We, The People Of India

These were part of a set of post cards from Dad's uncle to Dad and his siblings. These are dated 1951. Dad is 11. His elder sisters are a few years older. I don't know if these post cards were the only ones received but they were saved in the albums. I don't know who saved them. Knowing Dad, it could have been him. Or maybe not.

Post card
The uncle is, at this time, working at the Port Trust in Cochin. It's only a few years after Independence and Gandhi's assassination. India has just been declared a republic and the Constitution formalized. The post cards were probably issued to commemorate the event. India is a young nation. The excitement of being free and a new republic is very much in the air. As can be seen in the contents of the letters. Keep in mind these are from a man to his widowed sister's children.

What's intriguing is the language the letters are written in. Hindi. In letters between a Malayali man to his Malayali nephew and nieces. In the years after Independence, a concerted effort was made to forge an Indian identity among a disparate people. Language was one of the tools used - the encouragement / imposition of uniformity across the country. By now schools around the country have begun teaching Hindi as a mandatory subject. There would also have been many people who genuinely believed in the idea that to be an Indian was to know Hindi. Or conversely, if you didn't know Hindi you were not Indian enough. Keep in mind this is before the language riots of the mid - 50s and the demand for the reorganization of states based on language. Before the young nation had the confidence to believe that it's identity could be a composite creation, a mosaic.

There's another aspect of the language in the post cards that I found curious. Dad and his sisters are by now learning Hindi at school. The schools they studied at - St Joseph's Boy's High School and Sacred Heart Girl's Convent - were Strictly English Only before 1947. That changed after Independence. I'm curious about Uncle though. He wouldn't have studied Hindi at school. He had to have learnt it on his own volition because he wanted to.