Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday that addressing an audience in Hindi gives her “shivers” and that she speaks the language with hesitation.
Speaking at an event organized by Hindi Vivek magazine, Ms. Sitharaman referred to a previous speaker’s announcement that her speech would be in Hindi.
“Addressing an audience in Hindi gives me the creeps,” said a candid Ms Sitharaman, explaining the circumstances that led to this condition.
Ms Sitharaman said she was born and attended college in Tamil Nadu, which was in the midst of anti-Hindi turmoil and also witnessed violent anti-Hindi protests.
Students who chose Hindi or Sanskrit as their second language, even those listed on the merit lists, were not awarded scholarships by the state government due to their language choices, the Union Cabinet minister said.
Ms. Sitharaman said that while it is difficult for a person to learn a new language after reaching adulthood, she could learn her husband’s mother tongue, Telugu, but could not learn Hindi due to her background.
“I speak Hindi with a lot of ‘sankoch’ (hesitation),” he said, admitting that the fluency with which he can speak is affected.
The Finance Minister, however, continued to speak in Hindi and finished the entire speech which lasted more than 35 minutes in Hindi.
Ms. Sitharaman said that India could have achieved the position as the fifth largest economy in the world earlier, but because of the imported philosophy of socialism that relied on central planning.
He called the 1991 economic reforms undertaken by the then Congress government “aadhe-adhure reforms” (half-way reforms), in which the economy was not opened in the right way but according to the restrictions imposed by the IMF.
There was no progress until Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the BJP took over as Prime Minister and his focus on building infrastructure, roads and mobile phones helped us a lot.
Ten more years were lost after the corrupt UPA government came to power, where the focus was personal gain and the country’s interests were left behind, he said.
After his rise to the post of prime minister, Narendra Modi initiated groundbreaking fundamental reforms which also include the direct benefit transfer scheme which has ensured transparency in public delivery without leakage, Ms. Siharaman said, adding that there have been benefits of up to Rs 2 lakh crore. as a result of the scheme.
Policy decisions have also laid the groundwork for the emergence of a large lender like SBI that can quickly service the credit needs of the economy, he said.
The Modi regime also made the right decisions to move away from businesses where the government should not be, Ms Sitharaman said, noting that Air India was facing losses of Rs 20 million a day until it was privatised.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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