[lg policy] India: language policy unchanged

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jun 21 14:28:22 UTC 2014

Language policy unchanged: PMO

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politics <http://www.thehindu.com/topics/?categoryId=1349>national politics
How can social media be region-specific, asks Jayalalithaa

After the Union Home Ministry’s May 27 instruction to government
departments to use Hindi compulsorily in their social media communications
spiralled into a political controversy, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)
clarified on Friday that the directive applied only to Hindi-speaking
States and did not amount to a change in policy.

“This is neither a new policy nor an attempt to impose the use of Hindi on
any non-Hindi-speaking State,” a PMO release said.

The PMO clarification came in the wake of loud protests from Tamil Nadu,
capped by a letter from Chief Minister Jayalalithaa who urged Prime
Minister Narendra Modi to ensure “that English is used on social media.”

The release said the instruction was only a follow-up to the Ministry’s
circular on March 10 — when the United Progressive Alliance was in power —
to the same effect. “It was a routine circular and the government has no
intention to impose Hindi on any State,” said Union Minister of State for
Home Kiren Rijiju.

DMK chief M. Karunanidhi had earlier said the Centre was trying to impose
Hindi against the wishes of the people. Congress leader P. Chidambaram had
said, “There will be a backlash in non-Hindi states, in particular in Tamil
Nadu ... The government is advised to proceed with caution.”

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Bahujan Samaj Party leader
Mayawati and several parties in Tamil Nadu had either protested or
expressed concern over the instruction from Union Home Ministry on May 27
that Hindi must be used in their social media communications.

Though the PMO’s statement was meant to calm the frayed tempers,
particularly in Tamil Nadu where linguistic pride has been a component of
political mobilisation, it did not specifically address a question raised
by Ms. Jayalalithaa — How could social media be region-specific?

“People located in “Region C” (non-Hindi states) with whom the Government
of India communication needs to be in English will not have access to such
public information if it is not in English. This move would, therefore, be
against the letter and spirit of the Official Languages Act, 1963,” she

Ms. Jayalalithaa reiterated the State’s demand that all 22 Indian
languages, including the ancient Tamil language, listed in the Eighth
Schedule of Constitution, be declared official languages of India. “If this
request is fulfilled, the use of all official languages on social media can
be encouraged,” she said.

In a shriller tone, Pattali Makkal Katchi founder S. Ramadoss and
Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Vaiko said in separate
statements here that any intent to “impose” Hindi was totally unacceptable


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