*The Problem of Hindustani (1944) by Tara Chand*


This brochure contains addresses in which I have discussed the problem of a common language for India. They were published from time to time in different journals, but have now been collected together in order to draw attention to the different aspects of a problem of national importance, and as a contribution towards its solution. India is in search of a lingua franca, a language which will serve as a means of inter-provincial and interregional intercourse, which will be used for all-India purposes in place of English. This language will not come into competition with any of the great provincial languages of India and will in no way retard their growth and development. It may not be forced on any one, but it will be learnt by all those who desire to participate in inter-provincial affairs—political, social and economic.

As the lingua franca of India must necessarily be one of the languages spoken in India, it will serve a twofold object—as a medium of all-India inter-communication, and as a medium of regional education and social intercourse. In its second capacity the language must become the vehicle of science and literature, the means for the highest expression of mind.
Among the Indian languages one seems by common consent to stand out, as the most suitable for the purpose—namely the speech of the Madhya Desha, the region round Delhi. Unfortunately this speech has developed two literary styles; one is known as Urdu; and the other, Modern Hindi.

My aim in the addresses and articles collected here is to show how the differences between the two can be eliminated and a middle way laid out along which the writers of both styles can march together.

I have devoted my attention entirely to the problem of language. I am aware that some people regard the linguistic question to be intimately connected with the question of script. I do not think so. In my opinion the Urdu and Nagari scripts ought both to be used, and therefore learnt by every educated person. Nor is it a very exacting demand. For after all scripts consist of a limited number of symbols which every body can learn without great strain upon time or energy.

I must also make it clear that while I advocate the adoption of Hindustani as the lingua franca of India, I have no ill will against Hindi or Urdu. I consider it a matter for great pity that Hindi and Urdu are fast becoming communal languages, on account of their exclusive policies. In this matter they are sinning against the civic ideal of a common Indian nation. Besides, they are committing a grievous error in overloading the language with words containing alien sounds, and in subordinating it to alien rules of grammar. This is an expression of slave mentality in the field of language. It shows want of understanding of the genius of our own tongue, and a woeful lack of pride in it.

I desire strongly that Hindustani should become the lingua franca of India, but this does not mean that we should forthwith cease to learn English. English is a world language, and India has to play its part in world affairs. As a language which is most widely known on our earth, and as a repository of one of the greatest literatures of mankind, English ought to continue to be learnt in India. Thus for every educated Indian it will be necessary to know his own regional language which will be the medium of his education, Hindustani which will be the all-India language of inter-regional  communication, and English which will admit him to the world communion of intellect.

Tara Chand

11, Chatham Lines,

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