Although Hindi is the most spoken language in the country, it cannot be imposed over non-Hindi speaking people as the language has not been mentioned as a "national language in the Constitution", singer Sonu Nigam has said, sharing his views on the controversy that gained national attention following a Twitter exchange between Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn and Kannada actor Sudeep Sanjeev last week.
"As per my knowledge, Hindi is not written as a national language in the Constitution of India. I have consulted experts regarding this also. Hindi is the most spoken language in the country, I understand that. Having said that are we aware that Tamil is world's oldest language? There is a debate between Sanskrit and Tamil. People say Tamil is the oldest language in the entire world," Mr Nigam, a Padma Shri awardee, said when asked about his views on the matter.
Mr Nigam said that the controversy will create unwanted tension in the country, which was already facing many internal problems.
"Do we have fewer problems in the country that we need a new one. We are creating disharmony in the country by imposing a language on others, saying you are a Tamilian, you should speak Hindi. Why would they? People should have the right to decide the language they want to speak," Mr Nigam added.
Mr Nigam made the comments during an interaction with Sushant Mehta, the Founder and CEO of BEAST Studios.
Perfect response to Ajay Devgn by Sonu Nigam: Let's not divide people further in this country, where is it written that Hindi is our national language? ???? pic.twitter.com/hC9nHbXJHy- Sushant Mehta (@SushantNMehta) May 2, 2022
"Chodo yaar (Leave all this). Let them chill. A Punjabi should speak Punjabi, Tamil should speak Tamil. If they are comfortable in English, they will speak in that language," said Mr Nigam, who has sung songs in over 32 languages, to loud applause.
"Even in our courts, the judgments are in English. The flight attendants also prefer the language," he said.
Mr Nigam also shared an incident during a flight where the cabin crew member kept speaking in English despite his reply in Hindi.
The heated debate over Hindi as a national language once again made national headlines following a heated exchange between Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn and Kannada actor Sudeep Sanjeev on Thursday.
While Mr Sudeep pointed out that Hindi is not our national language, Mr Devgn questioned why movies in south Indian languages are dubbed in Hindi.
The exchange sparked a debate on social media, with politicians joining in too. Mr Devgn, a section of Karnataka leaders alleged, had "blabbered as a BJP mouthpiece".
The pushback to Hindi is not restricted to cinema though. Last month, following Home Minister Amit Shah's pitch to propagate Hindi, several south leaders had warned that any attempt to impose Hindi would backfire.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin, his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan and Telangana minister K T Rama Rao were among the leaders who spoke out against Mr Shah's remarks and stressed that unity in diversity is India's strength.