Recently, the Parliamentary Committee on Official Languages, chaired by the Union Home Minister, recommended that local languages be given preference over English in all states.

The committee has also suggested that the medium of instruction in higher education institutes such as IITs in Hindi-speaking states be Hindi and that Hindi be one of the United Nations’ official languages.

 

Details

  • In its 11th report, the Parliamentary Committee framed recommendations based on the new National Education Policy (2020), which indicated that the medium of instruction should be either official or regional languages.
  • According to the Parliament Committee, in higher education institutions such as Banaras Hindu University, Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University, Hindi is being used only 20-30%, whereas it should be used 100%.
    • The panel noted that English is a foreign language and this colonial practice should be done away.
  • The Committee suggested that in all technical and non-technical institutions (like IITs, central universities and Kendriya Vidyalayas) in the country —
    • Hindi (in Hindi-speaking states) and their respective local language in other regions of India should be used as the medium of instruction and
    • the use of English should be made optional.
  • The Committee also recommended that Hindi should be made as one of the official languages in the UN.

 

Background

  • The Constituent Assembly was sharply divided on the issue of Hindi’s status in independent India, with members from non-Hindi-speaking states rejecting the idea of recognising Hindi as a national language.
  • Finally, it was determined that the Constitution will simply refer to an “official language,” and that English will be used for the next 15 years.
  • However, the Official Languages Act, 1963, mentions the continuation of English for official purposes of the Union and for use in Parliament, establishing Hindi and English as the Union’s official languages.

 

Status of Hindi

  • Under Article 343 of the Constitution, the official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script. The international form of Indian numerals (the Arabic form used and understood throughout the world) will be used for official purposes.
      • Hence, there is no national language for India, and Hindi is the official language of the Union.
  • The Eighth Schedule of the Constitution contains a list of 22 languages (‘Hindi’ is one among them) in the country.
      • There is no mention of the languages that are or will be included in the Eighth Schedule.
      • There are only two references to these languages in the Constitution – one is in Article 344(1) and the other in Article 351.
      • Article 344(1) authorises the President of India to appoint a Commission to make recommendations for the progressive use of Hindi for official purposes of the Union while restricting the use of English.
      • According to Article 351, it is the Union government’s responsibility to promote the spread of Hindi so that it becomes a medium of expression for all elements of India’s composite culture.

 

Adoption of three-language formula

  • In 1959, the central government gave an assurance that English would continue to be in official use and as the language of communication between the Centre and the states.
      • The Official Languages Act of 1963, which allowed for the continued use of English after the 15-year period expired, did not specifically include this promise.
      • This raised concern in several states (like Tamil Nadu) that Hindi would be imposed in such a way that the future employment prospects of those who do not speak Hindi will be thin.
  • To address this, the first National Policy on Education (1968) speaks of teaching three languages —
      • Hindi, English and one regional language in Hindi-speaking States, and
      • Hindi, English and the official regional language in other States.
  • In practice, however, only a few states teach both their predominant language and Hindi, in addition to English.
      • For example, Tamil Nadu has always opposed the 3-language formula and only teaches Tamil and English.
      • It claims that anyone who needs to study Hindi can do so on their own.