South India is better developed than North India says CNN IBN
Yesterday, CNN IBN a news Channel, aired a programme on why South India is better developed than North India. By South they meant the four southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
While the programme was credible and a lot of statistics were given about higher literacy levels and higher per capita income in the southern states, a certain bias was evident…against South India. As if trying to ‘balance’ out the findings, the anchor gave South India’s so-called ‘bad’ points. She disapproved of the Souths’ loyalty to their own languages and hinted that Hindi should be the national language. (This is an ongoing debate in this country and the speakers of Hindi consider that Hindi should be the national language to ‘unite’ the country rather than English. They have a colonial hangover. They find it difficult to accept that English is a global language today. Why don’t we stop feeling inferior about it?) In my opinion it’s best to use English to ‘unite’ the country and at the same time keep our distinct regional cultures and languages alive. I have written a separate piece on this, in a post on multi cultural India on this same blog.
The anchor also considered South Indians ‘conservative’ where women were concerned as compared to North Indian women. There were no statistics given on this, simply a reference to the ‘Khushboo’ controversy, where there was a huge outcry when Khushboo, a film star, talked about practicing safe sex. This particular controversy was dug up by the anchor, to show the viewer how ‘conservative’ South India is, even though it is so highly developed! I found this attitude not only strange, but also a little stupid, as it is an accepted fact that North India is more conservative where women are concerned. There are historical reasons for this.
I felt that the CNN IBN anchor was biased and therefore wrote a letter to the channel in their feedback form. The letter in an abridged version is given below:-
Ref: Survey on Indian States
As you are a national channel please may I suggest to you a few things.
1) You cannot say that the south is being culturally (and linguistically) conservative. The reason is simple: The south has never tried to impose its culture and language on the north. Its the north who is doing it. In any case, why should one culture do this to any other culture? The Americans did it to the Red Indians…made everybody clones. Please understand that no race should dominate the other. I wonder if you know that if Hindi takes over, the regional language dies – as it happened to the regional language of Punjab – Gurumukhi. On the other hand, if you keep English, our regional languages and culture will thrive. In any case English is the language of the world.
2) Please do not say that the south is conservative where women are concerned. It is conservative compared to whom? The north? The north, where women are not safe, where the statistics show that fewer women are educated?
Tell me – do people from Tamil Nadu say that North Indians should speak Tamil? So why do North Indians say that Tamilians should speak Hindi? I am afraid domination like this never works. North Indians are not our rulers. They are one of us. You are one of us. We are one country. We have to respect each other’s religions, languages and culture.
Note: I want to state that I do not consider people from any state in India to be superior or inferior to another state. People from each state have their good points. North Indians for example are more entrepreneurial as compared to South Indians. Plus, as an army officers’ daughter who has lived in almost all the states of India, my identity is more Indian than Maharashtrian.
Update January 2008: As the discussion in the comments has debated (rather hotly) the desirability of a national language I wanted to add that National language and Official language are two different things. India has no ‘National Language’ but it has several official languages, namely Hindi and English. In the states there are three official languages as the language of the state is included. This is according to the Constitution of India. An official language means:
…a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other territory. Typically a nation’s official language will be the one used in that nation’s courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a language (often indigenous) a legal status, even if that language is not widely spoken.
The term National Language means:
…a language which has some connection with a people. A national language may for instance represent the national identity of a nation or country. National language may alternatively be a designation given to one or more languages spoken as first languages in the territory of a country.
The term ‘National’ language automatically assumes a person’s ethnic origins, and claims to represent people from the same ethnic background. It is clear that in India there is no such thing…at least not yet. Not until we all inter-marry and become the same race. There are many countries in the world which have more than one national language and they are much smaller than India and less diverse!
Related Reading: Discrimination faced by people from the north east of India
Will English dominate India in another 50 years?
Raj Thackeray’s MNS creating trouble for North Indians in Mumbai
Does language divide Indians socially?
Maharashtra changing its official language to Marathi only has got foreigners complaining
More: A post on a blog called Karnatique.com protests the imposition of Hindi and another post expresses its ire that Bollywood cinema (Hindi cinema) is considered “national” or “Indian” cinema, at the expense of other language cinema.
Important note on comments (27th August 08): The comments on this post are now closed. Been planning to do it for some time, but was hesitating, specially as I received some genuine comments in the past week or so. However after seeing the latest exchange about clothes of North Indians and South Indians, I decided that I had to close comments on this post. While there is nothing offensive about the comments, some responses I got were offensive which I had to delete. And just when I had made up my mind to do stop comments, as luck would have it, I was entertained for one last time. One Indian man from Australia told me to remove my photograph from the “avatar” and he used the word “fuck.” While such jokers are entertaining, I have no time for idiots.
I want to thank each and everyone of you for enriching this post with their intelligent comments. I might delete some irrelevant ones when I have the time so please don’t take it personally.
(Comments were re-opened due to requests from some readers)