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JUNE 22, 2014 15 DEEP FOCUS
Mohammed Wajihuddin | TNN
hen PM Narendra Modi
spoke to foreign dignitaries
in Hindi the day after his
swearing-in in Delhi, miles
away in Mumbai, Hindi scholar Sushila
Gupta got a call from a student in Vara-
nasi. Shashi Mishra sounded ecstatic
over the phone. For decades we had
yearned to hear an Indian leader speak
to foreign VIPs in Hindi and be trans-
lated into English, Mishra had said.
Like Mishra, there are many other lov-
ers of Hindi who are happy that the lan-
guage has found the place it deserves in
the corridors of power. Modis champion-
ing of Hindi, they feel, will give it the push
it deserves, at least in the government.
On Thursday, the Union home minis-
try issued directives to government offi-
cials to use Hindi in their social media
messages. Following a backlash, particu-
larly from Tamil Nadu, the PMO clarified
on Friday that the diktat was only appli-
cable to states in the Hindi belt. But Hindi
lovers are not dejected.
Hindi poet Ashok Chakradhar, who
has sat in on several government panels
to promote Hindi, accuses the Indian bu-
reaucracy of stymieing the growth of the
language. If this government is getting
bureaucrats to use Hindi, it is a great idea.
Hindi is understood by 80% of Indians
who pick it up from popular films, songs
and the media. But at the official level, no
one is fighting for the language. The Hin-
di-speaking officer in any government
department is the least valued person in
the room, he says.
In 1950, the Constitution had de-
clared that Hindi, written in Devana-
gari, would be Indias official language.
But English was to be used as an official
language for another 15 years as well.
Two years before this agreement ex-
pired, the Official Languages Act of 1963
was brought in. It stated: Notwithstand-
ing the expiration of the period of fif-
teen years from the commencement of
the Constitution, the English language
may, as from the appointed day, continue
to be used in addition to Hindi.
The Act was further amended in
1967 to state that English would not be
edged out until every state agreed to it.
As is evident from recent develop-
ments, Indias linguistic complexities
and politics are a hurdle to the amend-
ment of the Act. But Hindi lobbyists
are hopeful of some change, at least in
government circles.
In the corridors of power, a message
has been sent that you cannot look down
on Hindi speakers. We can now flaunt
their skills, says Gupta, who is an Of-
ficer on Special Duty (OSD) at the Charni
Road-based Mahatma Gandhi Memorial.
Millions have been spent on promot-
ing Hindi by sarkari panels but it has
yet to acquire the profile of a desirable
language. Hindi writer Pushpa Bhara-
ti says the blame lies with the overzeal-
ous experts tasked with the job coin-
ing new Hindi words for English equiv-
alents. So tie became kanth langot
and cricket field became gend ball
bhirant maidan. Such stupid transla-
tions made a mockery of Hindi. They
almost killed the flavour of the lan-
guage, says Bharati.
Rashtrabhasha Mahasangh is a pro-
Hindi organization whose petition in
Bombay High Court to secure national
status for the language is pending.
Many international leaders speak in
their national language when they in-
teract with foreigners, says Mahas-
anghs senior vice-president Nandk-
ishor Nautiyal.
But not all lovers of the language
believe that a government diktat is the
right way to promote it. Poet lyricist
Nida Fazli, for instance, says any at-
tempt to force Hindi on a multilingual
nation will backfire. The aggressive
promotion of Hindi through govern-
ment machinery is fulfilling the RSSs
communal agenda of Hindi, Hindu,
Hindustan. We dont need a government
to tell us which languages to learn and
use. Those who cannot read Amir Khus-
ros poetry in Devanagari or Urdu script
now read them in translation, he says.
Anahita Mukherji | TNN
he is a skinny 24-year-old in a
bright kurta who smiles easily. But
her jaw has a determined lift as she
strides along the narrow gullies of
an impoverished Mumbai basti in Jo-
geshwari. Durga Gudilu may seem like
an unlikely social crusader but she has
taken on men twice her age and laughed
off death threats in her battles against
caste panchayats.
Suburban Mumbai is far from the
badlands of north India but here too you
are likely to encounter the grip of a caste
cabal as Durga did. She is a member of
the Vaidu Samaj, a caste that possibly
originated in Andhra Pradesh, but has
made Solapur its home. Members of the
caste speak a mixture of Telugu, Kan-
nada and Marathi. They can be seen
hawking traditional medicines on
Mumbais streets.
There is a settlement of vaidus in
Jogeshwari slums and members of the
community abide by the dictates of its
caste panchayat. As is the case else-
where, this panchayats main task is to
run kangaroo courts to decide the lives
and loves of its people. The cases rarely
reach the police or the courts.
Or at least they didnt till a young
woman took them on for the sake of her
sister. When the children were young,
Durgas mother had promised her sister
Govindi to her nephew. This practice
among impoverished families ensures
that a young girl and her property re-
main within the family.
But though Govindi, now 27 and a
software engineer, didnt want to marry
her cousin, a school dropout and an al-
coholic, the panchayat insisted that she
honour the family commitment. Du-
rgas mother was harangued by other
members of the community. But Govin-
di, with Durga firmly behind her, re-
fused to give in to the pressure. Finally,
the boy married another woman much
to Govindis delight.
But there was more to come. A few
months ago, the cousin spotted Durga
with a bunch of friends, on her way to
an amusement park. He was furious
that while my sister had refused to mar-
ry him, I was out with boys of another
caste, says Durga. Her cousin and his
friends began beating up one of her male
friends, and Durga had to call the police.
The spat escalated when another
Vaidu Samaj member accused Durga of
colluding with the police to harass vaid-
us on streets. The panchayat held a ses-
sion to decide on Durgas innocence.
The verdict? Both sides had to pay up a
fine of Rs 25,000. Durga was furious
when her mother obliged. Then the pan-
chayat asked the family for Rs 25,000
more and Durga refused.
The panchayat held the meeting two
months ago and decided that Durga
should apologize for her sins. The
meeting turned tense and rowdy. When
a journalist friend of Durgas turned up
to cover the event, he was beaten up and
the police was called for help once again.
Some of the caste panchayat members
were put behind bars for a night and
Durga was given police protection.
After this incident, on the instruc-
tions of the panchayat, Durgas family
was completely ostracized. Durga start-
ed a quiet campaign to convince other
vaidus to do away with the panchayat
system and succeeded. She flicks open
her laptop in her tiny home in the basti
to show you with a great deal of pride
the photographs of the ceremony at
which panchayat members were gifted
plaques of the Constitution and asked
to swear allegiance to it.
Durga is no stranger to social activ-
ism, having represented Mumbais street
children at the World Social Forum in
Brazil as a teenager. She is now involved
in creating a forum to help uplift her
community. Half the members of this
forum will be women. More importantly,
she is making sure that former members
of the panchayat are involved in her cam-
paign and stay busy with community
Durga is a bit of a trend-setter in her
private life, too. She plans to marry a
youngster from another religion. Girls
from my community say theyre waiting
for me to get married so they, too, can
follow suit and choose their own hus-
bands, she says.
A young woman from a Mumbai basti
takes on a repressive caste panchayat
and forces it to wind up
The Centres Hindi diktat has been slammed as linguistic chauvinism. But those
who swear by (and in) khari boli say it will give the language a much-needed boost
LANGUAGE BAR: Imposition of Hindi brings its own problems. An R K Laxman cartoon
captures the mood during the anti-Hindi riots that rocked Tamil Nadu in 1965
Seethalakshmi S &
Sruthy Susan Ullas | TNN
r Manoj Kumar Sharma looks at
the magenta paper rose kept in
a pen holder on his table in NIM-
HANS and smiles. It is what his
first patient gifted him after she kicked
her net addiction.
The doctor works at the SHUT clinic
(Service for Healthy Use of Technology)
run by the National Institute of Mental
Health and Sciences (NIMHANS), in a
residential area in south Bangalore.
Ironically, the only such clinic in the
country is situated just 12 km from Ban-
galores IT hub.
Here, they treat youngsters for a mod-
ern addiction: cyberspace. Compulsive
internet usehasbeenidentifiedasamen-
tal health issue in many countries, in-
cluding the US, but India is only now
waking up to the problem.
When 18-year-old Srinidhi (name
changed) was brought to the clinic for
consultation, she had dropped out of
school and was spending eight hours
daily on the internet. When her par-
ents objected, and cut off the wi-fi con-
nection at home, she moved to cyber
cafs. When Srinidhi began stealing
money at home to pay for her cyber caf
visits, her parents decided it was time to
seek professional help.
Srinidhis is not an isolated case. Re-
search by NIMHANS revealed that 73%
of teenagers have psychiatric distress
and excessive usage of technology was
being used to manage the stress.
What prompted the premier mental
health institute to start an internet de-
addiction centre was another study in
2014 of which Dr Manoj was a part. We
found children in the age group of 13-15
years were hooked on to video games
while those in the age-group of 15-17
years were addicted to Facebook. They
showed dysfunction in academics and
social life, suffered from physical prob-
lems like eye strain and were losing out
on recreational activities, he explains.
Recently the de-addiction centre saw
a mother and child who were both ad-
dicted to gaming. Doctors had to first
treat the mother, who was in her twen-
ties, before they counseled the child.
Internet addiction is no different from
alcohol addiction. Both have cravings,
can go out of control and have conse-
quences. When treated, patients show
withdrawal symptoms like restlessness
and irritability, Dr Manoj explained.
Those with net addiction are meas-
ured on four parameters: craving
(desire to engage in these behaviours),
control (experiencing inability to control
these behaviours), compulsion (engage-
ment in behaviour despite no need) and
consequences (experienced effects due
to engagement in these behaviours).
Facebook is one of the biggest ad-
dictive features on the internet. There
is also a small percentage who gets
hooked to pornography, the associate
professor in department of clinical
psychology said.
Three months into functioning, the
centre has been receiving two-three
cases per week, many of them from
other cities, prompting it to provid coun-
seling online as well.
Like any other disorder, the treat-
ment method and time varies based on
the severity of the problem. Mostly, it
is a motivation enhancement approach
that the centre takes to treat the pa-
tients. They are initially allowed con-
trolled use of internet. They are also
counseled about healthy use of tech-
nology, he says. Patients are also
encouraged to take hobby classes so
that they develop other interests. Ef-
forts are also made to build emotional
connections in the real world and weak-
en those with the virtual one.
But the doctor claims that the stig-
ma associated with technology de-ad-
diction is the same as any other psycho-
logical disorder. Even parents who
know there is a problem do not want to
walk into the clinic and seek help.
They prefer doing it online or over
phone so that there is no direct interac-
tion. Even schools do not want their
children to be counseled. Somehow, go-
ing to a clinic for a 'net' problem is not
accepted. We hope the stigma goes and
they address the problem rather than
living with it, he says.
The next counseling session at the
clinic is for a first year college girl who
is addicted to her smartphone. Brilliant
in academics, she had to seek help when
her grades started falling. As one walks
out of the quiet clinic housed in the
NIMHANSCentreforWell Being, ablack
poster stares back: maybe, you
should log out.
The other
Durga shakti
Uma Kadam
Girls from my
community say
theyre waiting for me
to get married so they,
too, can follow suit
and choose their
own husbands
Sunday Times visits Indias first net de-addiction centre to find
out how obsessive users are switching off from screens
Shobhan Saxena
n January 1948, some dockyard work-
ers in Salvador, the capital of Bahia,
heard about an Indian who died for
peace. Tired of criminals ruining
their Carnival every year, the workers
formed a group called Filhos de Gandhy
(sons of Gandhi) to resist the violent
thugs. Dressed in Indian turbans, dhotis
and long shirts printed with Gandhis
face, they became a legend in Brazil, and
still perform in carnivals. For decades,
they were Brazils only link with India.
In 1980, Brazils romance with Gandhi
became deeper when Richard Attenbor-
oughs movie hit the screens. Joao Signo-
relli, a young actor, saw the film several
times and made a trip to India. In 2002,
he started a monologue in which he
would appear as Gandhi and tell stories,
blending the Mahatmas thoughts with
tales from lives of ordinary people.
Twelve years later, the show still runs to
packed houses whenever Signorelli per-
forms in the city. He has worked in doz-
ens of telenovelas and films, but in the
metro and sidewalks of Sao Paulo people
stop him to talk to the Brazilian Gan-
dhi. The older generation, of course,
remembers Gandhi and his message. But
a lot of young people with interest in
Indian culture come to my show. Their
numbers have grown over the years,
says the actor.
Though separated by 24-hour flights
and a language barrier, interest in India
is growing quite fast in Brazil. Today, Sao
Paulo has more than 1,000 yoga studios;
schools teaching classical Indian dances
have mushroomed in the leafy neighbour-
hoods; Bollywood dancing is slowly be-
coming part of the citys cultural scene;
henna artists are competing with tattoo
designers; trendy bars here serve cocktail
samosas; movies like The Lunchbox have
run for weeks; the most prestigious uni-
versities in Rio and Sao Paulo now offer
courses on Indian politics, culture and
films; and in 2013, at least five Brazilian
cities organized film festivals to mark
100 years of Indian cinema.
Unlike other western countries, Bra-
zil has practically no Indian diaspora.
With less than 500 Indian families in this
country of 200 million, the community
has a negligible presence. The first step
to bring Indian culture here was taken
by Brazilians themselves. Sonia Galvao
is one such pioneer. While travelling in
India in the 1980s, she saw an Odissi per-
formance and fell in love with the dance.
Sonia made several self-funded trips to
India to learn the dance from top gurus.
For almost three decades, she has been
travelling across Brazil, giving free per-
formances. She has also trained two gen-
erations of Brazilian women. Its my
tribute to my gurus. I am the only Brazil-
ian who had the opportunity to learn
Odissi from Kelucharan Mahapatra. I
like to share that knowledge with others,
says Galvao. India has so much to offer.
Just like Indians see Brazil as the
land of Pele and sultry samba dancers,
India here was till recently seen as the
land of yoga, curry and incense. But with
the efforts of people like Sonia, even
small cities now have a few Indian clas-
sical dancers. Though a lot of credit
is given to a popular 2007 soap opera
Caminhos da India (A passage to
India) for triggering huge interest
in India, the change began with the
opening of the Indian Cul-
tural Centre (ICC) in Sao
Paulo in 2011. Located in a
villa, the centre offers
free classes on dances,
music, yoga, Hindi,
cooking and lectures on
cultural issues. In three years,
the ICC has become a Little In-
dia, where crowds of Brazil-
ians gather to celebrate Holi,
Diwali and other festivals.
We are successful because
of great interest shown by
the local people. So many
people who have never been to India
want to go there after visiting the centre.
We provide a window to India, says
Kamaljit Singh, the ICC director. We
want to bridge the knowledge deficit be-
tween India and Brazil.
Members of several multilateral
groups like BRICS, the two countries
have never been as close as they are today.
The people-to-people contact, which
hardly existed earlier, is now made pos-
sible by individual artists. Paola Carraro,
who learnt Kathak and tanpura in India,
performs at major cultural events here.
Marcus Santurys, who was given a sitar
by Ravi Shankar in Los Angeles, is one
of the best-known fusion artists in Sao
Paulo. And there is Iara Ananda, who
knows both Bharatanatyam and Bolly-
wood moves. A teacher at ICC, Iara is at
the centre every Thursday, sitting on the
floor with a stick in her hand which she
beats on a little drum as a group of Brazil-
ian girls swirl on their feet. On Tuesdays,
she is at a private institute, teaching
Bollywood steps to a group of 25 girls.
Brazilians love to dance. They have
a passion for physical activities and
Bollywood dance is a great way to
lose weight and have fun at the
same time, says the 24-year-
old whose troupe now per-
forms at big cultural
Following Iaras lead, new Bol-
lywood and Bhangra troupes are
being formed in this city, with
some even planning to
have theme-based par-
ties in major pubs
and samba clubs.
Brazils love affair
with India has certain-
ly gone beyond Gandhi.
Duniya goal hai
Just like Brazil is not just football and samba,
the Brazilians have discovered India to be
more than yoga, curry and incense
CULTURE COCKTAIL: Paola Carraro, who learnt Kathak and tanpura in India, performs
at major cultural events in Sao Paulo. (Right) A Brazilian student during a
Bharatanatyam presentation in the city
The Portuguese landed in
Brazil in 1500 AD, two years after
Vasco da Gama had reached
the coast of Kerala. From their
trading posts in Cochin, Sri Lanka
and Goa and the new colony in
South America, the Portuguese
moved men and material across
three oceans, linking people and
cultures. A look at the legacies
shared by India and Brazil:
Many words like pao (bread), batata
(potato), mesa (table), camisa
(shirt), chave (key), janela (window)
and tualia (towel) came from
Portuguese into Indian languages
The Portuguese took mango,
sugarcane, cloves, cinnamon and
cows from India to Brazil. They
brought potato, chillies, tomato
and bread to India. Sarapatel is
a dish commonly cooked in the
coastal area of Konkan and in
northeastern Brazil. Its ingredients
include meat and offal, which
varies depending on region from
pork to lamb and even beef
Though not as colourful as it is in
Brazil, carnival is celebrated on a
grand scale in Goa, with the biggest
celebration taking place in Panaji. It
was introduced by the Portuguese
who ruled over Goa for 400 years
Photos: Elza Cohen
Helping web junkies log out
Those who
get bored
Those who need to be
in constant touch with
news/current affairs
People with
poor anger
Those who have
a poor social life
and few friends
NET EFFECT: Doctors at the Bangalore centre recently treated a young mother
and child who were both addicted to gaming
Chetan Shivakumar