Friday, July 16, 2010
Symbol of Contention
Falling in line with all the other big economic power houses, India adopts a symbol for Indian Rupee after a publisized competition to design it. The design is inspired by the letter "Ra" of Devanagari script. In fact, it IS the letter "Ra" with a horizontal line added up. But why not get inspired by a letter from Tamil or Malayalam or ...
In my view, the choice of a Devanagari letter to represent the national currency depicts the central government's well-known favoritism of Hindi over other language/scripts. I find no reason for the non-Hindi-speaking states to bear this cultural onslaught and lingual monopoly of Hindi. The news papers are full with opinions that this symbol symbolizes Indian's multicultural ethos. If a single thought was given for it, then an element of Dravidian script should have been included. Alas, it is Hindi from which the New Delhi derives pride and not from the mythological animal called multiculturalism. Hindi has always been given a special status while other languages get step-motherly treatment. And the Hindi-speaking babus and sahebs in the capital have no idea that good and evil, beauty and ugly have different meaning in different parts of this humongous nation.
Selection of this symbol for Indian currency just increases the symbolic divide between north and south India. In a country like ours where pride of a region is shame for another, it is wise to not to invoke the feelings of pride of some if you risk hurting the egos of others. Being neutral is the way to protect egos on both sides. However, it is not the way to protect votes.
Confession and Conclusion: Hindi is the language close to my heart, speaking which I grew up, reading which I felt home. Now I'm swimming in the sambhar cup of Bangalore, "aste." I do not have any hard feelings for Hindi. What I object to is not Hindi, but the favoritism of Hindi over other languages. To generalize, I object to the notion of supremacy of one language over another.
Edit: Some readers found it difficult to understand why a non-person like me would have a problem with such symbol if the creator, Udaya Kumar, himself is an Tamilian. If the designer himself had risen above the languages, who am I to question his integrity. Indeed the designer is broad minded. However, my dear readers could not comprehend the fine divide between the integrity of an individual and the integrity of a government. I'm not criticizing the designer, but the selector.
Being the ruler of a multicultural country like ours, the government should have the sensibility to gauge the prevailing sentiments across the country and act accordingly. When they know that selecting a language specific symbol might give rise to resentments in some parts of the country, then why go ahead with it. Shouldn't we expect the government to take the responsibility of creating a harmonious environment in the society. Unfortunately, thats the last thing our political parties wish.