Employees were instructed to sign all letters in Hindi at least on Mondays

A circular of the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) asking its employees to sign all letters and communication in Hindi, at least on Mondays, was withdrawn following a protest from trade unions.

“The instruction ran as a scroll on the intranet of LIC on July 9. We immediately expressed our protest and it was withdrawn,” K. Swaminathan, general secretary of the All India Insurance Employees Association (AIIEA), South Zone, told The Hindu.

According to Mr. Swaminathan, the advisory said, “Under the instruction of the Zonal Manager, employees are requested to sign the letters in Hindi at least on Mondays.”

“When we took up the issue with the management, we were told it was only a request. Then we asked if it was just a request why should they say that it was under the Zonal Manager’s instruction. The circular was withdrawn and the management has not pursued it after that,” Mr Swaminathan said. The union has conveyed this to its employees.

He said learning Hindi was not an issue and many employees did so out of interest. “But you cannot compel anyone on the issue of language. We are going through a time when there is much competition in the insurance sector. Instead of concentrating on that, the management raked up an unnecessary controversy,” he said.

Nehru’s promise

The issue was flagged by DMK president M. Karunanidhi on Friday. He objected to the circular, accusing the Centre of imposing Hindi and throwing to the winds the promise of Jawaharlal Nehru that the language would not be imposed on non-Hindi communities.

Mr. Karunanidhi claimed the decision to issue a circular was taken at a meeting of the Official Language Implementation Committee on June 29 and that the Zonal Manager (Human Resources) had sought the employees’ cooperation for its implementation.

“Similar actions in the past had led to the anti-Hindi agitation in Tamil Nadu. The question before us is whether Nehru’s promise is just a bubble,” he asked.

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