The Official Language Committee, headed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, submitted a report regarding the Hindi language to President Droupadi Murmu in September, following which voices of protest have started rising in some states. Expressing displeasure, the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala said that Hindi is being imposed on their states by the central government.
Bhartruhari Mahtab, Vice-Chairman of the Official Language Parliamentary Committee, spoke exclusively with IANS that the Chief Ministers of both the states are giving statements on misleading news and that the committee would not do anything like this.
Q: The Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala have said that Hindi is being imposed on them. What does the committee have to say?
A: I can give my views and feedback, but not on behalf of the committee. This talk is baseless. Tamil Nadu is exempted under the Official Language Act, hence the rules are not applicable there. It is not that they do not know this, yet they are still raising this issue. As for Kerala, Hindi is not being imposed on any state. Both Hindi and English have been included in the 1976 Act. It has only been said from our side that (a) the use of Hindi should be increased in the central government institutions. The terminology used by some media houses is misleading and wrong.
Q: What changes are being made by the committee this time in the new report?
A: The Chief Ministers of Kerala and Tamil Nadu who hold constitutional posts must know this. Why will something that has not been changed for 46 years, change now? There is no scope for any change. We have sent the 11th clause of the report to the President. Nine clauses have already come into force. The remaining 10th and 11th are under consideration of the President. Our new report is confidential as of now.
Q: If there have not been some changes in the report, then why are some states raising this issue?
A: They may have a desire to take some political advantage. I cannot comment, they are aware of this, yet are raising the issue.
Q: Are the states divided into 3 categories?
A: We did not make this arrangement. It has been in existence since 1976, since Indira Gandhi's government. No changes have been made to this.
Q: What provisions are being made in this report regarding Hindi for the non-Hindi speaking states which have been kept in the third category?
A: In non-Hindi speaking states like Kerala, Telangana, Bengal, Odisha, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, it has been said that at least 55 per cent of the work in central government institutions should be done in Hindi. This arrangement has already been in place. No changes have been made to this. The state government can work in their own language as this is only for central government offices and institutions.
Q: Is Hindi being made the medium of instruction in the educational institutions of the central government located in the states?
A: This is happening, the process has been going on for years.
(The Committee of Parliament on Official Language was constituted in 1976 under Section 4 of the Official Languages Act, 1963. It was formed to review and promote the use of Hindi in official communication.)