Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that Hindi should be accepted as an alternative to English and not to local languages. He was presiding over the 37th meeting of the Parliamentary Official Language Committee.
Union home minister Amit Shah also said that Hindi would be made compulsory up to Class 10 in the eight north-eastern states.
Hindi language is not our national language but it is the official language of India including English.
- Article 29 of the Constitution of India protects the interests of minorities. The Article states that any section of the citizens who have a “…distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.”
- Under Article 120 of the Constitution of India, the business of the House is to be transacted in Hindi or in English, but a member who cannot adequately express himself in either of the two languages can, with the permission of the Speaker, address the House in any of the languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution or in his mother tongue.
- Article 346 of the Constitution of India is about the official language for communication between the states and between a state and the Union. The Article states that the “authorised” language will be used. However, if two or more states agree that their communications shall be in Hindi, then Hindi may be used.
- Article 347 of the Constitution of India gives the President the power to recognise a language as an official language of a given state.
- Article 350B of the Constitution of India provides for the establishment of a Special Officer for linguistic minorities. The Officer shall be appointed by the President.
- The Constituent Assembly of India adopted Hindi written in Devnagari Scriptalong with English as the official language of the country on September 14, 1949, under Article 343(1).
- Article 351gives power to the Union Government to issue a directive for the development of the Hindi language.
- The Hindi language is one of the 22 languages of the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India.
- The imposition of Hindi was contested in many non-Hindi states, especially in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
- Violent protests broke out in southern India, leading the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, to introduce the ‘Official Languages Act’ in 1963.
- The Act removed the restriction which had been placed by the constitution on the use of English after 1965
- The Act assured the continuation of English along with Hindi the official languageof the Union of India.
- Fearing of dilution of this Act, protests from South India were reported again in 1965
- The‘Official Languages Act’ was amended in 1967
- Provided the use of English as an associate language in addition to Hindi for the official work at centre & for communication between the centre and non-Hindi states would continue as long as non-Hindi states wanted it.
- Indefinite policy of bilingualism was adopted.
- In 2018, ahead of the 11th World Hindi Conference, the government proposed to make Hindi an official language of the UN. Even then, it received severe criticism from people and politicians belonging to the non-Hindi speaking belt.
Statistics of language In India:
The 2011 Census listed 1,369 ‘mother tongues’ in the country. Hindi is only one among them.
- Hindi is the mother tongue of 44% of Indians in Census 2011; the rest speak 120 other languages
Many leaders in the national movement visualized a special role for Hindi. Most of them supported Hindustani, a mixed language, not the pure Hindi being pushed today. But all of them were clear that it could not be imposed.
Today nearly 35% of people are migrating daily for work. Therefore, clubbing together multilingual spaces with monolingual habitats is not fair to the large cities today.
Any idea of one link language, whether Hindi or English, will be economically disastrous for India. It will slow down migration and reduce the ease of capital flow.
In neighbouring Bangladesh – then East Pakistan – the language movement against the imposition of Urdu on Bengali speakers was a key driver of Pakistan splitting into two nations.
It is ironic that our animosity towards English makes us blind to the fact that the idea of a singular nation: One nation, One language, is itself a European Idea, whereas India always believed in Unity in diversity.
- This idea is not in tune with our history, culture and civilisation as India is a multilingual society.
- It is essential to move the discussion away from the binaries of Hindi and non-Hindi camps. The issue which merits attention is the manner in which linguistic policies ought to be designed in a multicultural society.
- Rethink the three-language policy,which exists just on paper now.
- Three-language formula envisaged by Kothari Commissionsought that, Hindi should be introduced in non-Hindi-speaking States from an early stage and the Hindi-speaking States should introduce a non-Hindi Indian language.
- However, most non-Hindi speaking States did introduce Hindi, unfortunately, the Hindi-speaking States bypassedthe requirement to teach a non-Hindi language (preferably a South Indian language) through Sanskrit.
- The three-language formula is a sound formula, but the choice of language (s) must be left with the citizens and not the Government.
- Moreover, there are better ways to foster national unity than imposing a language.
Fostering a single labour market.
- A united nation has to have space for diversity. India is united in its diversity. Diversity is a great philosophical idea and should never be seen as a cultural burden.