Seth Govind Das : I should like to say a few words to my South Indian Friends at the very outset. As I just now said, it has been a problem for me for a few days past and I have been thinking whether I should speak in English or in that official language which is going to be adopted by this House today.
I am convinced, Sir, that as far as we all are concerned, our views are made up and I do not expect that I shall be able to convert any Friend to my view. Therefore I do not want that it should go in the records of the history of our country that when I was speaking in favour of making Hindi as our official language I had spoken in English, in a foreign language and, therefore, I propose to speak in Hindi. I am sure that if my South Indian Friends will hear me attentively I shall try to speak in such language that they will be able to follow every would which I say.
Shri S. Nagappa : On a point of order, Sir. The honourable Member wants to carry the day without making us understand what he says. If he is to carry the House with him, is it not his duty……
Seth Govind Das : *[Mr. President, I consider this to be the most important day in my life. Besides, the measure of my happiness at what is happening today is also very great. I express my gratitude to you, Sir, for the fact that you have always been kind to listen to whatever I have said here from time to time with regard to this issue. Also on the opening day of this august Assembly, when your Predecessor Dr. Sachidanand Sinha, who also hails from your province, was the provisional Chairman of this House, I had raised the question of National language. Thereafter, I have been raising this question here from time to time, which I feel may have caused annoyance to several of my Friends in the House. I have had too often to approach Members of this House with regard to this matter and it may not be an exaggeration to say that I must have convered miles upon miles in this House in doing so. I have visited them at their local residences; I have visited them in their home towns in connection with this question. I have been earnestly trying to persuade them to agree with our view-point in regard to this question.
I am very happy that agreement has been reached, as the Prime Minister puts it in respect of about 95 per cent, of the issues involved in this question. Nevertheless I would like to emphasize that on the question on which differences still exist, we should reach decisions in an amicable spirit. But if our differences are not resolved and even if a division is demanded at the time these questions are put to the House no bitterness should be allowed to come in. We have accepted democracy and democracy can only function when majority opinion is honoured. If we differ on any issue, that can only be decided by votes. Whatever decision is arrived by the majority must be accepted by the minority respectfully and without any bitterness. You have made an appeal, Sir, to the House to this effect and Shri Gopalaswami Ayyangar has also made a similar appeal and I too make the same appeal to the House.
I express my gratitude to my friends from South India and from other non-Hindi regions for having accepted at least one thing—that is Hindi in Devanagri Script alone can be the language of the Union, whether we call it the National language or the State language. As I have just stated, accordingly to our Honourable Prime Minister, unanimity has been reached amongst us over 95 per cent, of the issues, involved in the language controversy. In the remaining five per cent, some questions of principles are involved. If honourable Members from South India or from other regions are unable to agree to our view-point in regard to these questions, we should allow them the liberty to stick to their own view-point and without allowing any bitterness in our hearts we should leave the decision to be taken by votes.
I may now take the question of numerals for consideration. It is a question that is causing strong excitement in the minds of all. I fail to understand as to why it should cause any resentment at all. I would like to recall to the mind of the honourable Members, the events in connection with language question that have taken place during the last two or three years. When for the first time I had raised the question of national script before them, the question of numerals was not raised by my friends from the South. At that time they had a different outlook about this question and it did not then appear to them to be of such momentous importance as it appears to them today. In order to refresh their memory I am going to read out the formula that was signed by a large number of them. I read it out both in Hindi and English. In Hindi it reads thus:
Its English version is thus:
“We support the view that the Union constitution should lay down that the national language and character shall be Hindi and Devanagari respectively, that in the Federal Parliament business shall be transacted in Hindi written in Devanagari character or, for such period as the Federal Parliament decides, in English.”]*
Kazi Syeed Karimuddin (C. P. & Berar : Muslim) : On a point of order, Sir, what is that document that is being read out in the House?
Seth Govind Das : *[This is a document that contains the formula regarding the national language. It was accepted and signed by a number of Members of this House. It contains the signatures of some of the big personalities here. It bears the signatures of Shri Gopalaswami Ayyangar, Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, Prof. Ranga, Shri Algesan, Shri Thirumala Rao, Shri Ananthasayanam Ayyangar and Shri Kala Venkata Rao.]*
Shri Kala Venkata Rao : Why is my name being dragged? I do not understand the reference to me.
Seth Govind Das : You have signed this formula which I have just read. That is the reference in which your name has been dragged or has come in.
*[I submit, that when you had accepted Davanagari script you had accepted Devanagari numerals also, for otherwise you could have insisted on the introduction of international numerals even at that time.
Many of our Friends from Bombay also had given their acceptance to the formula and the signature of Sjts. Nijalingappa, Pataskar and Gupte are on the document.
Many of our Bengali Friends had also agreed to it. You will find on it the signature of Mr. Maitra, Mr. Majumdar, Mr. Guha and Shri Surendra Mohan Ghose and many others. Shri Bishwanath Das, Shri Lakshmi Narayan Sahu and Shri Yudisthir Mishra from Orissa had also given their consent to it. Shri Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri and Shri Chaliha from Assam too had accepted the formula. Signatures of almost all the Hindi-speaking Members of the House are to be found on this document. What I mean to say is that the question of numerals has very recently been raised. Nobody gave any importance to this question at that time when this formula was adopted. I do not dispute any one’s right to raise this question at this stage. Of course a Member has that right. My only submission is that when they were ready to accept Devanagari script in its present form, it is plain that they should accept Nagari numerals also, for numerals are an integral part of a script and are not something extrinsic to it. When they were in favour of accepting the Devanagari script they should at least permit us without any rancour, bitterness or anger, the right of remaining firm in our original views.
Now I take up the other points. The article moved by Shri Gopalaswami lays down that Hindi in Devanagari script shall be the official language of India. But if you read the article carefully, you will find therein an attempt to keep the day, when Hindi will take the place of English, as far as off as possible. This House seems divided into two groups on this issue. One accepts Hindi in Devanagari script to be the official language of the country but it wants to postpone the replacement of English by Hindi to the remotest possible date. The other group wants Hindi to replace English at the earliest possible moment. I would like to draw the attention of the honourable Members to the resolution passed by the Congress Working Committee—in this respect. The Working Committee wants that every attempt should be made completely to replace English by Hindi within the period of fifteen years so that English may have no place at all here after fifteen years. But Shri Gopalaswami Ayyangar has told us in his speech today that English may have to be retained for long, even after fifteen years. I must tell him that we do not agree to this. Our definite opinion is that if English is at all to go from the country it must go at the earliest possible moment. We are accepting an interim period of fifteen years during which English should be replaced by Hindi. But this does not mean that during this period English cannot at all be replaced by Hindi in any sphere. Sir, you and also the Members of the House are aware that formerly we were of the opinion that the question of interim period should be left to the Parliament for decision. The formula that I have just quoted was accepted also by the non-Hindi speaking people; later on we agreed to a period of five years. We had then thought that English could be replaced by Hindi during five year, if we made earnest efforts in that direction. Thereafter a National Language convention was held in Delhi. Though the convention was held under the auspices of the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, learned persons from almost every region of the country were invited to it. I will content myself by saying that it was the first convention of its type in the country. Bengal was represented by Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterji and Shri Sajni Kant Das, Secretary of the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad; Karnatak was represented by Shri L. Krishan Sharma, Secretary Kannad Sahitya Parishad. From Malayalam attended the great poet Vallathol who occupies the same exalted position in Malayalam literature as was occupied by the late Rabindra Nath Tagore in Bengali literature. Kunhan Raja of Malayalam also attended the convention. From Maharashtra, Mahamahopadhy Shri Kane was to come to it but being unable to undertake the journey he kindly sent a message for the’ convention; Shri Ale Ballabh from Orissa, Shri Nil Kant Shastri, Dr. Raghwan Bishwanath Satyanarayan, outstanding figures of Telugu had attended it.
Thus you will find that the convention, though convened by Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, was attended by scholars of almost all the regional languages of the country. It decided that Hindi should take the place of English within ten years. Thus the interim period of five years that was decided earlier, was extended at this stage to ten years. Thereafter, when our South Indian Friends expressed the view that the time of ten years appeared to them very short, we agreed to fifteen years. I do not claim that we have done them any favour in this respect; on the contrary we express our gratitude to them for the favour they have bestowed upon us by accepting Hindi in Devanagari script as the National language of the country. We have no objection at all to fixing the period at fifteen if it be convenient to them. A period of five, ten of fifteen years may be considered a long period in an individual’s life, but in the life of a Nation it is not much. It is with this idea that we agreed to extend the interim period from ten years to fifteen.
Now the main question that concerns us is whether you are going to replace English within fifteen years or you require a still longer time. The Congress Working Committee has already given its verdict on this issue. The National Language convention too has stated its view in this respect in clear terms- Even then Shri Gopalaswami says today that he does not find any prospect of complete replacement of English by Hindi for a long time even after fifteen years. I beg to tell him frankly that we at least do not agree to this. This is the second point covered by my amendment.
The third point in my amendment is this. Why should the provinces, that have already adopted Hindi and where Hindi is already in use in High Courts, be forced to use English? Take for instance U. P. There everything is being done in Hindi. All the Bills and Resolutions are drafted in Hindi. Now, according to the article moved by Shri Gopalaswami Ayyangar, English will have to be used there for every purpose for fifteen years. It is plain that such a provision cannot take us forward in regard to the use of Hindi; it will only take us back in this respect. How can we accept a proposal which imposes English in the provinces where Hindi is already in use? In some States, Hindi has been in use, in Courts for all purposes, since long. But according to Shri Ayyangar’s formula, Hindi should be replaced there by English. Well, there is wide difference between us and South Indian friends in this respect. We are unable to accept such a retrograde proposition.
Now I come to certain other points. A new charge has of late been levelled against the supporters of Hindi. We are accused of holding communal outlook in regard to language question. Even our great leaders have levelled this charge against us. I would like to tell them most humbly that so far as we are concerned, we do not look at this question from communal angle at all. We look at it, from a purely national point of view. I may point out that during my public life of the last thirty years I have never been a member of any communal organisation. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad is well aware of the fact that in 1921 when the Khilafat movement was afoot, I was a member of the Central Khilafat Committee. You may take the case of others also who are today taking any part in the Hindi movement. Tandonji’s case is before you. Have we ever been connected with any communal organisation? In this connection, I may be permitted, Sir, to tell the House a few things about my own self. There was a time when Hindu-Muslim riots were frequent at Jubbulpore. During one of the riots a mosque was razed down. I got the mosque rebuilt at my own cost. At Khandawa, a town in my home province, my father has constructed a Dharamsala in memory of my respected mother at a cost of about few lacs of rupees. A temple of Shri Lakshmi Narayan had also been built in the precincts of the Dharamsala. The foundation of the temple was laid by Shri Vinoba Bhave. Almost all religious scriptures have been given a place in this temple. The Quaran is there; the Bible is there. Buddhist scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, Jain scriptures and Parsi scriptures are all there and their sanctity is duly mentioned. In view of this how can you accuse us, the supporters of Hindi, of communalism? It is a great injustice to accuse us of communalism.
I do not say that Urdu is used here only by Muslims. I do agree that many Hindu poets and scholars have also created outstanding literature in Urdu. Despite this, I cannot help saying that Urdu has mostly drawn inspiration from outside the country. If you want to verify the correctness of my observation, you may read the Urdu literature. I am not altogether a layman in this respect. I have some, though not profound knowledge of literature. In Urdu literature nowhere do you find any description of the Himalayas. Instead you find the description of Koh Kaf. You will never find your favourite Koyal (Cuckoo) in Urdu literature but, of course, Bulbul is there. In place of Bhima and Arjuna you will find there Rustom who is completely alien to us. Therefore, I must say that the charge that we hold communal outlook is absolutely unfounded. I do not say this because of any contempt for Urdu. We love Urdu and will continue to love it. I say so because it is a hard fact. To be frank, Sir, the supporters of Hindi have never been communal in outlook but the same cannot be said for the supporters of Urdu. They do have communal outlook.
Ours is a secular State and we all are one on this point. We treat every religion equally. We do not want to stand in the way of the development of any religion. But we do admit the fact, that in spite of our secularism there are different cultures in the country. There is Muslim population in China and Russia too but there is no difference at all among Muslim and non-Muslim population of these countries. There is no difference in their names; their dress, their language and their culture are all the same. It is true, we have accepted our country to be a secular State but we never thought that that acceptance implied the acceptance of the continued existence of heterogeneous cultures. India is an ancient country with an ancient history. For thousands of years one and the same culture has all along been obtaining here. This tradition is still unbroken. It is in order to maintain this tradition that we want one language and one script for the whole country. We do not want it to be said that there are two cultures here.
We have no hostility to any of the regional languages; we are well aware of the fact that the National language can never flourish unless the regional languages are fully developed and enriched. It is not to flatter my non-Hindi speaking friends that I am giving expression to this thought. In my Presidential address at the annual session of the All India Sahitya Sammelan held at Meerut, I had made it clear that the regional languages must be given every encouragement to develop themselves and that they should be given the highest place of honour in their respective regions. Every State of the Union must use its own language in its schools and colleges, in its courts and Legislatures. It is not my intention in saying so that the languages other than the State language, but spoken by substantial persons of the people of that State should not be given any recognition. But, as has been laid down in the resolution of the Congress Working Committee, the language demanded should be recognised, only when twenty per cent of the people of the State want it to be recognised. But if one or two per cent of the population makes a demand for the recognition of a particular language, the State cannot afford to satisfy the demand, for it will retard the development of the State language. With this view I have put in another amendment also which lays down that if twenty per cent of the people in a State make a demand for the recognition of any language, that may be conceded. This is quite consistent with the resolution adopted be the Congress Working Committee in this respect.
Our ultimate object is that Hindi should take the place of English at the earliest possible moment and for this I have embodied certain suggestions in my amendments. I have suggested that there should not be appointed two bodies— one Commission and then one Parliamentary Committee—for the same purpose. There should be only one committee—Parliamentary Committee—for this purpose. This Committee should be assigned the task of finding out ways and means to replace English by Hindi within fifteen years.
Lastly, I have one more observation to make. We had, the people of India had, visualized a picture of free India and that picture will remain incomplete until the question of national language is resolved. The people of the country will understand the meaning of Swaraj only when this question is completely resolved.
I am very happy that every one of us is prepared to accept Hindi as a national and State language; we should make all possible attempts not to allow any bitterness to come amongst us with regard to this issue. Hindi had received already the blessing of Pandit Nehru. Some eighteen years ago he wrote me a letter which I am going to read out in Hindi. It is dated, Colombo, the 16th May 1931, and is to the following effect :
“I am sorry for not being able to come to Madura on this occasion. I wish I could come there and render some service which I possibly can, to my Tamil Nad friends. Particularly I wish I could take part in the deliberations of the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan. Hindi has now completely assumed the role of national language and most of the work of the Congress is being done in Hindi. It is gratifying to learn that Hindi is increasingly spreading in Tamil Nad. I would have come and gladly offered my co-operation in this pious task, but I am sorry that on account of compelling reasons I am unable to come there. 1 hope the session of the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan will be a success and will pave the way for the spread of Hindi in Tamil Nad.
Sd. JAWAHARLAL NEHRU.”
Panditji wrote this letter eighteen years ago and I am glad to find that we have assembled today to give concrete shape to the prophecy he made eighteen years ago.]*
And the response in force –
Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad : The subject before the House is of very great importance. I think in a matter of this great importance which affects thirty-four crores of people, there should be no quarrel, but at the same time I should say that there should be no unseemly or hasty compromise. It is not for as enlightened people as compared with the vast population of India to come here and exchange courtesies and agree in a mere spirit of a compromise on something which affects many other outside. (Hear, hear).
I submit Sir, that we have not been taking into consideration what is compendiously described as the non-Hindi areas. It will not do to say that some Members have entered into a compromise, into an agreement. That agreement will not be binding on the people, and people will not accept it. I submit that in a matter like this, we should proceed with caution and from experience to experience. There should be no compulsion; there should be a national language on a free, voluntary basis. If Hindi is to be accepted as the national language of India, it should be free and voluntary choice. Its beauties and other virtues should be understood by the people before it would be possible to accept Hindi finally as our national language. While my esteemed Friend, the last speaker, was speaking in Hindi, I heard whispers even from those who understand a little bit of Hindi that the language was unintelligible. I submit, therefore, that we should not all at once try to make Hindi the national language of India.
The amendment which I have ventured to submit before the House is No. 277. It is not necessary to read the amendment, as I am sure many honourable Members have already read it. The main purpose of my amendment it that we should not make a declaration of an All India language all at once. My subject is that English should continue as the official language of India for all purposes for which it was being used, till a time when an All India language is evolved, which will be capable of expressing the thoughts and ideas on various subjects, scientific, mathematical, literary, historical, philosophical, political. I submit that this should be the way of approach. The suitability of the language for all India purposes for ever should not be a matter left to be decided without a mandate from the electorate, by 315 members. It is easy to be led away by courtesies and generosities. It is not a question of a marriage ceremony or a dinner party where we can afford to be generous. This is a matter which should be a matter of voluntary acceptance by the people.
I submit that so far as Hindi is concerned, it has yet to establish its claim. I have, however, heard the protagonists of the Hindi language say that this is the time when we should agree to have Hindi as our national language. I have also heard it said that if we do not accept Hindi now, the chances of Hindi would be gone for ever. If that is so, Hindi has no case for immediate acceptance. If it is a fact that this House, generously minded as it is, should agree in a voluntary manner without consulting the public convenience, without considering the necessary attributes of all All India language in a modern world, I think the voice of the people should be ascertained. But, I find that there is a tendency in this House to be overgenerous where they should be cautious and proceed on practical lines.
We have said that we want nationalisation. I hope it is already apparent that you cannot nationalise all at once and that it would be highly undesirable. We wanted to abolish the class distinction in the railways. We reduced the classes from four to three. I am sure now it is apparent to everybody that we have to revert to the four class system. We want to break capitalism all at once. I think there is already a realisation that though capitalism has its evils, it is a necessary evil. It should be modified, but should not be abolished. So also, in the field of industrialisation, much loose talk has dried the money-market. I should therefore think that in the matter of language, we should rather proceed in a cautious manner.
My suggestion is that English should continue for such a period till when an All India language is evolved. You cannot make a language suitable for a modern world by a legislative vote. The suitability of a language requires a large number of things. It requires great writers, great thinkers, grate men, scientists, politicians, philosophers, literateurs, dramatists and others. I believe without giving any offence, that Hindi is a language which is in a very rudimentary condition in this respect.
After all, India is free. We have to contend with modern forces in the international field. I submit in this modern world we cannot avoid English. We must have English whatever may be the other languages we may have. English is inevitable. But in this respect, we are showing a somewhat inferiority complex. We are really exhibiting what is called a compensatory behaviour. I should think there should be no inferiority complex in the matter of language.
An Honourable Member : Superiority complex!
Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad : It may be superiority complex which is even a bad thing. That would be a kind of weakness. I submit mat the British have gone; British domination was a thing worth removing. But what about their language? Is the English language a British language? I submit it is a world language. Take the case of many other colonies and many other countries. Take the case of Japan. Japan thought that it must rise in the world. It adopted the English language as the official language voluntarily. They went to America and other places and learnt English and with the help of the English language, English science, modern thoughts and world activities were open to her. But for the unfortunate entry of Japan in the last war, Japan would have been one of the greatest nations of the world. That is why I submit that English should be compulsory. It may be a disagreeable necessity; but still, it is a necessity.
Now, the question of selecting a national language, in my opinion, should be dependent upon two conditions. Before putting down these conditions, I should like to ask honourable Members to consider the situation. If you have, I am speaking from the point of view of non-Hindi areas—if you have to learn Hindi, you have to learn it as a foreign tongue. You can learn your mother tongue without literacy; but a foreign tongue you can learn only through books. Now, in a non-Hindi area, a boy must be first of all literate in his own mother tongue before he can possibly learn an All India language, Hindi.
I submit, therefore, that before we impose upon the people of India compulsory all-India language, the pre-requisite should be their literacy in their own language. After fifty years of tremendous labour, and of over forty years talk about primary education, we have not been able to make literate more than 13 or 15 per cent, of our people. At least 85 per cent, of our people are absolutely illiterate. Does it stand to reason that you can teach Hindi as the official language to the people of India all at once? You cannot do so. The pre-requisite condition of imposing upon the people of India national language should, I submit, be mass literacy in the various areas. I should submit that the first condition is there should be a mass literacy campaign and there should be a minimum percentage of literacy in each area before we impose a foreign tongue upon an unwilling people.
The second condition which I should prescribe would be that you must re-group the provinces on a linguistic basis. The reason is simple. We recognise in this official compromise draft that there should be regional languages. If we have regional languages, there will be clashes between the various people talking different tongues huddled together in the same province. In order to avoid all troubles, people generally speaking one tongue should be placed in one province. If we do not proceed like this, the difficulty would be that there will be tyranny of the majority in a certain area over the minority.
I do not wish to go into the various controversies which are now raging. I believe these controversies should die down when we re-group the provinces on that basis. If we do not do it now, it will never be done and endless troubles will arise. If the provinces are re-grouped on a linguistic basis, then, it would be possible for them to think of a foreign all-India tongue. I submit that for a modern State like India, we require a modern language. I submit that simple Hindi can not be the official language. It must be a mixture in which the various languages of India should contribute. I am not a man who does not believe in an official Indian language, but I am not to be blind to facts. I cannot permit myself to be blind to facts even out of patriotic motives. So, time should be given to evolve a suitable language. Our Constitution and our laws are in English and yet we provide only for fifteen years for a substitute. If you will try to translate only our laws, you will find how difficult it is to do it accurately.
After all there should be a realistic approach. I submit that if we proceed unrealistically the result would be reaction in the various non-Hindi provinces. It will be extremely difficult for them to pick up the tongue, and acquire sufficient mastery over that tongue in order to discharge the functions of an all-India language. The great thing to remember is that Hindi itself would have to be developed. It is not a question of fifteen years it is a question of experiment and experience. It will take long years’ for great writers and thinkers to be born who will develop it; and secondly, it will require a long time for the people not merely to speak conversational Hindi—which is very easy—but literary Hindi which would be extremely difficult.
I submit that in one of the clauses of the proposed article 301 B, clause (3) it is provided that as far as possible the claims of non-Hindi areas should be reconciled in choosing men for public services. I submit this would be productive of considerable amount of hardship. Take the case of a boy in a non-Hindi area. He will have to learn his own mother-tongue which may be different from the regional language. The boy may have again to learn a mother-tongue which may be different from the regional tongue. He has therefore initially to learn two languages. If he is to aspire for higher honours in the public services and in the internal political field as well as in external field, he will have to learn English and then he will have to learn the official tongue—Hindi. Just think of the huge waste of energy which our boys and girls will have to undergo to learn these languages. The result would be that middle-class men of poorer means will be deprived of the advantage of learning English. The result of accepting an all-India language all at once would be that there will be less English schools and more Hindi schools; richer people—though we aim at a classless society—will become richer and poorer people will get poorer. English will be available only to children of richer people and therefore activities in the foreign field, activities in all-India field requiring knowledge of English in order to avail of the sciences and the arts of the West will be open only to them. The poor and the middle-classes will be deprived of it. This would be the effect of this sudden change. When British came here Persian was the official language and they waited for sixty years before they introduced English as the medium of instruction. Then again, they did not make it compulsory, they proceeded cautiously. I submit that we should take a leaf out of their experience. I have said in my amendment that there should be compulsory primary education and when we find that in each State there is at least 60 per cent. Literates in their own mother-tongue and when also the provinces have been divided on linguistic bases, then there should be a Commission and the Commission’s report should be debated in the Legislative Assemblies and Councils as well as in the Parliament and then these debates would be before the country for a sufficient time, and then we will get a more true and real picture of what is to come. Then it would be easy for the people to select or evolve the national language. If we proceed like this, then acceptance of a national language and the selection would be easy otherwise it would be fraught with grave difficulties. It is not permissible to dwell at length on these matters since the decision on this question must depend on broader issues.
I submit that besides Hindi there are other claimants. I have tabled an amendment that Bengali should have its claims. This is only by way of suggestion that Bengali is the most advanced Indian language in the whole Dominion. That is accepted by persons competent to speak, I submit the first Bengali book ‘Charya’ was published in the 12th Century. That is the earliest Indian book traceable apart from Sanskrit. Then in the 16th and 17th Centuries there were a lot of Bengali books. Then there were a large number of writers Charu Chandra Dutta, Bankim Chatterjee and a host of others who enriched Bengali literature and, omitting a large galaxy of writers, the late lamented Rabindranath Tagore. He wrote enormously and enriched Bengali literature and it is the finest medium of thought; and I believe if you consider a language on merit, Bengali will have a prior claim. I do not wish to detract from the utility and excellence of other languages but I only put the claim of Bengali on a proper plane. I submit that Bengali language is highly developed and its only difficulty is that it is not spoken by a vast majority. But an official language should not be based merely by the fact that a large number of people speak it. Its suitability to express modern ideas, scientific literary and other, should also be an important factor. I do not want to take up the time of the House on the beauties of the Bengali language.
The Honourable Shri Ghanshyam Singh Gupta : We want to hear your views on Sanskrit.
Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad : I am extremely thankful to the honourable Member Mr. Gupta for anticipating me. If you have to adopt any language, why should you not have the world’s greatest language? It is today a matter of great regret that we do not know how with what veneration Sanskrit is held in outside world. I shall only quote a few brief remarks made about Sanskrit to show how this language is held in the civilised world. Mr. W. C. Taylor says, “Sanskrit is the language of unrivalled richness and purity.”
Yes, Sir, I shall not stand in between. I will only give a few quotations. Prof. Max Muller says Sanskrit is the “greatest language in the world, the most wonderful and the most perfect.” Sir William Jones said that “Sanskrit is of a wonderful structure, more perfect than Greek, more copious than Latin, more exquisitely refined than either. Whenever we direct our attention to the Sanskrit literature, the notion of infinity presents itself. Surely the longest life would not suffice for a single perusal of works that rise and swell, protuberant like the Himalayas, above the bulkiest compositions of every land beyond the confines of India”. Then, Sir, W. Hunter says that the “Grammar of Panini stands supreme among the Grammar of the world. It stands forth as one of the most splendid achievements of human invention and industry The Hindus have made a language and a literature and a religion of rare stateliness.” Prof. Whitney says, “Its unequalled transparency of structure give it (Sanskrit) indisputable right to the first place amongst the tongues of the Indo-European family.” Professor Bopp says “Sanskrit was at one time the only language of the world.” M. Dubo’s says “Sanskrit is the origin of the modern languages of Europe.” Professor Webar says “Panini’s grammar is universally admitted to be the shortest and fullest Grammar in the world. Prof. Wilson says “No nation but the Hindu has yet been able to discover such a perfect system of phonetics.” Prof. Thompson, says “The arrangement of consonants in Sanskrit is a unique example of human genius”. Dr. Shahidullah, Professor of Dacca University who has a world-wide reputation as a Sanskrit scholar says “Sanskrit is the language of every man to whatever race he may belong.”
An Honourable Member : What is your view?
Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad : My own view is that it is one of the greatest languages and
An Honourable Member : And should it be adopted as the National Language or not? It is not spoken by any one now.
Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad : Yes, and for the simple reason that it is impartially difficult to all. Hindi is easy for the Hindi speaking areas, but it is difficult for other areas. I offer you a language which is the grandest and the greatest and it is impartially difficult, equally difficult for all to learn. There should be some impartiality in the selection. If we have to adopt a language, it must be grand, great and the best. Then why we should discard the claims of Sanskrit. I fail to see. If the non-Hindi people have to learn a language, they would rather learn Sanskrit than a language which is infinitely below Sanskrit in status, quality and rank. And then with regard to the script of Hindi. I have here an article by Professor of Benarsas University—Mr. C. Narayana Menon who has written a pamphlet entitled “Script Reform”. He has pointed out the script in Hindi is the most erratic. It has hands and feet proceeding in all directions like an octopus. The script is not smooth and rounded and the language is not capable of being speedily or easily written. Sir, this ease of writing is also one of the factors to be considered in a modern language.
Sir, I have taken some time but I submit the considerations are very serious and I submit that we should not take any hasty step. We should all evolve a language and test it before we adopt it. I submit Bengali, Sanskrit and other languages are so many candidates and their cases have to be considered.