External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday snubbed Congress MP Shashi Tharoor in Lok Sabha for questioning the rationale of the government's efforts to get Hindi official language status at the United Nations. PTI file photo
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday snubbed Congress MP Shashi Tharoor in Lok Sabha for questioning the rationale of the government's efforts to get Hindi official language status at the United Nations.
"Your comment that Hindi is spoken only in India reflects your ignorance, nothing else," Swaraj told Tharoor during Question Hour. Her comment was prompted by Tharoor's argument that Hindi was not the national language of India and, hence, the government should not waste resources to promote Hindi and make it an official language at the United Nations.
Swaraj informed the Lower House of Parliament the efforts of the government to get "due recognition" for Hindi at the United Nations. In response to a question, she told the House that a resolution had to be passed by a two-thirds majority by the United Nations General Assembly to make Hindi an official language of the international organisation.
Tharoor, who chairs the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, cited the Official Languages Act of 1963 to drive home the point that Hindi and English were both official languages of India. He also cited the Gujarat High Court's observation in 2010 that Hindi was not the national language of India. "So, for us to be spending government resources in seeking to promote Hindi in this manner raises an important question," the Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram said while posing a supplementary question to the External Affairs Minister.
He said that Hindi was only used as an official language of India and it was not an official language in Mauritius, Surinam and in some other countries.
"If indeed, we have a Prime Minister or a Foreign Minister, who prefers to speak in Hindi (at the United Nations), they can do so and we can pay for that speech to be translated. Why should we put our future Foreign Ministers and Prime Ministers, who may be from Tamil Nadu or West Bengal, in a position where they are condemned to be speaking a language for which we are paying?" wondered Tharoor, who earlier served as Under Secretary General of the United Nations.
"I understand the pride of Hindi speakers in this country. But people in this country who do not speak Hindi also take pride in speaking other Indian languages," he said.
Swaraj said that Hindi was an official language, not only for India but also for Fiji.
"There are Hindi-speaking people in Trinidad and Tobago, Mauritius and Surinam. The Non-Resident Indian people in the United States do speak in Hindi. Hindi is also spoken in Nepal," said Swaraj to dismiss the argument of Tharoor.