Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindi is now sending sections of India into paroxysms of ecstasy and moronry.

Voices Thursday, June 05, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute| June 5, 2014| 8.10 pm IST Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindi is now sending sections of India into paroxysms of ecstasy and moronry. There are calls for all Indians to speak Hindi, the country’s English-speaking noise-makers are diving into Rudram and suddenly channel-swimmers are responding to questions in Hindi. The Prime Minister has been in his job just 10 days.  We at The News Minute (TNM) are truly confused. Between us we speak ten languages, but failed to understand what has hit opinion makers and leaders who are now bending over backwards to learn Swahili. So we turned to this video looking for answers. Surprise Dance on Finnair Flight to celebrate India's Republic Day What is it that stands out?  What stands out is the comfort and ease with which a people – in this case Finns – can jive to music in a language they don’t know because they don’t pretend to be anything. For them it’s a business pitch for daily flights from Helsinki to Delhi. There’s no linguistic chauvinism or stupidity – it’s clean and good natured fun.  The G-7 summit taking place in Brussels as we write came in handy. Officially, Europeans are supposed to speak in over a dozen languages. Russian President Vladimir Putin has not spoken English (in public) for decades and French Prime Minister Francois Hollande’s English is only slightly better than his Greek. Yet, the penny has dropped. Language influences thinking – doesn’t matter the language itself. Occupying a speech entirely is powerful and liberating. You need roots to be free – language is the first stop in this journey. Sanskrit – like Latin – is a root.  Clairvoyant as we are, we projected this present to the future, to the BRICS summit to be held in Brazil next month. Portugese, Russian, Gujarati, Mandarin and Zulu (we think) are the languages that the heads of state and governments from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will be thinking in. Their link language will probably be English, just like English links the Germans to the Malaysians, Peruvians to the Icelandic and all the world to the world cup.  There is grace, not arrogance, when a political leader speaks a language that speaks to a country. There is grace and knowledge in acknowledging the difference that accrues to and from people who speaks many tongues. If you are not comfortable speaking Finnish, you will not be able to speak Bollywood or Wall Street. Get it?  There is no need to froth in the mouth on either side. It is important to learn English. It is also important to learn other languages beginning with a mother-tongue. Nobody in the history of mankind has been hurt because s/he did not speak a language. The converse hurts – not knowing the language of power and economy, music and business will hurt.  We at TNM have invested in a Polish dictionary. Om shanti om.
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