Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said addressing an audience in Hindi gives her “shivers” and she speaks the language with hesitation.
Speaking at an event organised by the Hindi Vivek Magazine, Ms Sitharaman referred to a previous speaker’s announcement that her speech will be in Hindi.
“Addressing an audience in Hindi gives me shivers,” a candid Ms Sitharaman said, explaining the circumstances that have led to this condition.
Ms Sitharaman said she was born and attended college in Tamil Nadu which was in the midst of an agitation against Hindi and also witnessed violent protests against Hindi.
Students opting for either Hindi or Sanskrit as the second language, even those who stood in merit lists, did not get scholarships given by the state government because of their choices of languages, the Union Cabinet minister claimed.
Ms Sitharaman said while it is difficult for a person to learn a new language after attaining adulthood, she could pick up her husband’s mother tongue Telugu but could not take up Hindi may be due to her past.
“I speak Hindi with a lot of ‘sankoch’ (hesitation),” she said, admitting that the fluency with which she can speak is affected.
The Finance Minister, however, continued speaking in Hindi and finished the entire speech which lasted over 35 minutes in Hindi.
Ms Sitharaman said India could have achieved the position as the fifth-biggest economy in the world earlier itself, but for the imported philosophy of socialism which depended on centralised planning.
She termed the 1991 economic reforms undertaken by the then Congress government as “aadhe-adhure reforms” (half-baked reforms), where the economy was not opened in the right way but as per the strictures imposed by the IMF.
No progress happened till the BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee took on the Prime Ministership and his focus on infrastructure building, roads and mobile telephony helped us a lot.
Ten more years were lost after the corrupt UPA government came to power, where the focus was making personal gains and the country’s interests were left behind, she claimed.
After his ascent to the PM’s post, Narendra Modi initiated fundamental path-breaking reforms which also include the direct benefit transfer scheme that has ensured transparency in public delivery without leakages, Ms Siharaman said, adding that benefits of up to Rs 2 lakh crore have occurred as a result of the scheme.
The policy decisions have also laid the foundations for the emergence of a big lender like SBI which can serve the credit needs of the economy quickly, she said.
The Modi regime has also taken the right decisions to be away from businesses where the government should not be, Ms Sitharaman said, pointing out that Air India was facing losses of Rs 20 crore per day till it was privatised.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)