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Linguistic Integration in India: A Persistence of Hegemony

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad



India is a nation of tremendous cultural diversity and a potential pluriverse in itself. The layered issue of linguistic integration is a very relevant one in realizing this potential. This paper explores how the propagation of Hindi as the lingua franca of India creates feelings of resentment among other language groups through a field study conducted in the village of Ranekpar in Gujarat in January 2020, which involved semi-structured conversations and interactions. While Hindi imposition has been met with stiff resistance from non- Hindi speaking communities, English seems to retain its popular status as a language of power and opportunity, despite being occasionally spurned as an oppressive colonial legacy. The paper seeks to highlight the various reasons behind the selective acceptance of English as a link language in India by examining existing literature on the complex language issue, and by comparing the subjective attitudes towards Hindi and English through the localized study. I locate this work within the larger discourse of linguistic hegemony, which has been one of the major focal points of the existing repertoire of post- colonial studies in India.

Hegemonic imposition; plurality; linguistic integration; lingua franca

About the Author(s)

Jayasri Sridhar was born in Chennai in 2001. She belongs to a middle-class Brahmin family. Her formative years were spent travelling across India while living in Air Force cantonments in Delhi, Bangalore and Kanpur, with exposure to people from diverse cultural backgrounds. She excelled in academics and extra-curricular activities throughout her school life and chose the Humanities stream at the higher secondary level to study Psychology, Sociology, History and Painting. She is presently pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. She has been a keen student of Hindustani classical music for eight years and has given several concerts. Her research interests include Indian Classical music, synaesthesia, sociolinguistics and film language. While her mother tongue is Tamil, she has been educated in Englishmedium schools in cosmopolitan cities and has socialized in Hindi for most of her life. Being a part of such overlapping linguistic circles allows her to comprehend many north Indian languages through her knowledge of Hindi and south Indian languages through Tamil. This greatly endears her to the subject of linguistics. She is also an avid reader of history, politics, design research and poetry.

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