Shashi Tharoor, Sushma Swaraj disagreement over making Hindi official language at UN

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The external minister Sushma Swaraj said in Parliament on Wednesday that India is ready to bear all expenses to make Hindi one of the official languages of the United Nations, but its rules for acquiring such a status prevents the country from doing so. As per the UN rules, support of two-third member countries (129 nations) is vital out of the total 193 member nations, the minister said in Lower House during Question Hour. Also, all member nations will have to bear the cost of making Hindi one of the official language of the UN.

“It is not difficult to get the support of two-third member nations. But when the issue of bearing the expenses comes, many small nations become hesitant which has led to a big hurdle in making Hindi an official language of the UN,” said Swaraj in the Lok Sabha. The external minister said that the government is ready to pay “even Rs 400 crore if required” when a BJP member said that India has to pay Rs 40 crore as the cost for making Hindi one of the languages in the UN.

The Congress MP Shashi Tharoor later questioned why India must make the effort to make Hindi as one of the languages in the UN as it is only India’s official language and not the national language. “If tomorrow someone from Tamil Nadu or from West Bengal becomes the PM, why should we force him to speak in Hindi at the UN,” Tharoor said. The Congress leader also added that Hindi is the official language of only one country (Hindi) to which Swaraj responded Tharoor that he was unaware that Hindi is the official language of Fiji and is also commonly spoken in Mauritius, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and many other countries.

“The government continues to take measures for the acceptance of Hindi as one of the official languages of the UN and to popularise Hindi worldwide. On several occasions Indian leaders have delivered statements at the UN in Hindi, including Prime Minister’s statement at the 69th UNGA in September 2014, the address of Prime Minister to the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015, and the addresses to the UNGA by External Affairs Minister during its 70th, 71st and 72nd sessions in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. Necessary special arrangements were made for simultaneous interpretation of these statements into English by the Permanent Mission of India in New York,” Swaraj said in a written reply.

The external affairs minister added that “A World Hindi Secretariat has also been set up in Mauritius in February 2008 to promote Hindi as an international language. Efforts to propagate Hindi worldwide are also being made by our Diplomatic Missions/Posts abroad; in the current financial year, Rs 5 crores has been allocated for this purpose. Government continues to make such efforts towards securing due recognition for Hindi at the UN”.

“The pre-printed portion of the passport is already in Hindi and English languages. At present, the personal details of the applicant are printed in the English language only. The Government has now decided to print personal details on passports in both Hindi and English,” the MEA informed Parliament on the issue of passports in Hindi.

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