Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hindi to Hinglish

During my recent trip to India, I realized a new development. While Indians commonly sprinkle English words while speaking in Hindi, the Hindi news channels of the past almost always used pure Hindi. That seems to be changing now, with even Hindi news reporters starting to use English words without any restraint. It is this fusion language Hindi+English that is called Hinglish.

I have spent much of my adult life in Singapore and have dealt with people of Chinese origin on a daily basis. What intrigues me is the fact that the Chinese never mix English with Mandarin. Not even those who are more comfortable speaking in English than in Mandarin. They have a Mandarin word for every imaginable English word in the dictionary. Even for the latest inventions like computer, mobile phone etc. If you ask any Hindi speaking person for the Hindi translation of these words, he will be at a loss. This sense of one language, in my opinion, binds the Chinese together as a nation.

As a striking contrast to Mandarin, Hindi is evolving faster than any other language on the planet. Soon, we will have a new version of Hindi, and English would have become an inseparable part of it. In a few more decades, pure Hindi might become akin to what Sanskrit is today with only a few scholars being able to understand it.

Being able to transform according to the demands of the changing times is not necessarily a bad thing. I am not opposed to this change and I see it as inevitability. Hindi has metamorphosed ever since its inception and has borrowed words from languages like Sanskrit, Persian, Turkish, Farsi, Arabic and Portugese. So this change is not new for Hindi. This acceptance that we have shown towards various languages demonstrates our ability to adapt to new situations without any rigidity. This in my opinion is an indispensable skill to have in this world.

I only hope that when we officially do accept the arrival of Hinglish, the essence of Hindi (and other things Indian) would not be completely missing from it.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Baba Ramdev

I just got back from a nice short vacation in India. The trip was really refreshing. This time when I went back, I was really intrigued my the number of news channels and the amount of news that they produce. So impressed was I, that I decided to write about my favourite news piece.

During my stay, the controversy involoving Vrinda Karat and Baba Ramdev was in full-swing. This was the most interesting and also my favorite news piece. Vrinda Karat accused Baba Ramdev of using human skull in his ayurvedic medicines. Baba Ramdev is pioneering the cause of taking Ayurveda and Yoga to every Indian household. He has also undertaken several research projects to investigate whether certain diseases can be cured solely by using Yoga and Ayurveda. He has a huge fan following and hence this accusation became a national news in no time and was shown on each of the 13 or so news channels. More interesting were the discussions by the "experts", polls, analysis of consequences if the accusation was true so on and so forth. The lab tests by a pharmaceutical laboratory put an end to this saga by declaring that the accusation was false. After this incidence Vrinda Karat, who is a politician belonging to communist party, took all the beating. A poll conducted by one of these news channels showed that 98% of the people supported Baba Ramdev .

This was my first introduction to Baba Ramdev. And I have to admit I am impressed by the passion and drive with which he has set out to achieve his goals. Baba preaches simple and easy to follow methods of staying fit. For example, he advises people (especially kids) to stay away from aerated drinks and fast food, which are the latest fad in India. He advices them to eat fruits and vegetables instead. His phrase "Coca Cola means Toilet Cleaner" was not liked very much by Pepsi or Coca Cola. He basically, teaches healthy living. He claims that if everyone in the world lived life his way, 98% of the diseases will be viped out. It is indeed a noble cause that he has set out for.

Due to his people skills, he is also a crowd puller. He holds camps at 4.00 am in the morning, the entry fees to which is Rs 500. Yet, thousands of people attend his camps everyday. I don't think even a tenth of these people will turn up to listen to the most successful of politicians or businessmen. Furthermore, he uses the money he earns for a number of charitable causes. I guess these are the reasons why he is liked so much by millions of people all across India.

Good luck to Baba Ramdev for his pursuits.