No state (or nation) in the world is unilingual. Every state in the world imposes its official language on linguistic minorities to the extent that all government communication is only in the official language of the state. But in India, even languages which have tens of millions of speakers have become minority languages because of Hindi imposition. This is a glaring violation of human rights with no parallel in the world, and therefore our protest.
The states of India have been created such that each has one major language. It was never the intention, and it is impossible, to make every state of India one hundred percent unilingual. I don’t have migration in mind here, but the presence of minor languages such as Tulu in Karnataka and Badaga in Tamil Nadu. These two are only cited here as examples; there are such languages in every state of India, whether they have names or not.
If I had the power to grant statehood to even these minor languages, I would. I don’t have any particular liking for multilingual states. But neither the people of India nor the states of India have ever had the power to make such grants. It is the Govt. of India which has had it from 1947 onwards. So, when it came to deciding how many states to create, it had no option but to grant statehood to linguistic peoples who crossed a certain cutoff population number. That’s why separate states weren’t formed for minority languages such as Tulu and Badaga. But if the speakers of such languages want to form new states, I personally don’t think there can be any democratic way of opposing it.
We must understand that the very concept of a nation or state involves violence. Once we have adopted the concept, the only meaningful thing to do is to minimize that violence. It can never be eliminated. Right now, we are concerned about the rights of linguistic peoples who are tens of millions in number—such as the Kannadigas, the Tamils, the Marathis, the Odiyas, etc. In such discussions, linguistic peoples who are one or two millions in number or less, unfortunately tend to get not much attention. This cannot be otherwise.
As Rabindranath Tagore said, we must move towards that ‘heaven of freedom’ where ‘tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection’. We cannot achieve that heaven or that perfection at one shot, but we must tirelessly strive towards them. Maybe, some time in the very distant future, every individual will be a state. That is the heaven of freedom that I wish the entire world becomes. But before we get there, we must first deal with linguistic peoples who are tens of millions or more in number—the speakers of the major languages, if you will. With this problem solved, our minds and hands will be free and trained to solve the problems of the speakers of the minor languages. These languages will themselves start appearing major then. And then we know what to do.
The only way to deal with every Indian language, major or minor, at the same time and in the same way is to destroy the Indian nation. But I don’t think this is a viable option—not because of any attachment that I have for this nation, but because of the eternal threat from the other nations of the world.