Is Hindi Back Among The Millennial?
On 14 September 1949, Hindi was adapted as one of the official languages in India. Since then, the day has been celebrated. In the last decade or so, the significance of Hindi Divas has increased; and why should we not take pride in the language & its literature?
On the occasion, SUBURB connected with renowned Hindi writers and educationists to know their views on, Is Hindi as a language losing its sheen & stature among millennials? What can be done to promote the language in urban households?
Interestingly, Hindi Divas is also called Hindi day, ironical! While working on the story I received an exciting response- some were surprised, and I was surprised all the more to hear from them that SUBURB being an English media, was writing about the importance of the Hindi language.
Adding my two cents to what our learned experts and renowned people from the literary world said Hindi literature had been given step sisterly treatment by the publishers – since Hindi books are not published as much in number and certainly not promoted the way they deserve to be; there remains a gap between the book and the reader.
During my early childhood, I remember growing up reading attractive English picture books like Cinderella, Three Little Bears, Hansel & Gretel, Enid Blyton series as well as Hindi comics- Jatak Katha, Tenaliram, Champak, Nandan, LotPot with equal interest. But when my children were growing up, all these Hindi magazines and books went missing from the book store.
When reading the language is minimised our mind gets tuned to thinking and speaking in the language which we read and are more exposed to in our daily lives. Reading Hindi prose or poetry may appear drab to some. Lockdown time has once again got me back to the exploration of Hindi treasure trove, having attended Hindi literary seminars, book reading sessions and more.
Let’s hear from the experts on the subject, as we dive into our cultural heritage.
Professor Madhav Hada, a literary critic, and academician has written extensively on literature, media, culture and history. His recently published work Meera Vs Meera has created a lot of interest among the readers English translation. He is a recipient of Bharatendu Haishchandra Puraskar for Media Studies & Devraj Upadyayay Puraskar for literary criticism. Without mincing words, he says, “the assumption that Hindi is losing its sheen is only partially true. The popularity and use of Hindi have increased exponentially as compared to earlier times. The metropolitan upper-middle-class families still have a blind fascination for English. Secondly, Hindi has not yet become the language of thought; thirdly, despite the widespread practice of Hindi in the South, there is a prevailing sense of disapproval of Hindi due to political reasons.
The disdain for Hindi in metropolitan families is due to the sense of elitism associated with English. Our experience of freedom has now entered into adulthood, so this resentment can now be reduced. For this, the middle class should primarily change its mindset, and secondly, the Hindi and its literary enrichment should also focus on strengthening its ideological base.’’
Amit Shankar, author, poet, political analyst & founder of TGILF, without mincing words, says, “ after being trampled and ignored for decades, first by the British Raaj and then by the respective governments, today Hindi faces its biggest challenge; not being used by the millennial. In today’s context, the millennial has no love for Hindi. Reason? Well, they don’t read it, use it or see any future with the language.
The growth of any language is directly proportional to three things; the content being generated around it, its daily usage, the ease and convenience of usage along with its power to reach out to a wider base of audience.
Lack of Hindi will not only alienate the millennial from their roots, ethos, value system but will also impact the process of nation-building, national pride and the building of national character.’’
Aditi Misra, highly acclaimed academician and director & principal Delhi Public School, Sector 45, Gurugram says, “I think Hindi is gaining popularity in small pockets. As educators, we saw a phase where certain segments thought it was not ‘cool’ to speak in Hindi. That’s definitely changing.
Nowadays, I find children writing poetry and eager to script street plays in Hindi. To be honest, the richness of Hindi is unparalleled.
I think promoting a language starts early. It must start at home without any bias and in school as well. I think one of our biggest challenges is the absence of children’s literature in Hindi. If you enter a book shop, you will find a tiny section dedicated to books in Hindi. I think this must change. Only then will we be able to ‘promote’ and encourage children to read Hindi books and perhaps write more in the language.
To do my bit, I’ve got teachers of my school to write some inspiring stories in Hindi. We have printed these as supplementary reading for students. More recently, we’ve created a graphic novel on the story Bade Bhai Sahab for the students. It’s available on the Diksha portal. It’s our language, our responsibility to keep it pulsating in everyday living.”
Dr Durgaprasad Agrawal, a renowned author, columnist, translator and educationist emphatically says, “Of course, the new generation, in general, feels that Hindi is not capable of fulfilling their aspirations. But this is not the reality. The use of Hindi in various fields, such as entertainment, communication and information technology, is increasing very rapidly. Many new lucrative employment opportunities are being made available to the youth who have mastered this language. Today, countless such youth around us have climbed the stairs of success only based on Hindi.
The younger generation is also slowly beginning to understand that today Hindi is no less than any other language in its expressiveness and capacity to provide opportunities. But at the same time, it has to be accepted that most Indians still do not have the kind of affection and respect for their language as is expected of them. There are many historical reasons behind this step treatment that Hindi has received in our country.”
Meenakshi M Singh, an award-winning author and founder of ShetheShakti. She conferred with Rex Karamveer Chakra award by the United Nations & iCongo. She says, “Due to globalization and Indian Gen Z relating to Western socio-cultural ethos and pathos more, our beloved Hindi is gradually losing its significance even though that Hindi is extensively used and preferred for verbal communication in almost 50-60 per cent in India. If our youth icons could promote it on big platforms, then it could cast a positive influence on today’s generation. I believe when you converse with people in their local language for contemporary issues close to their heart, it’s more impactful.
The sad part is that in Corporates or MNCs of India, Hindi is not perused at all, especially in Metros pushing the urban away. Indians staying abroad want their children to be able to read and speak in Hindi. The right books are missing. I believe if a judgmental perspective in society around the Hindi language gets removed, then Millennials would speak and write in Hindi with pride.”
Dropping all judgements about people who speak in Hindi, there is a need to promote the language with pride, at every level- from usage to generating interesting content around it, from reviving its legacy to ensuring its form and purity is maintained. Introducing books written in Hindi or regional language in professional colleges may not be enough, the language needs love and acceptance at the work front as well.