Recently, remarks by a Hindi actor that Hindi is the national language of India sparked a controversy over the status of the language under the Constitution
What is the status of Hindi in India?
- 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.
- Inherent opposition to Hindi: The Constituent Assembly was bitterly divided on the question, with members from States that did not speak Hindi initially opposing the declaration of Hindi as a national language.
- Colonial footprints of English: Proponents of Hindi were insistent that English was the language of enslavement and that it should be eliminated as early as possible.
- Fear of Hindi imposition: Opponents were against English being done away with, fearing that it may lead to Hindi domination in regions that did not speak the language.
- Inefficacy of Sanskrit: There were demands to make Sanskrit the official language, while some argued in favour of ‘Hindustani’.
- Issue over Script: There were differences of opinion over the script too. When opinion veered towards accepting Hindi, proponents of the language wanted the ‘Devanagari’ script to be adopted both for words and numerals.
- 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. 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 was passed in anticipation of the expiry of the 15-year period during which the Constitution originally allowed the use of English for official purposes.
- The Act provided for the continuing use of English, notwithstanding the expiry of the 15-year period.
- The Eighth Schedule contains a list of 22 languages in the country. There is no description of the sort of languages that are included or will be included in the Eighth Schedule.
READ MORE: Daily Prelims Booster
READ MORE: Daily News Analysis