In the context of the 11th World Hindi Conference
So far, ten World Hindi Conferences have been held in different parts of the world. The 11th one is going to be held in Mauritius from 18 to 20 August 2018. Delegates from 35 countries are expected in Mauritius for this grand occasion. The conference is being organized jointly by the Governments of India and Mauritius.
The first World Hindi Conference was held in Nagpur, India from 10 to 12 January 1975. The second one took place in Mauritius from 28 to 30 August 1976. The third one was organized in India in 1983. The fourth one was held a decade later, in Mauritius from 2 to 4 December 1993. The fifth World Hindi Conference was held in Trinidad and Tobago from 4 to 8 April 1996. Three years later, that is from 14 to 18 September 1999, the sixth Conference took place in the United Kingdom, to be followed by the one held in Suriname from 6 to 9 June 2003. In July 2007 the United States organized the eighth Conference. In September 2012, the ninth Conference took place in Johannesburg, South Africa. Bhopal, India was the venue of the 10th World Hindi Conference as from 10to 12September 2015.
The first Prime Minister of independent Mauritius, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, was the chief guest at the first World Hindi Conference which lasted three days. That historic conference was a resounding success. On that auspicious occasion, Mrs Indira Gandhi and Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam decided that the two countries would do their best to promote Hindi across the Indian diaspora.
At the first World Hindi Conference three resolutions were passed:
- Efforts should be made to get Hindi recognized as one of the official languages in the United Nations.
- A Vishwa Hindi Vidyapeeth (a centre for World Hindi learning) should be set up in Wardha (situated in the province of Maharashtra, India).
- A well-planned scheme should be formulated to make of the World Hindi Conference a permanent feature.
Mahatma Gandhi was of the firm opinion that Hindi should not only be the national language of India but it should also gain the status of a World Language. The dream of the Mahatma was reflected in the resolutions passed at the first World Hindi Conference.
At the fourth World Hindi Conference organized in Mauritius in 1993, among the seven resolutions passed, five read as follows:
(i) The organizing committee of the fourth World Hindi Conference is authorized to form a standing Committee and set up a Secretariat within three months in consultation with the Prime Minister of India and Mauritius with the objectives of development and promotion of Hindi as an International language.
(ii) This conference supports the resolution passed during all the previous three conferences and calls for setting up the ‘Vishwa Hindi Vidyapeeth’ at the earliest possibility. It also reiterates the demand for setting up a Vishwa Hindi Kendra in Mauritius.
(iii) The conference is pleased to note that Study and Teaching of Hindi is increasing in a number of universities in the world. The conference calls upon the governments and universities of various countries to actively work towards establishing Hindi Chairs.
(iv) The conference is of the view that communication between the countries of the world, especially India and countries within the Indian diaspora be strengthened. Interaction among radio, television and news agencies of these countries be strengthened giving priority to Hindi. In this context the conference is pleased at the commencement of the Hindi news agency ‘Bhasha’ between India and Mauritius and is grateful to the Prime Ministers of Mauritius and India for this historic step. The conference calls upon India to actively assist in the publication of daily newspapers, magazines and books.
(v) The 4th World Hindi Conference is of the view that the use and influence of Hindi has increased at the national and international level. However, it has not been accorded its rightful place. The conference therefore, feels that the government and the people need to make special efforts to this end.
In all the previous conferences, the first resolution of the first World Hindi Conference, that is, efforts should be made to get Hindi recognized as one of the official languages of the United Nations has been constantly raised. Unfortunately, the dream of Mahatma Gandhi has not yet materialized. So far, as the second and third resolutions are concerned, it is a matter of great satisfaction that both have been implemented.
The second resolution was realized with the establishment of an International Hindi University at Wardha, which is where Gandhiji experimented with all the programmes dear to him. The University was created by an Act passed by the Indian Parliament in 1997. Besides spreading education among students in all the areas, the main aim of this university is:
- to develop Hindi as a regional, national and international language.
- to strengthen Hindi as a language of communication, business management, scientific and technical education and administrative work and relate its connectivity with employment.
- to provide intellectual environment in which scholarship and learning may thrive in Hindi in a better way.
- to develop interdisciplinary research and publication programmes in Hindi.
- to encourage new discourses within the socio-cultural environment.
The third resolution of the first World Hindi Conference was implemented with great pomp. At every World Hindi Conference the two governments, Indian and Mauritian, leave no stone unturned to make the conference successful.
Among the resolutions passed at the 4th World Hindi Conference the first and second were realized without any delay. The World Hindi Secretariat started its activities in a rented building at Forest-Side, Curepipe. In 2001, the Indian Minister, Dr Murlidhar Manohar Joshi, paid an official visit to Mauritius. Before leaving, he laid the foundation stone of the building which now houses the World Hindi Secretariat.
For the construction of this building, the Government of Mauritius allocated a portion of Land adjacent to the Indira Gandhi Centre for Indian Culture (IGCIC) in Phoenix.
On 12 March 2015 the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi and the then Prime Minister of Mauritius, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, participated in a religious ceremony held on the allotted land at Phoenix to launch the official construction of the World Hindi Secretariat building. It took three years to put up an ultra-modern building of an area of 3,261 metres. The entire cost of 163,757,612 Mauritian rupees was met by the Indian government.
The World Hindi Secretariat building consists of an auditorium, a computer centre, a multimedia centre, a Research centre, a library and a documentation centre as well as a guest house.
This building was inaugurated on 13 March 2018 by Shri Ramnath Kovind, the President of the Republic of India. Shrimati Sushma Swaraj, the Minister of External Affairs, India paid a visit to this building on 3rd June this year. Now the World Hindi Secretariat is functioning in this new building.
It is a matter of great pride that once more, Mauritius will host the World Hindi Conference for the third time. The World Hindi Secretariat is doing its best to make of this Conference a success by obtaining the full support of the Mauritian and the Indian governments.
* Published in print edition on 10 August 2018