India: The Force of Words

India's Prime Minister Lai Bahadur Shastri last week was at the center of a linguistic whirlwind. The storm began to blow when a parliamentary decree was enacted making Hindi the nation's official language. What bothered millions of non-Hindi-speaking Indians was the fear that they would lose out to the Hindi speakers in government jobs and promotions.

In Tamil-speaking Madras state, where five people have burned themselves to death in protest, a mob captured two policemen and burned them alive. In Malayalam-speaking Kerala state, mobs attacked post offices and trains, and students signed pledges of resistance to the "imposition of Hindi,"...

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