Even more on the language of Indian Railways' sign boards!

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Fri May 18 14:16:21 UTC 2007

Lalu reverses three-language order on train boards

New Delhi, May 18 (IANS) Railway Minister Lalu Prasad did a sharp U-turn
Thursday after announcing the withdrawal of a controversial railway order
about usage of the third language on train name and destination boards.
Lalu Prasad, who announced the withdrawal of a railway circular directing
that names of trains should be written in Hindi and English on all trains
except in Tamil Nadu, where it could be written also in Tamil along with
English and Hindi, later said he could not withdraw it as it was based on
a law adopted by parliament. He said he would call an all-party meeting to
take a decision on it.

The Lok Sabha proceedings were adjourned abruptly in the pre-lunch session
after the commotion over the order, but when the house met again the
railway minister assured that it would be withdrawn. But later he said:
"Although I have announced the immediate withdrawal of the circular, I
learnt that it was issued under an act of parliament.  Since it is based
on a law adopted by parliament for applying the three-language formula in
Tamil Nadu, we have to support it. " "Don't take it otherwise and create a
dispute," he pleaded, adding he would call a meeting of all party leaders
to decide on "how three-language formula can be utilised to respect the
languages of all states, because this is the law and I would not like to
withdraw it (circular)."

The MPs belonging to both opposition and ruling party were agitated over
the railway order. Raising the issue in the zero hour, Braj Kishore
Tripathy of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) said quoting the circular: "The
(railway) Board has decided that all destination boards of trains shall be
written or painted or printed in Hindi and English languages only.
However, trains based for primary maintenance in coaching depots located
in Tamil Nadu state, the destination boards may also be written in the
regional language that is Tamil besides English and Hindi."

Tripathi pointed out that the government has been following a
three-language policy for the railways and sought an explanation from the
government over the decision. Angry over the order, MPs from West Bengal,
Kerala and Maharashtra immediately stood up and started shouting at the
treasury benches. Speaker Somnath Chatterjee also said the feelings of all
sections of the house "cannot be ignored" and the established
three-language practice should be followed. The house was adjourned at
12.25 p.m. till 1 p.m. after MPs belonging to various parties objected to
the alleged railway order.

When the house met at 1 p.m., Lalu Prasad came to the house and announced
that he would withdraw the order so as to avoid hurting anybody's
sentiments. But he was sent a note by the officials that the order could
not be withdrawn by a statement and needed parliament's nod to do so.



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