Battle over Hindi: Mamata renames Centre's welfare schemes, govt denies imposing language

The Centre's recent decision to make Hindi compulsory up to Class X in CBSE schools and in State-run Kendriya Vidyalayas, combined with the recommendation of the Committee of Parliament on Official Languages (CPOL), that said all dignitaries may be required to give their speech/statement in Hindi, especially those who can read and speak the language, seems to have caused a stir.

Political leaders of several states have argued against the idea, saying that imposing Hindi may threaten to dilute the local language and culture of the respective state.

File image of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

File image of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

On Tuesday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee upped the ante, renaming some of the central government's schemes in her state.

According to a report in India Today, Banerjee ordered that the words 'Pradhan Mantri' be removed from the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), and the name of the scheme be changed to Banglar Gramin Sadak Yojana. The PM's Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) wasn't spared either, as its name was changed to Mission Nirmal Bangla.

The West Bengal government's reasoning: Since the state had to bear 40 percent of the cost of implementing the schemes, as compared to 10 percent earlier, and since the state was providing both the machinery and agencies, it made no sense for the Centre to get credit for these.

On Monday, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju denied the Centre was imposing Hindi on anyone, adding that the government was simply promoting it like any other language.

Rijiju is the minister in charge of the Department of Official Language. His comments came in the backdrop of allegations levelled by certain sections that the Modi government was trying to impose Hindi on non-Hindi speaking states.

On Saturday, DMK leader MK Stalin had accused the government of trying to relegate people who don't speak Hindi to second-class citizens and of pushing the country into becoming "Hindia". Stalin also accused the Centre of trying to destroy India's unity.

In a video posted to his official Facebook page, the 64-year-old condemned the BJP government's efforts to make Hindi the official language of India. He said, "I must condemn these unceasing efforts of the central government under the BJP's leadership, which effectively try to relegate non-Hindi speaking citizens as second-class citizens in their own motherland."

He said, "Tamil Nadu has always stood against domination of an external language over its mother tongue and has stood the ground victorious right from 1938."

He also invoked the Constitution of India: "This kind of re-titling goes against the letter and the spirit of the Constitution of India that was framed under the leadership of Dr Ambedkar and ensures equal rights to all the citizens in all dimensions."

He added, "By forcing Hindi onto its citizens — from primary school students to Parliament — the BJP government is betraying all non-Hindi speaking residents of the country, including future generations." He added that the history of Tamil Nadu shows that the state has stood against the domination of an external language over its mother tongue.

However, critics may be able to point to the Narendra Modi-led government attempting to popularise Hindi by launching a number of welfare schemes with Hindi names.

List of welfare schemes launched by the BJP government

Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana

Pradhan Mantri Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana

Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana

Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana

Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana

Atal Pension Yojana

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana

Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sinchai Yojana

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojanay

Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Kisan Vikas Patra

Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana

Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana

Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Shramev Jayate Yojana

Swadesh Darshan Yojana

Udaan Scheme

National Bal Swachhta Mission

Prakash Path

Niti Aayog

Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana

Namami Gange Project

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan

With inputs from agencies


Published Date: Apr 25, 2017 03:37 pm | Updated Date: Apr 25, 2017 03:51 pm


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