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Hindi Teaching in South India

Today my daughter who is in 10th under CBSE came to me needing my help on a Hindi poem by Maithilisharan Gupta.

Hindi was abolished in Tamil Nadu in the year 1967. My father who was a Hindi Pandit in a government high school was relegated to teaching general subjects for lower classes. But informed parents and those parents who were in transferable jobs switched their children to CBSE schools and CBSE schools proliferated in the entire state. Even Dravidian party ministers and leaders sent their children to these CBSE schools only while depriving the masses, especially in the rural areas, of Hindi knowledge.  For quite some time, CBSE schools in Tamil Nadu have been the best in the country in terms of results and rankings.

While we have the satisfaction of ensuring some familiarity with Hindi for our children, we do lack quality Hindi teachers in the state and probably in the entire non-Hindi speaking areas. You would find people from almost the entire South India showing lack of Hindi knowledge even though Hindi is taught in schools in the three other states viz. AP, Karnataka and Kerala. Despite my father being a Hindi pandit, I picked up my Hindi only after my posting to Gujarat and getting familiar with ghazals, dialogues in Hindi movies and lyrics of Hindi songs.

Naturally I could not be of much help to my daughter. Most Hindi teachers are those who just managed to pass exams to get a job and who can never really understand Hindi fully leave alone thinking in Hindi. With its closeness to Urdu, Hindi also gained nuances which can never be explained through dictionaries.

I did make an attempt in translating the poem as it was needed urgently by my daughter, which was any way found more comprehensible by my daughter than what she heard in her school. Even this limited success was of course due to my actually living in the north for quite some time now the benefit of which her Tamil speaking Hindi teachers do not have. But I know that I made numerous errors and probably I never got the nuances at all.

But when I read out the poem with its rhyme and emotion, my daughter actually fell in love with the poem and now she actually is keen on reading more Hindi poems. She also recommended my own reading of another of her lessons, a prose by Nida Fazli in the same book which she quite liked.

Incidentally in this article of Nida Fazli, a word “च्योंटा” appears. Her teacher did not know the meaning of it and we could not find the meaning in any dictionary including online dictionaries! The text book did not give the meaning of the word as obviously this is a simple word in day-to-day use of native Hindi speakers. I just asked her to consider the words kaalaa chyonta as a black ant and proceed. This is another disadvantage of not having native Hindi speakers as Hindi teachers. But some of my friends in north India said even in North India the standard of Hindi teaching is not really good and those who pick up the language do so through their own reading.

I have uploaded my own translation of the poem in this blog. Once again, this is a poor attempt in translation as I never really studied Hindi and do forgive me if I have made mistakes, serious or otherwise. Please do provide corrections / improvement through the Comments link in this page.