Issue of Official Language of India

Issue of Official Language of India


Issue of Official Language of India

Being a foreign language Gandhi opposed the idea of English to be overall medium of communications in free India, hence, Hindi was chosen to be the official language of India.

  • Opposition to Hindi as national language tended to create conflict between Hindi and non-Hindi speaking regions of the country.
  • This issue was Resolved when the constitution-makers accepted all the major languages as “languages of India”.

Official Language of India

Switchover from English To Hindi

  • The issue of the timeframe for a shift from English to Hindi also produced a divide between Hindi and non-Hindi areas.
  • Proponents of Hindi wanted immediate switch over, while non-Hindi areas advocated retention of English for a long if not indefinite period.
  • Hence constitution provided that English was to continue for use in all official purposes till 1965, when it would be replaced by Hindi in phased manner.
  • However, Parliament would have the power to provide for the use of English for specified purposes even after 1965.
  • The constitution laid upon the government the duty to promote the spread and development of Hindi & provides for the appointment of Commission & a Joint Parliamentary Committee to review the progress in the respect.

1963 official languages Act

  • Removed the restriction which had been placed by the constitution on the use of English after 1965
  • Because of ambiguity in Official Languages Act due to the world “may” instead of “shall”, it felt much criticism

1967 amendment to official languages Act 

  • Provided the use of English as an associate language in addition to Hindi for the official work at centre & for communication between the centre and non-Hindi states would continue as long as non-Hindi states wanted it.
  • Indefinite policy of bilingualism was adopted.
  • The states were to adopt a three-language formula that is study of a modern Indian language, preferably one of the Southern languages, apart from Hindi and English in the Hindi speaking areas and of Hindi along with the regional languages and English in the non-Hindi speaking areas.

Parliament adopted a policy resolution lying down that the public service exams were to be conducted in Hindi and English & in all regional languages with the provision that candidates should have additional knowledge of Hindi or English.

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