The Home Ministry’s order asking government departments to use Hindi on social media platforms, which raised a storm across political parties, is actually a reiteration of an old order issued in March when the UPA was in power.
The order — meant only for the eight Hindi-speaking states and central government employees — did not ask that government departments use only Hindi on official Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or other social media accounts.
It only said that Hindi should be used compulsorily along with English on these platforms.
The government’s May 27 order, which was a reiteration of a March 10 order, triggered outrage in Tamil Nadu parties, including NDA allies, who were joined by the CPI(M), and National Conference.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the circular was “against the letter and spirit” of the Official Languages Act, 1963, and that the “highly sensitive issue” had caused “disquiet” to the people of Tamil Nadu “who are very proud of and passionate about their linguistic heritage”.
DMK chief M Karunanidhi had railed against the “beginning of the imposition of Hindi” on Thursday.
Former finance minister P Chidambaram also criticised the circular, even though it was issued by his own party’s government. “There will be a backlash in non-Hindi speaking states, especially in Tamil Nadu. The government is well advised to proceed with caution,” Chidambaram said.
The circular was issued for “A category” states, in which Hindi is the major language — Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan. Punjab, Gujarat and Maharashtra are “B category” states, while the rest are categorised “C”.
A PMO statement issued on Friday said: “It is clarified that these instructions of the Department of Official Languages dated 10th March, 2014 do not seek to impose communication in Hindi on States which are not Hindi speaking. The instructions of Department of Official Languages have only reiterated the existing Government of India’s policy on the use of Hindi in which the use of Hindi is compulsory in Government’s communication only in the Hindi speaking States.
The MHA in its circular dated 27.05.2014 has communicated the above guidelines of the Department of OL with regard to the social media to the departments under the MHA. Therefore, this is neither a new policy nor an attempt to impose the use of Hindi on any non Hindi speaking State.”