Sushma Swaraj, Shashi Tharoor bicker over Hindi at UN
The Lok Sabha – Lower House of the Indian Parliament saw a war of words between External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj and Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday 3rd January 2017.
India is ready to bear all expenses, if necessary up to Rs 400 crore, to make Hindi one of the official languages of the United Nations, but its rules for acquiring such a status prevents the country from doing so, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said in Parliament on Wednesday. According to the UN rules, support of two-third member countries (129 nations) is required out of the total 193 member nations, Ms Swaraj said in the Lok Sabha.
Besides, all member nations will have to bear the cost of making Hindi one of the official languages of the UN. “It is not difficult to get the support of two-third member nations. But when the issue of bearing the expenses comes, many small nations become hesitant which has led to a big hurdle in making Hindi an official languages of the UN,” Ms Swaraj was quoted as saying in the Lok Sabha, adding that despite this, the efforts are on.
Ms Swaraj said, “The government continues to take measures for the acceptance of Hindi as one of the official languages of the UN and to popularise Hindi worldwide. On several occasions Indian leaders have delivered statements at the UN in Hindi, including Prime Minister’s statement at the 69th UNGA in September 2014, the address of Prime Minister to the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015, and the addresses to the UNGA by External Affairs Minister during its 70th, 71st and 72nd sessions in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. Necessary special arrangements were made for simultaneous interpretation of these statements into English by the Permanent Mission of India in New York.”
Shashi Tharoor who has worked with United Nations before he became a politician said that the current Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister are comfortable speaking in Hindi but tomorrow if the PM or EAM are from Kerala, Bengal or Tamil Nadu, he/she may not want to speak in Hindi.
“Today, India may not mind paying for Hindi translations since PM and EAM speak in that language but it will be difficult to convince other nations to pay for Hindi translations since outside India Hindi is not spoken,” Tharoor said.
To this Ms. Swaraj took strong objections. “Hindi is spoken in Nepal, Fiji, Surinam and lot of other smaller countries. If you think Hindi is spoken only in India, it shows your lack of knowledge,” Swaraj said.
She added, “A World Hindi Secretariat has also been set up in Mauritius in February 2008 to promote Hindi as an international language. Efforts to propagate Hindi worldwide are also being made by our Diplomatic Missions/Posts abroad; in the current financial year Rs 5 crores has been allocated for this purpose. Government continues to make such efforts towards securing due recognition for Hindi at the UN.”
On the issue of passports in Hindi, the MEA informed Parliament, “The pre-printed portion of the passport is already in Hindi and English languages. At present, the personal details of the applicant are printed in the English language only. The Government has now decided to print personal details on passports in both Hindi and English.”