When Bapu's heart called for making Hindi a national language...

Indore, Sep 14: Over a century ago when Mahatma Gandhi, during a conference here, publicly called for Hindi to be made the national language of India, his sentiments then echoed even at far-off places in this multi-lingual country.

"On March 29, 1918, Mahatma Gandhi had chaired the eighth Hindi Sahitya Sammelan in Indore. During this time, at a public address, he had for the first time called for Hindi to be given status of the country's national language," Madhya Bharat Hindi Sahitya Samiti's publicity in-charge Arvind Ojha told PTI here today on the occasion of Hindi Divas.

"When Bapu appealed for Hindi to be made the national language, at that time the country was undergoing a struggle to free itself from the shackles of bondage. During that time, this poignant appeal had touched the hearts of the people and their feeling of freedom for the motherland had gained strength," Ojha said.

During the 8th Hindi Sahitya Sammelan here, the Father of the Nation had sent five 'Hindi ambassadors' to those states in the country, where the language was not much in vogue. Bapu's youngest son Devdas Gandhi was one of the ambassadors, he said. As a part of this unique and historic campaign to promote the language, the 'Hindi ambassadors' were first sent to the erstwhile Madras state, Ojha said.

While chairing the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, Bapu went on the stage doning a traditional Kathiawadi 'pagdi' (head gear), kurta and dhoti. On the occasion, he had said: "Like the way Britishers speak in English and use the same in practice, in the same way, I pray to all of you to provide Hindi the dignity of a national language. By making it as the national language we should fulfil our duty," as per an excerpt of the conference provided by Ojha. During his address, Gandhi had also thrown light upon the 'Ganga-Jamuni' culture of Hindi.

He had said that "Hindi is that language which both Hindus and Muslims speak and is written in Nagri and Persian script. This Hindi is not completely Sanskritised, nor is it loaded with Persian vocabulary," according to the excerpt.

He had strongly advocated the use of Hindi not only in speaking, but also in the functioning of courts. He had said, "The national language should be used during court meetings. If it is not done, the people will not understand the political processes properly. The national and regional languages should be definitely promoted in courts."

In his concluding statement of the address, Gandhi had said, "My humble, but a firm opinion is that unless we do not provide Hindi the national language status and other regional languages their adequate importance, till then all talks of a 'swarajya' are meaningless." '


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