Tamil leader and DMDK supremo Vaiko on Friday introduced a private member’s Bill, seeking to give all 22 languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution the stature of national official languages.
The Constitution Amendment Bill, 2019, seeks to amend Article 343, which states that the “official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script”. Vaiko’s Bill wants it to be substituted with “the official language of the Union in addition to Hindi in Devanagari script, shall be the languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule to this Constitution”.
The Bill also wants to amend Subclause 3 which states that “notwithstanding anything in this article, Parliament may by law provide for the use, after the said period of fifteen years, of the English language”. Vaiko wants an addition to the subclause — “…or the languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule to this Constitution”.
In his statement of objects and reasons, the senior Tamil leader says, “The Constitution has provided for the development of all regional languages in addition to Hindi. In many countries across the world, there are many languages which are recognised as the official national languages.”
He adds, “As the nation is known for unity in diversity, it is all the more necessary that all the regional languages recognised in the Eighth Schedule should be encouraged, developed and used as the official language of the Union.”
The private member’s Bill comes even as the government has seemingly shown its intent to give primacy to Hindi across the country. In September, Home Minister Amit Shah had suggested that Hindi be the common language of India. Tweeting on Hindi Divas on September 14, Shah had said, “…Today, if there is one language that has the ability to string the nation together in unity, it is the Hindi language which is the most widely spoken and understood language in India.”
After several leaders from the Opposition and regional parties objected, Shah clarified that he too comes from a non-Hindi speaking state, and said that he had just made a “request”, and “if someone wants to do politics, it is their choice”.
Earlier, on May, the HRD Ministry had published a draft National Education Policy, which had sought to make Hindi as one compulsory language across the country.
However, even as the government came under pressure from the opposition and regional parties, the government revised the draft in June though to do away with the provision for mandating Hindi as one of the three languages.
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