Modi recalls how he learnt Hindi by selling tea, opens 10th world Hindi summit

BHOPAL: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that he learnt Hindi while selling tea at the railway station.

Recalling his roots as a “chaiwala” (tea seller) in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he used to talk to cattle owners from Uttar Pradesh in Hindi for selling tea. “I learnt Hindi when I used to sell tea at the railway station. There I had to speak to people to run my business,” he said while addressing participants at the 10th World Hindi Conference here on Thursday.

The Prime Minister also wondered what would have happened to him had he not known Hindi and continued speaking and interacting in his mother tongue Gujarati. He said, “Hindi is not my mother tongue, my mother tongue is Gujarati, but I often wonder what would have happened to me if I hadn’t known Hindi. How would have I reached out to the people? How would have I understood them? I am well aware of the strength of language,” he added.

Modi said in Gujarat people speak Hindi to express their influence. “During fight or altercation, Gujaratis speak Hindi to supress the opponent and to influence others,” said Modi. He said Hindi movement was run by those who were not Hindi speaking. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Lokmanya Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, Kaka Saheb Kaletkar and Rajgopalacharya knew the importance of language, he said.

The Prime Minister said that focus should not be only on promoting Hindi but other regional languages as well. He stressed the need to strengthen Hindi language by including notable words from regional languages and said that only three languages Hindi, English and Chinese will be influential in the digital world in coming days. “Every state has a treasure of language and if we blend some remarkable words in Hindi as an instrument to connect them, our language will be strengthened,” said Prime Minister while addressing 10th World Hindi Conference here.

The Prime Minister also called for steps to be taken to preserve endangered languages and pointed at concerns among language scholars that 90 per cent of the 6,000 languages world-over would faced the risk of becoming relics from the past. “If we forget Hindi, it will be a loss to the country,” he warned.

He said so many things have become extinct in the world, like dinosaurs and if we don’t take note of the warning of the language scholars, these languages will be relegated to history, he said adding if there is no language, how can literature survive. Modi also pointed to how leaders such as the US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin were uttering ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ in Hindi. “Even Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had conveyed his greetings in Hindi for a festival when I sent him greetings in Hibrew,” recalled Modi.

Modi also spoke about how he has witnessed the growing prominence of Hindi in the countries he has visited and acknowledged the role of Hindi movies in promoting the language overseas. “It is the responsibility of every generation to protect, if possible conserve, their heritage and introduce it to next generations,” he added. Modi also recalled contribution of noted writers and poets like Phanishwar Nath Renu, who painted a live picture of poverty in Bihar through his poems and folklores, Munshi Prem Chand, Jaishankar Prasad, Maithilisharan Gupt, for their dedication towards Hindi.

He said that the Hindi summit is like Mahakumbh of Hindi, a preparation before Simhastha, the Mahakumbh to be held in Ujjain next year.

Addressing the summit, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said that 10th Hindi conference is different from previously held summits involving literature and litterateurs. She said, “This is a simple conference focussed on Hindi language and to promote Hindi in the country and around the world.”

She said there are 12 subjects of discussion and recommendations made here would be implemented in the coming days. “Earlier the participants were unaware of the topics and findings of the suggestions. Now a detailed report will be published immediate after the discussion so that recommendations be implemented soon,” she assured.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a postal stamp to mark the 10th World Hindi Day, during the conference.