Hindi breaches the hegemony of English in corporate world
Political parties and alleged celebrities connecting Hindi with the Sangh and BJP is an extremely unfortunate thing that is happening. This impression has to be changed sooner rather than later
Frankly speaking, the lingua-franca of FICCI, CII and Assocham, the prestigious bodies of Indian industry and chamber of commerce, was English for decades together. The speakers attending their various seminars and functions express their thoughts in English. That era is over and the hegemony of English is challenged here as the young corporate leaders have no complexes of their seniors to speak in English only. The likes of Mukesh Ambani (Reliance), Sunil Bharti Mittal (Airtel), Anand Mahindra (Mahindra), Onkar Singh Kanwar (Apollo tyres), Nandan Nilkeni (Infosys), Sanjiv Goneka (Sanjiv RPG group) all speak in mixed of Hindi and English in seminars to press meets
When the grand old man of corporate India, Ratan Tata and Shiv Nadar, founder and Chairman of HCL, speak on any subject, you have to listen. Even Prime Minister too listen them carefully. They are the conscious-keepers of Indian corporate world. What they have achieved in their fields is simply mind-boggling. If known Hindi baiters like Stalin Karunanidhi, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and his sister Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, speaks against the alleged imposition of Hindi on people of their State, what Shiv Nadar says about the role of Hindi in shaping his career should also be looked into. Addressing the students of St Joseph's College Higher Secondary School at Tiruchirappalli couple of years ago, the founder of HCL Technologies sought to remind the students that India was a large country and significant section of the population in the country understood Hindi. He added - "Hindi is spoken not just in Indian states. It is understood by people in different countries as Indians are everywhere. This would help you when you go to other countries." Shiv Nadar, a billionaire industrialist and philanthropist, also underscored that knowledge of Hindi that he learnt at school enabled his competitive presence in the IT field beyond Tamil Nadu. He had witnessed the anti-Hindi agitation in his home state in 1960s and yet he has such a views for Hindi.
And as recently as couple of days ago, industrialist and philanthropist Ratan Tata switched gears from English to Hindi while addressing a function in Dibrugarh in Assam in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Hindi. The occasion was the inauguration ceremony of 7 new cancer hospitals in Assam.
Ratan Tata began delivering his speech by saying, "Mai Hindi me bhashan nahi de sakta isliye mai angrezi me bolunga (I cannot give speech in Hindi, so I will speak in English)." After speaking for sometime in English, Ratan Tata, though in trembling voice due to his age-related concern, did start speaking in Hindi."...Sandesh ek hi hoga... mere dil se nikla hua. "Aaj Assam duniya ko bata sakta hai ki India ka chota state cancer centre ka udghatan kar sakta hai. (Today, Assam can show it to the world that a small state like it can inaugurate cancer centre). "(The message will be the same, out of my heart)," Tata said. The statement of both these stalwarts clearly proves a point that politics apart, nobody has any issue with Hindi which is the mother tongue of majority of Indians.
Frankly speaking, the lingua-franca of FICCI, CII and Assocham, the prestigious bodies of Indian industry and chamber of commerce, was English for decades together. The speakers attending their various seminars and functions express their thoughts in English. That era is over and the hegemony of English is challenged here as the young corporate leaders have no complexes of their seniors to speak in English only. The likes of Mukesh Ambani (Reliance), Sunil Bharti Mittal (Airtel), Anand Mahindra (Mahindra), Onkar Singh Kanwar (Apollo tyres), Nandan Nilkeni (Infosys), Sanjiv Goneka (Sanjiv RPG group) all speak in mixed of Hindi and English in seminars to press meets. When Ludhiana born Sunil Bharti Mittal speaks in Hindi, one gets an impression that he might have spent some time as a Hindi journalist. He often says, Mera Manna hai... (I believe that...). Most of the Hindi journalists use this line more often than not.
Well, the Marwari and Gujarati industrialists like KK Birla, Shashi Ruia, RP Goneka, KN Modi, Dilip Sanghi, Dr SK Somaiya and many others used to speak in Hindi. Perhaps they felt that they can express better in Hindi rather than any other language. Former FICCI President Onkar Singh Kanwar reads a Hindi script while addressing some conference. And he loves to speak in Punjabi too with media persons during an informal conversation.
What is so surprising is that while nobody force anybody to read Hindi, yet some leaders in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been trying to spoil the situation in the name of imposition of Hindi. And former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah does not miss any opportunity to stoke the fire. Recently he has reacted to the acrimonious Twitter exchange between Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn and Kannada actor Sudeep and said Hindi was never and will never be India's National Language - the main issue of the exchange between Ajay Devgn and Sudeep.
"I am proud to be a Kannadiga," the former CM wrote adding that it is the duty of every Indian to respect linguistic diversity of the country. "Each language has its own rich history for its people to be proud of," Siddaramaiah said. Siddaramaiah, can you tell us who is showing disrespect for Kannadiga? When he was the Chief Minister of his state, Siddaramaiah turned the screws on a discomfited BJP in the state by writing to the Centre stating that Hindi should not be imposed on citizens of the state and that he was "compelled" to change the signages at the Bengaluru Metro. Clearly, he believes that Hindi has some special links with BJP, the political party he has to face all the time. That's the issue that needs to be resolved. Recently, noted Hindi writer and Delhi University teacher, Dr Prabhat Ranjan narrated an incident in his facebook post. "Once I met well-known actor and my college days senior, Ashish Vidhyarthi. Of course, he has became a celebrity.
I took him to various places. Later, he asked my another friend, 'has he (Prabhat Ranjan) became a Sanghi as he talks Namaskar-namaskar very often'. That's the crux of the problem. It looks that some political parties and alleged celebrities club Hindi with the Sangh and BJP. That's extremely unfortunate thing that is happening. This impression has to be changed sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, Siddaramaiah should learn a lesson or two from two most respected names of his states- Nandan Nilkeni and Prakash Padukone, the great badminton star of yesteryears. They both speak Hindi with ease and flair. Last but not least, let we learn more and more languages.
(The author is Delhi-based senior journalist and writer. He is author of Gandhi's Delhi which has brought to the forth many hidden facts about Mahatma Gandhi)