this old idea of india

smokescreen's interesting post offering a novel solution to link the indian nation. don't understand why 1) we need to link the indian nation through 1/2/3 languages, 2) if it is a nation, why does it have to be linked through synthetic policy solutions?

why not chuck the whole idea of building india along the lines of a conventional nation, and let the people link to each other? an unfinished, but very interesting, discussion with smokescreen and the recent debates around official/link languages, in the media and elsewhere, reminded me of this old article which gives you an idea of how small (when compared with the total population of any given state) migration from one state to other states even in the worst of times is:
Inter-state labour migration is an important feature of the Indian economy. Most of this movement has been from the most populous and poorest states with net in-migration being higher for the more developed states. Gujarat and Bihar provide an interesting contrast in terms of migration. The population entering Bihar was 364,337 and that exiting the state was more than three times higher at 1,226,839. (Census 1991) In contrast, the in-coming population for Gujarat was double that of Bihar at 716,190 and the out-going population 305,738, a quarter of the population leaving Bihar.
bihar's total population was 8.66 crores in 1991 and migrants from that state were less than 2% of the total population of the state. and bihar, let me remind you, has a long history of out-migration.

most indians prefer to stay or migrate within their own states. it seems to me, what they need are tools to help them connect, or link, with people in their own states first. and india later. should policy, in areas like education for instance, be directed towards helping the most privileged sections (of educated migrants) of that 2%, at best, of india's total population? and i'm not even going to talk about the seasonal nature of a large proportion of all inter-state migration.


SS said...


I'm a trifle disappointed to see you say that my post offers a "solution to link the Indian nation." No it doesn't. My solution (If it can be called that! Presumptuous, really!) is premised on the argument that any notion of linking India, of achieving national unity, through one language (Hindi) is unnatural and discriminatory. My post is about giving linguistic diversity its due, not about another solution to link the nation.

I agree with you that people naturally link to each other in ways they see fit, irrespective of what the official language is. But my post is about official administrative concerns and the linguistic biases they seem to promote. The division of India into linguistic entities was primarily an administrative requirement. The imposition of Hindi, on the other hand, was based on the ideological notion of national unification. I believe this hinders administrative functioning and that is why I proposed decentralization — bringing more regional languages onto the national arena.

I agree with the author of that piece I'd linked to on Twitter, that we have actually have "several hierarchies in which different languages compete for power with, displace, and are displaced by each other in differing regions." But this is precisely why a single national language makes little sense.

I also have problems with your "ap doesn't need India" proposition. Not for any silly, nationalistic reasons. To me, the complete regional autonomy stance is just as impractical as the idea of India as a nation. Why? Because all states do not enjoy the same level of political maturity and autonomy, so that a confederation will perhaps not result in justice. Also, as long as there are reasons why some "India" is required (and you yourself mentioned those — water, defense, foreign relations) regional autonomy makes little sense.

Thanks for the discussion. And thanks for taking my idea seriously enough to discuss it, even if you disagree with it. :-)

kuffir said...


let me start by saying i've not yet discussed your ideas, i've only referred to them. i'll limit myself to responding to one or two point in your comments now (and maybe discuss other (points here and elsewhere later):

'The division of India into linguistic entities was primarily an administrative requirement. The imposition of Hindi, on the other hand, was based on the ideological notion of national unification.'

you think there were no political reasons why the linguistic states came about? forget the visaalandhra movement, how do you think the telangana peasants' struggle started? and there is no linguistic content to the current telangana movement? or to son-of-soil movements in karnataka and maharashtra?

adopting official languages isn't a decision without political content- the continued use of english in linguistically formed states (much more than the use of the local language)points to certain clear political, economic interests overriding mass interests. in english, there's a lot that an administrator can ignore. through english, there is very little that the great majority of people can convey to the administrator.

'Because all states do not enjoy the same level of political maturity and autonomy, so that a confederation will perhaps not result in justice.'
that sounds like chuchill.

SS said...


Discuss versus refer: I was referring to the 'unfinished discussion' you referred to in your post. :-) And, no you weren't just referring; the entire first paragraph is a comment, which I think I've responded to.

Churchill. Hmmm, point taken. That's not what I meant of course. I just don't think that in a confederation AP and Nagaland and Bihar will have parity and therefore equal power. Therefore for AP to be flexing its muscles and saying "I dont need you" is ... well, you fill in the adjective.

Sure, drawing up boundaries - whether national or state - is a political act. But the political act of divison of states had linguistic criteria as its basis and the political decision of imposing Hindi as national language has ideology (national unity) as its basis. There's a problem with that. You can't carve up a nation into states on the basis of languages and then say, "Right, now all you different-language- speaking states will use Hindi as official language." That's the limited point I was trying to make.

Anonymous said...

Evgeny Morozov: How the Internet strengthens dictatorships
This applies to Congress pseudo-secularist pseudo-democracy also.

More about the speaker:

Abdusalaam al-Hindi said...

This comment is not related to your post. This is my first time on this blog and I was simply wondering why you choose to call your blog, "Kufr"? Your profile says nothing on it.

kuffir said...


thanks for your comment.

abdusalaam al-hindi,

it's the word 'kufr' that i find interesting, not its religious connotations. i find it useful to describe my views on accepted majoritarian or nationalistic or casteist wisdom on all things indian, to put it plainly.

thanks for visiting.

Kiran said...

Good post Kufr. It underlines the social stability and coherence of linguistic states. Infact i would say that the linguistic reorganization of states is as good as second freedom to the country (and not and perhaps never will be a nation) called India.

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