Debate On The National Language- UPSC Current Affairs

DEBATE ON THE NATIONAL LANGUAGE

Accelerate your UPSC exam preparation with our daily edition of Current Affairs Dialog Box. In today’s edition, we will talk about the Debate On The National Language and how it is related to the UPSC CSE syllabus. Read to enhance your UPSC CSE Preparation.

Prelims: Three-language Policy, Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, Constitutional Provisions Related to Language.

Mains: Government Policies & Interventions, Linguistic Organization of States.

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Why in the News?

Remarks by a Hindi actor to the effect that Hindi is the national language of India, sparked a controversy recently over the status of the language under the Constitution. 

Probable Question

The language question is not just about imposition but about distortion of an individual’s cultural identity. Comment

Key Points

Background

  • The official language issue was hotly debated in the Constituent Assembly, and the provisions relating to it were formulated only after a compromise.
  • Ultimately, it was decided that the Constitution will only speak of an ‘official language’. And that English would continue to be used for a period of 15 years. The Constitution said that after 15 years, Parliament may by law decide on the use of English and the use of the Devanagari form of numbers for specified purposes.
  • The Official Languages Act, 1963, allowed for the continuation of English alongside Hindi in the Indian Government indefinitely until legislation is passed to change it. 

What is the status of Hindi?

  • Under Article 343 of the Constitution, the official language of the Union shall be Hindi in the Devanagari script. The international form of Indian numerals will be used for official purposes.

What is the Eighth Schedule?

  • The Eighth Schedule contains a list of languages in the country. 
  • Initially, there were 14 languages in the Schedule, but now there are 22 languages. There is no description of the sort of languages that are included or will be included in the Eighth Schedule.

Constitutional Provision related to Hindi language

  • Article 344(1): Article 344(1) provides for the formation of a Commission by the President, which should have a Chairman and members representing scheduled languages. The purpose of the Commission is to make recommendations for the progressive use of Hindi for official purposes of the Union and for restricting the use of English.
  • Article 351: It says that it is the Union government’s duty to promote the spread of Hindi so that it becomes “a medium of expression for all elements of the composite culture of India” and also to assimilate elements of forms and expressions from Hindustani and languages listed in the Eighth Schedule.

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Three Language Formula

  • Since the 1960s, the Centre’s education policy documents speak of teaching three languages: 
    • Hindi, English and one regional language in Hindi-speaking States, 
    • Hindi, English and the official regional language in other States. 
  • In practice, however, only some States teach both their predominant language and Hindi, besides English.
  • Tamil Nadu has been steadfastly opposing the three-language formula and sticks to teaching Tamil and English. It argues that those who need to know Hindi can learn on their own.

Conclusion

  • India has no National Language as per the Constitution but has Hindi and English as the official languages.
  • National integration in a multilingual country does not require the imposition of one official language on the country, especially when the language selected for the purpose is one of its many regional languages even if it happens to be that of the largest linguistic group in the country.

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