Issue of Official Language of India

Issue of Official Language of India

by Devender 21-Jul-21

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English was made the official language of India by the Britishers but after Independence, it was not acceptable to anybody. Every country has an official language so the Indian government also thought of choosing an official language.

Issue of Official Language of India

English was a foreign language so Gandhi didn't like the idea of English being an overall medium of communications in free India. So, he chose Hindi to be the official language of India. However, they anticipated that Hindi as the national language would be opposed and it will create a conflict between Hindi and non-Hindi speaking regions of the country. The issue was resolved when constitution-makers accepted all the major languages as "languages of India".

Switchover from English To Hindi

The government was confused over the time frame to shift from English to Hindi as it was creating a divide between Hindi and Non-Hindi speaking areas. The Hindi speaking wanted the immediate switch over whereas Non-Hindi wanted a long time frame and advocated for retention of English for a long if not indefinite period. So, the constitution provided that English was to continue for use in all official purposes till 1965 when it would be replaced by Hindi in a phased manner.

It also stated that even after 1965, parliament would have the power to provide for the use of English for specified purposes. It also laid upon the government the duty to promote the spread and development of Hindi & provides for the appointment of a Commission & a Joint Parliamentary Committee to review the progress in the respect.

1963 official languages Act

It removed the restriction placed by the constitution on the use of English after 1965 and it felt much criticism because of ambiguity in the Official Languages Act due to the word "may" instead of "shall".

  • 1967 amendment to official languages Act

This amendment provided the use of English as an associate language with Hindi for the official work at the center and for communication between the center and non-Hindi states would continue as long as non-Hindi states wanted it. In this amendment, the government adopted the indefinite policy of bilingualism.

It also provided that the states were to adopt a three-language formula that is the study of a modern Indian language, preferably one of the Southern languages, apart from Hindi and English in the Hindi speaking areas and of Hindi along with the regional languages and English in the non-Hindi speaking areas.

Parliament also adopted a policy resolution lying down that the public service exams were to be conducted in Hindi and English & in all regional languages with a condition that candidates should have additional knowledge of Hindi or English.


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