To prepare for INDIAN POLITY for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about the Official Language. It gives an idea of all the important topics for the IAS Exam and the polity syllabus (GS-II.). Important Official Language terms are important from the polity and governance perspectives in the UPSC exam. IAS aspirants should thoroughly understand their meaning and application, as questions can be asked from this static portion of the IAS Syllabus in both the UPSC Prelims and the UPSC Mains exams.

In this article, you can read about the Basics, Background, Objectives, Composition, tenure, Functions etc about the Official Language for the UPSC and SPSC.

  • In 1955, for the first time, G. Kher Committee was appointed by the President for Official Language.
  • In 1957, the B.G. Kher Committee report was examined by Govind Ballabh Pant Committee.
  • Part XVII of the Constitution deals with the official language in Articles 343 to 351.
  • Its provisions are divided into four heads –
Official language of:
2.Regional languages
3.Special directives
4.Judiciary and texts of laws


Articles Subject Matter
Language of the Union
343 Official language of the Union
344 Commission and Committee of Parliament on official language
Regional Language
345 Official language or languages of a state
346 Official language for communication between one state and another or between a state and the Union
347 Special provision relating to language spoken by a section of the population of a state
Language of the SC & HC, etc.
348 Language to be used in the Supreme Court and in the High Courts and for Acts, Bills, etc.
349 Special procedure for enactment of certain laws relating to language
Special Directives
350 Language to be used in representation for redress of grievances
350 A Facilities for instruction in mother-tongue at primary stage
350 B Special Officer for linguistic minorities
351 Directive for development of the Hindi language


  • The official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari The form of numerals to be used for the official purposes of the Union shall be the international form of Indian numerals.
  • For a period of fifteen years from the commencement of this Constitution, the English language shall continue to be used for all the official purposes of the Union.
  • Even after fifteen years, the Parliament may provide for the continued use of English language for the specified purposes.
  • At the end of five years, and again at the end of ten years, from the commencement of the Constitution, the President should appoint a commission to make recommendations.

The Commission was to consist of a chairman and other members representing the different languages specified in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

  • A committee of Parliament is to be constituted to examine the recommendations of the commission and to report its views on them to the President


Official Language Act, 1963

  • The act provides for the continued use of English (even after 1965), in addition to Hindi, for all official purposes of the Union and also for the transaction of business in Parliament.
  • Notably, this act enables the use of English indefinitely (without any time-limit).


  • After Independence Hindi was adopted as the official language of India with English continuing as an associate official language for a period of fifteen years, after which Hindi would become the sole official language.
  • Efforts by the Indian Government to make Hindi the sole official language after 1965 were not acceptable to many non-Hindi Indian states, who wanted the continued use of English. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), a descendant of Dravidar Kazhagam, led the opposition to Hindi. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru enacted the Official Languages Act in 1963 to ensure the continuing use of English beyond 1965.
  • In 1965 as the day of switching over to Hindi as sole official language approached, the anti-Hindi movement gained momentum in Madras State with increased support from college students. In the same year a full-scale riot broke out in the southern city of Madurai, sparked off by a minor altercation between agitating students and Congress party members. Finally to calm the situation, Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri gave assurances that English would continue to be used as the official language as long as the non-Hindi speaking states wanted.
  • In 1967, to guarantee the indefinite use of Hindi and English as official languages the congress government headed by Indira Gandhi amended the official Languages Act.


  • The legislature of a state may adopt any one or more of the languages in use in the state or Hindi as the official language of that state.
  • For the time being, the official language of the Union (i.e., English) would remain the link language for communications between the Union and the states or between various states.
  • The Official Languages Act (1963) lays down that English should be used for purposes of communication between the Union and the non-Hindi states. Further, where Hindi is used for communication between a Hindi and a non-Hindi state, such communication in Hindi should be accompanied by an English translation.
  • Certain north-eastern States like Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland have adopted English.
  • When the PRESIDENT OF INDIA(on a demand being made) is satisfied that a substantial proportion of the population of a state desires the use of any language spoken by them to be recognised by that state, then he may direct that such language shall also be officially recognised in that state.



The constitutional provisions dealing with the language of the courts and legislation are as follows:

  • Until PARLIAMENT provides otherwise, the following are to be in the English language only:
  • All proceedings in the Supreme Court and in every high court.
  • The Governor of a state, with the previous consent of the president, can authorise the use of Hindi or any other official language of the state, in the proceedings in the high court of the state, but not with respect to the judgements, decrees and orders passed by it.
  • The act also enables the Governor of a state, with the previous consent of the President, to authorise the use of Hindi or any other official language of the state for judgements, decrees and orders passed by the high court of the state but they should be accompanied by an English translation.
  • However, the Parliament has not made any provision for the use of Hindi in the Supreme Court. Hence, the Supreme Court hears only those who petition or appeal in English.
  • The authoritative texts of all bills, acts, ordinances, orders, rules, regulations and bye laws at the Central and state levels



The Constitution contains certain special directives to protect the interests of linguistic minorities and to promote the development of Hindi language.


  • Every aggrieved person has the right to submit a representation in any of the languages used in the Union or in the state, and those representations cannot be rejected on the ground that it is not in the official language.
  • Every state and a local authority in the state should provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother-tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups
  • The President should appoint a special officer for linguistic minorities to investigate all matters relating to the constitutional safeguards for linguistic minorities and to report to him.


  • The Constitution imposes a duty upon the Centre to promote the spread and development of the Hindi language so that it may become the lingua franca of the composite culture of India.
  • Language added to the 8th Schedule by the following Amendment –
Amendment Language Added
21st Amendment Act of 1967 Sindhi
71st Amendment Act of 1972 Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali
92nd Amendment Act of 2003 Bodo, Dongri, Maithili and Santhali
  • In terms of the Constitution provisions, there are two objectives behind the specification of the above regional languages in the Eighth Schedule:
  1. the members of these languages are to be given representation in the Official Language Commission;
  2. the forms, style and expression of these languages are to be used for the enrichment of the Hindi language.


  • The President shall, at the expiration of five years from the commencement of this Constitution and thereafter at the expiration of ten years from such commencement, by order constitute a Commission which shall consist of a Chairman and such other members representing the different languages specified in the Eighth Schedule as the President may appoint, and the order shall define the procedure to be followed by the Commission.
  • It shall be the duty of the Commission to make recommendations to the President as to –
    • The progressive use of the Hindi language for the official purposes of the Union;
    • Restrictions on the use of the English language for all or any of the official purposes of the Union;
    • The language to be used for all or any of the purposes mentioned in article 348;
    • The form of numerals to be used for any one or more specified purposes of the Union;
    • Any other matter referred to the Commission by the President as regards the official language of the Union and the language for communication between the Union and a State or between one State and another and their use.


  • The Constitutional provisions relating to the Eighth Schedule occur in 344(1) and 351 of the Constitution.
  • List of Languages in the 8th Schedule
    1. Assamese,
    2. Bengali,
    3. Gujarati,
    4. Hindi,
    5. Kannada,
    6. Kashmiri,
    7. Konkani,
    8. Malayalam,
    9. Manipuri,
    10. Marathi,
    11. Nepali,
    12. Oriya,
    13. Punjabi,
    14. Sanskrit,
    15. Sindhi,
    16. Tamil,
    17. Telugu,
    18. Urdu
    19. Bodo,
    20. Santhali,
    21. Maithili
    22. Dogri.


  • In 2004, the Government of India decided to create a new category of languages called “classical languages”.
  • In 2006, it laid down the criteria for conferring the classical language status.


  • Once a language is declared classical, it gets financial assistance for setting up a centre of excellence for the study of that language and also opens up an avenue for two major awards for scholars of eminence.


  • The criteria for declaring a language as classical mandates high antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1,500 – 2,000 years, a body of ancient literature/texts which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers and a literary tradition that is original and not borrowed from another speech community.
  • Also since the classical language and literature is distinct from the modern, there can also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.


  • So far (2019), the six languages are granted the classical language status
Year Language
2004 Tamil
2005 Sanskrit
2008 Telugu
2008 Kannadda
2013 Malayalam
2014 Odia

  • Union Home Minister’s assertion that Hindi, as the most spoken language, could work to unite the country, continued to draw a sharp reaction from the Opposition parties.
  • It may be customary for the Union Home Minister, who is also in charge of the Department of Official Language, to make a pitch for greater use of Hindi in official work on the occasion of ‘Hindi Diwas’, observed every year on September 14.
  • However, the Home Minister’s remarks this year have raised the hackles of political leaders in some States that do not speak Hindi.
  • Critics argued that the Union Home Minister’s “announcement that Hindi should be treated as the national language runs contrary to thespirit of the Constitution and our country’s linguistic diversity”.


  • Despite the misconceptions, Hindi is not the national language of India. The Constitution of India does not give any language the status of national language.
  • The Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitutionlists 22 languages, which have been referred to as scheduled languages and given recognition, status and official encouragement.
  • 29 of the Constitution of Indiaprotects the interests of minorities. The Article states that any section of the citizens who have a “…distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.”
  • In addition, the GoI has awarded the distinction of classical languageto Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu.
  • Classical language status is given to languages which have a rich heritage and independent nature.
  • 350Afacilities for instruction in mother-tongue at the primary stage.


  • Just 26% of Indians speak Hindi as mother tongue
  • A language is an umbrella term which contains many mother tongues.
  • 43% of Indians speak the Hindi language, which includes many mother tongues such as Bhojpuri, Rajasthani & Hindi.
  • Only about 26% of Indians speak Hindi as their mother tongue under the broader Hindi language grouping (according to Census 2011).
  • Close to 40% of the Hindi language speakers speak mother tongues other than Hindi.
  • Despite being spoken by a large number of people, Bhojpuri and Rajasthani are not listed as scheduled languages, while Bodo and Nepali which are spoken by relatively fewer people are in the Eighth Schedule.

People’s Linguistic Survey of India 2013

  • According to the People’s Linguistic Survey of India 2013, around 220 languages has been lost in the last 50 years and 197 has been categorised as Endangered.
  • Government of India currently defines a language as one that is marked by a script and effectively neutering oral languages. Therefore, government recognizes 122 languages which is far lower than the 780 counted by the People’s Linguistic Survey of India (along with a further 100 suspected to exist).
  • This discrepancy is caused primarily because Government of India doesn’t recognise any language with less than 10,000 speakers.
  • Many unscheduled languages have a sizeable number of speakers: Bhili/Bhilodi has 1,04,13,637 speakers; Gondi has 29,84,453 speakers; Garo has 11,45,323; Ho has 14,21,418; Khandeshi, 18,60,236; Khasi, 14,31,344; and Oraon, 19,88,350.
  • A significant proportion of the estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world today “still lack basic rights, with systematic discrimination and exclusion continuing to threaten ways of life, cultures and identities. This contradicts the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, “with its promise to leave no one behind”.

Case for Tulu Language to be included in Eighth Schedule

  • Tulu is a Dravidian language whose speakers are concentrated in two coastal districts of Karnataka and in Kasaragod district of Kerala.
  • The Census reports 18,46,427 native speakers of Tulu in India. The Tulu-speaking people are larger in number than speakers of Manipuri and Sanskrit, which have the Eighth Schedule status.
  • Robert Caldwell (1814-1891), in his book, A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian Family of Languages, called Tulu as “one of the most highly developed languages of the Dravidian family”.


Three Language Formula

  • Introduced by the first National Education Policy, the three-language formula stated that state governments should adopt and implement a study of a modern Indian language, preferably one of the southern languages, apart from Hindi and English in the Hindi-speaking states, and of Hindi along with the regional language and English in the non-Hindi speaking states.
  • The draft policy recommended that this three-language formula be continued and flexibility in the implementation of the formula should be provided.
  • On promotion of Hindi, the NPE 1968 said every effort should be made to promote the language and that “in developing Hindi as the link language, due care should be taken to ensure that it will serve, as provided for in 351 of the Constitution, as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India.
  • The establishment, in non-Hindi States, of colleges and other institutions of higher education which use Hindi as the medium of education should be encouraged.
  • Incidentally, the NPE 1986 made no change in the 1968 policy on the three-language formula and the promotion of Hindi and repeated it verbatim.




  • Common Identity for India: As India is the country of different languages, one common language would reflect the identity of India in the world.
  • Unity among the people of India: Hindi is the most widely spoken language in India, the common Hindi language will unite people from different parts of the country.
  • Glory in the multilingual nation: The people of this nation of different states are sometimes not able to communicate with each other, just because of the diversity in languages. Adopting a common national language helps them communicate with other linguistic groups.
  • National Language: Indians can’t accept a foreign language as a national language. As Hindi has already been accepted as the Official language, imposition can provide its national status.


  • Hindi Imperialism: Many of the critics believed that imposition of one common language for India as an imposition of Hindi imperialism for others Non-Hindi speaking
  • Against Diversity of this country: As India is a diverse country with many languages, the imposition of Hindi as a common language will break the beauty of diversity in languages.


  • Theme – Education, Encourage & Enlighten
  • The policy has emphasized mother tongue/local language/regional language as the medium of instruction at least till Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond.
  • SANSKRIT LANGUAGE : Sanskrit to be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an option for students, including in the three-language formula.
  • CLASSICAL LANGUAGES : Other classical languages and literatures of India also to be available as options.
  • No language will be imposed on any student.
  • PROJECTS/ACTIVITIES : Students participate in a fun project/activity on ‘The Languages of India’, sometime in Grades 6-8, such as, under the ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ initiative.
  • SIGN LANGUAGE : Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardized across the country, and National and State curriculum materials developed, for use by students with hearing impairment.


  • It is our strength that we have many languages and dialects. We have to see that a foreign language does not overtake a native language.
  • Experts reviewed that it would be disastrous for the country’s famed diversityif the promotion of Hindi is considered a step towards a ‘one nation, one language’ kind of unity.
  • According to a hegemonic role to the “most-spoken” language in the country may promote cultural homogenisation, but that is hardly desirable in a country with a diverse population, a plural ethos and is a cauldron of many languages and cultures.
  • Further, national identity cannot be linked to any one language, as it is, by definition, something that transcends linguistic and regional differences.
  • The need today is to respect, protect and nurture the diversity of our nation so that unity is ensured.


 PWOnlyIAS is NOW at three new locations Mukherjee Nagar ,Lucknow and Patna , Explore all centers     Download UPSC Mains 2023 Question Papers PDF  Free Initiative links -1) Download Prahaar 3.0 for Mains Current Affairs PDF both in English and Hindi 2) Daily Main Answer Writing  , 3) Daily Current Affairs , Editorial Analysis and quiz ,  4) PDF Downloads  UPSC 2022 Final Result🔥5 out of Top 10 from PW OnlyIAS Community. UPSC Prelims 2023 Trend Analysis cut-off and answer key


Learn From India's Best Faculty


     PWOnlyIAS is NOW at three new locations Mukherjee Nagar ,Lucknow and Patna , Explore all centers     Download UPSC Mains 2023 Question Papers PDF  Free Initiative links -1) Download Prahaar 3.0 for Mains Current Affairs PDF both in English and Hindi 2) Daily Main Answer Writing  , 3) Daily Current Affairs , Editorial Analysis and quiz ,  4) PDF Downloads  UPSC 2022 Final Result🔥5 out of Top 10 from PW OnlyIAS Community. UPSC Prelims 2023 Trend Analysis cut-off and answer key

    <div class="new-fform">


      Subscribe our Newsletter
      Sign up now for our exclusive newsletter and be the first to know about our latest Initiatives, Quality Content, and much more.
      *Promise! We won't spam you.
      Yes! I want to Subscribe.