Government

Centre Tells Premier Science Institute to Meet Hindi Language Targets, Sparks Outrage

The order was issued to the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, the country's oldest science research institute.

New Delhi: The Centre has told the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS), India’s oldest science research institute, that it is not doing enough to meet the Hindi language targets set by it, prompting outrage from scientists from across the country, who called it “harassment” in the name of official language, The Telegraph has reported.

As the premier science research institute in India from 1876 onwards, IACS has been witness to numerous discoveries, prominent among them being the discovery of the Raman Effect in 1928, which won the Nobel Prize for C.V. Raman in 1930.

The acting registrar of IACS, Purbasha Banerjee, in a circular issued on March 19 said that the home ministry had taken cognisance of the fact that the institute was not “yielding desired results” in achieving the official language targets set by the Government of India, citing an “adverse letter” issued by the department of science and technology.

The circular was sent to the director, deans, chairs, heads of schools and some other sections at the institute, and said a Hindi officer had already been appointed in the institute and instructed them to seek help from him regarding the same.

Interestingly, after the March 19 circular, the institute issued another on March 23, with the language toned down and sounding less accusatory compared to the first letter. According to the institute, the March 19 circular stands superseded by March 23, which is currently in effect.

“DST [department of science and technology]… conveyed inadequacy in implementing official language at IACS. Individuals are requested to make a note of the same and approach the part-time Hindi officer of the institute for any help and assistance if needed,” The Telegraph quoted from the March 23 circular.

As a rule, the Centre is known for “encouraging” the use of Hindi, often receiving backlash from non-Hindi states accusing it of “cultural imposition”. However, academics at IACS and the research community at large do not recall any such instance from their recent memory where they had been blamed for faring poorly on the official language front and forcing them to achieve language targets.

The March 19 circular, which has now been replaced by March 23 circular, had underlined the norms pertaining to the official language used in the institute.

First, it said 55% of total correspondence should be in Hindi, and letters received in Hindi must be answered in Hindi only. As for file noting, 33% must be made in Hindi, and the names of the files should be bilingual, both in Hindi and English, but Hindi must be written first. The entries in the service books should be made in Hindi as far as possible. During official work, signatures on the files may be written in Hindi, as and when required. At the end of every quarter, each department should arrange to provide quarterly progress reports, with seal and signature, to the Hindi cell by the fifth of the following month.

While underscoring the norms, the circular requested all staff members to pay heed to them, so that the institute can be “saved from unpleasant situations” at the time of inspection carried out by the department of official language in the near future.

According to The Telegraph, veteran scientist Bikash Sinha said “it is a matter of deep regret” that an institution founded by Dr Mahendra Lal Sircar was now talking about the neglect of Hindi instead of discussing science.

Sircar was a renowned physician and had been a social reformer and an ardent propagator of science education and research. On July 29, 1876, the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science was founded in a house taken on lease at the intersection of College Street and Bowbazar Street (the institute is now located in Jadavpur). Sircar was the secretary of the institute till his death.

Along with Sircar, many scientific luminaries such as Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose, Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray and Chunilal Basu delivered speeches at IACS.