Editorial November 2009
In November we celebrate Nehru Ji’s Birthday who was India’s first Prime Minister for seventeen years.
Five decades ago, Nehru cautioned Members of Parliament discussing linguistic reorganization of states that an obsession with language would harm migrants. The reorganization of states on linguistic basis did happen in 1956 despite Nehru’s objections and reservations. Here is an excerpt from his speeches:
“I sent Indira (his daughter and later India’s Prime Minister) to school, not in UP (Nehru’s home state) … but in Poona. I sent her to a Gujarati school because I wanted her to know the Marathi and Gujarati languages. I sent her to Shantiniketan because I wanted her to understand the Bengali background, not only the language but the cultural background.”
As Pravasis in U.S., we are blessed to have the opportunity to mingle with fellow Indians with different languages and cultures. But how many of us have taken the time to learn a few sentences of the other languages and made a conscious effort to mix it in the conversation with our friends? Most of us have friends who speak Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil or Bengali etc. This November, if we resolve to learn five common sentences from five languages and use them with our friends when we mingle socially, we will see the bonds deepen!
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