14th September 1949: Hindi is adopted as the Official Language of the Union of India


 

On 14th September 1949 Hindi was adopted as the Official Language of the Union of India. Later in 1950, the Constitution of India declared Hindi in the Devanagari script as the Official language of India. Apart from Hindi, English is also recognized as an Official Language of India. Different states of India identify their own official languages through legislation.

 

Hindi is one of the main languages of India and is spoken by around 40% of the Indian population. In 1950 it was declared that the use of English was to be put to an end, 15 years after the formation of the Constitution (by 26th January 1965). This decision was not met with gladly by non-Hindi speaking areas of India, such as South India (since their languages are not remotely similar to Hindi). Keeping this in mind, the Parliament brought into force the Official Languages Act 1963 which allowed the continuation of the use of English along with Hindi for official purposes after 1965. Some North Eastern states like Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland have English as their official language.

 

Hindi belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language group. Later Hindi was influenced by Persian and the Mughals made their own modifications to the language along the way. Even though Hindi has evolved from Sanskrit, many of its words find their origin in Arabic or Persian. Hindi also takes credit for being a “link language” as it has brought together the large Indian Diaspora living around the world and has reduced the gap between North and South India. Hindi as a language has travelled across the globe and is spoken not only in India, but also in countries like Mauritius, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa and New Zealand.

 

Hindi takes pride in being the mother tongue of 180 million people and the second language of 300 million people. Mahatma Gandhi used Hindi to unite India and hence the language is also known as the “Language of Unity”. The Hindi word “Swadeshi” has found mention in the Oxford Dictionary and is a historic moment and matter of great pride.

 

Introducing Hindi to a global audience has not been an easy task and keeping in mind the importance of the language, former US President, George Bush put in place a budget of $114 million to make Hindi a part of the school syllabus to be taught from Kindergarten to the graduate level. Apart from this many Hindi words, such as Guru, Nirvana, Roti and Adda are accepted and understood around the world.

 

Hindi has also begun to be accepted in South India, a part of the country which was initially not ready to accept Hindi as a national language. In 1997, the former Chief Minister of Karnataka, Deve Gowda spoke up regarding the promotion of Hindi, later Karunanidhi, the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu recited a poem in Hindi during a campaign and Jayalalitha (current Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu) also campaigned in Hindi for the promotion of the language.

 

14th September is now recognized as Hindi Diwas and is celebrated every year. Many schools, colleges and organizations celebrate this day with special competitions, such as poetry writing, story recitation, essay writing and Hindi vocabulary quizzes.

 

Also on This Day:

 

1803: Delhi was captured by Lord Lake

 

1820: In a meeting in Kolkata it was decided to start the Agri-Horticulture Garden.

 

1868: Swami Virjanand passed away.

 

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