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A reply by External Affairs Minister during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday caused Opposition MP Shashi Tharoor to ask what the purpose of making Hindi an official language in the United Nations was.
The question, posed by BJP MPs Laxman Giluwa and Rama Devi, pertained to the government’s efforts to make Hindi an official language in the U.N. The Members wanted to know what steps were being taken by the government to ensure this.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj stated that the process requires a two-thirds majority vote, and that other countries using Hindi should share the expenditure incurred in making the language an official one. “We are ready to spend. But smaller countries such as Mauritius won’t be able to pay. We are negotiating with them,” said Ms. Swaraj.
In response to the Minister, Mr. Tharoor stood up and asked, “What purpose is being served by trying to make Hindi an official language in the United Nations? I understand the Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister can speak in Hindi, but what if a future External Affairs Minister comes from Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, who couldn’t speak in the language?”
Mr. Tharoor added, “Hindi has not been given the national language status in India. The Gujarat High Court’s ruling says that it is not the official language.” He also pointed out that, though there are six official languages in the U.N., only two — English and French — are working languages, “just like how Hindi and English are working languages in India.”
Ms. Swaraj promptly responded that Hindi was not only spoken in India, but in other countries like Fiji, Mauritius, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana, as well as by NRIs living in the United States.
During the Winter Session of the Parliament in 2016, Ms. Swaraj had stated in a written reply that the government was making every effort to accord official language status to Hindi in the U.N. “The government continues its efforts in popularising Hindi worldwide and for the acceptance of Hindi as one of the U.N. official languages. In this regard, one significant achievement has been the United Nations broadcasting its programmes on the U.N. Radio website in Hindi language also,” she had replied.
The Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India lists 22 official languages. 14 were initially added to the Constitution. Sindhi was accorded official status in 1967, Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali in 1992, and Bodo, Dogri, Maithili and Santhali in 2004. Mr. Tharoor was formerly the Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information at the U.N.
UN system not allowing to make Hindi one of the UN languages: Swaraj
India is ready to bear all expenses, if necessary up to Rs 400 crore, to make Hindi one of the official languages of the United Nations but its rules for acquiring such a status prevents the country from doing so, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said today.
According to the UN rules, support of two-third member countries (129 nations) is required out of the total 193 member nations, Swaraj said in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour.
Besides, all member nations will have to bear the cost of making Hindi one of the official languages of the UN.
“It is not difficult to get the support of two-third member nations. But when the issue of bearing the expenses comes, many small nations become hesitant which has led to a big hurdle in making Hindi an official languages of the UN,” she said, adding that despite this, the efforts are on.
When a BJP member said that India has to pay Rs 40 crore as cost for making Hindi one of the languages in the UN, the minister the government is ready to pay “even Rs 400 crore if required” but the world body’s rules does not allow to do so.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor asked why India should make the effort to make Hindi as one of the languages in the UN as it is only India’s official language and not the national language.
“If tomorrow someone from Tamil Nadu or from West Bengal becomes the Prime Minister, why should we force him to speak in Hindi at the UN,” he said.
Tharoor also said Hindi is official language of only one country – India.
However, Swaraj countered Tharoor saying he was unaware that Hindi is the official language of Fiji and is also spoken widely in Mauritius, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and many other countries
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