Hindi, the National Language – Misinformation or Disinformation?

All the legal rights, respect and importance, granted by the statute to other official languages in their respective states must also be conferred upon Marathi in Maharashtra. “We do not ask for anything more, but we shall not settle for anything less too”. Can such a demand be termed as improper, illegal or immoral by any standards?


Hindi, the National Language – Misinformation or Disinformation?

–  Saleel Kulkarni 

Let us take a simple example to understand how double standards are applied in the case of Maharashtra. Every politician from the north India, while visiting the state, keeps repeating lies such as “Hindi is the National Language and hence every Indian must learn the language and respect the same”. But his principles suddenly change when the same politician visits any other non-Hindi state. There he enthusiastically praises the local language and culture and also takes pain to elaborate how the Central Government or his own party (whichever it may be) is making great efforts for the linguistic and cultural progress of the state. The various display boards, various forms and notice boards etc. meant for the public put up in the offices of the nationalised banks, central government departments, public sector undertakings, Post Offices, Railways, etc., everywhere in the state of Maharashtra are generally in Hindi and English only, thus discarding the language of the state. However, the same organisations accord highest importance to the local language in various other states. In fact, quite often Hindi itself is conspicuously absent. Why such double standards? All the legal rights, respect and importance, granted by the statute to other official languages in their respective states must also be conferred upon Marathi in Maharashtra. “We do not ask for anything more, but we shall not settle for anything less too”. Can such a demand be termed as improper, illegal or immoral by any standards?  


The main intention behind writing this article is to provide insight to the people of Maharashtra, into the basic principles behind the constitution and the linguistic policies of the country; and thereby to empower them to ensure that their language attains its just and rightful position as well as the respect that it deserves.

At the outset it must be pointed out that the Constitution of India has not accorded the status of the ‘National Language’ to any particular language.  In fact, the constitution is curiously silent about this aspect. However, it has been indirectly suggested by some of the early leaders of independent India that ALL the languages listed in the eighth Schedule of the Constitution may be considered the National Languages of India.

About thirty years ago, while I was studying at the I.I.T. Kharagpur (West Bengal), I heard for the first time in my life that Hindi was not the National Language of the country and I was in a state of utter disbelief. In IIT, we used to have a non-engineering subject taught by the Humanities Department in every semester. The basic idea behind introducing such subjects not belonging to any typical engineering curriculum was to offer an opportunity to the students to develop not simply as brilliant engineers but also as responsible citizens of the world. In the third year, we had ‘The Constitution of India’ as one of the subjects that was being taught by a Bengali professor, Prof. Chatterjee of the Humanities Department. During the lectures on the constitution of India, Prof. Chatterjee, used to repeatedly tell us: “As per the constitution, Hindi is NOT the National Language of India and all the state languages enjoy exactly the same status and importance”. In fact, it was during my stay in West Bengal that I realised what it really meant to be proud of one’s own language and culture. In Bengal, Bengali is the only language of communication for the Marwari crorepati businessmen, the Bihari rickshaw-pullers, as well as the middle class Bengali office clerks.

On my return from Kharagpur, whenever I tried to make this point in any discussion, my friends used to reject it as a totally ludicrous statement. They would find the statement “Hindi is not the National Language of India” to be as absurd and impossible as the statement, “India is yet to attain Independence”. 

Many years thereafter, in the month of August 2008, unexpectedly I came across an article by Mr. Shashi Tharoor in a National English daily and I was really shocked to see exactly the same point being emphasised in the article. An expert such as Mr. Tharoor, who had represented India in the UNO, was trying to highlight exactly the same point. Mr. Tharoor is presently the minister of state for Foreign Affairs in the central government.

One of the statements made by Mr. Tharoor was: “Twelve years ago, when India celebrated the 49th anniversary of our independence from British rule, H D Deve Gowda, the then prime minister, stood at the ramparts of New Delhi’s 16th century Red Fort and delivered the traditional Independence Day address to the nation in Hindi, the language which we have all learned to refer to (though the term has no constitutional basis) as India’s ‘national language’.”

Mr. Tharoor further said, “Indian nationalism is a rare animal indeed. The French speak French, the Germans speak German, the Americans speak English (though Spanish is making inroads, especially in the south-west and south-east of the US) — but Indians speak Punjabi, or Gujarati, or Malayalam, and it does not make us any less Indian.” 

He has also commented thus: “It is a reality that pluralism emerges from the very nature of our country; it is a choice made inevitable by India’s geography, reaffirmed by its history and reflected in its ethnography. Let us celebrate our Independence on August 15 in a multitude of languages, so long as we can say in all of them how proud we are to be Indian.”

Enthused by this rediscovery, I gathered some more information on the subject from the internet as well as from some knowledgeable persons, which I present below.

In the pre-independence period, when the British decided to grant some non-political administrative rights to the people of India, there came up the issue of deciding the national language of Hindustan. In the internal discussions that took place within the Congress party, the real tussle was between the Khadi Boli (the tongue closer to Urdu) and Hindi (based mainly on Sanskrit). Finally, a committee was formed to decide upon the issue. After a lot of elaborate discussion, when the matter was finally put up for voting, Hindi (based on Sanskrit) with Devnagari script was voted as the National Language of Hindustan. However, it must be made very clear that while formulating the constitution of independent India, the authors of the constitution have NOT proclaimed any single language as the National Language of independent India and have preferred to be silent on this important issue. Unfortunately, this reality is never clearly brought to the knowledge of the common people like us.   

In the booklet ‘The Official Languages (Amendment) Act, 1967: Approach & Objective’ issued by the Central Government, I found the following mention:

While the above 1963 bill was still under discussion in the Lok Sabha, the late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said, on April 24, 1963:

“The makers of our constitution were wise in laying down that all the 14 languages (in the eighth schedule) will be national languages. There is no question of any one language being more national than the other. Bengali or Tamil or any other regional language is as an Indian national language as Hindi.”


The complete article by Shri. Saleel Kulkarni is available at the link given below.

Amrutmanthan_Hindi_the National Language_Misinformation or Disinformation_250110



1. This article is Based on the article published on the 15th November 2009 in the Marathi Daily “Loksatta”.

2. You may please check out at the following link, a copy of the communication received subsequently from the Department of Official Language, Ministry of Home, confirming that there is no provision in the Constitution of India declaring Hindi as the National Language of India.

अमृतमंथन-१_हिंदी राष्ट्रभाषा नहीं_भारत सरकारको कबूल_मूल पत्र_291209

3. The article by Shri. Shashi Tharoor referred to in the above article can be found at the link given below.



– Amrutyatri Group


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13 thoughts on “Hindi, the National Language – Misinformation or Disinformation?

  1. 1. When DMK, etc., were participating in the central Govt. in 1995, they had demanded that all 22 national languages should be official languages. Now, in view of the internet translation facility, this proposal is feasible.
    2. The reference to Hindi as the National Language appearing in all Maharashtra school textbooks should be suitably corrected before the next academic year.
    3. Maharashtra Rashtrabhasha Sabha, Pune, and Rashtrabhasha Prachar Samiti, Wardha, have misleading names. They should call themselves Maharashtra Adhikrut Bhasha Sabha, Pune, and Adhikrut Bhasha Prachar Samiti, Wardha, respectively.

    • प्रिय श्री० म० ग० देसाई यांसी,

      सप्रेम नमस्कार.

      सर्वच मुद्दे मराठीमनाच्या कोपर्‍यात रुतलेले. आज काढून सर्वांच्या पुढे ठेवलेत ते बरेच झाले. पण उत्तरे काही सरळ-सोपी नाहीत. आमच्या कुवतीप्रमाणे प्रयत्न करतो.

      उत्तर-१: केंद्र सरकार पेचात अडकले आहे. “अयोग्य मागणी आहे. करणार नाही.” असे म्हणता येत नाही. “होय, करतो.” म्हटले तर ते राज्यांना अधिक स्वायत्तता देण्यासारखे होईल. पंडित नेहरू हे एक अत्यंत धूर्त राजकारणी होते. हिंदी राजकारण्यांच्या उद्धट व रुबाबाच्या राजकारणाने अहिंदी राज्यातील मंडळी बिथरली. आणि मग जेव्हा हिंदीला राष्ट्रभाषा करण्याच्या धोरणाला प्रखर विरोध होऊ लागला तेव्हा पंडित नेहरू धास्तावले. तेव्हा करुणानिधी व काही इतरांनी तमिळनाडूसाठी स्वयत्तता, वेगळा ध्वज वगैरे मागितला होता. तेव्हा इतर भाषकांना शांत करण्यासाठी त्यांनी दिलासा देण्यासाठी लोकसभेतील भाषणात परिशिष्ट-८ मधील सर्वच भाषा राष्टभाषा असण्याबद्दल विधान केले. पण प्रत्यक्षात कुठेही घटनेत वा कायद्यात तसा अधिकृत उल्लेख केला नाही. पण आता तमिळनाडू शासनाने त्याचा फायदा घेऊन “बाप दाखवा, नाहीतर श्राद्ध करा” अशा पेचात केंद्र सरकारला टाकले आहे. अर्थात आपले केंद्र सरकारही थापेबाजीत कच्च्या गुरूचे चेले नाहीत. काही ना काही कारणे काढून तमिळनाडू शासनाच्या अर्जावर निर्णय घेणे पुढे ढकलत राहते.

      उत्तर-२: राज्य शासन तेवढी तत्परता दादोजी कोंडदेवांचे नाव काढण्यात दाखवेल, याबाबतीत मात्र शंका वाटते.

      उत्तर-३: टॅक्सी परवान्याच्या बाबतीत वरून डोक्यात सोनियाचे लाटणे आदळल्यावर हिंदी व गुजराथीलाही राज्यभाषेसमान स्थान देणार्‍या मुख्यमंत्र्याचे सरकार असे करील अशी आशा ठेवावी का?


      – अमृतयात्री गट

  2. I would like add further developments as regards status of Hindi as national language. The Hon. Gujrat High Court has ruled that Hindi ia not national language.
    It is regrettable that respected people like Ashok Chavan and Chhagan Bhujbal speaking Hindi. Extraneous considarations motivate them to indulge in such a blatant show of servility. They know Marathis will not retaliate. Marathis themselves should revolt and bycot such hindi speaking people.
    Shrikant Pundlik

    • प्रिय श्री० श्रीकांत पुंडलिक यांसी,

      सप्रेम नमस्कार.

      The Gujrat High Court has no power, no locu standi whatsoever to give any ruling on whether or not Hindi is the National Language. During a case pertaining to a totally different issue, the fact that Hindi is not the NL, was brought to the notice of the High Court (probably it did not know that before) and relying on that it delivered its ruling regarding the other issue.

      देशाची राष्ट्रभाषा ठरवणे किंवा नाही असे सांगणे ह्याचा गुजराथ उच्च न्यायालयास काहीही अधिकार नाही. तो अधिकार घटनेचा आहे. घटनेने ते ६० वर्षांपूर्वीच ठरवले आहे. त्यात बदल करायचा असल्यास संसदेत दोन तृतीयांश बहुमतानेच ते होऊ शकते.

      गुजराथ उच्च न्यायालयाने सत्य जाणून घेऊन (त्यांना स्वतःला माहित नव्हते?) त्यांनी त्यांचा (वेग्ळ्याच विषयावर) निवाडा केला. पूर्वी अशा विधानांवर कोणी विश्वास ठेवत नव्हते. श्री० कुळकर्णींच्या लोकसत्तेतील लेखानंतर लोकांना पटू लागले. नंतर केंद्र सरकारचे पत्र सादर केल्यावर तर काहीच शंका रहायला नको होती. पण आपले अमराठी मित्र खुद्द गृह खात्याच्या पत्रावर विश्वास ठेवीनात व गु०ऊ०न्या०ने ते आधीच अस्तित्वात असलेले सत्य विचारात घेऊन त्यांचा इतर काही निर्णय दिल्यावर इतरांना ती गोष्ट पटली असे वाटते.

      < They know Marathis will not retaliate. >
      या निरभिमानी भीरुतेला, अनास्थेला आपण विशालहृदयीपणा असे गोंडस नाव देतो.


      – अमृतयात्री गट

  3. […] आवृत्ती तयार करून याच अनुदिनीवर ’Hindi, the National Language – Misinformation or Disinformation?’ या नावाने प्रसिद्ध झाली […]

  4. Resp. Mr.Saleel Kulkarni,
    Thanks a zillion times for this website and the views u propogate through amrutmanthan.I really thank u from the depth of my heart for it. I got to know abt ur website thru MNS website.It feels extremely relieved and delighted to see people like u striving for our beloved mother-tongue. It is also amazing that u echo all the thoughts and views which i hold about Marathi language, Maharashtra. I am since 3-4 years completely done away with our so-called national language and try to make them understand the truth behind it. I wont deny having bias against outsiders and hindi language but the real enemy of our language is our own Marathi manoos. He’s over tolerent, spineless suffering from inferiority complex.
    what i found is that if u can speak satisfactory level of english, then only u can abandon clutches of hindi.and not many may subscribe to my views abt hindi, but i continue to live by speaking marathi and english.Im extremely delighted to see ur efforts. May god bless u for ur noble endeavor.
    Guj high court has recently adjudged that hindi indeed is no national language.ur right to info. document is an atom bomb, let me tell u.
    On a positive note, i see maharashtrians now being more assertive than our earlier generations.so good days are ahead for marathi, just like english established itself against ‘pristine’ latin and ‘happening’ french.
    Jai Maharashtra

    • प्रिय श्री० मराठीप्रेमी यांसी,

      सप्रेम नमस्कार.

      आपल्या आपुलकीच्या पत्राबद्दल अत्यंत आभारी आहोत. आपल्या भावना श्री० सलील कुळकर्णींच्या पर्यंत पोचवूच.


      – अमृतयात्री गट

    • प्रिय श्री० हेमंत आठल्ये यांसी,

      सप्रेम नमस्कार.

      अत्यंत आभारी आहोत. आपणा सर्वच अमृतमंथनाच्या परिवारातील सदस्यांना कालच्या मायबोली मराठी भाषा दिनानिमित्त हार्दिक शुभेच्छा. आपण सर्व एकाच आईची लेकरे, सहोदर, बंधुभगिनी आहोत. आपल्या आईच्या सन्मानासाठी, संपन्नतेसाठी, एकजुटीने सतत प्रयत्न करीत राहू.


      – अमृतयात्री गट

  5. Hello,
    The challenges that Marathi Medium schools would continue to face are 1)These schools are run by local management with extremely poor funds. The funds, their might, money power etc are not sufficinet enough to manage the show vis-a-vis English Medium Convent Schools. Convent Schools can change the scene with money power. This is the irony of Independent India that the Education is a seleable commodity and not the fundamental right. 2) Marathi medium schools need to elevate their standards to fight the competiton with English Medium Convent schools in terms of staffing, upgrading teachers skill sets, infrastructure, social and economic standards etc. 3) Marathi medium schools to convert as many subjects into English (Semi English Medium ) e.g. History, Geography, Economics etc. should also be in Englsih and not in Marathi. That’s not bad. Again, Our next generation has to compete with the rest of the world and English as a language is a must. We also have to accept the fact that Mumbai is the financial capital of the city and also cosmopolitan city. That’s the pride of the nation and even of any Indian ( including Maharashtrian). Let that continue for ever. No migrant form any other state would enroll their child in a Marathi Medium school. The ratio will dictate the Englsih Medium Vs Marathi medium count. The down side is Convent Schools will fast spread into rural areas too breaking the backbone of Marathi speaking population. However, we can not threaten or forcefully ask non marathi to adopt Marathi speaking in the public places. Marathi will slowly extinguish, if the the Marathi speaking people and moreover the so called literates will start speaking Englsih amongst themselves for no reason.

    • प्रिय श्री० अशुतोष यांसी,

      आपल्या सविस्तर आणि विचारपूर्ण पत्राबद्दल आभार. वरील लेखातील विषय का मराठी माध्यमांच्या शाळांशी फारसा संबंधित नाही. त्या विषयावर अनेक लेख या अनुदिनीवर सादर केले गेले आहेत व त्यांच्याबद्दल त्याच लेखांबद्दल बरीच चर्चाही झाली आहे.

      मराठी माध्यमाची शाळा म्हणजे ती कमी पैशातली असायलाच पाहिजे, तिच्यामध्ये सोयी-सुविधांची कमतरता असायलाच पाहिजे असा निसर्गनियम नाही. आणि प्रत्येक इंग्रजी शाळा उत्तम असतेच असेही नाही. (अनेक उदाहरणे देता येतील.) तीस-चाळीस वर्षांपूर्वी हा प्रश्न फारसा गंभीर नव्हता. ह्या परिस्थितीत ना मराठी भाषेचा दोष आहे ना इंग्रजी भाषेची विशेष गुणवत्ता. हा सर्व आपल्या समाजाच्या गैरसमजाजाच दोष अधिक आहे. या आधी श्री० भास्करभट्ट यांनी लिहिलेल्या ब्रॅंडिंग बद्दलचे पत्र पहा. आमच्या अनुभवावरून आम्ही सांगू शकतो की पंचतारांकित हॉटेलातील खाद्यपदार्थ उडप्याच्या हॉटेलपेक्षा अधिक शिळे व निकस असतात. पण यावर कोण विश्वास ठेवेल?

      असो. आपण मांडलेल्या विचारांवर आधी काही लेखांमध्ये विचारविमर्श झालेलाच आहे. खालील वर्गातील लेखांवरून दृष्टी टाकावी.


      शिवाय हे लेख देखील पहावेत.




      या लेखांच्या खाली आपण मांडलेल्या बहुतेक मुद्द्यांचा सविस्तर उहापोह झालेला आहे. ते सर्व एकत्र करून इथे पुन्हा मांडणे थोडे अडचणीचे ठरेल. कृपया आपण ते स्वतःच प्रत्यक्ष पाहिलेत तर अधिक बरे होईल.


      – अमृतयात्री गट

  6. […] आवृत्ती तयार करून याच अनुदिनीवर Hindi, the National Language – Misinformation or Disinformation? या नावाने प्रसिद्ध झाली […]

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