April 17th, 2017
In a controversial move, President Pranab Mukherjee has accepted many of the recommendations of the Committee of Parliament on Official Languages to make Hindi more popular and extensive in usage.
Among these are:
- If dignitaries like the President and ministers can read and speak Hindi, they will be required to give speeches only in Hindi.
- Hindi magazines and newspapers must be available on airlines as Hindi is “grossly neglected by airlines”.
- Usage of Hindi on Air India tickets will become a compulsion.
Hon President accepted recommendation for speeches to be delivered only in Hindi by all dignitaries. It is great and welcome decision.
— SHARAD YADAV (@SharadYadavMP) April 17, 2017
The decision comes six years after the Committee made 117 recommendations to prioritise the usage of Hindi in Indian politics.
Some of the recommendations were rejected
According to The Economic Times, these included:
- Mandatory use of Hindi for correspondence in public shareholding companies.
- All private companies to provide product information in Hindi and product name in Devanagari.
- Fixing a minimum level of Hindi knowledge for getting government jobs.
- To extend Hindi being a compulsory subject from class 8 to class 10 in all CBSE and Kendriya Vidyalaya schools.
The Logical Indian take
The recommendations of the Committee that have been approved are extremely unfair to the non-Hindi-speaking population of India.
According to 2001 Census figures, 45% of Indians speak or know Hindi. But just 25% of people in India have declared Hindi as their mother tongue. A little over 25 crore actually speak Hindi, the census details show. It goes against the spirit of federalism and arithmetic to impose one language on the remaining 55% (or 75%, depending on how you see it).
The proposals that the President approved today disproportionately and negatively affect non-Hindi-speaking Indians.
While many of our ministers in the centre already speak only in Hindi, making it a rule is one step too far. A rule that requires every Hindi-knowing minister to give speeches only in Hindi is a harsh slap on those Indians who don’t know Hindi or are not adept with the language.
Furthermore, and most importantly, there are a few things every Indian should know when it comes to the language debate:
- India has no national language. Nowhere does the Constitution mention Hindi as the national language.
- It’s perfectly fine to not have a national language. Australia, Germany, the US, and many other democracies don’t have a national language.
- Defining yourself by a language doesn’t make much sense – it’s something you associate with because of birth, something you had nothing to do with.
- You’re fully free to settle down in any state of your choice in India – the Constitution guarantees you that freedom.
- And while it’s practical to learn the language of the state you live in, it is not compulsory. Just like it’s not compulsory for you to know Hindi no matter where you live in India.
- Languages don’t define India; Indians define India.