Discontent over Hindi Imposition

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    In News

    • Recently, a controversy has reignited over an attempt to impose Hindi on non-Hindi speaking people.

    Key Points

    • Background: 
      • TheParliamentary Committee on Official Language has recommended the use of Hindi as the medium of instruction in Central institutions of higher education in Hindi-speaking States and regional languages in other States.
    • Recent Reports of the Panel:
      • English, as a medium of instruction in all technical and non-technical institutions, will be permitted only where it is absolutely essential, as the idea is to replace the language gradually with Hindi in those institutions.
      • While IITs, IIMs and All India Institute of Medical Sciences are considered technical institutions, Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas fall under the other category. 
      • Also, the committee has recommended the removal of English as one of the languages in examinations held for recruitment to the Central services. 
      • It has stated that the requisite knowledge of Hindi among candidates should also be ensured. 
    • Government Actions promoting Hindi as official Language:
      • The National Education Policy: Mother tongue or the regional language would be the “preferred” mode of instruction until Class 5, and possibly Class 8.
      • Reports of English signage on National Highways in the State getting replaced with Hindi signage
      • The reiteration of the age-old assurance by the Central government coupled with the promise of the promotion of other Indian languages have barely mollified the protesters.

    Critical Points in the Report

    • Punishment of reluctance to use Hindi:
      • The panel is learnt to have taken a serious view of officers and other employees in the central government who do not use Hindi in Hindi-speaking states. 
      • The panel wants state governments to warn officials that their reluctance to use Hindi would reflect in their Annual Performance Assessment Report (APAR).
    • Usage in official communication: 
      • It is the Committee’s responsibility and role to see that the Hindi language is promoted in official communication, and there are recommendations to that effect. 
      • Communication, which includes letters and emails, question papers for recruitment exams, events organised by the government and its departments, will have to be in Hindi.
    • Implicit Compulsory: 
      • Knowledge of Hindi would be compulsory in a number of government jobs.

    Linguistic Row

    • Historical Origin:
      • The origin of the linguistic row goes back to the debate on official languages. 
      • In the Constituent Assembly, Hindi was voted as the official language by a single vote. 
      • However, it added that English would continue to be used as an associate official language for 15 years. 
      • The Official Languages Act came into effect on the expiry of this 15-year period in 1965. 
    • Nehru’s vow:
      • However, as early as in 1959, Jawaharlal Nehru had given an assurance in Parliament that English would continue to be in use as long as non-Hindi speaking people wanted it.
    • TamilNadu’s Opposition: 
      • Tamil Nadu has had a long history of agitations against “Hindi imposition”. 
      • In August 1937, in the then Presidency of Madras, the regime headed by C. Rajagopalachari decided to make Hindi compulsory in secondary schools. 
      • E.V. Ramasamy spearheaded an agitation against the move, marking the first such stir.
      • In January 1965, the second round of agitations erupted in the wake of Hindi becoming the official language of the Union government coupled with the approach adopted by the Central government towards the whole issue.

    Way Ahead

    • There should be equal treatment to all the languages specified under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
    • Language is a sensitive matter. There is a need to develop consensus rather than imposition from the top. 
    • Zonal Councils and Interstate Council can be a great platform to discuss this sensitive issue.
    • The recognition of regional aspirations will strengthen the unity of India.

    Official Languages Act, 1963

    • Its essence is to provide something to each of the differing groups to meet its objections and safeguard its position. 
    • Whenever the parties in the State see any attempt to disturb this status quo, their reaction is always uniform — a virulent opposition.

    3 Language Policy

    • The policy first appeared in National Policy on Education 1968 where the emphasis was put on teaching three languages: Hindi, English and the regional language of the respective state in schools and for all official purposes relating to state matters.
    • Later, the National Policy on Education 1986 and New Education Policy 2020 didn’t change this policy substantially. 
    • NEP 2020 still provides for 3 languages during school but doesn’t mention that the third language should be Hindi.
    • This is in contrast to the recommendation of Dr Kasturirangan Committee which prepared draft NEP 2019 saying 3 language formulas should be adopted at the primary school level including Hindi as one of three languages.

    Need for 3 language policy

    • Whole India speaks more than 1369 mother tongues which can be further classified as 121 major languages (Census 2011). Hence there is the need for a common language for easy communication.
    • Translation cost is very high and time-consuming.
    • Need for a national language as a symbol of unified India on the World Platform.
    • Hindi is spoken by nearly 57% of Indians and 43% of people reported it as their mother tongue (Census 2011)
    • Historical reason: “Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha” was established in the year 1918 by our beloved Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi to spread Hindi.

    Source: TH