Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said in New York on Monday that the time had come for Hindi, spoken by the largest number of people in the world after Chinese, to come on the world stage and become an official language at the United Nations.
He said this in New York while announcing the 8th World Hindi Conference to be held in New York from July 13-15.
He also launched the conference website - www.vishwahindi.com - by clicking on its home page on a laptop, which was then projected on a large screen at the Indian consulate in New York.
The World Hindi conference is being organised by the Indian government and coordinated by the Ministry of External Affairs. Sharma is the chairman of the steering committee. In New York, the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan is coordinating the event with help from Hindi organisations based in the US.
Sharma, who spoke both in Hindi and English, said that Hindi, India's national language, has been the language of the freedom struggle. To promote it, the first World Hindi Conference was held 32 years ago under the patronage of then prime minister Indira Gandhi.
"The objective of the New York conference is to bring Hindi to the world stage, for others to understand us and know where we are going," he said. He added that at a time when India is poised to play a leading role in the world, we cannot do so by discarding our culture, heritage and language.
Holding the conference in New York, and inaugurating it at the UN headquarters, Sharma said sends out a signal that Hindi - spoken by the largest number of people in the world after Chinese - should be added to the official languages of the UN, which are English, French, Chinese, Russian, Spanish and Arabic.
The conference is not restricted to a chosen few scholars and authors, Sharma clarified, and is meant to involve the Indian diaspora, and people - not necessarily of Indian origin - who are learning and teaching and writing the language anywhere in the world.
Consul General Neelam Deo and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, New York executive director P Jayaraman also spoke on the occasion.
The conference session themes include Hindi in the UN, teaching of Hindi abroad, role of information technology in promoting Hind, and role of Bollywood in propagating Hindi.
Earlier venues for the conference have been: Nagpur (1975), Port Louis (Mauritius - twice, 1976 and 1993), New Delhi (1983), Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago, 1996), London (1999) and Paramaribo (Suriname, 2003).