Archives  >  2019  >  September  >  20th

Hindi, Hindustan

1. What’s the story?

Home Minister Amit Shah has been embroiled in a linguistic controversy for the past week. “Speaking on National Hindi Day in New Delhi on September 14, Amit Shah emphasised the need for Hindi to be made the common language of the country. It was necessary, Amit Shah said, to have one language which could represent India in the world.” This announcement then led to a series of protests around the nation – with citizens and politicians from across the spectrum criticizing the move. Shah, now, seems to be on the backfoot — claiming that he never sought to impose Hindi over other languages.
Tell me more.

India, a secular democracy and a fascinating patchwork of diverse states, has a rich history of language politics. Here’s a helpful breakdown of it all.

 “With over twenty regional languages, each with its own culture and history, language was always going to be a tricky issue for India. At the time, most countries defined their nationhood through a common language and so during the Constituent Assembly debates, the question of a national language was tied closely with a desire for national unity.

Finally, the Constituent Assembly adopted what was known as “Munshi-Ayyangar formula”. According to this, Hindi in the Devnagari script would be the official language of the Union. Official, not national…”

Parties that protested Amit Shah’s statement last week, including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu, have been claiming Shah’s clarification as a moral victory. DMK has even put off its proposed protests that were due to be held on Friday.

So, what next?

“Ever since Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s comment, #StopHindiImposition has been trending on Twitter. The backlash isn’t just restricted to Tamil Nadu, but also West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Kerala. As seen by India’s history, every time the question of “one-nation-one-language” has come up, emotions have run high. The imposition of Hindi has led to violent protests in states like Tamil Nadu, where Tamil language is a political issue. In 1960s, it was the agitation against Hindi imposition which had given birth to the DMK, and it’s impossible for political parties in the state to accept Hindi as a language which could “unite the country.” Even in BJP-ruled Karnataka, after Amit Shah’s comments, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said, “We will never compromise Kannada’s importance…”

Watch this space. We’ll keep you updated

2. Where else should I be looking at?

The Supreme Court, that’s where. In a significant development regarding the ongoing debate on female bodily autonomy in the country, “The Centre has told the Supreme Court that the right to reproductive autonomy does not outweigh the state’s interest in protecting life of a foetus and therefore the ceiling of 20 weeks for abortion cannot be extended in a blanket manner.”

The Government also claimed that India’s high maternal mortality rate may partly be due to women seeking unsafe abortions after 20 weeks. That is one of the apparent reasons why they want increased state control over this.

“The Centre said that the legislature in its wisdom incorporated strict conditions for carrying out abortions, keeping in mind that the state was morally and duty bound as the guardian of its citizens and has the power to safeguard the life of a foetus in the womb after it attains the stage of viability.

It is a settled law that personal freedom of choice of an individual cannot curtail the freedom or choice of other individuals, specially the most vulnerable and persons who are defenseless. Unborn child cannot protect itself from the harm designed by his/her very own mother,” the Centre’s affidavit said.”

3. What more?

Union Minister Babul Supriyo faced protests from a section of students at Jadavpur University while visiting the campus on Thursday. Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das then tried to reason with the students as well as the minister, but to no avail. Later that evening, “…a section of students and outsiders allegedly having allegiance to the ABVP and armed with sticks set ablaze posters outside the Jadavpur University…” They also vandalized classrooms and offices, and allegedly deployed acid bombs. A large police force finally managed to bring the situation under control later on Thursday night. However, a number of students as well as the VC have been hospitalized due to injuries sustained during these incidents.

We’ll keep you updated as this story develops.

4. Anything else?

The world is in a state of climate emergency. Ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and temperatures have soared in the past few years. Now, it seems to be posing serious threats to India’s food security.

“Research on impact assessment on crops was conducted using simulation models for climate projections for 2020, 2050 and 2080. Simulations show that the yield of rice in irrigated areas may decrease by 7% in 2050 and 10% in 2080. The yield of maize in irrigated areas of kharif was projected to decline by 18% by 2020.

Research at the National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal has found that heat stress has a negative impact on the reproduction traits of cows and buffaloes and their fertility will be adversely impacted.

Scientists of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute have found that fish species on the east coast may be much more vulnerable to climate change than fish varieties found on the west coast. Climate change will impact ocean current, acidification, temperature and food availability. All of this will affect the production of fish.”

5. Is that all?

On Wednesday, India’s current Government announced a complete ban on e-cigarettes due to various credible health reasons. The problem? It still owns 28% shares in ITC – India’s biggest cigarette manufacturer.

“Several health agencies around the world have voiced concern about e-cigarettes in the absence of data on their long-term impact, and India is far from the first country to ban them. However, the government’s stake in ITC has led many to question the ban.

“The government cited health concerns… while banning e-cigarettes. Ideally, the government should apply the same logic and ban traditional cigarettes also,” said J.N. Gupta, co-founder of Stakeholders Empowerment Services, an advisory services firm.

“The fact that the government holds a stake in ITC is against the Constitution, which clearly states that the state should discourage the consumption of intoxicants,” he added, “When you hold a stake in the company that manufactures cigarettes, you are not reducing consumption of cigarettes.”

6. Before you leave…

Read about how the “second known visitor to our cosmic neighbourhood from another star is making quite an entrance.”

“No one knows where it came from, but it’s here now. And the chase is on.

Astronomers around the world are monitoring an interstellar comet hurtling through the solar system, known for the moment as C/2019 Q4. It’s the second time in less than two years that they’ve seen an object from another star swing through our cosmic neighborhood. The first time around, the discovery kicked off a worldwide sprint to inspect the object before it got away. It was mysterious enough that some astronomers even began to consider whether it was dispatched by an advanced alien civilization.

This second interstellar object was spotted in late August by Gennady Borisov, an amateur astronomer in Crimea. Borisov has a reputation for catching never-before-seen comets with his telescopes, but they’re from around here; like everything else in the solar system—the planets, the moons, a sea of asteroids—they trace an orbit around the sun. And over the past few weeks, it’s become very clear that this comet does not.”

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