Sushma Swaraj arrives in Thailand

Sushma Swaraj discusses ways to strengthen ties with Indonesian leaders

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor had a deal of taking jibes in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday over making Hindi an official language at the United Nations.

Sushma Swaraj explained that the procedure is long and requires two-thirds of the 193 member countries of the United Nations to vote in favour of Hindi being an official language in the United Nations, and also share the resulting financial expenditure in the process. "I understand the Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister can speak in Hindi, but what if a future External Affairs Minister comes from Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, who couldn't speak in the language?"

In reply to a question, Swaraj said: "It is often asked why Hindi is not an official language in the UN". Sushma Swaraj called Tharoor ignorant for his remarks and pointed out that Hindi is spoken in Fiji, Mauritius, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and Nepal.

She will also co-chair the fifth meeting of the India- Indonesia Joint Commission with her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi. Article 343 of the Constitution makes it very clear that Hindi is an official language.

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"It is not hard to get the support of two-third member-nations".

"When we get that kind of support and they are also ready to bear the financial burden, it will become an official language", she said.

She said that if the rules so permitted, the Indian government is ready to bear the entire expense.

"What objective is being served by this?"

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"Hindi is not the national language, it is an official language", said Tharoor.

Tharoor picked the term "raj bhasha" to point out that Hindi was not India's national language. "Government continues to make such efforts towards securing due recognition for Hindi at the UN". Seeking to promote Hindi raises an important question.

Currently, there are 22 scheduled languages in India, and a large number of people speak in languages other than Hindi. "I understand the pride of Hindi-speaking people, but people of this country who do not speak in Hindi also take pride in being Indian", he added. "A Gujarat High Court ruling says that it is not the official language".

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