India Doesn't Have A National Language - Online Article

For the Last 21 years, I was under the conspiracy that, Hindi is the National Language of India. Just few days back I came to know that India doesn't have National Language.

I felt ashamed. How come I was not sure of this small fact?.

Thank God.. Its not only me, my friends too. They were also under the impression that Hindi is the Raashtra Bhasha of India.

Also, I can safely conclude, more than half the population of India were under this conspiracy. Come On, India.

But Now, It was really surprising for me to hear that India never had a National Language. I dont know who had first imprinted this thought in my Mind.

There is one very interesting fact about the languages of India. Though India may boast of being a home to the languages of major lingual families of the world the irony is that this abode of languages does not have a national language of its own. According to the Constitution of India any language, which will be accepted by all the states of India as their official language will be given the status of national language. In India no language is accepted or spoken by all the states unanimously. Even Hindi, a single language largely spoken by the people of India is unable to attain the status of national language as it is does not fulfill the condition of Constitution of India. Though it is spoken by large number of people but just 10 states of India have accepted it as their official language.

The Indian Constitution (Article 343) declares Hindi to be the official language of the Union.

English remains the additional official language of India. It is the authoritative legislative and judicial language. In fact, one could say that English is the official language in India for all practical purposes. For many educated Indians, English is virtually their first language though a large number of Indians are multi-lingual.

DIFFERENCE between National and Official Language:

NATIONAL LANGUAGE: Defines the people of the nation, culture, history.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: A language that is used for official communication

While a National language by default can become the Official language, an Official language has to be APPROVED legally to become the National language.

All languages spoken in India, starting from the most populous to the least are our national languages, because all of them define the people of this nation, culture and their history collectively.

India has NO LEGALLY DEFINED NATIONAL LANGUAGES ONLY 18 OFFICIAL languages as per the constitution.

Though there is special provision for development of Hindi under article 351.

Article 351: It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing, wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.

The constitution of India came into existence on January 26, 1950. Enshrined in the constitution was the status of Hindi and English to be the "Official Languages" of the Central Government of India till 1965 (for a period of 15 years), after which Hindi was expected to take up the pre-eminent position as the sole "National and Official Language" of India irrespective of the state or central government. Hindi and English were the "Official Languages" in every department controlled by the Central Government, which is why Hindi is prominent in Railways, Nationalised Banks etc which come under the Central Government.

As January 26, 1965 neared, some in the non-Hindi, particularly Tamils, started voicing their apprehensions openly. Between 1948 and 1961, on an average, every year close to 24% of Central Government Officials were selected from the state of Madras (present day Tamil Nadu). The next best was Uttar Pradesh with about 16%. The idea of making Hindi the sole National language was blasphemous to the students as it was combined with the complete removal of English - even as a medium for competitive examinations for jobs and education. This would mean that the Northern regions with their Hindi proficiency would dominate the government posts and also education. Since government jobs were the most lucrative positions before 1991 liberalization, this was seen as an indirect means to usurp the English-educated South Indians of jobs. The non-Hindi-speaking people in South India feared that they would be discriminated against in government employment and in other ways.

The 1940s, 50s and the first half of the 1960s saw many anti-Hindi imposition protests in the form of public meetings, marches, hunger strikes, demonstrations before schools and Indian government offices, and black flag demonstrations before visiting Indian government ministers. Most of these were organized either by the DK or the DMK, and the general public supported them fully. There were several hundred such protests around Tamil Nadu and several thousand people went to jail. Several hundreds were injured when police used lathi charge to disburse peaceful protesters. Lal Bahadur Shastri, then PM, even though supportive of the pro-Hindi group, realising the seriousness, came up with a set of compromises that did not give Hindi any "Sole National Language" status.

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Chandra Bhushan on 2009-03-03 23:26:18 wrote,

The respect for our National language is degrading day by day... I think this article has some solution to this problem.