Bhopal : On 14 September, when the nation celebrates Hindi Divas, Newsroom24x7 is happy to share the real story of how Hindi Bhavan was built in Bhopal, the capital of the Central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh, through the single-minded determination, commitment to the cause of Hindi and hard work put in by renowned social worker and the first Honorary Magistrate of Bhopal late Avantika Shastri.
As an honorary office bearer of Rashtrabhasha Prachar Samiti, Avantika Shastri, had played the leading role in translating into reality the Hindi Bhavan project and she was instrumental in bringing President Radhakrishnan to Bhopal to inaugurate it.
The Hindi Bhawan building in Bhopal – how it got built and was then inaugurated in the mid-sixtees of the last Century by President of India Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan is a story that has to be written in letters of gold.
When the plan was being drawn to build the Hindi Bhawan in Bhopal to promote and serve the cause of Hindi in Central India, the secretary of Madhya Pradesh unit of Rashtrabhasha Prachar Samiti, which had its headquarters in Wardha, Maharashtra, was late Baijnat Prasad Dubey and honorary joint Secretary was eminent social worker late Smt. Avantika Shastri. When preliminary talk of construction of Hindi Bhavan was going on, Dubey ji, who had become quite old, had lost his sight in both the eyes and those heading Rashtrabhasha Prachar Samiti had made up their mind to retire him. On the request of Mrs. Shastri, Mr. Dubey was allowed to continue in his post but all his responsibilities and work related to the prommotion of the national language was given to Mrs. Shastri. She took the initiative to build Hindi Bhavan with great dedication and went to Delhi several times to get the grant from the Central Government to give a concrete shape to this work.
The grant for constructing the Hindi Bhavan building was received from the Centre after Avantika Shastri convinced MC Chagla, the then Union Education Minister (1963 to 1966) about the claim of Madhya Pradesh for a grant to build the Hindi Bhavan. Education Ministry officials had briefed the Minister that since there is a new rule barring Hindi speaking states to claim any such grant, the application from Madhya Pradesh deserved to be turned down.
Avantika Shastri was prompt in digging a hole in this argument. She told the Union Education Minister that the rule being quoted was adopted after the application from Madhya Pradesh had been received by the Centre. ‘Why the State should suffer due to the delay by the Centre in taking a decision in this case?’ she asked Chagla, who had earlier served as Chief Justice of Bombay High Court from 1948 to 1958. Responding to her observation that it is not a case of ‘Lex posterior derogate priori’ – a rule of interpretation of laws which assists courts to resolve conflicts between laws – where, when a latter law conflicts with an earlier law, the latter law will prevail, Minister immediately passed orders approving a grant for Hindi Bhavan.
Either you lobby and institutionalise or allow a glorious legacy to perish. Newsroom24x7 has chosen to place the story of Hindi Bhawan on record for posterity
Avantika Shastri was among the first few women to drive a car on Bhopal roads with a regular driving license in the 50s of the last Century. She was the founder President of Aurobindo Society in Bhopal. As founder-President of Nagrik Kalyan Samiti, she had launched the Annual Dusshera Festival symbolising the victory of good over evil. Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia was the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony of the festival at TT Nagar Stadium in Bhopal.
Hindī Divas or Hindi Day is celebrated in India to commemorate the date 14 September 1949 when it was decided during the drafting of the Constitution of India about the languages that were to have official status in the Republic of India. The official status of languages was decided on the basis of the Munshi-Ayyangar formula. This was possible after a prolonged debate on the languages issue and the conflicting opinions of two divergent camps were moulded by drafting committee members K. M. Munshi and N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar. Those in support of Hindi wanted Hindi to be the sole “national language” of India; the Constituent Assembly Members from South India preferred English to have a place in the Constitution. The Munshi-Ayyangar formula declared Hindi to be the “official language” of India’s federal government; and English to be an associate official language for 15 years during which Hindi’s formal lexicon would be developed; and (iii) the international form of the Hindi-Arabic numerals to be the official numerals. The final resolution translated into Articles 343–351 of India’s constitution, which went into effect on 26 January 1950.
Saluting the Great crusader for the cause of Hindi
In 1965, when the 15 years were up, the Government of India announced that English would continue to be the “de facto” formal language of India. Before that, Padma Bhushan Pandit Suryanarayan Vyas, who was a crusader for the cause of Hindi, had opposed the Bill that had been brought in Parliament to continue “English for eternity” by returning the Padma Bhushan he had been awarded in 1958.