Linguistic Reorganisation – UPSC GS1

Do you think linguistic reorganization of Indian states post-independence was a sound policy? What arguments were put forth to support or oppose this policy? Critically comment. (200 Words)

 
Arguments for linguistic organisation:
  1. It is promised by INC prior to independence and also suggested by SRC-1.
  2. Administration becomes easier (rulers and the ruled will have same lingua franca). States can have their own official languages and official works could be carried on more efficiently to the lowest level.
  3. Helps for strengthening cultural identity
  4. Education can be given in preferred language or mother tongue and this will boost thinking ability and analysis, as is also scientifically proven. Mass Literacy is possible through mother tongue
  5. No mentioning of language not to be a criteria for reorganization in constitution.
Arguments against linguistic organisation (Dhar and JVP committees)
  1. The situation was fragile after the independence with so many demands for secession for center to consider this.
  2. Regionalism sometimes compromises national interest for narrow interest.
  3. Due consideration must also be given to other factors like administrative and economic weightage.
  4. Minority languages becomes more vulnerable.
States’ reorganization did not, resolve all the problems relating to linguistic conflicts. Disputes over boundaries between different states,linguistic minorities and economic issues such as sharing of waters, and power and surplus food still persist. Linguistic chauvinism also finds occasional expression. But the reorganization has removed a major factor affecting cohesion of the country. It has not in any way affected the federal character and working of the Union. Centre wields its full authority and states cooperate in the same. With the help of popular language as tool, It has ensured outreach and participation of the masses in politics and administration thereby strengthening the state. India succeeded by accommodating diversities(here lingual) as a strength within its national policy framework (USSR failed to integrate Yugoslavia because linguistic and
ethnic diversities were suppressed)

 

The language problem was the most divisive issue in the first twenty years of independent India, and it created the apprehension among many that the political and cultural unity of the country was in danger. How was it overcome? Critically examine. (200 Words)
Linguistic identity has been a strong force in the multilinguistic Indian society. The language issue in India manifested itself in two forms:
Dispute over Official Language
  • Upon independence, it was decided that Hindi be adopted as the Central Government’s official language (OL). This move was opposed by speakers of other languages, who feared that adoption of Hindi as the OL would place them at a disadvantage in the educational and economic spheres besides being a threat to their culture. This group advocated the retention of English as the OL.
  • However, this suggestion was unacceptable to the proponents of Hindi, who saw English as a symbol of imperialism. While the constitutional makers recognised the fact that Hindi was spoken by the majority and played an instrumental role during the national struggle, they could not ignore the interests of other linguistic groups.
  • Therefore, a compromise was arrived at – both Hindi and English would be used as official languages till 1965, after which Hindi would become the sole OL. The idea was to ease the transition of the use of Hindi by promotion of Hindi education. But the spread of education was too slow to make an impact and ultimately the Official Language Act was amended in 1965 to adopt bilingualism indefinitely.
Linguistic reorganisation of States
  • The demand for reorganisation of States on linguistic lines arose immediately after independence. The national leadership was opposed to such reorganisation as it was thought that the same would undermine national unity and integrity.
  • As a consequence, the Dhar Commission and the JVP committee, both rejected language as the basis for reorganisation. The demand only intensified especially in the Telugu speaking regions of Madras State, where agitation was led by one Potti Sriramulu. His death after a 56 day hunger strike forced the government to create the first linguistic state – Andhra.
  • This was followed by the appointment of the State Reorganisation Commission to examine the question holistically. The commission broadly accepted language as the basis of reorganisation and this was followed by a massive reorganisation exercise.