Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 30 November 2022
- Creating a common language for cooperative federalism
- Digital rupee for retail use
Creating a Common Language for Cooperative Federalism
The 11th volume of the Report of the Official Language Committee, chaired by Union Home Minister, was recently submitted to the President. The Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala have expressed outrage, describing the report as an attempt by the Union government to impose Hindi on non-Hindi-speaking states.
GS Paper 2: Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure.
What exactly is cooperative federalism? Discuss the various impediments to India’s cooperative federalism. How can it be bolstered in India?
Parliamentary Committee on Official Languages
- It was established in 1976 under the Official Languages Act of 1963, based on a resolution moved in either House of Parliament with the prior sanction of the President and passed by both Houses.
- The Committee is chaired by the Union Home Minister and consists of 30 members – 20 Lok Sabha MPs and 10 Rajya Sabha MPs.
- It reviews progress in the use of Hindi for official purposes and makes recommendations to increase the use of Hindi in official communications.
- The Committee submits its report to the President, who orders that it be laid before each House of Parliament and distributed to all state governments.
- The Committee’s first report was submitted in 1987.
Report’s 11th volume recommendations
- Hindi as the medium of instruction in all technical and non-technical institutions, such as IITs, IIMs, and central universities, replacing the current English language, while regional languages should be used in states where Hindi is not the official language.
- The removal of English as one of the languages in examinations for recruitment to the Central services, as well as ensuring candidates’ knowledge of Hindi.
- The administration’s communication language: In northern states, it should be Hindi, and bureaucrats’ use of the language will be evaluated in annual appraisals.
- All letters, emails, and events organised by the government and its departments must be in Hindi.
- Judiciary: High Courts where proceedings are recorded in English or a regional language can provide translations in Hindi, as verdicts from other states’ High Courts are frequently cited in judgments.
- Other recommendations: o Give students up to the ninth grade basic Hindi knowledge and pay more attention to the Hindi teaching examination.
- Revise the Hindi dictionary and republish it.
- An Implementation Committee should be formed to monitor the progress of the recommendations contained in the first through eleventh volumes of the Official Language Committee report.
Concerns expressed by the states:
The report is divisive in nature and disadvantages non-Hindi speakers.
Response of the Committee to the States’ Concerns
The committee has clarified that its recommendations would exclude states broadly outside the Hindi belt; additionally, states such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala are exempted under The Official Languages Act, 1963, and the law is implemented only in ‘A’ category states where Hindi is the official language, such as Bihar, Haryana, HP, MP, UP, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, and so on.
India’s official language debate
- Constituent Assembly: The linguistic squabble began with a debate on official languages in the Constituent Assembly, where Hindi was chosen as the official language.
- The Constitution makers then decided that English, along with Hindi, would be used for all official purposes of the Union for a period of 15 years (1950 to 1965).
- However, due to intense anti-Hindi agitation in the south, the President of India established the first Official Language Commission in 1955, chaired by G. Kher.
- The Centre later stated that English would be used even after 1965.
- Indian Constitution: o Articles 343–351 of Part XVII of the Indian Constitution make detailed provisions dealing with the official language.
- Article 351: It requires the Centre to promote the spread of Hindi so that it can serve as a medium of expression for all elements of India’s composite culture.
- A private member’s bill to provide for 22 official languages: It was introduced in Parliament in 2019 to amend Article 343 of the Constitution to give all 22 languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution the status of national official languages.
- According to Article 343 of the Constitution, Hindi in Devanagari script is the official language of the Union.
- The 9th Official Language Committee Report, submitted in 2011, suggested increasing the use of Hindi in government computers.
Arguments in favour of Hindi as the official language
- Hindi as a link language: Indians who speak different languages should communicate with one another in an Indian language rather than the language imposed by colonialism (English).
- Promote freedom ideals: The three pillars of the Indian freedom movement were Swabhasha (native language), Swadeshi (indigenous), and Swaraj (self-government). Only a common native language can fully realise these three principles.
Arguments against Hindi as official language
- Limited speakers: The number of Hindi speakers in India is only around 44%, which includes speakers of mixed-Hindi languages such as Awadhi, Maithali, Bhojpuri, etc. Thus, imposing Hindi may be detrimental to national unity.
- English is a global language: English is now accepted as the language of discourse across continents, and its colonial past is a matter of distant history.
- Against federalism: The Indian Constitution leaves it to the States to choose its language for official purposes. Thus, imposing singular language may be detrimental for longer term political harmony implied in cooperative federalism.
- Affect learning abilities: Imposition of Hindi language e.g., by removing English as one of the compulsory papers in recruitment exams can affect the learning abilities of non-Hindi speakers thereby affecting their self-confidence and future job opportunities.
- Threatens plural identity: The committee suggestions imply to subsume linguistic diversity into linguistic uniformity.
- Affect national integrity: The continued efforts to promoting Hindi in the name of ‘one nation’ will destroy the feeling of brotherhood of people of different languages and cultures and may be detrimental to the integrity of India.
- English only a link language: Every language has its own specialty and uniqueness. Thus, English has been made as the link language to prevent the imposition of Hindi language.
- Lack proper curriculum: Promoting Hindi in technical courses is difficult owing to implications and practicality in terms of the availability of standard books and course material, and of teachers qualified to communicate it adequately.
- Hindi should be accepted with consent of all States, as an alternative to English (and not to regional languages) (and not to regional languages).
- All the regional languages recognised in the Eighth Schedule should be encouraged, developed and used as the official language of the Union. This will promote national integrity.
Digital Rupee For Retail Use
On December 1, the Reserve Bank of India will launch its first retail e-rupee pilot, its version of central bank digital currency (CBDC). The pilot will cover a limited number of locations in a closed user group of participating customers and merchants.
GS Paper – 2: Government Policies & Interventions
GS Paper – 3: Growth & Development, IT & Computers
“Before launching the digital rupee, the RBI must carefully weigh the pros and cons while keeping various issues in mind.” Comment.
Central bank digital currency (CBDC)
- CBDC is a digital form of legal tender issued by a central bank.
- The Reserve Bank of India launched a digital currency called the digital rupee (e-Rupee).
- It is identical to fiat currency and can be exchanged one for one with it; however, its form is different.
India’s CBDC strategy
- Budget 2022-23 announcements
- In her 2022-23 Budget speech, the Finance Minister announced the launch of the Digital Rupee, India’s CBDC, in 2022-23.
- These will be issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in 2022-23.
- Regulatory Framework o There is currently no regulation or prohibition on the use of cryptocurrencies in the country.
- The Indian government is expected to introduce the Crypto Currency and Official Digital Currency Regulation Bill.
- It is expected to regulate the role of private crypto currency investment, transaction, and use in the country, as well as the operation of CBDC.
- Introduction of the Digital Rupee
- Based on the usage and functions of the digital rupee, as well as the various levels of accessibility, the RBI has divided the digital rupee into two broad categories: general purpose (retail) and wholesale.
- On November 1, 2022, the RBI launched its first pilot project to use digital rupees in the wholesale market for government securities secondary trade (G-secs).
- Wholesale CBDC has the potential to make bank settlement systems in the government securities (G-Sec) segment, interbank market, and capital market more efficient and secure in terms of operational costs, collateral use, and liquidity management.
- A retail digital rupee (e-R) pilot will begin on December 1.
- In essence, the retail e-rupee will be an electronic version of cash, primarily intended for retail transactions.
- It could be used by anyone — the private sector, non-financial consumers, and businesses.
- It will be distributed via intermediaries, such as banks.
- Using QR codes displayed at merchant locations, transactions can be both person to person (P2P) and person to merchant (P2M).
- It will not earn interest and can be converted to other forms of money, such as bank deposits.
Why is the RBI introducing the e-Rupee?
- The primary motivations for investigating the issuance of CBDC include: o Reducing operational costs associated with physical cash management; o Promoting financial inclusion; and o Bringing resilience, efficiency, and innovation to the payments system.
- It will improve settlement system efficiency and spur innovation in the cross-border payments space.
- Introducing its own CBDC has been viewed as a means of bridging the benefits and risks of digital currency.
- Concerns about money laundering, terror financing, tax evasion, and other issues with private crypto currencies such as Bitcoin, Ether, and others.
- Because it is interoperable with other payment systems, it will supplement existing methods such as UPI, completing the mobile payments ecosystem.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced that the retail digital rupee (e-R) pilot programme will begin on December 1 with four banks: State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, IDFC First Bank, and Yes Bank.
The main points
- The e-R would take the form of a digital token that would be legal tender. It would be issued in the same denominations as paper money and coins are now.
- The digital rupee, like paper currency, would be distributed through banks.
- Users must use a participating bank’s digital wallet and store it on their mobile phone or device.
- QR codes displayed at merchant locations can be used to make payments to merchants.
- The pilot will put the entire process of digital rupee creation, distribution, and retail usage to the test in real time.