Minister Sushma Swaraj said the process at the UN required a two-thirds majority vote, and that other countries using Hindi should share the expenditure incurred in making the language official at the United Nations.
“We are ready to spend. But smaller countries such as Mauritius won’t be able to pay. We are negotiating with them,” she said.
In response to the Minister, Mr. Shashi Tharoor stood up and asked,
“What purpose is being served by trying to make Hindi an official language in the United Nations? I understand the Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister can speak in Hindi, but what if a future External Affairs Minister comes from Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, who couldn’t speak in the language?”
Mr. Tharoor said, “Hindi has not been given the national language status in India. A Gujarat High Court ruling says that it is not the official language.” He also pointed out that though there were six official languages in the U.N., only two — English and French — were working languages, “just like how Hindi and English are working languages in India.”
Ms. Swaraj promptly responded that Hindi was not only spoken in India, but in countries such as Fiji, Mauritius, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana, as well as by NRIs living in the United States.
The Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India lists 22 official languages. Fourteen were initially added to the Constitution. Sindhi was accorded official status in 1967, Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali in 1992, and Bodo, Dogri, Maithili and Santhali in 2004.