Official Language - Constitutional/Statutory Provisions
Article 343(1) of the Constitution provides that Hindi in Devanagari script shall be the Official Language of the Union. Article 343(2) also provided for continuing the use of English in official work of the Union for a period of 15 years (i.e., up to 25 January 1965) from the date of commencement of the Constitution. Article 343(3) empowered the parliament to provide by law for continued use of English for official purposes even after 25 January 1965. Accordingly, section 3(2) of the Official Languages Act, 1963 (amended in 1967) provides for continuing the use of English in official work even after 25 January 1965. The Act also lays down that both Hindi and English shall compulsorily be used for certain specified purposes such as Resolutions, General Orders, Rules, Notifications, Administrative and other Reports, Press Communiqués; Administrative and other Reports and Official Papers to be laid before a House or the Houses of Parliament; Contracts, Agreements, Licences, Permits, Tender Notices and Forms of Tender, etc.
In 1976, Official Language Rules were framed under the provisions of section 8(1) of the Official Languages Act, 1963. Its salient features are as under:
- They apply to all Central Government Offices, including any office of a Commission, Committee or Tribunal appointed by the Central Government and Corporation or Company owned or controlled by it;
- Communications from a Central Government Office to State/Union Territories or to any person in Region "A" comprising the States of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Haryana and UTs of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Delhi, shall be in Hindi;
- Communications from a Central Government Office to States/UTs in Region "B" comprising the States of Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union Territory of Chandigarh, shall ordinarily be in Hindi. However, communication to any person in Region "B" may be either in English or Hindi;
- Communications from a Central Government Office to a State Government Office in region 'C' comprising all other States and UTs not included in region 'A' & 'B' or to any office (note being a Central Government Office) or person shall be in English;
- Communications between Central Government Offices and from Central Government Offices to the Offices of the State Governments/Union Territories and individuals, etc., will be in Hindi in such proportions as may be determined from time to time;
- All Manuals, Codes and other Procedural literature relating to Central Government Offices are required to be prepared both in Hindi and English. All Forms, Headings of Registers, Name Plates, Notice Boards and various items of stationery, etc., are also required to be in Hindi and English;
- It shall be the responsibility of the officer signing the documents specified in section 3(3) of the Act to ensure that these are issued both in Hindi and English
- Shall be the responsibility of the administrative head of each Central Government Office to ensure that the provisions of the Act, the Rules and directions issued under Sub-Rule-2 are properly complied with and to devise suitable and effective check points for this purpose
In compliance with the Official Language Resolution, 1968, an Annual Programme is prepared by the Department of Official Language in which targets are set for the offices of the Central Government with regard to originating correspondence, telegrams, telex, etc., in Hindi. A Quarterly Progress Report is called for from the offices of the Central Government regarding achievements vis-à-vis the said targets. An Annual Assessment Report is prepared on the basis of the Quarterly Progress Reports, which is laid on the Tables of both Houses of the Parliament and copies endorsed to State Governments and the Ministries/Departments of the Central Government.
Eight Regional Implementation Offices have been established at Bangalore, Cochin, Mumbai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Bhopal, Delhi and Ghaziabad to monitor the implementation of Official Language Policy of the Union.
A Committee of Parliament on Official Language was constituted in 1976 under section 4 of the Official Languages Act, 1963 to periodically review the progress in the use of Hindi as the Official Language of the Union and to submit a report to the President. The Committee consists of 20 Members of the Lok Sabha and 10 of the Rajya Sabha. The Committee have decided to submit its report in parts. It has so far submitted to the President eight parts of its report. The Presidential Orders on seven parts of its report have been issued and work is in progress on the eighth part.
The Kendriya Hindi Samiti was constituted in the year 1967. It is chaired by the Prime Minister. It is the apex policy making body which lays down the guidelines for the propagation and progressive use of Hindi as Official Language of the Union.
Under the directions of the Kendriya Hindi Samiti, Hindi Salahakar Samitis have been constituted in all Ministries/Departments under the chairmanship of the Ministers concerned. These Samitis periodically review the progress in the use of Hindi in their respective Ministries/Departments and the offices/undertakings and suggest measures to promote the use of Hindi.
Besides, the Central Official Language Implementation Committee [headed by Secretary, Department of Official Language and consisting of Joint Secretaries (In-charge Official Language) of all the Ministries/Departments as ex-officio members] reviews the status of use of Hindi for official purposes of the Union, training of its employees in Hindi and implementation of instructions issued from time to time by the Department of Official Language and suggests measure for removing the shortcomings and difficulties noticed in implementing these instructions.
Town Official Language Implementation Committees are constituted in different towns having ten or more Central Government offices, etc., to review the progress made in the use of Hindi in their member offices and exchange experiences. So far 255 Town Official Language Implementation Committees have been constituted all over the country.
The Indira Gandhi Rajbhasha Awards Scheme has been in operation since 1986-87. Shields are given every year to Ministries/Departments, Banks and Financial Institutions, Public Sector Undertakings and Town Official Language Implementation Committees for outstanding achievements in the implementation of the Official Language Policy of the Union. Cash awards are given to the working/retired employees of the Central Government, Banks, Financial Institutions, Universities, Training Institutions and Autonomous Bodies of the Central Government for writing original books in Hindi.
The National Awards Scheme for Original Book writing on Gyan-Vigyan has been renamed as Rajiv Gandhi National Awards Scheme for Original Book Writing in Hindi for promoting writing of books in Hindi on all branches of modern Science/Technology and contemporary subjects. This Scheme is open to all citizens of India.
At Regional level, Regional Official Language Awards are given each year to the Regional/Subordinate Offices, Public Sector Undertakings, Town Official Language Implementation Committees, Banks and Financial Institutions of the Central Government for outstanding achievements in implementing the Official Language Policy of the Union and accelerating the progressive use of Hindi.
Under the Hindi Teaching Scheme, administered by the Department of Official Language, training in Hindi language is being imparted through 119 full-time and 49 part-time centres throughout the country. Likewise, training in Hindi Stenography and Hindi Typing is being provided through 23 full-time and 38 part-time centres. Thus, training in Hindi is being provided in 229 centres located in different parts of the country. Five Regional Offices of Hindi Teaching Scheme at Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Guwahati are providing academic and administrative support to the Hindi Teaching Scheme in the East, West, North-Central, South and North-East Regions. To fulfill the increasing demand of Hindi training of North Eastern region a new Regional Headquarter has been established at Guwahati and new Hindi training centres have been established at Imphal, Aizwal and Agartala.
The Kendriya Hindi Prashikshan Sansthan was established on 31 August 1985, as a subordinate office of the Department of Official Language, with the objective of providing Hindi Training through condensed courses in Hindi language/typing and stenography as also training through correspondence in Hindi language and Hindi Typewriting. Its sub-institutes were opened in Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore in 1988 and in Chennai and Hyderabad in 1990. Training of Hindi typing on computers is being imparted at almost all the typing/stenography centres in the country.
The Central Translation Bureau was set up in March 1971 for translation of different types of non-statutory literature, manuals/codes, forms, etc., of various Ministries/Departments, Offices of the Central Government and Public Sector Undertakings, Banks, etc. The Bureau has also been entrusted with the responsibility of conducting translation training courses for the officers/employees associated with the translation work. Initially, translation training courses of 3 months were being conducted at the Headquarters in New Delhi. In order to strengthen training facilities and meet regional requirements, Translation Training Centres have been established in Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata. Besides, Central Translation Bureau also conducts short-term translation courses for Central Government employees.
In order to facilitate the use of Official Language with the help of Mechanical and Electronic equipment, especially computers, a Technical Cell was set up in the Department of Official Language in October 1983. The main activities of the Cell are as under:
- Development of "Language application tools" - Under this programme LILA Rajbhasha, a self-learning package through the medium of Bangla, English, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu has been developed, MANTRA Rajbhasha, an aid tool for English to Hindi translation has also been developed
- Organising computer training programmes in Hindi - Every year around 100 training programmes are conducted to impart training for the use of Hindi on computers
- Organising exhibitions and seminars on bilingual computing - Technical seminars are held to help the users and manufacturers come face to face to discuss the use of Hindi software, etc.
The Department of Official Language has now set up its portal www.rajbhasha.gov.in (External website that opens in a new window).
The Department of Official Language brings out 'Rajbhasha Bharati', a quarterly magazine, dedicated for encouraging writings in the field of Official Language, literature, technology, information technology, etc., in Hindi and also to give wide publicity to the efforts being made in different Central Government Offices for the use and propagation of Official Language Hindi. So far 112 issues of Rajbhasha Bharati have been published. Likewise, Annual Programme for implementation of the Official Language policy is brought out every year. Annual Assessment Report regarding the use of Official Language in different Ministries/Departments and offices of the Central Government/Public Sector Undertakings, etc., is also brought out every year and laid on the tables of both the houses of Parliament. Official Language Manual, Calendars, Films, Posters, etc., are also brought out to give information regarding the activities relating to propagation and progressive use of Hindi as the Official Language.
Source: India Book - A Reference Annual