A lot has been speculated, talked, and written about India and its National Language. It’s strange how people can talk about something that doesn’t even exist in the first place. Hindi as the national language of India has received a lot of fake news, rumors, and word of mouth publicity. But in reality, it is far from the facts as they stand today. Hindi is not our national language. In fact, we do not have any National Language.
The Union Government of the Republic of India has 22 regional languages and English as official languages, as recognized by Article 343/1 of the Indian Constitution. The 22 regional languages include includes Bengali, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Sindhi, Telugu etc.
Additionally, Article 345 of the Constitution states, “The Legislature of a State may by law adopt any one or more of the languages in use in the State or Hindi as the language or languages to be used for all or any of the official purposes of that State: Provided that, until the Legislature of the State otherwise provides by law, the English language shall continue to be used for those official purposes within the State for which it was being used immediately before the commencement of this Constitution.”
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We need to understand that “Official Language” is not the same as “National Language”. Official language has a huge legal and administrative scope. While, National language has an enormous emotional and societal scope! Giving India a National Language would mean doing injustice to a great number of Indians because there’s no ONE language that is unanimously spoken across the Indian subcontinent.
India’s diversity is something we celebrate and are proud of. A National language will undermine the sentiments of such diversity because multitude of languages is spoken in our country and everyone would like their own language to be the National Language. Census in 2001 showed that only 45% of India spoke or knew Hindi and only 25% had Hindi as their mother tongue. So, even statistically the idea of having Hindi as our National Language doesn’t hold much ground.
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The current Indian government is all about promoting Hindi language and its prominence. While the government has done some good work in increasing Hindi’s influence across globe, the move to impose Hindi on Indian Citizens will not be appreciated by the people in general.