Do you know, India has the world's fourth highest number of languages (447), after Indonesia (710) and Papua New Guinea (840)! India is indeed a diverse country and languages spoken belong to several language families, the major ones being the “Indo-Aryan languages” spoken by 78.05% of Indians and the “Dravidian languages” spoken by 19.64% of Indians.
Article 343 of the Indian Constitution stated that the “Official Language” of the Union is Hindi in Devanagari script instead of the extant English. Later, a constitutional amendment, The Official Languages Act, 1963, allowed for the continuation of English alongside Hindi in the Indian government indefinitely until legislation decides to change it.
Despite the misconceptions, Hindi is NOT the “National Language” of India. Infact, the Constitution of India does not give any language the status of National Language.
The Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution lists 22 languages, which have been referred to as scheduled languages and given recognition, status and official encouragement. In addition, the Government of India has awarded the distinction of classical language to Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu. Classical language status is given to languages which have a rich heritage and independent nature.
Two languages have played an important role in the history of India: Persian and English. Persian was the court language during the Mughal period in India. It reigned as an administrative language for several centuries until the era of British colonisation.
English continues to be an important language in India. It is used in higher education and in some areas of the Indian government. Hindi, the most commonly spoken language in India today, serves as the lingua franca across much of North and Central India. Bengali is the second most spoken and understood language in the country with a significant amount of speakers in Eastern and North- eastern regions. Marathi is the third most spoken and understood language in the country with a significant amount of speakers in South-Western regions.
However, there have been concerns raised with Hindi being imposed in South India, most notably in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka. From time to time, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Assam, Punjab and other non-Hindi regions have also started to voice concerns about Hindi.
With increase of Globalization, there has been a demand of making English the only Official Language in India. In this GD Topic, we discuss the Pros and Cons of this thinking.
If English is made the only Official Language in India, there are many benefits that can arise.
- Access to global business opportunities: Future generations of Indians can excel in science and mathematics and have global opportunities if English is made the official language. While children’s of rich families can go to private schools to learn English from a small age, the same is not true of lower class and poor. If English is made the national and official language, these poor students can also access the same education and opportunities.
- Understand the Cultures of the World: English is commonly understood by natives of more than 150 countries. So if Indians know English well, they can connect with anyone across the globe thru internet and digital technologies, and understand global culture and engage with all important countries. This increase of people to people to contact will greatly benefit India and the world.
- English is the language of Science & Technology: This fact is well known. If you know the English language well, you can access the Books, Journals, and even Youtube Videos on Science & Technology.
- Integrate South, North East, all Indians with English: Some social scientists believe that by adopting English as a National and Official Language, Indians will come closer. This will help in strengthening India as a truly One great nation.
- Languages are only for Communications: Finally, universalists say that language is only a medium used to communicate with others. It should not be seen as a prestige issue and be overly sensitive about it.
While there are obvious benefits of making English the Official Language in India, there can be some challenges too. Here are key points:
- Making English our National or only Official Language is a Return of Imperialism
- Hindi is the most widely understood language and can integrate India, not a foreign language.
- Germans, French, Chinese are global powers but use their own languages. So India too can be a global power without English.
So from the above points, you can make up your own mind on this GD Topic and participate actively. Remember, it is not the side you take but how logically and convincingly you explain your point of view that will get you high marks in Group Discussion Round.
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