India: Mulayam seeks ban on English in Parliament
LUCKNOW: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Sunday yet again demanded a ban on the use of English language but, unlike previous occasions when he called for a complete prohibition, this time he sought its ban in Parliament.
“When MPs ask for vote, they do so in Hindi, but address Parliament in English. This should stop,” Mulayam said, adding, “We should use our mother tongue in Parliament. Countries which use their mother tongue are more developed. It’s the need of the hour to promote Hindi.”
Mulayam was speaking at a function held by Hindi Sewa Trust in Etawah on Saturday evening to felicitate people involved in Hindi’s promotion.
However, the Yadav chief’s trenchant anti-English position notwithstanding, his son and UP CM Akhilesh Yadav tweeted his congratulation to Sachin Tendulkar in English for the Bharat Ratna, being reproduced verbatim: “Sachin u give ur best from last 24 years to india. thanku Sachin will miss u lot. We like ur streight drive. Best of luck for ur future.”
Although Akhilesh speaks to Hindi and English news channels in Hindi, he has spoken in English in the past, the last time in January this year when he addressed a session of the CII Global Partnership Summit in Agra. Among those in attendance were vice-president Hamid Ansari, commerce minister Anand Sharma and industrialist Adi Godrej. In its 2009 tirade against English, the SP had promised to discourage use of computers, but announced free laptops in its 2012 manifesto for UP elections.
Surprisingly, both the BJP and Congress were silent on Mulayam’s demand. BJP chief Rajnath Singh, incidentally, had spoken in similar vein in July for which he drew considerable flak. “English language has caused a great lot of loss to India. We have started forgetting our religion and culture these days. There are only 14,000 people left in this country who speak Sanskrit,” Rajnath had said. The silence of UPCC, however, raised eyebrows.
While Rajnath and Mulayam, both MPs, have their concerns over the use of English, many other MPs find Hindi a difficult language to communicate in. The human resource development ministry had, in fact, on November 17, 2011, issued a statement about a specific request by some MPs to simplify Hindi in its use in Parliament. The statement was in reference to a discussion among MPs at a meeting of the consultative committee of Parliament of HRD ministry on “Development of Indian languages, protection and preservation of endangered languages and classical languages”.
It is absurd to suggest that the use of English should be prohibited in Parliament. Not only does English serve an effective link language for MPs from various linguistic groups, it is the only truly pan-Indian language. The fact that its origins lie outside the boundaries of India is irrelevant. The grounds on which English is sought to be banned, could also be used to ban cricket, films, the internet, electricity or a whole host of other things that originated outside India and without which life today would be unimaginable. There is just political hypocrisy. Politicians who profess to be ‘anti-English’ ensure that their sons and daughters get a good English education. The reality is that English is the language of opportunity in India, as in much of the world, and opposing it is tantamount to shutting opportunities.