Us Third Worlder South Asians are always looking for a hint, an indication, that the rest of the world takes us seriously. It does not matter if it is about Pakistan or India or Bangladesh, the collective pride rises to just under the surface when something is said or done by the West which acknowledges that any one country of South Asia has made it, such as when Bill Clinton visits Bangalore or Swraj Paul is knighted.
And so, South Asians in general must celebrate regardless of caste, creed or national origin when Swiss International Airlines (successor to the late lamented Swissair) provides not only Hindi and Tamil films as part of its inflight entertainment, but the flight information is also provided in chaste sanskritised Hindi. Together with seeing where your plane is on its trajectory from Zurich to Delhi, you can also now know that the baahar ka taapmaan (outside temperature) is – 42 degrees centigrade, while the bhutaal gati (ground speed) is 890 ki mi prati ghanta (yes, kmph), and the gantabya sthan par doori (distance to distance) is 1245 ki mi.
It would do well for the Western world to provide other examples to show that they regard us South Asians as equals rather than just a source of readymade garments and cyber coolies. For example, turning to the United Nations in New York, when are you guys going to start simultaneous translations in Hindu and Urdu? What? You do not think we have the numbers? Then make it Hindustani and you will have a cool 500 million, plus a cool another 200 million who profess they do not understand but do, thanks to the almost imperialist invasive virus known as Bollywood. If you can have Chinese and Arabic, besides English, Spanish and French simultaneous translations from the UN conference booths, surely Hindustani deserves a head nod rather than a noncommittal waffle?
I will tell you what, the moment the Kashmir tangle is resolved, the first thing Islamabad’s chief executive and New Delhi’s pradhan mantri should do is to tie themselves together and sit on dharna outside the UN Secretariat at 43’d and 1′, demanding the inclusion of Hindustani. If rebuffed by Mr Coffee Anon, they should engage in a relay fast, that interesting South Asian invention, where you can even break for coffee. The Secretary General would surely get the message when two formerly warring partners join together for the sake of linguistic representation.
Look at the embarrassment we have to face otherwise. Atalji addressed the General Assembly and insisted on speaking in Hindi, losing the edge to an eloquent Musharrafsaab who had left his Urdu back in Islamabad and delivered his address in his crisp, clipped English. Atalji had his speech simultaneously translated and read out by his personal adviser Mr Kulkarni (a little bird told me), but the punchlines were all messed up.
In the Brand New Bharatiya World, George W Bush would be brushing up on Hindi terms to impress Atalji – try prkschypnnastra (missile), which is the world’s longest string of consonants (p-r-k-s-c-h-y-p-n-n, stupid!), doorbhaash yantra (telephone) and adhik saamarik mahatwa ka rashtra (country of great strategic significance, ie Bharat). In the selfsame BNBW, manufacturers would have become aware of the great and expanding market that is the Hindi Cowbelt and would position their products accordingly. The next branded PC with Pentium XI processor would be called Droot (superfast) and the new Toyota would no longer go under such an awful name meant to tease our lack of intelligence as Qualis (arrey bhai, arrey sahab, arrey bhaisahab, why could you not have called it the Qawalli?). Instead, the new four-door sedan targeted at the upwardly mobile family from, say, Samastipur, would be called… Agni! No, son, that’s already taken, by the Defence Research and Development Organisation for the prkschypnnastra, remember? How about… Prithvi! Sorry baba, also taken by the DRDO. Okay, then, how about Gauri (as in Shiva’s consort) just to thumb our noses at the Ghauri prkschypnnastra across the border? Don’t you understand, son, that the name of a prkschypnnastra should be slightly, how do you say, phallic? Ahhh.
Then let us name the sedan Shaktimaan! Nope, there’s already a military truck by that name that’s been toiling over the Himalayan roads for three decades, besides there is that superman character on television who takes off from buildings. Give us some real macho suggestions that also exude the sanskritic Hinduised culture of which we are all so proud.
Okay, will try. Mahaan (great, alternatively, glorious). Neta (leader). Pradhan (chief). Rashtrapati (president). Rastradhyaksha (el presidente).
Nice try, but none of these quite have the zing, you know, son. How about Yog without the ‘a’, to make it completely indigenous even if the car is only assembled here
Now, that’s a thought.