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Outside of North India, Hindi is not the native language of crores of Indians: Trinamool Congress MP


Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Saket Gokhale speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the Interim Budget Session of the Parliament, in New Delhi on Tuesday.
| Photo Credit: ANI

Trinamool Congress MP Saket Gokhale’s zero-hour submission in Rajya Sabha, accusing the centre of “imposing” Hindi while flagging Meghalaya Governor’s decision to deliver his address to the State Assembly in Hindi, raised tempers. This was when Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar intervened to say that Article 351 of the Constitution provided that it shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, inviting howls of protest.

Mr. Gokhale said that such an imposition was against the federal structure and English must be used for government business. The Trinamool member pointed out that at the start of the current Budget session of the Meghalaya Assembly, it was announced that the Governor would deliver his address to the House in Hindi.

“Honourable Governor of Meghalaya choosing to address the Assembly in Hindi instead of the State’s official language English is nothing but a brazen Hindi imposition, and an attempt to undermine the linguistic pride of Meghalaya,” he alleged.

Mr. Gokhale said the government has recently passed three new criminal laws in Parliament and these laws have been given very complicated Hindi names. “Let me remind the House here that outside of North India, Hindi is not the native language of crores of Indians,” he said. Our Constitution, he said, chose to retain English as an official language along with Hindi.

“However, the attempts by the current government to forcibly impose Hindi, which is barely spoken by 46% of the population, on the rest of India is a matter of shame,” he alleged.

Mr. Gokhale said there is absolutely no respect for local languages and every new law, every new name that this government gives is in Hindi. “Are languages of the West, the South and the East not important in this country? Do regional languages have no meaning,” he asked.

Mr. Gokhale noted that English must be used for government business that extends to all of India, including non-Hindi-speaking States.

Noting that he had taken oath under the Constitution, Mr. Dhankhar told Mr. Gokhale that Article 351 of the Constitution provided that it shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language. He also read out the relevant portion from the Constitution.

“We have a culture of very rich languages. We are proud of our languages. Our languages have even a global impact. They have a great culture. All I am saying is we must have a consensual approach,” the Chairman said. This invited howls of protests from several DMK members, including their floor leader Tiruchi Siva, and other members from the Left parties, who protested against the Chairman’s observation.



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