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  1. International Mother Language Day



The Vice President celebrated the International Mother Language Day and said that linguistic diversity has always been one of the foundational pillars of our civilization.


GS-II: Social Justice, Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. International Mother Language Day
  2. Recently in news: Hindi as a compulsory language in India
  3. Constitutional provisions related to languages

International Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day is a worldwide annual observance held on 21 February to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to promote multilingualism.

History of how the International Mother Language day came to be:

  • The declaration came up in tribute to the Language Movement done by the Bangladeshis (then the East Pakistanis).
  • When Pakistan was created in 1947, it had two geographically separate parts: East Pakistan (currently known as Bangladesh) and West Pakistan (currently known as Pakistan).
  • In 1948, the then Government of Pakistan declared Urdu to be the sole national language of Pakistan, even though Bengali or Bangla was spoken by the majority of people combining East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and West Pakistan (now Pakistan).
  • The East Pakistan people protested, since the majority of the population was from East Pakistan and their mother language was Bangla.
  • These protests led to bloodshed and since then, Bangladeshis celebrate the International Mother Language Day as one of their tragic days, and this day is a national holiday in Bangladesh.
  • In 1999, the General Assembly of UNESCO unanimously resolved that “21st February be proclaimed International Mother Language Day throughout the world to commemorate the martyrs who sacrificed their lives on this very day in 1952.”

Recently in news: Hindi as a compulsory language in India

  • A notification by the Department of Official Languages, Ministry of Home Affairs came out with the recommendations of Committee of Parliament on Official Language which said that Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) to make Hindi language compulsory in curriculum amongst other things.
  • The notification also said that all dignitaries including Hon’ble President and all the Ministers especially who can read and speak Hindi may be requested to give their speech/statement in Hindi, and maximum usage of Hindi should be ensured on all tickets of Air India and Pawan Hans helicopters.
  • In 1965, efforts to impose Hindi as the country’s only official language had triggered violent riots in the South and similar fashion the country witnessed protests against Hindi.
  • However, later the Centre addressed concerns about the draft National Education Policy’s recommendation regarding the three-language formula and mandatory Hindi teaching in schools.
  • The central government handled the protests against this move, by clarifying that only after consulting the general public and the state governments will a new draft report be generated and finalised.
  • According to a report, imposition of Hindi is seen as the hegemony of the North and the introduction of mono-culture.

Reasons given by the Centre to make Hindi a compulsory language:

  • Having a Common language for administrative purposes will greatly reduce burden and easy communication of ideas/knowledge and in turn help in building sense of brotherhood and integrity.
  • It is said that Hindi is the most widely spoken Indian language, with around 40cr. people using it. Therefore, there is natural need to use it in official communications, so that the official decisions are easily understood by these people.
  • With increased use of Hindi for official purposes, greater attention and focus will be given to the lenguage which has been lost in the recent times.
  • English language which at present dominates official work, is foreign language and is a colonial legacy. Therefore, it must be replaced with our own language.

Constitutional provisions related to languages

  • There is no national language as declared by the Constitution of India.
  • Under the Article 343, the Constitution lists Hindi written in Devanagari script as well as English as the official language to be used for official purposes such as parliamentary proceedings, judiciary, communications between the Central Government and a State Government.
  • States within India have the liberty and powers to specify their own official language(s) through legislation.
  • The Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution contains a list of 22 scheduled languages. The Government of India is under an obligation to take measures for the development of these languages.
  • Article 351 states: “It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing, wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.”
  • Article 350 states: “It shall be the endeavour of every State and of every local authority within the State to provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups; and the President may issue such directions to any State as he considers necessary or proper for securing the provision of such facilities.”

-Source: PIB

March 2024