Linguistic Policy in Banking Sector – A Case of Complete Neglect in Maharashtra (Updated 12.05.2018)

As in the case of any other business, in order to provide efficient and transparent service to the people spread across this vast multi-linguist, multi-cultured country, banks too have to try and understand the local language, culture and practices of the people and establish easy communication with the people. It is precisely with this objective that the Reserve Bank of India keeps issuing various instructions and guidelines to the scheduled banks, based on the constitution of India, as well as the country’s linguistic policy. However, the extent of implementation of the Reserve Bank’s instructions pertaining to ‘localisation’ varies from state to state and as we can see, the instructions are generally being ignored by the banks especially in Maharashtra.

Now under these circumstances, what can one do to ensure that the banks in the state of Maharashtra also fall in line with the language related legal provisions as they do in the other states? Just relying on statutory bodies such as the central and state governments as well as the Reserve Bank of India is not going to help. The common people must shed their own indifference and lassitude and must do something to make certain that the banks and other enforcing bodies pay heed to the rules and ensure their implementation in letter and spirit. Since we have to achieve this in a legitimate manner, we must try and understand the basic language related provisions in the various laws together with their objectives and goals. We must also properly understand the privileges of the local language and so as to be able to convince others about the same.

Since this article discusses the legal provisions about the need for the banks to communicate with the general public in the local language; we earnestly request the readers to circulate the article to as many friends as possible. With the help of the legal references discussed in the article, we can ensure that the banks comply with the legal obligations.

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Linguistic Policy in Banking Sector – A Case of Complete Neglect in Maharashtra

Saleel Kulkarni

 

Introduction

The banking industry has seen considerable expansion in the last few years. Thanks to the large gamut of services that the Indian banks have been offering to fit the banking requirements and budget of the richest to the poorest, the banks have to cater to millions of customers spread across not only in the urban and semi-urban sectors but also in the rural sectors. As in the case of any other business, in order to provide efficient and transparent service to the people spread across this vast multi-linguist, multi-cultured country, banks too have to try and understand the local language, culture and practices of the people and establish easy communication with the people. It is precisely with this objective that the Reserve Bank of India keeps issuing various instructions and guidelines to the scheduled banks, based on the constitution of India, as well as the country’s linguistic policy. However, the extent of implementation of the Reserve Bank’s instructions pertaining to ‘localisation’ varies from state to state and as we can see, the instructions are generally being ignored by the banks especially in Maharashtra. This case is obviously similar to other similar regulations which are generally neglected in the state for which the main reason is the insensitivity of the state government and apathy as well as indifference of the local people towards subjects such as language and culture.

Now under these circumstances, what can one do to ensure that the banks in the state of Maharashtra also fall in line with the language related legal provisions as they do in the other states? Just relying on statutory bodies such as the central and state governments as well as the Reserve Bank of India is not going to help. The common people must shed their own indifference and lassitude and must do something to make certain that the banks and other enforcing bodies pay heed to the rules and ensure their implementation in letter and spirit. Since we have to achieve this in a legitimate manner, we must try and understand the basic language related provisions in the various laws together with their objectives and goals. We must also properly understand the privileges of the local language and so as to be able to convince others about the same.

Before we try to study the official language policy vis-à-vis the Indian Banking Industry, we first need to clearly understand the basic principles of our language policy as laid down by the Constitution of India together with the other statutes and rules formed in that context. The overall Official Language Policy as formulated by the Reserve Bank is based on these basic principles.

Overall Linguistic Policy based on the Constitution of India

  1. Neither the Constitution of India nor any other Law has declared Hindi or any other language as the National Language of India. In short, India has no single National Language.
  2. Instead of defining the National Language, the constitution has accorded special status to certain important state languages, which are listed in the eighth schedule of the constitution. Although not stated explicitly in the constitution or in any other statute, it is implied that status of each of the languages in the eighth schedule is no less than the National Language of India.
  3. The constitution has recommended Hindi and English as the ‘official languages’ of the union of India. In this context, the meaning of the term ‘Official Language’ is limited and it means ‘the language to be used by the Central Government for its internal affairs and internal communication’, which in simpler words, means that it is the internal ‘office language’ of the Central Government. However, as far as the communication of the central government with the public at large is concerned, these two languages do not enjoy even the slightest importance over and above the languages recognised by the constitution in its eighth schedule. (Incidentally, since English is not included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, its legal status is even below all the Indian languages specified in the schedule.)
  4. The central government has offices spread all across the different linguistic states of the country. With a view to ensuring smooth and efficient communication with the public, the central government has formulated the “Three Language Formula” (TLF in short) and made it applicable to the various departments, public sector undertakings and institutions of the central government. The formula has accorded the highest priority to the official local language, which is followed by Hindi and then English. It clearly means that as per the “Three Language Formula”, in any state, the concerned officers of the central government must accord the highest priority and preference to the state language while communicating with the public. In importance and priority, the Hindi and English languages come after the local state language.
  5. The makers of the constitution granted every state the right to select their official language of the state. The language recognised as the official language of the state is not only meant for the internal affairs of the state government but the same is also expected to be deployed for the communication with the general public of the state.
  6. Democracy is sometimes described as the system of governance by the people, of the people and for the people. If such a system does not carry out governance in the language of the local people and is not concerned with the culture of the local people, the basic principle of democracy itself stands defeated. In fact, this was a major criterion due to which the legal stalwarts opted for the principle of linguistic states. In a democratic system, the common man must be able to transact with ease, all the daily and common matters related to his social life in the language of the state. For such matters, if the common man is made to depend on a language of some other state or that of some another country; it is certainly a disgrace to the country that takes pride in calling itself the largest democracy in the world. This is the litmus test of the democratic system in any country. Hence, to ensure democracy in the real sense of the word, the governments (Central or State) must communicate with the common people in the local language of the state. Incidentally, this principle is generally observed, in states of India other than Maharashtra.
  7. The Supreme Court too has consistently delivered judgments in line with the above principle.

In a writ petition filed against the decision of the Government of Karnataka of making the Kannada language compulsory in the schools, the Supreme Court, while supporting the State Government, has noted: “The purpose and object of these linguistic states is to provide with greater facility, the development of the people of that area educationally, socially and culturally, in the language of that region.”

While rejecting the writ petition filed against the decision of the Government of Maharashtra of making study of the Marathi language compulsory for the standards V to X in the schools, the Supreme Court observed: “In our view, the resistance to learn the regional language will lead to alienation from the main stream of life, resulting in linguistic fragmentation within the state, which is an anathema to national integration.”

From the foregoing, it is very clear that there is nothing illegitimate or unethical about the principle of granting the highest importance to the state language and using the same with importance and priority for general communication in the state. In fact, it is exactly in line with the basic concepts and objectives of the constitution of the country.

Instructions and Guidelines Issued by the Reserve Bank to the Scheduled Banks

In the light of the foregoing, let us now study the instructions issued by the Reserve Bank of India. In this context, the most important one is the Master Circular on Customer Service (No. RBI/2008-09/261 DBOD No. Leg. BC. 75/09.07.005/2008-09 dated 03 November 2008) addressed to ‘All Scheduled Commercial Banks (Excluding RRBs)’.

The RBI says, “Reserve Bank has been time and again issuing various instructions / guidelines in the area of customer service to bring about improvements in the quality of customer service in banks and their branches. In order to have all current instructions on the subject at one place, we have compiled many of the important instructions issued by us in the form of a Master Circular”.

Let us now have a closer look at this circular and examine some of its important provisions which are reproduced below. It is quite evident that in tune with the three language formula of the central government, the RBI too has recommended various schemes based on the usage of the local language in order to communicate with the general public of the state in order to provide information as well as proper and quick disposal of customer grievances. (The Banks, especially when they are expected to give special emphasis on ‘Financial Inclusion’ (see point 4 below), cannot afford to presume that every common approaching them must be conversant with English, which is the language of another country and/or Hindi, which is the language of another state.) However, in Maharashtra, apparently such instructions are not complied with satisfactorily in letter and spirit. We, the common people, must consider it as our duty to lodge written complaints about such aberrations with the concerned bank itself and make them aware of their legitimate duty after quoting the relative paragraph number of the above circular issued by the RBI. If the bank fails to respond and correct the anomaly, we should complain to the Reserve Bank itself against the non-compliance. The banks are generally careful not to offend the RBI since the RBI has the authority to penalise the erring banks for non-compliance of instructions.

[…]

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The complete article is available at the following link.

Amrutmanthan : Linguistic Policy in Banking Sector-A Case of Complete Neglect in Maharashtra_V2_180512

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The following links also provide questionnaires to be presented before the Scheduled banks to verify their level of compliance with the Three-Language Formula (TLF). If we do not get satisfactory response to the questionnaire, we can approach the Banking Ombudsman to force the banks to fall in line.

The questionnaires in English are available at these links.

a. Sample letters :

  • Questionnaire for the Nationalised Banks.

Amrutmanthan_Banking Questionnaire_Letter under RTI for Nationalised Banks_100527

  • Questionnaire for the rest of the Scheduled Banks.

Amrutmanthan_Banking Questionnaire_Letter to other than Public Sector Banks_100527

 

b. List of Scheduled Commercial Banks

Amrutmanthan_List of Scheduled Commercial Banks_100601

Please do carefully go through all this information.

Note: Please remember that the TLF of the RBI is binding on ALL the Scheduled Banks, including the Indian Private Banks as well as Foreign Banks scheduled by the RBI for carrying out banking operations in India.

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You may please give your feedback in the boxes provided below the article.

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– Amrutyatri Team

Note: Those who are interested in this subject, may also read the following articles :

Hindi, the National Language – Misinformation or Disinformation? –}} http://wp.me/pzBjo-fr

Translation of the original letter obtained under RTI: अमृतमंथन-३_Hindi is not the National Language_Admission by Central Govt_English Translation of the Letter_291209 .

पन्हाळा: एक अनुभव. मराठी माणसाची अधोगती – स्वाभिमान ते निरभिमान  –}}  https://wp.me/pzBjo-7A

आपल्या बॅंकेचे मूल्यांकन करून बॅंकेला जाब विचारण्यासाठी प्रश्नावली  –}}  https://wp.me/pzBjo-mV

Hindi Will Destroy Marathi Language, Culture and Identity in Mumbai and Maharashtra  (Tamil Tribune) –}} http://wp.me/pzBjo-q7

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15 thoughts on “Linguistic Policy in Banking Sector – A Case of Complete Neglect in Maharashtra (Updated 12.05.2018)

  1. sir

    I read the article of Sh Saleel Kulkarni regarding ” Linguistic Policy in Banking Sector– A Case of Complete Neglect in Maharashtra” in this Blog( https://amrutmanthan.wordpress.com/ .) In this article there is a reference of trilingual policy framed by the central Govt. under the Official Language Rules 1976.
    I am a senior advocate and is struggling to promote Punjabi in Central Govt. offices which are situated in Punjab. Despite my best efforts I could not get the copy of such amended rules or notification.
    Can you help me by providing a copy of amended rules, or notification so that those may be got applied in Punjab.
    Hoping for favour and early reply pl.
    Mitter Sain Meet
    Advocate E mail : mittersainmeet@hotmail.com

    • Dear Advocate Mitter Sain Meet,

      Namaskar.

      Thank you very much for your note. We have forwarded your request to Shri. Saleel Kulkarni. We are sure he will provide all possible help to you in the matter.

      Basically our feelings are the same. India is made up of people speaking different languages and having diverse cultures. But there is still a common thread which holds us all together and makes us Indians. India must preserve such diversity; else the basic character of India as a country will be destroyed.

      Let us all come together in the struggle to ensure that the basic character of this country is not damaged by the selfish politicians and westernised Indians, none of whom are really bothered about the great culture and traditions of our country.

      Please be assured that all of us here in the Amrutyatri family (writers and readers) including Shri. Saleel Kulkarni will do our best to offer you the best possible cooperation.

      With warm regards and best wishes,

      Amrutyatri Group

  2. We in Punjab, though clubbed in with Maharshtra in zone B, are facing even greater ordeals than what is being forced upon the Marathi language.
    Here, except for putting it on the signboards of the banks, our mother tongue, our state language, Punjabi, is totally missing in all the transactions that the banks have with their clients in Punjab. Not a single form is available in Punjabi. The depository and loan schemes are in Hindi/English. So too, the KYC forms. In your Article you have oft mentioned the term Trilingual Policy and also about it being framed in the Official Language Rules, 1976. However, we have not been able to exactly locate where this Trilingual Policy is placed on and also, if any amends have been made thereto, which restricts its implementation in any particular state, as in our case.

    It would be highly appreciated if you could guide and advise us in this matter. In case it is ok for you, please forward us your phone number so that we could exchange notes that would help us stand up against the oppression and step motherly treatment being meted out to our mother tongue, our Rajbhasha, Punjabi.

    Thanks and warm regards

    Mahinder Singh Sekhon E mail sekhonmahinder@gmail.com

    • Dear Shri. Mahinder Singh Sekhon,

      Namaskar.

      Thank you very much for your note. We have forwarded your request to Shri. Saleel Kulkarni. We are sure he will provide all possible help to you in the matter.

      Basically our feelings are the same. India is made up of people speaking different languages and having diverse cultures. But there is still a common thread which holds us all together and makes us Indians. India must preserve such diversity; else the basic character of India as a country will be destroyed.

      Let us all come together in the struggle to ensure that the basic character of this country is not damaged by the selfish politicians and westernised Indians, none of whom are really bothered about the great culture and traditions of our country.

      Please be assured that all of us here in the Amrutyatri family (writers and readers) including Shri. Saleel Kulkarni will do our best to offer you the best possible cooperation.

      With warm regards and best wishes,

      Amrutyatri Group

      • Dear Sirs
        Thanks for your kind and positive response. We highly appreciate your views that not only support, but also fight for the rights of your mother tongue. We too reciprocate your passion. Together we will endeavour to not only fight and defeat the vested interests who are all out to kill our languages; we will do everything to put our mother tongues on the pedestal that is theirs only. MaaBoli Zindabaad.

        • Dear Advocate Mittersain Meet and Shri. Mahinder Singh Sekhon,

          Namaskar.

          I am extremely happy to read your posts under the above-referred article published on the Amrutmanthan blog, which show your extreme love and pride for your mother tongue and a strong determination to fight for its rights. Your monther tongue Punjabi is one of the 22 languages in the eighth schedule of the constitution and all the language in this schedule are “as good as National Language”. I promise to offer all possible help in your endeavour to win the rightful place for your mother tongue in your state. In fact, let us all come together to oppose the illegitimate attempts of the selfish politicians and bureaucrats, of suppressing the variety of Indian languages and cultures under the sham pretext of National Integrity. In fact, destruction of linguistic and cultural variety of India itself is the biggest threat to National Integration.

          Any language is the substratum which sustains a particular culture. It is this support over which the culture grows, thrives and prospers. Decay and death of a language would invariably result into decay and death of the relative culture. In order to preserve the diversity of culture in India, we must also preserve all the various Indian languages which support those cultures.

          Actually, the constitution of India has a definite viewpoint towards the linguistic (and cultural) diversity of India. We find small hints of that viewpoint sprinkled at different points in the language of the various legal provisions made in the constitution. I want to collect them all together and explain in a detailed article, the basic philosophical thread, which exists in the constitutional provisions. But that may require some more time.

          While I am collecting the data as suggested by you to strengthen our pitch for implementation of the Three-Language-Formula (TLF) in the public communication by the Indian Banks as well as by the Central Government and all the Public Sector Organisations, you may please check the articles devoted to similar subjects on the Amrutmanthan blog. While most of the articles are in Marathi, there are a few in English also, which you may find informative. For example :

          Hindi, the National Language – Misinformation or Disinformation? –}} http://wp.me/pzBjo-fr

          Translation of the reply under RTI regarding ‘National Language of India’ is available in the following article :

          “हिंदी ही भारताची राष्ट्रभाषा नाही” – केंद्र सरकारचा अधिकृत निर्वाळा (ले० सलील कुळकर्णी) –}} http://wp.me/pzBjo-e8

          —–

          You have already read the article “Linguistic Policy in Banking Sector – A Case of Complete Neglect in Maharashtra”. Its Marathi version also provides for a questionnaire to be presented before the Scheduled banks to verify their level of compliance with the Three-Language Formula. If we do not get satisfactory response to the questionnaire, we can approach the Banking Ombudsman to force the banks to fall in line.

          Now the Questionnaires (in English) have also been provided under the revised version of above article in English. Please check. You are free to make use of that.

          I shall soon send you some more information regarding the TLF.

          Thanks.

          Warm regards,

          Saleel Kulkarni

            • Dear Advocate Mitter Sain Meet and Shri. Mahinder Singh Sekhon,

              Thank you.

              Please go through the details given below. I hope they will be of use to you. In case you decide to approach the court, I shall try to dig out more information to bolster our claim.

              1. Please note that the purpose behind declaring certain languages as ‘Languages for the official purpose of the union’ under the ‘Official Languages Act’ is to have some common language(s) to facilitate easy and smooth communication among the various staff members of the Union Government belonging to the different offices spread across the country and speaking different native languages. Thus the Official Languages (viz. Hindi and English) are the Central Government’s ‘Office-Languages’ i.e. the languages to be used mainly for internal purposes inside the Central Government offices and they are NOT the languages to be used by the Central Government while communicating with the general public.

              2. You also need to be aware of the Government Resolution (No.F.5/8/65-O.L) adopted by both the Houses of Parliament on the 10th May 1963. I have a PDF copy of this resolution. I am sending it to you by email, since the same cannot be attached here. Please check the PDF.

              3. Please carefully read the text of the Government Resolution (No.F.5/8/65-O.L), wherein the paras (2) & (3) of the Resolution, are as given below :–

              (2) WHEREAS the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution specifies 14 major languages of India besides Hindi, and it is necessary in the interest of the educational and cultural advancement of the country that concerted measures should be taken for the full development of these languages;
              The House resolves that a programme shall be prepared and implemented by the Government of India, in collaboration with the State Governments for the coordinated development of all these languages, alongside Hindi so that they grow rapidly in richness and become effective means of communicating modern knowledge;

              (3) WHEREAS it is necessary for promoting the sense of unity and facilitating communication between people in different parts of the country; that effective steps should be taken for promoting fully in all states the three-language formula evolved by the Government of India in consultation with the State Governments.”

              4. Thus while the Central Government may use the ‘Official Languages’ specified under the Official Languages Act for its ‘Official purpose of the Union’ (i.e. for the communication ‘inside’ as well as ‘among’ the ‘Offices’ of the Central Government); it is the Three-Language-Formula (TLF), which has been in existence for more than fifty years, that must be followed by the Central Government establishments for the purpose of all other types of communication, especially Public Communication.

              5. Similar viewpoint has also been adopted by the RBI while preparing the ‘Customer Service Guidelines’ meant for all the Scheduled Banks. Here I would like to repeat, what was earlier clarified by me, that “the Scheduled banks include all those banks scheduled by the RBI to carry out banking operations in India and include the Public Sector Banks, Co-operative Banks, Indian Private Banks and licensed Foreign Banks also.”

              Let us be in touch. Do let me know if you have any doubt or query. I shall extend all possible help from my side. If you win the case in the court and all the Banks are mandated by the court to comply with the Three-Language-Formula, it will be beneficial to all the Indian states. According to me, the Central Government will not dare to openly take a pro-Hindi stand against the regional languages, since that will invite a severe wrath of the people of Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka etc., who are extremely proud of their language and culture and so are very sensitive about the language issue. We must be grateful to these states, who have kept under check the Central Government’s tendency of bulldozing the Hindi language, at the peril of destruction of the other Indian regional languages and culture, which is against the basic tenet of the constitution of India.

              You may also check if any political parties are inclined to help you in this regard. If you find any politicians who are honestly interested in supporting this noble cause, it will strengthen your case before the public and the government. However, unfortunately my experience here in Maharashtra is that the ‘Love and Pride’ of the politicians is very superficial and lasts only for a couple of months before the elections. Since this project is not likely to fetch them money, they are not interested in taking it up as ‘mission’.

              I, on behalf of the Amrutyatri Parivar, wish you the best luck in your endeavour. Please do keep us posted about your progress. Let us keep exchanging notes.

              Warm regards,

              Saleel Kulkarni

                • Dear Advocate Mitter Sain Meet,

                  Namaskar.

                  We are very happy to see your determination.

                  Please also understand that the fast spreading influence of English on the medium of education in schools and colleges as well as use of regional Indian languages being made more and more redundant in Indian society by the governments, are two major causes of creating a sense of inferiority complex regarding regional languages in the minds of the young Indians.

                  Fortunately, the Indian constitution strongly supports maintaining and encouraging diversity of Indian languages and culture. However, this is not dealt with in detail in the constitution. So we have to analyse the constitution and present the gist before the public, explaining what the underlying thoughts and principles are over which the constitution has been built by our great leaders and experts who conceptualised and established the Indian constitution.

                  This will also require drawing ideas from many court cases as well as discussions in the parliament, to support our interpretation of the constitution.

                  We, in the Amrutyatri group, assure our best cooperation to you in this matter. Let us know if we can be of any help to you. After all, our goal is the same. We all want to stop suppression of our regional language at the hands of the governments (both Central and State) by ignoring the regional languages and giving undue and excessive importance to English and Hindi.

                  Thank you.

                  Warm regards,

                  – Amrutyatri Group

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