ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Rifts on Language Issue.

Editorial from Volume XI, No 37, September 12, 1959.

The debate in the Lok Sabha on the Report of the Parliamentary Committee on the Report of the Official Language Commission brought out how sharp the differences still were on the fu-ture positions of Hindi and English. Particularly significant as also most disturbing were the dif-ferences between the Prime Minister and the Home Minister on this vital question which came out during the debate. Does the Government, then, speak in two voices on a subject which has such important bearing on the unity of In-dia and on the cohesion of the Indian people? The debate concluded on an uncertain note and that was, perhaps, just as well. The Home Minister’s address provoked a vigorous protest and the demand was voiced by large sections of the House that Pandit Nehru’s earlier assurance that English should continue as an ‘associate language’ for as long as the non-Hindi speaking people wanted it, should be giv-en a legislative or statutory form. This, obvi-ously, found no favour with the Home Minister, though confronted with the obvious contradic-tion between the official stand and that taken by the Prime Minister, Pantji had to concede, “The Prime Minister is the head of the Government, he is the leader of our party and of the country. So anything that he says must be respected by everyone of us.”... How widely at variance was Pantji’s speech with Panditji’s earlier assurance on the subject! ...Pandit Pant...continued to support the rec-ommendations of the Official Language Com-mission that Hindi should be a compulsory subject along with another Indian language for All-India Services’ Examinations and while English will remain the medium for the present, “Hindi may be used later.” Pandit Nehru, on the other hand, “did not wish to impose compulso-rily Hindi on any State which did not want it”. He wanted to remove any sense of compulsion or pressure and the idea that they (the non-Hindi knowing people) would suffer in services or work. He wished “the natural forces to develop voluntarily and in a spirit of co-operation”.

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