Monday, Aug 08, 2022
Cover Story

Let A Language Contend

Throughout the Republic’s history, several states have seen protests aga­inst the imposition of Hindi. Can there be a national language of a multilingual country?

Priceless Even India’s currency features 17 out of the 22 scheduled languages. Hindi is one among them. Photograph: Tribhuvan Tiwari

Hindi is not among the six classical languages recogni­sed by the Union governm­ent. It is one of the 22 languages lis­ted in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution; one of the 24 languages in which Sahitya Akademi gives away its annual awards. Article 343 of the Constitution terms it an ‘official lan­guage’, and Article 351 directs the Union government to ‘promote’ and ‘develop’ the language ‘so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India’.

The ruling establishment has been proposing to make Hindi the national language for a while now. Union home minister Amit Shah, also the chairperson of the Official Language Committee, said in 2019 that “it is absolutely essential that the entire cou­ntry has one language that becomes the identity of the nation in the wor­ld”. Earlier this month, he reiterated that “the time has come to make the official language an important part of the unity of the country”.