It is a common norm for almost every country in the world to adopt a symbol that defines their Nation like an emblem, an animal, a bird, a fruit, a flag, an anthem, a sport, etc. India has similarly adopted 17 National Symbols like – National Fruit is “Mango”; National Flower is “Lotus”; National Anthem is “Jana Gana Mana”; etc. However, some symbolism has been vacant with a lot of controversy like a National Language, National Sport, etc. India has been recently striving to unify its diversity under one rule policies and Acts like a Uniform Civil Code under Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, whose aim is to abolish all personal laws relating to succession, marriage, divorce, etc., and bring such legal topics under one common law, common for all citizens irrespective of caste or religion. In a similar approach, there has been a surge in demand for nationalizing a language all over India. India is one of the most unique countries in the world. It has the unique blend of diversity churned into a united nation, cooperating to live together harmonically. Be it religion, culinary culture, clothing, tradition, races, ethnicities, festivals, language, or vegetation, one can notice a new trend in every other district that keeps it evergreen. India has currently the world’s fourth-highest number of languages, around 453, trailing behind Papua New Guinea (840), Indonesia (707), and Nigeria (527).
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE VS NATIONAL LANGUAGE
India has 22 Official Languages, recognized in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution, also known as Scheduled Languages chosen from each State and UT representing it, in spirit of Quasi-Federal structure of India. There have been demands for including 38 more languages in addition to these 22 within the Schedule. At the Union level, India has two Official Languages – Hindi and English (as per “The Official Languages Act, 1963); but pointed to be noted that there is an absence of a National Language designation. Here, the term “Official” is given to denote the formal language to be used by the wings of Government for the conveyance of policies, communication, and judgment, while “National” would denote the language spoken by a clear majority of citizens.
As for English, it has made its place in every sphere of modern India, be it education, business, High Court, and Supreme Court proceedings; and its influence is exponentially growing within India as the dominant language throughout but the hindrance to it is that the language may connect us to the developing globe but not with our cultural history as our other Official Languages do. English reminds us of imperialism and connects us to the British colonization of India rather than our golden age traditions and culture. It is a foreign language that took its shape and forms far from our mainland and only grabs the spot of “Official” for its Pan-Indian understanding and ease of global communication but can never serve as a National Language.
HINDI AS THE NATIONAL LANGUAGE
Hindi was adopted as the Official Language on September 14, 1949. Time and again, Hindi has been bolstered by the masses to be recognized as India’s national language due to its popularity not just in India but even at a global level. Hindi is among the top 3 most spoken languages around the world with some hundred thousand speakers. Hindi even had its mentioned to be declared as a National Language in Article 343 (1) of the Indian Constitution which proposed its nationalization in Devanagari script. Hindi is the most spoken language in India by gross population. Then what led to its status quo despite the myriad potential? One of the major problems is that Hindi is dominant only in the Northern part of India, whereas Southern parts resort to Dravidian languages like Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, etc., wherein Hindi has nil influence. If Hindi is declared National, it will lead to an unfair disadvantage for non-Hindi speakers in National opportunities. Even a pillar of our Democracy – the Judiciary, especially HCs and SC, the mode of communication is done solely in English giving Hindi a backlash. In Sureshbhai B. Kachhadia v. UOI and 2 Ors., Gujarat High Court held that even if people consider Hindi as their National Language, there is no recorded proof or notification declaring it officially. So, Hindi still stands as an Official Language.
PROS OF A NATIONAL LANGUAGE
- An Indian language given the status will help bind the very diversity with a common understanding.
- It will make communication within different parts of India efficient.
- It will push forward the wanted unity of India and make the language on the same footing as other global languages like English.
- It will decrease reliance on foreign languages.
- Wider career opportunities within the country which was otherwise blocked due to linguistic barriers.
CONS OF A NATIONAL LANGUAGE
- Loss of individual identity as people will be pushed to learn the language and apply it more commonly than their Mother Tongue.
- Loss of linguistic diversity.
- No Indian native language is prepared enough to uproot English and fill the gaps in the totality of India.
- Lack of support from all over India may create a North-South rift wider.
- Indian Government is facilitating a platform named “BHASHINI (BHASHa Interface for India)” which aims at fulfiling the dream of National Language Translation Mission and help new start-ups and people to connect to the Globe without any language barrier. The growth of this initiative can remove the contested issue of language barrier.
It is a faraway dream for India to implement a National Language. No language, not even Hindi can fulfill this vision of the masses as it is considered late for the same. We are heading towards an era of globalization and not nationalization alone, which implies that we must keep pace with the developing world. English, Spanish, French, and such popular languages have taken the front stage with a more promising career and a more suitable mode of communication. If we have to connect, English is our best bet as it is understood by masses all over India unlike the concentrated nature of Indian languages. The idea of a National Language will prove nothing more than an Indian representation in the world in the domain of languages. We don’t have cricket as a national sport but it doesn’t reduce our enjoyment the same. We have mango as our national fruit but all fruits are equally enjoyed by the masses. It is high time we see the term “National” as a mere symbol and not a status of the superiority of one’s ideals over others.
Author(s) Name: Shub Kartik Goenka
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Constitution of India 1950, art 348(1).
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