Hindi Is not an Ancestral Language of T&T

By Stephen Kangal
February 14, 2012

Stephen KangalI am not opposed to the teaching of Hindi. But for the Indian High Commissioner, HE Shri Malay Mishra both to justify its teaching in T&T by criticising the speech delivered by our Prime Minister in English to the Bhelupuris on the false and misleading notion that the girmitiyas brought Hindi to Trinidad in their jahajee bundles “… as part of their ancestral culture” is false, deliberately misleading and must be deprecated as a linguistic Ponzi scheme being foisted on unsuspecting Indo-Trinbagonians.

Noted T&T national, National Scholar, researcher and currently a reputable Lecturer in Linguistics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi who is now resident in India, Professor Peggy Mohan nee Ramesar wrote:

‘…First of all, when our ancestors made the great journey to Trinidad, Hindi was not one of the native languages they brought with them. What they brought were dialects of Bhojpuri, and other local dialects from the larger hinterland of Utar Pradesh and Bihar…”Express Monday 6 February, 2012, p.6.

Professor Mohan has gone on to prove that the genre of Bhojpuri dialect spoken by the indentured peasantry after arrival in Trinidad after 1845 was preserved orally in its original distinctive vernacular and developed into a unique dialect that is peculiarly exclusive to Trinidad. The most popular religious text of the indentures was Tulsidas’ “Ramcharitarmanas” – written in the Bhojpuri dialect and not in Hindi.

She warns the Indian High Commission in POS that any attempt “…to herd the Indian community in Trinidad into a mythical past identity, or a connection with a modern Hindi which is not as secure or accepting as it is made to seem, is fraught with danger.”

Finally Professor Mohan who was in India at the time of the visit, and, contrary to the view expressed by HE Malay Mishra, dispelled any doubt on the overwhelming success of the Statement delivered by PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar in her ancestral village of Bhelupur, when the former wrote:

“…I think they would have been satisfied with a few words in Bhojpuri or Hindi at the start, which is exactly how she spoke. The rest of her speech, in English, was their greatest dream come true: one of theirs had reached the top of the world!…”(Ibid)

An Official Press statement issued by the Indian High Commission on Friday 3 February in the Trinidad Guardian, inter alia, stated:

“…It needs to be noted that people of (East) Indian origin in T&T came principally from the Hindi speaking belt of Northern India and brought with them Hindi as part of their ancestral culture. Hindi was prevalent for several generations in the country but was unfortunately lost subsequently…”

The High Commission must now issue a corrigendum and an apology for committing an act of deliberate misrepresentation on the Indian community in T&T.

20 Responses to “Hindi Is not an Ancestral Language of T&T”


  • come on, Kangal, relax..what’s the big deal? In Trinidad we does taalk English…..who cares what we did talk before?

    • I agree TMan that Trinidad and Tobago is an English speaking country. I do not have a problem with private money being contributed toward Hindu language programs, but nothing from the government should be spent on that directly. Should schools pffer it? Maybe, but it should not be mandatory. The same goes for Mandarin.

  • This guy Kangal seems to be carrying on a vandetta against Indian envoy Mishra. Call it a day Kangal. Period.

    • A vendetta implies subjectivity when the disagreement is based on an objective response to misrepresentation and falsities. I overs this issue.

  • It is not correct to say that the indentured Indians did not bring any Hindi at all.The masses spoke Bhojpuri,but Hindi was spoken by the pandits and all the rituals and pujas were read in Sanskrit.Also,Hindi was always taught in the temples and continued by people like Professor Adesh and the B.V.S.Mr.Kangal seems to have a one-sided view.

    • Please check the article by Peggy Mohan on the Trinidad Bhojpuri dialect in “Impossible Dreams”. She wrote her Ph.D thesis on Trinidad Bhojpuri.

  • If spanish and French can be taught,Indians and alot of Hindus do comprise of almost half the population now and I do not see why it cannot be taught …….Isnt language, whatever they may be an asset? There are no limits to education so this article is basically , as crystal said, a vendetta.

    • I said that I am not opposed to the teaching of Hindi but not for the reasons stated by the HC and this is supported quite categorically by Professor Peggy Mohan a noted T&T linguist who said that Hindi was not the ancestral language of the girmitiyas. Here is my first line:

      “I am not opposed to the teaching of Hindi”

    • TNT is a former colony of England as we all know. TNT as a nation is an extension of Europe not India. However, I do not see the purpose in teaching French. Spanish should be offered considering where TNT is geographically located. Mandarin should be offered considering the global powerhouse that China has become. There is no harm in offering Hindu as a language either. However, English should always be the official language of TNT. The world is changing. Hindu, Spanish, and Mandarin speakers are needed so that nationals of TNT can always be in the best position to walk through open doors and help the nation.

    • Learning Hindi will only impose an unnecessary burden on young Trini minds. The important languages today are computer science and for the new frontier-China, Mandarin.

  • Kangal is quite right to say what is right.

  • Stand firm Kangal.All those who would like to reinvent linguistic history to argue otherwise are simply Aryanists.They will nover acccept you or Professor Mohan’s fact.Thats is why when you speak of low caste and tribals as dominant in the body of Indentureds.You might well insult their pedigree.Let then genuflect and attack you.Sticks the facts.If it was the same pechant for africans to reinvent history to look good.The verdict will be the same.Remain fearless.You have stepped out of shadow of false history making.

  • The want to re-write the history of T&T! Bajans beware, they are coming for you.

  • Linda Edwards, class of 67

    Two facts : When the first Indian parliament convened after independence, few of the newly elected house could understand each other, except in English, if they knew a few words. The situation was similar to Italy in 1870, when after GAribaldi unified the country, they found that none spoke the same language.

    The second fact is not about unification and language. I point it out to punch a hole in some egos that keep bigging up themselves: At the break in the legislative sessions, with the Queen’s representative in the area, some members, unused to these new things like restrooms, urinated from the second floor balconies, sending the people below scattering from that shower of piss. No one in TnT, either of Indo or Afro or European, or Chinese descent, would have done that, off the balcony of the Red House, in 1948.

    India has come a long way, but it should limit its colonial ambitions to putting schools and a unified language system, with books, in the Andaman and other islands it already owns. It failed in Fiji. It will fail in TnT.

  • WHO ARE THE DALIT?
    In South Asia’s caste system, a Dalit (Hindi: दलित) — formerly known as untouchable or achuta — is a person outside of the four Varnas, and considered below of all and polluting. Dalits include people as leather-workers, scavengers, tanners, flayers, cobblers, agricultural labourers, municipal cleaners, gymnasts, drum beaters, folk musicians and street handicraft persons. Like upper castes, Dalit are also divided into various sub-castes or jatis.
    NON-DALIT MEANING OF WORD DALIT
    Word Dalit has been defined differently by different people. Normally non-Dalit writers and intellectuals have invented its root in Sanskrit and considered its meaning as broken, crack, split and as adjective they have given this word the meanings of burst, split, broken or torn asunder, downtrodden, scattered, crushed, destroyed etc.
    DALIT MEANING OF THE WORD DALIT
    But for Dalits meaning of this word is qualitatively different. The word was popularised by the Dalit Panther Movement, when they adopted this term as an act of confident assertion, rejecting Mahatama Gandhi’s nomenclature of Harijan, children of God. Dalit Panthers defined this word in their 1972 manifesto as: “A member of Scheduled Castes and Tribes, neo-Buddhist, the working-people, the land-less and poor peasants, women, and all those who are being exploited politically, economically, and in the name of religion.” Noted Dalit Laureate Gangadhar Pantawane wrote: “Dalit is not a caste, Dalit is a symbol of change and revolution. The Dalit believes in humanism. He rejects existence of god, rebirth, soul, sacred books that teach discrimination, fate, and heaven because these make him a slave.” While the informed Dalit tend to agree that the ancient beliefs of Hinduism (Brahmanism) are the root cause of their sufferings, most accept a narrower view of membership than the above definitions suggest. Both Dalit and non-Dalit Indians see the term relating only to the Scheduled Castes (the untouchables of the past) and the Scheduled Tribes (the adivasis or the indigenous people of India).
    SCHEDULED CASTES
    According to the 2001 Census, the Scheduled Castes population in India is 166,635,700 persons, constituting 16.2 per cent of the country’s total population. Being rural people, four fifth (79.8 per cent) of them live in rural areas and rest one-fifth (20.2 per cent) live in urban areas. The sex ratio of 936 females per thousand males is slightly higher than national average of 933 sex ratios.
    The highest percentage of Scheduled Castes population to the total Scheduled Castes population of the country live in Uttar Pradesh (21.1 per cent) followed by West Bengal (11.1 per cent) and Bihar (7.8 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (7.4 percent) and Tamil Nadu (7.1.percent). In fact, more than 57 per cent of total Scheduled Castes population inhabit in these five States. Proportionately, the largest proportion of population of the Scheduled Castes to total population of the State is in Punjab (28.9 per cent), followed by Himachal Pradesh (24.7 per cent) and West Bengal (23 percent). In Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Pondicherry proportion of SCs population is exactly equal to the National average of 16.2 per cent. The smallest concentration of the Scheduled Castes population is in the North-Eastern tribal States such as Mizoram (with negligible or only 272 persons) followed by Meghalaya (0.5 per cent) and Arunachal Pradesh (0.6 per cent).
    As per the 2001 Census, there are 22 districts where the Scheduled Castes population is 30 per cent or more. In majority of the districts (i.e., 273 districts) the concentration of SCs population to the total population is between 10 to 20 per cent. In Nagaland, Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, no Scheduled Caste is notified.
    SCHEDULED TRIBES
    According to the 2001 Census, the total population of the Scheduled Tribes in India is 84,326,240 persons, constituting 8.2 per cent of the total population of the country. 91.7 per cent of them lives in rural areas, whereas, only 8.3 per cent inhabit in urban areas. The sex ratio of Scheduled Tribes population at 978 females per thousand males is higher than that of the total population of the country as well as that of Scheduled Castes.
    Madhya Pradesh accounts for the highest percentage of Scheduled Tribes population to total STs population of the country (14.5 percent) followed by Maharashtra (10.2 per cent), Orissa (9.7 per cent), Gujarat (8.9 per cent), Rajasthan (8.4 per cent), Jharkhand (8.4 per cent) and Chhattisgarh (7.8 per cent). In fact, 68 per cent of the country’s Scheduled Tribes population lives in these seven States only. The proportion of the Scheduled Tribes to the total population of the States/Union territories is highest in Mizoram (94.5 %) and Lakshadweep (94.5 %) followed by Nagaland (89.1 %), Meghalaya (85.9 %). Within the major states Chhattisgarh (31.8%) has the highest percentage of Scheduled Tribes population followed by Jharkhand (26.3%) and Orissa(22.1%). These proportions are in the lowest in Uttar Pradesh (0.1 %), Bihar (0.9 %), Tamil Nadu (1.0 %) and Kerala (1.1%).
    As per the 2001 Census, there are 75 districts where Scheduled Tribes population is 50 per cent or more as per the 2001 Census. In majority of the districts (i.e., 403 districts), the concentration of Scheduled Tribes population to its total population is less than 20 percent.

  • Joe Mode wrote If it was the same pechant for africans to reinvent history to look good.The verdict will be the same.Remain fearless.You have stepped out of shadow of false history making.

    Africans did not reinvent history to look good. That is an Aryan response to Africans correcting the myths and ill-conceived notions that makes you Guys feel good. One would have to be very stupid to argue that European/Aryan recounting of History accurately reflected the existence of Africans. But typically, while condemning Aryans you happily embrace their depiction of Africans. And why am I not surprised.

    That is why Africans must never make any separation between the racists of yesterday, and the racist today. Because they are joined at a cultural synapse when it comes to how they see and relate to Africans. We must cease the insane efforts to make people like us, or try to change what they have inherited over thousands of years of practice. Look around the world and you will see that people enjoy the best when they are in our geographical majorities, but we do not when we are in theirs. That is all one needs to understand what is going on.

    • “Look around the world and you will see that people enjoy the best when they are in our geographical majorities, but we do not when we are in theirs.”
      And who EXACTLY, may I ask, is responsible for the former and the latter? “The fault, Dear Brutus, lies not in … “

  • sir
    I m working on the influence of girmitiyas’ language/ dilect on the language of the country where they went/ migrated for work or did they coin a new dilect/language?

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