These MPs were from the North East, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They either speak Bengali, Nepali, English, Tamil or Malayalam. Those from the North East speak any of the 220 languages spoken in their region. It was said that the MPs were willing to learn Hindi and language experts from the Central Hindi Training Institute (CHTI) were hired by the Ministry of Home Affairs to teach them at the Parliament House.
According to Jai Prakash Kadam, the CHTI Director, the teaching modules were specifically designed for the MPs, to help them understand and speak the language within a short time. The lecture will last for an hour and will be conducted on Saturdays and Sundays. Some senior officers who expressed willingness to attend the language classes include TRS MP B Vinod Kumar, CPI(M) MP Shankar Dutta, TMC MP Tapas Mandal, BJD MP Rita Tarai and Congress leader KV Thomas.
However, not all MPs agree to the program. DMK MP from Rajya Sabha KP Ramalingam said that it is not right that only Hindi is promoted by the government. He said that the MPs from the South where he belongs could also organize language classes to teach Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil to the MPs from the North. Supporters of the Hindi language program said on the other hand that it was only after the MPs felt the need to learn the language that they sought the services of language professionals.
According to Ethnologue, the principal languages of India are English, Sanskrit and Hindi. The country’s current population based on the 2013 World Bank data is more than 1.2 billion people, speaking 447 individual languages.
Since Narendra Modi became India’s Prime Minister in May 2014, he had been pushing for Hindi to replace English as the official language in government and business. India recognizes English and Hindi as the two official languages used in federal government business although the country’s constitution officially recognizes 22 languages. Modi’s government had even ordered its officials to use Hindi in their social media accounts. This stance is creating a wider communication divide among its constituents, especially in the eastern and southern states where English or other local languages are preferred.
As early as 2014, many people have remarked that Modi’s push for Hindi as the official language is a move to break away from the Anglophone elite in the Congress. Modi is seen to present India as a rural, small-town oriented country because that was the group where Modi campaigned to and got most of his votes from.