Hindi in Bihar

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Hindi is one of the two official languages of Bihar (the other being Urdu), whilst the majority of the people speak one of the Bihari languages - Bhojpuri, Magadhi, Maithili or Angika. Bihari languages were once mistakenly thought to be dialects of Hindi, but they has been more recently shown to be descendant of the language of the erstwhile Magadha kingdom - Magadhi Prakrit, along with Bengali and Oriya.

Hindi journalism[edit]

Biharbandhu was the first Hindi newspaper published from Bihar. It was started in 1872 by Madan Mohan Bhatta, a Maharashtrian Brahman settled in Biharsharif.[1] Hindi journalism in Bihar, and specially Patna, could make little headway initially. It was mainly due to lack of respect for Hindi among the people at large. Many Hindi journals took birth and after a lapse of time vanished. Many journals were shelved even in the embryo.[2] But once Hindi enlisted the official support, it started making a dent into the remote areas in Bihar. Hindi journalism also acquired wisdom and maturity and its longevity was prolonged. Hindi was introduced in the law courts in Bihar in 1880.[3][1]

20th century publications[edit]

The beginning of the twentieth century was marked by a number of notable new publications. A monthly magazine named Bharat Ratna was started from Patna in 1901. It was followed by Kshtriya Hitaishi, Aryavarta from Dinapure, Patna, Udyoga and Chaitanya Chandrika.[4] Udyog was edited by Vijyaanand Tripathy, a famous poet of the time and Chaitanya Chandrika by Krishna Chaitanya Goswami, a literary figures of that time. This literary activities were not confined to Patna alone but to many districts of Bihar.[5][1]

Constitutional issues[edit]

Despite of the large number of speakers of Bihari languages, they have not been constitutionally recognized in India. Hindi is the language used for educational and official matters in Bihar.[6] These languages was legally absorbed under the subordinate label of HINDI in the 1961 Census. Such state and national politics are creating conditions for language endangerments.[7]

Struggle between languages[edit]

The first success for spreading Hindi occurred in Bihar in 1881, when Hindi displaced Urdu as the sole official language of the province. In this struggle between competing Hindi and Urdu, the potential claims of the three large mother tongues in the region - Magahi, Bhojpuri and Maithili were ignored. After independence Hindi was again given the sole official status through the Bihar Official Language Act, 1950. [8] Urdu became the second official language in the undivided State of Bihar on 16 August 1989.

Maithili has been the only one among the Bihari languages, which has been trying to constantly deny superimposition of Hindi over her identity. The other two have given up their claims and have resigned to accept the status of dialects of Hindi. Maithili was officially recognized by the government of India in 2003, after an active movement led by Maithili speakers.

Statistics[edit]

The number of speakers of Bihari languages are difficult to indicate because of unreliable sources. In the urban region most educated speakers of the language name Hindi as their language because this is what they use in formal contexts and believe it to be the appropriate response because of unawareness. The uneducated and the rural population of the region return Hindi as the generic name for their language. [9]

References and footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Ahmad Qeyamuddin, Patna Through the ages: Glimpses of History, Society and Economy, Commonwealth Publishers, New Delhi, 1988
  2. ^ Rajendra Abhinandan Granth, "Nagri Pracharini Sabha", Arrah, 3 March 1950, pp. 353
  3. ^ Kumar N., Journalism in Bihar, A Supplement to Bihar State Gazette pp. 28
  4. ^ Bihar ki Sahityik Pragati, Bihar Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, Patna 1956, pp. 73
  5. ^ Jayanti Smarak Granth, pp. 583-585
  6. ^ History of Indian languages,"Bihari is actually the name of a group of two related languages—Bhojpuri, and Magahi—spoken mainly in northeastern India in Bihar. Despite its large number of speakers, Bihari is not a constitutionally recognized language of India. Even in Bihar, Hindi is the language used for educational and official matters."
  7. ^ Verma, Mahandra K. "Language Endangerment and Indian languages : An exploration and a critique". Linguistic Structure and Language Dynamics in South Asia. 
  8. ^ Brass Paul R., The Politics of India Since Independence, Cambridge University Press, pp. 183
  9. ^ Jain Dhanesh, Cardona George, The Indo-Aryan Languages, pp500, "..the number of speakers of Bihari languages are difficult to indicate because of unreliable sources. In the urban region most educated speakers of the language name Hindi as their language because this is what they use in formal contexts and believe it to be the appropriate response because of unawareness. The uneducated and the rural population of the region return Hindi as the generic name for their language."