The debate on the national language
A remark by a Hindi actor to the effect that Hindi is the national language of India has recently sparked controversy over the language's status under the Constitution.
What is the status of Hindi in the constitution?
Under Article 343 of the Constitution, the official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script.
The international form of Indian numerals will be used for official purposes.
Constituent Assembly debate
The Constituent Assembly was divided on this question.
The supporters of Hindi were insisting that English is the language of slavery and it should be abolished at the earliest.
The opponents were against the abolition of English as they feared that Hindi might dominate in areas where Hindi is not spoken.
There was a demand to make Sanskrit the official language, while some argued in favour of 'Hindustani'.
It was decided that the Constitution would talk only of 'Official Language'.
English will continue to be used for a period of 15 years.
The Constitution states that after 15 years, Parliament may by law decide on the use of English and as Devanagari for specified purposes.
What is the Eighth Schedule?
The Eighth Schedule lists the languages of the country.
Initially, there were 14 languages in the schedule, but now there are 22 languages.
There is no description of the type of languages to be included in the Eighth Schedule.
The Official Languages Act, 1963 was passed in anticipation of the end of the 15-year period during which the Constitution originally permitted the use of English for official purposes.
The three language formula
Since the 1960s, the Centre's education policy documents talk of teaching three languages - Hindi, English and a regional language in Hindi-speaking states, and Hindi, English and an official regional language in other states.
In practice, only a few states teach both their major language and Hindi in addition to English.
In states where Hindi is the official language, third language is rarely taught as a compulsory subject.
Tamil Nadu has consistently opposed the three-language formula and has stuck to teaching Tamil and English.
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