Updated: October 7, 2016 5:05:30 pm
The tenth World Hindi Conference that is being held in India after a gap of 32 years, kicks off in Bhopal on Thursday with a promise to expand the scope of the language which the Constitution and courts recognise as the official but not national language.
Ironically, the three-day event that will see the participation of scholars and lovers of the language from nearly 40 countries is being held in a state where Hindi is predominant.
Sushma Swaraj seems to have clinched the deal in favour of the Madhya Pradesh capital because she heads the External Affairs Ministry, the main organizer of the event. Besides being a Lok Sabha member from Vidisha, Swaraj shares a rapport with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The decision to hold the tenth edition in India was taken at Johannesburg, the venue of the ninth conference.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the inaugural event while Amitabh Bachchan, the brand ambassador of Gujarat, will speak at the concluding ceremony.
Titled “Hindi Jagat: Vistar Evam Sambhavanaein’’ the conference, organizers have insisted it will not focus on Hindi literature or litterateurs, but promotion of the language itself by using tools like technology.
The conference is not without its share of controversies. For starters, there have been no invitations to local litterateurs who include recipients of Padma Shri and Sahitya Academy awards. Needless to say, the latter feel insulted to have been ignored.
Minister of State for External Affairs and former Army chief V K Singh, who is the chairman of the management committee for the conference, has not helped matters by suggesting, in an off the record conversation, that litterateurs at past events had been more interested in liquor and food, and fighting amongst themselves.
When the conversation was aired by some television channels, Singh went onto the offensive in his usual combative style and accused the media of misinterpreting and taking out of context remarks made in private.
Singh is not the only one to have made a controversial remark. Earlier, a senior cabinet minister, Gopal Bhargava insisted that those who speak English should be looked down upon, adding a rider that he was referring to only those people who could speak both Hindi and English but choose to use the foreign language.
Late in August, Chief Minister Chouhan had started a campaign to request shopkeepers to use in Hindi in signboards. He said he was not against English but would love to see Hindi signboards especially when dignitaries land in Bhopal.
A few years ago, the chief minister had announced that his government would bring in legislation to make Hindi signboards compulsory across the state but has since kept it on the backburner.
A few left-leaning litterateurs have dubbed this meeting a ‘Hindu’ not Hindi conference.
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