Laxmikanth: Summary of Official Language UPSC Notes | EduRev

Indian Polity for UPSC (Civil Services) Prelims

UPSC : Laxmikanth: Summary of Official Language UPSC Notes | EduRev

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Part XVII of the Constitution deals with the official language in Articles 343 to 351. Its provisions are divided into four heads—Language of the Union, Regional languages, Language of the judiciary and texts of laws and Special directives.

LANGUAGE OF THE UNION
The Constitution contains the following provisions in respect of the official language of the Union.
1. Hindi written in Devanagari script is to be the official language of the Union. But, the form of numerals to be used for the official purposes of the Union has to be the international form of Indian numerals and not the Devanagari form of numerals.
2. However, for a period of fifteen years from the commencement of the Constitution (i.e., from 1950 to 1965), the English language would continue to be used for all the official purposes.

REGIONAL LANGUAGES
The Constitution does not specify the official language of different states. In this regard, it makes the following provisions: . The legislature of a state may adopt any one or more of the languages in use in the state or Hindi as the official language of that state. Until that is done, English is to continue as official language of that state.

Development of Hindi Language 

  • The Constitution imposes a duty upon the Centre to promote the spread and development of the Hindi language so that it may become the lingua franca of the composite culture of India. 
  • At present (2016), the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution specifies 22 languages (originally 14 languages). These are Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri (Dongri), Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Mathili (Maithili), Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Sindhi was added by the 21st Amendment Act of 1967; Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali were added by the 71st Amendment Act of 1992; and Bodo, Dongri, Maithili and Santhali were added by the 92nd Amendment Act of 2003.

COMMITTEE OF PARLIAMENT ON OFFICIAL LANGUAGE
The Official Language Act (1963) provided for the setting up of a Committee of Parliament on Official Language to review the progress made in the use of Hindi for the official purpose of the Union. Under the Act, this Committee was to be constituted after ten years of the promulgation of the Act (i.e., 26th January, 1965). Accordingly, this Committee was set up in 1976. This Committee comprises of 30 members of Parliament, 20 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha.

CLASSICAL LANGUAGE STATUS
In 2004, the Government of India decided to create new category of languages called as '"classical languages".
In 2006, it laid down the criteria for conferring the classical language status.six language are granted to classical language - Tamil, Sanskrit, telugu, Kannada, malayalam, odia.

Benefits
Once a language is declared classical, it gets financial assistance for setting up a centre of excellence for the study of that language and also opens up an avenue for two major awards for scholars of eminence.

Bill to Change Stature of Official Languages
Why in News
Recently, a private member’s bill was introduced in the ongoing Winter Session of the Parliament to give all 22 languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution the stature of national official languages.

What the Bill Proposes
This proposed (Constitutional Amendment) Bill seeks to amend: 

  • Original Provision: Article 343 of the Constitution, which states that the official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script.
    (i) Proposal: The bill proposes to substitute this with, “the official language of the Union in addition to Hindi in Devanagari script shall be the languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule to this Constitution”. 
  • Original Provision: Subclause-3 of the Art 343 which states that “Parliament may by law provide for the use of the English language”.
    (i) Proposal: The bill seeks to add to this subclause, “Parliament may by law provide for the use of the English language or the languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule to this Constitution”

Purpose

  • As India is known for unity in diversity- also enshrined in the Preamble to the Constitution, it is necessary that all the regional languages recognized in the Eighth Schedule be encouraged, developed and used as the official language of the Union. This will promote national integrity.
  • Of these languages, 14 were initially included in the Constitution.
  • Sindhi language was added by the 21st Amendment Act of 1967.
  • Konkani, Manipuri, and Nepali were included by the 71st Amendment Act of 1992.
  • Bodo, Dogri, Maithili, and Santhali were added by 92nd Amendment Act of 2003.

Committee on Official Languages 

  • As the evolution of dialects and languages is dynamic, influenced by socio-political developments, it is difficult to fix any criterion for languages, whether to distinguish them from dialects, or for their inclusion in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
    (i) Consequently two committees viz. the Pahwa (1996) and Sitakant Mohapatra (2003) Committees were formed by the government. 
  • A Committee was set up in September 2003 under the Chairmanship of Shri Sitakant Mohapatra to evolve a set of objective criteria for inclusion of more languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
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