Sunday, December 2, 2012

Exuberance of Verbosity:When Indians in Auckland can hardly understand Hindi news on their Indian radio station

When Indians in Auckland can hardly understand Hindi news on their Indian radio station

British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, world’s most prestigious brand, operates under Royal Charter as a public service broadcaster. Its Charter specifies that the mission of the Corporation is to "inform, educate and entertain". BBC exists to serve the public interest and to promote its public purposes: sustaining citizenship and civil society, promoting education and learning, stimulating creativity and cultural excellence, representing the UK.

Similar parallel may apply to national stations in India (All India Radio), New Zealand (Radio New Zealand), Fiji (Fiji Broadcasting Commission for Indigenous I-Taukei programmes), and so on. Among other things, these stations are also guardians of culture and language of original settlers of respective countries.

This role or obligation however does not apply to Hindi or Indian radio stations in New Zealand. It therefore came as a surprise to me when listening to certain newsreaders of Radio Tarana who appear to sit with Hindi-English-Hindi dictionary, and bombastically translate English news into Hindi that normal mortal Indians find hard to understand and decipher. The purpose of language is communication, and not to show linguistic prowess of its editors and sub-editors. [This used to be done with my understandable articles, when adulterated by one Indian Newspaper editor, with his officious editing, inserting difficult and hard-to-understand words).

I can read and write Standard Hindi and Fiji Hindi and would consider myself above-average in understanding of Hindi. When listening to Radio Tarana news of certain newsreaders, my children used to ask,” Papa what language is the announcer speaking in, what did he say?” My reply “I did not understand with formal Hindi classes to year 9, how can you understand?”

For example, the newsreader speaks about conflict in Iraq, and would say, so many people died because of a suicide-bomber, which he will say in Hindi as “ Atm-Ghaati humlaa” without so much as repeating in English so normal mortal Indians could be educated and understand, especially children struggling to speak and understand Hindi in New Zealand. Other unusual, never-spoken Hindi vocabulary normally are used in Hindi news which even I do not understand, full of verbosity such as: “Prashashnic kaaryawahi (disciplinary action) “Sacratmak” (optimism-positive), “Sthayi Sachiu (permanent secretary), “Raj waadi, prajatantra” (democracy), Baam Panthi dal (left wingers –I do not know what they mean, “Vyahan” (car), “Vyahan chalak” (car driver).

Another, younger news reader of Radio Tarana, who I expected to be more liberal in use of understandable Hindi, took the cake. It was good that I had heard the news in English and understood because I knew the context. He used the word “Saamling” which no Indian I spoke to understood what it meant. It was reportedly used for “lesbian”, but I am not sure if that is correct. Another word used by the same newsreader the other day was “Anubandh” which I do not still understand and hope some Indian can tell me what it means.

So, is Hindi News in Radio Tarana about informing and educating or is it to show the Hindi language skills of the news team that common Indians hardly grasp. Like Latin and Shakespearean language, it sounds good, but very few understand. While this was brought to attention of management many years ago, nothing has changed. In fact, it has gone worse. The general attitude is “Who is this Thakur, telling us our job.” Well, Fiji Pundit has spoken and many will listen.

I hope Fiji Pundit will bring some culture change, where once again in our adopted country, Indians and people of Indian origin are able to understand Hindi news on an Indian radio station.

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