Criminal Trident Pack: IPC, CrPC and IEA by Sr. Adv. G.S Shukla and Adv. Raghav Arora
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Key Takeaways

  • The Indian constitution does not grant any language the right to be designated as the country's national language.
  • Any language spoken by a high percentage of a country's population may be referred to as the national language.
  • Due to widespread opposition to the imposition of Hindi, the Official Languages Act of 1963 was passed, ensuring that English would continue to be used for all official purposes.

Introduction

India is a diversified country with a variety of cultures in every region. It is made up of 28 states and eight union territories, each representing its distinct cultural legacy and accent. According to the Constitution of India's eighth schedule, there are a total of 22 scheduled languages that are widely spoken across the country. It was difficult to define India's national language due to the large number of languages spoken in the country.

What is India's National Language

Due to the country's variety, India does not grant any language the position of a national language. In India, Hindi is spoken by fewer than 44% of the population. For decades, there has been a debate about making Hindi a national language, but no progress has been made. The Indian constitution does not grant any language the right to be designated as the country's national language. However, Hindi and English have been proclaimed as the official languages of the country, to be used for all official purposes.

"The official language of the Union will be Hindi in Devanagari script," says Article 343(1) of the Indian constitution. The international version of Indian numerals shall be utilized for official purposes of the Union.

Only Hindi or English can be used to conduct business in the Indian parliament or government offices. English is permitted to be used for official reasons throughout the country, including legislative proceedings, correspondence between the Central and State governments, and judicial procedures.

Difference between National and Official Language

  • Any language spoken by a high percentage of a country's population may be referred to as the national language. It serves a variety of political, cultural, and social purposes.
  • The official language is the language used for government matters, such as in the national court, parliament, or business, and is usually recognized and adopted by the government or legislature.
  • When engaging with the Hindi states, the Central Government will employ the Hindi language in accordance with Article 343.
  • The Associate official language is English, and it is the language that must be used when communicating with the states. As a result, according to the Indian Constitution, Hindi and English are official languages rather than national languages.

Debate in Constituent Assembly

  • When the Constituent Assembly began drafting India's Constitution, the subject of establishing a national language remained unresolved.
  • Members from Hindi-speaking areas introduced plenty of pro-Hindi amendments and campaigned for Hindi to be made the sole national language.
  • Due to widespread opposition to the imposition of Hindi, the Official Languages Act of 1963 was passed, ensuring that English would continue to be used for all official purposes.

Issues with the Eighth Schedule

  • According to the 2001 Census, India has 30 official languages, each of which is spoken by over a million people.
  • The eighth schedule of the Constitution contains 22 languages that are protected.
  • Many languages are left out of this schedule, despite the fact that they deserve to be in it.
  • This includes Tulu, which has inscriptions dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries and is spoken by about 1.8 million people.
  • Since before independence, Hindi, a much younger Indo-Aryan language, has been gaining popularity.
  • When a polished language loses its literary and everyday standing, the manner of life linked with it fades away as well.
  • According to the census, while Hindi is the fastest growing language, the number of people who speak other languages has decreased.

New Debate Over Hindi Being A National Language

After Bollywood superstar Ajay Devgn and South Indian actor Kichcha Sudeep engaged in a Twitter feud over the latter's remark that Hindi was no longer India's national language, a new controversy about Hindi being a national language erupted. Sudeep's statement three days ago at an event in Bengaluru where the who's who of the Kannada film industry hailed KGF-2's state-wide triumph sparked the debate. Sudeep responded that Hindi is no longer a national language when the eventdeclared that KGF-2 had a pan-India influence. Sudeep later explained that the context in which he made the statement differed from how it was interpreted and that it was not meant to provoke, hurt, or create a dispute.

Mahatma Gandhi’s view

In 2019, Home Minister Amit Shah invoked Mahatma Gandhi in support of the government's proposal that Hindi be designated as India's official language. He had tweeted two years ago, 'I want to encourage everyone to promote their original languages while also using Hindi to realize Bapu (Mahatma Gandhi) and Sardar (Vallabhbhai) Patel's idea of a single language.'

Historians, on the other hand, believed Gandhi was always shifting his position. After 1942, Gandhi tended to emphasize the use of Hindustani, a blend of Hindi and Urdu, rather than Hindi, as the people's unifying language.

Conclusion

The tension between a desire to promote national unity, which is anchored in Hindi, and the exclusion of other language communities is stark. It boils down to a single question: can national integration trump people's linguistic and cultural identities? Language, after all, is arguably central to every political and social debate, so the issue of language isn't just about imposition — it's also about jeopardizing one's cultural identity.


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