Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to choose Hindi over English when he speaks to world leaders over the next few months and addresses the United Nations General Assembly at the end of September.
According to South Block sources, Modi wants to speak in Hindi because he feels he can then better use idiom and nuance as well as calibrate the flow of the conversation.
“The prime minister is seized of the fact that a considerable number of Indian diplomats would like him to speak in English. (But) while the PM speaks English fluently, he conveys his thoughts better in Hindi,” said a senior official.
Many of his core supporters in the Bharatiya Janata Party are in favour of “Modi being Modi” and speaking in Hindi, the official added.
The Indian Prime Minister is slated to travel to Nepal in early August, Japan and the United States in September, and then host the presidents of China and Russia for summit level talks before the end of the year.
“Backing his likely adoption of Hindi as his language of diplomatic communication, officials say Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks English fluently but only speaks in Japanese in official diplomatic engagements. Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is also comfortable in English but prefers to speak in Chinese with world leaders.
“Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks German fluently, but talks in Russian to Chancellor Angela Merkel during bilateral talks,” said the official.
While speaking in Hindi will not be an issue during the August 3-4 visit to Nepal, it is likely to be the subject of some debate during the Japan and US visits. Modi is due to meet President Barack Obama on September 30 and address the UN General Assembly around that time.
Atal Behari Vajpayee addressed the UN assembly in Hindi when he was foreign minister in the Morarji Desai-led Janata Dal government in the late 1970s.