What the Maithili Movement tells us about language politics in India

What the Maithili Movement tells us about language politics in India

And resistance in the face of ‘Hindi imposition’.

On 9 August, an official at an airport questioned the Indian identity of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader Kanimozhi Karunanidhi because she did not know Hindi. In response, Kanimozhi tweeted "I would like to know from when being Indian is equal to knowing Hindi" with the hashtag #hindiimposition. The incident triggered viral responses on social media. Actors and politicians wore T-shirts with the slogan 'I am Indian, I don't speak Hindi'.

On 2 September, the central government also proposed legislation in parliament under which Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) will have five official languages – Urdu, Hindi, Kashmiri, Dogri and English – even though Urdu has been J&K's sole official language for 131 years. Ethnic minority groups demanded that the proposed bill include Gojri and Pahari, with some claiming that the exclusion of Punjabi from the bill was an "anti- minority move."

To discuss language politics in India, Himal Southasian speaks to Mithilesh Kumar Jha, author of Language Politics and Public Sphere in North India: Making of the Maithili Movement. By looking at the trajectory of the Maithili language movement and its struggle for recognition as an independent language, Jha offers important insights into how communities navigate their linguistic identities and resist 'Hindi imposition.'


This is an unedited transcription from the podcast. Please listen to the corresponding audio before quoting from it. 

Amita Arudpragasam: Hello everyone and welcome to a new Himal Southasian interview. My name is Amita Arudpragasam. On the 9th of August, an official at an airport questioned the Indian identity of DMK leader Kanimozhi Karunanidhi because she did not know Hindi. In response, Kanimozhi tweeted "I would like to know from when being Indian is equal to knowing Hindi." The incident triggered viral responses on social media and this is not unusual: India often sees tension along linguistic and ethnic lines.

At the beginning of this month, the Indian central government proposed legislation in parliament under which Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) will have five official languages – even though Urdu has been J&K's sole official language for 131 years. This move comes as many within Jammu and Kashmir are fearful of continued subjugation of the local population by the Indian central government. Today, to discuss language politics in India, we are speaking to Mithilesh Kumar Jha. Mithilesh is the author of 'Language Politics and Public Sphere in North India: Making of the Maithili Movement' and we are very happy to have him speak with us today.

Mithilesh Kumar Jha: Thank you. Thank you Amita for having me here.

AA: Mithilesh can you tell us to begin with how you came to be interested in studying Maithili, the Maithili movement and more broadly language politics in India?

MKJ: I speak Maithili. So Maithili is my mother tongue and when I grew up I was familiar with the tension that was there between Hindi and Maithili. When I completed my post-graduation from Delhi University, there also I saw a kind of tension – in terms of pedagogy, teaching, and often visible discomfort between Hindi-medium students and English-medium students in the University. And that somehow provoked me to think about the linguistic economy, linguistic tensions. That was not just there among the communities, among the speakers, but also penetrate different institutions of state. So in my MA, I seriously began to think about exploring the language question in India, historically and also in the contemporary politics. And there were a number of debates and discussion already on Hindi or Urdu or Hindi and English — but what was happening within the different so-called varieties or dialects of Hindi, was something I thought will allow me to understand the broader contours of politics, linguistic hierarchy and so on.

AA: For context can you tell us how many people speak Maithili and where they're located?

MKJ: Yes. So about the number of speakers there is, I mean, different opinions. Linguistically it is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by – according to census of India -13.5 million speakers. That is the official figure. Of course it is contested by the speakers themselves, when Grierson was writing and on that basis, many organizations and communities working on, for the recognition of Maithili – they claimed to have about six crores speakers. That's the huge difference between the official figure and the claim by the organization or the association working for the protection or the recognition of a particular language. It is spoken geographically in North Bihar, in the Indian part of the subcontinent, and also many other parts where there is sizable population in different cities, different states in India such as in Jharkhand, very recently it is now recognized as the second official language in the state. And also in Nepal, particularly the Tarai region, and there are millions of speakers. And with Maithili movement there is this tension to consolidate within India and question the imposition of Hindi, and also transcend it to bring the speakers, linguistic groups and associations from the Tarai region in Nepal.

[The] Movement has [had] a very, you know, assertive phase outside the Mithila region or Maithili speaking region. So in Delhi or in Kolkata immediately after independence, or in Jaipur or Benares there was the first beginning of assertion about Maithili being [a] distinct language and demanding their rights and recognition from the government from the institution of the state and so on.

AA: You've talked about how Maithili has emerged as a movement and how it's, you know, resisted the expansion of Hindi. Could you draw up on that research and also other regional language movements and tell us how they do that and what form the struggle or resistance has taken?

MKJ: Particularly if we talked about Hindi heartland, or what we call North India, the linguistic economy of North India has been fraught with the tension between Hindi and Urdu, and also because this tension is associated with a particular religion and also a certain idea of nationality or nationalism. And that has become a very dominant, authoritative, symbolic construct during the nationalist movement and to a great extent in the post-independent phase as well, when the state and its official bodies began to expand, Hindi in as many areas as possible, also beyond the Hindi heartland, beyond North India as well. And there is the resistance to such expansionist ideas or policies of Hindi imposition by the state and its institutions.

In North India what was happening during the same time, the consciousness on the basis of language, is rooted with a sense of identity or a sense of community identity. Now those tensions were there even when Hindi was questioning, say Urdu, and immediately after independence, the imposition of English. So there is this genuine grievances against the imposition of English, Ram Manohar Lohia and many thinkers, activists and parties question the imposition of English on the Hindi-speaking people.

The modes of their assertion have been in the modern time, as you know, with the nation-state and the ideological significance of language in constructing the idea of nation, the print has played a very significant role. So for these linguistic communities, the publication of magazine, journals, novels, stories and so on become a mode of resistance, because most of these linguistic communities had a very rich oral tradition, which is there even today. And that modes continue and began to take other forms also; such as demonstration, protest, petitioning or you know sending the memorandums and all; and Maithili has followed it and adopted different modes as it evolved from the colonial times to contemporary times. So it has been a very long struggle – about 150 years. And the linguistic movement has seen different phases. In the recent phase it has become, you know, very agitative following you know the other social-political movements and their methods of resistance. But this movement began with the publication of magazines, journals, novels and so on and Bhojpuri, Awadhi and other linguistic groups are also following the similar trajectories as well.

AA: You said that there was a difference between when regional-language speakers adopt Hindi as their language versus when the Hindi movement or Hindi speakers appropriate the language spaces of speakers, speaking regional languages. Can you flesh out the difference there?

MKJ: For these linguistic communities as I said be it, Maithili, Awadhi or Bhojpuri, Magadhi in the region, they did support Hindi's claim to be the national language of India. And as I said, there was a kind of ideological formation connecting language with the issue of religion and nationalism. In that construct, these linguistic groups did support Hindi and its claim to be the national language. However the speakers of these languages, were very conscious of their distinct identity, their own literary tradition. Many of them, was not as vocal or as assertive as few of them have been such as Maithili, Bhojpuri, Awadhi and so on.

But that discomfort was present even during the colonial times – so 1920s, 30s or even earlier than that, there was this formation of consciousness or, you know, community identity on the basis of language. And these linguistic groups also try to consolidate their position vis-a-vis Hindi. However what happens with, you know, partition of India, formation of two separate nation states, there was this official position or a kind of expansionist agenda, where it was seen and this argument is put forward by many scholars also, that it becomes necessary to have Hindi as the national language in as many area as possible.

Now to have Hindi as national language it was seen as necessary to suppress the growth of these minor linguistic identities and not just discourage them but also suspect them and in other way the richness of Hindi of 1950s or during the anti-colonialist struggle was also because of its connection with these groups or linguistic traditions. In the post-independent days it has become kind of cut-off from those richness or plural literary traditions.

AA: You wrote in your book that Maithili faced a sort of literary and cultural renaissance in the 1920s. Do you think that the Maithili press is still as influential as it was back then and in general what is your assessment of the vernacular press today and its role in the politics of language?

MKJ: There is a decisive shift certainly, in this post-information and communication technology, is where they just shift from printing culture. Of course, that culture continues, but the audio-video culture has overtaken the modes of print and literary

productions. But in the early decades of [the] 20th century, particularly for Maithili I can speak of, there was this you know imposition of Hindi and this claim that Maithili is nothing but a dialect or a variety of Hindi. And in most of its struggle it was thought or it was the biggest challenge, perhaps, to overcome this recognition of Maithili as a dialect or a variety of Hindi. So this misconception continues to prevail in the popular imaginary even today in many sectors even when Maithili is recognized in the East side. It was far worse in the early decades of 20th century.

In that historical-political context the print played a very significant role and through print then, Maithili writers and intellectuals began to establish the rich tradition of Maithili and its continuous production since fourteenth and fifteenth century Jyotirishwar Thakur, Vidyapati and so on. So Chanda Jha and Harshanath Jha and many others in the 18th, 19th, and 20th century their literary works began to establish the richness of Maithili literary tradition. And that helped Maithili linguistic groups and organizations to establish their identity as separate from Hindi, first in the university in Kolkata University or in Patna University than in Sahitya Akademi and then finally in the constitution of India. So the print or the vernacular print did play a very significant role.

However in the last two decades, as you have asked me, it seems that the audio-video culture began to play a greater role in assertion or it becomes a mode of expression or articulation of your distinct, rich, literary, oral tradition. So for Maithili to print, it established the written literary tradition. In comparison to that, many other linguistic groups such as Bhojpuri or Awadhi did have a rich literary tradition – but that was not written. Print was not available as easily as it was available to Hindi writers and intellectuals. So these linguistic groups did face many obstacles in terms of print or expressing their identity through print. But with this audio-video culture, that disadvantage has gone. So in that sense, it has become a kind of enabling thing for these groups and this is visible if you look at the contemporary linguistic movement or language politics in North India where on Facebook or Twitter people use their own language much more easily than it was the case before.

AA: Something I noted in your book was that you write that many people seem to be indifferent to the reality of Hindi imposition and I was wondering why do you think that is and, you know, how did the Maithili movement actually operate in order to spread awareness among the public?

MKJ: Maithili movement in North India has the history of 150 years and this history of 150 years is consistent with the persistent indifferent attitude of the masses. So masses have not become a pillar of support for the movement, for the organization, or the leadership of the Maithili movement. One theoretical insight I draw from Ashis Nandy's The Intimate Enemy. So now in India language is spoken and there you can think of a language as a tool to express yourself to understand your surroundings and that is how you speak in the language. But in the 19th century and 20th century and this is part of the global trajectories, language becomes not just a mode of expression but also a source of identity. So national identity or nationality question was deeply embedded in the linguistic identity. Now this formation of national identity or community identity on the basis of language was not necessarily the concern for the people or for the speakers as they do their day-to-day business.

For them, they do not see the threat or you know perceive the threat to their language, their identity as the elite or the leaders do, the threat to the economic or the Indian culture and history from the colonial rule was first perceived by the elite, which you call modernizing elite and then they began to mobilize the masses and it is only by Gandhi that that phase of mass mobilization was reached during the national movement. So was the case with these linguistic movement and mobilization also.

So when through print or through the process of standardization, Hindi began to expand its geographical reach or geographical base to appropriate the other linguistic spaces it was the elite among these linguistic groups such as Maithili, Bhojpuri, Awadhi which first realized the threat to their language, their identity, their literary tradition, oral or written. The people, or the common speaker, continued to use the same language without realizing the threat. So I tried to explain it through this maxim of Ashis Nandy, 'there is the enemy but the realization of that enemy is the business of not everyone in the society', you know. So Indian elite wanted to modernize India but they wanted to do it themselves not through the Britishers or, you know, the colonial state. Similarly with these linguistic communities there was the similar phenomena where the leadership thought, you know, they are the custodian of their literary tradition, literary identity, and in that process they also try to broaden that consciousness among the masses and most of them feel, to make it a mass mobilization and thereby also differentiate it with the other linguistic movement such as Tamil, Marathi and other linguistic communities in India.

If you compare to North India the political and historical context was such that even to articulate your linguistic identity as distinct from Hindi was suspected and discouraged by the official of the state both colonial and the post-colonial state and then to develop the mass mobilization on the basis of that was the herculean effort and the idea was used to circulate from say nationalist-elite to the bilingual and trilingual elite and these trilingual elite understood the difference, but faced enormous challenge to mobilize the masses and that is how this indifferent attitude to these struggles among the masses can be explained.

AA: So in your book, you also write that historically the Maithili movement was led by literary elites, the middle class and upper caste Brahmins and Kayasthas. Has the movement spread beyond these circles to reach Dalit and Muslim communities in the region? You know, how did other communities respond to the movement?

MKJ: In Maithili movement, if you see its early phase, it was the Sanskrit pundits or you know scholars who began to first write literary texts, stories, novels in Maithili and also Karn Kayastha. So they were among different communities and groups in Maithili speaking region these two group Maithil Brahmins or the Sanskrit scholars and the Karn Kayastha were very vocal about Maithili being distinct from Hindi. So if you look at the leadership and organization for a very long time they were dominated by these two communities and that lead to the conception or misconception about Maithili being the language of Brahmins and Karn Kayastha alone. There is also the caste-factor which is involved here, so some of the organizations in the Maithili linguistic communities were also caste organization which excluded other communities and were also very vocal about Maithili identity, Maithili literary tradition.

So when they began to demand for the recognition of Maithili in the University, such demand was also challenged because it is the language seen as spoken only by the Brahmins and the Karna Kayastha. And this misconception was the second biggest challenge in the Maithili movement to overcome. If you look at the leadership organization of the Maithili movement, it is largely dominated by the Brahmins and the Karna Kayastha, and increasingly this is being challenged by Dalits, Muslims and other caste groups in Maithili-speaking regions.

And this is also the point when I try to understand hierarchy in this movement and this is true in Hindi movement as well. So when they question the dominance of external linguistic communities, say in the case of Hindi, English or in the case of Maithili, Hindi – do they question the hierarchy that exists within? So how Hindi negotiates with other languages in the Hindi heartland. Similarly how Maithili negotiates with other varieties of Maithili, so Angika, Bajjika which is now recognized as the separate language and it is being questioned by the Maithili speakers themselves. Do they also look at their movement on mobilization critically, to understand the hierarchy that exists, to question the exclusionary practices which exclude certain communities to join the leadership, to join the organization.

And as I said that there have been different phases of this movement. In the contemporary phase this caste domination, in the leadership, in the organization is being increasingly challenged. And the next phase of movement which is after the demonstration, and after the recognition in the eighth schedule of the Indian constitution in 2003, there is a proliferation of this consciousness among different groups, and also a kind of countering the misconception about Maithili being just the language of Brahmins and Karn Kayasthas. So all the communities, all the groups actually speak the language.

But when you look at it from the prism of movement, organization, leadership there are the domination of few communities, few groups which is being increasingly challenged in the contemporary phase, where in terms of Maithili writers, in contemporary times you find many writers from so-called excluded groups as well and joining the consciousness or struggle for recognition of Maithili and its expansion both politically and also literally.

AA: In your book you also write that Maithili as a political and literary movement and I know you've mentioned this just now as well that it was not able to have the same

impact as Tamil, Telugu and Marathi linguistic movements in South India in terms of mass support agitations and rioting. Can you tell us how these movements differed and why South India saw stronger movements?

MKJ: This is the another paradox in these literary movements, and I have tried to

argue that through the question of loyalty, or how you perceive yourself, or develop your subjective identity. So in the case of North India for the speakers of these languages such as Maithili, Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Hindi was not something which they

questioned or, you know, opposed. They supported Hindi as the national language. At the same time, they were aware of their own distinct literary tradition. So there is a kind of divided loyalty. They want to protect their literary tradition, linguistic identity, at the same time they support Hindi. And you know historically, politically the struggle in the Hindi heartland was between Hindi and Urdu, Hindi and English and in that vigorous struggle these linguistic communities did support Hindi.

The discomfort was visible from the very beginning among these trilingual or bilingual elites about Hindi and its so-called 'regional varieties'. They began to assert it more vocally, become more agitative when their space began to be appropriated by the Hindi and their identity was began to be appropriated within the larger framework of Hindi. So these linguistic communities in North India did face that historical political challenge. In comparison to that, say in Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, you see a kind of association with a particular linguistic form among the speakers. So Telugu speakers do not have that divided loyalty as Maithili, Bhojpuri and Awadhi speakers have. And that leads to a kind of more prominence in their assertion or in their agitation against the imposition of Hindi which you see even in the contemporary politics as well when the state tries to impose Hindi, and Hindi and any other Indian languages one of the difficulties or challenge is to look at it as a source of conflict, reduce it merely to the question of identity. But it can also be a source of bridging the gaps or divides. Somehow our policies or, you know, framework have been such which fan that divide or conflict, that tension.

For the North Indian linguistic committee the major challenge is this divided loyalty where you support Hindi, at the same time you are being conscious of your own linguistic identity and then begin to formulate political demands or the question of recognition within that historical-political context make the trajectories of this movement very different from the other movements such as Telugu, Tamil and Marathi.

AA: At the beginning of this interview, you mentioned that Maithili is spoken by Nepalis as well so it's actually spoken by 11 percent of Nepalis making it the second-most spoken language in Nepal, second only to Nepali. How does a, how did or how does the Maithili movement incorporate transnational linguistic communities and, you know, how did this transnational nature feature in the movement, if at all?

MKJ: I can understand it historically. So there was, as you-know, a treaty of Sugauli in 1816 between the colonial state or the colonial rulers in India and the King of Nepal. And with that treaty some part of the Maithili-speaking region was given to Nepal that is now in Tarai region and some part of Uttarakhand was given to the Indian state by the King of Nepal. Since then and there is a kind of relationship or free-flow of movement of goods and people, even the relationships exist between Indian side of the border or the Nepali side of the border. So border is quite porous or quite open in that sense. Since 1816, they had this relationship – personal, political, and literary relationships as well.

After the separation of that region from India, through the treaty of Sugauli, in 1950s there was one literary figure in Maithili movement, Lakshman Jha. He began to question the treaty of Sugauli and wanted to integrate that divided Mithila or the Maithili-speaking region. Of course it did not materialize, and many thought it, you know, too complex to be solved by the linguistic communities within India – we could then include the transnational question. But in the agitation, in the movement, there is the collaboration between the two parts of the Maithili speaking region within India and within Nepal. And there is lots of literary exchanges, collaborations, support for strengthening the movement or within Nepal or in India, to fight for the recognition of Maithili. So there are collaborations, there are literary exchanges but that is within the separate nationality question. So there is no question of really, you know, combining these two areas as Lakshman Jha put forward when he was talking about Mithila as a union republic. Not just a state within the Indian union but as a separate sovereign republic. But that kind of demand or articulation did not have the popular support. And, yet, there is the strong ties between the speakers of Maithili in Nepal or in India and they collaborate in different ways on different platforms to strengthen the literary culture, and tradition.

AA: And I just want to go back to something you said you said – there isn't or wasn't strong popular appeal for that kind of movement. Why not?

MKJ: Consciousness about a language and formation of identity on the basis of that consciousness should be understood historically and politically as well. So, in the Maithili movement, and many of the linguistic movement in North India the question is more about recognition. And this recognition is about these languages being distinct from Hindi. Their space should not be appropriated by Hindi. So they do support Hindi but they also become more vocal and assertive about their own literary culture, literary space, and so on. Within that, in Maithili community, there is the demand for separate statehood also. So during the linguistic reorganization of state immediately after the independence in 1950s, there was the assertion for the creation of separate statehood of Mithila. And in that context, Lakshman Jha articulated about Mithila being not just a separate state within the union of India but a separate union, a sovereign republic. As I said, that this movement was carried or you know, led by few literary elite, few middle-class. They did not have the popular support because, among the masses, among the new emerging middle-class English or Hindi was the language of opportunity. They wanted to pursue their career in those languages and they saw Maithili [as] some kind of anachronistic or, you know, some kind of pre-modern identity formation in comparison to Hindi or English.

Now in that historical political context [to] think about and argue for Mithila as a sovereign republic was seen as a too far-fetched idea or maybe you know something which popular consciousness or majority of population could not associate with. So as I said about the indifferent attitude even for the linguistic demand was, as you know, there. It was led only by the linguistic elite or the Sanskrit pundits or Karn Kayasthas. They did not have the strong mass support even for the recognition of Maithili as the different language than Hindi. Now in that context, if you think of getting the support of masses for a separate union, not just for the state, even for the Mithila movement, or for the separate state, do not have broad, mass support and Maithili movement is divided into, you know, those who fight for the linguistic recognition and those who fight for Mithila as a separate state movement. And these are two branches within the Maithili movement and they do not often come together. They do support each other, but that is tacit. There is a kind of you know Maithili movement for the literary recognition, for the literary pursuit and there is a Mithila state movement. They collaborate but they also have distinct identity within. To summarize this point, that, in such a context when to get the popular support even for the linguistic identity and recognition of separate linguistic identity demand was not having the popular support, you cannot really think of getting the popular support for the construction of such identity like Mithila as a separate union. But nonetheless those imaginary, those consciousness, were present in the movement.

AA: Would you say that the Maithili movement was successful and, you know, could you flesh that out?

MKJ: If you look at, considering the, historical context of language movement in North India, Maithili movement is a successful movement because it has been able to consistently challenge the appropriation of its identity and space by the Hindi speakers. So its recognition in the universities or in the Sahitya Akademi and finally

by the constitution of India is the outcome of a hundred years of struggle. So they are successful in terms of meeting those demands. But they are not as successful as other linguistic movement in terms of garnering the mass support or, you know, the popular support within the region for this movement. And one of the reason for that in my mind is that, even after its recognition, Maithili is not a medium of instruction in the Maithili-speaking region and from the very beginning of this moment such demands were made. It was even accepted and approved by the state but in its practice it was not really materialized. So that expansion within its own speech-area has not really materialized and helped in developing the consciousness of Maithiliness or Maithili identity among the masses, among the common people and about its various claims and demands both political and literary. That's the internal challenges or limits of the movement.

AA: There have been fears that India's National Education Policy 2020 would become an imposition of Hindi onto non-Hindi speaking states and an attempt at erasing some of the minority languages. I've seen some of the protests against this policy being expressed in South India. I've seen also that the policy has restarted debates on, you know, the mother tongue and regional language instruction at the primary school level. Could you talk a little bit about what those consequences might be of having education policies on language-diversity in India?

MKJ: This concern, or this tension, is not new in the language politics in India. It was there during the colonial times, during the post-independent times, and every major policies of the government or the state, with regard to language, face such tensions, such challenges. It is destabilizing, in many sense, and there was the fear and threat from these movements or reducing the movement to the question of identity. And those fears are genuine, those threats are genuine in many ways also. So when there was the question of linguistic reorganization of states in the 1950s and 60s and the history of state-formations in India. State in the sense of provinces or many federal units of Indian Republic. With each such formation these debates, these tensions come to the fore. In the very recent Telangana or Andhra Pradesh divide or, you know, in 2001, the creation of three separate states, those tensions, those conflicts were visible.

With the NEP there are similar apprehensions, whether it will allow the other linguistic groups and communities to flourish or not. In the policy document there is no mention of imposition. There is the recognition of mother-tongue being the medium of instruction. Now, whether it is translated in the letter and spirit, or in the ways of implementing there would be imposition of one over the other, that would lead to clash, that will lead to tension. But in the linguistically-diverse country like India, language can also be a source of emotional, psychological integration. But I think language debate needs to go beyond the question of identity to make or use linguistic resources as a bridge to integrate the population psychologically and emotionally, rather than divide.

AA: I also wanted to ask about how the Maithili movement has been constrained if at all under the BJP's brand of more nationalist politics and the Hindutva movement. What are the contemporary social and political challenges that Maithili speakers are facing today?

MKJ: Yeah, so, there is a fascinating relationship of Maithili movement with BJP or Hindutva, partly because it was recognized in the eighth schedule of the constitution, under the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) or during the Prime Ministership of Vajpayee. Under his government, Maithili was recognized in 2003 in the 8th schedule of the Indian constitution. However, Maithili and many other linguistic groups also have a discomfort with the ideas of one language-one nation, and such narratives of nation and imaginary of nation. Because India is a secular or plural country, and the nationalism in India is very different from the Hindutva conceptualization of nation.

So that's the assertion, a historical emergence of national ideas or nationalism in India is on the basis of the plurality, recognition of diversity. And it should not be, you know, re-fashioned in a homogenizing way. Modernity, and the process of modernization, is also about homogenization of difference, diversity and heterogeneity. And there is the genuine apprehension about such politics, such process, among many linguistic communities including Maithili. Nonetheless they share a very peculiar relationship with the BJP and NDA specially as I have just said that in the recognition of Maithili in the eighth schedule of Indian constitution BJP and NDA did play a significant role and yet in the imaginary or the possibilities of expressing or asserting their distinct identity, whether that would be possible or not is a question of debate and discussion.

AA: Who are your favourite authors or, you know, if you wanted to learn more about Maithili? Who are your favourite writers in the language?

MKJ: One of the most favourite is Hari Mohan Jha. His texts Khattar Kakak Tarang and Pranamya Devta are a fascinating take on Maithili culture, its history and tradition.

[Author's addition: Chanda Jha, Kanchinath Jha 'Kiran', Baidyanath Mishra 'Yatri', Surendra Jha 'Suman', Kashikant Mishra 'Madhup', Braj Kishor Verma 'Manipadma', Bhuwaneshwar Singh 'Bhuwan', Lili Ray, Bhimnath Jha, Mayanand Mishra are my other favourite writers and poets in Maithili.]

AA: Okay thank you so much Mithilesh. Thank you for joining us.

MKJ: Thank you. Thanks for having me.


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