The Government has been taking active measures to make Hindi one of the official languages of the United Nations. A high level Committee under the Chairmanship of the External Affairs Minister was constituted on 26 February 2003. This was followed by a sub-Committee set up under the Chairmanship of the Minister of State for External Affairs in August 2003 to examine this matter and take necessary measures. Keeping in mind this objective, the 8th World Hindi Conference was organized and its inaugural session held at the UN Headquarters in New York on 13 July 2007. The UN Secretary General Mr. Ban ki-Moon addressed the inaugural session. The event came in for high praise in various sections of press and media all over the World. Additionally, on several occasions Indian leaders have delivered statements at the UN in Hindi. Necessary arrangements were made for simultaneous interpretation of these statements in English by the Permanent Mission of India to the UN in New York. Government of India’s sustained efforts has also ensured that the United Nations produces a weekly programme in Hindi and makes it available on the UN Radio Website in Hindi. In addition, the same programming in Hindi is sent to India for broadcast over Indian radio stations, including All India Radio.

Inclusion of Hindi as an official language in the UN has several financial and procedural implications which require to be met before a formal proposal can be tabled in the UN. Procedurally, the UN General Assembly (the legislative body of the UN) would need to adopt a resolution by a majority of the 192 member states. After this stage, India, as the proposing country, would need to provide sufficient financial resources to the UN to cover the additional expenditure related to interpretation, translation, printing and duplication of documents and related infrastructural costs. This, according to conservative estimates, could cost in excess of US $ 14 million per year. Adding another official language also entails a significant increase in the budget of the UN (personnel, equipment, and other recurring costs). All member states have to proportionately bear a share of this reapportioned payment. Member states have generally been reluctant to support proposals that have an additional financial burden. This is particularly relevant in the light of the current economic and financial crisis in the world. Our assessment is that though member states may not object per se to including Hindi as an official language of the UN, they would be reluctant to share the increased burden of costs that this would entail. Nevertheless, the Government continues to persevere with its efforts to promote the use of Hindi in the United Nations and outside.

Efforts are being undertaken with Non- Resident Indians (NRIs) to garner support for greater recognition of Hindi as an international language. Nine World Hindi Conferences have been organized so far by the Government of India, the latest of which was held on 8 January 2010. These Conferences call upon NRIs and overseas Indians to assist in the promotion and propagation of Hindi language and literature abroad. In addition, a World Hindi Secretariat has been set up in Mauritius since 11 February 2008 to promote Hindi as an international language. Financial and administrative support for the secretariat is provided by the governments of India and Mauritius.

This information was given by Shri S.M. Krishna, Minister of External Affairs, in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha today.

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November 2020