Languages and Eighth Schedule

Official Language Panel and a fresh ‘Hindi Imposition’ Row


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Official language , Eight schedule

Mains level: Read the attached story

The 11th volume of the Report of the Official Language Committee headed by Home Minister submitted to President has triggered angry reactions from the CMs of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, who have described the Report as an attempt to impose Hindi on non-Hindi-speaking states.

About the Official Language Panel (for Hindi)

  • The Committee of Parliament on Official Language was set up in 1976 under Section 4 of The Official Languages Act, 1963.
  • Section 4 of the Act says there shall be constituted a Committee on Official language, on a resolution to that effect being moved in either House of Parliament.
  • It should have the previous sanction of the President and passed by both Houses.

Terms of reference of the committee

  • The Committee is chaired by the Union Home Minister, and has, in accordance with the provisions of the 1963 Act, 30 members — 20 MPs from Lok Sabha and 10 MPs from Rajya Sabha.
  • The job of the Committee is to review the progress made in the use of Hindi for official purposes, and to make recommendations to increase the use of Hindi in official communications.

History of its establishment

  • With the active promotion of Hindi being mandated by Article 351 of the Constitution, the Official Language Committee was set up to review and promote the use of Hindi in official communications.
  • The first Report of the Committee was submitted in 1987.

Issues with the committee

  • The name of the Committee is a little misleading.
  • This is because unlike the other Parliamentary panels, the Committee on Official Language is constituted by the Home Ministry.
  • It does not submit its report to Parliament like other Committees of Parliament.
  • The contents of the report submitted are not in the public domain.
  • The panel has the largest representation from the ruling majority party. This has made states more furious.

What has the Shah panel recommended in its latest (2021) report?

  • Medium of instruction: The panel has made around 100 recommendations, including that Hindi should be the medium of instruction in IITs, IIMs, and central universities in the Hindi-speaking states.
  • Administrative communication: The language used for communication in the administration should be Hindi, and efforts should be made to teach the curriculum in Hindi, but the latter is not mandatory.
  • Hindi translation of HC verdicts: High Courts in other states, where proceedings are recorded in English or a regional language can make available translations in Hindi, because verdicts of High Court of other states are often cited in judgments.
  • Mandate for govt. officials: The panel wants state governments to warn officials that their reluctance to use Hindi would reflect in their Annual Performance Assessment Report (APAR).

Why are these recommendations under criticism?

The crux of the recommendations is being ‘perceived’ that-

  • There is a deliberate attempt to reduce the usage of the English language in official communication and to increase the usage of Hindi.
  • Knowledge of Hindi would be compulsory in a number of government jobs.

Is this the first time that such recommendations have been made?

  • The makers of the Constitution had decided that both Hindi and English should be used as official languages for the first 15 years of the Republic.
  • But in the wake of intense anti-Hindi agitations in the south, the Centre announced that English would continue to be used even after 1965.
  • On January 18, 1968, Parliament passed the Official Language Resolution to build a comprehensive program to increase the use of Hindi for official purposes by the Union of India.

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