Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
Arunachal Pradesh is perhaps the only state in Northeast India without a distinct and unique language followed throughout the state. Assam has Assamese, Mizoram has Mizo, Manipur has Manipuri, Meghalaya has Khasi and Jaintia, Nagaland has Nagamese, Tripura has Bengali.
Diverse Arunachal Pradesh has 28 major tribes, 100 sub-tribes, and 50 distinct languages and dialects. Since most tribes do not understand one another’s language, Hindi is the preferred common language in Arunachal. In most schools, colleges, institutions and bazaars of Arunachal, Hindi is commonly spoken. Teachers teach in Hindi, doctors converse with patients in Hindi, commuters speak to autorickshaw/taxi drivers in Hindi, politicians give speeches in Hindi… Hindi is the language of choice for the proceedings in the legislative assembly. Hindi movies and serials are commonly watched in houses, and Hindi songs are very popular among all tribes. In fact, TV shows like ‘Arunachal Idol’, ‘Voice of Arunachal’, etc, are dominated by Hindi songs.
This preponderance of Hindi as the language of choice is gradually leading to Hindi replacing native languages as the common language. Today, most children prefer Hindi over their native languages. Hindi is now commonly spoken in many households. In many houses, even if native languages are spoken, they are laced and interlaced with Hindi words. In fact, the increase in spoken Hindi has also led to names of persons changing over to Hindi names in preference to tribal names.
However, the Hindi spoken in Arunachal is much different from the Hindi spoken in mainland Hindi states like UP, Bihar, Delhi, MP, etc, in both grammar and pronunciation. Grammatically correct Hindi is rarely spoken and followed in Arunachal. In fact, Hindi is spoken with a local accent and with many errors. Important Hindi traits like streeling (feminine) and pulling (masculine) are rarely followed in the Hindi spoken in the state. Pure Hindi scholars may not support our version of Hindi. In fact, it is comical and funny to hear our leaders giving speeches in Hindi.
The predominance of Hindi may have also led to higher sense of patriotism and nationalism among many Arunachalees. With most national/patriotic songs in Sanskrit, Urdu or chaste Hindi, many Arunachalees understand and assimilate these songs better than other Northeasterners.
The rise of Hindi has led to the decline of native languages in the region. Today, a large number of our children speak mostly in Hindi; in fact, many children do not speak their native mother tongues at all. The rise of Hindi has also led to the decline of the English language in the state. The quality of spoken and written English is declining at an alarming rate. Hindi is important, but native languages and English are also equally important.
In fact, Arunachal Pradesh is by itself a fully Hindi name. It may not be wrong to say that very soon Arunachal’s new mother tongue would be Hindi. Wishing all readers happy Solung. Agampe! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)