India is a country of many languages and each one of them has its own unique character and distinct feature. Our Constitution was framed in a way to grant importance to 22 of the Indic languages based on their usage, grammar and ancient history. Apart from these twenty two languages, there are hundreds of dialects which are also prevalent in various parts of the nation. Every state has been given power to declare two official languages for their state out of these twenty two languages and English. While English is given a unique status along with other twenty two languages, it has been stated clearly in constitution to replace it with Hindi in due time. Out of these twenty two languages, Hindi has been considered as a language which could act as a bridge to connect the nation after British left. But few states are trying hard to defeat the whole purpose.
Jharkhand is a state which came into existence in year 2003 after bifurcation from Bihar. Currently, Jharkhand is having a coalition government of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) and Indian National Congress (Congress). Jharkhand was formed with districts of Bihar having Tribal population and Mithila people. These both constitute over 90% of the entire population. Recently, Jharkhand Cabinet passed an ordinance dated 10th of August with regards to Administration and Language department. Apart from various other decisions, Jharkhand Cabinet has decided to change the rules for state staff selection commission examinations. While the initial criteria included Hindi, English, Urdu, Santhali, Bengla, Mundari, Ho, Khadia, Kundukh, Kurmali, Khortha, Nagpuri, Panchpadia, Odia, as per an ordinance passed by the previous Jharkhand BJP govt in 2016, Sanskrit was also included as a language. Out of these 15 languages, 12 are tribal languages.
Now as per the recent ordinance published in Hindi, criteria been changed. The new list includes all the 12 tribal languages however strangely exclude Hindi, Sanskrit & English. Additionally, it keeps Urdu, Odia and Bengali as languages. This is not only bad in the eye of law but is wrong for a relatively large population of the state who study and converse in Hindi, Sanskrit and English. The Constitution of India also prescribes and describes the importance of Hindi and removing it from the staff selection is also against the essence of the same. Keeping Urdu as a language while removing Hindi & Sanskrit is also more of a step to appease the Muslim population, which is not good for the state. A large population of the state also speaks Maithili which is again a language recognised by the constitution but is absent in the eligibility criteria list of the state. To include tribal languages as criteria maybe a good thing, however to exclude the constitutionally recognised languages spoken by a large population of the state is an insulting decision. Hopefully, court will take cognizance of the said issue and resolve it immediately.
Author: Adv. Shashank Shekhar Jha
Legal Editor, GoaChronicle.com