National Language of India

Vaidyanathan Pushpagiri


National Language of India             (L)



All the neighbouing countries  of India, in the Indian sub-continent, give a pride of place to their language which they proudly call  as their National Language.  And if I venture to ask this question, to an educated, literate Indian, his first reaction would be “why, our national language is Hindi”.


Unfortunately, the answer is way off the mark.  It is far from the truth.  The truth is that India does not have a single National Language


In 1959, when this issue was being hotly debated in the Indian Parliament, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India, assured the house that neither Hindi nor English would be the National Language and there would be no hindrance for the continuance of English as an associate language and it would be allowed to be used for years to come without any time limit.  He further elaborated that all our Indian Languages would be equally respected and would be considered as our National Languages. 


To day, we have 22 National Languages and they have been listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.  They are in alphabetical order; Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.   


India attained freedom on August 15, 1947.  But one year earlier, in 1946, a constituent assembly of undivided India was elected and it had its first sitting on December 9th, 1946 and again reassembled on August 14th, 1947 as The Sovereign Constituent Assembly for the Dominion of India.  But because of the Partition of India, under the plan of June 3rd, 1947, the members of the undivided house were reduced to 299 and out of the 299, only 284 were actually present and appended their signatures to the Indian Constitution on November 26th, 1949 and passed it.  


The Constitution of the Indian Republic came into effect on January 26th, 1950 and conferred on the people of India, the following, according to the Preamble of the Constitution. 


“We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens:


Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;


Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all.


Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation; in our constituent assembly this twenty-sixth of November, 1949, do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this Constitution.


The Indian Constitution closely follows the British Parliamentary model, but differs from it in one important respect that is, the Constitution is supreme, not the Parliament. So the Indian courts are vested with the authority to adjudicate on the constitutionality of any law passed by the Indian Parliament.


The methods for amendment of the Constitution are three according to the subject matter of the Article concerned.


Articles that may be amended by a simple majority of Parliament. These are matters of detail, like those provided in the Schedules.


Articles that may be amended by two thirds majority of both houses. These are comparatively important matters.


Articles that require not only two-thirds majority of the Parliament but also ratification by at least one-half of the State Legislatures.”


This Preamble of our Constitution was later amended in 1976 and it summarizes the aim and objective of the Constitution. However what is of the utmost importance is this statement: 


 “The Preamble seeks to establish what Mahatma Gandhi described as ‘The India of my Dreams’,


“…an India in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country in whose making they have an effective voice; …an India in which all communities shall leave I perfect harmony. There can be no room in such an India for the curse of untouchability or the curse of Intoxicating drinks and drugs. Woman will enjoy as the same rights as man.”  


More than follow it implicitly, we follow it, to our shame, in its total breach. 


There is a widespread belief, not only among the politically educated people but also among the people at large that Hindi is our National Language.  And most Hindiwallahs, look down upon those who cannot speak in Hindi.  Most Southerners and the people from North East are ridiculed by the politically active Northerners for not knowing a language which is just one of the twenty two official languages. 


I admit, as official language Hindi has a pre-eminent position, but if one understands the Constitution of India so do the other twenty one languages.


From the time of our first Elected Parliament, English Language has been given a position of importance  to coexist with one of the official languages: i.e. Hindi.


Initially, the Indian Constitution provided for the continuance of English for the first fifteen years of our existence, up to January 25, 1965. And the same constitution also empowered the President of India, to permit the use of English as a language to co-exist with all the official languages, as per the Eighth Schedule even beyond 1965 if in his considered opinion the nation was not ready to accept Hindi as the National Language of India. 


Subsequently, the Indian Parliament enacted the Official Languages Act, by which both Hindi and English are to be used simultaneously for all official purposes of the Union Government.  But what is of paramount interest to the Non-Hindi knowing population of India is this clause: 



“Parliament would pass laws in Hindi and English.  But if there is any variation in the interpretation of the sense or meaning of the law, or dichotomy between the Hindi and the English Versions, the Constitution clearly states that “the authoritative texts.... shall be in English Language” which is also the language of the Supreme Court of India and the regional High Courts when it comes to interpreting the Constitution.


In 1925, the Congress Party had resolved that its proceedings “shall be conducted in Hindustani and English or any provincial language may be used, if the speaker is unable to speak in Hindustani, or whenever necessary.”  To this day, the Congress Party has been following this formula but for the replacement of Hinudstani with simple Hindi. 


It is unfortunate the Hindi chauvinists continue to propagate this untenable fact that Hindi is the National Language of India.  And over the years, several Home Ministers had to drill this home truth in the minds of the Hindi chauvinists that Hindi is not the National Language of India


On November 29, 2000 the then Minister of State  for Home Affairs, I.D. Swami a very good speaker of Hindi from Himachal Pradesh bluntly told the honourable members of the Rajya Sabha: “There is no provision in the Constitution of India to proclaim Hindi as the National Language of India.  Under the provision made in Article 343 of the Indian Constitution, Hindi has the status of Official Language of the Union, along with the other 21 languages.”


India’s constitution recognizes an impressive array of more than 15 different languages, however Hindi is recognized as the official  language of the country, along with English, which is usually used for bureaucratic purposes. The official Hindi is sometimes referred to as Standard Hindi to distinguish it from the many variations and dialects found in the Hindi language”


“The geographical distribution of Hindi language speakers varies across the country. India’s Central Government allows each of the country’s 28 states to choose its own official language. Native Hindi language speakers are mostly found in northern and central India in the states of Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh”.


That Hindi is not the National Language of India   is a painful fact for the Hindiwallahs.  Not that I dislike Hindi.  I know the language fairly well and I have studied it in my school days.  I shall not be stranded in the Hindi Belt.  The difference here is I learnt Hindi out of my own free will: no body coerced me to learn that language.  Like that I am proficient in four more languages. Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali and English and a smattering of French.       (L)


A misconceived perception of an average Hindiwallah.  Please give attention to the  proclamation of language in the above blurb. 


It is only when some North Indian thinks or feels that he is superior with the Knowledge of Hindi, and we, the non Hindi knowing public have committed some sort of a cardinal sin, an  act of crime,  of not learning Hindi  I feel like telling them shove it up your ****, or you know where.


And God bless you.





Drawing from the Week Magazine and from the Internet.  Copyright rests with the artists.

Many sources.  The opinion expressed is purely personal and is not intended to hurt the feelings of others.  If any body feels that I have disparaged them, it is purely unintentional and I crave their forbearance.


The genesis of this blog can be attributed to the abuse that I received from a member of Sulekha Forum, a few weeks back, when according to him/her I had the temerity of quoting Subramanya Bharathi’s Panchali Sabadham in Tamil, for the benefit of some Tamil knowing members.   The  attack was unbecoming and the burthen that in a public forum like Sulekha I should not have used a regional language like Tamil and that I should have used Hindi, our National Language. 

In a fit of umbrage, I unleashed a string of choice expletives in chaste Hindi and that silenced that illiterate, for ever.  VP.


Vaidyanathan Pushpagiri


Thank you.  There is nothing wrong with any language per se.  I have a great regard for all languages, and it is only when one becomes a fanatic it turns ugly.  

Kind regards. 

Vaidyanathan Puhspagiri.

City Lover / / 4 yrs ago
City Lover

Dear VP sir,

Thanks for enlightening me.I was also like the masses, thinking HINDI is our national language, till I read this. Anyways, I like languages just for the sake of it to explore the good things in them and am glad that I took interest to learn them my own way.Sad to see some fanatics making a big issue of that and creating divides among people.


Vaidyanathan Pushpagiri

Jakkamsetty N:

Dear Sri. Narasimha Rao,

Thank you and I am honoured to receive such appreciation from a veteran of your caliber.

Kind regards. 

Vaidyanathan Pushpagiri.  

Jakkamsetty N / / 4 yrs ago
Jakkamsetty N

'Dear Vaidyanahanji,

It is well written, very informative regarding the provisons in the constitution, so pains-takingly put together. Thank you so much. I suggest you put down more of such worthwhile information of public interest in your blog.

With regards,
Narasimha Rao.

Vaidyanathan Pushpagiri

col langar:

Thank you.  Very well said.  and I am with you all the way. As a medium of expression, one should have the freedom to express oneself in a language one is comfortable in.  In spite of  my fluency in Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Malayalam, Iam very comfortable in expressing myself in English.  My Professors, would tell me that because of my ability to think in the particular language which I chose to speak, my diction would improve. Consequently, I never translate from my mother tongue Tamil, into the other languages.  The words come spontaneously and I feel very comfortable while expressing my thoughts in the languages that I know.

Kind regards. 


Vaidyanathan Pushpagiri

Krishnan Bala:

Thank you.  If you are a student of the Indian Constitution, like me, you will readily appreciate that in spite of the Hindi Belt crying hoarse, nothing of that sort will ever take place. Our founding fathers had shown commendable sagacity in the framing of the written  Constitution of India, and it would require Herculian Efforts to amend the fundamental articles, that are the backbone of the working of our Indian polity.   In a way, I am proud that my maternal cousin, Mr. P.N. Krishnamani was closely associated with the framing of this written Constitution along with the other stalwarts like Benegal Rama Rao, Benegal Siva Rao and the others. 

My cousin late P.N. Krishnamani,  standing behind Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.


Vaidyanathan Pushpagiri.

col langar / / 4 yrs ago
col langar

India is multilinguistic state and as such we should respect all languages spoken in India.language is only a carrier of our thoughts what is more important is what we convey rather than in which language it is spoken

Vaidyanathan Pushpagiri


Thank you.  As a globe trotter, you have risen above the parochial attitudes of some Indians.  In my opinion, what you have stated, is a fair summing up of the present situation  in India today.  


Vaidyanathan Pushpagiri.

Vaidyanathan Pushpagiri


Thank you.  In spite of all our expectations, Hindi will never be the National Language of India.  It can be somehing like Primus Inter pares.  "The first among equals or first among peers".Any other position for Hindi is not envisaged in our Constitution.  It would require more than a two-third majority of the Members present and voting, in both the Houses to amend  the present equation, among the 22 Official Languages that has been approved by the Indian Constitution.  So, till ages to come India will never have a National Language,and English would continue as it is.  

Mere wishes do not make horses.


Vaidyanathan Pushpagiri.

navneetkumarbakshi / / 4 yrs ago

The diversity of India makes it impossible to have one common language. Don't know what more should I say. Hindi I think should not be imposed and don't think it is being thrust upon people.

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