Pharmaceutical Labeling (drug labels) in Hindi

Pharmaceutical Labels (Drug Labels) in Hindi: "Indian Customers" mean "Hindi Customers" to the Indian Government

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, May 2006 (ID. 2006-05-02); Updated 2014-08-01
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Indian government issued an order to the pharmaceutical industry (drug industry) that all pharmaceutical labeling should be in English and Hindi from April 1, 2006 [The Hindu newspaper: March 16, 2006].

Secretary of the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals said that it was one of the customer-friendly measures taken by the department. May I know how this introduction of Hindi is "friendly" to people in Tamilnadu or Kerala or West Bengal or other states outside of the Hindi belt? It does not in anyway help them. Only people of the Hindi states benefit from it. So, to the Indian government, "pharmacy customers" mean "pharmacy customers from Hindi states". Other sick people do not count; they are second-class citizens. The same logic that "only people from Hindi states count" was used by the Defense Department when it made Hindi and English the examination languages for those applying for certain jobs. Defense minister said that Hindi was introduced as an examination language in order to attract talented youth from rural areas. How does the introduction of Hindi as an examination language attract talented youth from rural areas in Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh or other non-Hindi states? To the Indian government "talented youth from rural areas" meant "talented youth from rural areas in Hindi states" [Reference 1].

If the Indian government truly wants to help sick people buying drugs to understand the the manufacturing and expiry dates, side effects, and other basic information better, it would have ordered that all labels be in English and the local language. Then sick people in Tamil Nadu can read and understand the labels in Tamil, people in Andhra Pradesh in Telugu, people in Assam in Assamese, etc. That would be fair. But as far as the Hindi politicians who dominate the Indian parliament and thus effectively control the Indian government are concerned, only Hindi people matter.

It is not at all difficult to print pharmaceutical labels in the local language. Each state has a population more than that of many countries. For example, Tamilnadu has a population of about 60 million. Such a large population can support drug labeling in Tamil. This is true for all states. As far as the Indian government is concerned it is yet another way to inject Hindi into non-Hindi lands under its control.

(We include English in the labeling for the benefit of people temporarily living out of state or traveling through another state. English is taught in all schools in India because it is the de facto international language.) 

SUMMARY: In yet another indirect attempt to force Hindi into non-Hindi states, Indian governments orders that pharmaceutical labeling (drug labels) must be in Hindi and English (not the local language and English).

UPDATE (January 1, 2014)

Indian government's total disregard for the safety and well-being of its non-Hindi citizens, in its efforts to push Hindi everywhere and ignore local languages, is evidenced in how Indian government agencies put safety warnings in cooking gas cylinders in English and Hindi only and refuse to include the local language. This and other such incidences are discussed in Reference 2.

UPDATE (August 1, 2014)

In 2014, the newly elected Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, started speaking with foreign leadersin Hindi although he is reasonably proficient in English, and in fact, talks to his Tamil Nadu allies Vaiko and Ramadoss in English. We don't care if this prime minister, whose mother tongue is Gujarati, feels comfortable speaking in Hindi but the reasons behind his action is disturbing and "degrading" to non-Hindi peoples (the majority) of India. Professor Purushottam Agarwal, visiting professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, said that Modi's use of Hindi is a sign of "rootedness" of this government [Hindustan Times: June 8, 2014]. This arrogant attitude of some Hindi politicians and elite that India is rooted in Hindi lands (north-central India) alienates non-Hindi regions. If India is rooted in Hindi lands, am I, hailing from Tamil Nadu, an Indian? DNA News (June 4, 2014) reported diplomats saying, "Modi has tried to assert India's national identity". If Hindi is India's national identity, what about Telugus, Bengalis, Malayalis, Tamils, ... ?

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: We thank Mrs. Balachandran for bringing to our attention the Indian government order on pharmaceutical labeling.    


1. "Indian Youth" means "Hindi Youth" to the Indian Government (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, August 2005.

2. Cooking Gas Explosions and Hindi Instructions (Tamil Nadu, India) (by K.S.), TAMIL TRIBUNE, January 2014 (10 KB)


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