Theme : Polity & Constitution
Paper : GS - 2
TABLE OF CONTENT
- What is Official Language?
- Various Constitutional Provisions
- Official Languages Act 1963
- What was the 3-Language Formula
- Oppositions Against “Hindi Imposition”
- Present Proposal
- Opinion of Critics
Context : Recently the Parliamentary 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.
What is Official Language?
An official language is one that has been granted special status by a country, state, or other entity. Typically, the word "official language" refers to the language used by a government for example court, legislature, and/or administration.
Various Constitutional Provisions :
- Article 343(1) says that the official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script. The form of numerals to be used for the official purposes of the Union shall be the international form of Indian numerals.
- Article 343 (2) mentions that irrespective of the fact that Hindi shall be the official language, but for a period of fifteen years from the commencement of this Constitution.
- The English language shall continue to be used for all the official purposes of the Union for which it was being used immediately before the commencement of Indian Constitution. But as of now, the status quo on the use of English remains.
- The Part XVII of the Indian Constitution deals with Official Language.
- The President of India can also authorize the use of the Hindi language in addition to the English language and of the Devanagari form of numerals in addition to the international form of Indian numerals for any of the official purposes of the Union.
Official Languages Act 1963 :
- This act provides that English should be the communication language between the Union and the non-Hindi states. The act also provides that, The communication between Hindi and Non-Hindi states if done in Hindi then it must be accompanied by an English translation.
- If a demand is made to the president and he is satisfied that a substantial proportion of the population of a state wish to use any language spoken by them to be recognized by that state, then he may direct them to recognize that language as an official language of the state. The main objective here is to protect the linguistic interests of minorities in states.
What was the 3-Language Formula :
- The three-language formula was first formulated by the Indira Gandhi-led central government in 1968 in consultation with states and then incorporated into the National Education Policy.
- The idea was to encourage students to learn more than one language or just their mother tongue, and to have north Indians learn a southern language and vice versa.
- The original formula spelt out that students learn their mother tongue or a regional language, the official language of the Union (English) or the associate official language of the Union (Hindi), and a modern Indian language.
- In Hindi-speaking states, the formula translated into learning Hindi, English and a modern Indian language (preferably south Indian). For students in non-Hindi speaking states, it mandated lessons in Hindi, English and the regional language.
- But the contours of implementation still lay with states since education is a state subject. As the policy was interpreted and implemented by various states and came to acquire a political color, it took on different versions in south and north India.
Oppositions Against “Hindi Imposition” :
- 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.
- Though, 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.
- Tamil Nadu has had a long history of agitations against “Hindi imposition”. In 1937, E.V. R. Naicker or Periyar of Justice Party, spearheaded an agitation against the move of the regime headed by C. Rajagopalachari in the Presidency of Madras to make Hindi compulsory in secondary schools.
- The British government, in 1940, made Hindi optional. 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.
- The anti-Hindi sentiments in Southern states, especially Tamil Nadu, is not just a language affair. According to a report, imposition of Hindi is seen as the hegemony of the North and the introduction of mono-culture.
Present Proposal :
- If reports in sections of the media are an indication, 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.
Opinion of Critics :
- They have called for equal treatment to all the languages specified under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
- The Kerala Chief Minister has specifically stated that question papers for competitive examinations should be prepared in all the languages while his Tamil Nadu counterpart has urged the Center to promote all languages and keep open the avenues of progress in terms of education and employment equal to speakers of all languages.
1. What is the 3-Language Formula?
Answer : The original formula spelt out that students learn their mother tongue or a regional language, the official language of the Union (English) or the associate official language of the Union (Hindi), and a modern Indian language.
2. What is an Official Language?
Answer : An official language is one that has been granted special status by a country, state, or other entity. Typically, the word "official language" refers to the language used by a government for example court, legislature, and/or administration.