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REPERCUSSIONS OF MAKING HINDI COMPULSORY

Introduction

Recently President has accepted most of the recommendations made in the ninth report of the Committee of Parliament on Official Language, which are aimed at promotion of Hindi.

What does the notification says?

The recent notification by the Department of Official Languages, Ministry of Home Affairs came out with the recommendations of Committee of Parliament on Official Language which were accepted by the President. Some of the important ones are:

  • All dignitaries including Hon’ble President and all the Ministers especially who can read and speak Hindimay be requested to give their speech/statement in Hindi
  • Making announcements on civilian flights in Hindi followed by English.
  • On flights, half the reading material should consist of Hindi newspapers and magazines as “Hindi is grossly neglected by airlines”,
  • Maximum usage of Hindi should be ensured on all tickets of Air India and Pawan Hans helicopters.
  • 100% availability of training material in bilingual at the Mussoorie-based Lal Bahadur Shashtri National Administrative Academy.
  • Universities and higher educational institutes situated in non-Hindi speaking states, where the students are not given an option for Hindi to appear in exams/interviews, must be given an option to answer in Hindi.

The panel had also asked the ministry of human resource development to make serious efforts to make Hindi language compulsory in curriculum. This recommendation is accepted in principle.

Why these new rules came up?

In a large and diverse country like India, there is always need to found certain mechanisms which can strengthen unity in diversity. Though India has many languages, but it is said that the substance of the literary works has been common to the great extent and thus promoting unity. The present notification is step further in this direction.

  • No one is denying the need of having a common language for administrative purpose, as it will greatly reduce burden, will facilitate easy communication of ideas, knowledge, persons and in turn help in building sense of brotherhood and integrity.
  • It is said that Hindi is the most widely spoken Indian language, with around 40cr. people using it. Therefore there is natural need to use it in official communications, so that the official decisions are easily understood by these people.
  • English language which at present dominates official work, is foreign language and is a colonial legacy. Therefore it must be replaced with our own language.
  • With greater use of Hindi for official purpose, it will get wider publicity, greater attention and focus which has been lost in recent. As result of new ideas, literature may be written in it and which in turn further help it.

Other steps taken to promote Hindi

  • Recently there has been lot of focus on use of Hindi. Rajbhasha desks have been instituted in all govt. departments, naming of schemes has been done mostly in Hindi language, Prime Minister of India has most of the times used Hindi to address gathering or seminars. Along with this a PIL has come up in Supreme Court asking to make Hindi compulsory till 8th class in all schools.

Constitutional provisions related to languages:

· There is no national language as declared by the Constitution of India.

·  The Constitution lists Hindi written in Devanagari script as well as English as the official language to be used for official purposes such as parliamentary proceedings, judiciary, communications between the Central Government and a State Government.

· States within India have the liberty and powers to specify their own official language(s) through legislation.

· The Constitution imposes a duty upon the Centre to promote the spread and development of the Hindi language so that it may become the lingua franca of the composite culture of India.

· The Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution contains a list of 22 scheduled languages. The Government of India is under an obligation to take measures for the development of these languages.


What may be its impact?

The official use of Hindi has always been a bit of a touchy topic, with the Southern states like Tamil Nadu having protested against mandatory Hindi education in the past. The present notification can be seen by some sections as an attempt to force Hindi upon them.

  • Hindi is widely spoken in the north, but southern and eastern states have always opted for local languages or English. Five decades ago, efforts to impose Hindi as the country’s only official language had triggered violent riots in the south.
  • Language is regarded by people as closely connected with their culture. E.g. in Tamil Nadu, disinterest in Hindi stems from the pride of people in Tamil heritage.
  • Hindi is of recent origin as compared to other languages like Tamil, Telugu, Kannad, Sanskrit etc.  and therefore many states are not ready to accept it as main language superseding their regional languages.
  • This issue continues to be exploited by the political parties for narrow political ends.
  • Constitution also says that government must focus on development of all Scheduled languages, thus promoting Hindi will discriminate against them

It must be kept in mind that linguistic problems are not limited to India and have arisen in other parts of the world too. The language issue has lead to civil war in Sri Lanka, students uprising and separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan. Therefore there is a great need to handle the language issue with care.

Way forward

There is no denying of the fact that there is a need to develop a lingua-franca for India, but it should neither be forced upon nor such feeling should come. It should be a natural process. It must be kept in mind that whenever a particular language has dominated a region or world , it has been because of knowledge creation in the language. English language was source of knowledge because of scientific discoveries in English speaking countries. Same has been with Sanskrit, Latin and Greek, Arabic in past. Therefore there is need to promote education, literary works, scientific development to be done in Hindi; so that speakers from other language feel a natural desire to learn it and in the process it becomes a common language. All this requires long term vision, support system.

Till then a common official language, which reflects local culture, aspirations should be used only after consultation with all states. Along with this training facilities for officials, application of three language formula and other steps must be taken so that no one finds difficulty in understanding Hindi.

 

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