Monday, September 21, 2009

Hindi Hai Hum?

Kapil Sibal with his basket of reforms, whether good or not, has done one great thing. It has brought education back into the public debate. Though his proposed educational reforms were released a few months back, the discussion on We the People yesterday brought to forth different perspectives on the 'three language formula' proposed by Kapil Sibal. He has urged the state boards to follow the three language formula with the vernacular-Hindi-English subjects at the school level.

This has instigated the age old debate - the one that was started in the 1930s. The two viewpoints are - the Hindi speaking states in India think that Hindi should be the langua franca. While the non-Hindi speaking states (especially Tamil Nadu) do not agree to that point. The first such conflict was seen in 1937-38 when the Congress Government of Madras Presidency under Rajagopalachari tried to make Hindi a compulsory subject in schools. Anit-Hindi imposition protests, finally, led to withdrawal of compulsory teaching of Hindi in 1940

Take two. After the independence, in 1950, Hindi was chosen as the national language of India by constituent Assembly. But, again, because of the protests of the non-Hindi speaking states, the resolution was deferred for 15 years.

Take three. In 1965, protests from the DMK and other regional parties, led Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then Prime Minister, to give up the agenda of making Hindi as THE national language. [source]

Take four. It's Kapil Sibal now - who is, in a way, trying to reiterate 1938, 1959 and 1965. So, essentially, what Sibal is proposing is nothing new. We have seen this many times in the history. One of the arguments against Sibal's proposal is that why should only the South learn Hindi? Why shouldn't the North learn a South Indian language? Hindi is just another regional language just as Tamil, Telugu, or Bengali is. The 'hindiwalas' argue that since the majority of the population in India speak Hindi, the others should also learn the language.

While being jingoistic about the language, we are forgetting the purpose of having a language: to communicate our thoughts and ideas. Sure, there are very strong cultural connotations to it, but the basic function remains the same - to communicate.

Our school followed three language formula - even before Kapil sabil proposed it. So, I studied English and Hindi till class XII and Bengali for two years - VII and VIII. Despite two years of formal education in Bengali, i was not very fluent in it. This is because, apart from the 45 mins class, i never felt the necessity to communicate in Bengali. In Kolkata, one doesn't need to know Bengali. But, when i joined the university, there was suddenly a need to learn Bengali as most people around, especially the 'babus' spoke Bengali. And that was it. I picked up the language in the first few months itself. The point i am trying to make is that what i couldn't learn in two years, i learned in a few months because there was a necessity. Of course, my two years of formal education made it easy.

When I was in Hyderabad, where again, one doesn't need to know Telugu, I picked up a few words of Telugu. This was because of my social initiative, Vriddhi. We go to schools of the under-privileged and conduct various workshops. Now, these children do not know Hindi or English well. They know only Telugu. So, i learned a few frequently used words to get by. Again, the point i am trying to make is that i learned Telugu (though just to get by) to help me in my social initiative (Vriddhi).

The resident 'Hindiwalas' don't feel the need for learning a South Indian language and south Indians don't feel the need to learning Hindi. However, both feel the need of learning English. This is strange because, English was brought to us by the Britishers who made India their colony and were not particularly liked by the Indians. Nevertheless, we still learn English. This is because of the immense opportunity it brings in. We forget about our past experiences with the British and learn English. So, clearly, it's more about demand and supply than about culture. If there is a demand for a particular language, one would definitely learn it.

For the non-Hindi speaking states, it make sense to adopt the three language formula. There is no harm to learn one more language. And, if given a choice to select the third language, Hindi would have been the obvious answer as Hindi would empower a person from a non-Hindi speaking state to connect to more people than any other language would. Pranab Mukherjee said that he cannot become the Prime Minister because he cannot speak Hindi. Also, his broken Hindi, perhaps caused a rift between him and Laloo.

Having said that, which language should a 'hindiwala' learn? If i were in a position to influence, i would propose the following:

Map a Hindi speaking state to a non-Hindi speaking state. The mapping, of course, would not to one-to-one. Now, these states should help each other in various aspects - like in trade, education, governance, etc. It's like the 'buddy program' in various universities. The Hindi speaking state, then learns the language of the buddy non-Hindi speaking state. This will boost cultural exchange, trade and travel between the states - which in turn would aid in development of India.

Indian are comfortable with plurality. And this plurality, if not replaced by narrow jingoism, can help in making India not only a more developed country but also a model of others to learn from.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dil Bole Hadippa: After-thoughts

Dil Bole Hadippa is a quintessential mass masala movie. It has all the ingredients required to cook a Yash Raj mass masala movie. I am using the template from Tarla Dalal's website to review the movie.

Name of the dish:
In our school, When reviewing a story/play, we were advised to write about the title at the end. This was because title is supposed to give out the overall idea and ethos of the story/play. So, once other elements of the stroy/play are reviewed we evaluate how good the title is in representing the story and the elements making the story. But i am violating that protocol and describing the title first (following Tarla Dalal). The name of this dish is very generic and any resemblance to the plot of the movie can be considered as purely coincidental. It however induces curiosity in the viewer as what the movie could be to have such a title - Dil Bole Hadippa (My heart goes hurrah). The curiosity, however, doesn't end with the movie. Looks like Yash Raj has bought a lot of 'such' titles in discount and is now using those randomly - Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (can be used for most Yash Raj love stories), Ta Ra Rum Pum, Tashan and Salaam Namaste. Dil Bole Hadippa, looks like to be from the same pool and could have been used for any of the above movies.

Cooking Time: Doesn't matter. It depends heavily on the availability of the actors.

Preparation Time: The time required to teach Rani how to act out cricket shots.

1. famous actors - Rani, Shahid, Anupam Kher and Dalip Tahil
2. Average bollywood masala music and dances - both are not really required.
3. Some fairy tale kind of a plot. [Sometimes i wonder, how useful would these yash raj movies be to the grandmas!]
4. Some very fashionable costumes

That's it. With the above four ingredients can make you heart go hurrah - at least, so is the claim

Bring a beautiful Indian village girl and an NRI guy together. Make them dislike each other initially. Make sure that the father of the guy likes the girl and thinks that she would be 'ideal' for his son. Now, add a dollop of, what the movies claim, 'indian values' in the girl. Now, add a tumbler full of dreams into the girl. And in the end make sure her dreams come true.

Garnish the dish with some India-Pakistan 'aman', come-back-to-india, eternity of marriage and gender equality messages.

That's it. You are ready with Dil Bole Hadippa.

Well, if you couldn't get any relation between the above and what is shown in the trailers, you are correct. For the sake of completeness i would mention it.

The movie is actually of only about 20 mins. How long is a purely detective movie if you get to know who the culprit is in the very beginning? The movie opens with Indian Tigers losing the India-Pakistan 'Aman Cup' for the 8th time in a row. Indian Tigers owner', Anupam Kher is desperate to win it the next time. His son (Shahid Kapoor) is shown to be an ace cricketer staying in London with his 'separated-from-Anupam-Kher mother (Poonam Dhillon). And Veera (Rani Mukherjee) is the best batsman (both right handed and left handed) in the village. That's it. It doesn't take one to write in Mundane Journey to fit the pieces together. The movie exactly does what you think it should do. And in the same precise detail you thought it would do. It even injured Veera's right hand so that she can prove her claim that she is both a right handed and a left handed batsman.

The one good thing about this movie is the performance of all the actors, especially Rani. She proved how seasoned an actor she is by playing the role of Veer (male) and Veera (female) brilliantly.

The movie, essentially, banks on two of the three things India is passionate about - Cricket and Pakistan (third being bollywood itself). The plot, however, is very old.

Dil Bole Hadippa is not a multiplex movie. So, be austere and don't waste your hard earned money on this movie in a multiplex, especially when you have recession in the US and drought in India. If you have time, you may watch it at a single screen theater that is at walkable distance from your house.

Think of environment before driving to the theater.


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