Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 6 : 1 January 2006

Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Associate Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.




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Copyright © 2004
M. S. Thirumalai


M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.


I undertook a project some years ago to prepare a descriptive and narrative history of the evolution of India's language policy since the inception of the Indian National Congress in 1885. This is an ongoing project, but I thought that some of the preliminary writing that I have done may be shared with the researchers interested in this important aspect of India's Freedom Struggle. Earlier articles published in LANGUAGE IN INDIA can be accessed using the links given below.


Since the differences between the positions taken by the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League could not be bridged and a compromise worked out, the British Cabinet Delegation consisting of the Secretary of State for India (Lord Pethick-Lawrence), the President of the Board of Trade (Sir Stafford Cripps) and the First Lord of Admiralty (Mr. A.V. Alexander), and the Viceroy issued a statement in New Delhi on 16th May, 1946 after the talks in Simla with the representatives of the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League broke down:

Since no agreement has been reached we feel that it is our duty to put forward what we consider are the best arrangements possible to ensure a speedy setting up of the new constitution… Immediate arrangements should be made whereby Indians may decide the future Constitution to India and an interim Government may be set up at once to carry on the administration of British India until such time as a new Constitution can be brought into being… (We were not deterred) from examining closely and impartially the possibility of a partition of India; since we were greatly impressed by the very genuine and acute anxiety of the Muslim lest they should find themselves subjected to a perpetual Hindu-majority rule. This feeling has become so strong and widespread amongst the Muslims that it cannot be allayed by mere paper safeguards. If there is to be internal peace in India it must be secured by measures, which will assure to the Muslims a control in all matters vital to their culture, religion, and economic or other interests.
We therefore examined in the first instance the question of a separate and fully independent sovereign State of Pakistan as claimed by the Muslim League. Such a Pakistan would comprise two areas; one in the North-West consisting of the Provinces of the Punjab, Sind, North-West Frontier, and British Baluchistan; the other in the north-east consisting of the provinces of Bengal and Assam… The argument for the separate Pakistan was based, first, upon the right of the Muslim majority to decide their method of Government according to their wishes, and secondly, upon the necessity to include substantial areas in which Muslims are in a minority, in order to make Pakistan administratively and economically workable.
The size of the non-Muslim minorities in a Pakistan comprising the whole of the six Provinces enumerated above would be very considerable… The Muslim minorities in the remainder of British India number some 20 million dispersed amongst a total population of 188 millions. These figures show that the setting up of a separate sovereign State of Pakistan on the lines claimed by the Muslim League, would not solve the communal minority problem; nor can we see any justification for including within a sovereign Pakistan those districts of the Punjab and of Bengal and Assam in which the population is pre-dominantly non-Muslim. Every argument that can be used in favour of Pakistan can be used in favour of the exclusion of the non-Muslim areas from Pakistan. This point would particularly affect the position of the Sikhs.
We therefore considered whether a smaller sovereign Pakistan confined to the Muslim majority areas alone might be a possible basis of compromise. Such a Pakistan is regarded by the Muslim League as quite impracticable because it would entail the exclusion from Pakistan of (a) the whole of Ambala and Jullundur Division in the Punjab, (b) the whole of Assam except the District of Sylhet, and (c) a large part of Western Bengal, including Calcutta, in which City the Muslims form 23.6 per cent of the population. 'We ourselves are also convinced that any solution which involves a radical partition of the Punjab and Bengal, as this would do, would be contrary to the wishes and interests of a very large proportion of the inhabitants of these Provinces. Bengal and the Punjab each has its own common languages and a long history and tradition (Italics mine). Moreover, any division of the Punjab would of necessity divide the Sikhs leaving substantial bodies of Sikhs on both sides of the boundary. We have therefore been forced to the conclusion that neither a larger nor a smaller sovereign State of Pakistan would provide an acceptable solution for the communal problem.
Apart from the great force of the foregoing arguments there are weighty administrative, economic, and military consideration… We are therefore unable to advise the British Government that the power which at present resided in British hands should be handed over to two entirely separate sovereign States ...
We recommend that the constitution should take the following basic form:
(1) There should be a Union of India, embracing both British India and the States, which should deal with the following subjects: Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Communications; and should have the powers necessary to raise the finances required for the above subjects.
(2) The Union should have an Executive and Legislature constituted from British Indian and States Representatives. Any question raising a major communal issue in the Legislature should require for its decision a majority of the representatives present and voting of each of the two major communities as well as a majority of all the members present and voting.
(3) All subjects other than the Union subjects and all residuary powers should vest in the Provinces.
(4) That States will retain all subjects and powers other than those ceded to the Union.
(5) Provinces should be free to form Groups with executives and legislatures, and each group could determine the Provincial subjects to be taken in common.
(6) The constitution of the Union and of the Groups should contain a province whereby any Province could, by a majority vote of its legislative Assembly, call for a reconsideration of the terms of a constitution after an initial period of 10 yearly intervals thereafter.


The Indian National Congress responded by saying that it looked upon 'this Constituent Assembly as a sovereign body, which can decide as it chooses in regard to any matter before it can give effect to its decision. The only limitation we recognize is that in regard to certain major communal issues the decided should be by a majority of each of the two major communities. …'


The All India Muslim League announced its disapproval: 'Once the Constituent Assembly has been summoned and met, there is no provision or power that could prevent any decision from being taken by the Congress with its over whelming majority, which would not be complete for the Assembly to take or which would be ultra virus of it, and however repayment it might be to the letter and the spirit of the scheme, it would rest entirely with the majority to take such decision as they may think proper to suit them; the Congress has already secured by sheer number an overwhelming Hindu Caste majority and they will be in a position to use the Assembly in the manner in which they have already declared, that is, that they will wreck the basis form of the grouping of the provinces and extend the scope, powers and subjects of the Union Centre which is confined strictly to three specific subjects. … in these circumstances the participation of the Muslims in the proposed constitution making machinery is fraught with danger and the Council, therefore, hereby withdraws its acceptance of the Cabinet Missions proposals.'


Amidst the charged atmosphere of communal frenzy, the Interim Government was formed on 2nd September, 1946. At first, the Muslim League refused to join the Interim Government, but later on joined it and declared, however, that it would not join the Constituent Assembly and that it adhered to the two-nation theory.

The Interim Government did not function effectively, because of various obvious political divide. Under such circumstances, wrote Lord Pethic-Lawrence, 'there were only three possible courses that events might take. The first was that the British would decide to stay on in India and resume their dominance, by force if necessary. The second was partition. The third was civil war.' There was not much of a choice for Indian Nationalists, and the Indian National Congress. The best available solution was to agree to the partition, which had in some fashion or other already been agreed to since the declaration of the Working Committee in 1942 that it cannot think in terms of compelling the people in any territorial unit to remain in an Indian Union against their declared and established will (Sitaramayya ).

The words in the (British Cabinet) statement were as follows:-
Should the Constitution come to be framed by a Constituent Assembly in which a large section of the Indian population has not been represented, His Majesty's Government could not of course contemplate forcing such a constitution upon any unwilling parts of the country." (Sitaramayya 1947 :820).


In view of the deadlock, the then British Prime Ministry Attlee invited Nehru and Jinnah to come to London for a fresh round of talks. The talks held in the first week of December 1946, however, did not yield any positive result, and Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Baldev Singh returned on time to attend the first and inaugural session on December 9, 1946, in which the members elected on the League's ticket did not participate. The Constituent Assembly met on the appointed day and elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as its President and Jawaharlal Nehru moved the historic "Objects Resolution" speaking briefly first in Hindustani and then elaborately elucidating the objects resolution in English. On February 20th, 1947 the British Premier made a dramatic announcement that the British were leaving India by June 1948. Lord Mountbatten was sworn in as Viceroy of India on March, 1946. He was to undertake the task of transferring the power to Indian hands. His negotiations with different political parties led him to recommend to the British the partition of the country as the most practical solution. The Mountbatten Plan of June 3, 1947 was given effect in the Indian Independence Act of 1947, which, in effect, advanced the date of freedom to August 15, 1947 from the originally planned date in 1948. India thus won freedom from the British yoke with determination and resolve never to lose her freedom again.


In all these intense political activities, language, its function and role in nation-formation, was relegated to the background. There was no mention of the possibility or organizing the provinces and the states on a linguistic basis and achieving a united India since religious loyalties rather than linguistic loyalties gained command over the conduct of the nation; such a thought was missing both in the resolutions and deliberations of the Congress Working Committee as well as the scheme formulated and announced by the Cabinet Mission. That language could form a basis for retention of all the sections of Indian people has not been insistently put forward perhaps because the thought of unity under a single religion was upper most in the minds of the members of the All India Muslim League.

There was also no mention specifically of the lingua franca in all the deliberations. It was assumed that the previous resolutions and action taken in favour of lingua franca and reorganization of provinces would hold good after independence. Likewise there was no mention of the choice of language as media of education. Here again the parties had already resolved on several occasions and hence it was perhaps assumed that matters such as these would be given attention only after attaining independence from the British. One important aspect of the political debates and commonly agreed upon decisions (both by the Indian National Congress and the All India Muslim League) was that the residuary powers would rest, not with the Centre, but with the participating Provinces in the Federal Union, even as they all insisted upon a strong Centre/Union.


Note, however, that once these nations attained independence from the British, the situation totally changed, and not only the residuary powers but even many other subjects that were agreed upon to be left to the spheres of Provinces were usurped by the Centre, if one is permitted to use a strong word. Provincial autonomy was perhaps used as a ruse to attract the provinces to remain somehow within the proposed federal union porposed to be set up for undivided India, by the Congress, and within Pakistan by the Muslim League.

Once partition became a reality, the need for such extensive provincial autonomy was not felt; in fact, such wide provincial autonomy, if given, came to be regarded as working against what were obliquely referred to as national unity, integrity and interests of the countries concerned. Indian National Congress appeared to have agreed upon the elaborate and extensive scheme of provincial autonomy only with a view to retaining the Muslim Provinces within United and undivided India. After independence, qualified and much restricted provincial autonomy would be enshrined, which led many to describe the relation between States and Centre similar to the relationship between a Municipality and the State government.


Note also that both the Indian National Congress and All India Muslim League agreed to secure fundamental rights for the minorities, etc. However, both the parties did not include specifically language and script in their correspondences and deliberations with the Viceroy and with the Cabinet Mission.

Whereas the Indian National Congress included specifically language, script, culture, and religion in the list of Fundamental Rights in its earlier resolutions, the Congress was merely responding to suggestions of the Viceroy and the Cabinet mission when the latter wanted fundamental rights to be ensured to the minorities. The latter asked for inclusion of culture and religion, and both the contending parties agreed to do so in the proposed constitution.

Whether language and script were to be considered an integral part of culture could not be assessed. However, the Congress, on its part, had clearly stated earlier that the language, script, religion and culture were matters to be brought under the Fundamental Rights clause of the Constitution, to be enshrined in the Federal part of the Constitution, and to be implemented equitably in all provinces, Culture, perhaps, was seen as a cover term to include language, script and ways of life and belief systems, when the congress agreed to include culture a matter of fundamental rights in the constitution. The past resolutions of the Indian National Congress are indeed more detailed and deliberate on the subject than the resolutions passed by other organizations involved in liberation struggles elsewhere in the world.


The most interesting point that we should note during this intense political struggle was that language, which was not considered seriously by the British as contributing to the unity of masses with different religious professions, came to be used by the Cabinet Mission against the demand for creating Pakistan from out of India.

The Cabinet Mission said that the Pakistan regarded by the Muslim League was quite impracticable because "any solution which involves a radical partition of the Punjab and Bengal ... would be contrary to wishes and interests of a very large proportion of the inhabitants of these Provinces. Bengal and the Punjab, each has its own common language and a long history and tradition" (Italics mine).

Note also that, while language was seen to be a barrier to partition, no thought was given to furthering the use of language as a cohesive force. The irony was that the British, who in 1906, did not recognize the indivisibility of the Bengali linguistic ethos, when they forced upon the nation the Partition of Bengal, did now speak in favour of the retention of linguistic identities.


While the Muslim League emphasized the importance of Urdu, the Congress aimed at the evolution of a national lingua franca based on Hindustani. For the Indian National Congress, since the advent of Gandhi, Hindustani was the lingua franca unifying both the Hindus and Muslims, the former generally preferring to write it in Devanagari and the latter writing it only in the Perso-Arabic, according to the underlying perceptions and assumptions of the Congress.

Even in the height of the intense political drama, both Indian National Congress and All India Muslim League did not, however, fail to recognize the fact that for a success of their respective ideologies, guarantees needed to be extended to the minorities not only in terms of religion, but also in terms of culture, language and script. There was a progressive hardening of the attitudes of the Hindus in Hindustani speaking provinces, which came to insist upon writing Hindustani only in Devanagari, to the exclusion of the use of the Perso-Arabic. This growing assertion finally got the official seal of approval in the Constituent Assembly of India.


One of the major reasons/causes for the divide between the Hindus and the Muslims in the Hindustani-speaking provinces was the conflicting loyalties of these two communities toward the scripts used to write the same language. The divide between the Hindus and Muslims grew, among other things, from the Hindu resistance to the Moghul/Muslim rule which saw conversions, both forced and voluntary, into Islam. The resistance to such other activities that were perceived to be belittling, if not eliminating, Hindu ways of life, also found an early manifestation and a new tool in the form of agitations in favour of restoring Hindi/Hindustani in the Devanagari script. On the other hand, the elitist Muslims, who had by now lost their pre-eminent position to the British in the hither-to Muslim ruled provinces, saw in these agitations in favour of Hindi/ Hindustani to be written in Devanagari, a threat to their own identity.

In other words, the already prevalent divide based on religious loyalties was further strengthened because of differences in loyalties to the scripts and specific diction. Language has never been a mere tool for communication in any society; even when the speech styles used by different sections came from the same language source, even when both the styles are mutually intelligible, subjective values came to be associated with them in Hindi / Urdu and the differences in styles began to be associated with differences in religious faiths.

As Brass points out, 'the Hindi-Urdu controversy by its very bitterness demonstrates how little the objective similarities between language groups matter when peoples subjective significance to their languages. Willingness to communicate through the same language is quite different thing from the mere ability to communicate' (Brass 1974).


Professor Paul Brass identifies three factors as having mainly contributed to an increasing divergence between Urdu and Hindi both linguistically and emotionally. First of all the fact that the Muslim rulers of north India chose to write the language not in the then prevalent Devanagari but in the Perso-Arabic script with which they were more familiar led to the association of the Hindi in Perso-Arabic to Muslim identity. The second factor, which contributed to the divergence between Hindi and Urdu was the development of the Hindi movement in north Indian in the late nineteenth century, which promoted both the use of the Devanagari script in administration and education and the Sanskritization of Hindi by drawing vocabulary from Sanskrit rather than Hindi (Brass 1974).

Note, however, that Hindi was continually written in Devanagari for various purposes even at the height of fashion and power that encouraged the use of Perso-Arabic script for Hindi, and use of Devanagari was attested much earlier than the use of Perso-Arabic script for Hindi. Note also that use of Sanskrit words in Hindi, and for that matter in all major Indian languages, except to much lesser degree in Tamil, was considered to be the most natural thing or Hindi (and other major Indian languages except to a much lesser degree in Tamil).

The demand for the use of Devanagari in wider domains tried to replace the Perso-Arabic. The British replaced Persian with English as the language of administration, when they assumed power. In 1837 Persain lost its pre-eminent position as language of administration in all Muslim ruled provinces, which were under the British. The vernaculars also found a place in the scheme of things, but not Persian. In north India, the British chose Hindustani/Urdu in Perso-Arabic script as the court and official language. Between 1868 and 1900, Hindus of the Northwestern Provinces and Oudh agitated through pamphlets and deputations to the government for the replacement of Urdu in Persian script with Hindi in Devanagari script as the official language… The Hindi movement in the North-Western Provinces received significant encouragement in 1881 when Hindi in Devanagari script replacded Urdu in Persian Script as the official language of the neighbouring province of Bihar'(Brass 1974), then part of Bengal.

By the turn of the century, the arrangement on behalf of Hindi, which began as a movement to replace Persian characters by Devanagari characters in he Courts and schools of the provinces, had been transmitted by Hindu Memorialists into a conflict between Hindus and Muslims over the use of a "national" versus a "foreign" language, and implicitly, if not always explicitly, into a competition for government jobs' (Brass 1974).

By 1900, Hindi in Devanagari had an equal position with Urdu in Perso-Arabic script as an official language of the provinces. The Muslims also began their defence of Urdu script (Perso-Arabic) as a defence of their identity and Muslim privilege in these provinces, which soon got on as a general tendency among most Muslims in the non-Hindustani-speaking provinces as well.


A tendency has been established to identify Hindi in Devanagari script as the culture language of the Hindus, and to identify "Hindi" or Hindustani in Perso-Arabic script as the culture language of the Muslims, in the Hindi-speaking provinces.

The conflict between the identities led also to a divergence in styles used in the same language - mostly in diction, but also in the syntactic and semantic nuances as well as literary genres. Thus the religious divide between the two, based on the perceived notions of a subjugated people in opposition to the alien rule, took a firmer root in the growing divergence between the two styles of the same language revolving around the use of two different script systems. This divide was further aggravated by the intense struggle for jobs in the British administration between the Hindus and Muslims, in which, according to the Muslim perception, the Hindus had a better and larger share.


That linguistic behaviour added to and strengthened the divide between the Hindus and Muslims in the Hindustani- speaking areas cannot be denied. However, we will not be justified in assigning the reasons for the divide solely to the tendencies to preserve each other's linguistic style. For, in Bengal, where the people spoke the very same script and were using speech styles shared by both Hindus and Muslims, the phenomenon of Muslim separatism was growing strong, rather, much stronger than the separation then coming into existence in the Hindustani-speaking provinces.

Religion, economic interests and linguistic identity were all involved in the growth of Muslim separatism - a general ethos that had inherent in itself the seeds of separatism was further accentuated by the interplay of other factors such as personal ambitions and personalized perception of the leadership on both sides of the divide. In addition, the revivalism, mainly a reaction to the growth of British influence and power in Indian even as the British culture and methods of education created in the natives to understand their own culture and their past in an appreciative perspective, took opposite directions.

As Brass (1974) points out, 'revivalism, ... turned the Hindus in their historical orientation either to the great empires and Hindu civilization of the pre-Muslim period or to the regional Hindu kingdoms of the Mahrattas and the Sikhs, who fought against the Muslim power. Muslims, for their part, found their inspiration in history from the period of Muslim dominance, in India and, before that, from Muslim achievements in Arabia.' Thus the divide, which was already there and was dormant could now be nurtured by the British rulers to perpetuate their own dominance in India.


Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan (1817-1898) founded a school in Aligarh, which later became Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College. Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan emphasized the separate identity and interests of Muslims. He was of the opinion that Hindus and Muslim interests were in conflict with one another and that these communities virtually formed two different nations.

Whereas the Indian National Congress, since, its very inception in 1885, always emphasized the unity between the two communities, there were powerful sections, even in 1885, which were unwilling to consider that the Indian National Congress represented also the Muslim interests. As the years rolled by, Muslim participation in the Indian National Congress was either dwindling or stagnant and limited to only a section of the Muslims who were bold and courageous to see that Muslim interests could be safeguarded by participation in the Indian National Congress and that Muslim and Hindu interests could be identical in nation-building and freedom struggle against the British rule. The cow protection movement started by the Hindus, growth of Hindu militant assertion in ways of life and a Muslim cultural revivalist movement all added to the widening of the divide in Northern India by the turn of the twentieth Century. There was also Hindu Muslim riot in 1893 and 1894. As we already pointed out in an earlier article, the Central Mohammedan Association in Calcutta opposed the Indian National Congress in 1888.


The simmering differences between the Hindus and Muslims were fully exploited by the British rulers to their advantage when the British partitioned Bengal in 1906. When in 1906, Lord Morley, the Secretary of State for India declared in British Parliament that the British were ready to increase representation of the natives in the legislative councils, the Muslim leadership asked for separate electorates for Muslims. A deputation of Muslims met Lord Minto, the Viceroy, in October 1906 and submitted a memorandum requesting for a separate electorate since, in their view, in any democratically elected council the Hindus would always be in a majority because of their numerical strength and thus Muslim interests would not be protected.

In the very same year, in December 1906, the All India Muslim League was formed as a body of Muslims, as a counter to the Indian National Congress supposedly a Hindu organization in the eyes of the majority of Muslim leadership. When the Minto-Morley Reforms proposals were made law in 1909, the British ensured a provision for a separate Muslim electorate, thus paving the way for a permanent divide between the two communities.


In the evolution and adoption of the two nation theory propounded by the Muslim leaders not belonging to the Indian National Congress, language was but a minor issue only. Cultural and religious beliefs dominated the reasoning of the Muslim leadership. It was due mainly because a two-nation theory needed only the differences between the two communities.

Although Urdu was a contentious issue between the two communities, there was a readymade solution offered by the Indian National Congress under the influence and leadership of Mahatma Gandhi that Hindustani could be written in both Devanagari and Perso-Arabic scripts. Furthermore, no major Indian language was spoken only by the Muslims or by the Hindus. Both Muslims and Hindu spoke the same language in every region of the country, a fact that would rather unite them than divide them. Punjabi was the mother tongue of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. Sindhi was the mother tongue of both Hindus and Muslims. Bengali was the mother tongue of both Hindus and Muslims. Language, thus, was a unifying force, and hence the Muslim leadership was forced to establish the differences between Hindus and Muslims mostly on grounds other than linguistic.

Janab Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who was once vehemently opposed to the two-nation theory, came to be the most ardent supporter of the theory in due course. He declared in the Lahore session of the All India Muslim League in March 1940 that

Islam and Hinduism … are not religions in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders and it is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve an common nationality … The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, literatures. They neither intermarry nor interdine together and, indeed, they belong to two different civilizations, which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects on life and of life are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Mussalmans derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes, and different episodes. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other and, likewise, their victories and defeat overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state.

Janab Jinnah also declared that

it has always been granted mistakenly that the Mussalmans are a minority and of course we have got used to it for such a long time that these settled notions sometimes are very difficult to remove. The Mussalmans are not a minority. The Mussalmans are a nation by any definition.


It was not as if only the Muslim leadership subscribed to the two-nation theory. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and several other groups, not excluding some within Congress itself, and the leaders of just emerging Dravidian Movement in the South, also subscribed to the two-nation theory, by at least implicitly, if not directly, conceding the demand of the Muslim League in the Thirties and Forties.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar described Muslims as a nation calling for a home, even as he acknowledged the numerous bonds existing between the Muslims and Hindus. He felt that these bonds, however, failed to create that feeling of one-ness among them, which was the essence of being together as a nation:

As a matter of historical experience, neither race, nor language, nor country has sufficed to mould a people into a nation.

For Ambedkar,

a nation is a living soul, a spiritual principle. Two things, which in truth are but one, constitute this soul, this spiritual principle. One is the common possession of a rich heritage of memories; the other is the actual consent, the desire to live together, the will to preserve worthily the undivided inheritance which has been handed down'. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar asserted that 'in the absence of common historical antecedents, the Hindu view that Hindus and Mussalmans form one nation falls to the ground. To maintain is to keep up a hallucination. There is no such longing between the Hindus and the Mussalmans to belong together as there is among the Mussalmans of India.


In essence, the two-nation theory of All India Muslim League chose to emphasize the differences that existed between the two communities whereas the Indian National Congress always emphasized the obvious points of unity between the communities. In both the positions, language had only a minimal role a play. Whereas the position of the All India Muslim League could be traced also to the refusal of the legitimate rights of the Urdu language in the nineteenth century, the Indian National Congress attended to this problem very ably and very efficiently in the beginning of the political phase of the agitations conducted by it in the twenties of the twentieth century, when it offered to have both Devanagari and Perso-Arabic scripts for writing Hindustani.

Note that, whereas the two-nation theory ignored language as a cementing force, it chose religion as the rallying point for communities with diverse language backgrounds. The single-nation theory ignored religion as well as language loyalties. But in both the countries, India and Pakistan, after independence, insistence on a common language for purposes of nation-building was clearly uppermost on the agenda of points for nation-building, cultivation of a national identity and consciousness. Both the theories thus recognized the potential language has as a social institution for wrecking the models they had placed before their respective peoples before partition, and thus were in a hurry to accept and insist on only one language as the language of federal power.


A pattern was set in the Constitution Assembly that no sooner the provincial rights and the place of provincial languages were dealt with and insisted upon, generally by the non-Hindi members, a section of the top leadership of the Congress and the entire block of Hindi speaking members would bring to the fore a discussion on the role and rights of the Union and the place of Hindi, giving the impression that accommodation of provincial rights and provincial languages was against the well being of the Union, and the furtherance of a single Indian language alone was in the interest of the nation.

The attitudes of both the Hindi speaking and non-Hindi speaking members of the Constituent Assembly within the Assembly were slowly getting hardened, mainly with the insistence of Hindi enthusiasts to speak only in Hindi within the Assembly much against the pleas of the non-Hindi members (the Southern friends, as the Hindi members used to refer to them in the Assembly) that those among the Hindi-speaking members who know English would better speak in English for all to comprehend; in addition, the Hindi enthusiasts always spoke as if the official language status had already been given exclusively to Hindi, and that it was imperative that this status be implemented and acknowledged by all without reservation at once. But the proceedings of this great historic story will be described in my article in the next issue.



M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Bethany College of Missions
6820 Auto Club Road, Suite C
Bloomington, MN 55438, USA
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