Mains Article

Government’s Push for Hindi: Undesirable and divisive [Mains Article]

It would be disastrous for the country’s famed diversity if the promotion of Hindi is considered a step towards a ‘one nation, one language’ kind of unity.
By IT's Mains Articles Team
September 21, 2019


  • Why it was in News?
  • About Hindi Language
  • Status of Hindi Language in India
  • What is Three language formula?
  • Anti-Hindi agitations of Tamil Nadu
  • Arguments against mandatory imposition of Hindi
  • Conclusion

Government’s Push for Hindi: Undesirable and divisive

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Why it was in News?

  • Home Minister remarks have raised the hackles of political leaders in some States that do not speak Hindi as he made sweeping claims that Hindi alone could unite the country, and it was the language which should become India’s identity globally.
  • The Kerala Chief Minister dismissed the claim that Hindi was a unifying force, and even saw Home Minister’s remarks an attempt to trigger a controversy and to divert attention from real issues.


About Hindi Language

  • Hindi got its name from the Persian Word Hind, meaning ‘land of the Indus River’.
  • Persian speaking Turks who invaded Punjab and Gangetic plains in the early 11th century named the language of the region Hindi.
  • Literary Hindi has been strongly influenced by Sanskrit. Its standard form is based on the Khari Boli dialect, belonging to the north and east of Delhi.
  • Hindi is also spoken in some countries outside India, such as in Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and Nepal.
  • The earliest evidence of Hindi printing can be found in Grammar of the Hindoostani Language, a book written by John Gilchrist, published in Kolkata in 1796.
  • Prem Sagar (Ocean of Love), by Lalloo Lal, published in 1805 is considered the first published Hindi book and tells the deeds of Lord Krishna.
  • Hindi is the official language of India, along with English. The 8th schedule to the Constitution of India states the 22 official languages of India.
  • Bihar was the first Indian state to adopt Hindi as its official language.
  • Hindi is one of the seven languages that can be used to make web addresses.

about-hindi-language-IASToppersList of languages in the Eighth Schedule

The Eighth Schedule to the Constitution consists of the following 22 languages:- (1) Assamese, (2) Bengali, (3) Gujarati, (4) Hindi, (5) Kannada, (6) Kashmiri, (7) Konkani, (8) Malayalam, (9) Manipuri, (10) Marathi, (11) Nepali, (12) Oriya, (13) Punjabi, (14) Sanskrit, (15) Sindhi, (16) Tamil, (17) Telugu, (18) Urdu (19) Bodo, (20) Santhali, (21) Maithili and (22) Dogri.

  • Of these languages, 14 were initially included in the Constitution. Sindhi language was added in 1967.
  • Thereafter three more languages viz., Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali were included in 1992. Subsequently Bodo, Dogri, Maithili and Santhali were added in 2004.

Status of Hindi Language in India

Hindi Language in India IASToppers

  • As per 2011 census, the share of Hindi language speakers is highest in Uttar Pradesh and lowest in Kerala.
  • 43% of Indians speak the Hindi language, which includes many mother tongues such as Bhojpuri, Rajasthani & Hindi.
  • Only about 26% of Indians speak Hindi as mother tongue under the broader Hindi language grouping.
  • Close to 40% of the Hindi language speakers speak mother tongues other than Hindi.

What is Three language formula?


The three language formula was first mentioned in the National Policy on Education (NPE), 1968.

As per National Policy on Education (NPE), 1968:

  1. i) At the secondary stage, State governments should implement the three-language formula, which includes the study of any modern Indian language, Hindi and English in the Hindi-speaking States.
  2. ii) In the non-Hindi Speaking States, Hindi should be studied along with the regional language and English.
  • In June 2019, the government removed the ‘Three language’ clause from draft National Policy on Education (NPE), 2019. Three language formula sought to make Hindi a mandatory third language to be taught in schools across the country.

Anti-Hindi agitations of Tamil Nadu

  • The Anti-Hindi agitations of Tamil Nadu were a series of agitations that happened during both pre- and post-Independence periods.
  • The first anti-Hindi imposition agitation was launched in 1937, in opposition to the introduction of compulsory teaching of Hindi in the schools of Madras Presidency by the first Indian National Congress government led by C. Rajagopalachari.


  • This sparked massive protests and anti-Hindi demonstrations led by E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker (Periyar). He raised the slogan ‘Tamil Nadu for Tamilians’ and accused Hindi of being a tool of the Aryans for infiltrating Dravidian culture.
  • In 1940, Governor Erskine withdraws compulsory Hindi in schools.
  • During the Constituent Assembly debates, the language issue was once again discussed.
  • After much debate, the Constituent Assembly decided on a compromise called the Munshi-Ayyangar formula (named after KM Munshi and Gopalswamy Ayyangar) in 1949.
  • It ensured that,
    • The Indian Constitution will not specify any National Language. Instead, it defined only the Official Languages of the Union. Hindi would be the official language of the Indian Union. For fifteen years, English would also be used for all official purposes.
    • A Language commission could be convened after five years to promote Hindi and phase out English.
    • Official communication between states and between states and the Union would be in the official language of the union.
    • English would be used for all legal purposes – in court proceedings, bills, laws, rules and other regulations.
    • The Union was duty bound to promote the spread and usage of Hindi (Article 351).
  • As the deadline for switching to Hindi as primary official language approached, the central government stepped up its efforts to spread Hindi’s official usage. However, it faced intense protest.
  • The new Constitution came into effect on 26 January 1950. Efforts by the Indian Government to make Hindi the sole official language after 1965 were not acceptable to many non-Hindi Indian states, who wanted the continued use of English.
  • Hence, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru enacted Official Languages Act 1963 which allowed the continuation of the use of English along with Hindi for official purposes even after 1965.
  • However, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)’s (political party in Tamilnadu) opposed it saying that use of ‘may’ in ‘English language may continue to be used in addition to Hindi’ should be replaced with ‘Shall’ to make use of English language compulsory.
  • They that the term “may” could be interpreted as “may not” by future administrations and feared that the minority opinion would not be considered and non-Hindi speakers’ views would be ignored. However, act was passed without any changes.
  • As a result, as 26 January 1965 approached (switching over to Hindi as sole official language), the anti-Hindi movement gained momentum in Madras State with increased support from college students. A full-scale riot broke out in Madurai.
  • To calm the situation, Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri gave assurances that English would continue to be used as the official language as long as the non-Hindi speaking states wanted.
  • The Official Languages Act was eventually amended in 1967 to guarantee the indefinite use of Hindi and English as official languages.

Arguments against mandatory imposing of Hindi

  • Imposing a language on the unwilling state is hardly unifying and can cause disagreement or hostility between people.
  • National identity cannot be linked to any one language, as it is something that transcends linguistic and regional differences.
  • Regional languages have become the official languages of the States and the continued use of English has a strong value.
  • Hindi is not the mother tongue of a majority of Indians. Impose Hindi on them is similar to enslaving them.
  • India became a Republic in 1950 with a promise to the people that their languages and cultures will be protected. Hence, Hindi cannot be enforced against a state’s will.
  • India is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural and a secular nation. Any move to impose Hindi would strengthen the pluralistic features of India and its cultural identity.
  • If Hindi is enforced mandatorily, a child born in a Hindi-speaking family will have a natural advantage over a child born in a non-Hindi speaking family.


  • An important aspect of the opposition to Hindi imposition is that many in Tamil Nadu see it as a fight to retain English. English is seen as a rival of Hindi as well as the language of empowerment and knowledge.
  • While the development of Hindi is a constitutional command which Union government cannot ignore, the manner in which it is done should not give the impression to States that there is forced imposition of Hindi.
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