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The Language of Inequality: Compulsory Test Hindi (CTH) Examination

Given that DU’s CTH is essential for the bachelor’s degree, we need to navigate as to whether its presence is necessary and question whether its continuance has prevalence.


Introduction

Language has been central to many debates and discussions throughout the years. In India, given the lingual diversity, one could only make a safe hypothesis of treating languages equally, since favoring anyone would yield to structural alienation of other languages. But in reality, there has been a sad demise of this logical ideal of the incongruent presence of Hindi as a preferred language and even being called as sole the national language of India. 


India has 22 constitutionally recognized national languages so pedestalizing Hindi over other languages is more of a politically imposed ideology rather than being a factual presence, as Hindi is region specific. At the University of Delhi (DU), Hindi supremacy has been manifested in the Compulsory Hindi Test. 

What is CTH Examination?


This test is for students who have not studied Hindi till class VII. This test was not always mandatory. If we were to trace the trajectory, in 2013, a proposal for a similar test came forward which received much criticism. However, on 23 August 2016, a notice was circulated by the DU stating that the Hindi test has become compulsory and if the students fail to pass the test, they would not be given the degree. 

Notification released in 2016 by DU. (Credits: The Quint)

This larger imposition posits the question of disguising diversity under a linear coverage of an imagined community where the dominion of one language is taken to be a representation of the dominance of a singular ideology. This idea of wanting to have diversity as an overtly aesthetic presence and singularity as central reality has led to Hindi being a problem for people who do not speak, read or write it. The freedom to choose seems to be curbed under the travesty of this test. 

CTH Examination: What’s Wrong?


DU witnesses the coming of students from different states and even countries of the world. To hegemonize one language would be to negate the presence of differences in identity and moreover the preference and choice for a language.


It not only is a challenge for students who have never studied the language but is in fact an attack on the right of citizens to practice and profess any language they like. It is an informal imposition of Hindi as the national language rather than its constitutionally set status as the official language. Furthermore, to conduct this test in the final year of college, where the students already have a lot on their plates, is really very inconsiderate.

Anonymous

This test is not based on aiding the lingual knowledge of a person but on a teleological acceptance of India being synonymous with Hindi for the medium of conversation. The test is not only coercive in its essentiality but also an unasked burden for those who are supposed to give it. 

It really doesn’t make any sense, to be honest. Especially due to the fact that people from some states are already exempted from it. I’m pretty sure everyone studies at least 2 languages till grade 10th, so why do we need to learn another one just to get our degrees? That too in a central university like DU? I suppose this is them being subtle about their Hindi imposition, if anything.

Anonymous

This decision, when analyzed thoroughly, points out three main entailing factors:

  • The test becomes irrelevant in the line of adding new skills or developing proficiency in the Hindi language since it solely bases its attention on students appearing for the test and not actually learning the language.
  • This test largely becomes an unwarranted imposition since it is not the choice of the student to study the language but an act guided by the compulsion to do so.
  • There are little to no guidelines (especially after the pandemic) from the administration about teaching the Hindi language to non-Hindi students.

The third point opens the channel to larger problems that come with this test. The colleges compulsorily conduct the test but do not teach the language. This in turn runs on the ironic belief that non-Hindi students must know Hindi. The sheer dichotomy and self-contradiction of this become rather unavoidable to ponder over.


The test is completely unnecessary and irrelevant. It is as if the administration wants to force Hindi language on non Hindi students. We are in college to learn our specific subjects and not learn a language which is foreign to us. They should have at least given us a choice to take a different language that we might have  been comfortable with at least . And we wont get our degree without giving this exam. This is wrong!

Aayat from Kamla Nehru College shares their opinion.

Conclusion

In times when the debate over the right to freely choose is expanding, the nature of such discourse must also reach a lingual choice. Our expression should not be an imposition that one does not extend consent. If teaching a language is the essential inertia, then that too, depends on the choice of the student to learn or not to learn any language. We should be cognizant of the diverse identities of people studying at DU and respect their choice without thrusting this compulsion onto them.

Read Also: ‘DU and the Hindi Hegemony

Featured Image Credits: Devesh Arya for DU Beat.

Madiha Matto

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Author

Madiha is a third year philosophy honours student from Miranda House and dwells between poetry and silence, devouring on books and bits of insightful conversations.