Spat over Hindi as official language at UN

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday engaged in a war of words in the Lok Sabha over making Hindi one of the official languages at the United Nations.

While Mr. Tharoor questioned the proposed move of the government, the Minister called his statement that Hindi was mainly spoken in India as ‘ignorant.’

Replying to a question during the Question Hour on Wednesday, Ms. Swaraj said, “It is often asked why Hindi is not an official language in the UN. Today, I will want to tell the House, the biggest problem is the procedure...At least, 129 member countries will have to agree to share the cost.”

The Minister explained that as per rules, two-thirds of the 193 members of UNwill not only have to vote for Hindi as official language but also share the financial cost incurred to do so.

‘Working on it’

“The problem comes when apart from voting, the burden of the amount also falls on them. Economically weaker countries that support us shy away from this. We are working on it, we are making attempts to get support of countries like Fiji, Mauritius, Surinam... where people of Indian origin are there,” Ms. Swaraj said.

Mr. Tharoor, who was a high-ranking official in the UN, asked what was the need to push for Hindi when it was not even the national language of India.

He said it makes sense if the PM chooses to speak in Hindi but there could be a different scenario in the future. “The question is what purpose is being served by this. If indeed we have a PM or Foreign Minister who prefers to speak in Hindi, they can do so and we can pay to get that speech translated. Why should we put our future Foreign Ministers and Prime Ministers who may be from T.N. in a difficult position,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 11:57:21 PM |

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