Tamil Tribune

India: Tamil IAS Officer Scolded for not Speaking "Good" Hindi

P. N.

TAMIL TRIBUNE, February 2002 (ID. 2002-02-01); Revised on 2010-12-01
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Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers are the cream of Indian civil service. They go through a tough competitive examination and only a small percentage are selected for the service. They are employed both at the Indian Central Government and at the State Governments at senior administrative positions. With years and experience they move to higher and higher responsibilities.

Indian government tells Tamil Nadu that there is no Hindi imposition. The following incidence at the highest level of Indian government shows that even senior non-Hindi IAS officers are forced to make presentations in Hindi and even scolded for not speaking "good Hindi".

June 3, 1990 issue of Illustrated Weekly of India reported an incidence involving the then Indian Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal. Devi Lal was known to scold IAS officers from non-Hindi areas for not speaking in "good Hindi" (remember, the officers are speaking in Hindi but not in "good Hindi"). One day an IAS officer, Mr. Gitakrishnan, was to make a presentation to Prime Minister V. P. Singh and Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal and some others. When his turn came to make the presentation Gitakrishnan told the Prime Minister that he would rather not make the presentation because his Hindi is not good enough to meet the Deputy Prime Minister's standard. Before Devi Lal could burst in anger, as some expected, V. P. Singh rushed in and told Gitakrishnan that he may make his presentation in English.

Do not jump to the conclusion that non-Hindi IAS officers have the option to make presentations in English. Not so. This above incidence was an exception and not the norm; Prime Minister V. P. Singh diplomatically interfered to prevent a unpleasant confrontation between a senior IAS officer and Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal.

Obviously Gitakrishnan and other IAS officers were made to make Hindi presentations before Dei Lal in the past and were scolded for not speaking good Hindi. Obviously Gitakrishnan was not happy with this treatment and made this opportune moment in front of the prime minister to passively resist it. He was a very senior IAS officer holding a secretary-level position and, obviously, a very courageous man. He might have only a few more years to retirement. Even if transferred to a less desirable position, he may weather it for that short while. How many middle-level IAS officers would dare to "challenge" the Deputy Prime Minister or for that matter other Hindi chauvinist ministers? Any IAS officer confronting a minister on any issue may find himself/herself transferred to less desirable positions.

What the above Devi Lal incidence shows are these: IAS officers from non-Hindi areas are forced to make presentations in Hindi (although every prime minister of India had assured Tamil Nadu that Hindi would not be imposed on non-Hindi peoples). IAS officers were even scolded for not speaking good Hindi.

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