India’s Union Home Minister Amit Shah stirred a social media debate in the country on Saturday after he pitched Hindi as a common language for the country. He said Hindi is the most widely spoken language and can unite the whole country. The comment resulted the internet erupting trending hashtags such as #StopHindilmposition and #StopHindiImperialism.
“India has many languages and every language has its
importance. But it is absolutely necessary that the entire country should have
one language that becomes India’s identity globally,” he said in a series of
tweets in Hindi.
“I want to appeal to
people to promote their native languages but also use Hindi to make the dream
of Bapu [Mahatma Gandhi] and Sardar [Vallabhbhai] Patel of one language come
true,” he tweeted.
The controversy comes because there is currently no one national
official language of India. There are 22 scheduled languages in the country, and
states can specify their own official languages through legislation.
The comments have created a raging debate in India over the
status of Hindi as the national language, with opposition claiming that Shah is
suggesting that the government should impose Hindi on the entire population.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted a series of Indian
languages next to the national flag and stated, “India’s many languages
are not her weakness.”
The opposition party also said no indication should be given
of a rethink on the “three-language formula” as it will create strife
and unrest in the country. The three-language formula is commonly understood to
comprise Hindi, English and regional language of respective states.
“We should not stir up controversies on emotive and
sensitive issues which have been settled by the maturity of India’s
Constitution-makers and the prime minister after Independence, especially I am
referring to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. When the issue came up of language and
the three-language formula was devised,” Sharma said. That formula must
not be tinkered with and no indication should be given of a rethink which will
create strife and unrest in the country, the Congress leader said.
According to the Official Languages Act, 1963, Hindi and
English are the official languages for the Union government and Parliament. A
total of 22 languages of the country are recognized under the Eighth Schedule
of the Constitution.