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Inclusive language policy the need of the hour

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By Harshmeet Singh

Language has always been a contentious issue in India. Ever since India attained Independence, several protests have taken place on the issue of language and linguistic identity. These language protests have often taken a violent turn with people losing lives for their cause.

The battle of Hindi against other regional languages has always been at the center of most of these protests. While the Indian constitution mentions that “Hindi [in the Devanagiri script] is the official language of the Union”, it fell short of naming it the national language.

In 1959, the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru assured the Parliament that the English language would be freely used whenever people of non-Hindi background needed. This assurance got the backing of the law in the form of Official Languages Act, 1963.

Considering that India is home to over 1600 languages, linguistic rivalry is bound to be an unpleasant reality. The 2001 census revealed that close to 41% of the national population spoke Hindi. The other languages that made up the top five were Bengali (8.11%), Telugu (7.37%), Marathi (6.99%) and Tamil (5.91%). Though the statistics may show an overwhelming majority of Hindi speakers, in reality, most of the Hindi speakers are concentrated in only a handful of states.

Language struggle in India is relatively old. The opposition to imposition of Hindi by the central government has been historically led by Tamil Nadu. The state of Tamil Nadu has witnessed several anti-Hindi protests before and after independence. Most of these struggles saw mass participation and violent demonstrations.

The roots of pre-Independence struggle lay in Congress’ attempts at making Hindi a compulsory subject in the then Madras Presidency. It was congress’ way of replacing English and preparing for a British-free India. This led to widespread agitations led by EV Ramasamy or Periyar. Though it stopped the Congress from imposing Hindi in Madras schools, it came at the cost of several lives.

Similar agitation took place post independence. This time, it was to ensure that Hindi doesn’t become the sole official language of the Union of India. The Congress leaders hailing from the South Indian states also took part in the agitation and ensured that leaders like Purushottam Das Tandon and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee don’t have their way. The solution was a clause that English would accompany Hindi as the official Language of the Union for a period of 15 years. Since then, the Congress has never managed to come into power in Tamil Nadu.

Ironically, the agitation against Hindi also saw the support of C. Rajagopalachari, the person who introduced Hindi as the compulsory subject when he was the CM of Madras Presidency in 1938.

Though such violent agitations aren’t seen today, the language protests are still a common idea in the country. Such unhealthy rivalries can be out to rest by providing equal status to all the major languages spoken in the country. An inclusive language policy will go a long way in ensuring that the country doesn’t fall victim to disintegrative politics.

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  • Abhishek Dwevedi

    आज तक भारतीय भाषा को न्याय नहीं मिला , न हिंदी को न तमिल को न कन्नड़ को न बंगला को !

  • Abhishek Dwevedi

    ये देखिये देश में हर सामान पर अंग्रेजी में लिखा आता है ,वो भाषा जो आधे से ज्यादा देश को समझ नहीं आती !

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  • Abhishek Dwevedi

    आज तक भारतीय भाषा को न्याय नहीं मिला , न हिंदी को न तमिल को न कन्नड़ को न बंगला को !

  • Abhishek Dwevedi

    ये देखिये देश में हर सामान पर अंग्रेजी में लिखा आता है ,वो भाषा जो आधे से ज्यादा देश को समझ नहीं आती !

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Microsoft Announces Indian Languages Support For e-mail Addresses

Microsoft's products will also support additional Indian languages as and when their IDNs and e-mail addresses become available in the future

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Representational image.
Representational image. Wikimedia Commons
  • Microsoft announced support in Indian Languages for e-mail
  • There will be 15 Indian languages supported now
  • Indians will be able to use Microsoft in their local languages

Microsoft on Wednesday announced support for e-mail addresses in 15 Indian languages across its apps and services, including Office 365, Outlook 2016, Outlook.com, Exchange Online and Exchange Online Protection (EOP).

Microsoft introduces 15 new indian languages to its support.
Microsoft introduces 15 new Indian languages to its support.

Indian users would be able to use local language e-mail addresses for Outlook accounts on their personal computers, the company said on the occasion of the International Mother Language Day.

It would also allow users to seamlessly send/receive mails to/from local language e-mail addresses via Outlook client on PCs, Outlook.com in addition to Outlook apps for Android and IOS.

“Making e-mail addresses available in 15 languages is an exciting step to making modern communications and collaboration tools more accessible and easier to use for all,” Meetul Patel, COO, Microsoft India, said in a statement.

The Indian languages which will be supported include Hindi, Bengali, etc. Wikimedia Commons
The Indian languages which will be supported include Hindi, Bengali, etc. Wikimedia Commons

“We are making technology use the language of people and not requiring people to first learn the traditional language of technology,” Patel added.

The initiative is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to support Email Address Internationalisation (EAI) across its products and services eco-system and make technology accessible in local languages.

The languages being introduced are those that support Unicode — an international encoding standard for use with different languages and scripts.

Microsoft’s products will also support additional Indian languages as and when their IDNs and e-mail addresses become available in the future, making this feature forward compatible.

Microsoft launches 15 Indian languages in its support. VOA
Microsoft launches 15 Indian languages in its support. VOA

Last month, Microsoft announced the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Neural Networks (DNN) to improve real-time language translation for Hindi, Bengali and Tamil languages.

This technology would help users in getting results that are more accurate and natural while surfing the Internet across any website on the MS Edge browser, Bing search, Bing Translator website, as well as MS Office 365 products like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Skype. IANS