EAM Sushma Swaraj arrives in Indonesia

Shashi Tharoor

Sushma Swaraj discusses ways to strengthen ties with Indonesian leaders

A reply by the Minister for External Affairs during question hour in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday caused Opposition member Shashi Tharoor to ask what is the goal of making Hindi an official language in the United Nations.

Tharoor had interjected after Sushma had replied to a question from two BJP members about steps the government had taken to get Hindi recognised as the official language at the UN.

"If indeed we have a Prime Minister or Foreign Minister who prefers to speak Hindi, they can do so and we can pay to get that speech to be translated", he explained. Tharoor also said Hindi is the official language of only one country ~ India ~ while other official languages in the United Nations are spoken in several countries.

When Shashi Tharoor challenged her on why it needs to be pushed, the Minister dismissed his remark as "ignorant". She further stated that there are rules in the United Nations that make it hard for Hindi to become the Official language of India because the rules state that the decision should be supported by two thirds of the members. "As far as glory of the language is concerned, the External Affairs Ministry never had so much work done in Hindi as now", she said.

"It is not hard to get the support of two-third member-nations. But when the issue of bearing the expenses comes, many small nations become hesitant", the minister added.

To this Swaraj said that the government is ready to pay "even Rs. 400 crore if required" but the world body's rules do not allow to do so. He demanded to know why we needed an official language at the United Nations at all. All member nations have to bear the expenses of making Hindi an official UN language, she said. She added, money would, however, not serve the objective. "All the.countries where there have been Indian origin rulers - Mauritius, Fiji, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, and Ghana - there are Indian-origin Hindi-speaking people too. So for us to be spending government resources in seeking to promote Hindi in this manner raises an important question", he said.

Currently, there are 22 scheduled languages in India, and a large number of people speak in languages other than Hindi. If they speak in their own language, we speak in Hindi.

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