Hindi in Indian Parliament

An Additional Special Privilege for Hindi Speaking Members of the Indian Parliament

P.Unny

TAMIL TRIBUNE, December 2003 (ID. 2003-12-02)
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DEFINITION

Hindians: People whose mother tongue is Hindi (similar to Tamil speakers are sometimes referred as Tamilans or Tamilians).


On August 18, 2003, a member of the Indian Parliament from the Bengali speaking state of West Bengal, Mr. Somnath Chatterjee, was speaking in parliament on a no-confidence motion. He started the speech in Hindi, and then switched to English. After his allotted time was over, he asked the speaker of the parliament for a few more minutes to speak. The speaker, Mr. Manohar Joshi, told Mr. Chatterjee that he could have the additional time if he agreed to speak in Hindi. So a new privilege, a new norm, has come into force in the Hindian controlled Indian parliament: Those who speak in Hindi have more of a right to speak in parliament than those who speak in any other language including English. (As we would explain later, there are already severe limitations if a non-Hindi Member of Parliament wants to speak in his/her mother tongue.)

How foolish of us to think that every citizen is equal in this "Indian Union". How foolish of us to think that all members of parliament are equal in the Indian parliament, irrespective of which part of this "Indian Union" they come from. Now we know better. There are now two classes of members of parliament: Hindi speakers and non-Hindi speakers. Hindi speakers have more of a right to speak than others. 

I was born and educated in a non-Hindi state, Kerala. I thought that I am equal to those from Hindi states like Uttar Pradesh. I thought that those we select and send to the Indian parliament from Kerala have the same rights and privileges as those selected by citizens from Hindi states like Uttar Pradesh. But, now, I realize that it is not true. Members of parliament from Kerala have severe limitations if they want to speak in our mother tongue Malayalam. Now there is some additional limitation placed even if they speak in English. They get less time to speak than those speaking in Hindi. So the members of parliament we, the Malayalam-speaking citizens of India, send to the Indian parliament to represent us have less of a right to speak (less time to speak) about the needs and concerns of us, Malayalam-speaking Keralites. Malayalis and other non-Hindi speakers are indeed second class citizens in this "Indian Union".

"Hindi is as much alien to South Indians as English is to Indians"
said Pattom Thanu Pillai, Former Chief Minister of Kerala State (Kerala was called Travancore-Cochin when he was the Chief Minister)

SOME ADDITIONAL NOTES:

From the very inception of the Indian parliament in 1950, Hindian members had a special privilege over and above non-Hindi members. They can speak in their mother tongue whenever they want. Others have to speak in either Hindi or English, both foreign languages to them. If they know neither English nor Hindi, or just want to express themselves in their mother tongue, they have to get special permission from the speaker of the parliament. The speaker may or may not give permission, or may relegate the speech to a later time or date, while Hindian members can stand up and speak in their mother tongue whenever they please. Non-Hindi members of parliament grudgingly accepted it but now an additional privilege has been bestowed on Hindi speakers. Is it Indian Parliament or Hindian Parliament?

RELATED ARTICLES

1. Who Rules India? (Part I) (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, November 2000.

2. Articles on Hindi Imposition and Opposition in Tamil Nadu

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