Is one language enough?

#GS2 #Constitution #HistoricalUnderpinnings


Debate in Constituent Assembly and issues in the adoption of Hindi. The issue of adopting a national language could not be resolved when the Constituent Assembly began drafting India’s Constitution.

  • Members from the Hindi-speaking provinces who moved a number of pro-Hindi amendments and argued for adopting Hindi as the sole national language.
  • Widespread resistance to the imposition of Hindi led to the passage of the Official Languages Act of 1963, which provided for the continued use of English for all official purposes.
  • Hindi became the sole working language of the Union government by 1965 with the State governments free to function in the language of their choice.
  • The constitutional directive for the Union government to encourage the spread of Hindi was retained within Central government entities in non-Hindi-speaking States.


Issues with the Eighth Schedule

  • According to the 2001 Census, India has 30 languages that are spoken by more than a million people each.
  • The Constitution lists 22 languages and protects them in the eighth schedule.
  • Many languages are kept out of this schedule even if they deserve to be included.
  • This includes Tulu which is spoken by over 1.8 million people and has inscriptions dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries.
  • While Hindi, a much younger Indo-Aryan language, has been gaining prominence since before independence.
  • When a refined language loses its status in literary and daily interactions, the way of life associated with it also vanishes.
  • The Census found that while Hindi is the fastest growing language, the number of speakers of other languages has dropped.


Way forward

  • While discussing Hindi and its use, let us also focus on the merit of other Indian languages.
  • Instead of focusing on one national language, we should learn a language beyond the mother tongue and get to know a different way of life too.



  • If we don’t protect and promote other well-evolved or endangered and indigenous languages, our future generations may end up never understanding their ‘real’ roots and culture.
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