Fifty Years of Language Planning for Modern Hindi

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  • Topic: India, Language policy, Hindi
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  • Published : October 25, 2012
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FIFTY YEARS OF LANGUAGE PLANNING FOR MODERN HINDI
The Official Language of India

1. ABSTRACT
Hindi - according to the 1991 Census of India, is the mother tongue of 233,432,285 persons (22% of the entire Indian population), and is spoken as a language (which includes 47 or so mother tongues cobbled up under it) by 337,272,114 persons (42.22% of the entire Indian population). It is also used as a second language by another 6.16% of the population, and as a third language by yet another 2.60% by other language speakers. In total, in India, Hindi is known officially to 50.98% of Indians and, thus, has the status of the major language of the nation. The adoption of the Indian Constitution in 1951 that accepted Hindi as the official language of the Indian Union radically changed the course of the development of Hindi. Hindi lacked even any standardization at that juncture. The history of Modern Hindi, thus, is the history of 50 years of planned development. As official language of the Union and several states, Hindi is used from the lowest unit of administration panchayat (village government) to the National Parliament, and has replaced English to a great extent. Now, Hindi is taught as a language in the domain of education. The Three Language Formula, adopted as an educational strategy to foster national integration in multilingual situations, has made Hindi a part and parcel of the educational system of the country. It is used as a major medium of instruction from the lowest level to the doctoral level, excluding technical education. It is extensively used in the mass media - print, television, cinema and defense services. It has absorbed the technological developments in the fields of printing and computer technology. It has web pages, and it can be used for search in search engines. This has made Hindi one of the richest languages of independent India and the world. Today, though Hindi is not recognized as a national language, is the lingua franca of multilingual India, and it knits different mother tongue speakers together as the most important political constituency. This phenomenal change has been made possible due to the systematic status and corpus planning adopted and implemented by the Union and State governments through committees, institutions and well-meaning individuals, dedicated for the development of Hindi. This paper traces, briefly, the history of the development of Hindi in two stages from 1900 to 1950, and from 1950 to 2003. Special attention is given to the varieties of legislation, mechanics of the implementation of the legislative provisions, relevant decisions of the various High Courts and the Supreme Court of India, the contribution of the globalization processes, problems with the linguistic structure and sociolinguistic functions, special characteristics of corpus of status planning as applied to Hindi, the response to such deep involvement in language planning by the government machinery from the native speakers of Hindi and non-Hindi States of the Union as well as the religious minorities of India and their impact on the language planning process, and the "peculiar" processes of developing a Hindi officialese, etc. 2. Introduction

Modern India is a multilingual nation. As per her 1961 count of the languages, India has more than 1650 mother tongues, belonging to genetically five different language families. They are rationalized into 216 mother tongues and grouped into 114 languages by the 1991 Census - Austro-Asiatic (14 languages with a total population of 1.13%), Dravidian (17 languages with a total population of 22.53%), Indo-European - Indo-Aryan (19 languages with the total population of 75.28%), and Germanic (1 language, with the total population of 0.02%), Semito-Harmitic (1 language, with the total population of 0.01%), and Tibeto-Burman (62 languages with the total population of 0.97%). A good number of languages recorded in the Indian Census could not be classified as to their...
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