This blog as might be apparent from the title has to do with running, biking and basically other outdoor individualistic sports, sometimes extreme, such as rock climbing . But don't be surprised if you find articles on work, personal life, music and even philosophy, this blog is an exception in this aspect in the blogosphere of running blogs and I am trying to revamp the blog to make it more runner friendly. You might want to look at the sidebar titled 'categorised', which as is obvious, categorizes my posts into different areas of interest.
The other thing that might interest many people is a section on 'running videos' and 'general videos' on the side bar, which I keep updating now and then.
I plan to bring in more posts on running and biking, with some added colour, so as to make them 'complete'. That's about it for now.
As a post-note, I have run a half-marathon, but I am yet to attempt a marathon, which through some concerted effort and time should happen in the future, but that ofcourse is not the culmination of this blog, it would on the contrary be something to jumpstart this blog onto new vistas.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Northie-southie divide and language issues in India - Part I

I am a tamilian but I hail from Hyderabad. I grew up speaking hyderabadi hindi and telugu. For instance, a conversation could run this way:

A: "Gemi ra bhai. zara down ga unnavu" (What's up brother. You look a little down)
B: " Yem ledu ra. oka project nanu PARESHAN chestundi ra bhai." (Nothing man. A project is paining me)
A: " pada ra bhai. Chai tagudam. Gada matladachu" (Let's go dude. To have tea. We can chat over there.)
B: "Sere pada. Arre, ninna nenu oka poti ko deka re. kya poti thi re baap...." (Ok, let's go. Arre, I saw this female yesterday man. She was one of a kind....)

Note: Bhai is not pronounced bhaai (as in Hindi) but more as 'bhi'.

In the next few paragraphs I try to look at some of the issues and prejudices, I am aware of, that exist on both sides of vindhyas.

During the summer hols, I would look forward to visiting chennai, since most of my cousins stay there. Now, Hyderabad is a multi-ethnic society. I have grown-up with muslim neighbours and have had a lot of fun doing that. So to get paranoid at the mention of a muslim was simply unthinkable. I am also very tolerant to people who speak languages not my own. So when I would get teased in Chennai by my cousins in a good-natured way for being a gult(telugu-speaking person) more specifically as gulti, I didn't understand the origins for such a prejudice against telugu speaking people. Gulti is derived by reversing telugu. Te-lu-gu -> gu-lu-te -> gulti/golti. Gulti in tamland is some sort of an inside joke.

I never knew of the existence of a northie-southie(more specifically North India vs Chennai(apparently the representative of South India!)) divide till I landed in IIT. North Indians seem to have a general hatred for many things South Indian including food, culture, etc and south Indians seem to be indifferent to North Indians. This is reflected in how a typical South Indian is shown in Hindi movies, that is when that rare event happens. Similarly, I have heard many Northie guys tell me straight that they hate curd rice or sambar or whatever. Basically, they meant to say that south Indian food sucks. But the irony here is, South Indians don't seem to have the same hatred for Chappatis, Rotis, etc. Infact many south indians I know enjoy north-Indian food.
My take on this is, yes south Indian food in many restaurants aren't prepared as well as they should be, but to generalize this to say that south Indian food as such sucks is a) Stupid b) Shows the inherent prejudice that north Indians have against south Indians.

Pride,History and prejudice
Now there's the other side to this issue too. South Indians in general seem to lay way more stress than the general populace in India on their English. Its a matter of great pride if your English is better than the other as in the US. And Tamilians do exhibit this pride whenever they can, though nowadays, this seems to be the case throughout India.
So I understand that this so called show-off of English doesn't go well with North Indians

Back in the sixties, the government of India was trying to come up with an official language that was Indian so as to phase out English. Since Hindi was popular in the North and due to its similarity to Sanskrit, which again is the origin for many Dravidian languages, the government assumed that South India would be ok with Hindi as an official language.
The reference quoted below, makes a nice distinction between official language and national language. While, Hindi was being drafted as an official language, a simultaneous movement to popularise Hindi as the national language sprung up. The states of South India, particularly Tamil Nadu took exception to Hindi being touted as the national language and that's where the whole language issue began(Note: Nowhere in the Indian Constitution is it said that Hindi is the national language of India and it isn't).
The Indian government tried to incorporate Hindi into the school Cirriculum. The TamiNadu government revolted against this and took to enforcing English in the school cirriculum and sidelining or ignoring Hindi. At the same time, North Indians revolted against this anti-Hindi campaign and hence reinforced Hindi and side-lined English. It's interesting to note that Bengalis shared the same intensity of pro-Bengali/anti-Hindi feeling as Tamilians did for Tamil apparently for the same reasons of cultural and historical significance.

Another common crib from the North-Indians is that when they visit Chennai for example, people refuse to speak to them in a language other than Tamil. Well, let's analyse this crib for a moment.
If for instance, a country consisted of regions where people spoke different languages comprising Tamil (60%), Hindi (30%), kannada(10%), I would definitely not claim that Tamil be the de-facto language in this country. In fact, I would expect that if a person who knew Tamil were to visit a region where Hindi is spoken, she should atleast make an effort to converse in Hindi or maybe a common language such as English.
I state this example because, when having a discussion with a few friends in the Indian community here, my North-Indian roomie stated that he wouldn't learn Tamil if he landed in Chennai, since Hindi was more prevalent in India and hence that should suffice for him to live in Chennai!!

Most of my friends in IIT were north-Indians and I spent a good amount of time fine-tuning my hindi so that I now know both hyderabadi hindi and hindi as spoken in the north. So the attitude of my roomie came as a surprise to me. Such narrow-mindedness doesn't help the already existing northie-southie divide. For one, it makes you more defensive when you speak to a North Indian and vice-versa. In hyderabad, most people including people from the North, know telugu and hindi, because those are the regional languages in Hyderabad.

Contd. in the next post...


Om said...

This blog will give a better picture of historical events in this language issue.

India does NOT have a national language:

Also, TN initially agreed to the 3-language policy but it cancelled this policy and adopted Tamil and English as the ONLY official languages of TN on January 23, 1968 when the central govt made it COMPULSORY for a central govt employee to know hindi (irrespective of which region he works, for example he might work in Karnataka all his life but he still MUST know hindi to get promotion/salary increase - note: knowing hindi is NOT the criteria for getting central jobs but for promotion/salary increase, it is a MUST).

This was opposed by TN leading to complete ban of hindi in TN.

You can find more info in that blog link that I have given :)

Anonymous said...

dravidian languages are not derived from sanskrit!

green_leaf said...

Come on grow up, Quarelling Northie and Southie Cats. When u have so many differences , how will u cope up with goras, italians, french, germans, english. This sambar/dal, tamil/hindi issue makes me puke. I am an Indian. And I stand for unity in diversity. If I meet someone who talks so cheap like northie saying i wont learn Tamil, southie saying i wont learn Hindi, I say get out of my way. I want to learn both because I am not lazy and I am not bothered.

teluguguy said...

nicely written article . but there is one mistake. sanskrit is NOT the root of dravidian languages.

rahul said...

come on..
we should stood together..
i'm a north indian but like hyderabad more then delhi..

I'm telling u guys this diversity is killing our unity..
politicians use this prejudice to make fool of people in their territory and thus people are developing more and more hatred towards each other..

Same is the case of our bengali benerjee (i know u can understand about whom i'm talking about)..i hate this women she will bring west bengal only poverty..

look but in my opinions bengalis are more prejudiced then people of any other territory in india..for example a bngali girls wouldn't even look at a smart and good north indian boy but she will always be chasing a bengali only no matter how he is..
i started loving south india but my hatred towards bengalis has magnified..not because they are benalis but because they are insecular..

rahul said...

one more thing sanskrit is the mother of all languages in india..
and that is for sure..

Kennenisa Bekele with the WR

Robbie Mcewen and steve o'grady - The 'Nudge'