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Posted at: Jan 4, 2018, 1:46 AM; last updated: Jan 4, 2018, 1:46 AM (IST)

Sushma, Tharoor spar over use of Hindi at UN

Sushma, Tharoor spar over use of Hindi at UN
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. PTI

Ravi S Singh

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 3

Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj today informed the Lok Sabha that the government is continuing with its effort to get Hindi included as one of UN’s official languages in spite of the odds, and took a jibe at Congress leader Shashi Tharoor in the process.

Replying to a query during question hour, Swaraj said as per the laid down procedure, expenditure on the implementation of any venture adopted by the UN must be shared by all 193 member nations.

She said India can muster the required two-thirds (129) majority to get a proposal regarding Hindi through in the House. It was able to get the support of 177 nations to make June 21 “International Yoga Day” and support of 183 countries for election of an ICJ judge. The smaller nations hesitate siding with India’s initiative on Hindi, even though they would favour the cause.

India will not back-off with regard funds. She said although Hindi was not UN’s official language, the Ministry of External Affairs is presently using it much as never before. Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered his speech in Hindi at the UN General Assembly. “I spoke thrice at UN forums in Hindi,” she said.

Tharoor intervened saying the government to be spending government resources raised an important question: “Hindi is spoken as an official language only in India. Why do we need Hindi as UN’s official language? If indeed we have a PM or Foreign Minister who prefers to speak Hindi, they can do so and we can pay to get that speech translated.”

He added: “Why should we put our future Foreign Minister and Prime Minister who may be from Tamil Nadu or West Bengal in a position where they are condemned to be speaking a language for which were are paying.” 

Swaraj countered saying Fiji had Hindi as official language. Hindi is spoken in other countries like Mauritius, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana and Nepal. Also, the US has a large number of residents of Indian origin who speak in Hindi. She said Modi addresses residents of Indian origin in Hindi because they understand the language.

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