Think Learn & Perform (TLP)

The Only Dedicated Platform for UPSC Mains Answer Writing

Day 21 – Q 2.What is your assessment of the way the nationalist leaders addressed the language issue post independence? Substantiate your views.

2. What is your assessment of the way the nationalist leaders addressed the language issue post independence? Substantiate your views.

स्वतंत्रता के बाद राष्ट्रवादी नेताओं द्वारा भाषा के मुद्दे को संबोधित करने के तरीके के बारे में आपका आकलन क्या है? अपने विचारों को सारगर्भित करें।


The language problem was the most divisive issue in the first twenty years of independent India, and it created the apprehension among many that the political and cultural unity of the country was in danger. The problem posed to national consolidation by linguistic diversity has taken two major forms, one was the dispute over official language of the union and other was the linguistic reorganization of the states. 


Language issues in post-independence of India

Official language debate

  • Problems regarding Hindi being the official language: When the Indian Constitution was being framed in the Constituent Assembly, the question of choosing one language as the official language arose in the minds of the Constitution makers. The official language of the Central government was the single most divisive official issue in the Indian Constituent Assembly. There were two problems regarding Hindi being the official language: a) the dialect of Hindi; and   b) the other languages existing in India.
  • Question of adopting a Hindi dialect: Hindi is spoken in around 13 different dialects.  So debate arose as to which of the dialect was to be chosen as the official Hindi dialect. Later, Hindi dialect was adopted which was the one spoken in the Delhi-Agra region with Sanskrit vocabulary.
  • Gandhi’s Dream of One National language: Most of the members of Constituent Assembly wanted to fulfill Mahatma Gandhi’s dream who had opined that there should be a national language which would give a distinct identity to the nation. They chose the most popular language of the country to be crowned as the official language of the Union of India. As soon as the proposal was laid down before the Assembly, many members of the assembly opposed it on the ground of it being unfair for the non-Hindi speaking population who’ll suffer in terms of employment opportunities, education, and public services because of their non-Hindi background.
  • Demand for including regional languages: Several arguments were raised for the inclusion and non-inclusion of Hindi language. Some of the members of the Constituent Assembly including L.K.Maitra and N.G.Ayyangar demanded that the regional languages should also be recognized (at State level) and the chosen national language should not be made exclusive. There were others like Lokamanya Tilak, Gandhiji, C. Rajagopalachari, Subhash Bose and Sardar Patel who demanded that Hindi should be used throughout India without any exceptions and the states should also resort to the use of Hindi language because it would promote integration.
  • Two groups in the Assembly: The whole assembly was divided into two groups, one which supported Hindi and wanted it to become the official language and the other which did not favour Hindi to become the official language. The assembly was at loggerheads.
  • Ambedkar’s views: Introducing multiple languages as official languages was not considered feasible. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was quoted as saying, “One language can unite people. Two languages are sure to divide people. This is an inexorable law. Culture is conserved by language. Since Indians wish to unite and develop a common culture, it is the bounden duty of all Indians to own up Hindi as their official language.”
  • Munshi-Ayyangar formula: Ultimately, when the Constituent Assembly was on the verge of losing its unity, a compromise called Munshi-Ayyangar formula was adopted without dissent. It was a half-hearted compromise because no group got what it wanted. According to this formula, English was to continue as the official language of India along with Hindi for a period of fifteen years but the limit was elastic and the power of extension was given to the Parliament. A statute titled ‘Official Languages Act, 1963’ was enacted when the period of fifteen years was about to expire in an attempt to prevent agitation in the non-Hindi speaking States. But the provisions of the Act could not satisfy the views of the protestors.
  • Lal Bahadur Shastri policy: Lal Bahadur Shastri, Nehru’s successor as prime minister, did not pay much heed to the opinion of non-Hindi groups. He, instead of effectively countering the fears of non-Hindi groups that Hindi would become the sole official language, declared that he was considering making Hindi an alternative medium in public service examinations which meant that although the non-Hindi speakers would still be able to compete in the all-India services in English medium, the Hindi speakers would have an added advantage of being able to use their own mother tongue Hindi as a medium. This increased the fury of the non-Hindi groups and they became more anti-Hindi and later also raised and popularized the slogan of ‘Hindi never, English ever’. Thus Lal Bahadur Shastri only gave air to the blazing agitation of the non-Hindi groups against Hindi.
  • Amendment to the official languages act: The Official Languages Act was ultimately amended in the year 1967 by Indira Gandhi’s government which provided for indefinite usage of English and Hindi as the official languages of the country.


After many twists and turns, a great deal of debate and several agitations, small and big, and many compromises India had arrived at a widely accepted solution to the very difficult problem of the official and link language for the country. Since 1967, this problem has gradually disappeared from the political scene, demonstrating the capacity of the Indian political system to deal with a contentious problem on a democratic basis, and in a manner that promoted national consolidation.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email