Linguistic logic & land's law
Fact is fact; and (unpleasant) fact is, India attained divided freedom on ground of religious "great divide", euphemistically referred to, by the Muslim League as "Two-nation theory", which the Congress conceded. Thus two nations of Muslim Pakistan and non-Muslim (read Hindu) India were born August 1947, out of great religious divide; the divide between Hindus and Muslims.
Understandably, therefore, the members of new India's Constituent Assembly wisely underplayed, and virtually denied religion any meaningful or visible role and place in nation's polity, vide Constitution of India. Instead of religion, language got precedence, and took prime slot to re-create fresh geography of political unit across vast diversity and variety of India.
Fortunately, however, the erudition, diligence and scholarly works of makers of Constitution made possible the reorganisation of states with comparative ease vide States Reorganisation Act (37 of 1956), followed by Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956. Following this Act, the number of States, which stood 27 in original Constitution (in different categories), was brought down to 14, thereby explicitly laying the foundation of linguistic states of/in India. Thus was born Andhra Pradesh (Telugu), Assam (Assamese), Bihar (Hindi), Bombay (Marathi), J&K (Kashmiri), Mysore (Kannada), Kerala (Malayalam), Madras (Tamil), Madhya Pradesh (Hindi), Odisha (Odia), Uttar Pradesh (Hindi), West Bengal (Bengali). Post-reorganisation, it emerged clear that Hindi was most widely spoken, and understood, of all languages owing to Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh being states with vast majority of Hindi-speaking populace.
Understandably, therefore, vide Article 1 of the Constitution: "India, that is Bharat", in 1956, became "a Union of States" of 11 languages and 14 states. What is the scenario today? After 70 years of independence (1947); 67 years of Constitution-induction (1950); and 61 years post-reorganisation of states (1956)? The state number has increased from 14 to 29, and vide Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, number of languages too is up, from 11 to 22, just as population soared/rose from 33 crore in 1947 to 125 crore in 2016.
In this background, one has to appreciate the Herculean task the makers of Indian Constitution accomplished, despite extreme challenge; to choose the numbers of language to be given Constitutional recognition. Why? Because of sheer plurality of languages in use vis a vis the vast population which vide 2011 (provisional) census figure reached 1210569573. To make matters further extraordinarily bewildering, (and perhaps unknown even to 95% of people), 1652 spoken languages, including 63 non-Indian languages, are currently used in India!
It, therefore, once again goes to the credit of the pioneering work of Indian Constitution makers that they quickly and fairly grasped the picture and judiciously chose 11 languages which covered more than 80% of the population's lingua franca; and today, that number (11) has shot up to 22 encompassing more than 91% of the population's mother tongue. And Hindi speaking constituency alone consists of 46% of the total linguistic groups of India.
Hindi aside, the other linguistic group percentage, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica 2015 stands thus:- Bengali 8.11%; Telugu 7.19%; Marathi 6.99%; Tamil5.91%; Urdu 5.01%, Gujarati 4.48%; Kannada 3.69%; Malayalam 3.21%; Odiya 3.21%; Punjabi 2.83%; Assamese 1.28%; Maithili 1.18%; Bhili/Bhilodi 0.93%; Santhali 0.63%; Kashmiri 0.54%; Nepali 0.28%; Gondi 0.26%; Sindhi 0.25%; Konkani 0.24%; Dogri 0.22%; Khandeshi 0.20%; Tulu 0.17%; Kurukh/Oraon 0.17%; Manipuri 0.14%; Bodo 0.13%; Khasi 0.11%; Mundari 0.10%; Ho 0.10%; Sanskrit 0.0013%.
Here from, the most noteworthy emerging point is that not all linguistic groups can have separate state in accordance with their numbers or demand. Why? Because that is simply not possible, instigation of/by some politically motivated persons notwithstanding. Indians must never forget that before August 15, 1947, there were two India; 1 "British India" and 565 (Princely) "Indian States". And the catastrophically divisive history of India is too stark to be ignored or forgotten by any ruling class (irrespective of the colour and ideology thereof).
To understand as to what awaits future India, one has to take note of a sinister strategic plan of action China had in mind (not too long ago), in August 2009 regarding the future geography of India. Almost coinciding with "13th round of Sino-Indian border talks, held in New Delhi August 07 & 08, 2009", came the published article in Chinese language (by Zhong Guo Zhan Lue Gang) captioned "If China takes a little action, the so-called Great Indian Federation can be broken up". It was blatantly stated that "China in its own interest…….should join forces with different nationalities like the Assamese, Tamils and Kashmiris support the latter in establishing independent nation-states of their own, out of India, in particular, the ULFA (United Liberal Front of Asom) in Assam, a territory neighbouring China, can be helped by China so that Assam realises its national independence".
It went on: "China can give political support to Bangladesh enabling the latter to encourage ethnic Bengalis in India to get rid of Indian control and unite with Bangladesh as one Bengali nation; if the same is not possible, creation of at least another free Bengal nation state as a friendly neighbour of Bangladesh, would be desirable, for the purpose of weakening India's expansion and threat aimed at a forming a 'unified South Asia'"
It concluded:- "China can bring into its fold countries like Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan, support ULFA in attaining its goal for Assam's independence, back aspirations of Indian nationalities like the Tamils and Nagas, encourage Bangladesh to give push to the independence of West Bengal and lastly recover 90000 square kilometre territory in southern Tibet". Does the picture look familiar?
Hope the eternally quarrelling and squabbling leaders of India take note of these lines which are all in open. Another point comes to mind regarding our leaders' penchant to be on right side of "minorities", thinking that it only denotes "religious minorities". Unfortunately, Article 30 of the Constitution has this to say:- "All minorities, whether based on religion or language….." it needs no elaboration or clarification.
Therefore, the moot point is; India is a country of linguistic minorities. Every non-Hindi speaking in Hindi states is minority. Every non-Punjabi in Punjab is minority. Every non-Bengali in West Bengal is minority. Every non-Marathi in Maharashtra is minority. Every non-Tamil in Tamil Nadu is minority. Understandably, if all 1652 linguistic minorities and also religious minorities start demanding separate states and reservations where will the country go?
Will votaries of divisive polity and political sloganeering "small is beautiful" take note of the impending catastrophe looming large in political horizon of India? Should not they control themselves and stop instigating people to path of violence? For India's, as well as for their own sake, and future of their own children?
(The author is alumnus National Defence College. Views are strictly personal).
*********Photo Caption: Representational Image ***********