Language Use in Administration and National Integration

In the post-Independence India, the language use in administration at both the State and the Union levels are governed by the Constitution and official Language Acts and are guided by the advice of official Language Commissions, etc. In this section issues relating to functions already elucidated, the modus operandi as to how they are achieved and the principles that govern them are elucidated. The four reports that are dealt with are:

i) The Report of the Official Language Commission, Government of India and the Report of the Parliamentary Committee on Official Languages.
ii) The Report of the Official Language Review Committee, Government of Andhra Pradesh.
iii) The Report of the Kannada Language Committee, Government of Karnataka.


The Official Language Commission was appointed by the Government of India to make recommendations to the President as to -

a) the progressive use of the Hindi language for the official purposes of the Union;
b) restrictions on the use of the English language for all or any of the official purposes of the Union.
c) the language to be used for all or any of the purposes mentioned in Article 348 of the Constitution;
d) the form of numerals to be used for any one or more specified purposes of the Union;
e) the preparation of a time schedule according to which and the manner in which Hindi may gradually replace English as the official language of the Union and as a language for communication between the Union and the State Governments and between one State Government and another.1

The Report of the Official Language Commission presented an in-depth study of problems relating to language use in administration. According to its terms and conditions the Commission was concerned about the progressive use of Hindi for official purposes, restriction on the use of English language, etc. The Commission found that "a common linguistic medium for Official Union purposes is administratively necessary (whatever view one may hold about the non-official sector) the need for establishing Hindi as such is of significance correspondingly to the significance of maintaining the country's political unity and integrity"2. It made specific recommendations relating to the official language of the Union; progress in the use of Hindi in State administration, language of legislation, Union Language and Public Service Examination, propagation and development of Hindi and regional language, etc.

Language Use

Regarding language use, the Commission considered 'preparation and standardization of the necessary special terminology', 'translation of rules, regulations, manuals, handbooks and other procedural literature' into Hindi as pre-requisites of a change over (from English to Hindi)3. And while doing such a translation it advised for 'a measure of uniformity in the translations of this procedural literature'.

Government Employees

In the government Employees linguistic ability that was aimed in Hindi was equal to that of English as demonstrated in the 'qualification for purposes of recruitment to various categories'. However, "during earlier stages perhaps a slightly lower standard might suffice".4 For the employees who are 45 in age and above 'comprehending knowledge' of Hindi and not 'high levels of linguistic ability for purposes of expression corresponding to the levels of their ability in English' was recommended. Also, it recommended for "Government to impose, ... obligatory requirements on Government servants to qualify themselves in Hindi within a reasonable period to the extent requisite for the discharge of their duties"5.

All India Administrative Agencies

The Language Policy for all India administrative agencies such as Railways, Posts and Telegraphs, Excise, Customs, Tax Departments 'with a view to the convenience of the public' recommended was "a measure of permanent bilingualism. That is 'they will use the Hindi language for purposes of internal working and respective regional languages in their public dealings in the respective regions"6. Also to achieve this type of bilingualism Official Language Commission suggested for reviewing and decentralizing of the staff structure and revision of recruitment methods and qualifications for recruitment in these departments. Here the knowledge of Hindi is compulsory, but the standard of it 'could be some what lower'. It can be improved upon by in service training. Keeping in view "the instrumentality of these departments, the Commission cautioned against their use as a 'lever' to force the pace of Hindi propagation at the cost of convenience to the public".7

In case of India Audit and Accounts Department in the light of the States adopting the concerned regional language as the Official Language recommended 'to arrange that the staff of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department dealing with the affairs of the States is versed in that language sufficiently for the purpose of carrying out its duties of compiling and the exercise of audit'. Hence the Accountant General's Office in a State "should be capable of compiling accounts returns submitted in the regional language and conducting audit with reference to noting and administrative language"8. The revision of staff structure suggested for other organizations said above is to be applied here also.

Language of Legalisation

Regarding the Language of Legislation the Official Language Commission correctly makes a distinction "between the language to be accepted for the proceedings and deliberations of legislative bodies and the language of the enactments which they legislate depending upon their functionality"9. And regarding language adopted for proceedings recommends that when Hindi takes the place of English in the Parliament and Official Language of the State in the concerned State Legislature if a Member is not able to express 'in Hindi, the State language concerned or in his own mother tongue' it is "advisable that provision should be made to empower the presiding authorities in such cases to permit the members to address the House in English"10. Since eventually authoritative enactment ought to be in Hindi in both Parliament and State legislations, the Commission recommended for the sake of public convenience publication of translations "of the enactments in different regional languages. In respect of State Legislation, this would be normally necessary with regional language(s) prevalent in the State, whereas in respect of Parliamentary legislation it may be necessary in all the important regional languages current in the country"11. Finally when the total change over from English to Hindi is implemented "the language of legislation and also of course consequently the language of all statutory orders, rules, etc., issued under only law, should be in the Hindi language"12.
Medium of Competitive Examinations

Medium of language in which the competitive examinations for all India and Central Services are to be conducted was also a question examined by the Official Language Commission. It recommended that 'the alternative of the Hindi medium in addition to the existing English medium may be introduced after the notice. As and when other regional languages become medium of instruction in the Universities up to graduation stage as Hindi has done the admission of other linguistic media will have to be considered'. And "the medium of the English language may be continued as an alternative for as long as may be necessary, etc"13.


The recommendations of the Official Language Commission were considered by the Parliamentary Committee with G.B. Pant as the Chairman. The Parliamentary Committee advised to dropping the recommendation relating to punitive measure for the employees who do not learn Hindi within the pecific period; not to put a condition that employees above the age 45 years should learn Hindi; the recommendation relating to language use in the Parliament and Legislature are beyond the jurisdiction of the Official Language Commission. Regarding the language medium for the competitive examinations of the Union the Committee suggested inclusion of Hindi as a desirable medium after some time; English and Hindi could be kept for as long as necessary allowing the candidates to choose any one of them. Even after change of the medium of examination a compulsory paper on English should be there as long as Hindi is brought to use completely, etc."14.


The Official Language Review Committee of Andhra Pradesh was constituted on 10th November 1967 to review the implementation of the orders issued by the Government under the Andhra Pradesh Official Language Act, 1966. Broadly the terms of reference for the Committee were :

i) to review the progress made in the implementation of the orders issued by the
Government in regard to the use of Telugu for official purpose;
ii) to suggest methods, if any, for better implementation thereof; and
iii) any other matter that may be entrusted to it by the Government.

In the Taluk level, the Committee felt that with greater effort of the superior officers, training of typists, supply of type-writers and switching over to Telugu printed forms, Telugu can be implemented as official language completely. The Committee also suggested for extending of the Telugu language use in offices to the district offices in two years and in five years to the State level; use of Telugu in Legislature for answering questions, call attention notices; use in the mofussil courts for administration of justice; training of non-Telugu knowing staff in noting and drafting; extension of the facility for option to the candidates to answer in Telugu all the papers except English Composition in Group I and I services of the Pubic Service Commission, etc. Regarding other languages used for specific purposes in the State the Committee recommended for independent steps to betaken to review their use. However, said that observations made by the Committee regarding Telugu will apply mutatis mutandis to these languages also.15


The Kannada Language Committee was appointed by the Government of Karnataka (then Mysore) on 6th August, 1970 'to make recommendations to the Government as to the steps to be taken to use Kannada as the language of Administration in all sub-division level offices of the State from 1st November, 1970 and also for progressive use of Kannada at all levels of administration'.

Here it can be seen that when a language becomes official language, and when it is to be used for administration, the concerns of the public, the concerns of the Government employees and the Language Committees get reflected in type of suggestions that they make for effective implementation. They are very well brought out in the Report of the Kannada Language Committee.

The officials suggested to the Committee to supply the typewriters; glossary lists, Acts and Bills in Kannada; create facilities for learning Kannada typing; orders to be issued from the Secretariat and the Heads of the Department should be in Kannada, so that those could be considered as authorized Kannada versions; preference to be given to Kannada knowing persons in KPSC and UPSC examinations; interviews to be conducted in Kannada only; in all the departmental examinations, at least one question be asked in Kannada and answered in Kannada; appointment of a translator in the office of the Deputy Commissioner; Kannada be implemented at all levels of administration.

The public and representatives of organizations suggest for administration at all levels in Kannada; offices to be manned by people knowing Kannada; Kannada in sign boards; interviews in Kannada for Government offices and appointments in factories, etc. Kannada in court; fixation of time limit to non-Kannada knowing as compulsory subject; Kannada as medium of instruction in all schools; teaching Kannada as compulsory subject; Kannada as medium of instruction in all schools; relevant material for use of Kannada in administration to be made available for public also; priority for applications received in Kannada; compulsory teaching of Kannada at all levels along with other languages; while implementing the recommendations safeguards required to be accorded to linguistic minority must be taken into consideration; preference should be given to the persons who have passed the degree with Kannada as optional subject; etc.16

In the light of recommendations of these Commissions and Committees, the recommendations of the All India Official Languages Conference held from 1st to 3rd March, 1978 could be seen. The conference recommended for a time-bound programme to conduct the entire work in the concerned official language as 'the progress in this respect is not satisfactory'; work should be done originally in the Official Language but not through translation; the language used in administration should be simple and intelligence which may be easily understood by an ordinary employee or members of the public; to take prompt action on the letters received from the members of the public in regional language in the offices of the Central Government located in non-Hindi speaking areas; for the recruitment, examinations conducted by the States, Public Service Commission and other recruitment agencies in addition to a paper in English or Hindi there should be one compulsory paper on any Indian language recognized by the State (including the official language); candidates opting for a language other than the Official Language of the State should be required to appear in the prescribed examination in Official Language after entering into the service and in "All India Service Examination there should be a compulsory paper of a modern Indian language mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, etc."17