[Answered] “Regional languages have become the official languages of the States”. In light of this critically analyse the issue of having a common official language at national level.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Argument against and in favour of a common official language.
Conclusion. Way forward.

India is linguistically diverse country. Starting from Jammu – Kashmir in north to Kanyakumari in south and Gujarat in West to Arunachal Pradesh in east, people speak different languages and dialect. Few of them are Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Urdu, Haryanvi etc. Indian constitution considers English and Hindi as the official languages. From the time before independence to present time, there has always been controversy regarding “One India, One language” and imposing Hindi as the national language.

Hindi as the common official language of India:

  1. Article 343 mentions that official language of the union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script.
  2. Hindi as a common language would be used by speakers of different languages or a language used by people of diverse speech to communicate with one another, often a basic form of speech with simplified grammar.
  3. Less than half of all Indians speak Hindi, the most widely spoken language. It is the mother tongue of only 26% of India’s population.
  4. The second-most widely spoken language, English, is spoken by around 10% of Indians. The majority of Indians speak a variety of regional languages, many of which use distinct scripts and have little linguistic relation to each other.
  5. Hindi has acquired more importance than ever before as professionals have become increasingly mobile. And they have a great need to know Hindi as a means of communication.
  6. Hindi is one such language that is understood by people from different castes and states, and therefore deserves to be the official language of India.
  7. Already Indian has adopted the western culture in many ways. If it continues there will be no personal or rather say national identity of India.
  8. The small little steps are the ways that will make sure that the people from different religion have at least something in common as Indians.
  9. Hindi, especially in the less highly Sanskritised form used in everyday speech, is barely distinct from other languages.

Argument against Hindi as common official language:

  1. In spite of Hindi being the National Official Language of India and in spite of being a base language for other Indian languages, Hindi is not actually Lingua Franca of India.
  2. Apart from the general divide between the North and the South, there is also a Linguistic Divide. South India is home to Dravidian states. These states are not really willing to readily accept Hindi as an official language.
  3. If Hindi is given priority then it will create differences among the people who don’t speak it making them feel as second class citizens.
  4. It can also endanger other languages and dialects and reduce diversity. National integration cannot come at the cost of people’s linguistic identities.
  5. It would lead to Hindi chauvinism and is against linguistic diversity of the nation.

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. The focus should not be on establishing one national language, but should be shifted to strengthening the official languages whose importance cannot be disregarded.

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