Languages and Eighth Schedule

Should India have one national Language?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Eight Schedule

Mains level: Paper 2- Eighth Schedule and related issues

The article discusses the issues with excessive attention given to Hindi and how the neglect of another language could lead to the loss of language and the way of life associated with it as well.

Debate in Constituent Assembly and issues in the adoption of Hindi

  • The issue of adopting a national language could not be resolved when the Constituent Assembly began drafting India’s Constitution.
  • Members from the Hindi-speaking provinces who moved a number of pro-Hindi amendments and argued for adopting Hindi as the sole national language.
  • Widespread resistance to the imposition of Hindi led to the passage of the Official Languages Act of 1963, which provided for the continued use of English for all official purposes.
  • Hindi became the sole working language of the Union government by 1965 with the State governments free to function in the language of their choice.
  • The constitutional directive for the Union government to encourage the spread of Hindi was retained within Central government entities in non-Hindi-speaking States.

Issues with the Eighth Schedule

  • According to the 2001 Census, India has 30 languages that are spoken by more than a million people each.
  • The Constitution lists 22 languages and protects them in the eighth schedule.
  • Many languages are kept out of this schedule even if they deserve to be included.
  • This includes Tulu which is spoken by over 1.8 million people and has inscriptions dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries.
  • While Hindi, a much younger Indo-Aryan language, has been gaining prominence since before independence.
  • When a refined language loses its status in literary and daily interactions, the way of life associated with it also vanishes.
  • The Census found that while Hindi is the fastest growing language, the number of speakers of other languages has dropped.

Way forward

  • While discussing Hindi and its use, let us also focus on the merit of other Indian languages.
  • Instead of focusing on one national language, we should learn a language beyond the mother tongue and get to know a different way of life too.


If we don’t protect and promote other well-evolved or endangered and indigenous languages, our future generations may end up never understanding their ‘real’ roots and culture

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