Should Hindi be the official language of communication in India? The debate is rather old with well-defined guidelines. But it got a fresh lease of life with government looking to aggressively promote Hindi forcing stern objection from several quarters. With sky rocketing inflation, bad monsoon and hostage situation in Iraq Modi sarkar already has a lot in its plate. This new controversy is only going to compound difficulties for the government which is still in its very early days.
Indians in Iraq:
Today’s top focus though was on the 40 odd Indians currently abducted in Iraqi city of Mosul. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj assured family of affected workers that they are doing their best to bring them back. But this didn’t stop the opposition from taking potshots at Modi government. Congress alleged that government has shown lack of awareness and activity in not promptly rescuing the workers when the situation was relatively stable. Many of these workers hail from Punjab. Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal said that they are willing to pay ransom for these workers abducted by ISIS insurgents. According to MEA sources no such demand has been made so far.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin later confirmed that they are aware of the exact location of these abducted workers and also assured that all are alive. However government is tightlipped and is unwilling to divulge any specific information. The official line is that all options for rescuing the workers are in table and no stone will be left unturned. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy known for his extreme views wants government to send a crack team of Indian Air force to rescue the workers. It is left to be seen how far our Prime Minister ventures in this matter.
In the meanwhile, both Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa and Kerala CM Oommen Chandy have written letters to Modi urging him to safely bring back all the nurses stranded in the warzone.
UPA appointees out:
First they came for the governors, Congress protested. But that hasn’t stopped Modi sarkar to seek resignation of UPA appointed top level functionaries in different bodies. Government today asked members of the National Disaster Management Authority, head of the National Council for Women, head of SC/ST commission and chief of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations to put down their papers. To be fair to Modi sarkar, most of these people are Congress loyalist and are likely to have an antagonistic view of the new regime.
All these are crucial bodies and Modi sarkar wants to leave its imprint by appointing people they can vouch for. These resignations are clearing decks for such appointments to take place. However the way Modi sarkar have “suggested” governors to resign is likely to earn them very few brownie points.
The government’s bid to aggressively promote Hindi seems to have hit a roadblock. After Modi took charge as Prime Minister he instructed all official communications to take place in Hindi. Government departments were asked to communicate primarily using Hindi or both Hindi and English in the social media. This practice of hard peddling Hindi has been criticized by DMK supremo Karunanidhi. He said that rather than imposing Hindi government should focus on more burning issues like economic growth and social development.
The veteran politician reminded Modi sarkar of the bitter anti-Hindi agitation waged by his party in 1960s. This is seen as a veiled warning that if government tries to forcefully impose Hindi, DMK will fight tooth and nail to oppose it.
Facing stern opposition, Minister of state for Home Kiren Rijiju clarified that they are not looking to demean or undermine any regional language. However he said that Modi sarkar is committed to promote Hindi in public sphere as it is our official language i.e. “Rashtrabhasha”.
The line between promoting a language and coercing its use on others is very thin and may well be breached sooner than later. At a time when BJP is looking to increase its presence in states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Bengal- all prominent non- Hindi speaking states this move certainly comes as surprise. It is very hard to decipher the political goods government can accrue by potentially alienating a large section of the electorate.
In less controversial move, government today decided to reconstitute six cabinet committees. Different members of the Modi sarkar will be part of newly reconstituted committees of appointments, accommodation, economic affairs, parliamentary affairs, political affairs and security. However cabinet committee on investment has been scrapped.
Appointments committee today met to give three months extension to R Ramanujam, secretary in the Prime Minister’s office. Today it has been decided that officers who were private stuff of UPA ministers are ineligible to be hired by current ministers in similar capacity.
Monsoon has currently covered nearly half of India, but its’ intensity or lack of it is making government worried. If India indeed faces significant shortfall of rain it will adversely affect crop production. Price of onion can rise up to 100 per kg within next few months.
However what is more pressing concern currently for the policy makers is ongoing civil war in Iraq. Fearing repercussions, Sensex suffered loss for the second consecutive day. Sensex suffered a fall of 44 points.
According to data released by Swiss central money, Indian money stashed in different Swiss banks has exceeded 14,000 crores. If the high level committee appointed by Modi government indeed manages to bring some of this money back, it will be a huge achievement.
Assam government has opposed couple of proposals muted by Modi sarkar to improve ties with Bangladesh. Government wants to give visa free entry to all Bangladeshi citizens under 18 years and above 65 years old. But Assam government has opposed this idea as it believes it will be very hard to track down those people in the future. Also Modi sarkar’s plan to grant multiple entries with a single visa has been opposed by Tarun Gogoi. State government however is enthusiastic about proposed bus service from Guwahati- Dhaka and promoting water transport between the two nations. Sushma Swaraj will visit Dhaka later this month to give final touches to the much awaited Teesta water sharing treaty.
News in FM:
Chatty R.Js may soon have lot more issues to talk about if I&B Minister is to be believed. Government is looking to ease regulations so that FM channels can broadcast news items. They are also likely to get considerable autonomy about the source of news which they can pick to transmit to the listeners.
Praksh Javadekar also said that they are looking to promote community radio service. Auction for 800 new FM stations across different cities will be held soon. Media sector is currently going through a massive downturn. Javadekar wants infusion of foreign funds to steer the ship in the right direction.
Finally, a look at the key economic parameters as of today…