Sunday, June 18, 2017

Do you understand Hindi News: The Purpose of Language is communication

Thakur Ranjit Singh

In absence of any watchdog to put a scrutiny of those who are supposed to watch us, Indian Media Watch – New Zealand has been established and fulfilling that role, being watchdog on Indian media which hitherto assumed they were beyond reproach. They watch others but they are also being watched – we have already successfully taken one to Advertising Standard Authority (ASA), and would not hesitate to do that again where they are seen to breach any rules and regulations. But it is also to critically view their effectiveness of otherwise. This is one such action, which is being repeated, as I had previously pulled Radio Tarana for use of language that goes over our head. Here I go again.


I have much respect for Radio Tarana and its efforts in teaching us the knowledge of Hindi language and difficult vocabulary, but it appears to be ineffective and done improperly.

I also have much respect for Nitya Nand Sundar, its part-time newsreader, and I presume the one who translates Hindi news from English language. I also praise his efforts to make us aware of Tulsidas level of Hindi Language. However the purpose of any language is communication – ability to pass the message that is understood.


My issue as an average Radio Tarana listener is: How much of your 7pm news on Radio Tarana on Sunday 18 June, 2017 was understood by the normal common mortal listeners of the station?
As a test, I request the news item to be replayed to Robert Khan, Satend Sharma, Shalen Sharma, Shalend Shandil, Pawan Rekha, and other Indo-Fijians and also Indians at Radio Tarana, and ask them what they understood, translate it to English language and whether they understood all the words and Hindi vocabulary used in the Hindi news item.

Why I raise it now is that I had raised it previously, and had raised the same issues I am raising now- inability of Hindi listeners to understand their high level of Hindi. I had recommended that I have no issue with use on non-understandable difficult Hindi vocabs, as long as they also explain them in simple Hindi or give English equivalents, so we can understand what is spoken. And this becomes a good education process as well. Currently it goes to waste. “Samm Ling”- (as used in Hindi news) -what creature is that? I asked some Pundits, and they also could not tell, so how do you expect FIJI PUNDIT to understand it.

I hope this will be taken in the spirit it is given – to take it as a constructive criticism which is the objective on Indian Media Watch New Zealand. It is the duty of this site to help raise awareness on media-related issues with a view to bringing in improvements.

Some Hindi vocabulary, among others, used in Radio Tarana Hindi  news in the past, without any use of English equivalents are as follows: sthai sachiu (permanent secretary), prashasnic karyawahi (disciplinary action) sakratmak (optimism), vyahan chaalak (vehicle/car driver), loktantra (democracy), pramukhta (mainly), prathmikta (priority) and the master-piece earlier mentioned, samm ling (gay/lesbian). An average Indo-Fijian, and even many Kiwi Indians may find difficulty or inability to comprehend news items if such words are used.

Yes, teach us Hindi via Radio, but by telling English equivalent as well, please.

[About the author: Thakur Ranjit Singh runs blog site FIJI PUNDIT and also has Facebook site-Indian Media Watchdog-New Zealand (among others), which keeps scrutiny of media issues in Indian media in New Zealand. He is a post-graduate scholar in Communication (journalism) with honours from AUT, Auckland.]