New Delhi, 18 July-2018(Indilens Web Team): When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that he would only speak in Hindi to foreign leaders though he is quite comfortable in English, it was welcomed as an affirmation of India’s cultural and linguistic heritage.But Modi’s home minister Rajnath Singh appears to have missed an important detail in Modi’s decision — that the prime minister uses a translator.
So, when Singh spoke on Thursday to a gaggle of officials and activists in Delhi including foreign representatives from the United Nations Population Fund India and UNICEF India, he simply started with a declaration: “Brothers and sisters, till now you heard all speakers talking in English. But I will speak in Hindi.”
Rajnath Singh. PTIRajnath Singh. PTI
There was neither a translation on headphones nor a printed English version. A report in The Economic Times said India’s Registrar General, C Chandramouli, who also spoke at the event, spoke in Hindi and then repeated his speech in English
The home minister, however, decided Hindi must suffice, even though a large contingent of foreign UN officials was present among the audience. Singh quoted Swami Vivekananda and addressed the UNFPA representative as ‘Sushri’ Frederika Meijer, said the report.
Meijer and the other foreigners were “baffled”, the report said, and indicated they would ask for a translation to understand what the minister had just said. They were clueless and “they looked it”, the report said.
Here is some help, from a report in Outlook, which has translated the home minister’s comments.
Singh reportedly called for greater concern for the concerns of adolescents and youth in India. “Singh said the total population of young persons in the age group of 10-24 years is about 36.50
He reportedly also commended the role of UNFPA and UNICEF — but his praise was lost on those organisations’ foreign representatives. Still, Home Ministry officials defended their boss staunchly: One official reportedly said foreigners posted in India should be familiar with Hindi.
The ET report said: Speaking to ET, a senior bureaucrat, who did not want to be identified, said the issue was “not at all that the minister cannot communicate in English” “He has made parliamentary statements in English”, the official said, “but speaking in Hindi is a matter of national pride for the minister…Hindi is his preferred language of communication”.
That may be so, and repopularising Hindi can only be welcome. Perhaps next time the organisers will also consider the need to get the message across along with the medium.