The Union government’s move for giving importance to Hindi language has racked up controversies time and again, as objections have been raised by various states whose first language is not Hindi. Giving priority to Hindi has also been seen by some as an attempt to create differences among the non-Hindi speaking population.
As per the recent order of the external affairs ministry, regional passport offices across the nation have been asked to make maximum use of Hindi on a daily basis and communication has become a challenging task for staff members who find English more convenient as compared to Hindi.
Meanwhile, implementation of such an order also becomes a challenging task for offices in the regions where Hindi is not the first language. One such example is Punjab, where though people do speak Hindi, the language of the majority as well as the official first language is Punjabi. In case of elite sections of society, people aspire to communicate in English and Hindi largely receives a secondary treatment.
Among the many directions that the ministry has notified for promoting Hindi, central government offices have been directed to maintain files in both Hindi and English. It further states that staff members should try to give most comments in Hindi.
Meanwhile, most of the public notices meant for circulation should be in Hindi. The parliamentary committee, on the directions of which the ministry had passed the order, asked the regional passport officers that the quarterly report of the office to be sent to the ministry should be in Hindi.
In addition to this, the ministry has also directed the offices to download the schedule of various programmes that the government has notified to be carried out throughout the year for promoting the language.
Harmanbir Singh, regional passport officer, Jalandhar, told HT that complying with the government orders, the passport office was trying to maintain bilingual communication in most of the official work.
“We are organising a workshop on Hindi language on March 30, during which documentaries on the importance of Hindi will be shown to the employees while poetry will also be recited,” said Harmanbir Singh.
Regional language sidelined
As the Doaba region’s passport office receives the maximum response from people vying to go abroad, out of which most of them are from rural areas, information in the regional language holds equal importance.
“Rather than taking steps for promoting Hindi, the government should have asked to provide information in the regional language for the convenience of the applicants rather than increasing our workload,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.