Settling the language for cooperative federalism

Source– The post is based on the article “Settling the language for cooperative federalism” published in The Hindu on 30 November 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Challenges pertaining to federal structure

Relevance– Language issues

News– The article explains the issues of language in our federal setup

What does the constitution say about language issue?

Article 345 leaves it to the State to choose its language for official purposes. In actual practice, several States and Union Territories continue to use English. Article 348 stipulates that all proceedings of the Supreme Court, every High Court and Bills in Parliament shall be in the English language.

The Eighth Schedule and the periodic additions to it spell out the diversity and complexity of the language landscape. The Official Languages Act of 1963 and its Rules made in 1976 and amended in 1987, 2007 and 2011 also adds to this diversity.

Article 351 directs the state, in the development of Hindi, to draw upon other languages in the composite culture of India.

What are some facts about parliamentary committees on official language?

It consists of 30 members of Parliament, and is headed by the Home Minister. Its mandate is to review the progress made in the use of Hindi for official purposes.

It also makes recommendations to increase the use of Hindi in official communications. It submits its report to the President of India, who forwards its recommendations to the two Houses.

So far, only the recommendations of the reports up to the ninth in the year 2010 have been forwarded to the Houses of Parliament. The 10th and 11th reports have been submitted to the President and are not in the public domain.

What are the issues with the recommendations of the 10th report of the parliamentary committee on official language?

It highlighted some of its recommendations on language of instruction and examinations in technical courses. There are concerns about its implications and practicality in terms of the availability of standard books and course material. Lack of teachers qualified to communicate it adequately is also a big issue

A related matter is the competence in Hindi language of candidates undertaking examinations in it and competing in equal measure with those whose mother tongue it is.

There is apprehension that the imposition of Hindi is detrimental to students whose mother tongue is not Hindi. Its implications for competitiveness in the job market are evident.

The chapter on Official Language is definitive and limits itself to the language of the Union. It does not mention a national language. There is no mention of it in the section on Directive Principles of State Policy or Fundamental Duties.

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