‘Every Indian must know Hindi’: BCCI commentator’s on-air statement kicks up a storm

Rahul Sadhu
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The controversial moment occurred during the Ranji Trophy match between Karnataka and Baroda. (Representational Image/Source: ScreengrabABC)

A Ranji Trophy match between Karnataka and Baroda on Thursday at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore sparked controversy after an on-air commentator said that 'every Indian should know Hindi as it is our mother tongue.'

The incident took place during the seventh over of Baroda's second innings when one of the two commentators said: 'I liked the fact that Sunil Gavaskar is commentating in Hindi and is giving his valuable in the same language. I also loved it that he called the dot ball as a 'bindi' ball."

The other commentator Rajender Amarnath responded: "Every Indian must know Hindi. This is our mother tongue. There is no bigger language than this."

"In fact, I look at those people with a lot of anger who say that we are cricketers still we should talk in Hindi? You are staying in India then you will obviously speak its mother tongue," he said.

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A Baroda batsman in action against Karnataka. (Source: Screengrab/ABC)

His comments kicked up a storm on social media with several fans questioning the commentator's statement. What was ironic was that the two teams playing the match have Kannada and Gujarati as state languages.

However, Amarnath later clarified his stance and said: "We always respect all the languages which are spoken in this country and if it has hurt anybody then my sincere apologies to everybody. Please do not take it in any other way except we were just discussing that we love to speak that language as you love to speak your language. India is a country where many languages are spoken and each region has its own mother tongue and we respect everybody's language."

A language is an umbrella term that contains many mother tongues. According to the Census 2011, 43 percent of Indians speak the Hindi language (including several mother tongues such as Bhojpuri, Rajasthani, and Hindi).

Only 26 percent of Indians speak Hindi as mother tongue under the broader Hindi language grouping as per the 2011 data.

The 2011 Census data on languages also reveals that while Hindi is the most widely spoken language in the country, almost six in every 10 people, or 56.37 per cent of the citizens, do not identify it as their first language or mother tongue.

Here are some reactions to the controversial comment:

Meanwhile, Baroda was ahead heading into the tea break at 121/2 after 38 overs. Ahmadnoor Pathan scored another half-century, a 101-ball 60*, and Deepak Hooda gave him good company with a 56-ball 36*.