The Constitution imposes a duty upon the Centre to promote the spread and development of the Hindi language so that it may become the lingua franca of the composite culture of India.
Further, the Centre is directed to secure the enrichment of Hindi by assimilating the forms, style and expressions used in hindustani and in other languages specified in the Eighth Schedule and by drawing its vocabulary, primarily on sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.
At present (2016), the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution specifies 22 languages (originally 14 languages). These are Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri (Dongri), Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Mathili (Maithili), Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Sindhi was added by the 21st Amendment Act of 1967; Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali were added by the 71st Amendment Act of 1992; and Bodo, Dongri, Maithili and Santhali were added by the 92nd Amendment Act of 2003.
In terms of the Constitution provisions, there are two objectives behind the specification of the above regional languages in the Eighth Schedule:
(a) the members of these languages are to be given representation in the Official Language Commission; and
(b) the forms, style and expression of these languages are to be used for the enrichment of the Hindi language.
COMMITTEE OF PARLIAMENT ON OFFICIAL LANGUAGE
The Official Language Act (1963) provided for the setting up of a Committee of Parliament on Official Language to review the progress made in the use of Hindi for the official purpose of the Union. Under the Act, this Committee was to be constituted after ten years of the promulgation of the Act (i.e., 26th January, 1965). Accordingly, this Committee was set up in 1976. This Committee comprises of 30 members of Parliament, 20 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha.
The Act contains the following provisions relating to the composition and functions of the committee:
1. After the expiration of ten years from the date on which the Act comes into force, there shall be constituted a Committee on Official Language, on a resolution to that effect being moved in either House of Parliament with the previous sanction of the President and passed by both Houses.
2. The Committee shall consist of thirty members, of whom twenty shall be members of the House of the People and ten shall be members of the Council of States to be elected respectively by the members of the House of the People and the members of the Council of States in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
3. It shall be the duty of the Committee to review the progress made in the use of Hindi for the official purposes of the Union and submit a report to the President making recommendations thereon and the President shall cause the report to be laid before each House of Parliament and sent it to all the State Governments.
4. The President may, after consideration of the report, and the views, expressed by the State Governments thereon, issue directions in accordance with the whole or any part of the report.
The Chairman of the Committee is elected by the members of the Committee. As a convention, the Union Home Minister has been elected as Chairman of the Committee from time to time.
The Committee is required to submit its report alongwith its recommendations to the President after reviewing the position regarding the use of Hindi in Central Government Offices on the basis of its observations. Apart from adopting other methods for assessing the factual position, the Committee decided to inspect certain Central Government offices representing various fields of activities to motivate the Central Government offices to adopt maximum usage of Hindi so that the objectives of the Constitution and Official Language Act provisions could be achieved. With this end in view, the Committee set up three sub-Committees and for the purpose of inspection by the three sub-Committees, the various Ministries/Departments etc. were divided into three different groups.
Further, in order to assess the use of Official Language for various purposes and other matters connected therewith, it was also decided to invite eminent persons from various fields such as from education, judiciary, voluntary organizations and the Secretaries of the Ministries/Departments etc., for oral evidence.
The progressive use of Hindi in the Central Government offices is being reviewed by the Committee in the background of the provisions relating to Official Language as provided by the Constitution; the Official Language Act, 1963 and the Rules framed thereunder. The Committee also takes note of the circulars/instructions etc. issued by the Government in this regard from time to time. The terms of reference of the Committee being comprehensive, it has also been examining other relevant aspects like the medium of instructions in schools, colleges and the universities; mode of recruitment to Central Government services and medium of departmental examination etc. Taking into consideration the magnitude of various aspects of the Official Language policy and keeping in view the present circumstances, the Committee in its meeting held in June, 1985 and August, 1986 decided to present its report to the President in parts; each part relating to a particular aspect of the Official Language policy.
The Secretariat of the Committee is headed by the Secretary of the Committee. The Secretary is assisted by the officers of the level of Under Secretary and other officials. They extend all required assistance in performing the various activities of the Committee. For administrative purposes, this office is subordinate office of Department of Official Language, Ministry of Home Affairs.
Classical Language Status
In 2004, the Government of India decided to create new category of languages called as “classical languages”. In 2006, it laid down the criteria for conferring the classical language status.