CHENNAI: Pointing out that the Centre’s recent move to give prominence to Hindi on social media went against the letter and spirit of the Official Languages Act, 1963, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Friday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to issue suitably modified instructions to ensure that English is used on social media.
“As you are aware, this is a highly sensitive issue and causes disquiet to the people of Tamil Nadu who are very proud of and passionate about their linguistic heritage,” the Chief Minister said in her letter to the Prime Minister.
Referring to the office memoranda of the Union Home Ministry which directed that official accounts on social media like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Google and YouTube which at present use only English, should compulsorily use Hindi, or both Hindi and English, with Hindi being written above or first, the Chief Minister said, “This makes the use of Hindi mandatory and English optional.” The Chief Minister observed that as per the Official Languages Rules, 1976, communications from a Central government office to a State or Union Territory in Region “C” or to any office (not being a central government office) or person in such State should be in English. This provision had been introduced following the introduction of a mandatory proviso to Section 3(1) of the Official Languages Act, 1963, by an amendment in 1968 which states: “Provided that the English language shall be used for purposes of communication between the Union and a State which has not adopted Hindi as its official language”.
Jayalalithaa also pointed out that while the office memoranda had been primarily made applicable to Government of India officers and offices located in ‘Region A’, social media by their very nature were not only accessible to all persons on the Internet but meant to be a means of communication to persons living in all parts of India including those in ‘Region C’. “People located in ‘Region C’, with whom the Government of India communication needs to be in English, will not have access to such public information if it is not in English,” she added.
Jayalalithaa also recalled the memorandum that she had presented to him on June 3, in which she had raised the long-pending demand of the people of Tamil Nadu to make the ancient Tamil language an official language of India.