopp, F. Schlegel, Ferdinand de Saussure, Leonard Bloomfield, Noam Chomsky who discovered the incredible literary gems in the languages of India.

                           Finally, for those who sniff at the languages of Indian origin and the wisdom and culture associated with them, I would like to share just one opinion by their much celebrated English master. Here exclaimed the American British Nobel laureate TS Eliot: “Two years spent in the study of Sanskrit under Charles Lanman, and a year in the  mazes of Patanjali’s metaphysics under the guidance of James Woods, left me in a state of  enlightened mystification.” I think we should not walk out of the “truth”. India has for ages been enriching the intellectual treasure troves of the West. But, what is a huge paradox is that our Indians are either not aware of it all or they do not want to acknowledge it.