Needed: Rajbhasha Vibhag for English

Needed: Rajbhasha Vibhag for English

“Ñan ninne snehikkunnu”, says the wife to her migrant husband who has remitted her some money. To know what this means you will have to look at the PhonePe advertisement that came out in 2018. It is still available on YouTube.

What the advertisement does indicate is that north Indian, Hindi speakers, are just as adept at learning a language other than Hindi given the right incentive to do so. The wife in this advertisement probably learnt Malyalam on her own in order to communicate with her husband privately, even in the presence of her mother in-law.

Then there is the unseemly spectacle of the annual language war which starts on every Hindi Diwas. Soon it transforms into a discussion on the essential characteristics of nation and nationhood. Fortunately, nowadays, like a viral fever, the agitation dies down on its own after a few days.

It all starts with the department of Hindi in the Central government, which has been given the responsibility of spreading Hindi across the country. It recruits only those who have done an MA in Hindi.

 It is officially called “Rajbhasha Vibhag” and is under the control of the home ministry. You would recall that English too is a rajbhasha of India but there is no department to promote it. No effort is made to recruit MAs in English to help out in drafting laws, rules, regulations and directives from the government in a comprehensible language.

In the absence of an English rajbhasha vibhag, the language of the laws of India remains incomprehensible, even to those who draft it. The intention behind the law may be good but, frequently, it requires the wisdom of the honourable courts of justice to make sense of whatever was written in the law.

 The latest such example concerns the historic law, written in English, which the Parliament discussed in August, to partially modify Article 370. It was full of horrific spelling and grammatical mistakes. It took almost a month for the government to issue a corrected version of the law which Parliament had passed.

-written by M. Ravilochan for the Indian Express