Hindi is not our national language, so do not impose it on us” — this is the sentiment of many Bengalureans who are opposed to the signs and announcements in Hindi at Namma Metro stations. The #NammaMetroHindiBeda and #NammaMetroKannadaSaku hashtags have been trending online, with Bengalureans asking the BMRCL to mind their language.
A Bangalore Times poll on their Twitter page, in which we asked if Hindi should be made mandatory on the Metro, revealed that a whopping 89% people were against this, and wanted only two languages to be used — English and Kannada.
Bengaluru is a mixed city today, with people from more than 25 states and many countries. A city that has a mixed profile of people as ours cannot afford language jingoism, even for the sake of frivolity.
We need to adopt tri-lingualism with gusto on the Namma Metro network. The prime language must be Kannada, supported by Hindi and English — in that order. This respects multilingual Bengaluru.
Those who use Namma Metro come from across socio-economic segments of society. Some will know Kannada, some Hindi and some only English; a few will know all and more. Let the Metro be a melting pot of all these languages, with Braille included. ‘Namma’ in Kannada means ‘ours’ — let it truly be ours in all the languages it uses.
Long ago, there was a three-language policy for central government institutions, in which Kannada was given priority, Hindi came next, and then English. In the 1906s, there was a big fight against Hindi imposition in South India, for which the entire region united. Metro is a local, state-owned body, which operates exclusively in Bengaluru.
Having sign boards in Hindi on trains travelling from Bengaluru to Delhi or Lucknow is agreeable, but a Metro that operates only in Bengaluru need not have boards in Hindi. The Constitution of India specifically says that Hindi is an official language, and not the national language.
Kannada is also a national language, so, on the Metro, Kannada is the national language, while English is the international language — and that is enough. I am anti-Hindi imposition everywhere, be it on the Metro, in banks or small outlets.