SURAT: Hindi language is not a competitor but a ''friend'' of all the other regional languages in the country and they are mutually dependent on each other for their growth, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said here on Wednesday. He denounced the ''disinformation'' campaign to pit Hindi against native languages and underlined the need to strengthen local languages with Hindi.
Addressing the All India Official Language Conference in Surat city on Hindi Day, Shah said that accepting the co-existence of languages was needed and stressed the need to make Hindi flexible by taking words from other languages to expand its dictionary. Shah observed that unless the Hindi language becomes flexible, it cannot grow. ''I want to make one thing very clear. Some people are spreading disinformation that Hindi and Gujarati, Hindi and Tamil, Hindi and Marathi are competitors. Hindi cannot be a competitor to any other language in the country. You must understand that Hindi is the friend of all the languages of the country,'' Shah said.
He said native languages in the country will prosper only when Hindi prospers, and vice versa.
''Everybody should accept and understand this. So long as we do not accept the co-existence of languages, we cannot realise the dream of running the country in our own language. And I want to say with sincerity that it should be our aim to keep all the languages and mother tongues alive and prosperous. Only with the prosperity of all these languages will Hindi prosper,'' Shah added.
He said Hindi is an inclusive language and called for strengthening native languages along with Hindi. Shah said the British banned literary works in various Indian languages, including 264 poetry works in Hindi, 58 in Urdu, 19 in Tamil, 10 in Telugu, 22 each in Punjabi and Gujarati, 123 in Marathi, nine in Sindhi, 11 in Odiya, 24 in Bangla, and one in Kannada.
''This shows how Rajbhasha and native languages strengthened the freedom struggle which forced the British to ban them,'' he said. ''We will have to frame policies from indigenous thinking emerging from the native languages rather than from thoughts arising out of foreign languages,'' the senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said.
The Union minister said the dictionary of Hindi needs to become ''very large and detailed'' to increase its acceptability in the country and abroad.
''A language does not become inferior by adopting words from other languages, rather its scope widens. We will have to make Hindi flexible. Unless we do so, we can't make Hindi grow,'' he said after inaugurating the first edition of ''Hindi Shabd Sindhu,'' a dictionary.
Shah said native languages and Hindi are the ''lifeblood of our cultural fluency''. ''If we have to understand our history and the heart of literary creations of the last many generations, then we will have to learn 'Rajbhasha' and make our native languages strong,'' he said.
Shah said every language is prosperous in its right. ''It is India's strength that the country enriched itself with different languages. These languages have taken care of the Indian culture, traditions, and literature, and also helped connect people with the root of the country,'' the Union minister said.
Citing personal experience, Shah said children who study in their mother language can learn Hindi easily.
He said the new National Education Policy talks about providing school education in regional languages till class 5, and to be continued at least till class 8. ''High-quality education and published literature should be provided in native languages. Works are underway to translate the syllabus of 20 engineering colleges in ten states into native languages. He said the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has translated the first semester of medical education into Hindi which will be taught from the next year. Shah said he wanted to move forward to make the judiciary also work in native languages.