Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Parliamentary language in the digital age


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Language in legislature


Language not only changes across region but also profession. Similarly, Parliament, too, has its own list of absurd and archaic phrases.

Debate over expunged words

  • Today there is much debate on language again after the Lok Sabha Secretariat compiled a list of 151 words, which have been expunged in 2021 and 2020 in Parliaments across the Commonwealth countries and State Assemblies in India.
  • Many of these words may look harmless, but in a heated exchange between parliamentarians, they may not exactly be virtuous.
  • The current compilation has especially caused consternation among Opposition parties which see this as an attempt to restrict their vocabulary.
  • The government argues that this list is at best only “instructive” and not “definitive”.
  • The preface of the document states that the context in which these words were used is far more important than the words themselves.
  • Ultimately, the final call of whether a word is “unparliamentary” or not lies with the presiding officer of the House.
  • In the first two decades of the Indian Parliament, English was the primary language used for parliamentary work.
  • This changed as the social composition of Parliament changed from the 1970s onwards.
  • At present, as many as 30 languages are used by parliamentarians during speeches, with many insisting on speaking their mother tongue during crucial debates.
  • Perhaps, the next such compilation will also have words expunged from different regional languages.

Challenges in digital age

  •  The proceedings of both Houses of Parliament are relayed in real time on TV channels and YouTube.
  • There have been instances where live transmission has been halted on the Chair’s orders.
  • To circumvent this, many members have recorded the proceedings on their mobile phone cameras.
  • There are many instances of the Chair intervening and expunging words or phrases that it finds “objectionable”.
  • Herein lies the problem. The order of the Chair is often relayed by late evening to reporters, but by then, the video clip would have already been circulated many times over.
  • Print reporters are careful and abide by the orders, but in a digital ecosystem, this is not easy.


The problems posed to the Parliament in terms of language and words should be dealt with keeping in focus the freedom of speech of the members.

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