In what seemed like a message to Hindi evangelists, President Ram Nath Kovind said giving more space and respect to regional languages will increase the acceptance of Hindi and prevent frictions over language which could be an instrument of unity rather than discord.
Speaking at an event to celebrate ‘Hindi Divas’, Kovind observed Hindi had faced opposition in some parts of the country even though it became an official language many decades ago. Referring to recent incidents over use of Hindi signboards on the Bengaluru Metro and earlier agitations in Tamil Nadu, the President said suggestions of Hindi being imposed can be avoided. “Non-Hindi speaking people desire that we (Hindi speaking people) give attention to their languages. Those who speak Hindi should give space to other languages. We all have the responsibility to give respect to non-Hindi speaking people and regional languages,” he said.
A way to do this would be to assimilate words from other languages into Hindi, Kovind said. Just greeting others in their langauge can help. The adoption of other languages and cultures will unite the people and the country, Kovind said. He cited contributions of Mahatma Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose and Kaka Kalelkar, all of whom weren’t native Hindi speakers, but who supported the adoption of Hindi as the national language.